Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pak Rashid's " mental revolution " in London

One dimension of veteran communist Rashid Maidin's character I intuitively liked when I met him for the first and only time so far was his terus-terang and street-wise sense of humour. For example, what I termed theori konspirasi, he just called it cerita hantu.

In his memoirs, Memoir Rashid Maidin - Daripada Perjuangan Bersenjata Kepada Perdamaian (Kuala Lumpur, SIRD, 2006), he finds no difficulty at all in admitting that he did not mix with intellectuals in the prewar years because they mostly moved in towns while he was only a local labour activist around Batu Gajah (p. 17). That, according to him, was the reason why he was not a member of prewar Kesatuan Melayu Muda (KMM). In the very beginning of Chapter 1 of his memoirs, Rashid Maidin also without difficulty tells of how his orang tua or father came to Malaya from Indonesia in a wave of immigration, and finally ended up in Gopeng's Kampong Gunong Mesah where he was born in November 1917.

When he told me about his admiration and respect for his mentor Toh Lung San (杜龙山), I thought he merely tried to please me as a Chinese visitor in front of him.

But, I was wrong: Rashid later devoted the entire Chapter 3 of his memoirs to solemnly express his gratitude to Toh Lung San calling him "my true teacher in politics" and declaring him "the best son of the people of Malaya who had sacrificed his young life for the anti-Japanese struggle and the liberation of the people of Malaya" (p.14) When asked why he decided to learn English and Chinese, his very humble and straightforward answer was: "nak cari makan".

I think another very engaging part of his memoirs is his recollection of what he did and thought in his voyage to London in 1947 and during his stay in London itself. You must buy and read the memoirs to know how Rashid Maidin felt when his shoes were being literally polished by a white Briton and what was his secret thought when he saw there were ALSO white beggars in the City of London.

What did Tunku secretly tell Rashid Maidin in London? (in Chinese)

Rashid Maidin's memory of the anti-fascist war (in Chinese)