Dog Eat Dog

A parade of members of the Communist Party of Malaya

Perak-born Che Dat bin Anjang Abdullah, otherwise known as Abdullah CD, was a top ranking member of the Communist Party of Malaya. He was once captured during the early months of the First Emergency (1948-1960) in Pahang and was sent to an internment camp in Melaka. As the camp was new, Abdullah CD and other detainees were tasked as labourers to complete the construction of the camp. There he met with a Malayan Civil Service official who was transferred to the camp to supervise its construction. Abdullah CD became friendly with this official and they frequently had casual talks. That night, Abdullah CD escaped. He went on to form the 10th Regiment of the Communist Party of Malaya and continued to wreak havoc until the Hat Yai Peace Agreement was signed on 2 December 1989.

When Dr Mahathir commented on the issue of Chin Peng’s ashes being brought back to Malaysia he said that if the likes of Shamsiah Fakeh and Rashid Maidin could be brought back home without any hassle, why can’t Chin Peng’s ashes be brought back too? What could his ashes do? Mahathir is known for his display of malingering amnesia, usually seen in people who fake amnesia to commit insurance fraud or to avoid criminal punishment.

Shamsiah Fakeh joined the CPM after PKMM, API and AWAS were declared illegal by the authorities. After eight years of struggle, she was ordered to go to Beijing where she operated the Siaran Melayu Radio Beijing Antarabangsa, otherwise known as Suara Revolusi Malaya (I used to listen to it over short wave frequency when I was a teenager). In 1965, she was in Indonesia where she formed the Malayan National Freedom League, when Suharto launched a coup and Sukarno was deposed. As a result, Shamsiah Fakeh was arrested and spent two years in prison.

She returned to China in 1967 to find that the CPM had split into three – the CPM, the CPM Revolutioner and the CPM – Marxist Leninist. She and her husband Ibrahim became strong critics of the CPM and were eventually expelled from the organisation. This was probably one of the reasons that she was brought back by the Prime Minister’s Research Department on 23 July 1994; psychologically she was already against the CPM. Who was the Prime Minister who allowed her to return then?

Were Rashid Maidin and Abdullah CD allowed to return home as claimed by Mahathir? The answer is no. However, they were granted visit passes as agreed in the Hat Yai Agreement. Each time that they wanted to enter Malaysia to visit relatives they would have to inform the police first and a pass would be issued to them. Rashid Maidin died in Amphoe Si Sakhon, Changwat Narathiwat in September 2006 while Abdullah CD still lives in Amphoe Sukhirin, Changwat Narathiwat and is 96 years old. Who was the Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs who denied them citizenship and a chance to return to Malaysia?

Remember how Abdullah CD escaped from an internment camp in Melaka after speaking to the Malayan Civil Service supervisor? He would not have made it to the apex of the CPM if he cannot convince people and turn them over. Chin Peng was also good at psychological warfare.

It was in the mid-1980s when my father who was the Inspector-General of Police asked Sarawak Police Commissioner Yuen Yuet Leng if it was a good time to ask the CPM to surrender. Yuet Leng replied, “Sir, I believe the CPM is very tired. If you give them a pillow, they will go to sleep.”

It was around this time that Abdullah CD wrote a letter to then Encik Ghafar Baba asking to negotiate for peace. The police then assigned Rahim Noor who was the Director of Special Branch then to handle the issue. The police asked permission from Ghafar to assume his identity and correspond with Abdullah CD. In the end, the CPM agreed to receive someone who would be in the position to make decisions on behalf of the Malaysian government. For this, the police extended the service of a Chinese police officer who was on the verge of retirement (not Yuet Leng as the CPM knew him) to pose as this senior official. This senior police officer was then brought to Mahathir’s office for a photo of them together to be taken and shown to the CPM. The CPM took the bait and allowed Rahim and the Chinese police officer to negotiate with them, with Yuet Leng in the background advising.

Spending too much time with Chin Peng can make you sympathise with him easily, just as Abdullah CD was with the MCS supervisor. One day Rahim came to my father and asked if it would be okay for him to bring Chin Peng to speak directly to Mahathir as how he had spoken directly with Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1955.

“Who is Chin Peng to speak to Mahathir? Tunku was not a Prime Minister when Chin Peng spoke to him. Chin Peng is only at your level. That is why I sent you to speak to him,” said my father to Rahim.

