Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hartal: Untold Merdeka Story

by Dinesweri Puspanadan

This nation and its people stand out proudly on the Independence platform for almost 53 years. 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 is aware of this cliche or 'fact'. However, the concern is how much truth is lingering in this structured piece of Malaysian History? Many, in the name of trust,accept  the presented history blatantly without posting any doubts or question its validity.

Today, at this date, every single element of past history is re casting which paves way to dig out the buried history of the real Independence struggle which many 'heroes' would avoid to talk about it and what more to reveal about it. The writer who is inspired by Fahmi Reza's documentary; '10 tahun Sebelum Merdeka' presenting to you Hartal:Untold Merdeka Story. What is hidden beneath the Pro British History? Time to unlock the hidden history of this land.

As many believe(or told to believe that), UMNO(United Malaya Nation Organization) started the ball rolling on initiating the thought of Merdeka. However, as stated by certain sources, the Alliance PUTERA-AMCJA was the first to initiate the thought of Merdeka. When British wanted to implement Malayan Union, many raised to project their rejection. Undeniably, UMNO was one of many in the agenda. After demonstrations and pressure from all corner, British then decided to form a team to sketch structure for Federation.

One event that should be highlighted here is before British agreed to terminate their thought to go ahead with Malayan Union and form the team to discuss about Federation, Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya(PKMM) which was formed on 17 October 1945 which joined UMNO earlier pulled out on 29 June 1946 and refused to cooperate with British to be part of the team to plan the Federation.

PKMM came out with a plan to form an alliance with parties of other races. AT this point, Malaysian Indian Congress(MIC) formed with 600 members in August 1946 under the leadership of the first President, John A. Thivy. On 14 December 1946,

Council of Joint Action (CJA); a joint effort from PKMM,Malayan Democratic Union(MDU), Singapore Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU), MIC, Clerical Union, Straits Chinese British Association (SBCA), Indian Chamber of Commerce dan Ceylon Tamil Association which worked one collaborative effort to draft out a new constitution for Malaya. Below is the summarized chronology of events which illustrates the formation of PUTERA-AMCJA

* On 22 December 1946, this council expanded with new members; PMFTU, dan Malayan Peoples Anti-Japanese Ex-Service Comrades Association and renamed as Pan-Malayan Council of Joint Action (PMCJA) where Tan Cheng Lock was appointed as the first President.

*  On 22 February 1947,

Pusat Tenaga Ra’ayat (PUTERA) formed at  Kuala Lumpur with 29 Malay associations including PKMM, API, Angkatan Wanita Sedar (AWAS), Barisan Tani Se-Malaya (BATAS), Gerakan Angkatan Muda (GERAM) and other associations.

* In March 1947, PMCJA dan PUTERA formed  PUTERA-PMCJA which later known as PUTERA- AMCJA which focused on 10 people's principles

PUTERA-AMCJA was the first multiracial Alliance which included three main races, Malay, Chinese, and Indians and also was the first to spread the thought of Merdeka among people. In this context, UMNO was silent about Merdeka for almost 10 years. While UMNO was busy sketching draft of the Federation, PUTERA-AMCJA collected all the voices to fight for Independence and structured a new constitution after some brainstorming sessions with all the main races and this constitution was known as People's Constitution. While that, this alliance protested and expressed their rejection to the Federation as they felt the Federation was again paved way for British's full power on Malaya which would make the process towards Independence difficult. UMNO's willingness to cooperate with British angered PUTERA-AMCJA as they believed UMNO was a traitor for jeopardizing people's welfare by nodding their head to British's demands. Below is an article from;

The Malaya Tribune dated 15 February 1947 on PKMM admonishing Dato Onn Jaafar

The Malaya Tribune dated 15 February 1947 on PKMM admonishing Dato Onn Jaafar

On 10 August, PUTERA-AMCJA officially approved the People's Constitution. Below is an article from;

The Malaya Tribune(11 September 1947)

The Malaya Tribune(11 September 1947)

One question that should strike right now is 'what are the differences between People's Constitution and Federation?'. There are certain sections from both; People's Constitution and Federation should be highlighted. (Please take note that the information actually contrast with information in History Text Books which are used at Malaysian schools. You can do your own verification and validation by accessing to both People's Constitution and Federation through the links below.)

