Armed Forces: Medals

House of Lords written question – answered on 5th September 2011.

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Photo of Lord Craig of Radley Lord Craig of Radley Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government why British recipients are not permitted to wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal awarded by the King and Government of Malaysia to British and Commonwealth Forces who served in Malaysia during the Malayan Emergency and the Malaysian-Indonesian confrontation periods, when it may be worn by recipients in other Commonwealth countries.

Photo of Lord Astor of Hever Lord Astor of Hever Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

It is a great testimony to our veterans that the Malaysian Government wished to honour them with the Pingat Jasa Malaysia (PJM) medal which was introduced in 2005 in recognition of the role they played in supporting Malaysia and beforehand Malaya, between August 1957 and August 1966.

As a foreign award, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has the Government lead on the PJM. I am delighted that an exception to our rules was recommended by the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals to allow our veterans to accept the medal and that this recommendation was agreed by Her Majesty the Queen.

Permission was not however recommended for the PJM to be worn by veterans as the majority had previously been awarded the British General Service Medal (GSM), for their service in the region. There was a period of time, between 1960 and 1962 and, in the case of the Army, from mid-1965 onwards when the risk and rigour was not deemed sufficient to award a medal to British troops stationed in the area. It is therefore the case that some personnel did not receive a British medal for the time that they served there and they may consider that receiving the PJM would not contravene our long-standing "no double double-medalling" convention as they do not have a British medal for their service. However, the qualifying periods for the GSM were very carefully considered at the time, and it must be assumed that those in authority had good reasons for the criteria prescribed. The lack of a General Service Medal, or a clasp to it, does not, in itself, mean automatic qualification to wear the PJM.

The Governments of the Commonwealth are autonomous and independent of each other. Each Government apply their own rules and judgment to their own citizens. This applies to medals as it applies to other aspects of public policy. These differences do not constitute unfair discrimination, but the reasonable exercise of independent judgment by each country's Government in line with its own constitutional principles.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes0 people think so

No23 people think not

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Annotations

Tony M
Posted on 8 Sep 2011 8:21 am (Report this annotation)

Relying on assumptions hardly looks like proper consideration. Does Lord Astor not wonder why the UK stands alone on this issue? Could it be the assumptions are wrong and more progressive Commonwealth Countries have made no such assumptions, or relied on dubious double medalling rules. They have looked at the detail and made an informed decision. The PJM is not the only example where the UK lags behind:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/2311

Tex Pemberton
Posted on 8 Sep 2011 1:59 pm (Report this annotation)

We are seeing the same response over and over to the question about why our Malaysian Veterans cannot wear the PJM. I think the question should be revised to ask for a review of the decision that forbids wearing and the exception that was made enabling acceptance extended to also agree wearing. We should be honoured that other Nations want to recognise and award our forces for their contributions and sacrifices and the double medalling and 5-year rules should be abandoned. Surely our government can understand that wearing a badge of honour awarded by whoever gives our deserving Veterans the boost they deserve and the right decision will contribute in no small way to rebuilding the Covenant!

Robert Reeves
Posted on 8 Sep 2011 7:11 pm (Report this annotation)

Its time this was put to bed.
Each PJM Holder should contact their MP with a view to removing the wording regarding doubling and the 5 year rule from the Honors and Medals rules.
2. Once done, surely the way would be clear for the Government/FCO and the Honors and Medals committee to issue new and positive instructions for the wearing of the PJM without prejudicing themselves or their departments, assuming the Queen has given her permission of course.
This, no doubt would take some time, however I do feel that done in stages and at respectful intervals, the whole issue could be resolved to everyones satisfaction.
R T Reeves Chairman Hull Branch NMBVA

Peter Jones
Posted on 8 Sep 2011 8:28 pm (Report this annotation)

"These differences do not constitute unfair discrimination, but the reasonable exercise of independent judgment by each country's Government in line with its own constitutional principles."
I think that says it all. Rules is Rules.
I agree with Tex and Robert in that we must each contact our MP and not let this matter rest. How long must we wait for a fair outcome to this issue

Peter Jones

Peter Beckinsale
Posted on 9 Sep 2011 11:36 am (Report this annotation)

Quite frankly, as a Veteran of many long forgotten military campaings, I am amazed at the incredible amount of precious time wasted on such an utter non-sense. What does it really matter if ex-servicemen, veterans, feel proud enough to wear a medal so graciously awarded by a foreign country to record its respect to those men and women who were so important, directly, in the formation of Malaysia. Without their service, Malaysia as we know it would not exist.
Isn't our message to one friendly Muslim country entirely 'negative'?
Perhaps these Lords and other self appointed arbitrators, who probably have never served at the sharp end of anything, be better employed sorting out the more immediate troubles on our streets, something far more important and sensible than the wearing of a 'foreign' medal.
Perhaps their next recommendation for those proud Veterans that wear the PJM, will be that their Pensions are withdrawn?
After all that has been said, just how rediculos can this debate become?
I appeal to all my fellow Veterans to wear your medal, anywhere, anytime, with pride. YOU earnt it.

Barry Fleming
Posted on 10 Sep 2011 10:56 am (Report this annotation)

It seems that Lord Astor, once in power, has turned his back on the PJM, on PJMers, on those who served with him in Malaysia, on the Tory solemn commitment to ex-servicemen and women, on Malaysia ... and on the Military Covenant. Lord Astor, an ex-army officer, should have been acutely aware of his responsibilities in regard to the latter.

We had hoped that he would have been able to stand up to the civil servants, but it seems not. He simply repeats their same old flawed and misleading text.

