Thursday, November 3, 2016

First Plantation Labour Protest in Malaya Staged by the Telegus in 1912

As we look into the records of first Indian plantation labour strike in Malaya, we shall come across an incident which took place in December 1912, where 1500 Telegu labourers of the Rantau Panjang – Sungai Tinggi Estate stopped work and marched toward Klang.   

Rubber Plantation Labourers - 1913 (source http://www.malaysiahistory.net)
Most Telegus were Vaishanavites as depicted clearly of their "Thiruman" marks on their forehead. Many temples for deity Lord Rama and Telegu schools in Malaya were established by Telegu plantation labourers. 
The main causes of the desertion were due non-payment of wages for six months and harsh treatment of the labourers. The Singapore Free Press dated 19 December 1912 reported that 400 Telegu workers were absconded from their estates – Rantau Panjang and Siginting. They were reported refused to return to their estates and subsequently 250 of them had been detailed.

The Singapore Free Press -  19 December 1912
The management of the estates felt that there have been instigation agents among the workers. The managers convinced the Assistant Commissioner of Labour for Klang that these Telegu labourers were source of the trouble. The Telegus were judged “an exceptionally bad class of labourers.” The Assistant Commissioner felt that there were a few ring leaders responsible for the unrest and advised the District Officers to take appropriate action against them. The District Officer in turn ordered the ring leaders to be arrested and detain the labourers. Over a hundred labourers detained and charged for breaching their contracts under section 229/30 of the Labour Code.

However, the Deputy Controller of Labour was not pleased with this action because the alleged offences were committed before the Labour Code 1912 came into force! He sorted the Resident of Selangor to intervene to release the labourers. But the Resident refused. Later, when the labourers about to be released, the Assistant Commissioner of Labour for Klang approached the labourers to return to their former estates, the labourer refused. They told the Assistant Commissioner that they would prefer to stay in the jail or “even walk into the sea and be drowned.” One could imagine the harsh treatment that they have gone through living in those estates! 

As the Chinese labourers, the Indian labourers were more confrontation in nature in the 1930s and onward. Factors like severe effects of depression on the Indian labour force, more domiciled nature and restrictions on movement between estates contributed a situation where Indian workers developed more confrontation type of collective resistance.   

(Most information provided in the article was taken from Prof.P. Ramasamy's work - Labour Control and Resistance in Colonial Malaya published in Plantations, Proletarians, and Peasants in Colonial Asia edited by E. Valentine Daniel, Henry Bernstein, Tom Brass - Frank Cass and Co., 1992)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Kedah Riot - AM Samy Wanted Labourers to be Repatriated to India

As the clash between labourers and police intensified in Kedah during the infamous Kedah Riot in March 1947, The Straits Times dated 7th March 1947 reported that the Representative of Government of India to Malaya, S.K Chettur, and other prominent Indians arrived in Sungai Petani for inquiry into Kedah troubles. 

A.M Samy
The 60-year old leader of 26,000 estate Indian labourers, A.M Samy told the reporter that the labourers wanted to be repatriated to India where they would be better off. Samy was the President of Indian section of Rubber Workers General Labour Union (RWGLU) and Vice President of Kedah Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Union - with an affiliation of 54 unions.  
The President of the Kedah PMFTU, Chong Woon and Samy met Deputy Commissioner of Labour, J.T Rea seeking explanation why two mass arrests were made and whether the labourers have the rights to strike.

Rea replied that two men that resisted the police in the exercising their power had nothing to do with labour conditions. Samy was told that the present troubles arose through the activities of the Youth-Corps which had been going around beating up conductors, tying workers up for drinking toddy and trespassing on on estates against wishes and often without permission of the managers. 

Meanwhile The United Kedah Planters blamed subversive elements using political agitation coupled with intimidation and extortion were behind the grave situation in Kedah. The association alluded to "external dictation" to estate labourers - an obvious accusation against PMFTU.  The planter association too blamed the situation further deteriorated on the government as little had been done to formulated mechanism to allow legal contact to be achieved between labourers and employers. 

The planter association state three requirements necessary to resolve the situation - law and order to be re-established and maintained, labour union must realised their part in rehabilitation of the industry and country (after war) and labour must be free itself from external dictation.

Reported according to J.T Rea, that "agitators" are active in Tonghurst Estate in South Kedah which may go on strike again. But the Union men said Rea were urging them to continue the strike and attempting to engineer strikes on five estates - Dublin, Kuala Dinginm, Batu Lintang, Somme and Ghim Khoon. 
Rea said Indian workers on Sungai Toh Pawang wanted to return to work but prevented by local union secretary preventing them working or leaving the estate.

At Bukit Sembilan, workers are reported willing to return to work. The police have been maintaining a guard. The ringleader's (named as Samy in other reports) death in the clash in Bedong on 28th February was reported today. 



Friday, October 14, 2016

Kedah Riot - Bukit Sembilan Estate Incident on 17th Feb. 1947 - Women Took Front Row in the Fight Against Police

In a fierce clash between police force and Indian labourers on Bukit Sembilan Estate on the 17th February 1947, resulted in 66 labourers arrested and 21 were injured. Among the arrested were several women.   

In the fight, the Chief of Police of Kedah A.C Maxwell  received a long cut on the scalp when a women hit him with a stick. Two constables received minor injuries.

The clash was reported due to a visit to Bukit Sembilan Estate by a strong party of police headed by Maxwell and five European officers.

The police went to the estate to bring in an estate labourer (Dresser Paliah) on warrant for alleged criminal intimidation. The police wanted to search the labourers' line but the labourers refused to give permission and brandished sticks - some with iron and nails at the end. Even reported that one labourer had a brass weighted "tongkat".

The Chief gave repeated warning and waited for an hour before started to move in clearing five-foot way of the labourer line. The police met with Tamil men and women and children using sticks and some packets of chili pepper. The women and children armed themselves with chili powder took the front row of the fight.  
Cans of boiling water which the women had prepared during the hour wait were ready for the fight, but were said to be kicked over by the police and not used.

Police said the man they went to arrest had presumably escaped. The police covered a lorry which was seized by the labourers on the estate last month. 

Well, this was what has been reported in The Straits Times on the 4th March 1947, with regards to police and labourer clash on Bukit Sembilan Estate, that saw not only men nut even women participated.

It is obvious the report was siding the law enforcement and estate owners, but we need to look into what actually happened to these labourers of Bukit Sembilan Estate.

It was all started when a estate dresser (very much like a MA but not holding any medical qualification or properly trained) named Paliah stopped a lorry carrying fresh water to the manager's bungalow. The Malay driver accompanied by the manager were stopped by the a group of workers headed by Paliah. Now, the next question is - why they workers needed to stop the lorry carrying water to the bungalow. 

Well, it was known fact in the estate that the management told the workers to seek for their source of water - from the rivers and ponds. It is said that as the estate management was not responsible to provide clean water for the workers - refer to work by Christopher Bayly and T N Harper - Forgotten Wars- The End of Britain's Asian Empire) . The workers had no choice to depend of ravines and ponds which they share with their cattle. This prompted the young dresser and the workers to seize the lorry.   

What follow next was mayhem. In the process of arresting Paliah, the labourers stood against the police to arrest Paliah. Clash broke between police and workers. Among those arrested women, two of them have been raped in police custody. 
    
Note: In the Forgotten Wars- The End of Britain's Asian Empire, Christopher Bayly and T N Harper :

"In February 1947, a crowd of a thousand or so Thondar Padai descended on Bedong, only to be confronted by police. A labourer came forward: We are not anti government,' he cried, 'We are only against the drinking of toddy." He was clubbed to the ground and later died in hospital. The coroner recorded a death of 'justifiable homicide.' A series of protest strikes erupted in the area. At Bukit Sembilan estate on 3rd March 1947 trouble was triggered by dismissal of a woman activist, and police faced orchestrated resistance."Women were to be forefront armed with pepper." it was reported; "boiling water was kept ready; men were to be armed with sticks, stones and bottle full of sand, trees were to be cut down make road blocks." Sixty-six people were arrested, and all but two women of them sent to jail after a trial that lasted only a day. Fearing a rescue attempt, the police closed hearing to public. An investigation by the Malayan Indian Congress revealed collusion and premeditation on the part of local planters and police, S.K Chettur claimed that women were beaten and there were allegations that two young girls were raped in custody. Condition at Bukit Sembilan estate were particularly dire: the only supply of water came from ravines and labourers shared it with their cattle; the manager has their water brought from town lorry. The strikers' demand focused on wages and family needs, such as creches (day care centres), better housing and equal pay for women. But the real source of anger was the summary dismissal of workers: "Managers feel that because we reside on the estate we are as much as their property as rubber tress."




