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After managing to send a packet of surplus gear back home, much easier than the previous rigmaroll in Iran despite the guy not understanding the concept of Print Post, I ticked off another couple of lesser chores in buying more Tiger Balm for my endless procession of bug bites, also a miniature compass to replace my old faithfull orb which had cracked and dried out. A second bloodyminded stab at hitting the Air Force Museum was still problematic, but I got there this time eventually by taxi from Chinatown at a vaguely acceptable price. I saw for sure now that in no way could it be considered walkable.

The external exhibits all looked rather forlorn, the heat and humidity of Malaysia not being kind to hulks of exposed metal, but they were an interesting assortment of a Percival Provost, a Twin Pioneer, an A-4 Skyhawk, an F-86 Sabre, and a rare DHC-4 Caribou amongst others. Though humble in its offerings there was at least one wonder in the Single Pioneer, built by the now defunct Scottish Aviation at Prestwick. I could not recall having seen one before and it is doubtless a rare bird. Indeed it was with a Scottish built Twin Pioneer that the Malaysian Air Force was founded in 1958, later adding Chipmunks, Percival Provosts, Single Pioneers and DH Doves. The limited internal displays here were haphazard and limited in scope but gleaned insights into the Indonesian "Konfrontasi" campaign for example, dubbed as the "undeclared war". There were trans-border incursions, infiltrations, subversion, even sea landings and parachute drops in Johor. It was contained by the MAF until the overthrow of President Sukarno in 1965 after an abortive communist coup. A peace accord was thereby forthcoming the following year between the 2 countries. The next challenge for the air arm was taking over full control of national defence with the impending final withdrawal of the Brits in 1967. There was soon a resurgence of communist insurgency known as the "Second Emergency" from 1968 to incredibly 1989, reaching a peak around 1974-75, inspired by Vietcong successes. In 1972 Malaysia and Indonesia agreed a General Border Committee accord with a view to eliminating their common threat. Such was its success in Borneo that a similar deal was struck with Thailand to counter the peninsular insurgents. Left with no sanctuary the commies were forced to the negotiating table and peace accords were realised in 1989 and 1990, ending Malaysia's long communist saga.

All very interesting but not very relevant to the Air Force per se, bar a few story boards I was left a tad underwhelmed after having recently seen the Singaporean equivelant, but happy to have seen it nonetheless. One thing they did have in common though was that they were both nigh on deserted and the internal displays werent even obviously open. Waiting for the elusive bus back to town, I could now see that it ran to KL Sentral and my outward journey should have been a seemless doddle. It was symptomatic of the transport system in KL however that comprehensive though it was, it had all been generated without any effort at proper integration. I had relied entirely on the dinky Monorail for example but though purportedly terminating at KL Sentral, the main train station, you still had to descend, cross a busy road, pass through a small street market, negotiate busy bus and taxi stands and then reclimb the stairs into the station. Curtailing it just a few hundred metres short seemed like madness, a poor failure.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Malaysia

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