Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Malaysia was part of the history too, dudes

Amid the China/South Korea-Japan row over Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine which honours, among other, 14 convicted war criminals, some Malaysians seem to see the issue only as an China/South Korea-Japan dispute to be mediated by the 'disinterested' and 'more rational' us who often posture ourselves to be happy and peaceful creatures living outside world and regional history since time immemorial.

It is time for critical re-thinking and soul-searching.

Are we blissfully disinterested or woefully ignorant of the history of our own land?

Or, knowing the true history privately, we decide to publicly distort and whitewash it for domestic political agenda or as quid pro quo conditions for receiving foreign aids, loans, scholarships or investments? If yes, then are we economically so pathetic or morally so degenerated that we have to almost literally sell the honour and dignity of our parents and grandparents for money now?

'Thanks' to the 'Emergency' and long-time anti-communist extremism on the part of the security and academic elites in Malaya and Malaysia, many young Malaysians are shockingly unaware of the atrocities - both the scale and cruelty of them - committed by Imperial Japan's troops in Peninsular Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak as well as Singapore.

According to an estimate cited in a public memorial service in Kuala Lumpur in 2003, during the 44 months of invasion and occupation of Malaya by Imperial Japan from 8 December 1941 to 15 August 1945, about 70,000 people of all ethnic communities were killed, while another 80,000 perished as the result of tortures and imprisonments and also an additional 300,000 died because of malnutrition and physical exhaustion in performing forced hard labour.

In the total number of those who perished, an estimate of 300,000 were Chinese. That figure represented 17 percent of the then entire Chinese population in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Also, in an estimate presented by Professor P Ramasamy in a 1984 study of Indian Malaysians' socio-political development, " 60,000 Malayan Indians died while working for the Japanese to build the Death Railway on the Thai-Burmese border.

Hundreds of British, Australian and Indian prisoners of war were interned and tortured in Kuala Lumpur's Pudu Jail, Singapore's Changi Prison and other POW camps.

However, thanks to the still surviving old men and women like Abdullah C.D., Chin Peng, Rashid Maidin, Suriani Abdullah (aka Eng Ming Ching), Abu Samah and Shan Ru-hong who never give up hope of sharing their personal experiences with younger Malaysians (and Singaporeans), we now know the real history of our land better than before.

It is now widely known that not all the Malayan people were timid or opportunistic. The brave and upright ones got organised and fought under the three-star red banner of the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) which commanded 10,000 fully armed partisans and 50,000 reservists and civilian supporters. Abdullah C.D., for example, organised and operated a band of 100 armed youths along the Perak River to fight the fascist army to protect everyone while his sister Kamariah worked for the resistance's united front.

To raise the consciousness of the true history is not to generate more ill-wills but to forewarn the remnants of fascism not to be funny again and also to educate younger Japanese not to repeat the tragic follies by uncritically accepting rightwing revisionist history of the unjust wars against the Chinese, Korean, Malayan and other peoples in Asia or anywhere else in the world.

Malayan Campaign

60th Anniversary of the Victory of Anti-Fascist War