Thursday, October 13, 2016

Kedah Riot 1947: Indian Women Labourer Anarchists - Annathaai and Manidammal

The Kedah Riot which was considered to be another uprise of Indian labourers in Malaya - after the infamous Klang Strike 1941, did not only see men stood up against oppressive regime and capitalists, but it also recorded involvement of Indian women as labour leaders organizing strikes. 

Not much can be found on their specific organisation structure and responsibilities carried out, but their activities were related to activities of the "Youth-Corps" or also known as the "Thondar Padai". The Thondar Padai was an informal organisation formed by ex-INA members after WWII. They were easily to be identified by their "khaki" military outfits and would be caring long staffs. Even though, the Thondar-Padai movement existed in many states in Malaya, but their prominent involvement were recorded and associated with The Kedah Riot. 

Charles Gamba has mentioned in his work - The Origins of Trade Unionism in Malaya: A Study in Colonial Labour Unrest on the roles played by the Thondar Padai in social reforms among estate workers in Kedah. It has been noted that Thondar Padai not only played roles in volunteering in "Thaipoosam" festival in Sungai Petani but also demolishing toddy shops in estates and organizing labour strikes demanding better salary and living conditions. Their leaders would also meted out judgement for small family disputes including punishing abusing and alcoholic husbands. One of the known punishments would be tied up to poles or trees (refer to records in Gamba's work on punishment meted out to drunk workers by AM Samy of Havard Estate Sungai Petani)  

In the Kedah Riot which saw labourers of Bukit Sembilan Estate stood up demanding clean water, police force was deployed to suppress the strike. Clashed between labourers and police erupted which resulted to one death. 66 labourers were detained and two of them were women leaders. The Thondar Padai was outlawed after this incident. A series of allegations and criminal proceedings were brought against these 66 labourers. One of the cases was against a group of five workers including two women from Bukit Sembilan Estate. I assumed that these women mentioned in the news (reported in The Straits Times dated 21st April 1947) could be the same women leaders. The report mentioned five workers - Govindarajoo, Kuppusamy, Suppiah and two women labourers named Ananthayn and Manidammal. (Ananthayn - could be misspelt for Annathai).     
           
If these were the same women leaders, then it is assured that women could have been a part of Thondar Padai movement. As the Rani of Jhansi Women Regiment under INA saw many dedicated participation of estate women, I presume that these radicalized women would continue their struggle against British Raj by participating in Thondar Padai and labour strikes. 
  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sambasivam Case Set A Precedence for Right of Appeal to Privy Council

The Straits Times dated 24th March 1949 reported the Sambasivam Narayanasamy was sentenced to death for possession of illegal arms. It also revealed some details of the case, where we understand that Sambasivam was been the Secretary of the Segamat Rubber Workers Union. He was sentenced to death by Justice Storr after Sambasivam had been found of carrying arms.

Sambasivam Narayanasamy
It also stated that Sambasivam pulled out an automatic revolver during a struggle in which he and two Chinese companions fought with three Malays at Bukit Kepong.

Sambasivam was represented by P.V Chary. Chary has been served as the Honorary Secretary of Johor Bar Council in 1949 and first Indian member to be appointed to Johore Council of State in 1949.

In his defence, Sambasivam said he did not know where the automatic revolver came from nor the reason why he was attached by the Malays.

But almost a year later, the same daily carried the news that Sambasivam's release. This was due to the efforts of John Thivy who filed an appeal for Privy Council in June 1949. Sambasivam's case should be consider very important as it set a precedent for the Malay States which before war had no right of appeal to the Privy Council in criminal proceedings.

In the case, the judge took a unusual step of retiring to discuss the case privately for an hour and half before delivering judgement.

Sambasivam was sentenced to death for illegal possession of an automatic revolver by the Supreme Court of Johor in March 1949.

In the first trial, Sambasivam was acquitted of possessing unauthorized ammunition, but a retrial was ordered on the revolver charge. He was convicted and his appeal was dismissed. Interesting o notice that Privy Council noted that there was no certificate from Public Prosecutor authorizing the second trial.

Another point concerned the admissibility of a statement said to have made by Sambasivam within a few hours of being gravely wounded in the fight.
The report also stated that the Malays involved in the fight described the affray as an unprovoked attack upon them by there "Communists" . They handed over to local headman a revolver which they alleged had been captured from Sambasivam.  

The Singapore Free Press publication dated 31st March 1950, further revealed that there wan no reason given why the judges retired and discussed the case in privately for 90 minutes, which considered unusual for the Privy Council. The appeal before the council was done by Counsel D.A Scott Cairns. The Counsel made five points during the appeal:
1. No certification from PP authorizing a second trial
2. Admissibility of a statement given by Sambasivam within a few hours after the attack
3. The Malays who attacked him described the affair as an unprovoked attack by three "Communists"
4. The Malays handed over an automatic revolver to the headman which they alleged captured from Sambasivam
5. Acquitted from charges of possessing illegal ammunition

(I would consider all these points would spelled out some degrees of doubt whether the automatic revolver was indeed in Sambasivam's possession)
 
Lord Simonds, upon releasing Sambasivam announced that their Lordships' reasons would be given in due course.
Strait Times - 24th March 1949

Straits Times - 1st April 1950
Singapore Free Press - 31st March 1950

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Contempt of Court - Tamil Nesan was fined $ 1750 for defending Sambasivam

The Straits Times date 20th August 1949 reported that the Tamil newspaper, Tamil Nesan, was fined for contempt of court. The proprietor of Tamil Nesan, Mayandy Chettiar was fined $750 and the editor cum publisher of the paper, Athi Nahappan, was fined $1000 in the Supreme Court, Kuala Lumpur.

Both of them ordered to pay half the cost of the case $250. The case was due to an article published in Tamil Nesan - "Save Sambasivam."

In giving statement, Justice Spencer Wilkinson said that the article deliberately attacked the course of justice administered by the court. The article too contained unfounded attack upon the judge sentenced.

Sambasivam Narayanasamy
According to the news, Sambasivam Narayanasamy was charged for illegal arms possession of on the 2nd and 3rd March before the Johor Bahru High Court. At the end of the trial, the assessors found Sambasivam was not guilty but the judge disagreed and order a re-trial. (Also note here that S.A Ganapathy was arrested on around the same time - 1st March 1949)

The re-trial of Sambasivam was held in Johor Bahru on the 21 and 22nd March before a different judge and different assessors. The judge and the assessors found him guilty as charged and was sentenced to death. His appeal to appeal court was rejected on 28th April 1949 (based on telegram from Lord Listowel -http://www.malayaganapathy.com/2014/06/why-more-efforts-were-taken-place-to.html)

Interesting to note here that that a week earlier to this, S.A Ganapathy was tried on the 15th March 1949 and was sentenced. Ganapathy was scheduled be to hanged on 4th May 1949 and Sambasivam was to be hanged on the 4th June 1949.  

The judge also commented that the article "Save Sambasivam" suggested that Government of India should take political action in London to prevent Sambasivam's execution without awaiting the result of appeal to the Privy Council. The article further commented that owing to lack of experience to the newly introduced illegal arms possession procedure which resulted Ganapathy to be sentenced to death. For this, the government of India have to interfere to ensure justice is done in Sambasivam's case.

Background of Sambasivam:

Sambasivam was a clerk of Rubber Worker Union Segamat in Johor. He was arrested on the 13th September 1948 at Bukit Kepong, Johor. At the time of his arrest, he was in the company of two Chinese who were armed. Three Malays who were armed with knives (parangs) tried to arrest him and it was reported Sambasivam was wounded in the fight. One of the two Chinese was killed and other escaped. A revolver and ammunition found on Sambasivam during his arrest. Due to his injuries he was hospitalised for more than 5 months and was discharged on 28th February 1949.

Sambasivam was tried at the Johor Bahru High Court on the 2nd and 3rd March 1949 for unlawfully carrying arms. The assessors found him not guilty but the trial judge disagreed and orders a retrial.

A retrial took place on 22nd March 1949 when he was convicted by both assessors (a Malay and an Indian) who found Sambasivam was guilty and sentenced to death. Sambasivam further appeal at the Court of Appeal.

The court of Appeal dismissed his appeal on 28th April 1948. All the three Appeal Judge (including the Chief Justice) agreed with the Trial Judge. He was sentenced to death. The execution was scheduled to take place on the 4th June 1949. But John Thivy took enormous efforts to save Sambasivam’s life by pursuing Sambasivam in person to sign the application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council on the 3rd of June 1949 - a day before his scheduled execution.

