Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Posthumous biography of Kamarulzaman Teh

Communist Kamarulzaman Teh (1920 - 2002) is a little known figure among Malaysians, including Malays. However, once upon a time when this land and its people were subjugated by Japanese fascists and British colonialists, Kamarulzaman fought them without any prospect of being elected as a member of parliament or state assemblyman, or rewarded with wealth or royal decoration. On the contrary, he was jailed for 22 years.

Born in Kampung Tanjung Broga of Mukim Sanggang, near Pahang's Temerloh, he joined the Communist Party of Malaya during the Occupation in 1943 and worked with the anti-fascist underground around Temerloh in coordination with the party's guerrilla force in Western Pahang, the 6th Independent Regiment of the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA).

Like Rashid Maidin (1917-2006), Kamarulzaman Teh participated in public affairs after the war as an open representative of the Communist Party of Malaya until he was arrested on 20 June, 1948 in Temerloh for allegedly in illegal possession of firearm.

He was "convicted" and sentenced to death by hanging but he was pardoned by HRH Sultan of Pahang and the sentence changed to life imprisonment. However, he was incarcerated for the "conviction" until 1962 when he was " released conditionally". Thereupon, he was further detained without charge or trial under the Internal Security Act for another eight years.

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) of Tunku Abdul Rahman's 'independent' Malaya from 1958 to 1966 was the London-born Tan Sri Sir Claude Fenner who served in the prewar years in Negeri Sembilan as a colonial policeman.

Kamarulzaman Teh passed away as a communist with dignity, integrity and clear conscience intact at 10.30 a.m on 5 November, 2002 in the house of his lifelong comrades Abdullah C.D. and Suriani Abdullah in southern Thailand while on a visit. He was also laid to rest there on the same day in accordance with Islamic tradition.

Thanks to UKM's retired Associate Professor Dr. Mohamed Salleh Lamry who authored the ground-breaking Gerakan Kiri Melayu Dalam Perjuangan Kemerdekaan (Penerbit UKM, Bangi, 2006), Kamarulzaman's time and life has now been written and published as Gerakan Dan Tokoh Kiri - Kamarulzaman Teh Dalam Kancah Perjuangan Kemerdekaan (SIRD, Petaling Jaya, 2006).

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