Mohd Misan Mastor holds the position of Negeri Sembilan History Association Treasurer. He accused Raja Petra as being ignorant of history for assuming Chin Peng, was a freedom fighter.
He then challenged Raja Petra to "prove that the independence of the country was due to the efforts of OTHERS."
Raja Petra responded by posting a chapter from a book written by Mustapha Hussain entitled, "MALAY NATIONALISM BEFORE UMNO: THE MEMOIRS OF MUSTAPHA HUSSAIN", specifically to Chapter 34, "PUTERA-AMCJA Conference (1947)" (Read below the article or read HERE )
Commentary by Raja Petra:
The fight for Merdeka started BEFORE the Second World War and continued all through the Japanese Occupation of Malaya.
After the War, all the races, members of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) INCLUDED, joined hands to fight for Merdeka.
Only when the British refused to accept the Malayans’ terms for Merdeka did the CPM take to the jungles to continue their opposition to the British. But it was not only the members of the CPM who took to the jungles. Many non-Communists did as well and they filled the ranks of the CPM guerrillas.
The struggle for Merdeka was NOT an exclusive Malay affair but an effort by ALL the races, as the following piece shall show. It cannot be denied that, before that, many Malays did oppose the British and some died because of it.
But it was not until the Second World War, during the Japanese Occupation, when the idea of Merdeka was finally taken to a higher level of a united Malaya or Federation of Malaya -- a Federation comprising of the Straits Settlements, Federated Malay States and Unfederated Malay States.
Before that, all the states were independent of one another and NO nation, as we know today, existed.
Related Articles on
CHIN PENG AND THE STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE OF MALAYA
(photo courtesy of BBC News)
- Malaya 1957-60 & Chin Peng
Brigadier Keith Prosser CBE MC
(Brigadier Keith Prosser was a young officer in the Cheshire Regiment who spent three years in the Malayan jungle at the latter end of the communist Emergency, with orders to search for, capture or kill Chin Peng )
"... It is 50 years ago that the 1st Battalion started a three year tour in Malaya operating in South Johore against the outlawed Communist Party of Malaya. I therefore read with some interest an obituary of (John Davis) which appeared in the Times on 7 November 2006 and (who was) involved in the whole of that campaign throughout Malaya from 1947 to 1960.
It told the story of how he had worked behind the Japanese lines in Malaya in 1943 - 45. In this role John Davis worked with Chin Peng and organised the air drop of supplies including arms and ammunition into the jungle.
At the end of the war Davis remained in Malaya joining the Special Branch.
Chin Peng was awarded the OBE for his services and took part in the Victory Parade in London.
When Malaya was not granted immediate independence in 1946, the Communist Party of Malaya, led by Chin Peng began a terrorist campaign which lasted until 1960." READ HERE FOR MORE
- Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (2006) , 16 : 279-297 Cambridge University Press, "Chin Peng and the Struggle for Malaya"
Chin Peng is Malaya's Ho Chi Minh, but a Ho Chih Minh manqué.
Like Ho Chi Minh, Chin Peng was a communist who, having played a key part in local resistance to the Japanese occupation, led the struggle AGAINST the post-war restoration of European colonialism.
- From BBC News (30 August 2007) -Asia's melting pot marks 50 years
"...It seems that some are in danger of forgetting the whole lesson of Merdeka.
They could be forgiven for having done so, because from the way the story of Malaysia's independence is told by some within the dominant United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), you might think the Malay community secured independence on its own; driving the perfidious British into the sea. It is NOT true.
Indeed the one surviving key player from the independence struggle is NOT Malay at all.
He is Malaysian Chinese, and he is not welcome in the land of his birth. Chin Peng was once Malaysia's most wanted man.
Chin Peng, leader of the Communist Party of Malaya, did as much as anyone to bring about Malaya's independence.
With 5-10,000 armed guerrillas he tied down tens of thousands of Commonwealth troops in a ruinously expensive war.
"If there hadn't been a boom in rubber and tin prices in the 1950s, the British wouldn't have been able to afford to fight him," said Khoo Kay Kim, emeritus Professor of History at University Malaya.
What the communists did was to focus British minds on a political settlement.
