The Pingat Jasa Malaysia (PJM) and time for a rant against Whithall Scum! "Pingat Jasa Malaysia" can be translated as "The Malaysian Service Medal". The medal was offered at the end of 2004 to the Commonwealth countries who served Malaysia in her fight against aggression and terrorism. Those Commonwealth countries include Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the United Kingdom and, never to be forgotten, the Gurkhas of Nepal. The PJM Citation reads: âMalayaâs independence on 31 August 1957 came amidst a formidable threat to its sovereignty mounted by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) MCPâs feroucious guerrilla campaign required assistance which was provided by Britain under the auspices of the Anglo Malayan Defence Agreement (AMDA). British Troops and soldiers from the Commonwealth countries of Austrialia, New Zealand and Fiji maintained bases, sercurity personnel, civilian staff as well as other facilities in Malaya to safeguard its sovereignty. These troops further assisted Malaysia during the Confrontation with Indonesia that ended on 12 August 1966. In appreciation of the meritorious acts and suprreme sacrifices made by the security forces and civilian staff from Britain, ausrtralia, New Zealand, Fiji and Nepal to Malaysia for one decade, The Supreme head of the Federation of Malasia wishes to award to all those who distiguished themselves in chivalry, gallentry, and loyalty while performing their services. The medal takes the form of an award titled âPingat Jasa Malaysiaâ (Service to Malasia Award)â Therefore, the PJM cannot and should not be considerd merely a âcommemorativeâ medal Foreign and Commonwealth medals have to be accepted by The Queen on the advice of the Government of each Commonwealth country involved where she is head of State. After a short period of consultation the Governments of Australia and New Zealand accepted the medal without restriction for their citizens. The British Government, however, announced in the House of Lords that they would refuse the Malaysian medal for British citizens on the basis that the award was contrary to British Medals Policy. In early 2005 intensive lobbying commenced to try and reverse that decision and after a few months the Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced that the FCO had submitted a paper to the Committee on the Grants of Honours, Decorations and Medals (known as the HD Committee which advises The Queen on these matters) asking them to review their policy in respect of foreign awards and the PJM. After several months the HD Committee met on the 7th December 2005 to carry out the review but their recommendation was not announced until a written Ministerial Statement was made in the Commons on the 31st January 2006 - the day after medals were presented in Australia where the Pingat Jasa Malaysia can now be worn with pride. The British HD Committeeâs recommendation, however, was that British citizens could accept the medal but they would not be allowed to wear it. This astonishing situation means that The Queen has granted a wearable medal to her Australian and New Zealand citizens, but has refused the right to wear the PJM to her British citizens on the advice of the HD Committee. In defending and justifying their vastly unpopular decision to allow the PJM to be accepted but not worn by UK citizens, the HD Committee promulgated a FIVE page response: âTHE PINGAT JASA MALAYSIA, AND WHY ELIGIBLE BRITISH RECIPIENTS MAY EXCEPTIONALLY RECEIVE, BUT NOT WEAR, THE MEDAL. In response to a question tabled in the House of Lords on 11 January 2005, on whether a medal could be accepted if offered by the Malaysian Government, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean quoted the official position on foreign awards: â âHer Majestyâs Government's rules on the acceptance and wearing of foreign awards preclude the acceptance of medals for events in the distant past or more than five years previously. In addition, the rules do not allow for a foreign award to be accepted if a British award has been given for the same service. Eligible veterans of the Emergency or Confrontation in Malaya should already have received the Malaya Bar to their General Service Medal. âAll British citizens require permission from HMG to accept and wear foreign state awards. HMG have, to date, received no request from the Malaysian Government for this medal to be presented to British ex-servicemen who are veterans of the Emergency or Confrontation in Malaya.â A formal request for permission to award the Pingat Jasa Malaysia (PJM) in recognition of service in the Emergency was made by the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister in March 2005. In January 2006 the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee) recommended to Her Majesty The Queen a special exception to the rules governing the acceptance and wear of non-British awards, to allow the Malaysian authorities to present the PJM and those who are eligible, to receive it. It was agreed that the exception should be made in order to recognise this generous gesture by the King and Government of Malaysia, and their wish to present the PJM in recognition of service given by the many veterans, and others, in the difficult years immediately after Malaysian independence. Official permission was not given to allow the Pingat Jasa Malaysia to be worn. Although there have been exceptions in the past and the guidance is applied flexibly it is long-standing policy that non-British awards will not be approved or permitted for events or service: - That took place more than five years before initial consideration, or in connection with events that took place in the distant past (e.g. commemorative awards); - If the recipient has received or is expected to receive a British award for the same service. 