The past week, Astro History Channel 555 has been airing two very important episodes of the Malaysian history against terrorism; “Malayan Emergency” and “VAT 69″. Later tonight, it will be about the “Al Maunah arms heist”, which in history was recorded as the only bandits ever charged, found guilty and hanged for ‘waging a war against HM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong’.
The terrorism in Malaya significantly recorded upon the Japanese Imperial Army laid down arms on 15 Aug 1945. Before the British Military Administration reached these shores from India, the Malaysian Peoples’ Anti Japanese Army (Bintang Tiga) brutally ‘reign’ certain districts for three weeks, including invoking torture on civilians and assassinations on community leaders. The objective is to gain control of Malaya and uphold communism ideology.
“Malayan Emergency” is about the Malayan Communist Party armed rebellion (via the Malayan Peoples’ Liberation Army) under Chin “Butcher of Malaya” Peng, which killing of three planters in June 1948 got the British Administration to declare ‘Emergency’ on 16 June 1948. Quickly, British brought Commonwealth troops from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Nepal and other countries to combat the battle-experienced guerrillas, who had direct linkages with mainland Chinese communists under Mao Ze Dong. The war escalated into very serious situation that drew national attention when 25 persons were murdered in cold blood, which include women and children when the Bukit Kepong Police Station was attacked on the early morning of 23 February 195o.
The highlight of the war reached all time high when British High Commissioner Sir Henry Gurney was assassinated by communist rebels led by Siu Mah on 6 October 1951, few miles approaching Frasers Hill. Gurney’ assassination brought upon a veteran World War II experienced Corp commander, Gen. Sir Gerald Templer. New measures were put in place and the military, with intense co-ordination of the Commonwealth forces went very aggressive. Templer introduced the resettlement of Chinese communities into new villages (with far reaching political effect) and national registration in the form of identity cards.
For intent and purpose, it was an all out war against the Communist Terrorists. The reason its called ‘Emergency’ because if it was called a ‘War’, the properties owners would not able to claim from the insurance companies. Despite of the on going ‘war of insurgency’, after in 1955 General Elections UMNO leaders managed to led a tri-party-civilian-authority-government to get HRH Rulers to waive the right-to-rule in favour Westminister Style constitutional monarchy and convince the British for a independence. Merdeka came on 31 August 1957, when the Federation of Malaya still under direct communist rebellion. Eventually, in 1960 HM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong Tuanku Hishamuddin Alam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Samad declared ‘Emergency’ was over.
However, the communist rebellion did not end. The guerrilla warfare continues, but mostly in the jungles and deep interiors. The hunt for the communist rebellions arrived to a defensive mode for them, where a lot of booby traps were laid for the army and policemen who conducted continuous military operations. Hence, the military and police decided to opt for a special forces unit being formed, for these specific purposes.
The brutal attack on Police convoy in Kroh (near the Thai border), got the Ministry of Home Affairs to upgrade the strike-ability of the Police Field Force. “VAT 69″ is about the paramilitary Police Field Force own commando detachment, formed in October 1969 with the help of British Special Air Service for specific misisons such as ‘search and destroy’. The detachment was quickly despatched to hunt down the communist rebellions along the Titiwangsa Range, who were conducting raids in the deep interiors of Kedah, Perak, Kelantan and Pahang from their camps in Southern Thailand.
The armed rebellion of the communist terrorists changed when they slowly lost their control of the jungle and their numbers waned, due to their personnels surrendering, died or simply lost their ability to fight. More over when their supply lines and operational camps were systematically crippled and destroyed. Despite communism gained better footing all over Indo China upon the fall of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to communist forces in mid 1970s, the armed struggle of the Malaysian communist rebels reduced termendously. Never the less, it did not damper their effort to wage their armed struggle and their tactics changed to meet their objectives: To continuously strike fear and the same time paralyse the security forces.
