Tuesday 6 September 2011

UMNO in Panic Mode: UMNO's Version of Malaysian History is Being Debunked Fast

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Recognising History Would Make Umno Irrelevant


Dato' Mohd.Ariff Sabri bin Hj. Abdul Aziz

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad said UMNO hasn’t got leadership. My take on that statement is that it is the damnest indictment on Prime Minsiter Najib Tun Razak’s leadership.

UMNO is now reduced to the stature of a beggar – scrounging at the supposed faux pas committed by PAS deputy president Mat Sabu.

What has Mat Sabu actually said that caused so much consternation?Mat Sabu mentioned the name of Mat Indera, the Batu Pahat Malay born in Peserai who led the attack on the police barrack at Bukit Kepong.

The barrack was commanded by an English man representing the colonial government then. I think we are missing the point here. Mat Sabu wasn’t glorifying the communists or communism. He didn’t even say anything about communism. He was asking his audience to take a relook at the treatment of history on the role of Mat Indera.

To Mat Sabu, history has unjustly treated Mat Indera and we, the public, have accepted the official version of history – hook, line and sinker. Was Mat Indera a simple terrorist sans a greater purpose and therefore deserving the description of a villain and terrorist?

Vilifying Mat Indera

It now seems the preferred version of revised history is to see and value Mat Indera as a freedom fighter bent on kicking out the British imperialists. Certainly the people in Mat Indera’s kampung in Batu Pahat refused to accept the vilification of Mat Indera’s memory.


The criminalisation of Mat Indera is part of the indoctrination and propaganda carried out by British imperialism. Mat Indera joins the list of so many other freedom fighters who dared rise up to challenge Britsih hegemony.

Nowadays the Malayan people could no longer accept nor tolerate the infamy enforced on people like Pandak Endut, on Tok Janggut and Mat Kilau and so many others. Mat Indera certainly doesn’t deserve to be dumped into the dustbin of history as just “one of those” terrorists.

Why is UMNO concerned?

Over the last few days, I had the opportunity to finish reading the memoir of one Shamsiah Fakeh – Memoir Shamsiah Fakeh- Dari AWAS ke Rejimen Ke-10. If you recall, her name re-emerged with some notoriety recently when the Bersih 2.0 marchers on July 9 were said to be influenced by her actions.

Shamsiah was a member of Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM) – a left-leaning Malay political party formed in 1945. It was the first political party that openly declared its mission to be that of securing independence for Malaya.

In that sense, PKMM preceded UMNO in its commitment to secure Merdeka for the Malayan people. UMNO leaders at that time scoffed and chided and were dismissive of the manifest desire to gain independence.

They often derided those who wanted independence as fanciful dreamers who couldn’t even manufacture a needle What is then alarming about Mat Sabu’s faux pas is the fear that it may lead to a widespread revision of history.

If it snowballs into a widespread revision of history, then UMNO’s actual http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifrole MAY itself be diminished. And it will no longer enjoy an unchallenged and monopolistic place in our nation’s history.

Politically it will also mean that UMNO will find it increasingly difficult to claim absolute legitimacy as the nation’s only political force to have fought for Merdeka. Its own heroes will be brought down to size.

Related Article

Johor Govt's 2004 Book, "Pengukur Nama Johor" Vindicates Mat Sabu

Read here for more in Malaysiakini


A book published by the Johor government in 2004 names insurgent Mat Indera as a freedom fighter and lists him as a celebrated Johor hero.

Speaking to Malaysiakini today, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu said this was revealed in the book titled "Pengukir Nama Johor."

“The book has five pages on Mat Indera and he is essentially called a freedom fighter. It states that he is not a communist, Mohamad, who is widely known as Mast Sabu, said.

Under fire for describing Mat Indera as a hero for attacking the Bukit Kepong police station in 1950, he said the foreword of the book was written by Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman.

“This is why I said that Umno is digging its own grave on this issue,” added mat Sabu, who is due to hold a press conference on the matter tomorrow.

Five pages of the book are dedicated to Mat Indera while the remainder are biographies of 21 other key historical figures from Johor.

These include the late Sultan Ismail and former Umno chairperson Sulaiman Ninam Shah.

Also included in the Johor Heritage foundation published book is a biography of Bajuri Siraj, who turned Mat Indera in to the British for a reward.

Mat Indera's photograph is featured on the cover of the book

The section on Mat Indera was written by Ismail Adnan, who once served as deputy director of Institut Kepimpinan dan Latihan Semangat Dato' Onn.

