Re-Produced: Hatyai Accord: The Failure Of The Domino Theory – Part 3

On the eve of the 55th Merdeka anniversary, uninformed youths, blind to history, displayed flags they said should be the Malaysian flag. As a former military officer who has seen the National Flag draped the coffin of fallen squad mates and subordinates, I find their action, for a lack of better word, disturbing. I seriously hope the Ministry of Home Affairs would take action against them. Politicians attempting to cause dissent among non-Malays, Sabahans and Sarawakians should also be taken action against.

Current political scenario is not new to this nation. The acts of certain politicians mimic those of the Communist Party of Malaya, and a certain significant political party back in the 1960s.

The following article was written during the Merdeka month last year as the third and final instalment about the communists’ armed struggle against this nation.

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As mentioned in the previous posting, the CPM split into two factions in October 1974: the CPM and the MPLA (CPM-Marxist-Leninist).

In 1975, the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge ousted the Cambodian military government and began a reign of terror. In Vietnam, Soviet-backed North Vietnamese Army rolled into Saigon, effectively ending the Vietnam War. By December 1975, Laos too, fell to the Communists. In South-East Asia, there was real fear that the ASEAN nations would be next to fall to Communism – the Domino Theory was born.

Both the CPM and MPLA’s spirit were boosted by this new turn of events. Their activities peaked in 1975. There were bombings of the National Monument (Tugu Negara), the Police Field Force camp in Jalan Pekeliling in Kuala Lumpur Having scored a morale-boosting victory by assassinating the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim, a year earlier, they set their sights on Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Leng’s predecessor, Tan Sri Jimmy Khoo Chong Khong, the Chief Police Officer of Perak.

Tan Sri Khoo was ambushed near the Ipoh General Hospital by the same assassins that murdered the IGP. His brave driver, Sergeant Chong, returned fire despite having being hit repeatedly by the assassins’ bullets. Sergeant Chong died soon after, but not before injuring one of the assassins in the head that then led the police to them.

Between 1976 and 1977, the Malaysian media was filled with nothing but stories of ambushes and attacks by the communist terrorists against the police and the military.

When Chairman Mao Zedong died, Deng Xiaoping returned to mainstream politics. Given his rapport with Chin Peng, the CPM was fueled to up the revolutionary ante. However, in 1978 Deng visited Thailand, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and was convinced to stop exporting Communism. As a result, in 1981 Deng ordered the ‘Suara Revolusi Malaya’ to stop broadcasting.

The CPM had had to relocate the radio station to South Thailand and renamed it ‘Suara Demokrasi.’ Starved of support, the CPM and MPLA were riddled with internal strife and political cleansing (including the execution of suspected counter-revolutionaries) that their effectiveness was greatly reduced.

The MPLA changed its name to the Malayan People’s Army (MPA) in 1982. One of the last gunbattles that occurred in the vicinity of Kuala Lumpur was in May 1983, on the day my paternal grandmother died. A patrol car chanced upon a group of Min Yuens and communist terrorists near what was Mimaland in Gombak. In the gunbattle, one policeman and one CT were killed, while the other policeman and another CT were injured.

The West Betong and Sadao groups of the CPM decided to surrender themselves to the Thai government in 1987 when they realised their struggle was not achieving any success, and with no clear political or military objectives.
On 2nd December 1989, the Communists gave up armed struggle and signed a peace treaty with the governments of Malaysia and Thailand, ending the Second Emergency.
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So, were the communist terrorists freedom-fighters as claimed by some parties?

When the Federation of Malaya achieved independence, the CPM had lost all clout in fighting “imperialism” and “colonialism”; yet it continued to do so, and even refused to recognise the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963 by supporting the Indonesian campaign of lynching Malaysia (Ganyang Malaysia).

Let us also not forget that the CPM’s counterparts in especially Sarawak continued to wage war against the government ’til 1989. Among those killed fighting the terrorists in Sarawak was Superintendent Joni Mustapha, a Sarawak hurdler in 1958-59.

Joni was loyal to his men. He was in a cinema in Sibu watching a movie with his son when he got word that his men were pinned down by heavily armed terrorists upriver. He left his son behind and travelled by boat to reach his men. He was felled by machinegun fire, but remained to direct the firefight against the terrorists until he died. Seeing his commander die, Corporal Nguing, an Iban warrior, unsheathed his machete and charged at the terrorists only to be mown down.

Therefore, the communists terrorists not only fought against what some perceived as the “puppet-regime” in Kuala Lumpur, they fought against Malaysians on every inch of this hallowed soil trying to introduce communism, and turn this beloved country of ours into either a China-leaning satellite, or a Soviet-leaning one. It was never a nationalistic fight for freedom as claimed by some mentally-skewed politicians and their supporters either.

There is nothing nationalistic about joining the forces of a foreign-nation to lynch your own people, if the CPM ever regarded Malaysians as their own. Remember, the CPM waged war against the Malaysian people for 32 years after the independence.

Was the fight against the communists solely a malay struggle as claimed by a former Minister? No. Kanang ak Langkau is an Iban. So was Corporal Nguing. Tan Sri Khoo Chong Khong, Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Leng, Colonel Chong Kheng Lay – chinese. Former DSP Jeganathan, whom I had the honour of working with, is an Indian. He was absorbed into the Special Branch from Jabatan Talikom to set up the police VHF network, jungle-bashing, ploughing his way through to construct towers in the jungle with the communists hot on him. Inspectors Kamalanathan and Robert Cheah were injured when a grenade was lobbed into the Ipoh coffee shop where they were having coffee. I worked briefly with Kamalanathan who still limped in 1995 with a shrapnel lodged inside him decades after the incident.

It was a war against all of us, Malaysians – free and independent Malaysians, by godless creatures who call themselves freedom fighters, a war that none of us Malaysians should ever forget, and against those none of us should ever support.

