Sunday May 25, 2008
To exile and back again
BY MARTIN VENGADESAN
Age has withered her and what little history books say of her, demonises her. But Shamsiah Fakeh’s life is a fascinating story of one woman’s incredible journey from freedom fighter to communist to exiled outcast.
Freedom fighter? It is right for books to demonise her for being a communist terrorist. Damn baby killers!
All this is a far cry from her days as one of Malaya’s most famous (or to some quarters, infamous) women who, along with Rashid Mydin, Abdullah C.D. and Musa Ahmad (who later defected and denounced her and the party), were among the few Malay leaders of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). How many women can claim to have experienced a life as eventful as that of this powerful orator who led the Angkatan Wanita Sedar (better known as AWAS, Malaya’s first nationalist women’s organisation) in agitating for independence before spending eight years in the jungles in guerrilla warfare and then nearly 40 years in exile in China?
48 years as a communist and still not apologising for her past mistakes.
And how many women have had five husbands?
This something you want to be proud of issit?
Her second marriage to the mysterious J.M. Rusdi was also an unhappy one. It lasted just five months and after he ended it, she found out that he had been an informer working for the Japanese.
Did you have him killed or stood by watching?
Shamsiah explains that in the mid-1940s, there were only two Malay parties, Umno and PKMM and she was courted by both. But she decided to join PKMM because she felt was it was progressive and not influenced by the colonial masters. In 1946, she was invited to Kuala Lumpur to head the PKMM's women's wing. This was her first step on the long road that would lead her to communism – she was a member of the so-called 10th Regiment comprising Malay cadres – and eventual exile in China.
In her book, Shamsiah indicates she joined the CPM because she was influenced by Wahi and Musa. I didn't know (they) were CPM members.... There was nothing unusual about them being communist. They worked wholeheartedly for Merdeka and many gave their support (to them),” she writes.
Who are this many? Were they non-communist that were by numbers the majority?
“But over the years, she has had many visitors. Former comrades, government officials like Tan Sri Aishah Ghani (a former minister who served as an AWAS committee member under Shamsiah before joining Umno), Tun Daim Zainuddin, Tun Ghafar Baba, and also people she never met but who supported her struggle, all came to see her.
SO how come YBhg Tan Sri Aishah Ghani does not need to be a CPM member to help bring independence to Malaya meh?
Indeed in her book, Shamsiah discusses a number of vicious rumours that have been circulated about her. By far the most traumatic is that surrounding the death of her third child, whom she had with Wahi Anuwar. Shamsiah was accused of killing the baby while in the jungle to avoid the risk of capture. She explains that she struggled through rain and heat, insects and leeches, thirst and hunger for her child and tefused to give up. However, upon reaching an unfamiliar district, she was told by local CPM members that the baby would be given to local villagers to raise. She only found out years later that her baby was killed by those same members!
So after undergoing all that you can still be kamcheng with the babykillers who actually killed your own baby? What kind of a mother are you?
After her eight-year stint in the jungle ended, she and Ibrahim moved to the relative comfort of China where they started a family. By 1956, the CPM's armed struggle had become a lost cause and the 1955 Baling Talks had failed. The CPM decided to send its top echelon led by party secretary-general Chin Peng, to China to ensure the leadership survived. Shamsiah, however, says in her book that they were sent to China ”untuk belajar” (to study) so that the Malay cadres could raise their ideological and theoretical knowledge for long-term needs.
You know you are fighting a lost cause but still stubborn enough to work with your baby killer comrades eh? Too brainwashed to think straight I see.
While in China, they were treated as “foreign guests” and were never granted Chinese citizenship. (They, including the grandchildren, are now Malaysians.)This left them vulnerable to the horrors of China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976, now widely seen as a chaotic play for power by Mao Zedong to regain the influence he partly lost after the failure of the 1958-1960 Great Leap Forward).
