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The real fighters for MERDEKA

Media Statement
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): We have just celebrated our nation’s 48th birthday yesterday.Many Malaysians, especially the young generations born after the Independence, knows very little about the history of Malaya (now Malaysia).

The History textbooks they studied in schools do not give them the real picture.

Contrary to what they have learned from the textbooks, UMNO leaders were not the real fighters for Independence.

Most of the UMNO leaders in the Merdeka era were actually senior servants of the British government. Just take the first four Prime Ministers in the country as example.

The first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra AlHaj Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, was serving the colonial government in Kedah as a District Officer in districts like Langkawi, Kulim and Sg Petani.

After obtaining his LLB at the Inner Temple, London in 1945, he served as a DPP and later promoted to the position of a session court president in Selangor.

His deputy Tun Abdul Razak bin Datuk Hussein (Malaysia’s second Prime Minister), was serving the British as the State Secretary of Pahang in 1952 after obtaining his LLB at the Lincoln’s Inn as a Queen’s Scholar in 1950. Razak served as the Chief Minister of Pahang in 1955.

Tun Hussein bin Dato Onn, the third Prime Minister of Malaysia, was a police depot commander in Johor Bahru in 1945. He later served as an Assistant District Officer in districts like Kuala Selangor and Klang in the fifties. He obtained his law degree at Lincoln’s Inn in 1958.

The fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was serving as a medical officer in Alor Star, Langkawi and Perlis in the fifties after graduating as a medical doctor in 1953 from Universiti Malaya (Singapore). He opened his own clinic in Alor Star in 1957.

UMNO leaders were treated as friends of the British. Together with the leaders of MCA and MIC, they cooperated with the British master to negotiate for the Independence of Malaya.

Little wonder why The Times of London reported the birth of Malaya with a resonant chord of approval. In particular it pointed out the impeccable credentials of its conservative Malay leaders, who, unlike the troublesome radicals of the Left, had showed that they were of a decidedly more moderate and accommodating temper. It reassured its readers that:

‘Malayan nationalism had not been born out of conflict and there was not a single Malayan Minister who had ever spent a day in prison for sedition’. (The Times, August 31, 1957.)

One may even argue that the Alliance leaders were not the ones that put up real sacrifice for the Merdeka struggle.On the other hand, many of the real freedom fighters were thrown into jails.

Young Malaysians should know that PKMM (Partai Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya) leaders like Mokhtaruddin Lasso, Ahmad Boestaman, Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmi, Ishak Haji Mohammad (Pak Sako), Arshad Ashaari, Dahari Ali , Baharuddin Tahir,Khadijah Ali, Ibrahim Karim, Kamarulzaman Teh( Pak Zaman),Abdul Rahman Rahim and many others have played a pivotal role in the struggle of Independence.(Merintis Jalan Ke Punchak ,1972)

PKMM sent a big delegation to the historic UMNO (United Malays National Organisations or Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu) congress which was held from March 1 to 4, 1946 in Kuala Lumpur.

In the inaugural congress, PKMM proposed to “reject the Malayan Union and demand for a truly independent Malaya” (menolak Malayan Union dan menuntut Malaya Merdeka yang seratus peratus).

Unfortunately, the proposal was rejected by the congress and the PKMM delegation staged a walkout as a protest on the third day of the congress. Its leaders continued to step up its struggle for a truly independent Malaya, unlike the other conservative UMNO leaders who wanted to maintain their status quo.

The British started to clamp down on PKMM and API members in 1948. Many members and leaders were jailed and some of those who escaped from the police went into the jungle to join the arm struggle led by MCP. This has created a political vacuum, which was quickly filled up by UMNO with the consent of the British.  Both MCA and MIC were also formed after the establishment of UMNO with the encouragement from the British.

It must be pointed out that without the struggle and sacrifice made by these freedom fighters and the pressure mounted by the Malayan Communist Party led by Chin Peng (as acknowledged by Tan Sri Rahim Noor, IGP on signing the peace accord with MCP), the British would certainly not willing to cooperate and negotiate with the Alliance leaders for an “Independence without bloodshed”.

We must also not forget about the struggle put up by visionaries like Ibrahim Haji Yaakob (KMM, Kesatuan Melayu Muda) who dreamed of forming Malaya Raya in the 1940s.Some of these freedom fighters continued  fighting for MERDEKA during the Japanese Occupation.

We could even trace some of the freedom fighters way back in 1890s. Some of these legendaries include Dato Bahaman, Mat Kilau and Mat Kelubi.

Note: Partai Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM) was formed on 17 October 1945 in lpoh, Perak, a year before UMNO was formed. Founding leaders include legendaries like Mokhtaruddin Lasso, Ahmad Boestaman and Dr. Burhanuddin al-Helmi(later became President of PAS). The objective of PKMM was to fight for a truly independent nation, free from the stranglehold of the British colonials. Angkatan Pemuda Insaf (API), Angkatan Wanita Sedar (AWAS) and Barisan Tani Se-Malaya (BATAS), Majlis Agama Tertingga Se-Malaya (MATA) were all wings set up under PKMM to fight for Independence.

Further explanation: Statement dated 05.09.2005


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP International Secretary and NGO Bureau Chief

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