Thursday, September 15, 2011

Remembering the Malay Radical Left

Salute to the forerunners of Malay nationalism and independence movement - Mohd Eunos Abdullah, Yusoff Ishak, Ishak Haji Muhammad (Pak Sako), Burhanudin Helmi, Mustapha Hussein, KAUM MUDA, KMM and KRIS stalwarts and supporters. They are the real home-grown freedom fighters and liberators of their homeland - Semenanjung Tanah Melayu, Tanah Air Tercinta. May Allah bless their souls, pardon their sins and welcome them into His Eternal Garden (Jannatulnaim).
In light of the recent controversial statement by PAS Vice President, Mat Sabu, that a certain 'Mat Indera', Chin Peng and the CPM were the real heroes instead of the men in khaki uniforms (AND their families - innocent women and children who were burnt alive) who defended the Bukit Kepong Police Station in 1950, I feel compelled to wake up from my 'long slumber' over the holy month of Ramadan and first half of Syawal.
I, too, had subscribed to critical theories and political economic analyses of the media system which were founded on Marx's and Engel's theories on capitalism and used them in studying media ownership and content rather than the so-called 'pro-status quo' positivist theories. 
However, as a Muslim, I would stop short of embracing Marx's supposition that religion is the 'opium of the masses' except for moments when it is actually used to pull the wool over our eyes. And I'll definitely refuse to condone mindless atrocities committed under the guise of a social revolution and an international movement to 'liberate' the proletariats from the bourgeoisie's exploitation, with connections to an external Politburo in Beijing.
(Lately, however, I've grown closer to Allah's Laws on how social, political and economic systems should operate, but that's a topic for another day).
This so-called polemic on the eve of the nation's twin Merdeka-Malaysia celebrations brought back memories of my father and his contemporaries who aligned themselves to the so-called Malay Radical Left movement for Malayan Independence in the '40s and '50s.
Having been exposed to the spirit of Pan Arabism right after the Fall of the Ottoman Empire, my late father bought the notion of 'Melayu Raya' and Maphilindo lock, stock and barrel. He was willing to strain relations with his father (an Old School Ulama') and grow old in destitution by selling his share of the family property to finance an anti-colonial press in Perak, a paddy field in Kahang and a fish/coconut venture for unemployed Chinese converts and Indonesian youths (ex-jailbirds whom he met while spending time in Outram for smuggling fire arms from Indonesia).
He also bought Soekarno's contention about Malaysia as a 'neo-colonial construct' without suspecting that Big Brother could have had expansionist ambitions too. Well, wasn't it the tussle between Majapahit and Sriwijaya which led to the founding of Melaka, more than 600 years ago? Even Manila with her dream of a Greater Malay Nation (Some Day, Malaysia) had her sight set on Sabah.
Just like the elusive concept of Pan Arab unity, Malay solidarity in the Nusantara is often thwarted by conflicting interests and intense power struggles. Forget about regional cooperation with 'saudara serumpun' (regional brethren), even internally the cracks and cleavages are widening with each passing day. 
I wonder if Mat Sabu ever stopped to reflect on the high costs of political notoriety at the expense of Muslim-Malay harmony? 
Still, I'm hopeful that a truly post-colonial Malaysia will emerge, with Brunei and the four provinces of Southern Thailand cleaving into its fold. 
Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka!

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