I heard that Raja Petra had said that Chin Peng was a freedom fighter and had fought for Merdeka much earlier than Umno or in other words, judging from the commentaries he received in his article here, shows that it was the Chinese that had led the struggle for independence of Tanah Melayu, rather than the Malays.
RPK’s articles are always written in a way that we can call as at best, misleading. But the intended effect of each particular article is not in the article itself, but rather, in the first few comments planted immediately right after each article. That is where all the punchlines lie.
The historian mentioned in that article clearly challenged RPK to provide proof as to his contention that Chin Peng was a freedom fighter and the fight for independence was started by a non-Malay.
In his rebuttal linked above, RPK never once stated any reference regarding Chin Peng. He had in fact copy pasted a chapter from The Memoirs of Mustapha Hussain and also failed to provide his readers on the basis of his earlier statement that a non-Malay had indeed started the call for independence. Who is that non-Malay?
RPK, in his usual misplaced arrogance had declared rather condescendingly: “The proof that Misan seeks is in chapter 34, PUTERA-AMCJA Conference (1947), in the book, MALAY NATIONALISM BEFORE UMNO: THE MEMOIRS OF MUSTAPHA HUSSAIN.”
Obviously RPK hold Mustapha Hussain in high regards as he had unequivocally chose this persona as the basis of his evidence. Mustapha Hussain’s memoirs were the only reference provided by RPK to discredit what the Negeri Sembilan History Association treasurer had said.
Nevertheless, I read that article with interest because I had read the said book and that particular chapter too. But to my utter dismay, I feel that RPK had overestimated his own intelligence. Nowhere in that article of his had he provided us with proof regarding Chin Peng or any particular non-Malay.
Indeed, by the end of this article, I hope people will know the clearer picture about the situation back then and I hope readers here will make his own judgment on our own history. I will just dissect further on what RPK had taken as reference in his article and ultimately, we will see how RPK had naughtily excluded more important parts of the book just to satisfy the motives of his first few commentators.
The illustrious Mustapha Hussain was one of the earliest founder of the first Malay political party in Tanah Melayu called the Kesatuan Melayu Muda (Young Malay Union) or KMM in short.
He was one of the earliest English educated Malay nationalist that realized the British rule and its policy over Tanah Melayu was destructive to the survival of the Malay race.
In early 1930′s, he stated:
“It was British policy to encourage Malays to remain small-time farmers. Malay children were not to be given higher education in case they would be disinclined to till the land (pg. 91)… the Malays were colonized by a race who preferred to keep ‘native children’ perpetually in the dark. The British did not wish to see local children become educated and thinking adults who might want to unleash their energies against them. Education was provided, but only to a level deemed fit for ‘the Malays’. Thus, the educational progress of the Malays was hampered (pg. 96).”
R.O. Winstedt, the British writer who had written the History of Malaya and also the compiler of English – Malay dictionary was responsible for looking into the syllabus of Malay education at that time. Instead of upgrading the Malay education, he recommended that it be reduced further so that “Malay pupils do not forget to till farms”. He also came up with the ‘bright’ idea to teach Malay students the art of weaving baskets from bamboo and subsequently, a class to teach basketry was introduced for teachers to teach their Malay students (pg 97).
The British were insecure should a Malay intelligentsia emerged, their grip on Malaya would be threatened. Mustapha Hussain was inspired by the Malay freedom fighters and patriots that fought the British Government much earlier such as Mat Kilau, Datuk Bahaman, Datuk Abdullah Haji Dahan and Mohd Eunos Abdullah.
It is suffice to say that Mustapha’s political inclinations were heavily influenced by the struggle of those 4 Malay fighters. Mohd Eunos was much more of an educated Malay nationalist who had recognize the threat presented to the Malay race through the policies of the British Government; which did not encourage the Malays to attend English medium schools en masse.
The Malays were systematically segregated from the more lucrative industries of that time and were made to become only rice farmers, small rubber growers, coconut growers and fishermen (pg. 121).
This is made worse by the influx of non-Malays into Tanah Melayu during the first part of the century.
The Chinese and Indians, having arrived in China and India quickly recognized the value of English education. They therefore competed to send their children to English schools. The Malays had regarded the British as the mentors and advisors but in return the British had deceived the Malays in the field of education by decreeing that Malay children had to attend four years of Malay school before attending English schools while the children of other races benefited by entering English schools straight away. The cycle continues whereby only few Malays can join the British Government while the non-Malays were given priorities to serve them (pg. 120 & 121).
In the 1930’s, political tensions between the Malays and the immigrants on the other were heating up while the British do not know how to handle it. They only knew how to compromise with the immigrants in order to enjoy good relations with India and China (pg. 121).
RPK failed to mention that Mustapha Hussain first mentioned about the Malay dominance (Ketuanan Melayu) when the concept was a pure and noble idea (before it was twisted by the Chinese chauvinists in Pakatan Rakyat). It was imperative to uphold this concept in order to protect the rights of the Malays from the onslaught of the immigrants. In short, Mustapha Hussain believed that KMM would be the saviour of the Malays in their homeland in ensuring their preeminence and birthrights (pg. 136).
I am guessing RPK will be hard pressed to compartmentalize Mustapha Hussain’s idealogy to further suit his (RPK’s) agenda from now on.
Mustapha Hussain stated further;
“The political chapter of the 1930′s should be opened with the Chinese lion dance, with the aggressive dragon ready to devour a nation. It was a time when the Malays were beginning to be, and needed to be, alarmed by open Chinese claims for equal rights with the Malays. Since 1920, Chinese immigrants had entered Malaya in droves through Singapore, without restrictions by the British. When the Malay rulers questioned the need to bring in foreign labour, the British retorted ‘They are necessary to carry out many kinds of work’ (pg 122).”
