Saturday, May 28, 2011

Patriotism, Politician & Soldiers.

Talking about patriotism, the litmus paper is the war time. The only time Malaysia ever have any modern war was the WW2; Emergency was just like small civil war, a war of ideology, a by product of cold war after WW2. Japanese occupation was the real test, a tribulation of 3 years and 8 months. During the time, there were war hero, who fight for Malaya against the Japanese. Looking at the war only with historical view, without any corruption from political and racial views, the majority who were in the anti-Japanese armies were the Chinese. This is historical fact, partly due to the political development in the Far East. They were soldiers, patriotic soldiers. So there is no reason that Malaysian Chinese are not interest in uniform.

Recently I look through on the military history of WW2, Malaya, and Japan; British had no plan to defense Malaya even before the war, they are more worry about their home country against the Nazi. May be they were over confidence that Imperial Japanese Army will not attack their Singapore, or they believe they have enough power to defend their fortress. Their best air defense was in Europe. When the war come, they are not prepared, they think only of evacuation of their own people. The Indian soldiers and Malayan soldiers were left behind to become POW. Their grand escape plan backfire, many end up in POW Camp or died in the sea of Java, only few who evacuated earlier managed to escape, and some lucky one. The escape of British colonist, revealed negatively on them, especially the Indian soldiers and local residents in Malaya. They were some brave soldiers, some battle, .....but not enough to protect Malaya, and in the end, the defeat of British empire in the most shameful war that British had ever fight.

The Indian had their dilemma, to believe the promise by the Imperial Japanese Army, that they will support their independence of India, or prepare to suffer under their occupation , or even go to POW Camp. Many aligned with the Japan initially and joined Indian National Army(INA), with anticipation for Japanese support for independence of India from British. But there were some who were ready to POW Camp. The aim of the army was to overthrow the British Raj in colonial India, with Japanese assistance. Initially composed of Indian prisoners of war captured by Japan in her Malayan campaign and at Singapore, it later drew volunteers from Indian expatriate population in Malaya and Burma. Some of the member of British Indian soldiers even provide information to Japan for their invasion of Malaya. Their main core of support was from Indian in Malaya, Singapore and Burma.

Initially formed in 1942 immediately after the fall of Singapore under Mohan Singh, the first INA collapsed in December that year before it was revived under the leadership of Subhas Chandra Bose in 1943 and proclaimed the army of Bose's Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind (The Provisional Government of Free India). This second INA fought along with the Imperial Japanese Army against the British and Commonwealth forces in the campaigns in Burma, Imphal and Kohima, and later, against the successful Burma Campaign of the Allies. The end of the war saw a large number of the troops repatriated to India where some faced trial for treason and became a galvanising point of the Indian Independence movement.

After Indian independence, the ex-INA members, with some exceptions, were refused service in the Indian Army. However, a number of notable members later became involved in local politic or public life in India and in Southeast Asia.

For further information on INA,,please read wikipedia I have personally know some of ex-member of INA, one of them even become an active politician and public figure in Penang. They sincerely and strongly believe in the promise of Imperial Japanese Army.

The Malay was also indulged in the hope for independence of Malaya and Indonesia, and there was engagement and participation in the occupation government.

In administering Kedah, the Japanese implemented a policy of cooperation with the right winged elites. The then Monopoly and Customs Commissioner Tunku Muhamad Jiwa ibn Sultan Abdul Hamid and Ismail Harun (2nd assistant secretary) initiated the cooperation. The Kulim district officer also cooperated with the Japanese. In his speech aired by Radio Pulau Pinang, Tunku Abdul Rahman urged the people of Malaya and Sumatra to accept the Japanese occupation to avoid further bloodshed((by Abu Talib Ahmad). Even though the Malays (who are Muslims) and Indians were not badly treated by Japanese forces in the beginning of the occupation, later they too felt the hardship of life under the occupation and this was magnified by the brutal treatment of anyone who was suspected of being anti-Japanese (although hardly any atrocities were inflicted on them). Thus the SOE found a suitable backing among a few Malays and sent their officers to train local resistance forces famously known as Harimau Malaya Force 136 (Tigers of Malaya of Force 136). However, certain individuals in Malaya were strong supporters of the Japanese, and were actively involved in the notorious Kempeitai "mopping up" operations and other atrocities(source: wikipedia). Note: Force 136 was the general cover name for a branch of the British World War II organization, the Special Operations Executive (SOE)

But there were some individuals who joined Force 136 and Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA).

The battle of Bukit Panjang was fought mostly by the 1st Malay regiment with a little support from the British. Most of the men fought to the death and when they ran out of ammo,they charged with their bayonets at the enemy. But what really stood out was that though Lt Adnan was wounded,he fought on and in the end was hung from a tree and stabbed to death.