Eventually Sambasivam was found not guilty by the Privy Council and he was released and deported to India.

Athi Nahappan with wife Janaki Thevar 


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sambasivam Not to Die Yet - Singapore Free Press 18th May 1949

SFP - 18th May 1949
The Singapore Free Press dated 18th May 1949, confirmed that Sambasivam was not hanged. The Sultan of Johor had not yet to confirmed the death sentence passed on Sambasivam.
N. Sambasivam
The Representative of the Government of India, John Thivy had made a plea but the final decision does not rest with the government but the Sultan-in Council.
All India Radio reported on 17th May 1949, that the execution of Sambasivam which was scheduled for 9th May 1949, had been stayed as the Sultan was "reconsidering the case"  

Contempt of Court - Tamil Nesan for "Save Sambasivam" Article

In the attempt to save another Indian unionist from being hanged, the local Tamil daily "Tamil Nesan" took a bold move to published an article titled "Save Sambasivam". The article was written by Athi Nahappan, who later elected as minister. He had also chaired the Royal Commission of enquiry into the workings of local government in Malaysia. His report which is known as the “Athi Nahappan Report “ was a 2 feet high (4 volumes) is regarded as one of the most comprehensive reports ever published by our government. With great pride I would like to inform that this report sits in the Harvard library as a basis for how local governments should function.
(To understand the importance of the the Athi Nahappan Report please read - http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/292928)

Now, back to our story on Sambasivam, the Singapore Free Press dated 2nd July 1949 reported that the Attorney General of Malaya Foster Sutton applied in the High Court for an order against two proprietors of  the Tamil Nesan - S.R.N Palaniappan and M.Mayandi Chettiar and the editor, printer and publisher , Athi Nahappan for contempt of court. 

It was made on the grounds that Nesan had published an article on 9th June what purported to be part of an article published in Madras Dhinamani on June 3rd. The article referred to the case of Sambasivam who was sentenced to death for carrying arms. Sambasivam had applied for for leave to appeal to the Privy Council.

In was reported that, the AG said that the article which also made references to Ganapathy's case, inferred that justice had not been fairly and impartiality administered in the case of Sambasivam.   

"The article as a whole was calculated to bring the administration of justice by this court into contempt", said Sutton.

Justice Spenser Wilkinson granted the order and case to be heard on the July 18th. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Monument for Ganapathy in Tambikottai

A monument to remember the sacrifice of S.A Ganapathy for the working class in Malaya can be found in Tambikottai, Tanjavur Taluk in Tamil Nadu.

The monument was inaugurated on the 16th July 1986 by the members of Communist Party of India in Tamil Nadu.

The red-coloured monument which shaped similar to the pickelhaube - spiked headgear worn by nineteenth century German military consists of 3 tiers. The based and the 2nd tier are hexagonal (6-sided/faces) shaped block decorated with six white coloured sickle and hammer - the communist symbol conceived during the Russian revolution. The top part is a 6-sided shaped cone.

(The hammer stood for industrial labourers and the sickle for the peasantry; combined they stood for the worker-peasant alliance for socialism and against reactionary movements and foreign intervention -wikipedia)

The date of Ganapathy execution 4th May 1949 and the inauguration of the monument are inscription on the bottom portion.

Inscription of monument

Monument for Ganapathy 
Even though there is no evidence supporting the claim that Ganapathy was born in 1912 in Thambikkottai Keelakkadu Sundaram village in Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu, according to a telegram from High Commissioner of Malaya, Sir Henry Gurney to Colonial Office dated 2 May 1949, stated that Ganapathy was born in 1917. 

Ganapathy and his brother Sargunan were born to Seemigu Arumugam Thevar and Vairammal (Arumugam's second wife). After losing both his parents to cholera outbreak, Ganapathy and Sargunan lived with their sister for a while before migrated to Singapore at the age of 10 with his uncle and grandfather, Subramaniam Thevar.   

Note: I am grateful to Shanmugapriyan Ganapathy sending these photos. Shanmugapriyan is one of family members of  S.A Ganapathy  

Friday, August 5, 2016

Sambasivam Case : Judge Ordered a Retrial

It is my strongest conviction that if Sambasivam was captured without injuries, he would have been the first Indian casualties of Emergency Regulation 1948, which would have saved S.A Ganapathy from the gallows. But, unfortunate for Ganapathy for he was tried first in the court of law for unlawful procession of fire arms.
Sambasivam Narayanasamy
Interesting to read that Sambasivam's case had taken many twists and turns before he was freed by the court.

The Straits Times dated 5th March 1949, reported that retrial for Sambasivam's case as the Judge was disagreed with the finding of the assessors.

Sambasivam was discharged from hospital on 28th February 1949 when he was brought to trial at the Johor Supreme Court on the 2nd and 3rd March 1949 for unlawfully carrying arms. The assessors found him not guilty but the trial judge disagreed and orders a retrial.

In the retrial which took place on 22nd March 1949, he was convicted by both assessors (a Malay and an Indian) and found guilty. He was sentenced to death.


The Straits Times - 5th March 1949

Judge Disagrees, Orders Retrial 
From Our Staff Correspondence

Johore Bahru- Narayanasamy Sambasivam. a Tamil, was at the end of an emergency trial found not guilty by the assessors of two charges. First, of carrying arms; secondly, of being in possession of ten rounds of ammunition. 
Mr. Justice Laville disagree with the assessors' verdict on the first charges and order a retrial.
His Lordship agree with the assessors' verdict on the second and acquitted the accused.  
Acoording to the evidence, the accused was in the company of two Chinese when they were met by three Malays on a kampong path at Bukit Kepong, near Muar on Sept 13 (1948)
There was a fight between the two parties. shots were fired and one was killed. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Why Kabali is not S.A Ganapathy

I am totally disgusted reading an article published in Malaysia Nanban "Yaar Antha Kabali (Who was Kabali) on the 31st July 2016 which seems to be misleading and having mixed up "Kabali" and "S.A Ganapathy" and "The Klang Strike 1941", thus giving the impression that the character Kabali was based on Ganapathy's life story. 
Yaar Antha Kabali - Malaysia Nanban 31st July 2016

Even more disgusting when some caste based quarters in Tamil Nadu started to claim that the character Kabali was based on their own caste (which Ganapathy belongs to) after reading the article, unlike as widely claimed by many and Kabali's own director Pa.Ranjith that the movie based on Dalits on struggle in Malaysia.
(I refrained from naming any community/caste names implicating Ganapathy as I believe Ganapathy was not belong to any caste. Ganapathy's ideology was based on class struggle but not caste struggle!)

Based on the article, it only managed to refer one incident in the movie which related wage issue to Ganapathy. This is a dire mistake. The editorial team gave reference of this incident to "The Klang Strike 1941", without even realizing that Ganapathy was not involved in 1941 Klang Strike!

Even though colonial records show Ganapathy already an active member of Malayan Communist Party (MCP) in 1939, but he was not involved in Klang Strike 1941. The Klang Strike was staged under leadership of R.H Nathan and Y.K Menon of CIAM - Central Indian Association Malaya. The reason behind why Ganapathy did not involve in Klang Strike was due to an "important issue" which effected almost all Indians migrants living in Malaya at that time- which I will reveal in my book. Apologies for that!

Other than that there are some factual errors in the article:

1. It was mentioned in the article that Malayan Communist Party - MCP was banned in 1947. Actually MCP was only banned in 1948. There were representatives of MCP took part in public events organised by Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions in 1946 and 47.

2. The article mentioned that Ganapathy was member of Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA). No colonial document nor historians mentioned about this. Even the one who would had a full access the colonial secret files, Anthony Short, did not mention that Ganapathy was part of MNLA in his works. This is one of the reasons why Ganapathy was caught on Waterfall Estate and not in the jungles.

3. It was mentioned in the article that Ganapathy was the person who informed Nethaji on Japan defeat in WW2. But this is yet to be proven. There could be other Ganapathy(s) in INA.

4. It was mentioned Nehru took personal interest in Ganapathy's case. But it is a bit strange to read the colonial documents that mention only one day before Ganapathy to be hanged, Indian High Commissioner to UK, V.K Krishna Menon met Lord Listowel to discuss about Ganapathy. The telegram to save Ganapathy was sent from the UK Prime Minister Atlee's office less than one hour before Ganapathy to be hanged. If Indian leaders intended to save Ganapathy, they would have taken all measures in the earlier stage. After Ganapathy's execution, Periyar criticized the Indian leaders of their inertness and failed to act in promptly.