1.The Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals was established around the time of the Second World War when it was known as the HW Committee. It is made up of officials who advise The Sovereign direct: that is, advice does not go through Ministers, although the Prime Minister is represented on the Committee. The latter line is also normally followed where a British award has been considered but has not been deemed to be merited for the same service. Allowing the PJM to be accepted has therefore required a special exception to two of the principles governing the acceptance and wear of foreign awards. Similar exceptions were made for medals from the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments after the First Gulf War, as well as for the Greek War Medal, in 1992. In reaching their decision the Committee had particular regard to the precedents for accepting a medal but not giving permission to wear, such as the Kuwait Liberation Medal which was accepted on a similar basis following the first Gulf War, and the precedents for making exceptions to the five-year rule, e.g. that veterans of the Second World War Arctic Convoys were granted permission to accept and wear the Russian 40th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War Medal. In the case of the PJM it was felt appropriate to acknowledge the generous gesture by the King and Government of Malaysia . Australian and New Zealand veterans are allowed by the rules under which their honours and medals systems operate to accept and wear the medal. As a constitutional monarch, The Queen acts on the advice of the relevant administration in these matters. Commonwealth governments of which Her Majesty is Head of State may set different eligibility criteria for the award and acceptance of medals and honours. The rules in some Commonwealth countries are more similar to the guidance that pertains in the UK than the rules in operation in some others. These are matters for each individual government. The UK system guards against the proliferation of foreign medals. Arguments for exceptions to our rules are considered with care to preserve the integrity of the honours system. It should be noted that the guidance applies to both campaign and commemorative medals. Although no official permission has been given for wear of the medal the wearing of awards by civilians is not policed. Notwithstanding the fact that exceptions to the rules have been made at various points in history, and even though it agreed an exception in order to allow the PJM to be accepted, the HD Committee considered that the medal should not officially be worn primarily on the grounds of the five year rule, but also on the grounds of potential double-medalling. The PJM commemorates service between 1957 and 1966, during which time, apart from the period 1960-1962 (when it was considered no recognition was merited) military personnel serving in Malaysia who met the eligibility criteria, i.e. who were thought to merit recognition by the award of a medal, were awarded the British General Service Medal, with appropriate clasp. Army personnel who were seconded to Malayan Armed Forces between August 1957 and September 1963 were allowed to accept and wear The Federation of Malaya Active Service Medal (Pingat Khidmat Berbakti). (Special rules apply to personnel deployed on secondment.) The contemporaneous Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals at the time of the Emergency, having considered the conditions of service in Malaya, recommended the award of the General Service Medal and appropriate clasps for particular periods where the necessary criteria for risk and rigour were fulfilled. There were periods when it was felt that the circumstances in the theatre of operations did not merit the award of a British medal. It would not be right to seek to undermine their decision at this point. The status of the PJM, as a campaign or commemorative medal was not a material factor in the decision. The decision has been made as a gesture of gratitude to the King and Government of Malaysia for their gracious offer to present the PJM to those who served in Malaysia in the nine years immediately following Malaysian independence. The Malaysian High Commission has been kept informed of developments at all stages in the decision-making process, through regular meetings with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Each request to present a non-British award to British citizens is considered on its merits, in the light of the Rules governing the acceptance and wear of non-British awards, and according to any special circumstances at the time. The fact that a similar application has been approved in the past should not be taken as implying that permission will be granted for subsequent cases. In reaching their decision the HD Committee were fully aware of the precedents both for making exceptions and upholding the relevant rules. The Rules on acceptance and wear of foreign awards were reviewed in parallel with the consideration of the PJM. The Committee confirmed that they should be retained. Allowing double medalling leads to proliferation of the medals UK citizens might wear. Only if awards are offered within five years of the events in question can accurate judgements be made as to the validity of the award. THE DECISION IN DETAIL The case was considered very carefully by the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee) before they made their recommendation to Her Majesty The Queen. The Committee was aware that some veterans were dissatisfied with the decision reached and agreed to review the original decision on this occasion. All government departments involved in the case of the PJM recognise the strength of feeling regarding this issue. Some veterans have expressed their grievance repeatedly. The quantity of this correspondence has meant that it has not been possible to reply to every letter or email. The arguments raised by complainants (where not covered above) are addressed in the notes below. EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULES When any foreign state requests permission to present an award to a British citizen the request is considered in the light of the guidance on the acceptance and wear of foreign Orders, Decorations and Medals (the word foreign, for the purposes of the guidance, includes Commonwealth countries of which The