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?
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
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