The people of Malaysia, the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Royal Malaysian Police, should always be on guard for a resurgence of communism in Malaysia. The peace treaty of 1989 was just a declaration of the end of an armed struggle; not the giving up of the communist ideology.

55 And Still Without Political Integrity

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Malaysia celebrates 55 years of independence. For those who think that this nation only came into being on 16th September 1963, let me tell you that the name of this nation was changed to the Federation of Malaysia to include Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. Both Alaska and Hawaii joined the United States of America in 1959, but to people from those states 4th of July 1776 is their Independence Day.

For politicians who are trying hard to make the people of Sabah and Sarawak think of themselves as being separated from those on the peninsula, shame on you for trying to tear this nation apart for your political gains.

55 years on, political integrity is what we lack, and that is a big shame to us all. The thing most synonymous with politicians is corruption. I am not just talking about those from the Barisan Nasional, but also those in the loose opposition coalition that calls themselves, ironically, the Pakatan Rakyat. While money politics is still rife within UMNO, we hear of corrupt practices within the Pakatan Rakyat itself. I will let you Google for the links to these yourselves.

Corruption amongst politicians only proves one thing: that power corrupts, and absolute power absolutely corrupts. With power comes the opportunity to enrich one’s self, and to stay in power, one needs to buy his way into a recognised position. And the amount can only increase each time.

The problem lies with us, human beings. God is intangible. Heaven and hell are intangible. Rewards and Sins are intangible. Which is why some people do things without the slightest guilt.

Of course political corruption is not peculiar to Malaysia only, as it is also evident in other nations including in the west, but this is not an excuse for us to accept it as a norm. Political corruption is something that we must all take as a responsibility to eradicate, or curtail. And this is something that needs to be addressed by us as voters to determine the candidates to choose, rather than by party. UNLESS, all political parties can make one important move.

As a voter, I would like all political parties to submit their list of election candidates to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission and the Royal Malaysian Police, for the potential candidates to be vetted thoroughly. Only names that have been cleared by BOTH agencies, not either or, can stand for elections. That is one way to ensure that voters are not shortchanged by political parties, especially ones that put whoever they have so they could contest.

As voters, we have the responsibility to choose the correct candidates to represent us. Of course, this process would be made easier had the candidate been cleared by the two agencies I mentioned above.

We must strive to choose only candidates who are able to uphold the Constitution, Law and Order, and Justice. We must choose candidates whom have the ability to lead, bring about development and have a certain specialisation. We should choose only candidates who are interested in serving us, not the other way round. What politicians who hold public posts now think is that they are the VIPs and the people should serve them. What they have forgotten is that they are to represent us, help solve our problems. For that reason they are the Wakils Rakyat, not Boss Rakyat. Sad to say that only P Kamalanathan of Hulu Selangor deserves the Yang Berhormat title. He deserves that respect without reservation.

We must ensure the culture of politics with integrity as our way of life as only this can ensure that we continue to live as one, and continue to enjoy this independence. Those with greed for power should be shunned by all and never be allowed to hold office, for that would be like allowing a cancerous cell to spread.

We must ensure that the Executive Branch of the Government administers this nation with proper engagements with the relevant government departments, and not run the country on their own. We have no time for members of the Executive Branch who are only interested in making money.

We must ensure that our representatives in the Legislative Branch do their job as entrusted to them by us the Voters. They must attend sittings and not play truant, and they should debate a bill through and not walk out. If they disagree with anything at all, they should vote any bill out as a registration of protest…not walk out and cheat their voters of their voice. I also hope to see the end of the Whip System as this will ensure that any bill that is to be tabled is thought through and through by all members before it is tabled on the floor. This is to ensure that the party that tables the bill, tables a quality bill that has the support of the significant majority of its members.

We must ensure that the Judiciary Branch remains independent and is free of corruption. The integrity of the Judiciary Branch is key to the preservation of the Government’s integrity.

We must remember that we, the Voters, are the important component in a traveling bus. We elect our representatives to drive the bus, but it is the Voters who determine the destination the representatives ought to drive to.

Remember, if we do not preserve the integrity of us, as Voters, and the integrity of those we have chosen as the driver of this nation, we may not see another 55 years of an independent Malaysia. Preserve integrity and choose wisely, not emotionally.

Selamat menghayati erti Kemerdekaan.

Re-Produced: Hatyai Accord – The Failure Of The Domino Theory – Part 2

I wrote this continuation of the armed struggle by the Communist Party of Malaya last year. Reeling from losses and lack of support from Malayans, followed by Malaysians, Chin Peng sought the help of China to sponsor its attempt to turn Malaysia into a communist satellite.

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After the failure of the Communist Party of Malaya’s (CPM) revolt against British colonial rule and the subsequent independent Federation of Malaya’s government, the CPM retreated almost in full to Southern Thailand. In 1961, Chin Peng, leader of the CPM moved to China and sought support from Beijing. Deng Xiaoping, who was the most influential Chinese leader of the time although he never held any head of state office, promised Chin Peng a sum of US$100,000 in support of the CPM’s struggle.

In 1963, when Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore chose to join the Federation of Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia, Indonesia objected violently by launching a campaign to lynch the newly-formed country out of existence dubbed “Ganyang Malaysia.” The CPM joined the Indonesian forces to fight against the people of Malaysia.

On New Year’s Day in 1968, the Communist Party of China launched the “Cultural Revolution”. The CPM, taking this as a queue and in conjunction with the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the first Malayan Emergency, issued on 1st June 1968 a directive: “Hold High the Great Red Banner of Armed Struggle and Valiantly March Forward.” The first act, 16 days later, was to ambush the security forces and murdered 17 of its members in the Kroh area in Perak. Thus begins the Second Emergency. A year later, with the support of the Communist Party of China, the CPM began transmitting “Suara Revolusi Malaya” from the Hunan province, aimed to gather momentum and support from sleeper-agents, CPM members in South Thailand, and communist symphatizers who remained at large.

