Veteran Tony Lim outlived his 'enemies'

Adrian David

KUALA TERENGGANU: Octogenarian Major (Rtd) Anthony Joseph Lim Seng Soon hardly has any enemies these days, as Merdeka looms.

Better known as Tony by his comrades, the father of two has a solid explanation for this.

“At my age, I have outlived all of them!” was the witty answer from Lim, who turned 88 on March 2.

Lim had done and seen it all during his prime, having served the British Military Administration (BMA) and later the Malaysian Armed Forces during the height of the communist insurgency from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Major (Rtd) Anthony Joseph Lim Seng Soon and wife Mary Huang Choon Ngoh as a young couple.

He had the distinction of pioneering the establishment of the Kinta homeguards in lower Perak and the Armed Forces’ Seri Lara horse-riding club in Ampang, Selangor.

Recounting his experience, Lim said that he answered a call-up for national service in 1950 for ethnic Chinese to serve as an auxiliary constable.

Soon, he said he was roped in by the BMA to serve as a civilian liaision officer with the Gurkha Rifles’ 1st and 2nd battalions of the Green Howard’s Regiment.

“After (the British high commissioner Tun Sir) Henry Gurney was assassinated in Kuala Kubu Baru in 1951, the BMA brought in (Field Marshal Gen Tun Sir) Gerald Templer to take charge and sort things out.

“That was when the Gurkha Regiment’s commanding officer Col A.A.B. Harris Rivett summoned me in to run the Kinta Valley homeguards training centre in Tanjung Malim.

“The idea was to formulate a mixed race safe cordoned haven for villagers against the communist terrorist threat.

“It was a 25-hour job and I had my hands full,” said Lim, who went on to serve the Army for 17 years from 1960.

Lim said he was drafted into the Army after French commander Gen De Fong Blanque arrived as the homeguards’ Inspector-General to disband the unit.

Lim, meanwhile, was mobilised all over the country to assist in covert operations.

“We constantly kept moving to avoid detection by the enemy, as we didn’t know when we will be shot! It was for our personal safety and security,” said Lim.

Major (Rtd) Anthony Joseph Lim Seng Soon (right) with prominent stevedore and the country’s first Olympic Games qualifier Datuk Eddie Eu Eng Hock (left) and Army chief Tan Sri Ungku Nazaruddin Ungku Mohamed (next to Eu) at the Selangor Polo and Riding Club in Ampang, Selangor.

He soon took charge as a battalion major serving, among others, with the Royal Malay Regiment, Army’s transport companies and the Royal Ranger Corps.

He also helped trained countless soldiers as an instructor with the Territorial Army.

“I was soon rubbing shoulders with the military top brass and it was during this time that the Army chief Gen Tan Sri Ungku Nazaruddin Ungku Mohamed roped me in to establish the Seri Lara Club (at the Selangor Polo and Riding Club in Ampang).

Major (Rtd) Anthony Joseph Lim Seng Soon receiving his Ahli Mangku Negara medal from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah.

“He figured that if young officers could manage horses, they could better command their charges under them,” said Lim, who took optional retirement in 1975 to help his father run his timber company in Klang.

Lim is married to retired police administrative secretary Mary Huang Choon Ngoh and the couple has two sons – motor workshop manager William Lim Yuen Li, 57, and architect Lim Yuen Khiang, 59.

When asked on his formula for longevity, Lim simply put it as: “The Armed Forces duty-free beer, which I enjoy till today, did the trick!” © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd