35 days to ‘Merdeka’.
In the Malay language of Malaysia, 'Merdeka', a word borrowed from Sanskrit, means ‘free’ or ‘independent’.
The image that Malaysians have when this word ‘Merdeka’ is mentioned would be that of our first prime minister, Tengku Abdul Rahman proclaiming our nation’s independence from British colonial rule on 31 August 1957.
Well, perhaps only Peninsula Malaysians because Sarawakians and Sabahans are a bit uptight about the date of 31 August 1957.
Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore officially merged and became Malaysia only on 6 September 1963. The Tengku had planned for 31 August for the official creation of Malaysia but due to a (I think) legislative obstacle, the actual date was delayed by a week. But he insisted that Malaysia Day celebrations be conducted on the originally planned date, which is still a sore point with Malaysians on the other side of the pond.
While the Tengku didn’t exactly invent the word, he would be the man most associated with ‘Merdeka’. Anyway that’s what I thought too, until today.
I read in malaysiakini that communist veteran Abdullah CD has released his second instalment of his memoirs.
Look, no need to rush to get it as it’s not Chin Peng’s so UMNO is unlikely to call for its ban. In this regard I am reminded of my post Why isn't 'Last Communist' a Malay? published last year. I then wrote (relevant extract):
Malaysian Film Producers Association president Ruhani Abdul Rahman expressed her shock and disappointment over Amir’s decision not to promote the dignity and struggle of nationalistic heroes. She asked: “Are there no Malay heroes that Amir can promote (angkat) through his documentary?”
Somehow Ruhani missed the point that it’s a musical doco on a man who fought against the government of Malaysia, unless she had meant that Amir should have depicted (glorified?) Rashid Maidin instead, because Rashid being a Malay could be considered a Malaysian ‘hero’?
Hah! Now we come to the real reason. Berita Harian’s assistant entertainment editor, Akmal Abdullah, questioned the scheduled screening of the movie in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, which he described as Chinese majority areas. Hellooooo, I thought most of the people in KL and Penang are Malaysians?
Akmal said: “We hope that after this, Amir and film makers from the new generation of Malays, will pay more attention to the struggles of heroes from their own race...”
“… from their own race …” Doesn’t that say it all as to why Berita Harian had sabotaged the screening of the film. And in the eyes of Akmal, Amir as a Malay has been a disappointment. I reckon Amir should have depicted the top Malay communist, No 2 in the CPM, Rashid Maidin. Amir might have just got away with it. He should heed the clarion call of Negara, Bangsa dan Agama [Nation, Race & Religion]
But good ole Amir socked back, saying Berita Harian is a culturally chauvinistic newspaper, and its central objection to his film was that Chin Peng is an ethnic Chinese.
Perhaps that may explain why former communists who are Malays have been allowed to settle down in Malaysia or move in and out freely, while Chin Peng (or Ong Boon Hua) is still considered a threat to national security.
Hmmm, maybe UMNO fears this octogenarian as I posted in Tremble - Last Communist Cometh!
Oh, I digress. Back on track – Abdullah CD’s memoirs titled Penaja dan Pemimpin Regiment Ke-10 talks about the origin and operations of guerilla warfare of the 12-year anti-communist ‘Emergency’ from the perspective of a communist veteran of ethnic Malay background. He led the all-Malay 10th Regiment of the communists’ Malayan People’s National Liberation Army (MNLA).
malaysiakini said that “in the memoirs, Abdullah CD reveals that the communist attack on the police station in Johor’s Bukit Kepong on Feb 23, 1950 was led by Mat Indera who was later captured and sentenced to death by hanging.”
It’s a valuable addition to our nation’s history, and an appropriate read for this 50th anniversary of our nation. Abdullah CD lived with his wife Suriani Abdullah nee Eng Ming Ching in Thailand.
On the same issue of the Malay Left, retired UKM historian Dr Mohamad Salleh Lamry also revealed in his historical study Gerakan Kiri Melayu Dalam Perjuangan Kemerdekaan that the late former deputy premier Ghafar Baba had privately met Abdullah CD in a hotel in southern Thailand in 2003 ‘to reminisce’.
Apparently before joining UMNO, where sadly in his twilight years of his political career, he was humiliated by a certain ‘parachutist’, Ghafar was closely associated with the leftwing of the Malay nationalists in the Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM) who worked with the communists in a broad anti-colonial united front in the period of 1946-1948.
The slogan Merdeka! was first used by PKMM.