Up stepped the leaders of the Alliance, which consisted of three parties - UMNO, the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) - between them representing the Malay peninsula's three main races. ..." READ HERE FOR MORE
Mustapha Hussain: Profile
by Insun Sony Mustapha (Translator); Jomo, K. S. (Editor),
Published: 2005, Singapore, 1st Edition
Chapter 34: PUTERA-AMCJA Conference (1947)
By the grace of God, through the PUTERA-AMCJA Conference, I was given a second opportunity to participate in efforts towards drafting Malaya’s Independence Constitution.
The first time had been in July 1945, through the Japanese-sponsored Hodosho and KRIS, at a time when Japan was like a dragon in its death throes, struggling against the Allied onslaught. There were two differences.
My first effort had been with Dr Burhanuddin, who had served the Japanese Sumatra-Malaya Military Administration in Taiping while I was a farmer. Then, there had been only five Malay States; this time, there were nine.
On 22 December 1946, multi-ethnic, but mainly NON-Malay leftist political bodies in Malaya formed a coalition called the All-Malayan Council of Joint Action (AMCJA). Its members comprised:
1. Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) – led by John Thivy,
2. Malayan Democratic Union (MDU) – led by John Eber,
3. New Democratic Youth League (NDYL),
4. Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Ex-Comrades Association (MPAJECA),
5. Pan-Malayan Federation of Trade Unions (PMFTU).
Four months later, on 22 February 1947, left-wing Malay parties formed their own coalition during a meeting at the MNP Head Office in Kuala Lumpur. It was called Pusat Tenaga Rakyat (PUTERA) or the Centre for People’s Power. Led by Ishak Haji Muhammad (Pak Sako), the member parties were:
1. Malay Nationalist Party, MNP as its nucleus – led by Dr Burhanuddin
2. Angkatan Pemuda Insaf, API (Generation of Aware Youth) – led by Ahmad Boestamam
3. Angkatan Wanita Sedar, AWAS (Generation of Conscious Women) – led by Shamsiah Fakeh
4. Gerakan Angkatan Muda, GERAM (Young Generation Movement) – led by Aziz Ishak and A. Samad Ismail
5. Barisan Tani Se Malaya, BATAS (Pan-Malayan Farmers/Peasants Front) – led by Musa Ahmad,
6. Majlis Agama Tertinggi SeMalaya, MATA (Pan-Malayan Supreme Religious Council).
While travelling all over North Malaya with Dr Burhanuddin, we had discussed, at great length, the forthcoming PUTERA-AMCJA Conference, consisting of left-wing Malay and NON-Malay political parties, to promote our demand for Independence from the British through constitutional means.
Most post-war non-Malay unions and political parties were left-leaning. MNP was the only Malay political party which, even as early as 1946, had realised that Independence could NOT be achieved unless the demand was unanimously made by the three major communities in Malaya – the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians.
UMNO, led by Datuk Onn bin Jaafar, had yet to fathom this reality, and continued to function as if it was still in pre-war Malaya. In 1951, six years after the war ended, an UMNO-led delegation went to London to demand more Malayan Civil Service officers, more Malay police officers, especially above the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), and improvements in Malay education and other issues. Yet NOT ONE mention of Merdeka (Independence) was made.
Ironically, it was also in 1951 that Datuk Onn began to realise that the co-operation of NON-Malays was VITAL for obtaining INDEPENDENCE.
As mentioned earlier, Ishak Haji Muhammad had been earlier sent by Dr Burhanuddin to Kuala Lumpur to meet AMCJA representative Gerald de Cruz to initiate arrangements for PUTERA and AMCJA to work hand in hand in our struggle against the British. The resulting draft, The People’s Constitutional Proposals for Malaya, was the document Ishak Haji Muhammad had handed to Dr Burhanuddin and me at the end of our two-day Balik Pulau visit. Ishak said, “This is all I managed to achieve. If something is unsatisfactory, please bring it up at the forth- coming PUTERA-AMCJA meeting.”
We promised to go over the draft on our way back to Kuala Lumpur. Ishak left before we could even invite him to a meal. Dr Burhanuddin commented, “Ishak is like that. He is a man of few words.” I suspected a slight tension between Dr Burhanuddin and Ishak then; they could hardly bring themselves to talk to each other.