Judging by Rahim’s attempt to get Chin Peng to meet with Mahathir, and his recent comment on the issue of the former’s ashes, it is of no surprise that Rahim could be suffering from the Lima Syndrome which is the total opposite of the Stockholm Syndrome. How can a former Inspector-General of Police who was also a former Director of Special Branch have forgotten the sacrifices of the men of the Royal Malaysian Police fighting with this monster? How could he, as the Director of Special Branch, allowed himself to be used by Chin Peng?

And as for Mahathir the political chameleon, it is evident that in order to score political points, he would say just about anything short of “come and lynch me”. It never matters to him who died, who had lost a husband, sons, brothers be they Malay, Chinese, Iban or Indian, fighting the communists, as long as he is seen ‘rationale’ in the eyes of those who had wanted Chin Peng back in this country. The epitome of dog-eat-dog.

I only have one word to describe Mahathir and Rahim – disgusting.

The Road to Malaysia: Part 3 – The Cobbold Commission

Cameron Fromanteel "Kim" Cobbold, 1st Baron Cobbold - by Godfrey Argent, 1970
Cameron Fromanteel “Kim” Cobbold, 1st Baron Cobbold – by Godfrey Argent, 1970
This article is a continuation from The Road to Malaysia: Part 2 – Consultations.

In Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia the communists were making advances while the number of American servicemen in Vietnam tripled the number sent in 1950.  In Indonesia, the influence of the Partai Komunis Indonesia on President Sukarno was strong.  In Singapore, all the political parties except Singapore UMNO accused the PAP of having carried out negotiations to be merged with Malaya without first consulting the people.  This gave ammunition to the communists in Singapore and their sympathisers to attack both Lee Kuan Yew and the Tunku.

In British Borneo, the communists and their sympathisers tried to intimidate the natives thinking that it would work as it did in Singapore.  Truth be told, it had quite the opposite effect.  Lee Kuan Yew observed that as in Singapore, those anti-Malaysia in Sarawak were the Chinese communists, chauvinists and their sympathisers, while in North Borneo, they were Chinese businessmen and Chinese who were under the influence of individual British officials who were opposed to the Malaysia Concept, or ignorant of it. Kuan Yew noted that the direct links between the Chinese in Perlis throughout Malaya and Singapore to the British Borneo are the Chinese newspapers.  Hence, Kuan Yew suggested to the Tunku for the Chinese chauvinists be separated from the Chinese communists and the two groups should be separated.

Members of the Cobbold Commission arrived in Kuching in the morning of the 20th February 1962.  The members were:

  • Sir Cameron Fromanteel Cobbold, former Governor of the Bank of England, also Chairman of the Commission of Enquiry,
  • Sir Anthony Foster Abell, former British Governor of Sarawak and the High Commissioner to Brunei,
  • Sir David Watherston, the last British Chief Secretary of Malaya,
  • Wong Pow Nee, the Chief Minister of Penang, and,
  • Ghazali Shafie, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaya.

They were first brought to the Astana, a house that was built in 1870 by the second White Rajah, Charles Anthoni Johnson Brooke as a wedding gift for his wife, Margaret Alice Lili de Windt.  It had been occupied by the British Governor since 1946.  Ghazali Shafie could not help but notice a Jawi inscription at the entrance of the Astana left by one of the Brookes “BERHARAP LAGI BERNAFAS, (Have Hope While There Is Still Breath)” perhaps an apt motivation for the colonial officials who did not want Sarawak to be part of the Federation of Malaysia.

The Brookes had built the Astana on the northern bank of the Sarawak river because it was where the Malays were.  The Brookes depended on the Malays for safety and security, the Chinese for prosperity and trading, while the natives were not entirely trusted.  The same compartmentalisation was practised in Sarawak by the colonial officials after taking over the state from the Brookes in 1946.

The first groups of interviewees were interviewed in Kuching on the 21st February 1962.  The first group amongst these interviewees was extremely pro-Malaysia.  They were led by Abang Mustapha, Datu Bandar of Kuching.  The second group was led nby Ong Kee Hui from SUPP.  This group was against the special rights to be accorded to the natives of Sarawak unless if it is not stated in the to-be-formulated Constitution. This group had a contempt for the backwardness of the natives and had regarded their leaders as men of no consequences.  This stand prompted an Iban by the name of Jonathan Bangau whom the SUPP had nominated as the party’s leader in Sibu to resign.

The next day, another group of Chinese in Kuching were interviewed.  Their spokesperson, a Chinese woman, twisted and distorted events in Malaya into something truly hateful.  She accused the Malayan Government of policies that turned very young girls into prostitutes and had labour laws that accorded workers not more than Ringgit 1.50 per fourteen-hour working day without holidays!  When these allegations were countered by Ghazali and Wong Pow Nee, she informed the Commission that she had read the stories from Chinese newspapers to which Wong Pow Nee murmured that these must have been communist publications.