5. The article also mentioned that The Straits Times editorial exerted pressure upon High Commissioner of Malaya Sir Edward Gent to take drastic action against strike organizers. This statement was taken directly from my blog. Of course, I have mentioned this in my blog referring to the editorial. But only those who have researched well in labours strike in Malaya would understand it was not the editorial, but the United Planters Association of Malaya (UPAM) and the Rubber Growers Association (RGA) who lobbied a huge and expensive campaign to ousted Gent from Malaya.

6. The article failed to mentioned Ganapathy's involvement in Hartal 1947. It failed to mention his speech during a meeting in Ipoh on the 15th Oct 1947, which was published in full text in many newspapers at that time including The Singapore Free Press, Indian Daily Mail and The Malaya Tribune. The essence of the man's struggle and his ideology reflected clearly in his speech that day. I have extracted the speech in my blog http://www.malayaganapathy.com/2015/04/the-fight-for-democratic-constitution.html

It was in deed a misleading article by Malaysia Namban - who have taken 98 percent from my blog and thank Wikipedia instead (even Wikipedia made many reference to my work). I know the person responsible to circulate this rumour.

I would seek the readers' judgement to dissect the article. Stop this insult - Ganapathy was not a gangster like Kabali! Unlike Kabali, Ganapathy fought against the oppressive British capitalist regime in Malaya. Kabali, in other hand, blamed the Chinese and the Malays for the deplorable condition of the Indians in Malaysia!    

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Malaya-wide Protest Against Wage Issue - All Malayan Rubber Estate Workers' Council

One of the biggest strikes that was staged by All Malaya Rubber Workers' Council under leadership of CSV Krishna Moorthy was the national strike calling all rubber tappers to stage a one-day stop work as to show their defiant towards Planters Association.

The Straits Times dated 21st August 1047 reported that All Malaya Rubber Estate Workers' Council would call for a Malaya-wide if UPAM refused to grant them 100 percent wage increase and removal of the 20 percent which was implement in July 1947. The meeting was held between the 60 Indian representatives of Negeri Sembilan Rubber Workers Union and  President of AMRWC, CSVK Moorthi.

Other resolutions taken were:
1. AMRWC empower to negotiate wage issue with UPAM
2. A memorandum to be forwarded to UPAM urging the association to discuss wage issue with AMRWC. Failing to reach any agreement will result to one-day protest.
3. A memorandum also to be sent to the Governor of Malayan Union, Sir Edward Gent, requesting him to urge UPAM to discuss with AMRWC on wage matter. Failing to do so, the workers also issued an ultimatum that "the Government would be responsible for whatever labour dispute might arise in future"

 

Meanwhile, the Singapore Free Press dated 22 August 1947 stated that, a protest to be staged on the 25th August 1947 to be a token protest against the "adamant of  the UPAM" on issue related to wages.

The council also requested to seek timely and effective help from Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions for the assistance and advise.  The PMFTU was under the leadership of S.A Ganapathy.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Unsung Hero - CSV Krishna Moorthy

CSV Krishna Moorthy led the All Malayan Estate Workers Council fought not only for the rights of Indian estate labourers in Malaya but for all Malayan labourers including Malays and Chinese. As All Malayan Rubber Workers Council was under Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions, AMRWC, shared the same aspiration of PMFTU.

CSV Krishna Moorthy known to many as Vincent and Jivaraj passed his 7th form in an English school. He worked as welder and fitter at Sentul Railway Workshop. After the war he played important roles in trade union movements in Malaya as he held many numerous position in many trade unions - Secretary of General Labour Union, General Secretary of Railways Workers Union, President of Selangor Estate Workers Union, President of All Malayan Rubber Workers Council, Assistance Secretary of PMFTU and Secretary of Indian Section of Malayan Communist Party.

T.N Harper in his book "The Forgotten War" mentioned unlike S.A Ganapathy, CSVK Moorthi and P.Veerasenan (President of Singapore Habour Union and Singapore Federation of Trade Unions) were not communists as claimed by the British.

Moorthy was forced to go underground and embrace communist ideology due to British staged Malayan Emergency in June 1948. In the hidings, he was in charge of party's Tamil newspaper edition. He was reported died (The Straits Time dated 29th May 1954) due to blood poising for having to eat elephant meat.

Even though being a Telugu, he died for class struggle and not for caste or communal struggle. We were so united back then as Malayan, unlike now!

ST- 29th May 1954
 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hari Pekerja - Memperingati “Rengasamy, Yellumalle, Mayandy, Anggapan dan Konneri” Mangsa Mogok Kelang 1941

Perjuangan Mogok Kelang 1941 - Memperingati “Rengasamy, Yellumalle, Mayandy, Anggapan dan Konneri”

Lazimnya sambutan Hari Pekerja di negara kita sering dikaitkan dengan sejarah perjuangan golongan proletariat di Barat. Seringkali ini menjadi habuan untuk golongan anti-barat dan fundamentalis yang bertanggapan golongan pekerja di Malaysia mudah dipesongkan akidahnya kerana terlalu bergantung dan “pandang barat” terutama apabila kita berbicara topik perjuangan golongan pekerja untuk hak asasinya. Malah kita seakan-akan dilihat bagai ketandusan modal dan terpaksa mencedok inspirasi yang lahir daripada insiden-insiden perjuangan berdarah yang berlaku di Barat untuk menjustifikasikan sambutan Hari Pekerja di negara kita.

Tanggap negatif inilah yang menyebabkan saya teruja untuk membelik lembaran sejarah perjuangan pekerja di negara kita. Sayang sekali, banyak perjuangan pekerja di negara kita telah dilabelkan sebagai aktiviti-aktiviti subversif golongan komunis oleh pemerintah. Selain menyifatkan tahun 1946 and 1947 sebagai “the troubled years”, British juga melabel and mengkategorikan pemimpin-pemimpin buruh seperti P.Veerasenan and C.S.K Murthy sebagai agen komunis walaupun pada hakikatnya perjuangan mereka benar-benar berlandaskan hak asasi dan bukan untuk kepentingan Parti Komunis Malaya sama sekali.

Justera, terpaksa saya menyingkap perjuangan pekerja yang berlaku sebelum Perang Dunia Kedua yang tidak dicemari dengan tohmahan dan pengaruh komunis. Maka, hanya satu perjuangan sahajalah yang dapat saya utarakan dalam tulisan ini iaitu perjuangan pekerja ladang getah di Selangor yang berlaku pada tahun 1941 yang dikenali dengan nama “The Klang Strike 1941” – Mogok Kelang 1941. Malah British sendiri mengakui bahawa mogok ini bebas daripada sebarang pengaruh komunis setelah segala usaha untuk mengkaitkan perjuangan ini dengan elemen komunis gagal.

Walaupun ramai yang berpendapat Mogok Kelang 1941 tidak boleh dijadikan sebagai kayu pengukur untuk melahirkan aspirasi perjuangan pekerja di negara kita kerana ianya hanya melibatkan satu kaum tertentu sahaja, pengkaji sejarah Tai Yuen dalam tulisannya “Labour Unrest In Malaya, 1934 - 1941 - The Rise of the Workers' Movement", menyifatkannya mogok ini sebagai yang terbesar, terancang , tersusun dan paling militan yang pernah dilihat oleh British. British di Malaya tidak pernah menyangka kaum proletariat imigran India yang diperlakukan sebagai hamba mampu bangun menentang kezaliman. Mereka berorganisasi, membentuk kesatuan pekerja dan bermogok untuk memperjuangkan nasib mereka. Yang paling menarik, ramai antara pemimpin kesatuan ini terdiri daripada golongan muda kelahiran tempatan yang berumur antara 15 sehingga 20 tahun. Semasa perundingan dengan golongan kapitalis pemilik ladang, golongan ini amat jelas dan tidak berganjak daripada pendirian dan tuntutan mereka sehinggakan laporan polis melabelkan mereka sebagai golongan yang  “panas-baran” dalam berurusan dengan golongan majikan kerana tidak dapat lagi menanggung penderitaan di bawah rejim kapitalis pemilik ladang.

Sebelum kita berbicara terus tentang mogok ini, adalah penting untuk memahami pembentukan dan peranan Kesatuan India Daerah Kelang (Klang District Indian Union - KDIU) dalam mogok ini. KDIU ditubuhkan pada 22 Julai 1939 hasil usaha dua individu yang sering kali disebut iaitu R.H Nathan dan Y.K Menon.

