Not all are allowed to wear their badge of honour

21:54, Apr 22 2012
Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal
Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal

They are badges of honour, comradeship, heroism and hard slog. However, military medals are not without controversy.

None more so than the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal.

The medal, given by the King and Government of Malaysia was created in 2004 for Commonwealth forces who served in Malaysia during the Malayan Emergency and the Indonesian Confrontation.

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Its citation says the award is in recognition of their “distinguished chivalry, gallantry, sacrifice, or loyalty'' in contributing to the independence of Malaysia.

Commonwealth forces who served for at least 90 days, between August 1957 and December 1966  are eligible for Pingat Jasa Malaysia as are those who served in Singapore between August 1957 and August 1965.

Approval for the right of eligible New Zealand, Australian and Gurkha ex-servicemen to accept and wear the medal without restriction was submitted to Queen Elizabeth II and approved in 2005.

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The same approval was not given in the United Kingdom.

In 2005 the British Government announced it would refuse the Malaysian medal for citizens on the basis that the award was contrary to British Medals Policy.

Intensive lobbying from veterans followed.

The Government backed down, saying British citizens could accept the medal, but they would not be allowed to wear it.

British ex-servicemen are still campaigning against this decision, believing that to deny them the right to wear the medal when the same right has been granted to other Commonwealth veterans is unjust and inappropriate.

To date, the decision not to allow the medal to be worn still stands.

For Kiwi soldiers who served in Malaya and Borneo the medal is the most explicit acknowledgment of the time they served in the jungle.

Vietnam veterans became first eligible for a medal in 1966 The South Vietnamese Campaign Medal awarded by the South Vietnamese Government to New Zealand and Australian forces.

That was followed in 1968 by the jointly-developed New Zealand and Australian Vietnam Medal.

Malayan veterans were initially awarded New Zealand standard general service medals to recognise service in operations where no separate medal was intended The General Service Medal 1918-62 and its replacement The General Service Medal 1962.

Recognition in the form of a more specific medal did not come until 30 years later.

The New Zealand General Service Medal 1992 (Warlike) was issued to recognise service in warlike operations for which no separate New Zealand or British Commonwealth campaign medal was issued four clasps were issued for warlike operations between 1956 and 1991 in the Suez Canal region, Malaya, Vietnam and Kuwait.

The Southland Times