I was willing to play the role of the mediator. However, there were four things that kept the two connected: the struggle, the party, the Malay race and the nation. Nothing could keep the two men apart with these four elements present.
The clauses proposed by AMCJA and MDU were for:
1. Malaya and Singapore to be united.
2. A popularly elected Federal Consultative Council.
3. Equal citizenship rights to be accorded to all those who considered Malaya their permanent home and the object of their undivided loyalty.
4. The Malay sultans to become constitutional monarchs. The British would no longer have the right to interfere or advise the Malay sultans. The popularly elected Federal Consultative Council would be exclusively responsible for all such advice.
5. Islam and Malay customs would be fully controlled by the Malay people through a special council, not by the sultans.
6. Special privileges for the advancement of Malays in all fields.
Having read the draft, I was certain that if the leftist Malay parties accepted the draft in toto, the parties would lose credibility, influence and support. However, in the draft’s preamble I saw a loophole in the words ‘the Nine Malay States’. I drew Dr Burhanuddin’s attention to the word ‘Malay’. If we ‘used’ this loophole wisely, the Malays would gain substantially. During the tiresome mail train ride from Penang to Kuala Lumpur, Dr Burhanuddin was happy with one boiled egg, a banana and a cup of coffee. I had to supplement that with a plate of fried rice from the buffet coach. Food was important to me.
As I had mentioned, as soon as we arrived in Kuala Lumpur from North Malaya, we looked for lawyer John Thivy at his High Street office. He was MIC’s Secretary-General, while Budd Singh was President; both were socialists. Thivy, being from a notable Kuala Kangsar family, fully understood Malay customs and aspirations. He confided in us that the Indian community shared a common fear with the Malays – that of being drowned by the Chinese. He therefore promised to support all proposals beneficial to the ‘safety’ of the Malays and Indians. I believe Thivy left MIC when it leaned to the right; I am told he is now in Fiji.
Before attending the PUTERA-AMCJA Conference, we Malays met in the rented Kampung Baru home of Ibrahim Karim, API’s Secretary- General. We drank black coffee out of a pail for lack of proper utensils. It was bought with the paltry balance of money collected from our garland-auctions and the sale of photographs of Dr Burhanuddin and Ibrahim Yaakub. Disappointingly, the photos were not selling. No one bought the one of Ibrahim, although he was then deemed a Malay hero.
We took a bus to a five-storey building in Foch Avenue, the highest building in Kuala Lumpur at the time, where the MCP flag fluttered inthe wind. However, the conference was not held on the floor housing the MCP’s headquarters. Desks were arranged in a circle. Dr Burhanuddin sat rigidly, with me on his left, and Taha Kalu on his right.
John Eber (MDU) was on Taha’s right and farther on, beside John Eber, were Ahmad Boestamam (API), Lim Kean Chye (MDU) and John Thivy (MIC). Ishak sat opposite me with Conference Secretary Gerald de Cruz (MDU) on his left while Sir Cheng Lock Tan (AMCJA) dressed in a shirt and coat ensemble sans tie, sat on Ishak’s right.
On Sir Cheng Lock Tan’s right were representatives from the New Democratic Youth League (NDYL), Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Ex-Comrades Association (MPAJECA) and Cheng Loo from the Pan-Malayan Federation of Trade Union (PMFTU) – all very young men. They were probably the front men or dummies. Everyone held a draft of The People’s Constitutional Proposals for Malaya. Mine was full of markings, reflecting my pre-occupation during the train journey.
The PUTERA-AMCJA Conference began with a speech by Ishak as Chairman. We had to tread carefully; no undesirable elements should come into play lest an ugly impasse rear its head. Nothing untoward must happen to jeopardise our efforts to gain the nation’s Independence. We had to be of one heart; bickering would only contribute to prolonged British rule.
Even the normally vocal and aggressive Ahmad Boestamam was extraordinarily impassive. Everyone adopted a passive attitude, a patient disposition, a tolerant demeanour, a peaceful mind and a united stance. Everyone wanted an end to British rule. Everyone craved to live in a free Malaya. Chairman Ishak was extremely careful in choosing his words and ministering his responsibilities. The only one who spoke more shrilly than the rest was Conference Secretary Gerald de Cruz, who was known for his humour and jest. All the six items were endorsed with ease. I noticed that the representatives from the NDYL, MPAJECA and PMFTU hardly uttered a word, just like Sir Cheng Lock Tan.