R.Halashiya Nathan yang berasal dari selatan India berhijrah ke Malaya dalam tahun 1936 pada usia 24 tahun. Beliau tinggal bersama abangnya, seorang jurualih bahasa di mahkamah di Kelang. Pada tahun 1937, beliau mula berkerja sebagai kerani di Paterson & Simons di Port Swettenham (Pelabuhan Kelang). Walaupun Nathan merupakan penyokong tegar Pergerakan Dravida atau dikenali dengan Self-Respect Movement di India, Nathan meninggalkan pergerakan tersebut untuk menyertai pergerakan sosialis dalam Kongres Nasional India (India National Congress). Berikutan pemecatan R.H Nathan pada Mac 1940, dari Paterson & Simons kerana propaganda sosialisnya, Nathan menyertai akhbar "The Singapore Herald" seketika sebelum menjadi Penolong Editor dengan akhbar Tamil Nesan.

Y. Kesava Menon pula merupakan kerani di sebuah ladang dan aktif dalam kegiatan komuniti pekerja India di Selangor. Beliau bersama Nathan juga terlibat dalam mogok kesatuan pekerja Keretapi Persekutuan Tanah Melayu pada tahun 1939. Nathan and Y.K Menon juga merupakan ahli Persatuan Pusat India Malaya atau Central Indian Association of Malaya (CIAM).

CIAM yang dibentuk pada tahun 1937 adalah organisasi induk bagi banyak kesatuan seperti KDIU dan aktif di kalangan orang India di Kelang. Sejak penubuhan, CIAM didominasi oleh golongan profesional seperti peguam, doktor, ahli perniagaan, penjawat awam dan lain-lain. Sebelum kemunculan Nathan and Menon di arena perjuangan golongan pekerja ladang, CIAM hanya dilihat sebagai satu kelab eksekutif untuk golongan profesional. Tanggapan ini berubah apabila Nathan and Menon bergiat aktif membentuk kesatuan-kesatuan pekerja di Selangor, Negeri Sembilan dan Melaka sekitar tahun 1939 dan 1940 di bawah naungan CIAM. Dengan pekerja ladang menghadapi masalah gaji, tiadaan kemudahan air bersih, ketiadaan bantuan perubatan, persekitaran yang daif dan terasing, CIAM semakin menonjol dan lantang dalam mempersoalkan keadaan orang India yang dieksplotasikan oleh golongan kapitalis. Walaupun pada lewat tahun 1940, Penguatkuasa Buruh Malaya, C.Wilson melihat CIAM sebagai orang tengah yang mampu membawa penyelesaian kepada masalah pekerja India di ladang, Kesatuan Peladang Bersatu Malaya – United Planters Association Malaya (UPAM) pula semakin rimas dengan campur tangan CIAM dalam urusan pekerja ladang.

Dari tahun 1933 hingga 1936 harga getah melonjak tinggi sebanyak 250 peratus ekoran perkembangan industri automobil di Amerika. Permintaan getah juga tinggi dalam industri berat di Eropah yang dimangkinkan oleh Perang Dunia Kedua pada tahun awal 1939an. Berikutan mogok di kalangan pekerja ladang Cina di sekitar tahun 1937, UPAM sudah mula celik terhadap pekerja yang mahukan perubahan. Pekerja ladang India juga tidak ketinggalan bermogok secara sporadik di akhir tahun 1940 dan awal tahun 1941 apabila akhbar Tamil memuatkan berita keuntungan yang berlipat ganda yang dikaut oleh kapitalis hasil jualan getah. UPAM yang hanya bermatlamat untuk mengaut keuntungan yang sebanyak mungkin terpaksa bersetuju pada Januari 1941 untuk menaikkan gaji 50 sen kepada 55 sen untuk pekerja lelaki India dan 40 sen kepada 45 sen untuk pekerja wanita India berkuatkuasa pada 1 Februari 1941.

Kenaikan ini tidak membawa sebarang makna akibat inflasi dan kenaikan harga barangan keperluaan ekoran permintaan getah tinggi. Malahan, gaji ini tidak setimpal dengan gaji yang dibayar kepada pekerja Cina iaitu sebanyak 65 sen. Rata-rata pekerja tidak berpuashati dengan kenaikan yang dicadangkan oleh UPAM.

Sedang golongan pekerja tidak berpuas hati dengan gaji, pada akhir bulan Januari 1941 seorang penoreh getah bernama Vellayan dari Ladang Midlands telah dihentikan kerja kerana enggan melakukan kerja lebih masa. Vellayan juga merupakan Setiausaha Kesatuan Pekerja Ladang Sungai Rasau yang merupakan salah satu cabang KDIU. Pada 2 Februari 1941, setelah bertemu dengan Vellayan di Ladang Midlands, R.H Nathan dan jawatankuasa KDIU memutuskan tindakan mogok sebagai membantah pemecatan Vellayan.

Pada 3 Februari 1941, Vellayan telah dipanggil untuk diberi gaji tetapi Vellayan bertegas enggan menerima gaji dan meninggalkan estet tersebut. Justeru itu pada keesokkan harinya, seramai 300 pekerja Ladang Midlands daripada West Division bermogok sebagai menyokong tindakan Vellayan. Surat protes telah dihantar kepada Agen Kerajaan India di Malaya, Penguatkuasa Buruh Malaya (Controller of Labourers) dan pihak Pengurusan Ladang Midlands. Nathan and Menon telah dilaporkan menemui pekerja pada waktu malam. R.K Thangiah, seorang lagi aktivis, membantu Nathan dan Menon untuk menguruskan bantuan kewangan untuk pekerja yang mogok. Pekerja menerima $20 daripada Klang Rubber Manufacturing Workers Association dan beras daripada pekerja ladang yang berhampiran. Walaubagaimanapun, mogok ini hanya bertahan sehingga 12 Februari 1941.

Selepas mengkaji kekuatan dan kelemahan mogok di Ladang Midlands, pada 13 Februari 1941, Nathan mengadakan perjumpaan dengan Vellayan bersama 60 pekerja ladang Midlands. Nathan berpendapat untuk melumpuhkan solidariti kapitalis, mogok perlu dilancarkan secara serentak di semua ladang. Nathan juga berpendapat setiap ladang mesti diwakili oleh satu jawatankuasa yang mempunyai kuasa untuk mengambil keputusan semasa berunding dengan pihak majikan. Pada perjumpaan itu, Nathan dan Menon memformulasikan tuntutan yang bakal dijadikan wadah perjuangan pekerja di semua ladang di Selangor.

Tuntutan itu adalah :

1. Pembayaran gaji sama dengan pekerja ladang kaum Cina

2. Penyingkiran kakitangan estet Tamil Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Malayalee yang agresif dan “brutal”. Mereka perlu diganti dengan kakitangan Tamil dari India.

3. Pendidikan untuk anak pekerja

4. Ganguan seksual kakitangan estet terhadap golongan pekerja wanita perlu dihentikan

5. Bantuan perubatan

6. Penutupan kedai todi

7. Kebebasan untuk bersuara dan berkumpul

8. Bebas bertemu dengan rakan dan saudara mara di luar kawasan ladang

9. Pekerja tidak harus turun daripada basikalnya semasa melalui di hadapan kakitangan estet

10. Pemansuhan waktu kerja 10 hingga 12 jam sehari

11. Pekerja yang mengadu tentang masalah kerja tidak harus dijadikan mangsa dan dihukum

12. Kebenaran untuk membentuk kesatuan atau persatuan untuk mewakili kepentingan pekerja

Dalam perjumpaan itu juga Nathan gusaran dan meramal mungkin ditangkap oleh kerajaan dan meminta agar pekerja terus berjuang kiranya Nathan dan Menon diberkas. Katanya,

“Menon dan saya mungkin akan ditangkap, kami pasti. Sekiranya kami ditangkap, kalian perlu teruskan mogok sehingga kami bebas”

Pada 18 Februari 1941, satu lagi perjumpaan diadakan oleh KDIU dan dihadiri oleh pekerja dari Ladang Morton, Tanah Bahru, Bukit Kamuning and Damansara. Keputusan diambil untuk menghantar 12 tuntutan tersebut kepada semua pengurus ladang di lembah Kelang. Sekiranya tuntutan ini ditolak, maka pekerja akan melancarkan mogok.

Menjelang bulan Mac 1941, kerajaan dan UPAM semakin gusar dengan aktiviti Menon dan Nathan. Pekerja ladang seakan akan diberi suntikan dan nafas baru. Mereka tidak lagi turun daripada basikal mereka apabila lalu di hadapan majikan mereka. Tindakan pekerja memboikot kedai todi di ladang menyebabkan pengurusan estet kerugian besar dalam penjualan todi. Pekerja juga dengan berani membantah kakitangan yang menganggu anak perempuan dan bini mereka. Pekerja tidak lagi rela melihat anak bini mereka menjadi habuan seks rakus kakitangan estet. UPAM dan kerajaan British semakin tertekan dengan laporan laporan pengurus ladang yang tidak menyenangkan. Pekerja imigran yang selama ini hanya dilihat sebagai “pak turut”, sudah sedar dari lenanya! Seperkara lagi, apa yang amat ditakuti selama ini oleh UPAM dan kerajaan sudah mula dikesan di kalangan pekerja ladang....Semangat Bersatu! Pekerja sudah bersatu dengan satu suara menuntut pembaharuan. Dengan nada yang seiring, mereka mahukan 12 tuntutan yang diutarakan oleh Nathan and Menon dipenuhi dengan segera oleh majikan.

