The line "you don't know what you've got till it's gone" has been penned in countless number of songs, but it could very much apply in all our daily lives.

From people around us, to things we possess, to the harmony and unity we enjoy in this country, we tend to take them for granted, until we lose them and then find ourselves longing to get them back.

Amid the racial tension simmering in the country, a former commando has urged Malaysians to never fan racial hatred that can jeopardize the peace achieved from the blood, sweat and tears of every armed forces member.

"All those negative thoughts, racism... do not create them.

"If the racial unity is broken, it can throw Malaysia into chaos. We should all live together happily as Malaysians," Paul Karpaya was quoted telling Bernama.

Paul could be one of those most qualified to talk about putting duty and country above personal obligations, as he was on a special assignment in Tapah, when his wife D. Letchimy gave birth to their first child!

"I was worried and felt sorry for my wife who had to give birth to our first child without me by her side. That was in 1984.

"I was worried thinking what will happen to my wife and child, should anything happen to me... that I could not see them. At the same time, I know as a trained commando, the task at hand was more important," the 67-year-old recalled.

He only got to return home to Kampar when his daughter was one-month-old.

Paul joined the Malaysian Armed Forces in 1973, and started with the commando unit in 1976, when he was just a corporal.

As part of the 22 Commando Unit, he had participated in several operations, including those where his unit had to work with the Thai army to track down and battle communist insurgents hiding out in the jungles bordering Perak and Thailand.

The father of four retired from the force in 1996, aged 42 and after 22 years of service.

As for his most priced possession, Paul says it is his hard earned Green Beret, which he calls irreplaceable.

Source: Bernama
Photo source: Bernama