KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — The family of Muhammad Indera, who led the communist assault on Bukit Kepong police station six decades ago, wants the government to recognise him as a freedom fighter and not a traitor.
His brother, Baharom Shah, said Muhammad, better known as Mat Indera, had been committed to his religion and fought to free his country from the British colonialists.
“Therefore, I am certain he was a true independence fighter,” the former Army engineer told reporters today.
“I ask that the government rehabilitate the name of Mat Indera, who has been labelled a traitor to the nation. The history of our independence struggle needs to be re-examined.”
Speaking at PAS headquarters, Baharom said he and other family members welcomed efforts by any party to clear his family’s honour and good name.
Also at the press conference were Johor PAS Youth chief Suhaizan Kaiat and PAS Youth secretary Khairul Faizi Ahmad Kamil.
The Mat Indera issue became the of controversy after PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu touched on the 1950 Bukit Kepong Incident in a speech last month.
Mohamad, more popularly known as Mat Sabu, said Mat Indera’s contributions to the nation’s independence struggle had been forgotten following Umno’s alleged whitewashing of the country’s history.
Baharom, who was six at the time of the incident, said according to information gleaned from other family members, Mat Indera had arrived late at the scene and was not involved in the actual assault on the police station there.
He said Mat Indera had, in fact, gone to Bukit Kepong not to fight but to save the lives of the policemen and their families.
“Among those saved included Yusof Rono, a policeman, and Jamilah Abu Bakar, the daughter of policeman Marin. I understand that many other victims of the attack were saved by Mat Indera,” he said.
The Malaysian Insider, 7 September
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The Mat Indera debate has drawn mixed reactions from both sides. One side insists that with the actual history taken into account, Mat Indera is actually a hero that fights against the English colonial masters, while the other side, the right-wingers of BN and UMNO said that he is a communist.
However, based on various statements made by the BN political leaders as well as other people involve including ex-policemen, present policemen (in this instance, the much-hated deputy IGP Khalid Bakar) and so forth, this has revealed how much people are victims of a distorted history, coupled with the inability (as a result of an exam-oriented education) to discern between what is real and what is not. Having read those statements, I must say that many fell to the "BN-definitive" version of the Malaya history, and more are going into that, with the present school History syllabus.
In the context of the Mat Indera case, many have failed to establish the difference of who is running the country at the time of the Bukit Kepong police station raid. Many have failed to understand that at the time of 1950, independence of Malaya have not existed and the cops who are based in Malaya are actually working for His Majesty's (King George VI) government. How else would you explain that the head of the Bukit Kepong police station is an Englishman?
In order to read history, you have to know your vocabulary well before you start reading. Otherwise, how can you distinguish between certain words used in history? In the case of the raid above, Malaysia has not yet become independent, with that being 7 years before 31 August 1957! And who actually arrested Mat Indera? A local Malay policeman working for the English - subsequently became UMNO Youth Chief of Pontian. So, the question of between a man fighting for nationalism vs a man fighting for the colonial masters, the English, who is actually the ruffian really?
In the present school history books, we were taught to believe that independence of Malaya was accomplished without bloodshed and UMNO was the only party responsible towards it. However, it seems actually otherwise. Actually, we could have been 66 years independent. The Japanese had actually promised to hand over the country to the people once World War II was over. The date actually planned was in mid-August 1945. However, the A-Bomb incident in Hiroshima and Nagasaki had scuppered the plan at all.
KMM and other left-wing parties had already been fighting for independence way before UMNO was founded in 1946 and how the present history totally disregards of those contributions. In fact, the English declared those left-wing parties, despite with people referendum illegal. When the Emergency was declared, it was actually a way to get rid of those "pesky" left-wing parties. In anyways, there is actually no such thing as a bloodless struggle but actually, there was a need of those events to happen, a precursor more or less.
There is still lack of campaign of remembering the heroes who fought against the English, those events that served as the precursor to independence. History can't be rewritten as the event has passed.
You can see more of the elaboration of independence struggles here as commented by Hisham Rais.
I also had listened several times to the Ibrahim Ali's audio recording of the Gerak Aman rally in June 2011, apart from its comedic values, just to see how people believed in a distorted history. Many people who don't believe in Bersih rally was mainly because of the main fear of a relapse of the 1969 disaster. We were taught to believe what was written in the school books or on the official capacity statements that were delivered. However, what was hardly revealed was actually because of the Perikatan's unwillingness to accept the loss of 2/3rds which to some believe as capitulation to the enemy.
The Churchill saying, "History is written by the victor." still remains and rings true today. Add this with Goebbels' statement of the more people believe in a lie, the more the lie becomes a fact. And of course, this is becoming true already.
The distorted version of the history of Malaya has caused many people to react or to think in the illogical manner. The ulterior motive in it was merely a political mileage to maintain power by backdoor means, since the front door approaches no longer works at this time. Look at how Utusan Malaysia or Bernama's news, manipulated, or with some information withheld which causes people to see inaccurate views and in turn make many people to file police reports based on inaccurate information provided. This is what is happening at the expense of the reporters writing and concocting up news merely to pleased the censors, retaining the feel good thing of the ruling government at the expense of inaccurate reporting and information.
Most of the people who commented about the Mat Indera communist have yet to reach a correct understanding of what it is today. It is actually a concept, the opposite of capitalism where the focus is more on worker unions and welfare. The Cold War period is the peak period of where the battle of ideas between Communism and Capitalism were up, until it was ultimately defeated with the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. When Fukuyama famously declared the victory over Communism at that time, the battle of ideas was already over, and faded into history.
Note: Tarek Fatah has also pointed out about the battle of ideas which was documented in my previous posting.
There have been accusations that in Malaysia, the ideology refers to the Chinese, but with the accusation of Mat Indera as a Commie, it already destroys the myth that the Commies are only Chinese people and not Malays. The ideology knows no religion, wealth status but merely a person's believe of whether you agree or not agree.
The worry right now is that the more people believe onto one-sided history, the quicker the other part of history, which forms the overview of a country's history will fade to nothing and myth. When that happens, people would believe in distorted versions and ultimately becomes a victim, self-ensnared by it.