The Jungle Is Neutral by F. Spenser Chapman was a required reading during my undergraduate study. The book changed the way I looked at the Titiwangsa Mountains whenever I drive to Kuala Lumpur. I used to be in awe, looking at the green majestic structure of The Almighty’s creation when I was a child. After the book, the feeling changed to a sense of pride and also sadness for it reminded me of the struggles and sacrifices made by the Malayan forces in defending and preserving our newly independence status against the insurgents during the first and the bloodiest Darurat/Emergency which lasted for 12 years 3 weeks and 5 days. Most Malaysians are not aware that there was a second wave because it was less bloody and more of covert attacks targeting the government of that day. It was between 1967 right up to 1989 and I remember reading the papers where I discovered words like ‘secret agents’, ‘spies’, ‘espionage’, ‘infiltration’, ‘KGB’, ‘CIA’, and ‘deportation’, in the headlines.
Ironically, Malaysian road to independence was peaceful unlike a few of our neighbouring countries. We are a peace-loving lot (til today) and the atrocities of the Japanese Occupation were more than enough to remind us of the ugly side of war. After a series of peaceful negotiations with the British, Malaysia was born on the 31st of August 1957.
August. A common month for celebrating Independence Day by a few countries in the region like Singapore (9th), India, North and South of Korea (15th), Indonesia and Pakistan (17th), and Malaysia (31st).
We shared a common history, i.e. of being colonized by foreign powers. In the aftermath of the Second World War, a surge of nationalism spread through the region and had created a wave of awareness in the hearts and minds of the people of the colonies which translated into one shared dream, then hope and later developed into one determination. The one deep seated need to be free, to belong to no one and to have the prerogative to choose the course of action as we, ourselves see fit. Once a dream has progressed into a shared determination, the reality is imminent (parallel to AMC)…
While celebrating the birth of our nation this month, let us also celebrate the bravery, courage and the dreams of our fallen heroes who died during the Darurat/Emergency. It is because of them we are here today, enjoying the freedom to choose the life we prefer. They sacrificed their lives in defending and preserving a way of life… our way of life today and for the future generation; for us all. There was no other motive for them to enlist, other than to defend the homeland. As a veteran when interviewed said,
“Mereka kata nak rekrut polis dan askar nak pertahankan Tanah Melayu sebab nak lawan komunis. Pakcik tak pikir apa dah… Pakcik pegi je.”
According to Wikipedia, he list of casualties included:
1,345 Malayan troops and police force,
519 Commonwealth personnel, and
2478 civilians killed.
… of course, the Pakcik is not in the statistics…
Such great contribution. Such great sacrifice. All in the name of Merdeka. We are lucky not to have gone through that dark period. Not to have gone through the choice of enlisting or not. Not to have gone through the hardship of that time. Not to have gone through strict curfews (No mamaks, and no lepak-lepak sessions!).
While we celebrate the Merdeka holidays this year, bear in mind… they were those who died… they were those who were injured… to preserve it. In the mean time, enjoy what we have! Our shared dream, our shared hope, our shared determination, Sehati Sejiwa!
Hmmm… An apt time to enjoy Nasi Kerabu! A local rice dish with fresh raw vegetables mixed together to provide a satisfying meal. Each individual ingredient retains its own unique flavour even when mixed together, a cornucopia of taste and colours.
Wait… Are we not like Nasi Kerabu? (I am drawing parallel here… again!)… I feel that we have always been… Nasi Kerabu. There was never an assimilation campaign in the history of Malaysia. We celebrate our differences and we retain our own unique identity in a cauldron called Malaysia where we share a common dream, hope and determination for a better Malaysia! Choosing peace over war, and choosing harmony over conflict!
“Bro, nasi kerabu dengan ikan celup tepung satu, Ulam lebih. Ayoyo…budu… hold ya. Kat umah ada. Tapau, ya!”
Selamat menyambut Hari Kemerdekaan!
Merdekakan Minda kita!
Merdekakan Hati kita!
Merdekakan Jiwa kita!
In memory of all the heroes who fought to preserve our independence! We owe it all to you!
Salam Sehati Sejiwa,
p/s : Waiting patiently for the current ceaseless waves to subside…