Pada 2 Mac 1941, dalam satu perjumpaan pekerja di Kampung Jawa, Menon berkata,

"Sebelum pembentukan kesatuan ini, ramai yang bertanggapan kapitalis itu Tuhan dan kita sebagai hamba. Sekarang 25 peratus daripada kamu sudah sedar . Kita adalah orang India dan bukan hamba kepada sesiapa pun. Pada masa akan dating, kita harus berkerjasama dalam perjuangan sehingga majikan ladang menyedari yang kita juga insan manusia! “

Nathan pula memberi amaran bahawa golongan kapitalis akan memecahkan solidariti pekerja.

"Kebanyakan kuli sudah mula memahami perbezaan antara pekerja dan kapitalis. Solidariti adalah kata kunci perjuangan ini. Majikan di estet mula memecah-belahkan kita, tapi kita tidak harus meloloskan ini. Saya kuatir, Menon dan saya akan menghadapi masalah. Kalian perlu bersatu dan percaya dengan kami”

Pada hari yang sama pekerja Ladang Glenmarie buat pertama kali bermogok menuntut kenaikan gaji dan kondisi tempat tinggal yang baik. Nathan dan Menon dilaporkan berjumpa dengan pekerja ladang pada 28 Februari dan 1 Mac 1941. Mereka menuntut 70 sen dibayar untuk pekerja lelaki dan 60 sen untuk pekerja wanita. Bagaikan api mogok ini mula merepak ke Ladang Midlands apabila 8 pekerja estet dihentikan dan diusir daripada ladang mereka pada 4 Mac 1941. Gopal, Palaniandy, Karuppan, Periasamy, Murugesan, Gengan. Muthiah dan Samikannu diberkas kerana enggan meninggalkan ladang Midlands selepas diberi notis pengusiran 24 jam.

Ekoran kejadian ini, pada 11 Mac 1941, J.D Dalley, Pengarah Penyiasatan Jenayah (Director of Criminal Intelligence) mencadangkan Residen British Selangor, Major Kidd untuk menangkap R.H Nathan, Y.K Menon dan R.K Thangiah di bawah Peraturan Darurat. Walaupun cadangan ini mendapat sokongan daripada Pesuruhjaya Tinggi Malaya Shenton Thomas yang meluluskan waran tangkap untuk Nathan, Menon dan Thangiah, Penguatkuasa Buruh Malaya, C.Wilson berpendapat kelulusan waran tangkap ini perlu dilengahkan kerana berpendapat ianya akan mengeruhkan keadaan dan melumpuhkan usaha CIAM untuk menyelesaikan masalah pekerja. Pandangan Wilson disokong oleh Residen Selangor Major Kidd dan Penasihat Undang Undang Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, Adrian Clark. Kerana perbezaan pendapat inilah, Wilson dipaksa untuk bersara oleh Shenton Thomas selepas mogok Kelang reda.

Pada 25 Mac 1941, semasa perbicaraan lapan orang yang diberhentikan dari Ladang Midlands, 200 pekerja hadir untuk memberikan sokongan. Keadaan mahkamah menjadi kecoh apabila keputusan hukuman dua bulan penjara dijatuhkan kepada pekerja pekerja tersebut. Pekerja-pekerja yang hadir untuk memberi sokongan, memprotes dengan bertindak "duduk dan bantah" dan tidak meninggalkan ruang mahkamah ala protes seperti yang dilakukan pengikut pengikut Mahatma Gandhi di India. Melihat keadaan ini, hakim terpaksa akur dengan desakan rakyat dan membebaskan pekerja dengan wang jaminan. Kejayaan ini memberikan aspirasi dan pengertian baru kepada pekerja yang menyedari mereka mampu mengubah keadaan mereka sekiranya mereka bersatu. Agen Kerajaan India C.S Venkatachar mengkritik tindakan kerajaan British Malaya menggunakan undang-undang sebagai instrumen untuk melumpuhkan mogok.

Menyedari kerajaan British perlu melakukan sesuatu, pada 27 Mac 1941, C.Wilson mempelawa Presiden CIAM, N.Raghavan dan Timbalan Presiden K.A Neelakanda Aiyer melawat estet –estet yang terlibat. Pada keesokannya, satu perjumapaan diadakan antara N.Raghavan dengan Pengerusi Peladang Daerah Kelang yang juga Pengurus Ladang Sungai Way, T.E Upton untuk membincangkan kenaikan gaji dan memulihkan keadaan mogok.

Berikutan perjumpaan ini pada 9 April 1941, UPAM bersetuju and mengumumkan kenaikan gaji sebanyak 60 sen untuk pekerja lelaki India dan 50 sen untuk pekerja wanita India. Presiden CIAM N. Raghavan menasihatkan pekerja untuk kembali berkerja. Dengan ini berakhirlah fasa pertama Mogok Kelang. Berikutan persetujuan ini, UPAM melihat kerajaan British sudah lemah dan tidak lagi dapat mengekang tuntutan pekerja. Malah UPAM menyifatkan keputusan ini satu pengkhianatan kepada British di Malaya. Ini kerana CIAM mempunyai hubungan baik dengan Kongres Nasional India yang memboikot pengerahan sukarelawan sebagai tentera untuk membantu koloni British menghalang kemaraan Jerman. (Dalam Perang Dunia Pertama. KNI menyokong pengerahan sukarelawan India yang membantu British berperang menentang tentera Jerman. Seramai lebih kurang satu juta sukarelawan rakyat India yang terkorban dalam Perang Dunia Pertama)

Kenaikan gaji ini merupakan satu peningkatan yang dapat membantu memulihkan ekonomi pekerja tetapi terdapat sesuatu yang dinilai lebih daripada wang duit oleh pekerja...Maruah dan Jati Diri! Mereka merasai diri mereka perlu dilayan sebagai manusia. Momentum anti-kapitalis yang terjana memberi kesedaran kepada golongan pekerja. Mereka sedar hanya satu bahasa yang difahami oleh golongan kapitalis dan kerajaan British iaitu “mogok”. Mereka sedar mogok adalah satu-satunya senjata yang dapat menundukkan keangkuhan kapitalis. Semua ini mereka pelajari daripada Nathan dan Menon yang disifatkan sebagai “pengacau” oleh golongan kapitalis dan kerajaan British.

Pada 11 April 1941, mogok dilaporkan di kebanyakan estet di Kelang, Kuala Langat dan Kuala Selangor. Ini menandakan sudah mulanya fasa kedua "Mogok Kelang". Pengurusan estet pula memberi tentangan dalam pelbagai rupa. Contohnya, bekalan air dipotong di Ladang Whiteareas, Damansara dan Blackareas.

Pada 15 April 1941 akhbar tempatan melaporkan mogok merebak secara sporadik di kebanyakan estet. Mogok di Ladang Highlands sebagai membantah penyingkiran empat orang pekerja. Mogok di Ladang Carey untuk menuntut satu jam sebagai waktu rehat makan yang sekian lama cuma hanya 30 minit sahaja. Di Ladang Port Swettenham pula, pekerja bermogok menuntut agar bendera Kongress Nasional Indian dikibarkan di pintu masuk estet dan gambar Gandhi digantung di semua rumah termasuk pejabat ladang.

Pada 18 April 1941 pula, pekerja Ladang North Hammock bermogok membantah tindakan penolong pengurus menghalang pekerja daripada memakai topi Gandhi.

Pada 26 April 1941, Nathan dalam satu perjumpaan dengan pekerja berkata;

" Jangan lupa semangat bersatu adalah senjata kita. Pakailah apa yang kalian mahu kerana itu adalah hak kalian. Pakailah topi Gandhi jika kalian mahu..jangan tanggalkannya. Jangan turun daripada basikal kalian sekiranya lalu depan kakitangan estet. Usah takut tempat kalian akan diambil-alih oleh orang Cina dan Jawa kerana negara kekurangan pekerja. Masa ini amat kritikal untuk memastikan tuntutan kalian dipenuhi.”

