Yeop Mahidin bin Mohamed Shariff was the first Director of Rejimen Askar Wataniah, the reserves component of the Malaysian Army. He was widely regarded as the “Father of Wataniah” for his efforts in establishing the Rejimen Askar Wataniah as a credible force.
Yeop Mahidin was born on 20 February 1918 in Parit, Perak to a Customs officer. He was educated at the Anderson School and a keen boxer who was a bantam weight champion. He was a keen footballer, and was active in field hockey and cricket, in which he was once given the “Batsman Of The Year” award.
According to his family, Yeop Mahidin came from a long line of silat exponents who served as protectors to the Perak Sultanate. His children, both the men and the women in the family are known as efficient fighters with a style of fighting handed down over generations.
One of his sons, named Mokhtar, nicknamed Apin (Ariffin), went on to establish the a silat school in the United Kingdom.
He aspired to join the Malay Regiment but was discouraged to do so by his headmaster L.D Whitfield who wanted him to join the Malayan Civil Service. In 1937, Yeop Mahidin went to the Malay College to prepare him for life in the Civil Service.
In 1938, Yeop Mahidin was appointed a magistrate in Telok Anson (now Teluk Intan) before transferring to Kajang in 1939. In 1940 he again transferred, this time to Kuala Lipis as Assistant District Officer. He joined the local Malay State Volunteer Rifles Reserve and commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant.
World War II
When World War II broke out, Yeop Mahidin formed a resistance group called the Pahang Wataniah. The unit had a strength of 254 men and was assisted by Force 136, which assigned Major Richardson to help train the unit. His bravery and exploits earned him the nickname “Singa Melayu” (Malay Lion).
In 1945, Yeop Mahidin was made Commander of local resistance forces and made a Major. He was offered by the British to undergo military training in Britain but he refused. Captain Abdul Razak bin Hussein (later Malaysia’s Second Prime Minister) and Lieutenant Ghazali bin Shafie (a renowned Malaysian Foreign Minister) was sent instead.
Founding Rejimen Askar Wataniah
In 1950, the British Malaya government formed the “Home Guard” and Yeop Mahidin was made the Deputy Director of the Malayan Home Guard. The Home Guard was tasked with static local Defence and manned checkpoints that curbed the flow of supplies to Communist Terrorists.
In 1958, as the threat of the communist terrorists receded, the Malayan Home Guard was disbanded. The Malayan Territorial Army was formed in 1958 with the passing of the Territorial Army Ordinance 1958. The Territorial Army soon changed its name to Askar Wataniah. Yeop Mahidin was made the First Director of Askar Wataniah with the rank of Colonel.
Yeop Mahidin left the Askar Wataniah in 1963 when he was made the District Officer of Kuala Lipis. Yeop Mahidin was also a renowned Silat exponent and instructor.
He was also active in the Malaysian Olympic Movement was the Chef-de-Mission of the Malaysian contingent during the 1971 South East Asian Peninsular Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Edited from Wikipedia and http://www.silat.f9.co.uk/