When Malaysia and Singapore parted ways, the DAP took up the role of the PAP. There were demonstrations and strikes almost on a weekly basis organised by the DAP. With the party being predominantly Chinese, race relations took a toll. This fact was successfully exploited by the CPM. The CPM indoctrinated people at all levels: Chinese civil servants, student leaders, trades unionists, the non-Malay members of the Armed Forces and Police, the middle classes with their ideology. All it did was to portray that the malays dominated the political scene while the chinese and Indians were relegated to being second-class citizens. Does this ring a bell? By 1969, the damage to race relations was just waiting for the final straw to break its back.

Those who were born after 1970 will never be able to recall how a curfew siren sounds like, but this writer had had that experience of rushing home (our quarters was not only fenced up using the normal chain-link fence, the perimeter chain-link fence was covered in total by barbed wire) every time the siren sounded. Those were the days when our boys in blue had to fight on two fronts: against the communists, and against the common criminal.

Fresh from the race riots of May 1969, the government felt that it could not afford any more ethnic antipathy. During the First (Malayan) Emergency, the setting up of New Villages by order of General Templer caused other races to look at the Chinese population as communist-symphatizers, when the truth was far from it. The government of Malaysia rightfully did not declare the Second Emergency as one, but instead learned from the Briggs Plan that the only way to win the war against the communists was through the tandem improvement of security and development: KESBAN – Keselamatan dan Pembangunan (Security and Development).

KESBAN was carried out to protect the people from subversion, insurgency and a state of lawlessness. It saw the coordination of all agencies from kampung level all the way up. I had had the opportunity to work under Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Leng (one of the heroes of Operation Ginger during the First Emergency), who as the Chief Police Officer of Perak, had to fight not just the war against the communists but also against common criminals. He related to me how, when the police force was stretched thin in Perak, called all the head of gangsters in Perak and appointed them as Rukun Tetangga heads.

“They were born leaders with natural leadership skills. All I had to do was channel those skills to positive use.”

The newly-appointed Rukun Tetangga heads were given the task to uphold the law and maintain peace and order. Any gang member found breaking the law would be surrendered to the police, else the leader will be arrested. This ploy work, crime was drastically reduced, and the police had a freer hand in combatting the communist terrorists in Perak.

The Rukun Tetangga (Neighbourhood Watch) was born out of KESBAN. It saw people of all races work together to keep their neighbourhood peaceful; but what it did most was to foster a good relationship and understanding between races. People were more tolerant of each other back then than they are now. Mind you, it was around half a decade after the race riots of 1969. No one, save for a few, cared whether one was Malay, Indian or Chinese, or Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Tao or Hindu. They were all Malaysians back then.

KESBAN also allowed for development to reach the rural areas; where there was no electricity, some kampungs began to enjoy at least 12-hour electricity supply per day, with the police and military guarding the power supply network from the occasional sabotage by the CPM. Once more rural areas were developed and connected, the communist terrorists moved further deep inside the jungle.

KESBAN would not have been possible had it not been for the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Malaysia. In February 1972, US President Nixon established diplomatic ties with Communist China in order to stem the influence of the Soviet Union in East Asia. The late Tun Abdul Razak did so in 1974. China warmed up to Malaysia. Everywhere the Malaysian delegation went, children lined up the streets waving the flags of both nation.

One must remember that back in 1961, Chin Peng had gone to meet with Deng Xiaoping. The latter enjoyed strong support in the Communist Party of China but was not in good terms with Chairman Mao. The diplomatic ties between Mao and Razak was in a way a hint to Chin Peng and Deng. The CPM retaliated with the assissination of Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim, the then Inspector-General of Police a week later.

Due to the relationship between China and Malaysia, in October 1974, the CPM saw a split in its ranks, and eventually a split in the organisation. The CPM Marxist-Leninist, a splinter group leaning towards the Soviet Union was born. This group was then renamed the Malayan People’s Liberation Army.

IN PART 3 I WILL WRITE MORE ON THE SECOND EMERGENCY TO ITS EVENTUAL COLLAPSE

Re-Produced: Hatyai Accord: The Failure of the Domino Theory – Part 1

I wrote this article last year when I saw there was an attempt to skew history, partly for political gains, and partly because of ignorance of our history.  I found it disheartening, too, when people representing the government did not do a good job at explaining who PKMM, or API, or AWAS were in relation to the rise of Malay nationalism, in relation to the struggle this nation from the clutches of the British.  Were they really freedom fighters, or were they fighting for Malaya to be part of something bigger?

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Very early one morning as I prepared to go to school, I could hear a distant dull explosion, followed a bit later by the rattle of the window panes. It was 1975, 7 years into the Second Emergency. It preceded the assassination of the then Chief Police Officer of Perak, Tan Sri Khoo Chong Kong (November 1975), and in turn was preceded by the assassination of the then Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim. These events were among the reasons that drove me to serve in the Malaysian Armed Forces and managed to join the later part of the Second Emergency campaign.

The Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) has its roots from the South Seas Communist Party (SSCP), otherwise known as the Nanyang Communist Party, that was headquartered in Singapore. The latter was formed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1922. Since communism was introduced to this region by Dutch radicals, the SSCP’s theater of operations were mainly focused in the Dutch East Indies, infiltrating trades unions and disrupting lives. The SSCP attempted an uprising in 1925 which was crushed by the Dutch East Indies authorities and retreated to Singapore where they grouped up. In 1930, the SSCP was dissolved and the Communist Party of Malaya was born.

