Malaysian National News Agency

Army Relief Team In Pakistan To Get Higher Allowance
December 14, 2005 22:28 PM
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 (Bernama) -- The 145 Malaysian Army Medical Team (MasMedTim) soldiers serving in earthquake-hit Battagram, Pakistan have been recommended for a service allowance of RM100 a day, Defence Forces Chief Admiral Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor said Wednesday.

"The amount will be as much as the medical relief soldiers who went to Chaman in Afghanistan, but we are still waiting for the approval of the Finance Ministry," he said.

On whether the length of the mission would be extended, he said it was being discussed by the Defence Ministry.

"They will be serving until the end of December...even if there is an extension it won't go beyond January (2006)," he told reporters at the French Embassy, after being presented with the "Legion of Honour" award by the French Ambassador to Malaysia Alain du Boispean.

He said the MasMedTim was doing an excellent job in Pakistan, treating some 400 patients a day.

The team, which left for Pakistan on Oct 14, had set up a field hospital in Battagram, some 250km from Islamabad, on Oct 26.

Equipped only with tents that were more suitable for the tropics and kerosene heaters, MasMedTim soldiers had to battle subzero temperatures while carrying out their duties of providing aid to survivors of the Oct 8 South Asia earthquake.

Insufficient winter clothes and the lack of hot water at the campsite was affecting soldiers for over two months now as the temperature sometimes dropped to minus-7 degrees Celsius at night.

Anwar said the matter had already been addressed and Malaysian soldiers in Pakistan should expect some improvement by next week.

Earlier, in his speech, Anwar said the French award attested to the close bilateral cooperation between the armed forces of the two nations.

Anwar, who speaks French, said Malaysia's recent purchase of defence equipment from France showed that defence relations between both countries were developing positively.

The Legion of Honour is France's highest and oldest national order of distinction, created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the French emperor.

According to Boispean, it was bestowed on those who have carried out exemplary civilian or military services for France in times of war or peace.

Anwar, who was assigned to prepare the transfer of fast patrol boats in France in 1972, is the first Malaysian military officer to receive the award.


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