The British wanted to deal only with the Alliance Party because most of its leaders were educated in England and had demonstrated not only pro-British tendencies but were also more English than the Englishman in their ways, lifestyle and mentality.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
History is always written by the victors, not by the vanquished. That is a very old line, which most already know by now. History is also an interpretation of facts. Of course, one can never change facts because facts are facts. But how you interpret them will depend on many things, your biasness and prejudices included.
Sometimes we are made the victim of propaganda and ‘perception management’. This is not a new phenomenon. The British, in fact, have been using this art from way back, including the art of divide and rule -- which has proven very effective, especially when they needed 10,000 Englishmen to lord over millions of ‘natives.’ How else can 10,000 control 10 million if not through divide and rule?
The propaganda or perception is that Umno ‘fought’ for independence or Merdeka. This is what the new breed of Malaysian history books tells us.
From way back I have always said that this is not true. Umno never ‘fought’ for Merdeka. Umno never ‘took’ Merdeka. Merdeka was handed to Umno on a silver platter because the British could no longer afford the financial cost and loss of lives and assets in their war (called The Emergency) against the Communist Terrorists (CTs) of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).
In short, if was not taken. It was given. And there is a big difference in the two.
The British were fighting a war in Malaya. But they refused to call it a war. They called it an Emergency. If they called it a war then the insurance companies would not cover their losses in Malaya. And they were losing a lot to the CT saboteurs. So it was called an Emergency to prevent the insurance companies from wangling out from paying the insurance claims.
Most of the security forces and police were Malays with British officers in command. 90% of the CTs were Chinese, with some Malays of course. Malaya’s population of six million was almost equally split 50:50, Malays versus non-Malays.
This posed a problem. The Chinese feared that the CTs would win the war and that the British would withdraw and Malaya would become a Communist State. When that happens then the CTs would seek revenge on all those who ‘collaborated’ with the British a la ‘The Killings Fields’ of Cambodia.
The Chinese, therefore, stayed ‘neutral’. In the daytime, when the security forces were around, they behaved. At night, when the CTs ruled the streets, they aided the CTs. That was the only way to not become victims of both the government as well as the CTs.
But this posed a dilemma for the British. This means the war would never end and one day Malaya would fall to the CPM and the British assets in Malaya, which were very significant, would all be lost.
The only way to avoid this from happening and to avoid the huge financial cost and manpower loss to Britain would be to make Malayans fight their own war, with help from the British officers. And this would mean Malaya would need to be given self-rule or home-rule where the Malayans would run their own affairs.
To isolate the CTs from the Chinese population, first the British created ‘new villages’ and imposed a curfew on these places. Next they introduced identity cards so that the ‘underground’ could easily be detected. Finally, they told the Malayans that the British would not pull out until and unless all the races established a ‘true partnership of community’.
So Merdeka was offered. But the British would only deal with the Alliance Party that had won the municipal elections in 1955 -- 41 out of 42 seats contested. All the other non-Alliance Party politicians who also spoke of Merdeka were rounded up and jailed. Only the Alliance Party was allowed to talk about Merdeka.
The British wanted to deal only with the Alliance Party because most of its leaders were educated in England and had demonstrated not only pro-British tendencies but were also more English than the Englishman in their ways, lifestyle and mentality. Better the British trust the brown-skinned Englishmen than those other socialist-minded Malayans who demonstrated anti-British tendencies.
The British made it very clear that Merdeka would be given, but not to one race. Merdeka has to be for all races and all those who were not Malayan citizens would be given citizenship once Malaya became an independent nation.
Merdeka fitted the British agenda. And the agenda was to get rid of a problem in a peaceful manner before they got kicked out by the MCP and lost everything. And the manner in achieving this would be to ensure that those who took over were those whom the British ‘groomed’ and who would not stab the British in the back once they were in charge.
So Umno was encouraged to tour the country and seek support from Malayan citizens. To ensure that no ‘competitors’ stole the thunder from Umno, those not from Umno who also campaigned for Merdeka were put behind bars.
Umno had a clear field with no opposing forces blocking their way to the goalposts.
But Umno was told in very clear terms that it has to bring MCA and MIC on board. Merdeka is not for Umno but for the Alliance Party. Unless MCA and MIC can come to terms with Umno then Merdeka would not be given.
The Alliance Party was a British idea. Merdeka was a British idea. Even those not educated in England who challenged Tunku Abdul Rahman for the Presidency of Umno received late-night visits from the Special Branch and were told to stay out or else face charges of being ‘enemies of the state’.
That is the real story of Merdeka as well as how the Alliance Party of Umno, MCA and MIC came into being. What the Malaysian history books say is not entirely true. There was no fight. There was no struggle. It was not Umno that spearheaded the so-called fight or struggle for Merdeka.
But what is most perplexing is why do those historians who know the truth continue to maintain their silence and not set the record straight?