On behalf of PUTERA, I proposed four more clauses to strengthen our rights, referring to the magic phrase ‘the Nine Malay States’ already in the preamble as proof of PUTERA’s absolute right to claim them:
a. Malay to be Malaya’s national and official language,
b. Malaya’s defence and foreign policies be handled by the Malayan and British Governments with equal responsibility,
c. Melayu (Malay) as the nationality of the people of Malaya,
d. The National Flag would have a red band above a white one.
Clauses (a) and (b) were quickly endorsed with the support of NDYL, MPAJECA and PMFTU representatives who abhorred colonialism. But clause (c) raised the conference room’s temperature. The same degree of unrest was experienced each time the Malays demanded a 60-40 quota in the running of the administration and in employment.
Sir Cheng Lock Tan vehemently opposed demand (c) while the three young men looked calm enough.
I stood up to voice my disappointment at the opposition, drawing their attention to one question. How would hundreds of thousands of Malays – supporters of MNP, API and AWAS in the kampungs – react, should PUTERA announce that ‘Malayan’ and not ‘Melayu’ would be the term used to describe the people’s nationality? They would probably charge at us like bulls provoked by a red cape. Leftist Malay parties would be ruined, much to the glee of the British and right-wing Malay parties.
Even though I had presented my case with great care, Lim stood up and remarked, “We are not dogs to be led by the people. We lead the people.” In response to such strong words, I retorted in a flash, “Are you not here at this conference table because the people chose you? Do not humiliate the people. You ought to retract your words.”
I then saw Conference Secretary de Cruz write something on a large piece of paper and hold it up for all to see. On the paper was written “CRACK” in big, bold letters. Chairman Ishak wisely proposed the matter be handled by a sub-committee later that evening and its decision be announced the next day. The sub-committee met that night in Kampung Baru over a Malay dinner of rice and tapioca shoot vegetable curry, during which time a PUTERA representative managed to positively influence members who had opposed the proposal to describe our nationality as ‘Malay’.
We had asked, “What is wrong with using the term ‘Malay’ to describe our nationality? If this request is denied, we can only deduce that colonial elements have infiltrated this conference, and that colonialists are still in control.” Gerald de Cruz loved Malay food. Perhaps the tapioca shoot vegetable curry contributed to the agreement that ‘Malay’ will be the agreed nationality of the people. I was glad that the matter had not split up the conference.
Actually, the Malay nationality proposal was won due to the votes of the three Chinese youths. They were the first ones to be convinced by our little speech and appeals.
On the second day of the PUTERA-AMCJA Conference, API leader Ahmad Boestamam, who was honoured with the final vote, gave PUTERA the winning edge. With that victory, I felt that the Malay states and the Malay race would be forever preserved. In Hang Tuah’s words, “The Malays will not perish from this earth.”
Next in the discussion was the question of citizenship. AMCJA had proposed the jus soli concept, but PUTERA found it difficult to accept. However, Taha Kalu seemed to agree with jus soli. As he sat near me, I raised my fist as if to warn him, “Should you support this jus soli concept, I will punch you.”
To my relief, he voted in support of PUTERA. Despite some frantic hand signalling, Ahmad Boestamam – who sat at a distance from me – did not understand my signals. He chose AMCJA’s stand. I said to myself, “Allah! What will happen now?”
The AMCJA won and we were in deep trouble. My mind quickly came up with an idea to overcome the matter. Pretending not to know the meaning of ‘amendments’, I asked the chairman to define the term. Then, I asked what ‘clause’ meant. I pretended not to know these words so as to allay the fear of the others.
I then proposed a ‘clause’ be included to determine the quota for Malays and non-Malays in all Federal Councils and in all government business. I wanted a restriction or a certain formula in the Malay and non-Malay sharing.
Conference secretary Gerald de Cruz commented on my proposal as sweetly as he could. He said he had anticipated it. He explained that if the ‘universal franchise’ policy was adopted, the Malays should get 95 per cent of the vote and 95 per cent of all seats and posts. The other conference members were taken in. Chairman Ishak could not do much as his hands were tied.