Queen is not Head of State). The Rules are applied to Orders, Decorations and Medals, including campaign medals and commemorative medals, which are designed to be worn. Similar principles apply to proposals for new UK awards. Any request to award a medal that is not in accordance with the criteria set out in the Rules will normally be refused. Exceptions, by their very nature, are unusual. In applying their discretion to the case the Committee were aware of the precedents for the grant of permission to accept and wear medals that did not meet the normal criteria. Exceptions are made on a case by case basis after consideration of any significant relevant factors: these might be political or diplomatic or other special features. The Committee did not believe that any of the examples of exceptions made previously was sufficiently similar to the current case to colour the current decision. The Committee did consider that the relationship the UK enjoys with the government and people of Malaysia and the views of the veterans were sufficiently compelling to enable them to recommend an exception to the Rules, to enable the PJM to be presented and accepted. They did not believe that the arguments supported a recommendation that permission to wear should be granted. They took the view that an exception in this regard would have a far wider impact on the principles which underpin the UK honours system. Medals that do not meet the standard criteria should not be allowed to be worn on the same basis as those that do. The Committee considered previous exceptions and did not find they matched the circumstances of the current case. Correspondents have, however, focussed on the existence of previous exceptions. They have particularly focussed on the decisions made in the following two cases. (Naval) General Service Medal â Suez Canal Zone The committee was able to distinguish the Suez campaign from other cases in which an award is sought years after the event because the Commanding Officer had put forward a proposal for a medal at the time but there was no record of its having been considered by those who were responsible for deciding on its merits, either at the time when the proposal was made or at a later stage in the campaign. Accumulated Campaign Service Medal This medal is intended as recognition of the additional pressures experienced by military personnel who are involved in a sequence of military campaigns in operational zones with a high degree of risk and rigour. It recognises the long-term commitment of frontline services and the cumulative impact of action in multifarious campaign theatres for which a single medal would have been awarded but no further medallic recognition issued for repeat tours. THE RULES GOVERNING THE ACCEPTANCE AND WEAR OF FOREIGN AWARDS BY BRITISH CITIZENS The validity of two particular elements of the guidance on acceptance and wear of foreign medals has been questioned. Other than the issue of the existence of exceptions, this questioning has focussed on the absence of documentation evidencing the origins of the conventions. The system has been in existence since at least 1886. There is documentary and hearsay evidence of the existence of the five-year rule (or an earlier two-year rule) dating back to at least 1855. The version of the guidance published in 1954 includes reference to it and it is reiterated in subsequent revisions and republications of the Rules. The Rules have been reviewed and revised on a number of occasions over the last one hundred and fifty years and, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, they are extant. They have been approved by successive Sovereigns and more recently by the HD committee on a number of occasions. Questions over their provenance, while of historic interest, have no direct bearing on the case. The PJM was considered under the Rules that were current in 2005. The Rules apply to all foreign awards that are designed to be worn. The Rules apply to all foreign awards that are designed to be worn. THE COMMONWEALTH It has been claimed that the decision discriminates against UK citizens. The governments of the nations of the Commonwealth are autonomous and independent of each other. Each government applies its own rules and judgement to its own citizens. UK citizens cannot rely on the decisions of other Commonwealth states to claim particular treatment from the UK government. This applies to medals as it applies to different aspects of public policy. These differences do not constitute unfair discrimination, but the reasonable exercise of independent judgement by each countryâs government in line with its own constitutional principles. There are no laws relating to the wearing of awards by dual nationals. The convention is that they should be guided by the rules of the country of which they are a national, and in which they are residing. Some individuals have asked for greater clarity. If a veteran does wish to alter the way their medals are mounted for wear for international visits they might consider mounting their medals in such a way as to enable the PJM to be detached or attached as appropriate. It would normally be appropriate to follow the decision made by the country of main residence. THE COMMITTEE ON THE GRANT OF HONOURS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS Veterans have questioned the integrity of members of the HD Committee and the Committeeâs locus in offering advice to HM The Queen. Members of the Committee are crown and public servants who are required to maintain high standards of fairness, impartiality and integrity. The forerunner of the Committee was established in the 1930s to provide independent and non-political advice to The Sovereign. The Sovereign is the fount of all honour in the United Kingdom and while the honours system operates through government it is not at the disposal of the Government of the day which cannot, by its own decision, alter, or abolish it. For the last century the Sovereign has called on His or Her Private Secretary, in consultation with civil servants, to give advice about the honours system. Prior to