We all know what happened during the post-war years preceding the First Malayan Emergency. But let me add a point to make people understand a fact here. In my Twitter profile, I described myself as …not prejudiced. I hate everyone equally. This is to show my political stand (or the virtual absence of it). I have friends on both sides of the political fence. One thing I cannot stand is stupidity and blind loyalty. The left-leaning side (depending on which compass direction you are facing) claims that the Tunku, Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Hussein Onn and Tun Mahathir were not freedom fighters. They have been accused as British lackeys, serving the Colonial government’s interests. I guess I will have to forgive them for their lack of knowledge in history before I bludgeon any of them for their sheer stupidity, but:

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Hussein Onn and Tun Dr Mahathir all came from the states of Kedah, Pahang and Johor. When were these states under Colonial rule at any time other than during the brief Malayan Union period?

I should bludgeon the right-leaning side as well for not noticing the above for their defence. Shame on you.

The CPM was organised into the Malayan People’s Anti-British Army but changed that to the Malayan People’s Liberation Army (MPLA) with the aim to set-up the People’s Democratic Republic of Malaya (and Singapore). I guess most of us know the connotation of the name, and countries that had inherited the name, such as the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (aka North Korea).

The MPLA was supported by the CPM’s civilian organisation named Min Yuen. This organisation organised supplies for the MPLA.

The first Malayan General Elections was held in 1955, and Malaya had its first Chief Minister: Tunku Abdul Rahman, whose first act was to bring peace to the nation by declaring partial amnesty to members of the CPM. This partial amnesty was called off 6 months later with only 17 members of the CPM surrendering.

I will also not dwell so much on the details of the First Emergency (1948-1960), but for those not in the know, there was the first National Service registration in the late 1950s after we gained our independence. Some 240,000 registered to combat the communists, or 17 percent of the 1.4 million inhabitants of Malaya then. 20,000 were called up, but only 1500 reported for training. All of them were absorbed into the Federation of Malaya Police Force.

Then, there was a second National Service registration in 1958, but those registered were never called up because by then the members of the CPM realised that the independent Government of the Federation of Malaya, headed by the Tunku and backed by the parties representing the Malays, Chinese and Indians, was not offering any more amnesty and was adamant to obliterate the CPM. This drove the members to surrender by the hundreds, wave after wave, that in the middle of 1958 the CPM, whose MPLA was active only in Perak and South Johor by 1957, had to fall back to the Thai side of the border. Chin Peng and his Central Executive Committee had of course retreated in 1953 when the tide started to turn against the CPM.

In 1960, the Government of the Federation of Malaya declared the Malayan Emergency (First Emergency) over.

I WILL WRITE ABOUT THE CPM IN THE 1960s AND THE SECOND EMERGENCY

The Road To Merdeka: Being Malaysian (Part Two)

We may have left the previous century more than a decade ago, as we have left the pains of the May 13th tragedy 43 years ago; but believe me, the game played by the politicians has not changed much. According to Dato’ Seri J.J Raj Jr, the Opposition parties back in 1969 had touched on issues such as the Malay “special rights”, “Malaysia for Malaysians”, “Equality, Justice, and Equal Opportunities for All”, while an Islamist party put up the slogan “Race, Religion, and Country.”

This all sounds eerily familiar today when people are challenging Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, Dong Zong’s claims, Hudud so on and so forth. All that had been agreed upon by our forefathers so we could all become Malaysian are now being questioned. Racial and religious extremism has reared its head yet again. However, this isn’t the first time since the May 13th tragedy that racial tension has been on a spike. I will come to this later.

In 1969, despite intelligence from the Special Branch, the Prime Minister decided to hold the elections. There was a campaign period of about three weeks after nomination day in April 1969 until polling day on 10th May 1969. A long cooking period brought about an explosive outcome. Racial tension had always been high, with the Opposition parties organising almost weekly demonstrations and strikes to fuel the tension. We see this happening today with several opposition-linked movements disrupting lives in several cities at the same time. On 24th April, 1969, an UMNO man, Encik Kassim bin Omar, was riding his motorcycle when he was stopped by a group of youths who assaulted him so viciously that he succumbed to his injuries. The youth then smeared his face with red paint that was used to write anti-government slogans moments before the assault took place.

On 4th May 1969, Police Constables doing their rounds in the early hours of the morning in Kepong, chanced upon several men who were writing anti-government slogans on the road. When they questioned the youths, they were attacked with iron rods, firewood and stones. The policemen retreated to the nearby market but the youths continued to attack them. One of the policemen opened fire and unfortunately killed one of the youths. As a contrast, the UMNO member was buried without much noise, but the Labour party had other ideas for their fallen member.

The Labour Party then had the youth’s body kept at a funeral parlour in Jalan Sultan. They then applied for a permit to hold a funeral procession. The OCPD of KL had rejected the permit as there was clear and present danger that the situation would turn explosive. However, this decision was overruled by the Home Ministry provided the procession followed the pre-determined routes. The procession attracted thousands including members of the Communist Party of Malaya and its sympathizers and was held on the 9th May, 1969, less than 24 hours before polling day. The procession participants shouted anti-government slogans, and hurled abuses at policemen on duty, calling them “running dogs” and other derogatory terms. When the police refused to engage them, they hurled abuses at the Malay bystanders shouting, “Die, Malays (Malai Si).” They did not keep to their approved routes, but made stops to hurl abuses at other races, harangued them, and even stopped in front of the UMNO building on Jalan Chow Kit.

