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Dean of all military attachés is Malaysian

Malaysian Defence Attaché Colonel Adnan Hj Ariffin and his wife, Raya, at the Hotel InterContinental on the occasion of Vietnam National Day on August 30. Photograph: Meng Kimlong/Phnom Penh Post

One of the most-respected military men in Phnom Penh is Malaysian Defence Attaché Colonel Adnan Hj Ariffin. Always present at military functions, Colonel Ariffin is a dedicated family man and career professional officer.

In honour of the 49th Malaysia Day yesterday, Colonel Ariffin offered a few minutes of his time to describe the role of the dean of military attachés in Phnom Penh and his reflections on life. “If you want to be respected, have the guts to respect others.”

Colonel Ariffin was elected dean of military attachés in September 2010 by the Military Attaché Corps of Phnom Penh (MACPP), which consists of resident members Russia, the United States, China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and Myanmar, and non-resident members India, Singapore New Zealand, Canada, Korea, Bulgaria, France, Japan, the Philippines, Ukraine and Cuba. Colonel Ariffin joined the Malaysian Army in 1974. Now he holds a master’s degree in management.

Ariffin formerly served in Morocco’s Western Sahara with a UN delegation in the role as a UN Military observer. He really enjoyed the experience, making friends with officers and men from many countries including Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, the US, France, Italy and South Korea.

“Our job was to monitor the cease-fire while the negotiations went on. I was there for a year and the good experience was to serve with many nationalities,” Ariffin said.

After 38 years in the Malaysian army, Ariffin, now aged 56, plans to retire at 60. He has two sons, both of whom serve in the Army. He’s proud of them, as well as his two daughters.

“Professionalism is the essence of many things. If you are professional, you get things done and you’ll be able to get others to join you.” Colonel Ariffin makes it a point to be pleasant to his subordinates.

“Friendship will avoid many confrontations,” he said. “That’s one of the strongest points we have in the Malaysian army. We come from different hometowns and suddenly we are brothers. This is not easy to achieve. Through training we achieve it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at



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