Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Gurkhas, men from Nepal have been an integral part of the British Army since the early 18th Century, forming The Brigade of Gurkhas. They have served with distinction in various theaters of war, firstly against the Afghans in the North West Frontier, then the First World War in Gallipoli, Palestine and France and in Burma, Malaya, North Africa, Italy and France in the 2nd War. The Gurkhas unlike regular British troops in battle, charge at the enemy at close quarters, with drawn kukris (Gurkha swords) instead of fixed bayonets and with their customary shrill piercing cry "Aayaaoo Gurkhali" translated as "The Gurkhas are coming" in Hindi and Gurkhali, a cry so piercing and terrifying that hearing the cry alone can cause the enemy to flee in terror.
With the defeat of Edward Heath of the Conservative Party to Harold Wilson of Labor in the 1968 British elections, Wilson as earlier promised, pulled out all British installations East of Suez, leaving RAF Akrotiri and British Army base in Cyprus as the most eastward British military post. Further west of Cyprus, Gibraltar and the British Army in Germany remain.
The British base in Singapore dismantled with all the rest beginning 1968. There was at least 3 Battalions of the Gurkha Brigade in Singapore which all left. Some were transferred to Hong Kong which at that time was still British and with the Chinese takeover 2o years later, that too was disbanded. There always was a Gurkha contingent in England which according to roster with other British Units, mount guard at Buckingham Palace, which today numbers about 3000 officers and men.
They have a unique way of carrying their weapon the 0.762mm, SLR rifle, based on the FN Belgium design, which they carry horizontally while marching, carried by the handle grip, whereas all other soldiers carry it by the pistol grip, which makes the rifle vertical during marching.
It has been said that during the Falklands War, 400 miles east of Terra Del Fuego, or Cape Horn, South America in the Atlantic, after the Gurkhas landed, it was sufficient for the RAF to drop leaflets over enemy Argentine positions, merely saying that the Gurkhas have landed and are sharpening their Kukris, for the conscript Argentine army to flee for their lives. True or fiction, I cannot tell.
Anyhow, let me come to the point. The British fought almost a 30 year war against the separatist Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland. Various British Army units were dispatched to Northern Ireland for this war. But not once, did the British Army deploy the Gurkhas. The reason was that the British felt that although it was a war, the enemy was also British, since Northern Ireland was part of Great Britain and therefore it was morally wrong, repugnant, to deploy Gurkhas who were in essence foreign mercenaries against their own people, the Irish. This was a moral decision from which they did not waiver as it was unacceptable in the minds of the British for foreigners to fight against their own. Whatever one could say about British injustices, one cannot possibly begrudge them of having honor integrity and moral principle in this, their stand.
But Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew, does not appear to have the same moral compunction that the British have on this point. Just the opposite. On the contrary, the Singapore Army does not have any Gurkha units. Strange, since one would have thought that if you are going to have Gurkhas, where else to employ them other than the Army to fight foreign enemies in the event of external aggression. Lee Kuan Yew does not appear to worry too much about foreign enemies, and he is quite satisfied that Singapore's conscript army can very well deal with external aggression.
In Singapore, on the other hand, the Singapore Police Force has a Gurkha Contigent, which appears to have grown in strength from numbering about 200 in it's first days to over 2000 strong today. The police force's duty being the enforcement of law and order within Singapore, it would appear that Lee Kuan Yew, in deploying Gurkhas in the Police Force appears more afraid of what Singaporeans would do to him, rather than what foreign enemies would do to Singapore! From this, one could guess perhaps, that Lee Kuan Yew knows that large numbers of Singaporeans hate him and hate his family so much, that they may, at the slightest provocation rise up in arms and revolt, which would mean the end of the Lee family's iron rule over Singapore, and if this happens, he will be able to rely on the power of the Gurkhas to quell such a rebellion. Otherwise why the need for Gurkhas in the Singapore Police Force? Why does he not trust his own Singaporean police to do the job? And why are there not Gurkhas in the Singapore Army where they belong?
This is a case of fear. Fear both ways. Lee fears his people, so he deploys the Gurkhas. The people fear him and what the Gurkhas might do to them if they rebel. A country that carries on in a state of fear. One can only be sorry both for Lee Kuan Yew and the people of Singapore.
Surely there can be a better way to live.
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538,
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914