Did you know that the first ever recipient of the country's highest medal of valour was an Indian policeman?

Yes you heard that right. His name was Velu a/l Rajavelu.

Velu, a Special Constable, was only in his 20s, when he was killed in the line of duty in August 1962, in a shootout with robbers in Midlands Estate in Klang.

He was acting on a report about a robbery in progress at a sundry shop at the estate and in the ensuing shootout, he was shot several times and died on the spot.

Velu was posthumously awarded the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP), or the ‘Grand Knight of Valour’ medal, on June 5, 1963. The sundry shop owner, whose business Velu helped save, also built a memorial for the fallen hero at the Midlands Estate graveyard.

This medal, while it does not carry any titles, is the highest federal award that is - above the Darjah Yang Maha Utama Kerabat DiRaja Malaysia (D.K.M) and darjah Pangkat Pertama Seri Maharaja Mangku Negara (S.M.N) awards which carry the title "Tun".

Since its inception in 1960, only about 30 people have been given the SP medal, which is typically given to members of the armed forces, or civilians who display "extraordinary courage and commit brave acts, and sacrifice."

Other recipients of the SP medal include Gean Kartar Singh aka "The Lion of Pudu Prison", Inspector Chin Chin Kooi, Kanang anak Langkau, and Bank Negara auditor Abdul Jalil Ibrahim, just to name a few.

Kartar thwarted an escape attempt by a gun-wielding prisoner at the Pudu prison in 1970, while Chin, an inspector with the Special Branch, was gunned down by communists in front of his family in Kedah, in July 1973. He was posthumously awarded the SP medal.

Kanang anak Langkau was a soldier from the Iban Dayak community in Sarawak, who was wounded in battle with communist insurgents in the jungles of Perak in 1980. He was awarded the SP medal the following year, and continued serving until 1986.

His exploits have even turned into a movie called “The Iban Warrior: Kanang Anak Langkau” in 2017.

Abdul Jalil, meanwhile, was a banker who was killed in Hong Kong in 1983 after blowing the whistle on the BMF (Bumiputra Malaysia Finance) scandal.

Perhaps it’s time the government started incorporating their names and legacies in school syllabus so they receive the respect they are due.

Source: Wikipedia, orangkata.my
Photo source: Wikipedia, tamizharmedia.com