The installation of new army chief in the change of command ceremony completes when the outgoing army chief hands over ceremonial ‘baton of command’ – known as Malacca cane – to his successor.
But what actually is the Malacca stick or command stick and why it carries so significance in the military?
Malacca Cane is prepared from a special cane in Malacca, a Singaporean island. Early in this century, Malacca was referred to as the “King of Canes.”
Malacca is one species of rattan (Calamus Ascipionum) also found on the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. Rattan palms have long, slender stems, and were perfect for fashioning walking sticks. Rattan is a South East Asian climbing plant with long thin strong stems used especially for making furniture.
The stem is not round, but has a ridge or spine, often called a “teardrop,” running along its length.
It is very light-weight, yet strong, with no two specimens being alike. The stem is made up of links with joints or nodes at both ends like bamboo.
Malacca stick’s importance in the military
The stick is considered a symbol of command in the army. The tradition of handing over Malacca stick to the new army chief dates to the British era.
The Malacca stick is part of military uniforms in several countries including Sri Lanka, India, Britain.
Outgoing Army Chief General Raheel Sharif handed over the command stick to his successor General Qamar Javed Bajwa at a ceremony in Rawalpindi.
Gen Sharif had received the Malacca stick from then General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in 2013.
While it was Musharraf who had handed over the stick to Gen Kayani in 2007 after he relinquished the charge.
What if the stick gets broken?
The Malacca cane stick mere symbolizes command in the military. In case the stick is broken (which hasn’t been heard as yet), it doesn’t have any effect on authority of the military head.
The stick symbolically adds to clout of the army chief and signifies the responsibilities and authority on the shoulders of the army head.