In Bau and Simanggang (now Sri Aman), banners and placards expressing anti-Malaysia slogans in Chinese characters plastered the town in anticipation of the Commission members interviewing residents there. The scene was different in Kanowit and Kapit.  People shook the hands of the Commission members, especially the Malayan ones.  One of the Tuai Rumah even held Ghazali Shafie’s hand as they walked through Kapit town.  They were all awaiting the arrival of Malaysia!

However, Ghazali learnt that under the colonial administration the Iban had suffered oppression and suppression.  This began when Sarawak was under the Brunei Sultanate and continued under the Brookes and subsequently the British. When they faced the Commission, they were all for Malaysia and some even emphasised on the need for a speedy arrival of better education and development for the Iban community.

At Binatang (now Bintangor), the division between the wishes of the natives and the Chinese was most prominent. The natives were all for the speedy arrival of Malaysia while the Chinese were divided into two groups: one favouring a referendum, while the other favouring a Federation of North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak – a line maintained especially by the communists.

In North Borneo, the only negative views were given by the British officials and expatriates as well as the rich local businessmen. At this juncture, Ghazali noted that these British officials knew nothing or chose to disregard Harold MacMillan’s famous “Wind of Change” speech in Cape Town made on the 3rd February 1960.

Cobbold, not having any experience in dealing with the Far East, succumbed to the ideas of these officials that in his draft, he recommended that both the British and Malayan Governments should have executive powers over the British Borneo states for five years.  Both Wong Pow Nee and Ghazali believe that the Malayan Government would never agree to perpetuate colonialism in any form. However, the two governments should discuss the matter should they want the British officials to stay on in Borneo in the service of the two territories.  Wong Pow Nee quoted the state of Penang where he was once a Chief Minister to demonstrate the point that the British fears were groundless and that the Tunku, the Malayan people as well as the 70 percent who advocate the creation of Malaysia in the North Borneo and Sarawak would not agree to Cobbold’s suggestions as it would still be a form of colonialism.  What more that the communists in Malaya, Singapore, Indonesia, China and the Soviet Union had branded the Malaysia Concept as neo-colonialism. Interesting also to note here is that in April 1962, the Philippines House of Representatives had made a formal claim on North Borneo.  On the 20th January 1963, Drs Subandrio, and alleged communist and also Sukarno’s Foreign Minister and Second Deputy Prime Minister announces Indonesia’s “confrontation” towards Malaysia.

In the end, on the 31st July 1962, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan told the Malayan delegates that Her Majesty’s Government was just as anxious to see Malaysia succeed. Soon after, an Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) was set up by the Malayan and British Governments that would include the North Borneo and Sarawak Governments.  On the 12th September 1962, the North Borneo Legislative Council adopted the following motion:

“Be it resolved that this Council do welcome the decision in principle of the British and Malayan Governments to establish Malaysia by the 31st August, 1963…”

Then on the 26th September 1962, the Council Negri of Sarawak adopted the following motion without dissent:

“This Council welcomes the decision in principle of the British and Malayan Governments to etablish Malaysia by the 31st August, 1963…” 

The Federation of Malaysia that would include the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak was to come into operation by the 31st August 1963. All in all, the IGC made recommendations in its report pertaining to the States’ Constitutions, legislative powers, financial provisions, elections, the Judiciary, public service, citizenship, immigration, religion, education, the National Language, status of existing laws, the position of the indigenous races and transitional arrangements prior to the formation of Malaysia.

North Borneo was thoroughly satisfied with the IGC report and the North Borneo Legislative Council unanimously adopted the Report on the 13th March 1963.  The Sarawak Government was satisfied and considered that the Report contained “generous terms of safeguards for Sarawak.”  Stephen Kalong Ningkan as the Secretary-General of the Sarawak Aliance said that his party “fully endorses the Report.”  Leong Ho Yuen, the Vice-Chairman of the SUPP said: “All in all, the Report is quite satisfactory. Though we cannot get all we asked for, at least we have been given a high percentage.”  The Sarawak Council Negri voted unanimously to adopt the Report on the 8th March 1963, five days before North Borneo.

Donald Stephens who was the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the North Borneo Alliance said: “The whole of North Borneo will now welcome with joy the creation of Malaysia.”


Tomorrow, on Malaysia Day, we shall look into the self-rule granted to the State of Sarawak and why was Malaysia formed on the 16th September 1963 instead of on the 31st August. We will also look at what was said by those who were involved in parts of the process.