The Non-Malay Heroes of Malaysia

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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.

Take Sabah Away, Mr Sulu

When the late Gene Roddenderry wanted an Asian character to be part of the crew of the Federation Starship USS Enterprise, he wanted a surname that does not represent any particular nation. George Takei, an actor in the world-renowned TV show recalled how Roddenderry opened up a map, looked at Asia and saw the Sulu Sea and exclaimed:

“Ah! The waters of that sea touch all shores!”

That was how the character Hikaru Sulu got his name.

And how true it is that the Sulu Sea has now touched on the raw and sensitive parts of the shores of both Malaysia and the Philippines.

I wrote some days back on the current stand-off in Lahad Datu and it is today Day 11th since a group of armed men claiming to represent the Sultan of Sulu landed in Lahad Datu, Sabah in Malaysia, asking for the return of Sabah to the Sultanate of Sulu.  When the Philippines government worked a peace deal with the Muslims in the country’s deep south via the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement, the Muslims and their Filipino brethren embraced it as finally a way forward after decades of impasse.  The framework allows for the creation of a single and autonomous entity called Bangsamoro replacing the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

The framework agreement was signed at the Malacanang Palace on 15th October 2012 in the presence of President Beningno Aquino III of the Philippines; Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, the Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia; and Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Countries.

Absent was Nur Misuari, leader of the Moro National Liberation Front. Nur Misuari had called the BFA irrelevant claiming it was cloned by President Aquino and Najib Razak.  The MILF is a breakaway group that was part of the MNLF back in the 1970s.  Disagreement in the way Nur Misuari handled issues led to the group breaking away.

Also absent was the Sultan of Sulu.  The alienation of the Sultan probably led to the Lahad Datu stand-off.  The Sultan admitted to have been prompted by the alienation to send some 400 men across the sea to Sabah, as the BFA had seen not only improvements in the lives of the Bangsamoro that he played no role in, but also in the intimacy between the Philippines and Malaysia as neighbours.  And as mentioned in my previous posting on this issue, Nur Misuari’s MNLF supports the Sultan.  And this recent posture is to display its relevance again to the Moro people.

But why was the Sultan alienated in the peace process?  Simple – there are now ten people who claim the throne.  The Philippines government cannot be dealing with ten different Sultans with ten different basic ideas on how to bring peace and development to the Bangsamoro.  Nur Misuari himself did not attend the signing as he fears that there is an ongoing warrant issued for his arrest for waging war against the Philippines government.

As the militants are bogged down into their second week in Lahad Datu surrounded by the Malaysian security forces, Nur Misuari was quick to threaten Malaysia saying “if one drop of blood is spilled then we will be forced to come to their aid.”  Nur Misuari also said the following:

This should be handled by cooler heads…that it would also be good to await the Malaysian general election to see who will be the new Prime Minister…

And who has Nur Misuari implied by that?  None other than his old friend, Anwar Ibrahim.  It was reported by Reuters and confirmed by Philippine military sources that Anwar had traveled and met Nur Misuari to discuss land claims in Sabah, a few months before the Lahad Datu incident happened.  Anwar has vehemently denied this, but the photo below shows otherwise:

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Now, Anwar Ibrahim seems a dubious character himself. In a recent open letter, his former legal counsel member, Yuktes Vijay, asked about the former’s links to Islamic fundamentalists as well as known terrorists. Therefore, it is not impossible for him to have met Nur Misuari to discuss the matter, and then deny it like he denied ever being conferred the title of Huguan Siou although people from his own political party had announced that on Facebook, complemented by photos of him.

The Philippines government has sent six naval vessels to stop people from the Moro region from entering Malaysian waters as this stand-off continues.  And although the Malaysian government has an upperhand and the firepower to end this stand-off, it is probably of best interest to the Bangsamoro, the government of the Philippines as well as Malaysia, to not allow anything to jeopardise the BFA that is still in its infancy.  Perhaps, the MILF and supporters of the BFA in the Moro region should lend their support to both governments to try end this madness.

