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Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Untold Story of Political Struggle For Malaya Independence


 It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. - Aristotle


This is a copy of one of my assignment that requires me to review a video called. "10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka." Directed by brilliant young man called, Fahmi Reza.

This video is actually open 'my eyes' on what EXACTLY happened before or during the struggle for our  independence from British. It is very different from what we've been told in our school, universities or even from our parent. This video literally contains very valuable pieces of information that been hid from us, rakyat, for more than several decades. It is really important for us to know what is actually happened at that time and by whom are the one that sparks the spirit of independence of our country.

I wrote this article last year but I never thought to publish it online until recently. We are in the brink of our 13th General Election. With the election days only few days away, I really thinks that this knowledge or information is really important for us to know what is exactly happened that has shaped our political movement up until now. 

This article maybe a little bit boring because I'm too lazy to find pictures (lol!) but please read and digest it carefully. I guaranteed that after you finish the last sentence, your mind will wide open, just like me. Enjoy

After more than 55 years our country celebrate the national Independence from British, many of us still thought that the national independence struggle only done by the Umno and its delegations, Datuk Ahmad Kamil, Datuk Dr Ismail, Datuk Hj Abdul Wahab, YTM Tunku Abdul   Rahman, Dato' Mohammad Seth, Kolonel Sir H.S. Lee, Dato' Abdul Aziz Majid dan Datuk Abdul Razak Barisan belakang: T.H. Tan (Setiusaha Wakil Perikatan) dan Abdul Kadis Shamsuddin (Setiuasaha wakil Raja-raja) to London to discuss and give the suggestion of Malaya independence. Many of us still believe that the UMNO were the first organization and the only that initiated the thought of this nation independence. 

Every citizen of current generation is fed through the education system and reminded constantly on our leaders' struggle in the past to fight for 'Merdeka'. In fact, many tend to brag that Malaya (that time) achieved its Independence from British in a peaceful manner without dropping a single blood. Every ordinary and educated (even not educated) people of this land are aware of this cliché or 'fact'. However, the concern is how much truth is lingering in this structured piece ofMalaysianHistory? What are really happened before our nations get its independence? And who is actually involved and initiated the thought of our country independence?

This fact will drag us straight into years 1943, after the world war was ended and Japanese retreated from Malaya occupation. At that time, the British did not set up some specific laws or ordinance in Malaya so the air of liberations and the spirit of independence beginning to rose among the people. The Japanese occupation also took part in the awareness of the independence of this country because before the Japanese came, this country still in the British rule, the people thought that the Malays or other races cannot survive on its own. It must have the British help in order to rule the country but after the Japanese came, it changed everything. 


Especially our perceptions towards British colonialization and our real potential to lead our own land without the British interventions. The great Indonesians resistance against the Dutch occupation also inspired this awareness. From then on, the idea emerged in people’s minds to be engaged in politics.
After that, many political organizations were formed. Two months after world war, in 17 October 1945, The Malay Nationalist Party (PKMM) was formed. This party was the first Malay political party formed after the Japanese occupation in Malaya. The main goal for the establishment of PKMM is to claim for full independence for Malaya and opposes any form of colonialism. PKMM also want to tackle and educate the Malays in terms of education, social and economic as well as the freedom to print and speech.

Two months after that, on 21 December 1945, Malayan Democratic Union was formed. They are generally were an English educated and they didn’t think themselves as a party but as a ‘task force’ to raise the awareness of independence among the people of this country. After that, on 17 February 1946, Pan-Malayan of Trade Union (PMFTU) was formed in Singapore to create the coalition of all of the trade unions. All of these unions have only one main purposed, to free this country from British colonial and gains its independence.

At that time, Malaya did not exist as a nation with real political structures. Malaya consist of a group of malay states, some were federated while others were not, which gave their loyalty to the malay rulers and the straits settlements which gave their loyalty to the British Crown.

After the British returned to Malaya in the aftermath of World War II, On April 1 1946, the Malayan Union officially came into existence with Sir Edward Gent as its governor. The capital of the Union was Kuala Lumpur. The Malayan Union was a federation of the Malay states and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca. It was the successor to British Malaya and was conceived to unify the Malay Peninsula under a single government so as to simplify administration.