Links: A simple multimedia show on points mentioned below:

Full Document of People's Constituiton by PUTERA-AMCJA:

Full Document of Federation by BRITISH, UMNO, KINGS:

PUTERA-AMCJA started to reach the people and spread the idea of Merdeka and establishing own government;people's government while that UMNO with British, despite all the protest by PUTERA-AMCJA, they worked on Federation and refused to give ear to PUTERA-AMCJA. Below are some newspaper articles on Hartal

The Straits Echo on 6 October 1947

The Straits Echo on 6 October 1947

Utusan Melayu Newspaper 6 October 2010 -- Announcement on Hartal

During that time, with newspaper as the mainstream media, UMNO also did not fail to spread its message about Federation to gain people's support. One of PUTERA-AMCJA's strengths was the unity. As mentioned earlier, the collaboration stood proudly with cooperation from 3 main ethnics; Malay, Indian, and Chinese. If UMNO could break this unity, the task to defeat PUTERA-AMCJA should appear easy. One of the ways (surprisingly used until today) was media; newspaper. Majlis known as UMNO's mainstream media while  Utusan Melayu was PUTERA-AMCJA's loyal mainstream media. One of the political cartoons created and used in Majlis to break the unity among the people and spread racial slurs was Ah Chong-Ramasamy cartoon.

One of the cartoons could be found in Majlis newspaper dated 6 September 1947. The title was Malaya Hak Melayu (Malaya is Malay's rights). Below is the political cartoon;

Majlis newspaper dated 6 September 1947

The character wearing tie was Edward Gent, Gabenor of Malayan Union who was telling that;

Malaya hak Melayu! Melayu tak ada negeri lain. Negeri China hak Cina. Negeri India hak Indian. Kamu orang dagang bila² suka ada negeri tempat kamu pindah.

Translated: Malaya is Malay's rights. Malays do not have other countries. China belongs to Chinese. India belongs to Indians. You are traders. When ever you like, you can go back since you have your own countries.

Three cartoon characters near the bridge were Chinese at the front, Indian, and the one labeled as DR was Dr. Burhanuddin Al-Helmy.

The Chinese cartoon character was saying;
Gua tak suka Fedelesyen. Fedelesyen atak, tentu Melayu sinang.

Translated:I do not like Federation. Federation will definitely benefit Malays

At the right a Malay farmer character was holding UMNO's flag with a smile on his face.

This political cartoon was enclosed with 2 stanzas of 'Pantun' which read;

Apabila Federation hampir terserlah,
Melayu nampaknya mendapat faedah,
Pekemam Putera mengapa gelisah?
Dengkikan Melayu mendapat tuah!

Negeri Melayu hak Melayu,
Ikan senohong bukannya yu,
Ah Chong tak boleh bertukar bulu,
Ramasamy tetap bercorak Hindu.

Translated:First stanza:With Federation, Malays are gaining benefits, PUTERA seems to get worried as it is jealous when Malays are gaining more benefits

Second Stanza:Malaya belongs to Malay. No matter what, Ah Ching(Chinese) and Ramasamy(Indian) could not be Malays

Without giving up, after the approval of People's Constitution, PUTERA-AMCJA announced Hartal. Hartal,  which was held on 20 October, 1947, carved in Malaya's history where it portrayed the greatest political demonstration which never been seen  in  Malaya. This political protest was against Federation which was worked on by UMNO and British together with Kings. PUTERA-AMCJA united with all the different races and moved forward to spread the word about Hartal.They preached people about the People's Constitution and explained how Federation actually would continue to push them into slavery under British. They used media like Utusan Melayu, went from one village to another and plowed into people's mind the urge to be freed from British and establish their own government. People from different background, especially different ethnics and races began to move to one common thought. With that, Hartal emerged as a gigantic wave which shook British and its crony, UMNO.

On 20 October 1947, the Protest Day, where British would debate on the constitutional issue in Malaya,  those who regard Malaya as their real home and who supported the People’s Constitutional Proposals issued by PUTERA and the All-Malaya Council of Joint Action, were asked not to carry out their usual occupations, but to remain indoors throughout the day and night.

Sending a strong message, every Malayan(Malay, Chinese, and Indian) stood together without any fear by protesting towards British's undemocratic and unconstitutional ruling.Hartal turned out as a big success as the main cities were deserted and only few people could be seen on the street. This was something very unnatural for British and UMNO who thought Malayans (Malay, Chinese, and Indians) were weak and would bow to their orders. Hartal received wide coverage not only form local mainstream but also International media. It was estimated that around 140,000 participated in Hartal (A big quantum if we consider the population at that time with some limitations to spread the news). Below are news excerpts on Hartal;

Sunday Tribune(26 October 1947) which estimated the number of workers took part in this political demonstration

Sunday Tribune(26 October 1947) which estimated the number of workers took part in this political demonstration;

Majalah Kenchana, Bilangan 12, 1 November 1947 on Hartal

Majalah Kenchana, Bilangan 12, 1 November 1947 on Hartal

Hartal resulted in many outcomes. Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Malaya sent a proposal to British on 25 October 1947 to revise the Federation as the people were against it and supported Hartal. Below is the official letter;

An excerpt from the letter;

Indicative of the widespread dissatisfaction, there was an almost complete cessation of work and business throughout the length and breadth of Malaya from dawn to midnight on that day. Malays, Chinese, Indians and others participated in the move, showing that the opposition to the present Proposals is neither sectional nor communal, nor the result of simply party demands but of the upward surge of a widespread desire for a new ideal of Malayan unity in which all can work together without any communal emphasis.