In the meantime, while treading gently on this issue, both governments should get to the root of this and probe Anwar Ibrahim’s role in facilitating or prompting this incident.  For it would not have happened had it not been for someone from the Malaysian side advocating and encouraging it to happen.  It is something close to Sabah, and we know Sabah is being wooed by Anwar’s party.  Get the support of the Kadazan-Dusun-Murut community by being recognised as their Paramount Leader (Huguan Siou), you will get support from the Christians in the west side of Sabah.  Get a deal with the Tausugs in Sulu, you will get support from the Muslims especially in the eastern part of Sabah.

But at what cost?  That remains unanswered.  But maybe Gene Roddenderry would frown had he known the Sulu Sea is one of the volatile areas of the region.

FELDA Sulu

Sometime in the evening on Tuesday, 12th February, around 100 members of the Moro National Liberation Front under the command of Nur Misuari, infiltrated Sabah’s maritime border and landed at Kampung Tanduao, Tanjung Labian in Lahad Datu. Led by Haji Musa, an aide of Prince Mohammad Ismail A Kiram, fourth son of Sultan Muhammad Fuad A Kiram, Sultan of Sulu & Sabah.

This group converged upon the house belonging to a Ahmad Malandi, a.k.a Mat Bom, who earned the nickname for attacking a FELDA office using fish bomb. The initial group consisted of around five men wearing robes while 27 others wearing incomplete camouflage uniforms. All are armed with M-14 and M-15. Some 70 others joined later. Our security forces, acting on intelligence report, swiftly reacted by sending two companies of men from the General Operations Force and Malaysian Army’s 5th Brigade, while naval units supported by the marine police and the maritime agency gave offshore support.

To date, there is not a single hostage taken but this group of militants have spread themselves all over the island. Government negotiators, backed by officials from the Government of the Philippines are now continuously engaging the infiltrators. The demands include recognition of the group as the Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu, and for Sulu immigrants not to be deported back to the Philippines.

That is the gist of the events. However, I don’t believe those are, or would be the only demands. In 2008, Nur Misuari had pledged loyalty and support for the Sultan’s claim on Sabah. The funny thing is, in 1962, the Sultan’s father, Sultan Esmail E Kiram, ceded his rights to claim Sabah (North Borneo then) to President Diodado Macapagal. Manila is no longer interested in claiming Sabah although it has never dropped its claim for political reasons. And Malaysia’s victory at The Hague in the Sipadan and Ligitan claims weakens further Manila’s position re Sabah.

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Ahmad Malandi, or Mat Bom, once attacked the FELDA office in Lahad Datu in the 1990s after failing to settle a dispute with FELDA over an ancestral land that became part of FELDA Sahabat 20 scheme where some 1,000 immigrants of Sulu descent have settled. He was never charged. Mat Bom is now reported to be in an ICU ward at a local hospital. His son was reported to have travelled to Bongoa in Tawi-Tawi province in Mindanao to seek help from the armed men.

Blogger Outsyed The Box wrote in The Mole that the incursion by MNLF could have been prompted by the Opposition. This is NOT far-fetched. In fact, when the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement was signed at Malacanang Palace on the 15th October 2012, it did not go down well with Nur Misuari. And guess who tried to play Big Brother to Nur Misuari and broker a different peace deal?

Having read both links and seeing the events that are unfolding in Lahad Datu, one cannot dismiss the unseen agenda in the appointment of a new Huguan Siou last week. It could be coincidental. It could be a dangerous conincidence. Being a Huguan Siou allows one to have the support of the masses in the implementation of one’s agenda. Furthermore, my source informed me that these armed men want Sabah to be an autonomous state under the influence of the Sultanate of Sulu before GE13. Which is why they have also demanded to be allowed to remain in Sabah. Maybe an agreement was made with Nur Misuari back in October.

Anyway, I will let you come to your own conclusion.