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Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 17th March 2008.

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Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Written Statement of 31 January 2006, Official Report, column 10WS, on Pingat Jasa Malaysia, what requests to wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals has received since 31 January 2006; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Meg Munn Meg Munn Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Government Departments have received numerous representations on the subject of approval being granted for veterans to accept, but not wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia. The committee reviewed its decision three times, on each occasion upholding the general principles which apply to the question of acceptance and wear of foreign decorations. In July 2007 it agreed that veterans would be allowed to wear the medal for main independence celebrations in Malaysia from 15 August to 8 September 2007.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes0 people think so

No16 people think not

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Annotations

John Rushton
Posted on 18 Mar 2008 2:46 pm (Report this annotation)

The same old unsupportable and obstructive comments without answering the question.

Roger Gale asks "how many requests" . "numerous" is not an answer.

Will Meg Munn come clean on how these reviews took place? Certainly one was just an exchange of e mails.

Will she not reveal what these "general principles" are? Or perhaps they will not stand up to examination in the light of day?

Why will she not refer to the London Gazette entry of May 1968 which clearly does give permission for this medal to be worn?

How long will some Members of Parliament continue to blindly accept the erroneous briefings from the HD Committee who perhaps have an agenda of their own?

How long is the will of over 200 Members of Parliament who signed the Early Day Motion 365 on this matter last year to be ignored?

My grateful thanks to Roger Gale and other Members who will not be fobbed off.

john fenton
Posted on 18 Mar 2008 4:00 pm (Report this annotation)

Thank you Roger Gale for your question....

Ms Munn's 'lip service' answers are purposefully vague and carefully occupy that nebulous area between outright prevarication and feigned naiveté....

The 'numerous' questions she and others have received on this topic certainly number in the many hundreds and, I suspect, possibly in the thousands.

Any reader whose I.Q. approximates, as a minimum, the numerical value of room temperature, can instantly see that the ONLY reason for veterans being permitted to wear the PJM on Malaysian soil was for no other reason than to spare the embarrassed blushes of those UK dignitaries in attendance at the 50th Anniversary of Merkdeka in KL....and how idiotic is it now to claim that this medal, deemed 'temporarily' wearable, must now not be worn at Remembrance Day ceremonies by those of us who were actually in personal(armed)attendance on the day that 'Merdeka' was proclaimed there in 1957?

The good people of Malaysia remember the value and necessity of our service...hence the award of the PJM.

This situation is simply too ludicrous for words....it would seem to me that Ms Munn might be a much more effective member of her government if, just occasionally, she tried to exercise a little conscious thought.

Gerald Law
Posted on 18 Mar 2008 5:02 pm (Report this annotation)

Yet more spin on a subject that need not be so contentious if it were not for the belief within the Civil Service that it is they who can make the laws of the land and that our elected representatives are but their faithful poodles. I have voted in every General Election since attaining the magic age of 21, aranging for a proxy whilst serving in the jungles of Malaysia. I did do because I believed that I was electing people of integrity to represent my interests. I do not recall ever being asked to vote for a Civil Servant but they appear to be immune to any form of control over their undemocratic decisions. It is high time that our leading politicians realized that they are there to serve us, not their puppet masters in Whitehall.
Gerald Law

John Cooper
Posted on 18 Mar 2008 5:28 pm (Report this annotation)

More of the same old diatribe just a different day!

When will someone see sense and search their conscience like others have done and not support Political Dogma or just regurgitate the same old cliches that others have uttered in the past ad nausea

David Dilley
Posted on 18 Mar 2008 7:24 pm (Report this annotation)

Meg Munn, has she has done, in writing to my MP, and I suspect others too, has only replied to half the question by stating the number of times the HD claimed to have reviewed this matter. Does she not ealise,that this committee rarely meet, most business is done by correspondence and only they know how many actually took part in the decision making in respect of the PJM. What she has not done is to state whether the Foreign Minister will make a statement and if not why not. It strikes me that a number of Ministers and under secretaries are prisoners, willing or otherwise, of their Civil Service Advisers. I will ask Meg Munn a question; have youe ever bothered to look into this matter yourself by reading the 1969 Rules, the specially written 2005 review of these rules, especially Part C, written solely, in my opimion, to preclude the formal wearing of the PJM and the fact that, although it always was a matter for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, it was hijacked at the very start my those in MoD DS Sec who were trying to stop the award and subsequently its wearing. Later it became a major role of the Cabinet Office,the Ceremonial Officer of which, incidentally, is the Secretary of the HD Committee and is answerable to no one, least of all, apparently, the House of Commons!

We might have to wait another couple of years before the next election and the new Government Conservative or Liberal which, hopefully, will not necessarily accept the advice of their civil servcice 'advisers' which this present government so willingly does without question.

