Thursday, December 18, 2014

Kedah Unionists' Threat of Strike - Demand Release of Gaoled Tamils- The Straits Times

Following the arrest of 12 estate workers who involved in a riot around Kulim and Bedong, a special correspondent of The London Times, Sydney Balhorn, wrote a review of the incident and condition of trade unions in Malaya which reflected well on the thoughts of the British administration in Malaya.

Gist of his article can be summarized as:

1. A.M Samy running militant groups (ThodarPadai) that goes around intimidating asian workers to strike

2. The government has been taking soft approach towards Pan Malayan federation of Trade Unions which actively organizing strike to cripple British administration in Malaya.

 3. Trade unions were infiltrated by communist ideology and the main perpetrators are the Chinese of Malayan Communist Party.

4. A strong action against trade unions was not only desired by British officials, planters and Asiatic property owners but also 90% of Malayan population wanted British administration to use force to maintain law and order in Malaya.  

4.  Unless the British administration introduce “vigorous enforcement of the banishment enactment” , Malaya may not able to recover from economic backlash that was seriously inflicted upon it during Japanese occupation.

Sydney Balhorn failed to report fairly on the cause of the riot and the appalling condition of labourers in estates.  The "Thodar Padai" was established to eradicate "toddy" shops which run by state government in estates and towns where high population of Indians found.  The self-styled "Youth Corps" brought revolutionary self-respects reforms among Indians. These reformations threaten the Bristish establishment in Malaya. Thus, steps were taken to eliminate these movements and British mouth piece like The Straits Times played major roles in tarnishing the image of these movements by linking them to extremism and communist ideology.   


Demand Release of Gaoled Tamils

Forecast of the general strike of Malayan labourers unless the gaoled Kedah Tamil rioters were released was made yesterday by the vice-president of Kedah Federation of Trade Unions, Mr. A.M Samy.

Asked by the Straits Times special representative, Sydney Balhorn, whether he considered he and the Pan-Malayan Federation of Trade Union were influential enough to call a general strike, Samy said, “Time will show.”

Blaming communist for estate rioting, the Times (London) special correspondent, says: “the recent sentences imposed on the Indian rioters from Kedah estates, while showing commendable resolution on the Government’s part, still do not go to the roof of the trouble, for the vast majority of these Indians rioters were but tools, and unwilling tools, at that, of Chinese agitators of the Malayan Communist Party.”

The Straits Times reporter says: “Kedah’s Indian labour organizer is so upset about the gaol sentences of Tamil involved in fights with the police at Kulim Bedong and Bukit Sembilan estate that he anticipates a general strike if they are not released.

“This leader of 26,000 Indians, 60-year-old A.M Samy is a shopkeeper on Harvard estate, where a six week strike forerunner to the present disturbances, broke out last July.

Samy is also vise president of Kedah F.T.U and President of Indian section of the Rubber Workers’ General Labour Union.

“He spends much of his tome at the modest premises of the K.F.T.U in Sungai Petani but according to the authorities, whose bid worry he is, Samy also goes around estate urging labourer to strike.

“These authorities say Samy has a Youth Corps which makes sure that the labourers adopt his advice to strike or resist the police.

“Before the question of general strike which would be confined to labourers arose, Samy told me, he would appeal to the Governor of The Malayan Union to release all convicted people.

“If this appeal failed, he would engage a lawyer, either locally or in India, for court appeal.

“The convictions in the any case, he said, would be referred to the World Federation of Trade Unions which would take up the matter which the British Government.

“Samy said ‘these people are innocent and I am preparing to testify in court on their behalf.”

The correspondent of the Times says:

“The root cause can be summed up in one word, intimidation, and it dominates Malaya’s economic life just now. Workers are intimidated into striking, Asiatic property owner are intimidated into paying sums which go into individuals’ pocket or parties’ coffers.

“Witnesses, if the Police try to nail down cases, are intimidated into silence. Asiatic, especially Chinese, are easily intimidated.

Many Asiatics, contrasting today fear-laden atmosphere with the comparative security of life and property which prevailed during the Japanese regime known it is not possible for the

British Administration to employ the summary, although effective methods of the Japanese, but there is a widespread desire in the Malayan Union for the Government to take a much firmer line in restoring order.

“The desire for the strong action is by no mean limited to British officials, planters and Asiatic property owners. It is wanted by at least 90 percent of the Asiatic population, whose store of the goodwill for the returning British administration has been steadily whittled down as much by latter’s failure to restore orderly conditions as by economic stringency.

