Allahyarham Mustaffa b. Dapat (b. 21 October 1964, d. 28 August 2004).
Mustaffa Dapat was born to a former British Army employee, Dapat b. Selamat. He grew up in Kampung Stulang Baru, Johor Bahru, Johor and attended Larkin School. His father by then became a Postman at Bukit Panjang Post Office, Bukit Panjang, Singapore while his mother run an eatery stall in Larkin.
Later he attended MARA Junior Science College, Kuantan, Pahang (1977-1981). He went to Oklahoma to study engineering but later transferred to Ohio University in Columbus, Ohio and earned a bachelor in aeronautical engineering in 1986.
He came back to Malaysia during the first economic recession. After his mother passed away in 1987 to stomach ulcer, Mustaffa enrolled in the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) KD Pelanduk as a Cadet Officer. He graduated and commissioned in 1989 as the best cadet officer and earned the golden sabre from HM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong, beating more than a dozen ex RMC cadet officers in his intake.
He was initially destined to be trained as the engineer for the RMN’s Air Wing KD Rajawali. However, still as a Sub. Lt., he was sent to Royal Australian Navy submarine school near Sydney in 1992 instead. He earned his ‘dolphins’ in 1993, the first RMN officer to be certified as submariner, along with Lt. Abdul Rahman Ayob and Senior Petty Officer Suhaimi after the training in an RAN Oberon Class submarine.
His track record was so impressive that the RAN, through Australian MINDEF, requested their Foreign Office to ask MINDEF, through Wisma Putra for Lt. Mustaffa to come and serve for another tour of duty, in the RAN submarine squadron. During this time, he participated in a submarine exercise with the US Navy.
After serving ten years of short commission service, Mustaffa left the RMN in 1997 due to economic reasons. He joined ATSC Sdn. Bhd. and served as the Project Manager for the MiG 29N maintenance program, based in TUDM Kuantan, under former RMAF Brig. Gen. Richard Robless Sr. He later joined Rajawali Aerospace Sdn. Bhd. as a General Manager, also following Robless.
In 2001 when Perimekar Sdn. Bhd. put up the bid for the submarine project, Mustaffa was employed as a consultant to the project. He later joined Perimekar as a Project Manager and facilitated the project management during the lengthy technical negotiations between DCNi, Thales (now Armaris), Perimekar and the RMN. The contract was signed in June 2002 for the acquisition of two Scorpene Class SSK submarines. By then, LTAT through Boustead Bhd. was a 51% shareholder of Perimekar.
Mustaffa was sent to Cherbourg, France in December 2002, to facilitate for the Perkimekar’s contract to ensure the RMN Submarine Project Team’s work supervising and monitoring the construction, testing and commissioning of the two submarines are fully completed, according to the contract.
In late July, Mustaffa fell ill due to viral fever and was admitted to the Louis Pasteur Hospital, Cherbourg in early August. Five days later he was transferred to another hospital in Caen where he remained for the next two and half weeks. Within that time, it was diagnosed that Mustaffa suffered a rare penicillin allergy called ‘Steven Johnson syndrome’. He went into a coma and eventually just before six a.m. Saturday, 28 August 2004, Mustaffa Dapat died never regained consciousness.
His body was bathe and kapan (covered with burial shroud) at the Caen mosque. Then the remains was taken to Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport on the afternoon of Monday 30 August 2007 and was flown back to Kuala Lumpur onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH 021 at noon, national day of 2004. His remains arrived in KLIA on 5.30 am 1 September 2004, accompanied by his wife Masniza Mansor, his 8 year old son Muhammad Faza Aiman, his three month old baby Misha Elyssa, Puan NorAishah M. Nasri (wife of Deputy Leader, Submarine Project Team Capt. Rosland Omar), his best friend and fellow submariner (who also represented the RMN), Cdr. Abdul Rahman Ayob and Perimekar manager based in Cartagena, Spain, Anuar. Lt. Cdr. Zulhelmi Ithnain and Lt. Cdr. Baharuddin Md. Nor were there at KLIA to receive the body and those who accompanied the remains of Allahyarham Mustaffa Dapat.
His was then remains taken to Masjid Kampung Chempaka, Kampung Tunku, Petaling Jaya and later was interned at Kampung Tunku Cemetery that noon. Relatives, former colleagues from the RMN and the Defense Attache’ of the French Embassy of Kuala Lumpur were there to pay their respect. So were representatives of DCNi and Armaris.
Mustaffa Dapat would have been forty three today if he was still with us. His passing was missed by the entire submariner community in this country, especially the RMN. I remembered specifically in LIMA ’01, during breakfast at Awana Porto Malai, former Chief of Navy Laksamana Tan Sri Ilyas Md. Din (then Fleet Operation Commander Laksda Dato’ Ilyas Md. Din) said to me “Mustaffa’s departure from the Navy was a great loss to us but later proven to be a great service to the nation. He would one day made Chief of Navy had he stayed on and served”. So did former RMN Inspector General Laksmana Pertama Danyal Balagopal confirm the same point, separately.
Adieu, mon kapitan.