Dr Burhanuddin’s mouth was shut tight, as the conference was conducted in English. Earlier, when the ‘national language’ issue was being discussed, non-Malay members had asked for a compromise, “Please give us ten years to master the Malay Language.” In view of this, how could we compel them to use Malay at the conference?)
I stood up, stating with great care that, “We Malays do not want 95 per cent as that is unjust. We do not want 80 per cent as that would be unfair. Neither do we want 80 per cent or 70 per cent. But in the name of all Malays who own this land, we want 60 per cent. We ask for only 60 per cent because we are holding fast to the concept of democracy. At the same time, we want to preserve the rights of the people of this land.”
I was shouted at by the MDU leader, the lawyer John Eber. He snarled, “I did not want to say anything harsh earlier, but now, I have to. The truth is, your people do not have the right to claim Independence – what more to obtain other people’s help to appeal on your behalf.”
He added, “We are the ones who are willing to work with you and help you claim it. Now you want to determine the quota for yourselves and for us?”
He paused and continued, “I am standing here to promote my party principles and one of them is democracy.” Before sitting down, he pointed his finger at me and asked clearly, “Is he democratic?”
I was forced to stand up another time to respond to his words. I forgot how to remain calm and collected. I had forgotten about compromise and co-operation. Luckily, I remembered Sutan Jenain’s words, “Be hot in the heart, but not in the head.”
With whatever was left of my composure, I said, “Look at the appearance of PUTERA members, the Malays, at this conference. Their hair uncombed, clothes unkempt and not ironed. Some did not have a chance to wash as they slept in bus stations and train stations in order to attend this conference. Some did not even have breakfast. They drank coffee out of a pail. But you, sir (looking at John Eber), even though you were given a comfortable rattan chair, you still need a folded towel to serve as a cushion. Who among us truly needs Independence, you or us?”
John Eber got up to pull the folded towel off his chair. His face was red with anger. He was enraged, but I could not care less. An insult for an insult!
The Chairman stood up to calm the situation and again suggested the quota issue be discussed by a sub-committee. The outcome was positive. AMCJA agreed to the 60-40 quota. I was thankful to God for His blessings.
The Malay States and the Malay people were now secure and safe. This would maintain Malay pre-eminence. The outcome would guarantee the future of the Malays, especially in a situation where non-Malay votes may outnumber Malay votes.
I must add that MIC John Thivy in the AMCJA kept his word by giving us his vote every time, to our mutual benefit.
The ten principles we discussed came to be known as the Ten People’s Principles, to represent all communities. Since The People’s Constitutional Proposals for Malaya was endorsed and announced to the nation, the PUTERA-AMCJA partnership was reinforced because the masses, not the administrators and the elite, were strongly behind us.
The final copy of The People’s Constitutional Proposals for Malaya was sent to the British Government as the voice of the different communities living in Malaya who clamoured for Independence. The people’s response to the constitution was proof of their spirit.
But the British appeared unconcerned, refusing to hold discussions with us, or even to read the constitution, as if nothing urgent was happening.
We had to think of our next constitutional move. As a result, the hartal of October 1947 was organised and received widespread support from the people. Shops and business houses shut their doors. Kuala Lumpur looked deserted.
What the Dailies Wrote
I don’t remember what the Malay papers wrote. Majlis was certainly in opposition to the hartal as it was wary of any co-operative efforts by the three races.
But the 23 September 1947 edition of The Straits Times described the hartal as: “The first attempt to put Malayan party politics on a plane higher than that of rival racial interests and also the first attempt to build a political bridge between the domiciled non-Malay communities and the Malay race”.
The other English language newspaper editorials also found The People’s Constitutional Proposals for Malaya generally fair.
The PUTERA-AMCJA effort was my third attempt to gain Independence. I had failed in all three but I continued to work towards loosening the colonial grip on Malaya and freeing Malaya from British fetters. With that uppermost in my mind, I decided to continue fighting for the cause with Dr Burhanuddin. As that required my staying on in Kuala Lumpur, I felt that it was time I brought my family (whom I had left for months in Matang) to join me in Kuala Lumpur.