However, British still proceeded with Federation as UMNO was channeling its full support to the implementation of Federation and officially Federation was officially formed on 1 February 1948.

Even though PUTERA-AMCJA failed in its Peace Demonstration to stop British and UMNO from implementing Federation, they proved to both British and UMNO that people at Malaya at that time despite the different ethnics able to unite and fight for freedom. It actually created a very strong impact where people started to realize about the importance to fight for 'Merdeka'. Hartal is the basic foundation for a continuous and tragic struggle to free Malaya from colonization.

The fact that Malaya gained its Independence without dropping a single blood is a blatant lie! UMNO was not involved in the war and struggle to free the nation but behind the Independence enjoyed by every Malaysian today for almost 53 years(Looking at current situation, it is not fair to call it as a 'freedom'), there are untold sacrifices, unappreciated warriors who swept out all the differences and united to free Malaya. Some questions for us to reflect on;

1. If our grandparents could be united those time to fight for Independence, why today are we tarnishing the unity in the name of championing our race and religion?2. Who is/are the culprit(s) spreading racial slurs from the day one to divide us ?3. Are we too dumb or naive to still believe the facts that our Independence is genuine?4. Why is this piece of history is not emphasized (Perhaps mentioned but not emphasized)?5. This part of history is only until 1947. What happened from 1948 to 1957?

Writer's note: History repeats itself if we fail to learn from it. Our generation failed to learn. Thus, every single event in the past is repeating now. Look around you. Read the news! Can you identify the newspaper which spreads racial slurs like Majlis (Political cartoon-Ah Chong Ramasamy). Can you see freedom is restricted? If today we do not learn, our future generation will suffer. Failed struggle and bastardized Independence in the past are the reasons for today's conditions. Our grandparents did their best yet they did not manage to continue the struggle. We are still colonized by  restricted freedom, corrupted judiciary, racist leaders, name it.... Transformatin is needed. If you still believe we are fine, then the choice is yours. I am awake for the betterment of my future generation! I am speaking up against inequality subjected to Malaysians!! Kick out the racists leaders, Use your Vote, let us move towards a clean government. Let us unite and WE ARE NOT DIFFERENT. Let us continue the struggle of our grandparents until we see the desired changes!!!PS: Sorry I do not believe in rethoric of 1Malaysia because it sounds as though we are so different. Emphasizing again, we are NO DIFFERENT. We are MALAYSIANS!!

For better and clearer images, you can visit my blog:

What ‘Social Contract’ Mr. Prime Minister Najib? Where is it in writing? Or is it license to bully the poor and politically powerless Indians? Why supremacist Article 153 after 53 years of Merdeka?

url what In today Utusan Malaysia headlines 7/9/10 the racist and religious supremacist UMNO Prime Minsiter Najib Razak plays to the 60% majoritarian Malay muslim gallery with the headlines screaming to the effect, “Don’t question Malay muslim supremacy in One Malay-sia”.

To start off with where is this much hyped about Social Contract in writing? There is nothing in writing! When the social contract is not in writing how can one even question it in the first place? But only going by the Malay muslim supremacist logic is this possible. And not by the universally accepted standards.

Well it is never in the Federal Constitution as we have perused the proposals to the Reid Commission which formulated Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

The closest is where we can only see the then Alliance Party’s (now Barisan Nasional) proposal to the Reid Commission, the gist of which is in ‘50 years of Violations Of The Federal Constitution By The Malaysian Government’, compiled by P. Uthayakumar: Venue : Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Kuala Lumpur on 28/7/2007 at 7.00 p.m. Organised By : Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) at pages 34, 35 & 36 are as follows:-

These are the only provisions that our nation’s forefathers had agreed to as stated by UMNO Prime Minister Najib Razak in The Sun 7/9/10 at page …..

But there is nowhere in the Alliance proposal of the much hyped Article 153 of the Federal Constitution it shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak which permits or authorizes the Malay muslims to sweep clean @sapu licin and dish out mere peanuts and crumbs to the Indians for UMNO’s wayang kulit showpieces and showcases.

Why go far. In fact the second limb of Article 153 “the legitimate  interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article” protects especially the Indian poor from being segregated and excluded from the mainstream development of Malaysia.

But UMNO refused to follow the Federal Constitution or the law. UMNO uses their majoritarian might the 100,000 almost all malay muslim police force, another 100,000 or so army and the 1.2 million civil servants to segregate and socially engineer to keep the poor Indians poor and make the poor Indians poorer.

The brute truth is UMNO keeps harping on Article 153 and the social contract to bully especially the poor Indians and keep them segregated from One Malay-sia. Najib is telling the Indians that the cream and meat is for the Malay muslims and the leftovers and crumbs for the Indians and Najib insists that this is One Malay-sia.

P. Uthayakumar
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