Ex-IGP: Malay-Chinese friction sparked during anti-Japanese army’s rule


Ida Lim, Malay Mail Online

The country’s interracial tension especially between the Malays and the Chinese traces back to the latter group’s “cruel rule” during the pre-independence period, former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tun Mohammed Haniff Omar claimed today.

Haniff explained that this purported hostility between the communities did not exist before then, saying it was only sparked during a brief spell in 1945 when the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) declared itself to be in control.

“Pertempuran (clashes) between races never happened from zaman ke zaman (era to era) until the Chinese ruled cruelly part of the Malaya peninsular through the Malayan Communist Party (CPM) and Kuomintang in August, September 1945.

“Since then, Peninsular (Malaysia) has racial problems,” the retired policeman said during a luncheon talk titled “Cabaran Keselamatan Awam Masa Kini” (Today’s Public Security Challenges).

Pointing to the Chinese community’s presence here that traced back to the Malacca Sultanate without issue, the former police chief said race had never been a problem until that point in 1945.

Before independence, Peninsular Malaysia was carved up into the Federated Malay states, Unfederated Malay states and Straits Settlement — all under British rule.

Japan invaded then-Malaya in 1941, with its occupation ending in 1945 when it surrendered.

In a brief period spanning two to three weeks before the British returned and established the British Military Administration of Malaya on September 12, 1945, the only “organised force” then was the MPAJA commanded by the CPM and the Kuomintang, Haniff said.

During the brief MPAJA rule, Haniff said this “force” imposed a curfew on Malay males and killed those who breached the curfew.

This was despite the Chinese then having only British subjects status in the Straits Settlements rather than citizens in the Malay states, he said.

The MPAJA also hunted down collaborators of the Japanese and civil servants such as the police and village heads before torturing and killing them, he said.

The Malays then became “really aroused” and attacked the Chinese, with the Chinese then being in “great fear” of attacks from the Malays, he said.

“There was complete pandemonium. Until the British had to arrange for Malay and Chinese leaders to get together and promise to keep the peace.

“So we never had this until the Japanese surrendered and the MPAJA took over. That was the start,” the Institute of Public Securityof Malaysia (Ipsom) fellow said.