Friday, November 25, 2005

Farewell to Makcik Salamah Abdullah

Not too long after I came back to Kuala Lumpur, I read in a public condolence message in a Chinese-language newspaper that Pak Rashid Maidin's dear wife, Makcik Salamah Abdullah had passed away at the age of 76 on 26 March in Haadyai. I felt terribly sad because it was only two month ago that we met and befriended with each other in Ban Chulabhorn 12, Sukhirin, south Thailand.

She was buried in a Muslim cemetary at Kampong Chulabhorn 11 in Yala in full accordance to Islamic tradition on the same day.

Salamah was born Cao Qi Zhu(曹启竹) into a poor Chinese working-class family in Perlis. After the colonial authorities declared ‘Emergency’ on June 20, 1948, one of her elder brothers took up arms and joined the anti-colonial armed struggle.

Soon, Salamah followed his footstep as her parents and other siblings were banished to China.

In 1959, she married Rashid Maidin. Rashid’s first marriage was in 1938 in Gopeng but his detention by the colonial authorities in July 1948 and subsequent escape in 1952 separated him from his first wife and four children.

Salamah and Rashid have a grown-up daughter who still lives in Thailand

As a member of the armed unit of Communist Party of Malaya, Salamah mastered the Malay language and Islam to the extent that she was assigned to organise Malay Muslims in northern Peninsular Malaysia.

She also learnt first-aid as well as Chinese acupuncture and provided para-medical services to those in her armed unit and civilian supporters.

Salamah only reunited with her parents and siblings 40 years later when she visited China after the signing of the 1989 Peace Accords between Communist Party of Malaya and the governments of Malaysia and Thailand.

Makcik, rest in peace.