“While some of the intimidation can be laid at the door gangsters operating on their own or on secret societies specializing in extortion and protection, there is no shadow of doubt that the greater part of it can be traced to the Malayan Communist Party and to the numerous organization through which it works.   

“The idea which certain liberal minded British had in the earlier days of the re-occupation, which the British would be able to continue to co-operate with these left-wing groups which had given them useful help during the war has long since been shattered.

“While the problem of the intimidation will have to tackled in several ways, all circles in Kuala Lumpur agree that the first and the most important measure would be vigorous enforcement of the banishment enactment.” 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sang Saka Merah Putih and Malayan People Federation Representatives at Inter Asian Conference Dehli 1947

One of the main events that brought out S.A Ganapathy’s name to main stream media was The Asian Inter Conference which was held in New Delhi in March-April 1947. [1]It was hosted by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who then headed a provisional government that was preparing for India's Independence, which came on 15 August 1947. The Asian Relations Conference brought together many leaders of the independence movements in Asia, and represented a first attempt to assert Asian unity. The objectives of the conference were "to bring together the leading men and women of Asia on a common platform to study the problems of common concern to the people of the continent, to focus attention on social, economic and cultural problems of the different countries of Asia, and to foster mutual contact and understanding."

In his writings and speeches, Nehru had laid great emphasis on the manner in which post-colonial India would rebuild its Asia connections. At this conference Nehru declared: "... Asia is again finding herself ... one of the notable consequences of the European domination of Asia has been the isolation of the countries of Asia from one another. ... Today this isolation is breaking down because of many reasons, political and otherwise ... This Conference is significant as an expression of that deeper urge of the mind and spirit of Asia which has persisted ... In this Conference and in this work there are no leaders and no followers. All countries of Asia have to meet together in a common task”

According to The Straits Times dated 12th March 1947, nineteen Malayans leaders of various movement in Malaya participated the conference including two women representative as well. 

Participants list

1. Dr. Burhannuddin - President of Malay Nationalist Party

2. Mohammed Salleh Daud – Centre Committee Member of Malay Nationalist Party

3. Che Hajjah Zain binti Sulaiman – malay woman educationist of Johore

(Hajjah Zainun Bte Munshi Sulaiman (1903-1989) also known as Ibu Zain, later became a prominent member of UMNO)

4. Philip Hoalim – President of Malayan Democratic Union (lawyer)   

5. H.A Talalla – member of Singhalese community in Malaya (merchant and planter)

6. E.E.C Thuraisingam – President of Ceylone Federation of Malaya (lawyer)

7. Bramachari Kailasam – Honorary Joint Secretary of the Indian Relief Committee in Malaya

8. R. Jumabhoy – President of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Singapore and Convenor of the Singapore Regional Indian Congress

9. J.M Jamnadas – Committee Member of Singapore Regional Indian Congress (Merchant)

10. Gurdial Singh – Honorary treasurer Selangor Regional Indian Congress (merchant)

11. N. Raghavan – Committee member of Penang Congress (lawyer)

12. Dr. A.Y Helmi (Indonesian)

13. P.P Narayanan – General Secretary Negeri Sembilan Indian Labour Union

14. Yap Meow Sieu- Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions

15. C. D Abdullah - Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions

16. S.A Ganapathy – Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions

17. C. Daviesayaham – woman leader (Singapore)

18. J. A Thivy – President of Malayan Congress

19. Bhagwan Singh – President of Malayan Sikh Union 
The highest representation was form the Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions and the article to indicated that there are four representative form labour unions (including P.P Narayanan) 

This shows how much India has its influence in Malaya and among Malayan nationalists which explains many event that folded after the conference including "Hartal" on 20th October 1947.

Also noticed that in one of the photographs taken during a speech delivered by Gandhi in the conference, the Malayan People Federation flag, Sang Saka Merah placed where Dr Burhanuddin Helmy was seated. 

The significant of the conference shows that Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM) was widely accepted as a Malay nationalist party which worked with other multi ethnic groups (such as MCA and MIC) and labour organisations such as Pan Malaya Federation of Trade Unions to form the Putera-AMCJA alliance to fight for independence from British. UMNO which was founded in 1946, did not receive much support from local Malays as it was seen as another agent of the British. If only the Emergency was not declared in June 1948, Dr.Burhanuddin could have been our first prime minister. 

Sang Saka Merah - the flag of Malayan People Federation placed where Dr.Burhanuddin was seated. The ptohograpg was taken when Gandhi delivered his speech at the Inter-Asian Conference - Delhi March 1947 (source- Wikipedia)