The jungle warfare was traded to urban hits of selected strategic targets. Two senior Police Officers were assassinated in the 1970s. Former Director of Special Branch in the 1960s IGP Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Ismail, who was involved in many anti-communist operations was shot in his official car on the way to work, 7 June 1974 deep in the heart of Kuala Lumpur business district. Perak CPO Tan Sri Khoo Chong Kong shot in Ipoh on 13 November 1975. What is sad that Khoo’s assassin Lim Woon Chong was actually defended by DAP Chairman Karpal Singh.
The armed communist rebellion ended when the MCP agreed to lay down arms and end the rebellion, after the Special Branch succesfully negotiated the armstice. The Hadyaii Accord was signed in Hadyaii on2 December 1989, Thailand between the Malaysian Government and Chin Peng.
The war of terrorism did not end when the Hadyaii Accord was signed. A new breed of terrorist arisen in 1980s and 90s, especially after the successful campaign of rogue ‘ Jihad’ as an outcome from the awareness created with Iranian Revolution and war against Soviet Union occupancy of Afghanistan. Suddenly, a new form of terrorism grew in the form of ‘Jihad Warriors’ within the civilian population of Malaysia.
The skewed and wrong interpretation of ‘Jihad’ could be attributed to Haji Hadi Awang’s (now PAS President) sermon ‘Amanat Haji Hadi’ in 1981 where he justify the struggle against infidel-ways of the legal and administrative system. This fueled the divide between UMNO and PAS and further emphasised in smaller intense religious teachings with deviant motives such as politics.
The first was when the Police tried to arrest deviant militant religious teacher Ibrahim Libya in his village of Memali near Baling Kedah, where armed ‘Jihad Warriors’ battled a group of arresting Police Officers with the protection of a Field Force unit detachment. 18 persons were killed in the fight on 19 November 1985, which include 4 Policemen.
The trend of these new breed of Jihad by these devianists continued. Another ‘Jihad’ deviation group Al Maunah did an arms heist near the Malaysian-Thai border and retreated to Bukit Jenalik, Sauk near Kuala Kangsar, Perak. These men claimed that the Malaysian Government and Malaysia is not an Islamic state and its their calling to assume power by force to install a true Islamic government. This rebellion was overpowered and the leader Muhammad Amin Razali and three others were sent to gallows for ‘waging a war against HM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong’ where else 6 were sentenced to 10 years jail. 15 others were detained under ISA and were rehabilitated whilst in detention.
Little that anyone knew, another group planted pipe bombs in Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar for the ‘New Millenium’ party on 31 December 1999. These were co-ordinated bombings within the region, which include the Bali Bombing.
These deviant groupings grew into various active cells, now with international network in an intricate web of organised terrorism, namely Al Qaedah and Jemaah Islamiah. Some of the 9 September 2001 World Trade Centre bombers were seen in Malaysia with a known terrorist Yazid Sufaat, between 5 to 8 January 2000. Two Malaysians will carve important mentions in terrorism in the region; Azahari Husin and Nordin Md Top.
Regional terrorism also affected Malaysian security. The insurgency wars and separatist movements in the Phillipines and Southern Thailand over spilled into our borders. The damning example is the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, which prowl on civilian population within Southern Phillipines for ransom. The raid on Sipadan Island was a scar in the nation’s security landmark. Many of the home grown deviant militants who wrongly subscribe the ‘Jihad’ made their way into Souther Thailand cessation activities.
The arrest of most wanted terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari in Johor after escaping Singaporean detention last year, moved the Police to form a Anti Terrorist Division, led by very experienced former Special Branch Officers. The new division quickly earned acknowledgments and respect from international security and intelligence agencies.
Never the less, the fight of terrorism still goes on. Terrorism had been murderous avenues for certain parties to meet their objectives, which include wanting power. Terrorists are enemies of the rakyat, tanahair and faith. Only in different forms, compared to 65 years ago when the Bintang Tiga ruled the nation in brutal force for three weeks.
One of Malaysia’s most effective method of curbing terrorism in volatile variables such as multi ethnic, political ideology, faith and geo-political influence is the Internal Security Act. It is undoubtedly a tool put in place through the democratic process designed to preserve democracy, from the angle of management and prevention of threats to national security.