As we know, the Alliance (UMNO, MCA, MIC) suffered a setback. And most sensitive was the state of Selangor, where DAP won four seats, Gerakan (which was an opposition party then) won four, and an Independent won one; the Opposition had won half of Selangor’s seats. As a result, victory parades were organized on a large scale and without police permit. The mobs became unruly, rowdy, and hooliganism ruled the day in defiance of the rule of law. They went to predominantly Malay areas, particularly Kampung Baru, challenged the Malays and hurled insults at them. Some even went to Dato’ Harun Idris’s house to tell him that he was no longer the Menteri Besar of Selangor. Patience was running thin among the Malays. While Gerakan had apologized for the behaviour of some of its members, supporters of the DAP continued to display, in the words of Dato’ Seri Yuen Yuet Leng, “excessive Chinese chauvinistic” behaviour towards the Malays.

UMNO members demanded to Harun Idris to hold their victory procession as well, as they had not lost the elections. At first, Dato’ Harun was not keen, but after assurance that a police permit would be obtained, he agreed. Selangor UMNO branches were to send participants to Dato’ Harun’s residence by 7pm on 13th May 1969. While they were on their way, racial clashes, for whatever reason, broke out in the Setapak area. The thousands that have thronged Dato’ Harun’s residence just blew up and headed towards Setapak, very unlike the watered-down version I was told shown in ‘Tanda Putera.’

The police did everything to maintain law and order, that even staff from Bukit Aman and recruits from the Police Depot were deployed to assist in maintaining law and order. Curfew took effect and strong personalities prevailed. In Negeri Sembilan, Dato J.J Raj Jr who was the state’s Chief Police Officer quickly went to seek the audience of Tuanku Jaafar, the Yam DiPertuan Besar, and briefed His Majesty on the situation. True to the traditions of a great Ruler, Tuanku Jaafar analysed the proposals from the police, and then gave J.J Raj Jr a clear and simple but firm order:

“Go ahead and maintain law and order at any cost.”

It was His Majesty’s order that saved Negeri Sembilan from a total bloodbath, save for a case or two. Political leaders from both sides of the fence, and elements of secret societies were rounded up and held at the Pudu Jail in Kuala Lumpur. Demands from senior office holders from both sides were totally ignored by the police.

The other strong figure that came (back) at the right time was Tun Dr Ismail. Despite being ill, he returned to the Cabinet as the Home Affairs Minister and declared on national radio and television:

“Democracy is dead. I will not tolerate nonsense from anyone, irrespective of race, religion or colour.”

Tun Dr Ismail was from a rare breed. He was not a vote-catcher,brooked no nonsense from any quarter, and was absolutely impartial and fair-minded. The kind of man that a Home Affairs Minister should be, what more in times when we now see the ugly head of extremism coming back to haunt us all.

To cut a long story short on the 13th May 1969 tragedy, it was an event that shook us all up. Decades of pent-up feelings culminated in an explosion on that day. For whatever reasons it happened, I can only think of two reasons – one, being disrespectful of the agreements made by all races that have been enshrined in the Federal Constitution, and two, continuous provocation by those with political gains to be made at the expense of the uninformed. And this, as I have mentioned above, sounds eerily familiar today.

After that wake-up call in May 1969, Malaysians seem a bit more tolerant towards each other. This gave the police the opportunity to spend more time and effort in combating the second emergency against the communist terrorists that began a year earlier. It was during this emergency that the police was struck twice by the communist terrorists when they assassinated the IGP, Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim on 7th June 1974, and the CPO of Perak, Tan Sri Khoo Chong Khong on 13th November 1975. The National Monument dedicated to the sacrifices of the security forces during the First Emergency was also bombed on the 27th August 1975. You can read more about the Second Emergency in a previous posting of mine.

Towards the end of 1985, a team of 200 policemen under the orders of the Home Affairs Minister, Musa Hitam, laid siege on several kampung houses occupied by about 400 followers of Ibrahim Mahmud a.k.a Ibrahim Libya, a PAS personality, in Memali, Kedah. This happened when Prime Minister, (then Dato Seri) Dr Mahathir Mohamad was away in China. The police action resulted in 14 villagers and 4 policemen dead. The IGP, (then Tan Sri) Hanif Omar, who was away on study leave in England, had to return home immediately after his final law exams to attend to the matter. As a result, Musa Hitam resigned from his posts of Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister.

Racial chauvinism reared its ugly head again in the mid-1980s. Anwar Ibrahim, who was the Minister of Education then, wanted to convert several Chinese vernacular schools into National primary schools. The MCA was taken to task by DAP to ask for the government to repeal Section 21(2) of the education Act, 1961, and to adopt the “No Single Chinese School Closure” policy. The Minister refused to budge. Lim Kit Siang then called the MCA mere “passengers” on the Barisan Nasional ship.

In June 1987, according to Lim Kit Siang, the Deputy Education Minister from MCA, Woon See Chin spoke at an MCA Seminar enumerating certain grievances including certain schools were told to remove display of the crucifix in classrooms; non-Muslim students being coerced to recite phrases or follow certain ceremony which are repugnant to their personal religious beliefs or practices so on and so forth, things that happened during Anwar Ibrahim’s watch as the Education Minister. On 11th October, MCA, DAP and Gerakan joined by Dong Jiao Zhong protested against Anwar’s Ministry’s appointment of 100 non-Chinese senior assistants and principals to Chinese schools.

The UMNO Youth retaliated by organizing a mass rally of 10,000 members at the TPCA Stadium in Kampung Baru. Both UMNO and the Chinese-based organizations respectively called for the resignation of MCA Deputy President (and Labour Minister) Lee Kim Sai and Education Minister Anwar Ibrahim. A mammoth rally was planned in conjunction with UMNO’s 41st anniversary. Despite fears of another racial strife, Deputy Home Affairs Minister Megat Junid, and Deputy Prime Minister Ghafar Baba, assured the public that everything would be okay. The Prime Minister Dr Mahathir was away in Vancouver, Canada attending the Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting.