The PJM recommendation was made for politcial reasons, not for medallic niceties and, as a consequence, can now only be amended by political means. They say politicians should not intrude into the 'honours' system. But that is precisely why Parliament is there - as a watchdog over those who, for their own ends, wish to abuse the rights of, and impose injustices on ordinary men and women.

So please do write to your MP. It is the only way. We at www.Fight4thePJM.org have been doing that for nearly 6 years and we'll continue to do so until the PJM receives a fair hearing.

John Ireland
Posted on 10 Sep 2011 12:05 pm (Report this annotation)

Barry, I too feel very let down by the two Government Lords and I am incensed by the statement of Lord De Mauley. Lord Astor I can understand to some extent because he is a Minister and therefore he cannot speak his own mind.

If the Civil Service get their way on this very contentious issue then they will cement their oft stated view (to us veterans) that it is they who run this country not the elected (or in Rupert Ponsonby's case the unelected)representatives.

I noticed that Lord De Mauley (Rupert) said in his address to those other noble Lords that there is an agreement in place with other nations not to accept their awards when our Nation has already given one for the same service well this argument does not hold water as so many have been accepted previously that this criteria is faulty before it even starts.

Civil Servants have an agenda but it is not necessarily political with a very small 'p' as De Mauley said but it is one of superiority and self preservation sprinkled with a little arrogance to add some flavour.

John Cooper
Posted on 10 Sep 2011 12:44 pm (Report this annotation)

The title of this thread ought to read 'They do NOT work for you'

Why this dogmatic approach from the few to the many is beyond belief especially when there are so many supporters in the country and in both The Houses of Parliament.

For those who are not supporters of the Pingat Jasa Malaysia cause ought to do the honourable thing and fall on their swords or fall on their knees to beg mercy of the many

Shame on those that have an unbending attitude towards those that never made it back to our shores......:-(

Democracy, PAH!!!!!!!!!

Gerald Law
Posted on 10 Sep 2011 12:45 pm (Report this annotation)

I can only agree with the comments of Barry Fleming and John Ireland. For 6 years British Veterans have been treated like so much dirt beneath the fingernails of those responsible for the ludicrous decision concerning the PJM. The Tories promised much when in Opposition and those of us who had served our country loyally so many years ago had reason to hope for better things to come. But the not so civil servants have once more influenced those who are supposed to govern and imposed their now familiar obfuscations in order to ensure that the PJM veterans are kept securely in the box allocated for them in the process that is Britain's Imperialistic way of thinking. Those no in office have done us a great disservice, and in so doing have damaged their own integrity. Gerald Law

John Cooper
Posted on 10 Sep 2011 6:50 pm (Report this annotation)

'As a foreign award, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has the Government lead on the PJM. I am delighted that an exception to our rules was recommended by the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals to allow our veterans to accept the medal and that this recommendation was agreed by Her Majesty the Queen.

Permission was not however recommended for the PJM to be worn by veterans/...............'

Interesting statement by Lord Astor above! He is saying The Queen 'accepted' the PJM medal but nowhere does he say that Her Majesty refused permission for Veterans to wear the medal, to my knowledge HM The Queen has never refused us this honour in writing

Barry Fleming
Posted on 10 Sep 2011 8:44 pm (Report this annotation)

Lord Astor should get his facts right.

1. He tries to destroy the PJM on the gorunds of Risk and Rigour yet the Honours and Decoratiosn Committee will tell him that Risk and Rigour was never a criterion for the PJM - nor cannot it be because the PJM is not a British medal.

2. But even when he refers to Risk and Rigour and British medals he gets his facts more wrong. He says "from mid-1965 onwards when the risk and rigour was not deemed sufficient to award a medal to British troops stationed in the area." But in fact a British medal was awarded in the area up to the 11th August 1966!

As we have maintained all along - civil servants in the MoD, FCO and Cabinet Office have improperly and misleadingly briefed the HD Committee and MPs and now Lords! And when peers like Lord Astor repeat parrot fashion the drivel they are handed in their scripts, we are all in trouble.

It is time for Prliament to be properly and fully informed and we're ready to do exactly that at www.fight4thepjm.org.

Adrian Villanueva
Posted on 11 Sep 2011 11:15 pm (Report this annotation)

Adrian Villanueva (Singapore)

I am not a UK citizen, but have served under the 42 RM Cdo. (Tawau Assault Group) in Borneo - 1965, as well as on board Royal Malaysian Navy vessels. I was honoured with the award of a GSM (Borneo). On 26 July 2011, 7 British Veterans and I (a Singaporean) were awarded the PJM by the Malaysian Minister of Defence in MINDEF Kuala Lumpur. We were greatly honoured.

Can one imagine what the Malaysian Government would think about the UK Government in respect of allowing British servicemen to accept but NOT to wear? Sorry to say, but in Asia accepting something and NOT "allowed" to use/wear is an INSULT. I suppose I am entitled to comment as I am an NMBVA Member, BTW wear both the GSM (Borneo) & PJM with pride.

John Lillywhite
Posted on 13 Sep 2011 3:53 pm (Report this annotation)

I am appalled at all the flim-flam regarding this subject, only to be expected I suppose! So I shall cut to the chase,.
On the next Remembrance Day I shall be attending the most local service to Sydenham, my home, and I shall be wearing both my GSM(1962) and my PJM.
NOT because I think that my service was in any way special, but to HONOUR all those who DID NOT make it home, especially the Troops.
Lord Astor and his ilk can make of it what they will!
John Lillywhite, formerly of HMS Manxman 1962-1965