Huh even a so-called high ranking cadre cannot get citizenship under their supreme leader eh? So you think if CPM got Malaya what would happen aaa? And if Cultural Revolution also came here who is first to be sent to re-education camp or worse?
Within the CPM, factions had developed – both in Malaysia and in China. It was a very bad time and my parents left the party in 1972,” recalls Jamaluddin. (In her book, Shamsiah says they were “sacked” from the party.) It was during this period that they parted ways with Chin Peng too.“My parents and he were close comrades until 1968 when they quarrelled over the issue of political policy,” says Jamaluddin. Chin Peng had suggested a period of internal criticism and Shamsiah, Ibrahim and other comrades formed a study group and submitted a report to the party. “But he didn't like the report and treated my parents like they were counter-revolutionaries. After a few months, Chin Peng apologised and said that the situation had been taken out of his hands. When we left Beijing for Hunan in 1970, he saw us off at the train station and said everything was settled, but my parents felt they never got their good name back in the party.”
Huh that is just a small hint of what would have happened. And still you call them comrades?
Despite agreeing to stay out of politics – one of the conditions for her return – hamsiah has never given up her belief that she made choices based on her principles. “She struggled for a whole lifetime, and she is very insistent that the struggle against imperialism and capitalism is a correct struggle. She considered Umno to be the subordinates of the British. The British tried to hand over power to the people who were friendly to their interests. “Many leaders in PKMM were influenced by Sukarno and wanted to join Indonesia, but after the Emergency, the situation was different. Those who went into jungle to fight, didn't change their beliefs. Independence and justice was a struggle for Malays and Muslims too,” explains Jamaluddin.
So is this staying out of politics? My! My! How clever you are to stretch the conditions to the limits. A leopard never changes your spots eh?
But how will history judge Shamsiah Fakeh, the most senior Malay woman communist of Malaya?
Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, founding director of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies, believes Shamsiah was simply a radical nationalist.“During the end of the colonial era, there were many sorts of nationalist movements around the world like the Mau Mau in Kenya or the Vietnamese communists,” he says. “In Shamsiah's case, I believe she joined the armed struggle of the CPM because the radical Malay nationalist movements like AWAS were not accepted as legal parties under British rule. “However, my own personal view is that no matter how righteous the cause of freedom fighters, I find it difficult to justify using violence that, more often than not, kills innocent civilians. (Shamsiah has admitted to taking lives while in the jungle but claimed it was always in self-defence.)
Prof, after 1957 still need to fight meh? If her struggle was true, surrender lah under one of the numerous amnesties after independence. She had her chance but chose to remain with the babykillers, so she must assume responsibility for her actions, including murder she committed as there is no such thing as killing in self-defence in an armed conflict. Sheesh!
Still, does Shamsiah have regrets about supporting a bloody struggle that cost so many innocent lives?Jamaluddin feels that his mother’s outlook is a unique one.
“Some say that so many lives were lost, so you should give up the struggle. My parents' view was: How can we give up after so many have given their lives?
“Revolutionary struggle means the shedding of blood and loss of life. There was a lot of sacrifice and killing on both sides. But my mother’s spirit is still very strong.
Can anybody show me any hint of regret here? I for one surely cannot see any.
“ Shamsiah has earned a place in history. But she doesn't want to be remembered as “woman leader of the CPM”.Instead, she says in her foreword: “I was merely a woman fighting the British for my country's independence and the emancipation of women.”
Once a commie always a commie. But now a commie apologists using the tired argument " fighting the brits for my country's independence and emancipation of women." That only good until 1957lah, after that you are just bloodthirsty babykillerslah. And for "emancipation of women"? As somebody from the maternal adat pepatih clan, you know very well how good the women here have it so don't try to be a red women libber lah pulak. Ptuii!
Thursday, 29 May 2008
Are You Apologising or Just A Communist Apologist?
This article was featured in The Star on Sunday and I post here a few select quote that I want to comment on. You can read the whole article as linked.