The British arrogantly denied the fact that it was due to their own narrow minded education policy which had made the Malays unfit to carry on other duties besides the usual agrarian based jobs.
He further claimed;
“In 1931, the Malays received a slap in the face with a Penang Chinese, Lim Cheng Ean loudly asked, ‘Who says this land belongs to the Malays?’ This highly educated and wealthy Chinese, by virtue of his domicile in Penang, was a British subject, not a subject of the Malay Rulers. That explained his boldness. He had asserted, ‘When Captain Light landed in Penang, was he met by the Malays? My ancestors, who worked as coolies, were the ones who opened up the island. Jungles were converted into towns by them. Penang is ours’.
The Malays could hardly stomach his claims, but the British did nothing. Lim forgot that the island was already named Pulau Pinang by the Malays long before the Chinese set foot on it. It belonged to Sultan of Kedah, who leased the island to Captain Francis Light in 1786, when Malay farmers and fishermen were already living on the island.
Emboldened by the Chinese, Indians also claimed they were the ones who had opened up this land. They said they had laid down the roads, railway tracks and planted rubber. They too wanted rights equal to those of the Malays. In short, both the Chinese and Indians immigrants were openly challenging Malay preeminence (pg. 123).”
Out of this open hostility by the non-Malays and their incessant claims to equal rights and exacerbated through the unfair distribution of economic wealth by the British, Tanah Melayu gave birth to the first Malay political party in the form of KMM with Mustapha Hussain as its first vice president in 1938. The party was made up by leftist Malay nationalists who felt that the aristocratic and elite Malays had become Westernised and bourgeoisie.
Subsequently, there were other Malay Associations in Perak, Selangor and Pahang. But there were mainly provincial and pro colonial in outlook whereas KMM was based in Kuala Lumpur and more anti colonial.
Mustapha reiterated here that;
“As Malaya’s first political organization, its leaders were proud to be the first to use the magic word, Merdeka. Appropriately, KMM had a second secret meaning, Kesatuan Malaya Merdeka, or Independent Malaya Union, known only to the KMM’s inner circle, consisting of just a few members.
I repeat that KMM’s objective was to uphold the rights of the oppressed Malays, who had long endured the British inability to stop ‘the others’ from making claims, especially on the delicate question of ownership. KMM would adopt wide-ranging nationalistic principles and strive in the name of nusa dan bangsa – country and people (pg. 138).”
In chapter 19, Mustapha Hussain detailed heavily the contributions of the first several Malay nationalists who sought freedom from the British. The Japanese invasion in 1941 forced KMM to reprioritize their agenda and worked with the Japanese in attaining their objectives – Tanah Melayu yang Merdeka.
I wonder why RPK purposely omitted several chapters preceding Chapter 34 that had clearly strengthened Mohd Misan Mastor’s claim that the “Malays had fought colonialism since the fall of Melaka Sultanate and throughout the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese occupation.”
RPK had committed the grievous mistake of providing misleading facts to his readers just to spite the Malays. On top of it all, he purposely left out pertinent details from the book that could actually rebut his own article that was based on that book itself!
And perhaps readers of the book can appreciate the fact that should KMM was successful in their bid to gain independence from the British back in 1940’s (should the Japanese did not invade Malaya), this Tanah Melayu will be very much different from how Umno would have led the nation. KMM would have been more domineering and less tolerable to the non-Malays.
It was only through necessity that Mustapha agreed to cooperate with other non Malay parties after the Japanese Occupation. Chapter 34 stated this meeting extensively and we can see from his actions that Mustapha was very much a believer of Malay pre-eminence. So does other Malay leaders in his political party. For a start, he wanted all the Malayans, upon achieving independence must be called ‘Melayu’. All the non-Malays are to shed their communal identities and be known as Melayu from thereon.
It is also important to know that Mustapha Hussain contested with Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1951 for the post of Umno’s presidency! He lost by a mere one vote. Later on, he became an important figure in Umno Perak.
In the effort to spite the Malay leadership, RPK had ignored the important contribution of the Malay freedom fighters of the past. Probably he himself had forgotten the role of the Malay nationalists in rescuing his royal relatives from the hands of the Japanese (pg. 239) during the Occupation.
I really do not understand why RPK had taken the stand to glorify Chin Peng. Note that the Communists which RPK had glorified had murdered Mustapha’s brothers during the Interregnum period of Bintang Tiga and many other Malay people.
If Chin Peng indeed had pure intention in attaining independence for Malaya, it had become impure by his actions against the local people itself. The very people he supposedly tried to free from the British.
If RPK sincerely thinks that Chin Peng should be a hero, then RPK should come face to face with families of the murdered people below and see what they think about Chin Peng;
There are thousands other murdered victims of the CPM led by Chin Peng since he took over as its Secretary General in 1948. We don’t even have to look at other instances recorded in the books of Dato’ Seri Yuen Yuet Leng and Dato’ J.J. Raj to discover the extent of atrocities committed by these people. What kind of a freedom fighter is this?
Furthermore, if RPK thinks that communism is all that great, then he should know that in any Communist country of that we know of, he would have been shot under the charge of treason against the government. Malaysia Today would have been shut down the moment it was set up.
Some people just could not count their blessings.
Other reading materials to ponder;
After reading this posting and the links above, please revisit RPK’s article and analyse for yourself what are his real motives. Do also read the first few comments in that article and see the irresponsible statements made by certain people just to erase the contributions of the Malays back then. By the way, where are the Malay historians? Takkan nak harap blogger Pesanan-Pesanan sahaja! Nak harap para cedekiawan Melayu dari Oxford memang lah susah sangat. Berat sungguh mulut mereka. Thank you.