Michael Barton
Posted on 18 Mar 2008 7:33 pm (Report this annotation)

I got to Malaya as a National Service soldier in time to witness the final days of the original Merdeka celebrations in 1957 and served out there until 1959. In August last year I was invited by the Malaysians to attend a ceremony in Edinburgh along with other Malaya veterans of my era where we were honoured and thanked for what we had done to protect and help to found their now successful nation. The phrase "Hearts and Minds" was mentioned, and noted as the first and only time it has actually been successful.
Before we vets met up in Edinburgh we each had to search our concience as to whether or not to wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal so graciously awarded to us. I decided to wear mine in the belief that our Queen would not want me to be disrespectful to the people she had sent me to protect in her name 50 years before, and I am glad to report that all us old soldiers had come to something like the same decision.
What I would like to know is why we were caught on the horns of such a dilemma in the first place. For some two years before last August we vets had been trying to prove our right to wear the PJM and were by then supported by many elected MPs of all parties by way of Early Day Motions in the House of Commons. The truth as I see it, being a veteran of this fight for my rights, is that MPs are not worth a jot when it comes to those who really manipulate our rights and sit faceless and untouchable behind firmly shut doors.

Mike Barton.

Andy Nicoll
Posted on 18 Mar 2008 9:36 pm (Report this annotation)

As Meg Munn MP, Permanent under Secretary of State, answers Mr. Roger Gale MP (Cons North Thanet) with the normal obfuscation and prevarication we have come to be faced with on the subject of the unlawful restriction placed upon British citizens who have been told by an unelected quango of Civil Servants that they cannot wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia, let me help him out.

1. Thousands of emails and letters have been sent to the Cabinet Office, the MOD and the FCO by many of the 35, 000 veterans who fought and earned the PJM – so many in fact that these civil servants refused to answer or acknowledge many of them stating that the mere volume was straining their workplace facilities.
2. A Rebuttal (53 pages) of the original Ministerial Statement by Ian Pearson MP Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, at the FCO, was presented but ignored. This rebuttal showed over 40 instances where the 5 year rule was ignored and many other cases of double medalling where permission was given to wear. Mr. Ian Pearson MP has now publicly declared that the non-wear restriction was wrong and should be changed.
3. A Petition was presented to Her Majesty the Queen. This petition was signed by two holders of the coveted Victoria Cross for bravery in action. Her Majesty the Queen acknowledged receipt of this Petition, sent it to Margaret Beckett MP, then Foreign Secretary and she sent it to the HD Committee who have not responded publicly to it.
4. A Public Petition No. E991 was placed before the Scottish Public Petitions Committee and discussed at an open meeting. This petition was signed by two retired Brigadiers and Mr. Alex Salmond MP (before he became Scotland’s First Minister). Later when he became Rt Hon Alex Salmond MP, First Minister of Scotland, he wrote to Des Browne MP, Defence Secretary, requesting that the non-wear restriction be lifted.
5. Five early day motions were raised in the House of Commons and these attracted a total of 396 signatures from MP’s with the majority signing the EDM introduced by Don Touhig MP.
Two motions were raised in the Scottish Parliament.
6. The Prime Minister Tony Blair was asked about the PJM in Parliament, as was Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, Prime Minister, who said ‘he would look into it’. Seems like our present PM is quite similar to the previous one in that ‘he can talk the talk, but not walk the walk’.
7. On 11th. December, 2007, a debate was held in Westminster Hall and Dr. Kim Howells, FCO said ‘that is why I shall try to communicate to my colleagues in the government and to the HD Committee that flexibility is needed in this case’.
8. Numerous, to use Meg Munn’s phraseology, applications were made under the Freedom of Information Act but these were all refused by the government under the exemptions section. We still don’t know, after almost three years if the Queen actually declined to give permission for wear or if it was assumed by the civil servants that permission was not granted to wear as it was not requested. Thousands of PJM’s have been awarded at ceremonies throughout our country with a senior member of the Malaysian High Commission awarding them. Thousands of veterans have refused to accept the unlawful instruction not to wear and the PJM has been worn with pride all over the United Kingdom, even at Buckingham Palace and on a parade in front of the Duke of Edinburgh. One was awarded to the widow of a veteran at the Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh, by a MSP.
9. Veterans made it quite clear that they would wear their PJM in Malaysia during the 50th. Anniversary celebrations, so to prevent a public display of civil disobedience which would have embarrassed the British government they gave the PJM temporary wear in Malaysia to cover the celebrations.
10. For further information on the very large campaign for the right to wear the PJM see also www.fight4thepjm.org

In a letter of 3rd. September, 2007 (ref 49270) Meg Munn stated that ‘the Rules on the Acceptance and Wearing of Foreign Orders, Decorations and Medals by Citizens of the UK and Her Overseas Territories covers the acceptance and wearing of foreign insignia’. In the above answer she says ‘upholding the GENERAL PRINCIPLES which apply to the question of acceptance and wear of foreign decorations’. Have the Rules she mentioned in late 2007 now been replaced by General Principles. I would ask her this question but recent emails to her have been refused and the senders told that any other emails sent to Meg Munn would be automatically deleted. Seems she does not agree with Gordon Brown PM who said in a speech to Westminster University on Liberty in 2007 that 'we must never forget that the state and the people are not equivalent, the State is always the servant of the people'.

John Feltham
Posted on 19 Mar 2008 2:48 pm (Report this annotation)

Quote: by, Meg Munn (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office)

"Government Departments have received numerous representations on the subject of approval being granted for veterans to accept, but not wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia."
End of Quote.

'Numerous'. Mrs Munn has found a new numeral.

Bah! More Humbug.


John Feltham
Townsville
Australia.