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RPK: For God, King and Racism

Malaysia Today editor blasts Umno for its distorted
version of the country's history and debunks its
claim of having fought for independence
CAMBRIDGE: Raja Petra Kamarudin debunked Umno’s version of Malaysian history and detailed Tunku Abdul Rahman’s sorrow at the destruction of his vision of a multiracial Malaysia, when he spoke at Cambridge University South East Asia Forum (CUSEAF), first Lent term event on Wednesday evening.
Within a stone’s throw of the Tunku’s alma mater, St Catherine’s College Cambridge, Raja Petra told the audience of 90 people, comprising mainly students in their 20s that, “the Tunku used to say he was the happiest PM in the world, but in a later interview, said, ‘I wish I had died earlier…living to this age and seeing my fellow Malayans killing one another. It saddens me. This is not what I planned for my country.’”
According to the Malaysia Today editor, the Tunku died a heartbroken man and neither spoke to, nor forgave the person whom he blamed as the architect of the mess – Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He drew a sharp contrast between the rallying call of “God, King and Country” used during the English Civil War, with Malaysia’s version, which encompasses Ketuanan Melayu, “God, King and Racism”.
Charting the birth of the nation and the route taken, as well as the real fighters for Merdeka, he criticised the version of history being taught in Malaysian schools which he called Umno propaganda, and lamented the lack of works by original historians like Swettenham, Wilkinson, or Winstedt.
“In our schools, the history of Malaya starts in 1946. This is when Umno was born. Umno also claimed to have fought for independence from the British.”
Raja Petra rubbished Umno’s claims that they had fought for independence.
“Umno did not fight anybody. The real fight started in 1941 when the Malay nationalists got together, Pak Sako, Mustapha Hussain and Ibrahim Yaacob. We also had Chinese nationalists like Chin Peng who wanted to fight for the independence of Malaya.
“The fact that he was a communist is secondary. Ibrahim Yaacob was a socialist. Shamsiah Fakeh, a communist. Pak Sako, who is today celebrated as one of the greatest Malay writers, was a socialist.”
He recommended that the audience to read, “The Memoirs of Mustapha Hussain: 1910 to 1957: Malay nationalism before Umno” which details the journey of nationalism before the formation of Umno and how the Malay nationalists supported the Japanese to free the country from western imperialism.
Umno formed to resist Malayan Union
To a stunned audience, Raja Petra claimed that the Malay nationalists and the Japanese had decided that the date for Merdeka would be Aug 17, 1945. This failed to materialise because of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the eventual Japanese surrender on Aug 15, 1945.
After WWII, he said that the British decided to educate the Malayans, in Britain, to groom them for independence. A bankrupted Britain needed to protect her economic interests in Malaya to help their country recover. The British also introduced the Malayan Union, in which the powers of the sultans would be reduced, thus diminishing the powers of the Malays.
“In 1946, Umno was formed not to fight for Merdeka but to resist the Malayan Union,” said Raja Petra.
During the negotiations for Merdeka, the British wanted the Malays to persuade the non-Malays to join forces with them. “There was a trade off and so all non-Malays who happened to be in the country, were made citizens. The notion of “Pendatangs” stopped at the time of Merdeka. Merdeka was given to Malaya in 1957, for the Alliance party to administer, and not to Umno.”
“With the new parliamentary set-up in 1959, the politicians started to mess things up. From 1959 to 1969, they played up various issues. One of the guilty people was Dr Mahathir, the author of ‘The Malay Dilemma’.”
Raja Petra blasted the propaganda aimed at the Tunku during May 13, the increase of religious intolerance, the resurgence of racism and talk of “pendatangs”. He did not spare parties like PAS which felt that Malaysia was “not religious enough”.
“Tunku felt that the country was messed up by Umno politicians who played politics using race and religion”.
Reading an excerpt from the book he had earlier recommended, he said, “Mustapha was humiliated and labeled as “the Malay who brought the Japanese into Malaya” because he was negotiating with the Japanese for independence.
“Although Mustapha was already negotiating for Merdeka in 1945, Umno claimed that negotiations for Merdeka only took place in 1957. The 12 year difference is crucial.
“If Umno were to recognise that people like Mustapha Hussain, Pak Sako, Ibrahim Yaacob, as the real “pejuang Merdeka” or fighters for Merdeka, then Umno’s legitimacy is gone.
“Umno cannot then claim they are the fighters of Merdeka anymore. They cannot then explain the history they have presented us, which is that Umno was formed in 1946 to fight for Merdeka. None of that happened.”
BN and Opposition no different
Raja Petra said that certain people in Umno feared the Tunku’s vision of Malaya; a more multiracial and less Islamic Malaya, and so they plotted to make the country more radical and ultra-religious. Their plans started in 1959, and they plotted continuously until the eruption of violence in 1969.
He regretted the entry of the “Young Turks” who grabbed power in 1969, which signaled the beginning of the end, for national unity. He said that from then on, both sides of the political fence played the 3Rs (race, religion, royalty), ketuanan Melayu, the NEP, Article 153 and continued the British policy of divide and rule.
He also blasted both BN and the Opposition and said that they are no different from each other in their use of the 3Rs.
“There is a limit to the amount of insults and taunting, that people can tolerate before they retaliate, but politicians do not care. Pakatan wants to win at all costs, whilst BN wants to hold onto government. At all costs means even if we have to suffer a tragedy.”
He posed the question, “Do you want these sorts of people to lead the country? The same people who do not care if they turn KL into another Beirut?”
He detailed the events leading up to May 13, 1969, which he feared were being repeated today.
“How do we stop the politicians from using the 3Rs? Tell them we will not vote for either one of them. That is why we need a strong third force. We need to set the political tempo.
“I’m not pro BN or pro Pakatan. Neither can be trusted. We must not become the tool of the politicians. It is they, who should be our tool.
“We cannot get away from the race element in Malaysian politics and that means we cannot escape being manipulated.
“BN will win because they have the 3R formula. Pakatan have no counter offer to BN’s 3Rs.
“When Umno was closed in 1987, and Umno Baru was formed, the Tunku and Hussein Onn refused to join Umno Baru. I suspect that if Tun Razak, the father of the current Prime minister, had been alive, he too might have refused to join Umno Baru.
“When the Father of Merdeka and a previous prime minister cannot accept Umno Baru because of its new culture, what does that say about Umno? “It does not say much, does it?”

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