The police thought otherwise. The media was already adding fuel to fire. The IGP, Tan Sri Mohammed Hanif Omar, who was in Singapore, flew home for a discussion with his Director of Special Branch, Datuk Rahim Noor, who had kept a close eye on the ugly development. Hanif then summoned his directors and senior officers to Fraser’s Hills for a secret meeting. The conclusion of that meeting was that the mammoth rally should not be allowed. The Directors went through a long list of names of potential trouble-makers and shortlisted 106.

When Dr Mahathir returned to Kuala Lumpur, Hanif immediately briefed on the situation and how bloodbath is imminent. Hanif also impressed upon Dr Mahathir that the responsibility to maintain law and order is the police’s and that Dr Mahathir’s role would only be necessary if those arrested were to be detained for longer periods. On 27th October 1987, with an ostensible reason for the police to precipitate an action, the 106 listed were arrested. Printing licenses were revoked and all rallies, including the planned mammoth UMNO rally. A bloodbath was averted, and just in time, 18 years after the 13th May tragedy.

We all know how touchy some subjects are. When representatives from MCA and MIC met with UMNO to discuss citizenship for the Chinese and Indians, they discussed all matters that are now enshrined in the Federal Constitution. The Rukunegara (National Principles) was born as a result of the 13th May tragedy. The five principles of the Rukunegara call for us, as Malaysians, to believe in God, to be loyal towards the King and Country, the supremacy of the Constitution, the Rule of Law, and Courtesy and Morality. Nowadays, we hardly see any of those principles being upheld by politicians and laymen alike.

We see politicians using God as a front to achieve political ends; we see politicians and laymen ridiculing not just the King but also the Country; we question the Constitution and what had been agreed to by our forefathers; we champion breaking of laws through demonstrations and other acts of defiance; and we no longer show courtesy nor morality towards others. We, Malaysians, have lost our integrity and dignity as the peoples of this nation.

Stop whatever thoughts that we have, take a step back and think about what it was like back then, the struggles our forefathers endured to make us a nation. When we listen, listen fairly and objectively. Do not adopt the herd mentality of believing everything that you hear from friends or read on the Internet without verifying, or at least use the brain God gave you to weigh the logic of things.

Be thankful that we were born into a plural society. God asked us to learn from each other, not hate each other. If we do not attempt to learn from each other, then this nation will have a troubled future.

I ask you my friends, with the National Day and Malaysia Day around the corner, be more tolerant towards one another.

Selamat menghayati erti Kemerdekaan. Selamatkan Malaysia dari pelampau politik dan agama.

The Road To Merdeka – Being Malaysian (Part One)

Hate me, but the Malays have always been the recognised natives of the land. I am not fanning racial sentiments, but merely pointing out that historically, the Malay Peninsula has always been the home of the Malays. The Malays then lived without boundaries, and flowed between islands in the Malay Archipelago, even with the conquest of Malacca by the Portuguese who were there to seek revenge against Muslims in 1511, and the subsequent colonization of Malacca by the Dutch in 1641, there was no stop to the flow of Malays between one point to the other. It was the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, a treaty that split the Malay Peninsula with Sumatra and the rest of the Malay Archipelago.

In my reply to The Mambang on her comment in a previous posting, I pointed out that the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 did not make the Malay states a colony of Great Britain:

The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 did not make Britain a colonial power in the Malay States. The Dutch, already weakened by the Napoleonic Wars, had to concede that it could not match the growth of Singapore in the East Indies; therefore sought to abandon their claims to the north part of the Strait of Malacca, in exchange for the British not expanding to the islands south of Singapore. In addition, both nations will regard each other as a “favoured trading nation.” The gist of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 were:

i) British subjects would be given trade access with the Maluku Islands,
ii) The Dutch cedes all its establishments on the Indian continent (Dutch India) and any rights asssociated with them,
iii) Britain cedes Fort Malborough in Bencoolen and all its properties on the island of Sumatra and not to make any more treaties with any of its rulers or establish any more offices there,
iv) The Dutch cedes Malacca to Britain, never again to open any office on the Malay peninsula or make treaties with its rulers,
v) Britain withdraws its objections to Dutch occupation of Billiton (Belitung) island,
vi) The Dutch withdraws its objections to the British occupation of Singapore,
vii) Britain agrees not to establish any office on the islands of Karimun, of the islands of Batam, Bintan, Lingin or any other islands south of Singapore, or to make treaties with its rulers.

The British were cunning when it comes to acquiring territories. As in the case of Australia, in order to avoid any problems with the native people, they would declare the land as terra nullius (no-man’s land), and this, to a certain extent was applied to the Malay Peninsula. Although in the Federated Malay States the British were employed by the respective Sultans, it is difficult to ignore the fact that the British were here to reap the benefits of this land without wanting to give much back to the native people, but with a degree of subtlety.

In order to keep the Malays from creating trouble for the British, land reservations were introduced to transform the native Malay population into permanent agriculture peasants. It worked for the British well in 1900 when they introduced the Punjab Alienation of Land Act to control and supervise Punjabs as agricultural tribes. This was done on the basis of protecting and preserving the native people by secluding them from the immigrants who were invited to explore the country. The Malays were asked to grow food for the immigrants. As Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham once said:

“The longer the Malay is kept away from the influence of civilization, the better it will be for him.”

The British brought in lots of immigrants directly for their benefit. Undeniably, they were the workforce badly needed to develop the country. The Indians were British subjects (India was a Colony, while Malaya was not). They were made to work in the estates, and as British subjects, were given basic necessities such as very basic accommodation and Tamil schools. The first Tamil school was opened in Penang in 1816. As the number of estates grew, so did the number of Tamil schools. By 1905, there were 13 government and Christian missionary Tamil schools, the latter were set up as a mean to proselytizing Christianity.

