Saturday, October 07, 2006

More reflections on Pak Zaman's biography

After the article In memory of Kamarulzaman Teh, freedom fighter written by this blogger had been published in malaysiakini two days ago, some additional thoughts or reflections have surfaced in my mind on the posthumous biography authored by Dr. Mohamed Salleh Lamry. Allow me to amend the last paragraph in the published review and add six supplementary ones to read:

The author Dr. Mohamed Salleh Lamry, who retired after serving as an associate professor in UKM’s Faculty of Socal Sciences and Humanities, has certainly performed a great public service of rediscovering, in more or less coherent accounts backed up by archival and documentary facts as well as oral history, the long lost or suppressed dimensions of the multiethnic anti-colonial movement and struggle for independence.

Like the memoirs of Abdullah CD, Rashid Maidin (1917-2006), Suriani Abdullah, Abu Samah, Ibrahim Chik, Shamsiah Fakeh and other Malay members and leaders of the Communist Party of Malaya, Gerakan dan Tokoh Kiri – Kamarlzaman Teh dalam Kancah Perjuangan Kemerdekaan (SIRD, Petaling Jaya, 2006) not only provides valuable glimpses into the socio-economic conditions of the maginalised segment of the Malay community in colonial Malaya, but also insights into how personal characters, ideological beliefs and political convictions were formed organically in real life.

As Karl Marx once famously remarked in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte :

" Men make their own history, but not of their own free will; not under circumstances they themselves have chosen but under the given and inherited circumstances with which they are directly confronted".

Yet, British diplomat-turned- historian Edward Carr also observed in his still memorable George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures delivered to the University of Cambridge from January to March, 1961:

" Progress in human affairs, whether in science or in history or in society, has come mainly through the bold readiness of human beings not to confine themselves to seeking piecemeal improvements in the way things are done, but to present fundamental challenges in the name of reason to the current way of doing things and to the avowed or hidden assumptions on which it rests."

Kamarulzaman Teh's life and struggle exactly reflects such a contradiction between free-willed actions of bold readiness and the structural contraints of history in the unity of human progress.

In memory of Kamarulzaman Teh, freedom fighter


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