I blame the skewed understanding of history among Malaysians, as well as attempts to rewrite history, on the Malaysian education system. The best way to get the nation together is to say that Malaya was colonised. The only times Malaya was wholly colonised was between 1942 and 1945, then again in 1946 until 1948. The Portuguese colonised Malacca, so did the Dutch. The rest of the Malay Peninsula were divided into various sovereign states.
Let me give you a brief history lesson on the MALAY peninsula:
The British came here for want of economic materials, and as a result of the various treaties with the respective states’ Sultan and Raja, the various states in Malaya became protectorates, administered by British Residents who were employed by the various Sultans and Rajas. Save for the Strait Settlements, the rest of the Malay Peninsula were never British colonies. Initially, the states of Perak, Selangor, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan all had their own Resident, but decided to have a common Resident as mentioned in Clause 4 of the Treaty of the Federation, 1895:
The above named Rulers agree to accept a British officer, to be styled the Resident General as the agent and representative of the British government under the government of the Straits Settlement. They undertake to provide him with a suitable accommodation with such salary as determined by Her Majesty’s government and to follow his advice in all matters of administration other than those touching the Mohammadan religion. The appointment of the Resident General will not affect the obligations of the Rulers towards the British Resident now existing or hereafter to be appointed to offices in the above mentioned protected states.
In return for the access to economic gains, Britain promised the states protection against threats. The protectorate over the Malay states does not amount to colonisation and sovereignty but prevents occupation or conquest of the protectorate by other nations (as evident during the Japanese invasion of Malaya). This differs from a colony in that the protectorates do not form an integral part of the territories of Great Britain.
As mentioned, the Malay states were made up of nine sovereign states, headed by the Sultan/Raja, and advised by a British adviser, with Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Pahang and Perak forming the Federated Malay States, while the rest were termed as the Unfederated Malay States with individual treaties with the British. Malacca, Penang and Singapore became part of the colonies as part of the Straits Settlement. Three legal cases became the test for the independent-nature of the sovereign states, namely the Mighell vs Sultan of Johore (1894), Duff Development Co. Ltd vs Kerajaan Negeri Kelantan & Anor (1924), and the Pahang Consolidated Co. Ltd vs State of Pahang (1931-32).
Therefore, on 31st August, 1957, the independence we gained was from feudalism, and not colonialism as we were brought up to believe in. On that day, the Sultans and Rajas were removed of their British advisers who administered their state on their behalf, and were now advised by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet (Chief Minister and Executive Councillors on state level). The constitution of rulership was continued but modified to include parliamentary democracy.
Since the independence we gained on 31st August, 1957 was from feudalism (the governing of the nation by a government elected by the people as opposed to British-appointed advisers), when did the nationalist movement for this independence actually began? It was upon the formation of the Malayan Union of 1946, an idea conceived during the Second World War and first presented to the British War Cabinet in May 1944 which required the Malay rulers to concede ALL powers to the British Crown, another indicator of the independent nature of the Malay states before the Japanese occupation. That started the ball rolling for the independence we now have.
Characters such as Burhanuddin Helmi, Ibrahim Yaacob, Hassan Manan, Mokhtaruddin Lasso, Ahmad Boestamam, Shamsiah Fakeh all fought for an independent Malaya under Javanese rule under the banner of Melayu Raya. You can read more on this in my posting The Road to Merdeka: Persekutuan Tanah China dated 6th September 2013. There you can read more about the characters mentioned, and also how that movement is linked to Chin Peng’s attempt to turn Peninsular Malaysia/Malaya into a communist state aligned with China.
The question whether Chin Peng was a contributor to the independence does not arise at all; he only assumed command of the Communist Party of Malaya when his predecessor, Loi Tak a.k.a Loi Tek a.k.a Lai Teck absconded with the movement’s funds in 1947. Why would the staunchly anti-communist British regard the Communist Party of Malaya as brothers-in-arms fighting the Japanese? Loi Tak, the Secretary-General of the CPM was a spy for the French colonial authorities in Vietnam to penetrate the Vietnamese freedom fighters and communists. You can read more in British Intrigue & The CPM: Some Characters.
And the remark made by Mariam Mokhtar that without the CPM, the Japanese in Malaya would not have been defeated is a feeble and shallow attempt to rewrite history. On 13th August 1945, Sukarno and Drs Hatta met up with Burhanuddin Helmi and Ibrahim Yaakob in Taiping to discuss the independence of Malaya under Javanese rule. In attendance was Major General Hirokichi Umezu of the Imperial Japanese Army. Ibrahim Yaakob was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Japanese Volunteer Army (Giyuugun). That effectively says that from that date, until the formal surrender of the Japanese military on 2nd September 1945, the Imperial Japanese Army remained undefeated.
Chin Peng fought against a collectively independent Malaya in 1948, a Malaya that was not colonised. Therefore, what was he fighting for? Was he planning to drive out the British advisers and become advisers in turn to the Malay rulers? According to Prof Dr Cheah Boon Kheng, the ratio of Chinese to Malays in communist-front organisations was 15:1, and as high as 50:1 in the CPM itself (The Star, Red Star Over Malaya, Sunda, 29th November, 2009). Do we honestly think they had the support of the whole population of Malaya? Whose interests would have been protected or preserved had they gotten their way then? Therefore the label “Chinese communists” as mentioned by Mariam Mokhtar is an apt description.
Mariam Mokhtar should also get her facts right (Chin Peng Has The Last Laugh, Malaysiakini, 23rd September 2013). Because of the ratio above, the Emergency was in essence a battle between the Malays who were trying to preserve their identity and religion, and the non-Malays who were against the CPM, against the Chinese-majority CPM that was bent on setting up a satellite communists state here. Mariam mentioned that atrocities were not just committed by Chin. Peng, but by both sides because “Malaya was on a war footing”. Since when was Malaya on a war footing? Who committed the first atrocity in 1948? Why was he fighting against an independent Malaya? And why did he not stop after the Tunku had announced our independence in 1956?
Chin Peng betrayed the people of Malaya. At the Baling talks, he promised the Tunku that the CPM would lay down their arms immediately if the British agreed to transfer power over internal security and defence into the hands of the Tunku’s Umno-MCA-MIC Alliance Government. Did he do it? No. He continued to kill Malayans/Malaysians for a further 34 years after the talks.
Chin Peng may be gone. And on every 16th September, Malaysia Day would be more meaningful – the day the man who butchered 10,000 of the people he had wanted to liberate, finally kicked the bucket on foreign soil.
Good riddance to bad rubbish!
In the final instalment, I will cover non-Malaysian Chin Peng’s request to be allowed to visit Sitiawan.