The book is edited by former Universiti Malaya media studies lecturer Abu Bakar A Hamid and Teacher of the Year 2002 award recipient Md Ismail Zamzam.

'Pious and hardworking man

Contacted by Malaysiakini today, Abu Bakar said Mat Indera is described in the book as someone who was “pious and a tahfiz” (someone who has memorised the Quran).

“The author used this as a basis to conclude that it is unlikely that he had turned into a communist,” Abu Bakar said.

He added that Ismail had written the section based on several credible sources and his own research.

Interestingly, Abu Bakar revealed that his own father had also served alongside Mat Indera at Sekolah Agama Parit Setongkat in Muar, Johor, in the 1940s.

My father was the headmaster and Mat Indera was a teacher there. My father remembers him to be a hardworking and pious man who had a good voice,” he said.

At the same time, Abu Bakar revealed, in his memoir published by UKM, once Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) chairperson Abdullah CD named Mat Indera as one of his platoon members.

In the memoir, Abdullah said that Mat Indera had led the insurgency against the Bukit Kepong police station and was later “poisoned” before he was captured and hanged to death.

“This public and intellectual discourse about history is a good thing, but I urge politicians to stay out of it. There is no need to make a lot of noise for nothing. Even in academia there are differing views, so we conduct more research and present our findings. The case (of Mat Indera) is not yet closed,” Abu Bakar added.


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A strange irony of history has emerged to suggest a link between the alleged communist leader of the attack on the Bukit Kepong, on the one hand, and a top Umno politician who has of recent expressed among the harshest criticisms of his memory.

According to PAS, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's father Mohammad Yassin was actually the teacher of 'Mat Indera', the pre-Merdeka nationalist implicated in the deaths of police officers and civilians following an attack on the Bukit Kepong police station in 1950 during the communist insurgency.

The irony goes even further with the revelation that Mat Indera may even, at one point, have sought the hand of Muhyiddin's elder sister.

“Mat Indera wanted to marry the sister of DPM Muhyiddin Yassin, but Mat Indera's father was not agreeable to it,” Johor PAS Youth chief Suhaizat Kaiat wrote on his Facebook page after meeting with Mat Indera's younger brother Johan Shah at the latter's home in Penjara Air Molek, Johor Bahru.

According to Suhaizan in his Facebook posting, Mohamad 'Mat' Sabu and Johor PAS commissioner Dr Mahfodz Mohamed were present at the meeting with Johan.

“It was the British who accused Mat Indera of being a communist,” said Suhaizan further. Mat Indera was eventually captured and executed by the colonial authorities.

Suhaizan's remarks following a barrage of attacks on Mohamad Sabu following a speech in which he described Mat Indera as the real hero in the Bukit Kepong incident, not the Malay police officers, as they were serving to enforce the laws and administration of the British colonial government.

Muhyiddin has been among the more vociferous of Mohamad Sabu's critics following the latter's remarks.

Recounting his meeting with Johan, Suhaizan said he was told that Johan, his father, stepmother and grandfather were tortured by the British colonialists before being banished to Singapore between 1950 to 1954.

“People were afraid of the British”, said Suhaizan, which is why nobody defended Mat Indera when the latter was prosecuted by the British.

Among the other facts that Suhaizan said were related by Johan were:
- Mat Indera was the second eldest child of eight children. His mother died when Johan - the youngest - was two years old;

- The British offered a 25,000-dollar reward for Mat Indera's capture before the Bukit Kepong incident. After the incident, the reward was raised to 75,000 dollars;

- Mat Indera arrived at the site of Bukit Kepong during the last moments of the incident, and was not involved in the attack on the police station;

johor pas youth visit mat indera brother johan shah 060911 mohamad mat sabu- Mat Indera saved the life of one police officer by the name of Yusof Rono;

- Mat Indera was appointed by the then-Johor government as a religious studies teacher. He was issued a uniform and official songkok. He had studied under a renowned religious scholar by the name of Tuan Guru Fadil;

- Mat Indera was hanged to death at Kampung Jambu Air in Taiping in the year 1953, and was buried separately from the other graves in the cemetary;

- Mat Indera never married.
In a statement, Johor PAS Youth said it will hold a press conference tomorrow together with Johan at the party's national headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.


hwabeng said...

The truth must be told to be fair to Mat Indera's relatives.

hwabeng said...

The truth must be told for the sake of Mat Indera's relatives.