If you thought that PASKAL was named after the mathematician Pascal (of Pascal’s Triangle fame) – you’d be surprised to learn the Royal Malaysian Navy’s special forces unit was named for a different reason. In fact, you’re probably surprised to find out that the Royal Malaysian Navy had a special forces unit – and that they’ve got a movie coming out about them, Paskal the Movie.

If the Ah Boys To Men series has scarred you for life when it comes to Asian army movies, you’d be glad to know that Paskal The Movie is nowhere as campy. It’s a serious, dramatic look at a deadly military unit that’s stationed just a few miles north of our borders. But PASKAL wasn’t always based in Malaysia. In fact, it was based in Singapore when it was first founded!

Here are some facts you might not have known about these elite commandos. Brush up on your military history before you hit the cinemas for Paskal The Movie!

 

1. PASKAL was originally stationed in Woodlands in Singapore

Would you want to join PASKAL? Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Would you want to join PASKAL? Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

PASKAL was founded in 1977 – but back then, it had a different name. It was the Royal Malaysian Navy Naval Commando Unit and it was based in Woodlands! Given that we know that Khatib Camp was there, it’s highly likely that PASKAL spent its early days there. Later, PASKAL relocated to a new naval base in Perak in 1979. However, it was only officially established in 1982, a good five years later.

PASKAL was formed to protect Malaysia’s naval bases and other important assets, especially those related to the sea.

 

2. What does PASKAL stand for?

Training in Paskal the Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Training in Paskal the Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

PASKAL’s acronym is unconventionally derived, to say the least. It actually stands for Pasukan Khas Laut, which means Naval Special Warfare Forces in Malay. However, instead of calling it the PKL (it could be confusing), the unit was abbreviated as PASKAL. How?

It took the first three letters of the first word, the first and third letter of the second word , and the first letter of the third word to form PASKAL. In other words:

Pasukan Khas Laut -> PASKAL

We have to admit, PASKAL does have a better ring to it than PKL. And we guess they have to do some mathematical triangulations and such in the course of their work… so the link to the famous mathematician Pascal isn’t as contrived as it may first seem.

 

3. The official name of PASKAL

A PASKAL soldier is a modern day knight. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

A PASKAL soldier is a modern day knight. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Pasukan Khas Laut is what PASKAL stands for, and it was given another name just nine years ago. To show just how special the team is, the King of Malaysia bestowed it with a new name, KD Panglima Hitam, at a ceremony in 2009.

KD Panglima Hitam roughly translates to HMS Black Knight. Panglima Hitam (Black Knight) was a title awarded to courageous, loyal and powerful warriors of the Malaysian Sultan in the past. There are a slew of illustrious commanders who were awarded the Panglima Hitam title in the past here, and it’s no mean feat to be considered a Black Knight.

 

4. PASKAL’s raison d’etre

PASKAL trains by the waters it's supposed to protect in Paskal the Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

PASKAL trains by the waters it’s sworn to protect in Paskal the Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Remember how PASKAL was formed in 1977, but only officially formed in 1982? Well that’s partly because of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It was an international treaty that defined the rights and responsibilities of countries with regard to their oceans (and also, what constituted each country’s oceans).

Malaysia was one of the first nations to extend their territorial waters past 12 nautical miles (22.2km), which was the original guideline from the United Nations, to a whopping 200 nautical miles (370 km). This is technically known as the Exclusive Economic Zone, so only Malaysia has special rights when it comes to ocean explorations and marine resources within this region.

That was when PASKAL was officially established as the special military unit that would enforce the borders and territories of Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (which is approximately 598,450 square km).

 

5. The age ceiling for PASKAL is 30

Gruelling underwater training in Paskal the Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Combat drown proofing in Paskal the Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

If you’re 30 (and above) and feeling old, you’re absolutely right – you’re too old to join PASKAL. There are many stringent requirements for joining PASKAL, and one of them is the fact that applicants have to be younger than 30.

Needless to say, they have amazing physical fitness as well as running and swim speeds too. In the above picture, trainees are undergoing an exercise called combat drown proofing, where they have their hands and feet bound before being dumped into a pool. According to the actors, this is the most challenging exercise of PASKAL survival training. Find out more about their gruelling physical challenges here.

 

6. Operation Dawn 8: Gulf of Aden – PASKAL’s most famous mission

PASKAL storms a ship in Paskal the Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

PASKAL storms a ship in Paskal the Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

A few years after PASKAL was given the KD Panglima Hitam title, they engaged in one of their most high profile missions ever. After the MV Bunga Laurel was hijacked by pirates in 2011, PASKAL was deployed to take back the ship. The name of this naval operation was Operation Dawn 8: Gulf of Aden, and 14 (only 14!) PASKAL team members were sent to take back the ship.

How long did it take for them to wrest control of the MV Bunga Laurel from pirates? Just a single day. They had the support of an attack helicopter too, and rescued all 23 members of the ship’s crew.

Paskal the Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Paskal the Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

And it’s this real life mission that’s dramatised in Paskal The Movie! The film features the titular team itself, PASKAL, as they struggle to take back the MV Bunga Laurel from Somali pirates. Inspired by the true story of PASKAL, it’s a serious and rousing military movie that will get your blood pumping as you watch the heroic soldiers save the day.

You might even want to join PASKAL after catching Paskal The Movie.

 

Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

 

 

Follow The Popping Post on Facebook and Instagram for more fun and exciting reads!