Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Makcik Suriani Abdullah's memoirs out soon

I'm very glad to read from news that my old friend Amir Muhammad's documentary film Lelaki Komunis Terakhir, featuring the life journey of Communist Party of Malaya's secretary-general Chin Peng, has officially been approved for public screening in May. However, as I have not watched the film, I cannot comment on it yet.

Meanwhile, another good news is that one of Chin Peng's life-long comrade Makcik Suriani Abdullah has completed her full memoirs in Bahasa Malaysia. It is titled Memoir Suriani Abdullah - Setengah Abad Perjuangan and it has been committed to the printing process.

Makcik Suriani Abdullah, 82, was born in Setiawan in Perak as Eng Ming Ching. She attended Nan Hwa school in Setiawan together with Chin Peng and also the Methodist Girls' School (MGS) in Ipoh.

She joined the underground Communist Party of Malaya in 1940 at the age of 16 and actively involved in organising and empowering women workers in the Kinta Valley and later, the anti-fascist guerilla MPAJA.

She was captured in Tanjung Tualang (the area where Pak Rashid Maidin then worked as an electrical chargeman in a tin-mining dredge as well as an underground anti-fascist activist) by Japanese troops on 28 January, 1945 and sent to Ipoh for incarceration and severe torture. She survived the ordeal, trial and tribulation without compromising her ideal and principle.

Immediately after war ended, she was seconded by the Communist Party of Malaya to the British Military Administration (BMA) in Perak as a people's representative. She also led the Allies' Victory Procession in Ipoh of which my grandmother and father were witnesses at No.24, Clare Street.

She was then appointed a secretary of CPM's open offices in Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Now declassified British political and military intelligence refers her as 'Miss Eng Ming Ching'.

In the peacetime between 1946 to 1948, she improved her command of Bahasa with the help of the legendary Indonesian Marxist Sutan Jenain @ Ma Ali who was also reportedly a member of CPM's central committee in 1936.

In 1947, she visited the newly independent Republic of Indonesia, lectured at the Madium University, spoke on Radio Republik Indonesia in Jogjakarta and also met President Sukarno as well as Defence Minister Shariffudin at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. It was the policy of the Communist Party of Malaya at that time to support the Indonesian people's armed independence struggle, led by Bung Karno and Dr.Mohamad Hatta, against Dutch colonialism.

After the commencement of the Anti-Colonial War in June 1948, Makcik Suriani went underground again.

In 1950s, she was proclaimed, in absentia, a Resistance Heroine of the Pacific War at an international conference in Beijing. In 1975, she was elected a member of CPM's central committee for the first time.

She only reappeared in public view on 2 December 1989 as a VIP to the ceremony in Haadyai witnessing the signing of the Peace Accords between the Communist Party of Malaya and the governments of Malaysia as well as Thailand.

In mid-1990s, Suriani and her husband Abdullah CD, also Chairman of CPM, was granted audience in a palace by His Majesty Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak. Later in 1999, they performed Haj at the Holy City of Mecca.

In the same year, she published Rejimen Ke-10 Dan Kemerdekaan (Hong Kong, Nan Dao), the official history of the all-Malay 10th Regiment of the Malayan People's National Liberation Army (MNLA). The MNLA and its successor (since 1983) Malayan People's Army (MPA) have been demobilised since 2 December, 1989 under the Peace Accords.

Now, Makcik Suriani and Pakcik Abdullah live with their daughter Karimas, son-in-law Inderajaya and granddaughter Meiliza at Ban Chulabhorn 12 in Sukhirin, southern Thailand.

We met in her house on February 20 and 21, 2005 (picture).

She is reportedly still healthy, cheerful and sharp-minded because every morning, she walks around the kampong and enjoys listening to adik-adik's laughters to keep herself physically and psychologically fit.

Lelaki Komunis Terakhir in cinemas this May

History of the Malay Left

Eng Ming Ching on national unity (in Chinese language)

Suriani, the resistance heroine

Tortured by Kempetai

(Advertisement) From Pacific War to Merdeka