The Malayan Union gave equal rights to people who wished to apply for citizenship. It was automatically granted to people who were born in any state in British Malaya or Singapore and were living there before 15 February 1942, born outside British Malaya or the Straits Settlements only if their fathers were citizens of the Malayan Union and those who reached 18 years old and who had lived in British Malaya or Singapore "10 out of 15 years before 15 February 1942". The group of people eligible for application of citizenship had to live in Singapore or British Malaya "for 5 out of 8 years preceding the application", had to be of good character, understand and speak the English or Malay language and "had to take an oath of allegiance to the Malayan Union".

The Sultans, the traditional rulers of the Malay states, conceded all their powers to the British Crown except in religious matters. The Malayan Union was placed under the jurisdiction of a British Governor, signaling the formal inauguration of British colonial rule in the Malay Peninsula. Moreover, even though State Councils were still kept functioning in the former Federated Malay States, it lost the limited autonomy that they enjoyed as they administered some local and less important aspects of government and the Federal government in Kuala Lumpur controlling vital aspects. State Councils became an extended hand of the Federal government that had to do its bidding. Also, British Residents replacing the Sultans as the head of the State Councils meant that the political statuses of the Sultans were greatly reduced.

However, the Union was met with much opposition due to its constitutional framework, which allegedly threatened Malay sovereignty over Malaya. A series of Malay congresses were held, culminating in the formation of the nationalist party, UMNO on May 10, 1946 at the Third Malay Congress in Johor Bahru, with Datuk Onn Jaafar as its leader. UMNO strongly opposed the Malayan Union.
When the UMNO were formed, the PKMM and API was its member but later on, they withdrew when they only get one vote each against small little groups on Perak and other states which have one vote each. So the PKMM and API were outvoted in everything. The other reason why they were walked out from UMNO was the conflict in the UMNO flag. 
After they were separated, the PKMM adopted a leftish approach to their struggle on national independence while UMNO were adopted a Rightist approach on their struggle. From then on, there were two political bodies, left and right. The right wings were pro – British while the leftish were against the British.

At that time, UMNO strongly opposed the Malayan Union, but originally did not seek political power. UMNO was comfortable with continuing to play its supporting role to the British rulers. The leaders cooperated with the British and helped to defeat the communist insurgency. Their party slogan was ‘Hidup Melayu’. It was the PKMM and the other left-wings parties were strongly want the independence from the British. Later on, PKMM and its allies were completely walked out from UMNO.

After the Malayan Union were strongly opposed by the Malays, British came out with another plan which supported by Malay Rulers and UMNO. It was called as Constitutional Proposals for Malaya (also known as the Federation Proposals or the Anglo-Malay Proposals) which eventually formed the basis of the Federation of Malaya Agreement. After the proposal was introduced, the left-wings parties were once again opposed but this time on their Constitutional proposal. They said it was another British agenda to restore the British government colonialism in Malaya but hide under the different name.

On 22 October 1946, All-Malaya Council of Joint Action (AMCJA) was formed. It was a coalition of political and civic organizations in Malaya. It was formed to participate in the development of a constitution for post-war Malaya in preparation for independence and to oppose the Constitutional Proposals for Malaya. Over 29 bodies or parties joined this council including PKMM, API, AWAS, GERAM and etc. On 22 February 1947, Pusat Tenaga Ra’ayat (PUTERA) was formed and joined the AMCJA and later on, it was called as PUTERA – AMCJA.

Once the British found out that all the leftish parties have grouped together, they felt very concerned and they reinstated the Societies Ordinance which interfered with freedom of association and gave the Registrar the absolute power to reject registration of any organization. This give the registrar the power of a ‘Tsar’, they could do anything, investigate anything, challenge everything and question anybody. It is also first concrete prove that the British were beginning to show their power over people of Malaya and also the signal of they are going to rule this country again and restore the colonial power over Malaya. So the left-wings parties were strongly fought that.

The British also installed propaganda in the national newspaper or other media such as radio broadcasting about the good of Constitutional Proposals for Malaya and introduced the ‘Ramasamy and Ah Chong’ propaganda over the opposition sides to create the resentment feeling towards them.
Putera-AMCJA realised they needed a stronger and more progressive programme to win mass support. From May 1947, it began drafting an alternative constitution to challenge the Federation Constitution.

