Army Sergeant Dishonourably Discharged After Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine
A sergeant in the Malaysian Army was dishonourably discharged after almost two decades of service for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19
Sergeant Wan Ramly Wan Seman was sacked after refusing direct orders from his Commanding Officer (CO) to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, citing the exercise of his rights as a Malaysian to refuse as it was not made mandatory by the government.
The news of his dismissal first broke on 23 August and will come into effect tomorrow, 26 August.
Speaking to Free Malaysia Today, Wan Ramly, 39, said that this right of refusal is extended to every citizen, regardless of whether they are in the army or not. He also adds that he is deeply disappointed as he was 16 months away from qualifying for a lifetime pension for his service.
He had served in the army for 19 years with a spotless disciplinary record, and had rose to the commanding rank in the Royal Malay Regiment's 24th batalliion, based in Negeri Sembilan.
The father of three said his ordeal began in early July, when he first refused to be vaccinated against the orders of his CO. Wan Ramly was then subjected to multiple counselling sessions to persuade him, but to no avail, reported Berita Harian.
The Malaysian Army reasserted their stance that the vaccine is compulsory for all servicemen, citing the communal nature of their quarters and their roles as frontliners
In a press statement, the army clarified that the dishonourable discharge of Sergeant Wan Ramly is indeed true, and that they made the decision based on serious considerations of fact.
"As a member of the Malaysian Army, the vaccine has been made mandatory, especially before undertaking any postings or assignments. The only exception (that can be made) is to those that do not qualify," the statement read, adding, "Any servicemen who refuse the vaccine will be subjected to disciplinary actions for violating direct orders."
It is believed that these qualifiers are for those with related allergies, compromised immune systems, or pregnant women, as reported by mStar.
The army went on to say this decision is based on how members live communally when carrying out their duties, as well as their increased exposure to the virus, being frontliners.
"(If they refuse) they can spread COVID-19 onto other army members, their family members, as well as society at large."
Veteran groups are split over the decision, with one calling for Wan Ramly to be given a fair trial
According to Free Malaysia Today, the president of the National Patriots Association (Patriots), retired Brigadier-General Mohamed Arshad Raji, had said the decision by the army was rather harsh.
"To discharge someone... before he qualifies for the pension is a bit cruel... 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," said Mohamed Arshad.
Wan Ramly was reported to have requested to be court-martialled under army laws to defend his sacking, but it was refused outright by his CO.
Another veteran group, Persatuan Veteran ATM (PVATM), however, said retired servicemen ought to trust the current leadership to make the right decisions, reported Malaysiakini.
"PVATM calls on our brothers to not get involved or give any negative comments regarding those who are still serving," their president Sharuddin Omar said in a statement, adding, "We believe the higher-ups in the army have made all the relevant considerations of fact from every aspect before making any decisions."
They concluded by saying had Wan Ramly not been ostracised, his decision might have influenced others, which will compromise morale of the whole organisation.