The Chinese were brought in to work the tin mines. Most were in Malaya to make money to be brought back to their families left back in the Mainland. As they had an allegiance to none, enriching themselves in order to achieve a good life once they return to China was a dream of virtually all the Chinese immigrants. Unlike the Malays, they were self-sufficient and very hard-working.

While the British set up the Pauper Hospital (now the Kuala Lumpur Hospital), the Chinese united and collected amongst them enough to set up the first Chinese hospital, the Tung Shin Hospital, where it still stands now, to treat Chinese miners who refused to seek treatment at the Pauper Hospital when the number of Chinese miners who died at the latter hospital increased drastically. They thought the British were killing them on purpose. As the Chinese came from different parts of China, tribal and gang wars were rampant. The British allowed Opium in in order to control them.

This was the way the British divided and ruled. Eventually, swayed by the profit they were earning from the Malay States that they forgot their promise to the Sultans which was to protect the interest and welfare of the Malays. The bulk of the Malays lived in rural areas and they had very minimal contact with the other races, the Chinese were basically in towns and tin mines, while the Indians were in rubber plantations. The effect to this was that the Malays remained backwards and were told to stay as peasants or tillers of the soil, the Chinese inherited all the tradings in the Malay States and became the richest residents, and the Indians remained as rubber-tappers without proper infrastructure. The Malays, according to Chai Hon-Chan:

“…merely retreated from the tide of commercial activity and material prosperity…whereas the British, Europeans, Chinese and Indians had the lion share of the country’s wealth…”

As a result, the Malays who were given land to cultivate, forced by economic disadvantages, began charging or creating a lien (collateral) over their land to the Chettiars. The Malays, already in a disadvantaged position, cried foul and started the “Malaya for Malays” movement in the late 1800s. EW Birch, the 8th British Resident of Perak, recognized this dire situation and quickly proposed a policy of preserving the Malay land. The only way to him to preserve the Malay race was to “free them from the clutches of those people who now remit to Indian large sums of money, which they bleed from the (Malay) people.”

This later became the Malay Reservation Land Act which spirit is preserved in the Malaysian Federal Constitution. Even Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham conceded that something had to be done to preserve the Malays. He wrote:

“In the Malay sketches contained in this and a previous volume, I have endeavoured to portray,…the Malay as he is in own country, against his own picturesque and fascinating background…The position he occupies in the body politic is that of the heir to the inheritance. The land is Malaya and he is the Malay. Let the infidel Chinese and evil-smelling Hindu from southern India toil, but of their work let some profit come to him.”

For the same reason the British ignored Tan Cheng Lock’s cry of “Malaya for the Malayans.” In the 1930s, Chinese and Indian leaders addressing the Straits Settlements Legislative Council, appealed for some measures of self-government, and to be considered as Malayan Chinese and Indians having a stake in their country of birth and adoption. In my previous writing, The Road To Merdeka – Persekutuan Tanah China I explained at length how the non-Malay Malayan Democratic Union and the Java-leaning Persatuan Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya, supporting the formation of the Malayan Union, had sought for immediate citizenship for the immigrants and a rule other than by the Malay Rulers respectively. It was at this juncture that the British had first offered Malaya its independence, but was rejected by UMNO fearing that the Malays, being minority in his own country, lacking education and economic backbone, might not survive against the other races soon after independence. The Singapore Institute of Management Malay Cultural and Muslim Society noted that the Malay man was an immigrant in his own country; confronted in his own world which he had little control.

Such was the state of the Malays in the Malay States that Dr Lennox A Mills noted:

“…when the British came, the Malay was a poor man in a poor country; when the British left, he was a poor man in a rich country.”

When the Communists ousted the Kuomintang from China in 1949, many overseas Chinese including those in Malaya and Singapore, did not know where to return to; while others sought for the unification of the Chinese in Malaya, with Communist China, through armed struggle. The more broadminded Chinese associations united to form the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA), and together with UMNO, set aside their differences to work together in the Kuala Lumpur Municipal Elections in 1952. It was also in 1952 that the British gave Malayans their term: we can only discuss independence if the people of Malaya are united.

This happened when the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC), that was previously formed to support the fight for the independence of India from the British, joined the Alliance in 1954. The MIC, under Sardhar Budh Singh, was very critical of the Malayan Union. Together under the Alliance, these parties won the first General Elections in 1955, winning all but one seat. This solid mandate by the people of Malaya, comprising of the Malayan Malays, immigrant Chinese and Indians, paved the way for the road to Merdeka.

The Reid Commission was formed in 1956, its members, Lord William Reid (Britian – Chair), Hakim Abdul Hamid (Pakistan), Sir Ivor Jennings (Britain), Hakim B Malik (India), and Sir William McKell (Australia) were proposed by the Constitutional Conference (comprised of members of Her Majesty’s Government, the four Malay rulers, and representatives of the Malayan government that had won the elections in 1955) and agreed by the Queen of England, and the four Rulers of the Federated Malay States representing the Malay States in Malaya. The Commission’s duty was to draft a proposal of the Constitution of Malaya that would incorporate the concepts of Federalism and Constitutional Monarchy, special position for the Malays, Islam as the religion of the Federation, and Bahasa Melayu as its official language, although the Chinese and Indians had their right to vernacular schools protected.

The Reid Commission was not, as portrayed by some quarters, a party to the discussions between the British and Malayan governments, and the Malay Rulers. Their duty was to draft and make recommendations to the Constitution of Malaya. These recommendations were accepted or rejected in agreement by the Constitution Conference – namely the British Government, the four Malay Rulers, and the Government of Malaya that had the mandate of 98 percent of the Malayan people.