the establishment of the Committee, the Sovereign would have been asked to give permission for the setting up of a special enquiry each time a question of policy was raised. The non-Ministerial nature of the Committee does not shut out influence by Ministers. Private Secretaries, Permanent Secretaries and the Cabinet Secretary will be alert to the views of Ministers and their views will be taken into account by the Committee. But the recommendation goes to the Sovereign from the Chair of the Committee on behalf of the Committee. Decisions made in connection with the acceptance and wear of foreign awards are not legislative decisions. It is a matter of practice rather than legislation. MILITARY OPERATIONS IN MALAYSIA 1957 â 1966 The HD Committee of the time made a decision on the specific period of the conflict that properly merited recognition by the award of a medal. There were periods when no medal was deemed appropriate. There are no grounds for re-opening questions of the degree of risk and rigour experienced by UK forces during the conflict at this stage. The decision has stood for forty years. The presentation of another medal does not detract from the original decision. Risk and rigour were not of themselves factors in the consideration of the PJM. Most of those who served in the Army, who formed the majority of UK personnel in the region, during the relevant period qualified for the GSM. Due to the 28-day qualifying period for the Royal Navy, the majority of those serving off the coast of Malaya (to 1960) did not qualify for the NGSM. The HD Committee of the day set the eligibility criteria very carefully. ADMINISTRATION The question of when approval was sought from the British authorities to present the PJM is one for the Malaysian authorities. The recommendations of the HD Committee with regard to accepting and wearing the PJM were not announced until 31 January 2006 because it was the first date available after the long process of considering the case and agreeing the Statement. This was not in any way connected with events in Australia, of which the Committee and the Secretariat were unaware. The Malaysian request to present the PJM was considered in the same way as other requests from governments wishing to present foreign awards to British citizens. In some cases these procedures appear to have been misunderstood by those campaigning for permission to wear the medal. For example it is not true to say the FCO does not keep records by holdersâ names of foreign awards. Records of permission to wear foreign medals are also maintained by the FCO. It had been hoped that the review of the decision would have been concluded earlier and it is with sadness that we understand some veterans have died since the original decision was made. It was not possible to complete this review process any sooner due to the nature of the case. The PJM has been considered in great detail by the HD Committee, FCO, CO and MOD. The Cabinet Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, as the main government departments involved in the Pingat Jasa Malaysia case have provided a full statement on the Pingat Jasa Malaysia and have no further comments to make.â Quite a good job of defending the indefensible by the HD Committee, and one that I, begrudgingly, had to concur with based on the âlegalityâ of the Committeeâs argument. That was, until, the following was discovered: âTHE LONDON GAZETTE, 3RD MAY 1968. FOREIGN OFFICE COMMONWEALTH OFFICE. ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS CONFERRED BY MEMBERS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF WHICH THE QUEEN IS NOT HEAD OF STATE, AND BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES. The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to approve that Orders, Decorations and Medals conferred with Her Majesty's permission upon United Kingdom citizens not being servants of the Crown by the Heads or Governments of Commonwealth countries as defined above, or of foreign States, may in all cases be worn by the recipients without restriction.â This of course places the HD Committee in the unenviable position of erroneously advising HM the Queen whilst appearing to the outside world as incompetent jobsworths more intent in sustaining elements of their original decision not to allow the PJM to be accepted than seeing that right is done by the old and the bold that earned and deserve the PJM! Based on an extract from the statement of Baroness Symons of Vernham that âAll British citizens require permission from HMG to accept and wear foreign state awardsâ and that the London Gazette entry clear shows HM the Queen, let alone Her Government, has approved the acceptance of ALL foreign Orders, Decorations and Medals by those persons not Crown Servants I am of the opinion that those awarded the PJM ARE entitled to wear it unless they are currently Crown Servants, i.e. currently serving in HM Forces (including the Reserve Forces and, funnily enough the CCF, SCC, ACF and ATC!) and on leaving such will be able to do so! Seeing as an 18 year old in 1966 awarded the PJM would now be 57/58 years old, that wonât be many (except perhaps in the Cadet Forces!). HD Committee â hang your heads in shame! The discovery of the London Gazette entry above shows you are incompetent. You have insulted those persons entitled to the PJM by your by the manner in which you advised HM the Queen that they be allowed to accept the PJM, but not be allowed to wear. All in the sake of some disgusting attempt at justifying your original wrong and morally bankrupt decision not even to allow the PJM to be accepted! Baroness Symons of Vernham statement says of the HD Committee that they are âcrown and public servants who are required to maintain high standards of fairness, impartiality and integrityâ. I personally think they are anything but that, and that they are self-serving âwe didnât get it wrongâ scum depriving those that fought in Malaya a medal form a grateful Government and people â a government a damn sight more grateful for British Servicemen than the one that pays the HD Committee's wages too!