I am appalled that there still are those who deny the roles played by the non-Malays in defending this country, especially during the two Emergencies; that dark 33 years of fighting communism. The history books emphasised more on the 12-year First Emergency because of its relation to the independence of Malaya, thus many forget that not too long-ago bombs were going off in the middle of Kuala Lumpur while ordinary policemen were getting slayed.
The First Emergency broke out in June 1948 with the murder of three British estate managers in Sungai Siput. Fuelled by the progressive successes the Communist Party of China was having against the Kuomintang, the acts of banditry increased exponentially. Based on a priori the British found it best to both resettle the Chinese in camps while between 20,000 to 50,000 be sent back to China. The plan moved at a snail’s pace due to the objections by many, and with the total withdrawal of the Kuomintang to Formosa, the repatriation of the Chinese came to a halt in September 1949 when the Communist Party of China closed off all ports and beaches. Only 6,000 Chinese from Malaya were sent back (Anthony Short, 1975 pp 178-201). The rest were settled in new villages to curb them from supplying the Communist Party of Malaya with food and other essentials.
When Ismail Mina Ahmad, the chairman of the Ummah umbrella group for Muslim organisations, claimed that only the Malays fought against invaders and communists in this country, it shows the level of ignorance on his part (Syed Jaymal Zahiid – In fiery speech cleric tells forum only Malays fought invaders communists, Malay Mail Online, 13 January 2018). His claim is far from the truth.
At the peak of the First Emergency, the British had to not only bring in members of the Palestine Police Force who were experienced in counter-insurgency warfare, but also recruited a large number of Chinese residents of Malaya. Tan Sri Dr Too Chee Chew, more famously known as CC Too, headed the Psychological Warfare section. We had the likes of Tan Sri Jimmy Koo Chong Kong, Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Ling, Datuk Leong Chee Woh to name a few who spent most of their lives fighting the communists.
CC Too, Koo Chong Kong and Yuen Yuet Ling were among the ranks of the Malayan People Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) during the Second World War who chose to go against their former comrades and became targets of the Communist Party of Malaya. Jimmy Khoo Chong Kong, who was also a former member of the Sarawak Communist Party before surrendering to the authorities and joining the Royal Malaysian Police, paid with his life on 13 November 1975 in Ipoh, Perak, as did his driver Constable (awarded Sergeant posthumously) Yeong Peng Cheong who died with his gun blazing. Without hesitation, even with the knowledge that he was also on the hit list, Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Ling replaced Tan Sri Koo as the Perak Chief Police Officer.
When a Royal Malaysian Air Force Sikorsky S-61A Nuri helicopter was shot down in Gubir, Kedah on 27 April 1976, three Malaysian Chinese personnel were also among the 11 killed. They were Captain Choo Yeok Boo TUDM, Lieutenant Chung Ming Teck TUDM and Sergeant (Air) Leong Yee Heng. They were on a resupply mission from the Butterworth Air Base when they were shot down.
Captain Frank Chong Keng Lay TUDM (retired as Lieutenant-Colonel) flew his Nuri into a hot landing zone to rescue several infantrymen. His two commando escorts were killed as his Nuri took 22 heavy machinegun shots. The next day he flew into the same landing zone to repeat the task. Keng Lay was my Chief of Staff at the RMAF Air Training Command where I was a Staff Officer and later its Adjutant.
Inspectors Kamalanathan and Robert Cheah were inside a coffee shop meeting with informers when a terrorist threw a grenade into the shop. The explosion maimed Kamalanathan and for the rest of his life he walked with an obvious limp with a grenade shrapnel still embedded in his leg.
There were many other non-Malay police officers in particular those who served in the Special Branch who died as unsung heroes as they were not recruited nor trained with other policemen. They were the deep infiltrators, members of the community, who went on leading a double life that even their own family did not know they were all policemen. Their pay did not come from Bluff Road (Bukit Aman) directly. DSP Jeganathan was a Jabatan Talikom employee tasked with setting up the police’s VHF network and spent years jungle-bashing, building towers on mountain and hilltops with the communist terrorists hot on his heels so that the police could have a nationwide communications network.
There were those who were just roadside sweepers working for the municipal and town councils, collecting information. One had his cover blown when he was discovered in a different town by a neighbour asking him loudly what was he doing there sweeping the streets.
Another was on his death bed, ridden with cancer, when he sought the help of a Malaysian daily to contact my father to tell the latter of his condition. His real name was quoted by the daily to my father, which my father could not recall. My father asked the contact in the daily to ask him his Special Branch name. When the reply came, my father left his golf game and rushed to the hospital and after more than 50 years of being married, the wife and family finally knew the man-of-their-house was a hero fighting the communists, not just some small-time trader.
Let us not forget Chief Inspector Chin Chin Kooi. He was a Special Branch officer probing communist activities in Serdang, Kedah. At 9pm on 12 July 1973, six communist terrorists stormed into his home and let loose a volley of bullets. Mortally wounded, Chin returned fire until his last breath.
Across the South China Sea, Police Field Force Superintendent Joni Mustapha was a champion Sarawak hurdler from 1958 to 1959. Joni was watching a movie with his son in Sibu when a policeman relayed a message to him that his men were being pinned down by communist terrorists upriver Sungai Setabau. He asked the policeman to stay with his son in the cinema and left to rescue his men.
Constable Nuing Saling, an Iban policeman, was on a two-week leave to be with his wife Imbok Jimbon who was six months pregnant with their third child. Upon hearing that Joni was leaving for the jungle, hurriedly joined the team. Both Joni and Nuing had made a pact that they would help each other. They left by boat to get to the location. Upon arrival, they engaged the communist terrorists. Joni was felled by machinegun fire but remained conscious to direct the firefight until he died. Another constable friend, Abang Masri was already dead. Seeing his commander and friend die, Nuing unsheathed his machete and charged at the terrorists’ position firing at them, only to be mown down. He had been hit in the face by a bullet. Nuing refused to give up. He continued his charge and was hit several times more but kept on charging, killing and wounding many. He died inside the location of the communist terrorists.
Kanang ak Langkau is perhaps the most known warrior from Sarawak who shed blood and tears fighting against the communist terrorists. He was wounded several times but not once let his wounds stop him from fighting.
These are stories that we should all remember. Stories of our non-Malay brethren heroes who risked and gave their lives so that we can all enjoy the peace and prosperity that God has bestowed upon us. Many more have gone unsung, but they shall not be forgotten. Especially not by selfishly ignoring the sacrifices that have been made by them.