SERUDONG: Despite facing various challenges, including the scorching weather, being deployed in a dense jungle, and fasting during Ramadan, the members of the 26th Battalion of the Royal Malay Army Regiment (26 RAMD) remain steadfast in their commitment to safeguarding the country’s borders through Ops Balasah.

The 26 RAMD team, under the command of the Fifth Infantry Division (5th Division), has been conducting the operation for about three months along the Malaysia-Indonesia border here to combat all undesirable elements, including cross-border crime.

Having had the opportunity to gain first-hand insight into the 26 RAMD team’s border patrol duties recently, the writer lasted only about two hours before exhaustion, heat, and thirst set in.

This experience deepened the writer’s profound respect for the unwavering commitment displayed by the 26 RAMD heroes.

Commander of the 5th Division Major General Datuk Malek Razak Sulaiman said that irrespective of the time and despite facing various challenges, his team remains committed to ensuring security along the border between Sabah, Malaysia, and North Kalimantan, Indonesia.

“Throughout the last three months, seven days a week, we’ve persisted through every challenge. Despite all members of the 26 RAMD being Muslims, we’ve remained steadfast in our duties, undeterred by the weather or any other circumstances.

“Op Balasah aims to keep the border entry points secure, prevent cross-border crimes and protect the country,” he explained.

According to Malek Razak, Op Balasah began in the 1990s as an operation focused on monitoring logs within the state’s interior, hence the abbreviation “Balasah”, which referred to Sabah logs.

However, he said that over time, the operation’s scope expanded to include safeguarding security at the national border.

Malek Razak said that through the operation, units under the 5th Division will rotate duties every three months, stationed at 12 control posts, among them in Serudong and Long Pasia to carry out tasks including surveillance and engaging with residents along the border.

“The 26 RAMD manning Op Balasah are stationed at the Keningau Tactical Headquarters to facilitate coordination of this operation. Whatever challenges arise, we in the 5th Division are unwaveringly committed to making sacrifices to safeguard our country,” he said.

Corporal Muhamed Afhaizat Ramadhan Mohammad said he and his fellow comrades in the 28 RAMD from Kukusan Camp, Tawau, never let the various challenges they face discourage their determination to continue safeguarding national peace and security.

“The toughest part of dealing with this hot weather is staying hydrated. Another challenge is being away from family during Ramadan and the upcoming Syawal, but it’s a sacrifice worth making for the country’s peace,” said the Johor native.

Muhamed Afhaizat Ramadhan, 30, also shared his deep yearning for the nostalgic flavours of his mother’s homemade Raya dishes, especially her ayam masak merah and sambal jawa.

Private Muhamad Hafizan Md Zulkifli, 25, from Pasir Puteh, Kelantan, expressed gratitude for his family’s understanding of the sacrifices he had made, and their ongoing support and encouragement provided him with the strength to carry on with the entrusted responsibilities.

“We, the members of the 28 RAMD, are like brothers and sisters, always ready to lend each other support. Despite enduring three weeks of blistering heat, limited water supply, and fasting, our spirit remains steadfast and resolute,” he said.

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