KUALA TERENGGANU: He took five bullets, with countless others narrowly missing him, while piloting a helicopter to ferry troops and supplies into a hostile territory near the Malaysia-Thai border.
But to a young captain, preserving the nation’s interests against the threat of communist, overcame his fear of being killed in action by the enemy ground fire while flying the Nuri of Sikorsky S-61.
That patriotic fire kept burning successfully for Brig Gen (Rtd) Datuk Goh Seng Toh to clock a remarkable 36 years of service with the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
“There were numerous other occasions when I, just like many other Malaysian soldiers, could have lost my life and become another statistical number.
“But we soldiered on, knowing well that our services were needed to preserve the nation’s sovereignty,” said Goh, 72, who is not resting easy, by continuing to serve society.
For one, he is the National House Buyers Association (NHBA) vice-president, looking after the interests of the public in owning properties.
The other is as proprietor of the Uncle Lim’s chain of cafes where he provides job opportunities for both locals and foreigners.
Looking back, Goh said he was proud to be part of the many young men who took the challenge to serve the nation at the height of the communist insurgency, the Emergency and the Confrontation with Indonesia – in the Sixties through the Eighties.
These were the men who risked their limbs and lives to keep the nation’s security, peace and sovereignty intact.
“All said and done, I reckon it was the duty of each abled-bodied citizen to contribute one way or another to safeguard the interests of our beloved nation.
“And I am glad to have done so to stand up and be counted, just like the thousands of others, including foreign soldiers, to defend our country,” said Goh in an interview ahead of the 60th Merdeka Day celebration.
Goh graduated as a Pilot Officer (now 2nd Lieutenant) from the RMAF flying training school in Alor Star, Kedah in 1966, where he received his ‘wings’ from the then Defence Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein (who later became the country’s second prime minister), the father of current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Asked how he got involved with the HBA and Uncle Lim’s, Goh said rather than contribute cash blindly to charities, he wanted to do something more meaningful.
“For instance, the NHBA provides an avenue for buyers to voice their grievances from abandoned projects, shoddily constructed homes and joint management issues.
“I am part of a team of volunteers, trying to put the industry in a more orderly, professional and fair perspective by providing complimentary counselling and legal advice,” he said.
Uncle Lim’s, he added, was an avenue to keep himself active and to provide value-for-money, quality food and beverage services, apart from employment for many.
“Generations like mine have gone through the struggles of earning a decent living.
“I want to pass on my experience and talent to the younger ones so that they can prosper, too,” said Goh.
Goh operates the cafes at Subang Parade, Ikano Power Centre at Mutiara Damansara, Mydin Mall Subang Jaya and at klia2 in Sepang, offering jobs for nearly 100 since 13 years ago.
He has put in his succession plan where his son Goh Kah Lyn is now in the driver’s seat running his cafe’s operations.
“I describe my role now as that of a minister mentor.
“I am very glad that throughout my career, I am fortunate to have a perfectly understanding and supportive wife in Datin Lim Boey Hoy, who struggled through with me rain or shine.” said Goh.