Mogok semakin merebak. Dilaporkan pada 1 Mei 1941, pekerja di sembilan ladang – Ladang Sungei Buluh, Ladang Brooklands, Ladang Bukit Chedang, Ladang Vallambrose, Ladang Bukit Panjang, Ladang Bukit Chu, Ladang Bukit Cheraka, Ladang Beveriac bermogok.

Untuk mengawal keadaan pada 6 Mei 1941, Nathan ditahan di bawah Akta Buang Negeri. Nathan dituduh melakukan aktiviti subvesif terhadap kerajaan British yang mampu melumpuhkan usaha perang kerajaan British Malaya. Menon terlepas kerana pertukaran kerja ke Singapura.

Sebagai membantah penahanan Nathan, seramai 300 pekerja berarak ke Kuala Lumpur dan berdemo di hadapan Pejabat Pesuruhjaya Buruh pada 7 Mei 1941.

Melihat perkembangan ini, UPAM semakin kritikal terhadap kelemahan kerajaan menangani mogok. UPAM menyalahkan kerajaan Malaya terutama Penguatkuasa Buruh Malaya,Wilson, kerana gagal untuk memaksa pekerja untuk kembali bekerja. UPAM juga mahu kerajaan menggunakan kuasa polis untuk membanteras mogok walaupun permintaan ini ditolak oleh Wilson. Pengerusi UPAM, S.B Palmer dalam perbincangan dengan Pesuruhjaya Tinggi Malaya, Shenton Thomas, pada 6 Mei 1941, menyelar kerajaan Malaya yang tidak lagi berupaya mengekang mogok. Palmer memberi amaran sekiranya mogok tidak dihentikan, ianya akan menular mengakibatkan kemerosotan ekonomi British yang bakal akan membawa kepada kelumpuhan usaha perang untuk memperkasakan British menghadapi kemaraan Jepun. Wilson pula terus mempertahankan CIAM dengan alasan Nathan dan Menon adalah cuma golongan prihatin yang mahukan perubahan yang munasabah untuk golongan pekerja.

Bantahan terhadap penahanan Nathan juga  berlaku di ladang-ladang. Pada 8 Mei 1941, pekerja Ladang Bukit Panjang Estate dengan bersenjatakan kayu dan batu bata menyekat cubaan pengurus estet mengeluarkan satu konsimen getah. Kerana gagal mengeluarkan konsimen tersebut, Pengurus A.J Gomm telah meminta bantuan polis. Pada keesokannya, seramai 160 orang polis telah dikerah untuk membantu pengurus. Perhimpunan pekerja yang membantah pengeluaran getah itu dileraikan dengan serangan ganas kayu belantan oleh pihak polis. Lapan pekerja cedera dalam serangan tersebut. Seramai 500 hingga 600 pekerja yang cuba menghalang empat buah lori yang membawa keluar getah tersebut bertembung dengan polis. Pekerja dikatakan bersenjatakan kayu, batu, botol, tombak dan rod besi. Dalam serangan itu dua orang pekerja dari Ladang Bukit Cheraka dan Ladang Highlands, Rengasamy dan Yellumalle terkorban.

Dalam keadaan yang semakin meruncing, pada 10 Mei 1947 Pesuruhjaya Tinggi Malaya Shenton Thomas mengambil keputusan untuk mendapatkan bantuan tentera British yang ditempatkan untuk menghadapi kemaraan tentera Jepun. Pada mulanya, Thomas telah meminta bantuan tentera Australia tetapi permintaan itu ditolak oleh tentera Australia atas dasar prinsipnya. Tentera Australia enggan bertembung dengan golongan pekerja kerana ia hanya ditugaskan untuk menentang kemaraan Jepun. Kecewa dengan reaksi tentera Australia, Thomas meminta pula bantuan tentera British India yang ditempatkan di Ipoh. Tanpa banyak soal, tentera British India yang kebanyakannya dianggotai orang India setuju dengan permintaan Thomas. Bagaikan kata pepatah, menggunakan jari sendiri untuk mencucuk mata, kaum India sendiri digunakan untuk menentang kaum India. Selain itu, Pasukan Askar Melayu dari Singapura juga dikerah untuk mengekang kebangkitan pekerja. Jelas keputusan untuk mengerah askar British India untuk menghalang kebangkitan pekerja India dibuat tanpa memikirkan implikasi dan kesannya terhadap pemerintahan British di India.

Tetapi British mengakui bukan mudah untuk mengekang mogok pekerja yang sudah menular jauh meresapi setiap pelusuk estet-estet di Selangor dan Negeri Sembilan. Pemimpin pekerja dikatakan mengayuh basikal menyebarkan berita mogok dan meminta pekerja menyokong mogok di ladang-ladang di Selangor. Pada 11 Mei 1941, seramai 150 pekerja berarak berjalan dan menaiki basikal dari Kuala Selangor ke Sepang. Sepanjang perjalanan itu, banyak kedai todi dimusnahkan termasuk sebuah sebuah kilang di Telok Merbau.

Keadaan menjadi genting di Kelang apabila sekumpulan pekerja berkumpul di Balai Polis Kelang menuntut pembebasan pemimpin pekerja pada 12 Mei 1941. Polis meleraikan kumpulan pekerja tersebut dengan menggunakan kekerasan. Ketua Polis Selangor H.B Langworthy turut tercedera bersama sepuluh orang anggota polis dan 20 orang pekerja.

Pada 13 Mei 1941, mogok dilaporkan di sepuluh estet sekitar di Kuala Lumpur. Tiga puluh pekerja disabitkan di Mahkamah Kelang dan direman atas kesalahan berkaitan dengan mogok. Juga dilaporkan talian telefon di kebanyakan kawasan Kelang diputuskan oleh pekerja yang sedang bermogok. Di Ladang Raja Muda, kereta kebal dibawa untuk membantu untuk meleraikan 300 pekerja yang bermogok.

Pada 14 Mei 1941 mogok dilaporkan di 38 ladang daripada 53 ladang di Kuala Selangor, 20 ladang daripada 24 ladang di Kuala Langat, 35 ladang daripada 43 ladang di Kelang dan 27 ladang di Kuala Lumpur. Sejumlah 120 ladang dilaporkan sedang bermogok. Antara 120 ladang yang dilaporkan adalah seperti berikut:

Ladang Beveriac, Ladang Blackacres, Ladang Brooklands, Ladang Bukit Cheedong, Ladang Bukit Cheraka, Ladang Bukit Chu, Ladang Bukit Kamuning, Ladang Bukit Panjang, Ladang Carey Island, Ladang Damansara (Batu 7), Ladang Effingham, Ladang Glenmarie, Ladang Haron, Ladang Highlands, Ladang Kundang, Ladang Mary, Ladang Batang Berjuntai, Ladang Midlands, Ladang Morton, Ladang North Hummock, Ladang Philmoor Estate, Ladang Port Swettenham, Ladang Raja Muda, Ladang Seaport, Ladang Sungai Buluh, Ladang Sungai Sedu, Ladang Sungai Tinggi, Ladang Sungai Rasau, Ladang Sungai Way, Ladang Tanah Bharu, Ladang Telok Datok, Ladang Telok Ganting, Ladang Vallembrose, Ladang Whiteacres, Ladang Wilkinson, Ladang Tremelbye, Ladang Batu Tiga, Ladang Bukit Badak dan Bukit Darah Estate.

Dianggarkan 20 ribu pekerja dari 120 ladang tersebut telah mengambil bahagian dalam mogok ini.

Pada 15 Mei 1941, di samping 3000 pekerja Ladang Kumpulan Sochin dilaporkan mogok, kemelut berdarah yang berlaku Ladang Brooklands yang melibatkan 900 pekerja dianggap paling parah dalam sejarah perjuangan pekerja. Pekerja Ladang Brooklands dan Sungai Sedu menahan Pengurus Ladang Sungai Sedu, C.B Wheeler di kediaman milik Pengurus Ladang Brooklands, P.C Fisher. Pekerja berkumpul mengelilingi kediaman pengurus menuntut pembebasan Nathan yang masih ditahan polis. Pekerja bertekad hanya akan membebaskan Wheeler and Fisher sekiranya Nathan dibebaskan.

Gagal untuk meleraikan keadaan, OCPD Forbes Wallace meminta bantuan tentera British India. Dibawah arahan Major Howes Roberts, tentera melepaskan tembakan terhadap kumpulan pekerja. Dalam serangan ini tiga pekerja terkorban – Mayandi, Angappan dan Konneri. Tujuh pekerja cedera parah dan seramai 124 orang ditahan dan dihadapkan ke mahkamah pada 3 Jun 1941.