Tunku Osman Khalil Shah Tunku Muhammad Jiwa, a student from Hutching School, Penang was another hero from Force 136, and there were others. Some joined Harimau Malaya Force 136 (Tigers of Malaya of Force 136). Lieutenant Ibrahim bin Ismail (M.B.E.)who retired as a full general and chief of the Malaysian armed forces in the 1970s; Captain Hussein Onn, Malaysia's 3rd Prime Minister. They have served their country well....

For Force 136, there are books; but Wikipedia do have write up on the topic.It was interesting to know that some Canadian Chinese joined Force 136, one of them is Willie (Jun Wai) Chong, Frank Lee ,Victor Eric Wong , Paul Chan ,Harry Fong,Gordon J.K. Quan. What did these Canadian Chinese do in Malaya, risking their life with Force 136?. If you want to know the story, visit their website

The rest was history......

The Chinese was the one that suffered most from Japanese Occupation; yet many also joined the resistance movement. Be it communist MPAJA or under Force 136. Many lost their life for the land they lived and love. They become soldiers, not their choice, but for the reason to take up arms against Imperial Japanese Army that occupy Malaya.

From time to time the MCP released policy statements or manifestos to the public. Below is Wikipedia's initial attempt to list them:

* 1940. Manifesto calling for expulsion of British imperialism.
* February 1943. Anti-Japanese Programme (nine points).
* 27 August 1945. Eight Point Manifesto. Generally moderate; the only demands objected to by the British were those for an elected assembly and a wide franchise. It "expressed the hope" (Cheah's words) that the British would consider granting self-government to Malaya.

MPAJA is not treated as part of the anti Japanese war and hence is excluded from the history book and museums. Some of the historian begin to argue that is MPAJA a patriotic force in history, and played a critical role in the independence of Malaya , like INA? Force 136?....

History tell us that at the political development of the world at the time; and the fight against independence from the colonist in Asian; many had believed in communist struggle for their independence. Burma, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaya...

After the war, the ugly side of the colonist returned, more chaos despite the war was over. Many freedom fighters failed to term with their colonist government when the war ended. They were not provide with political right to form a political party like Japanese Communist Party. Many were forced into the jungle to take up arm, and classified as terrorist by the colonist propaganda. That was the period we see the political struggle of the British Empire in Malaya, Burma and India, their swan days in Asia. They use their propaganda machine to discredit the independence fighters, trying to salvage their pride. The independence fighters lost the war, and history was not fair to them...and it just happen many of them were Chinese, it become blurred with racial tone....looking at the political scene in the world, it was just an ideology, a chosen way to make a political stance....they lost their life for their ideology, their home land, and their nation.....a cruel historical fact.

....the story and history were ..... tainted with wrong perception and polluted with hidden political agenda, not from the prospective of historical view, neither from the neutral view, but from the perspective of winner or losers...the winner write their history.....In war, for ordinary people, either way you loose.

The history proved that Chinese are patriotic, in war; but they preferred peace to make a living, in a fair and just environment. During the WW2, Emergency, Confrontation, there were still many Chinese soldiers who joined the government arm forces ; but there are many who choose to remain as an ordinary people, working hard, paying taxes.....the silence patriotic people, who despite having their political stance, silently contribute to society, their community, and the nation. No historian will remember them, for they are not soldiers in the battlefields, but brave patriotic solders in their own life.....

Going back to the Canadian Chinese who joined Force 136, and those who participated in WW2 as soldiers, they were recognized by the open minded Canadian government, despite fighting a war in Malaya, and not Canada.....

Politician are politician; wearing a mask, either way they win....they make policy, some are not good one, with their political power, they can justify it. They write new history, in tune with their political agenda, history that they want to see, history that please them.....and they can change often. Great nation is the one who has confidence to accept their identity, their history, good or ugly, as genuine history. There were opportunists in the WW2, traitors to the land and people, who cooperate with the enemy, but transformed to become hero, public figure, politician, millionaires.....after the war. Many change their hats, as pure blood opportunist, they want to change their history, to erase their past life. But people who died during the war, lived through the war, know their history, their ugly past.

But the fact remain, patriotism is from the heart, at the moment of war, when it out pour; regardless of other factors, just for the land and family. Even they are not soldiers....

A simple fact for simple man....a patriotic person will let the next generation know their historical truth, and not to erase the truth from their children...... the internet world will play the role to continue telling the truth, if you know to differentiate the reliable source.

...We really need to learn from the German.......

Still remember Bunga Raya?......

Suggested articles

1. MUSEUMS AND THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION OF MALAYA,by Abu Talib Ahmad, /Museums_and_the_Japanese_Occupation_of_Malaya_%28Abu_Talib_Ahmad%29.pdf( Interesting article, as the author traced the history of WW2 in the museums)
2.Chapman, Freddie Spencer. The Jungle is neutral. Lyon Press. ISBN 1-59228-107-9.
4. Force 136,

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