My father’s youngest brother, the late Lt. Col. Tony Loone, was a brave soldier until the day he died of cancer, 3 years ago, on 30 May 2006, when he was 71.
It was only 3 years, after my own dad died at the age of 77.
His story has been documented here by the 7rengers blog, which carries many interesting, courageous stories and bits of history about the Seventh Rangers struggles and jungle war fare with communists, they term ‘enemy’.
Major (Rtd) D Swami, owner of that blogspot, contacted me about my Uncle, when he died, so I referred him to my cousin Mark. I was already leaving for Bangkok at that point in time.
As a child, I remember my Uncle mostly in soldier’s outfit. He was a big man but gentle in spirit. He was rather handsome, too, a mixed blood: Chinese father and Sri Lanka mother. He was a jolly good man with his family and friends.
He leaves behind my aunty Josephine, my cousins Elaine, Mark and Charles, whom I miss dearly as we did spent some lovely times when we were kids.
After he retired, my Uncle and his family left for New Zealand, where his children completed their studies. Then he returned to Malaysia, and joined Parti Keadilan, as it was called then, in the Gombak branch.
When I was working in KL and Malaysiakini, we did chat greatly about politics. My Uncle knew many juicy stories from the past.
I do not know if my uncle’s family know this story, but he did tell me once long ago (my dad was alive then), that he had been offered the General’s post during his long career as a soldier, with one condition: that he converts to Islam.
My uncle refused the offer, and remained as he is, a Catholic until the day he died.
Other than being loyal to country, family and friends, my Uncle taught me to appreciate history.
So my mind is always open to history and to the truth, whichever side it comes from. I have been given the intellect and the soundness of mind and heart to judge what I know to be right or wrong.
Unless we are on the scene ourselves, can we ever claim to know a fraction of the truth. Otherwise, it’s the stories we hear from our forbears, who will guide us to that path. Or else, we could only question, and never stop questioning until we arrive at some truth.
What I detest is the side who thinks their truth is the only truth. What I abhor is those who try to own, possess, capitalise and commercialise their truths.
As my friend Trinleychodron says: Truth is undisputed…it can’t vanish, even if you try hard to demonise it or imprison it.
I offer today and tomorrow, and this post to the memory and bravery of my Uncle Tony, who fought the communist passionately to defend his country, and died a hero, forever missed but never forgotten.
May Allah bless Your soul.