this is a post written by me originally appeared on the Malaysian Aspiration Program website
The recent remark made by Mat Sabu (PAS Deputy President) about Mat Indera (the Malay who led the siege against police barrack at Bukit Kepong) has sparked a huge uproar among UMNO Malays. If you rely on newspapers to know what he has said, let us forget about what we've read in the newspaper and listen from his mouth.
I have read the novel of Bukit Kepong as part of my Secondary Four KOMSAS syllabus. The novel is written by Ismail Johari who was a police. Knowing the author's affiliation immediately I'm wary of potential bias in portrayal of characters involved, both the protagonists and antagonists alike. Then we had a movie which has the same name directed by Jin Shamsudin. Knowing that Jins Shamsudin has connection with a party with political interest I am immediately put on guard of any potential conflict of interest. At the end of every scientific paper you must always declare any conflict of interest, the most being which party funded your studies, don't you?
So who's this Mat Indera, anyway? Before you say anything about him, you must know what he had done from his mother's womb to his tomb. There is no denial that he was the one who led the siege against Bukit Kepong police barracks, but why did he ended up in the Communist Party of Malaya, anyway? If you had read his Wikipedia entry, he was formerly in Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM) and its youth wing Angkatan Pemuda Insaf (API) to join the quest to demand independece from Great Britain. Too bad, the British banned PKMM and other parties to crackdown against left-wing politics. Left with no choice, he joined Communist Party of Malaya to continue fighting against British assets. That is why I ask you to read the full story before you make any judgement.
Now I ask you to look at the bigger picture. What was the backdrop of Bukit Kepong incident, then? Cold War, that's correct. If you read history carefully that's also the period of Korean War - a proxy war between Communists and Capitalists - we still feel the effect today in the form of North-South Korean conflict. I reiterate again, it was the war between the Eastern bloc and Western bloc, though I refuse to make any judgement on who's the good and who's the bad guy at this point. Fitting the Bukit Kepong incident into the big picture should at least make some sense to you now - the fight between Communists and (capitalist) Britain.
Ultimately it's the victor who decides how to call history. The communists won in China, they were deemed heroes for liberating China. The same goes for Vietnam - Saigon renamed in honour of Ho Chi Minh City that stands until today. The communists didn't win in Malaya so they were labelled insurgents - not because they were real traitors but the victor decides to call them so. That is what is called the bias in historical interpretation. Had the Communist Party won their fight and established government in Malaya, what would you call Mat Indera today? Think about it.
Most of us study history in high school to pass exams. Or to remember the legacy and heritage of nationhood. But the most important lesson of all - all human beings and all parties have their own interests and will act accordingly to meet their interests.