The Malayan (subsequently Malaysian) Federal Constitution became the foundation of this nation, agreed upon by our forefathers who were united in their resolve to build a nation where all three races respect the historical background, rights, and nature of the other races, and to live as one in a country they call their own.

Hence, in my opinion, those who do not accept nor respect the agreement their forefathers had made, and the pain they had to go through, so their offspring could become citizens of this blessed nation, should surrender their citizenship and leave for another land of opportunity of their own choice. And Malays who have forgotten the oppression and degradation of dignity their forefathers faced, in my opinion, should also leave.

In the second part, I will touch on the build-up to the May 13 tragedy, the struggle against the Second Emergency, racial and religious extremism and the continual struggle for Malaysia to become one.

Re-Produced: The Road To Merdeka – Freedom

The article below was written on the eve of Malaysia Day, 2011.

It has been a year since the Prime Minister announced the doing-away with the Internal Security Act and the Emergency Ordinances.  It was my hope that the move would have been reciprocated with more mature acts by activists and opposition-linked movements.  The introduction of the Peaceful Assembly Act, 2012 was a good move in regulating both the authorities and assembly-organizers alike, but I don’t think the police were ready in their understanding of the requirements of the said law.  The organizers were just bent on breaking whatever law there is.

Looking back, I don’t know if doing away with the ISA was a good thing.  It was a good move; but being popular does not mean it is always necessarily a good thing.  All it needed was some tweaking to prevent it from being abused to achieve political and/or personal means.

In the New Straits Times dated 30th July 2006, Santha Oorjitham interviewed Mr Reginald Hugh Hickling, who assisted in drafting the Federal Constitution and the Internal Security Act, 1960:

Oorjitham: “Is it time for a review of the ISA? What about article 149 and 150 of the Federal Constitution, which permits infringement of human rights during emergencies, but only when necessary?”

Hickling: “With terrorism around the world, I don’t think it’s a good time.”

Oorjitham: “In 1987, you called for a review of the Constitution. Do you still think it is needed?”

Hickling: “No. It is not a good time. You have worldwide terrorism which acts as an inhibition against changing laws. You really want to tighten up laws rather than to relax them.”

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“Sometimes a brave thing like this is necessary” – Tun Mohammed Hanif bin Omar, former Inspector-General of Police, commenting on the Prime Minister’s speech as it was being delivered to the nation.

I heard the Prime Minister’s 54th Merdeka cum Malaysia Day speech – all 33 paragraphs, on the radio. It is addressing the people’s concerns. When he took over the helm as the Prime Minister of Malaysia in April of 2009, he promised that he would study the Internal Security Act, 1960 comprehensively. Tonight, he announced that the Act itself would be abolished. So would the Banishment Act, 1959, Restricted Residence Act, 1933, and the Printing Presses and Publications Act, 1984. Apart from that, Section 27 of the Police Act, 1967 will be reviewed in the spirit of Article 10 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution.

The ISA will be replaced by an anti-terrorism Act that would only deal with subversive elements and elements of terrorism, and it would not be as sweeping as the ISA was.

How do I feel about it?

We will be celebrating our 48th year as Malaysia, and it is about time Malaysians show some degree in maturity and accountability in the way they write, speak and act. It is time for Malaysians to open up instead of having myopic views about things that do not represent their beliefs, be it personal or political. It is all about self-censorship. It is about nation-building, not nation-demolishing. It is telling us all to stop manipulating each other, or lie about things when we know the truth. It is about standing up not for ourselves, but for the longevity of this nation.

For BERSIH and the Police, it would mean that the rakyat have a better chance at exercising their freedom to assemble, of course within the limits of the law. The application for a permit to assemble has to be submitted to the police beforehand with all the prerequisites met. If they are met, the police will have to issue a permit and ensure that whilst the rights to assemble by one party is being upheld, the right to the use of roads by road users, the right to the peaceful conduct of business or life of others are also protected. If there is a dispute, both parties (organisers and the police) will have to fulfill the requirements of the law by going for a judicial review. The court of law has the final say – definitely not the organisers, definitely not the police.

It also means those who prefer to cause alarm through their seditious words will be dealt with other laws such as the Penal Code or the Sedition Act. Gone will be the days when the Prime Minister could order for the arrest of a journo just because she wrote something he personally did not like, or something to that effect. Journos should also be more responsible with what they write – write facts with a clear head and not driven by emotions. Write facts and not fabricate lies for political mileage and so on.

It also means the cry for the abolishment of the ISA and other laws deemed by the people to be oppressive now no longer need to be continued – as it is time for all of us Malaysians to stop whatever it is that we are doing that is tearing us as one people apart and start thinking collectively as one people instead of claiming that this small group of “we” represent the people as a whole. Remember, there is always two sides to a coin.

It also means the Police will now have more work to do in accordance to whatever laws they have left to guide them. But it would also mean that the Inspector-General of Police would have to educate his men that knowledge of the law is not to be taken lightly. How the absence of certain laws will dictate how our society would behave after today remains to be seen, as would the after-effects of this decision by the Prime Minister.

Ponder upon this – soon after the May 1969 tragedy, Malaysians were more cohesive than they are now. If you truly value this land we call our home, defend it together, not against one another. Use this new-found “freedom” to unite.

Selamat Menghayati Erti Kemerdekaan dan Selamat Mendalami Makna Penubuhan Malaysia.

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Reginald Hugh Hickling also once said,

“As a lawyer, I’m all for its review but on whether it should be scrapped, I don’t know. You’ve got a multi-racial society [in Malaysia] in which emotions can run high very quickly.”

And in an interview on the Internal Security Act with Geoff Thompson on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2001 said that he was “sorry to say that, in the light of my own experience, I’m inclined to think you couldn’t really safely get rid of it at the moment.”

A mere five months later, his fears were realised by worldwide terrorist attacks.