Sunday, September 4, 2011


My late mum was a great fan of Abang Mat. When she came back from Abang Mat’s ceramah, I could see her elated and satisfied because Abang Mat drove the points home (hit UMNO on the head – she would say). Things which she had in her mind but could not articulate like Abang Mat did. My mum was also a fiery orator and even men commended her ceramah in those days when women PAS leaders do not give ceramah in ceramah umum but rather in ceramah kelompok for the women. 

She was called sometimes as “Mat Sabu Tino” (the female Mat Sabu) in Kedah PAS circuit. I never heard Abang Mat’s ceramah before I became an active PAS member. I only heard about his oratory skills and that he always “kutuk” UMNO. I was never happy that a ceramah has to be about “kutuking” (bashing) your opponent. 

I considered myself a professional, bred and trained in medicine to be evaluate things objectively and to separate fact from fiction and also to keep emotions away from decisions. But in this case I was neither objective nor professional. His “image” preceeded him. So without knowing him I disliked this man before. What’s so great about his ceramah that if he is one of the speakers, the police will be sent to erect roadblocks leading to the ceramah venue. He is able to cause a lot of excitement. 

His fans will come from far and near to listen to him. Ceramah organizers will not be disappointed with the donations collected. You will have to listen to him and then you would understand how he can deliver critical evaluation of UMNO/BN and current issues in an entertaining manner and you would be holding your abdomen for fear you would be laughing out loud! 

Now I understand why my mum was such a great fan of Abang Mat. For those of you who have not have heard him, it is worth listening to him.

Now Abang Mat has caused a tornado. He has hit the hornet's nest (sarang tebuan). He has challenged the history of independence written by UMNO/BN. Admittedly this issue has given bullets to UMNO/BN who will spin this Bukit Kepong issue to the hilt to potray PAS /Pakatan Rakyat negatively in the eyes of the Malay constituents and the police force. 

PATRIOT has announced they are going on a roadshow to strip Mat Sabu bare. Let not this issue be clouded and tunnelled by UMNO/Patriot and the pro government historians to a pro communist struggle and making Muhammad Indera a hero. This is a great opportunity for the rakyat and the younger generation to unearth our Malaysian history. 

I do not agree that lets go forward and forget what happened more than 60 years ago. If we do not reconcile the national history now, it will always be an issue come every 31st August.

The police force and the families of those killed in Bukit Kepong may feel that unearthing the issue is like desecrating their loved ones. We respect these feelings but we also acknowledge that policemen and the army take their command from the government of the day. 

We appreciate their sacrifices and they will always be heroes of any nation. Americans welcome their army home as heroes even after invading Iraq and causing thousands of death amongst the common Iraqi people. To the Iraqis they are invaders. Similar stories with the Vietnam War. It depends on which side of the coin you are on. Our recent BERSIH 2.0 peaceful walk for democracy too illustrates how the police have been used by the BN government against our own people. 

The government historians will picture the demonstrators as trouble makers and police provocateurs. However, the pro BERSIH 2.0 population will always remember it as a day where Malaysians were united for a greater cause. The late Allahyarham Baharuddin is hailed as BERSIH 2.0 hero.

I remember the impression I got from my secondary history lessons during those days – Dato’ Maharaja Lela was “bad” because he killed JWW Birch. But now our children are learning in school that he is a hero because he killed a white “penjajah” officer. 

Now if in the Bukit Kepong incident, Japanese colonial police were killed or British mercenaries (Nepalese, Benggalis, Indians, Chinese), Mohd Indera and his insurgent comrades would have been made a hero. Remember the Combat series we grew up with? Wow the Germans were horrible, they killed the Americans. The American soldiers were heroes. I hate the Germans then!

PATRIOT and UMNO/BN can politicize this issue all they want and Pakatan Rakyat may lose some or many Malay votes but in the long run Malaysians will be more objective about our own history and more inclusive. But if we can focus on the real issue that is recognizing all our Malaysian freedom fighters who struggled to kick out the colonialists and imperialists from the day they set foot in Malacca and through more than 4 centuries that culminated in our independence, Malaysians especially the younger generation will get the message that struggling for freedom is in fact real patriotism. 

However, if this issue is not debated thoroughly, it will arise again come 31st August. We cannot let only one interpretation of history to dominate (although we know that victors write the history) but we have to be more open to other interpretations then only will there be reconciliation and MERDEKA celebrations will be more meaningful or else we will only see UMNO/BN supporters flying the Jalur Gemilang on MERDEKA day.

Just observe how Sabahans and Sarawakians are more enthusiastic about 16th September rather than 31st August.

If it was not for Pakatan Rakyat, 16th September will not be a public Holiday!

Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud


  1. It is good that Abang Mat Sabu has raised the issue, which has opened the floodgates to examine again our history of anti-colonial struggle.

    The multiracial coalition of PUTERA-AMCJA which wrote the PERLEMBAGAAN RAKYAT in 1947, and which went on to organise the successful HARTAL, frightened the British so much that they had to resort to DARURAT in 1948 to smash the progressive Malay, Chinese and Indian organisations fighting for MERDEKA and clear the path for UMNO-MCA-MIC to rule as their proxy.

    It is this coming together again of all progressive forces of all races and religions to continue the struggle for true MERDEKA which frightens BN, and which is why BN is using all the dirty tricks of DIVIDE-AND-RULE to prolong their hold on power. Only true MERDEKA will bring social justice and human rights to Malaysia .

    The Bukit Kepong incident was heavily propagandised by the British because they had to hide the fact that the attacking guerrillas of that unit of the Malayan People’s Liberation Army were Chinese led by a Malay, in keeping with their policy of portraying the anti-colonial struggle as Chinese Communist Terrorists fighting for a Chinese republic influenced by Beijing, in order to confuse the people and keep them away from supporting the fighters of all races who were willing to lay down their lives to kick the British out.

    Oon Eng Hock.


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