PETALING JAYA: An army sergeant who refused to be vaccinated for Covid-19 has been given a dishonourable discharge after 19 years of service without any disciplinary record whatsoever.
Sergeant Wan Ramly Wan Seman, from the Royal Malay Regiment’s 24th battalion based in the Rasah Camp in Negeri Sembilan, will lose his pension for which he would have qualified in another 16 months, according to him.
The orders for his discharge will be effective from Thursday. He said his date of normal discharge would have been Jan 21, 2023, adding that he was supposed to have reported for his resettlement training next March.
The 39-year-old father of three told FMT he was merely exercising his right to refuse the vaccination which is enjoyed by every citizen and being a soldier does not make him any different.
“I am extremely disappointed that after nearly 20 years of service to the nation without any disciplinary record, I have been given a dishonourable discharge.
“I still believe I have every right to refuse the vaccine as the government has not made it compulsory,” he said.
Wan Ramly said he would now be facing difficulties to fend for his young children aged between three and nine, adding that his wife, who works in the private sector, will be the sole breadwinner for now.
He said his problems started some time in early July when he refused to be vaccinated after being ordered to do so. He was subsequently subjected to several sessions with his superior who tried to convince him to do so.
“One of the sessions was with seven of them, including the commanding officer, his officer-in-charge, a doctor and an ustaz. I was put under tremendous pressure and was scolded by some of them.
“On July 10, I was charged under four sections of the Armed Forces Act 1972. These included disobeying orders to be vaccinated and for merely saying ‘I am definitely not agreeing to be vaccinated’,” he said.
He said he had asked to be court-martialled under army laws but his commanding officer refused him outright.
Veterans group National Patriots Association (Patriot) president Brig-Gen (Rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji said he had been briefed about the case and was trying to help.
“He may have gone against the directive but as a Malaysian, he has his fundamental rights where the vaccine is concerned. It is not mandatory for Malaysians,” he said.
He said the best way forward would have been to give him an early resettlement course where he could spend time learning a trade before he completes his service.
“To discharge someone 16 months before he qualifies for the pension is a bit cruel, too, as he is a father of three young children. There are better ways of handling a soldier who has given the best part of his youth to the nation,” he said.
Arshad said he had dealt with many disciplinary cases while he was in service but had always used his compassion by considering the family situation of the personnel involved.
“This sergeant did not commit a crime, his case should be reviewed,” he said.