On Aug 10, 1947, the People’s Constitution was completed, taking into consideration the opinions and aspirations of the different factions within the Putera-AMCJA pact. It was a comprehensive document that covered provisions for a democratic system of government, towards establishing a new nationality and an independent nation-state. 

The New Straits Times quoted The People’s Constitution as “the first political attempt to put Malayan party politics on a plane higher than that of rival racial interests, and also as the first attempt to build a political bridge between the domiciled non-Malay communities and the Malay race”.
On Sept 21, 1947, the People’s Constitution was presented for the first time to more than 20,000 people who had gathered at Farrer Park, Singapore. Subsequently, Putera-AMCJA began a national campaign to explain the contents of the People’s Constitution to Malayans.

Meetings, mass gatherings, and demonstrations were held in various places to get the people’s support.
The constitution was published in four languages and disseminated throughout the states. Copies were also sent to the Malayan Union Government, the British Prime Minister and the Colonial Office in London.

Yet once more, the British refused to pay attention to Putera-AMCJA or to hold discussions. The colonial government also rejected all proposals in the People’s Constitution. 

On Oct 6, 1947, Putera-AMCJA released a “Hartal Manifesto”. It called upon all those who regarded Malaya as their home to observe Oct 20, 1947 as a Day of Protest against the Revised Constitutional Proposals,by staging a Malaya-wide hartal on that day.

“October 20 has been selected as the Day of Protest because it is on that day that the British Parliament is scheduled to begin its autumn session, during which it is reported that a debate on the constitutional issue in Malaya will take place."

“On October 20, therefore, between the hours of six a.m. and midnight, all those who regard Malaya as their real home and who support the People’s Constitution issued by Putera-AMCJA, are asked not to carry out their usual occupations, but to remain indoors throughout the day and night."

“You are asked for one day to cease work in order to demonstrate to government that you reject the Revised Constitutional Proposals, and in order to carry our struggle for acceptance of the People’s Constitution one step further."

“October 20 is the day on which the people of Malaya will be called upon to stage the greatest political demonstration that this country has ever seen.”

The campaign to promote the hartal began on Oct 7. Its aim was to ensure the hartal’s success and to prove to the British that the masses were behind the hartal.

Full hartal instructions were issued on how it should be observed, and “12 Hartal Slogans” that pinpointed the reasons for the hartal were sent to the media, all the parties within Putera-AMCJA, and to the 30 Putera-AMCJA centres throughout Malaya to be translated and disseminated to the people so that they fully understood the hartal’s aim as a political act.

Committees were set up in each state to align and plan activities for the hartal. Propaganda corps were established to tour the towns, districts and kampung to put up posters and banners,as well as give out leaflets explaining the hartal and the People’s Constitution. 

Thus, on Oct 20, 1947, beginning from 6am, the whole of Malaya underwent the hartal. Merchants shut their shops, labourers stopped going to the mines, factories, shipyards, and rubber plantations, farmers did not work their lands, fishing folk stayed ashore, housewives did not go to the markets, and the youth stayed away from amusement parks. Only colonial government offices, European stores and several other shops operated as usual.

It was estimated that the British colonial government suffered £4 million in losses from the nationwide strike that day.

According to the Putera-AMCJA, the hartal was also “a unique method of political education. It brought the constitutional issue into every home in the country, and confronted every man, woman and child with this issue. Even in the Government English schools, children in the fourth and fifth standards questioned their teachers about the hartal, asked about its nature and why the government was opposed to it”.

Even though the hartal was a complete success in its execution, it failed to change British constitutional policy in Malaya. The British rejected the People’s Constitution and stayed committed to their agreement with the Malay aristocracy and defended their Federation Constitution. 

On Feb 1, 1948, the Federation of Malaya was inaugurated to replace the Malayan Union.

Then, to crush Putera-AMCJA’s continued protests against the new Federation of Malaya, the British declared a state of Emergency throughout Malaya in June 1948. 

Thousands of Putera-AMCJA leaders and members were arrested. Most were locked up in detention camps for several years while others were banished.

Most of the organisations affiliated to Putera-AMCJA were banned or dissolved. This was the turning point and marked the beginning of the end of the constitutional independence struggle of the left in Malaya.


P.s: Now think! Think very hard an wisely before you make your own choice to vote. Selamat Mengundi!

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