By Paul Chong 3 November 2014
1066, well remembered by the British, is considered one of those dates in Medieval England which is difficult to forget. At the start of 1066, England was ruled by Edward the Confessor. By the end of the year, a Norman – William the Conqueror – was king after defeating Edward’s successor, Harold, at the Battle of Hastings. With three kings in one year, a legendary battle in October and a Norman in charge of England, it is little wonder that people rarely forget the year 1066. Many historians view 1066 as the start of Medieval England.
When I was in Kirkby Teachers’ Training College (Liverpool, UK) in 1959/60, I was viewed with much curiosity & interest by the administrative staff, including Principal (Papa) Gurney because of my college number 1066. Though I learned British history in Malaya (then known as), I must confess I wasn’t much of a lover of British history or for that matter any history. My dislike for history was due to the fact, I always got events & dates confused. So I was unaware & oblivious of the tremendous significance that my college number was invoking.
Our history lecturer Mr Kennedy was exceptional good in his field of making history come to life. He taught us mainly on the History of British Malaya & all that was true happenings historically . . . there was no attempt in historical cover-up. History cannot lie! I remember well:
the story of Parameswara aka Iskandar Shah (1344 -1414) who fled the island kingdom of Singapore (when it fell to the Kingdom of Majapahit) to establish the Malacca Sultanate in 1402. He was a Hindu, later converted to Muslim.
the story of the legendary Admiral Hang Tuah and his 4 sworn brothers – Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu. All five of them for courage & fighting skills shown were appointed as warriors by the Sultan of Malacca. They were in fact Chinese Muslims from China as I later learnt. Sad to say, for political reasons best known to UMNO (the Malays’ political power), their stories are today lost & torn from the pages of the Malaysian history.
British Intervention in Malaya 1873. The British first became involved with Malay politics formally in 1771, when Great Britain tried to set up trading posts in Penang, formerly a part of Kedah. The British colonised Singapore in 1819. Here British played its highest order of diplomacy & under the guise of settling peace between rivalling clashes of economic interests, especially in the tin industry then, they very shrewdly came stay as colonial masters. Independence was granted on 31 August 1957.
The commercial landscape of Malaysia was undeniably established by the Chinese, the “most assiduous race in the economic pursuit”. The towns & cities all bear Chinese characteristics even today. Chinese traders & businesses were/are everywhere – factories, tin mining, rubber plantations & just about any commercial activities.
Dato Musa Hitam, a former Deputy Prime Minister, deposed & cast aside by none other than Mahathir, made one little known secret when addressing a group of us who were then involved with the political defunct ADMO group – Alliance Direct Membership Organisation. This organisation was conceived in 1970s with the brilliant idea of doing away with communal/racial politics & to attract professional people from all walks of life irrespective of colour, class or creed. Dato Ghaffar Baba, the DPM, was then our advisor & overseer. We were under the Alliance (present Barison National).
In Ipoh (Perak State) its chairman was Sir James Crawford, a British rubber planter stationed in Sungei Siput, & I was than his secretary for the group. We were attracting a lot of members, English speaking professionals – teachers, lawyers, doctors & business people. From records known, membership in Kuala Lumpur soared even more. We were getting the cream of the population mass.
However, ADMO died a quick political death, when we heard no more of it! It was presumably a political suppression . . . moving too quickly for comfort.
What did Dato Musa Hitam tell us? He said the Chinese were themselves to be blamed right from the beginning. Industrious, diligent & intelligent as the Chinese are, they were overly concentrating on businesses & trade and virtually ignoring the advantage of having political power. With political power comes the control of economic power.
The Malays couldn’t/can’t match the Chinese or the Indians in the economic war, but now they are the political masters, kings & queens.
Historical facts can’t be disputed or gainsaid.
History is an academic discipline.