Keadaan yang semakin merosot menyebabkan kerajaan British mengumumkan darurat di Selangor pada 16 Mei 1941. Polis dan tentera melancarkan operasi “pembersihan” yang sistematik secara besar-besaran. Dalam operasi tersebut ramai pemimpin buruh diberkas di tengah malam antara pukul 1 pagi dan 6 pagi tanpa pengetahuan pekerja pekerja lain. Mereka ditahan dan disabitkan dengan kesalahan di bawah peraturan darurat. Operasi ini dilanjutkan sehingga 24 Mei di mana 90 peratus pemimpin buruh berjaya ditahan.

Menjelang 17 Mei 1941, seramai 20 orang pemimpin buruh di Ladang Teluk Ganting di Pulau Carey ditahan. 16 lagi ditahan di Klang. Pada hari yang sama R.H Nathan telah dibuang negeri ke India. Pada 18 Mei 1941, polis menahan 21 pemimpin buruh di Ladang Damansara. Pada 19 Mei 1941, 200 polis melancarkan operasi mengejut menahan 12 pemimpin buruh di Ladang Seaport pada malam buta.

Penahanan pemimpin buruh secara besar besaran ini melumpuhkan mogok di kebanyakan estet. Menjelang 22 Mei 1941, hanya sebahagian pekerja di Ladang Carey Island keluar mogok membantah penahanan 25 pemimpin buruh. Pada keesokannya, semua pekerja dilaporkan kembali bekerja seperti biasa. Sebagai menyangkal kebangkitan pekerja, akhbar bahasa Inggeris melaporkan kegiatan memeras ugut merupakan antara faktor utama yang menyebabkan pekerja menyokong mogok selama ini.

Selain penahanan pemimpin buruh, seramai 500 pekerja Ladang Wilkinson di Kuala Lumpur dibuang kerja pada 24 Mei 1941.

Menjelang akhir Mei 1941, “Mogok Klang” seolah-olah sudah berjaya dimatikan oleh kerajaan yang bersekongkol dan akur dengan kehendak kapitalis. Mogok ini memperlihatkan nyawa enam pekerja terkorban, 21 pekerja telah dibuang negeri ke India, 95 pekerja dihantar pulang ke India atas permintaan, 300 pekerja ditahan dan dipenjara dan 186 pekerja dibebaskan dengan syarat tidak kembali ke ladang mereka. Sebagai menghukum kaum pekerja, kenaikan gaji yang dipersetujui oleh UPAM tidak ditunaikan. Gaji kekal di paras asal iaitu 50 sen untuk lelaki dan 45sen untuk wanita. Setelah Nathan dibuang negeri, dalam perutusan rasminya, kerajaan British Malaya menyifatkan R.H Nathan sebagai pengkhianat kepada empayar British dan punca kepada rusuhan pekerja di Selangor. Penguatkuasa Buruh Malaya, Wilson dipaksa untuk bersara kerana menyokong kebangkitan pekerja ladang. Walaupun kerajaan India British menekan kerajaan Malaya untuk mengadakan inkus terbuka, tetapi Shenton Thomas terus berdolah dalih. Alasan yang diberikan adalah sibuk dengan persiapan untuk menghadapi tentera Jepun. Perang Dunia Kedua yang terletus di Pasifik melenyapkan terus kebangkitan pekerja di Malaya.

Sudah lebih tujuh dekad insiden ini berlalu. Mereka yang masih ingat raut wajah Rengasamy, Yellumalle, Mayandy, Anggapan dan Konneri tidak lagi bersama kita sekarang. Wajah pejuang pekerja ini mungkin sudah dilupakan tapi nama mereka masih lagi dikenang. Bagi mereka yang menyelar dan mempersoal kita terlalu taksub dengan barat untuk menimbah inspirasi untuk Hari Pekerja, sini saya persembahkan nama pejuang pekerja ini sebagai mengganti Lingg, Spies, Fischer, Engel dan Parsons. Walaupun mereka berlainan bangsa, negara dan agama tetapi perjuangan mereka tetap sama. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Klang Strike 1941 - Trade Union Act to be Introduced - Tamil Murasu May 26, 1941

In looking at the effects and changes post Klang Strike, I would consider one of the most important changes that was implemented was the introduction of Trade Union Act in June 1941. It has been asserted that prior to 1940, the unofficial policy of the Malayan government has been "to strangle trade unionism at birth."  With increasing demands for better treatments and wages, the FMS government realized that it needed to introduce Trade Union Act in Malaya. Thus, the Klang Strike staged by plantation workers under Nathan, played important role in changing the mindset of the British in Malaya.

Tamil Murasu on 26th May 1941 reported the reasons behind the Klang Strike based on statement released by the FMS government. It reported that a movement under R.H Nathan intimidated workers in Selangor and spread elements that threatened the government.

Even though there were arrest warrants issued against Nathan and his movement, it was put on-hold as the workers' demands also involved wages of plantation workers. The statement also mentioned that the reason behind the agitation was not about labourers' dissatisfaction on their wages and living condition but it meant to disable the government.

Nathan was accused of spreading hatred towards the government despite being "a guest" under the immigration law in Malaya. Nathan, who had no experience working or living on plantation estates also accused involving in subversive activities against the government. Due to act of "treason", Nathan was departed and barred from entering Malaya. The agitators were reported to have been carrying on with their subversive activities in many parts of Selangor.
   
The statements also mentioned that since "war efforts" have been affected due to the strike and workers to be urged to resolve their grievances through talks, trade union acts shall be soon introduced.
Tamil Murasu - May 26, 1941



Friday, April 8, 2016

The Casualties of Klang Strike 1941 - Rengasamy, Yellumalle (Elumalai), Mayandi, Angappan and Keneri (Konneri)

Finally, I managed to find out those names of labourers who were killed during the Klang Strike in 1941.

On 9th May 1941, Rengasamy and Yellumalle became the first causalities during the clash on Bukit Panjang Estate. Rengasamy was from Bukit Cheraka Estate and Yellumale (Elumalai) was from Highlands Estate (refer to my article http://www.malayaganapathy.com/2015/06/klang-strikes-causalities-rengasamy-and.html)

On 15th May 1941, Mayandi, Angappan and Keneri were killed when the British Indian troops opened fire to disperse some 900 labourers protesting on Brooklands Estate (refer to my article http://www.malayaganapathy.com/2016/04/klang-strike-1941-four-labourer-died-in.html)

(With this findings, only one labourer who died of bayonet wounds remains unknown and I am determined to find his/her name soon)

Out of all these names, the name "Keneri" sounds a little bit odd due typo-error. The actual name of the person was Konneri (கோனேரி) based on report published in Tamil Murasu dated 11th July 1941. There are a few places in Tamil Nadu with reference to name "Konneri". Konneri derived from two words "Kon" which means King and "Eri" which means pond. There is "Konneri Kuppam" (Konneri Village) in Vellor. There is also a place with a similar name "Konnerirajapuram" in Kumbakonan district in Tamil Nadu, which the Temple Uma Mahewarar housed the biggest bronze Nadaraja statue in the world. In Thirupathi, there is a pond referred as "Konneri" (most probably used by the kings for ritual purposes)
Largest Nadarajar bronze statue
at Uma Maheswarar Temple in Konnerirajapuram, Kumbakonam
(source:http://www.ghumakkar.com/the-big-nataraja-of-konerirajapuram)

The Straits Times dated 9th July 1942, carried a news of the investigation findings of Brooklands Estate incident where the names of those killed in the gunfire Mayandi, Angappan and Keneri (Konneri) were mentioned. However, it did not mention about the fourth person who died due to bayonet wounds.

Raja Ayoub, the District Officer of Kuala Langat, found Major Howes Roberts of the Indian Army not guilty in ordering his men to open fire towards 900 plantation labourers in Brooklands Estate.

The Tamil Murasu reported that there were four eye-witness were called to give their statement in the inquiry. A research officer of Rubber Research Institute, J.F Dovey, Bandha Singh and Lieutenant F. Derrick and Inspector Yahaya from Klang Police Station, who identified the bodies. The Deputy Public Prosecutor, A.J Graddon also called upon 4 wounded labourers to give their statement before mentioning their crime charges for taking part in the strike on Brooklands Estate, Banting on the 15th May 1941.  

According to H.E Wilson, the author of "Labour, Planter and Politics in Pre-War Malaya: The Selangor Riot, 1941", the inquiry was held after tremendous pressure from Government of India under Victor Alexander John Hope, the 2nd Marquess of Linlithgow as the Viceroy of India.  Wilson stated the "inquiries were limited to the question of whether or not the use of force has been justified, and on the basis of the evidence presented mainly by senior police and army officers and estate-manager."

The Straits Times 9th July 1941


Tamil Murasu - 11th July 1941