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Thursday, September 8, 2011

‘Mat Indera was not a communist’

Sulaiman Kamal | 3:05 AM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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He was a religious man who had even taught in religious schools and was never a member of the Malayan Communist Party, says his brother.
KUALA LUMPUR: The family of controversial independence fighter Mat Indera said today that he was not a communist as he was a staunch religious man and was a “true freedom fighter”.
Mat Indera’s brother Baharom Shah Indera is adamant that he was not a communist and he was only a left-wing nationalist who desired the independence of the nation.
Baharom, 65, told a press conference organised by Johor PAS Youth that his brother was a religious teacher who studied in a Johor state religious school.

“Mat Indera had learnt religious studies from Mat Yassin (Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s father). Mat Indera was a religious teacher in Pontian and Parit Setongkat in Muar, Johor,” said Baharom at the PAS headquarters here today.
Baharom, who was four when the Bukit Kepong incident happened in 1950, said that his brother was so religious that he would even teach religious studies when he was in the jungle.
He admitted that he himself had not done research into such matters but have often heard such stories from his family members.
Baharom also said that Mat Indera was never a member of the Malaysian Communist Party (MCP). He however said that as his brother was staunchly against the British, he was a member of Malay leftist parties such as Angkatan Pemuda Insaf (API) and Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM).
Baharom said that he wants the government to clear Mat Indera’s name who he says has been labeled as a national traitor.
“Malays who fought against the British at that time were labeled as communists and that label still stays until today, even after independence. That needs to be corrected but no efforts has been taken to amend it,” he said.
He saved two victims
Baharom, who was also in the army and served in the service corp from 1965 to 1975, said that he had written two or there pieces to Utusan Malaysia to clear his brother’s name in the late 1970s but that had not help clear his brother’s name and dignity.
Baharom also said today that his brother had arrived late at Bukit Kepong when the police station there was overrun by communist guerillas. He had gone there “not to fight but to rescue the people involved”.
“He had only gone there when he heard explosions. Two of the people rescued by Mat Indera were police officer Yusof Rono and a police officer’s daughter Jamilah Abu Bakar.
“When I meet Yusof Rono in the 1980s, he told me ‘Your brother was the one who saved me’,” he said.
When asked if Mat Indera could have worked closely with the communists in order to oust the British, Johor PAS Youth Chief Suhaizan Kaiat, who was also at the press conference, said that more research needs to be done on that angle.
“If he was used as a tool by the communist needs to be studied further,” he said. Suhaizan argued if it was indeed wrong to manipulate and use the communist party to achieve the ultimate goal of independence.
He stressed that the vindication of Mat Indera was a apolitical matter which needed to be looked into properly.
“In this issue there is no Umno or PAS. He was a fighter for independence, not an Umno or a PAS fighter. Therefore all parties need to look into the matter to set the history right”.
Show proper research
Suhaizan also brushed aside comments that the book ‘Pengukir Nama Johor’ published by Johor Heritage Foundation which portrayed Mat Indera as an independence fighter and as a hero contained errors.
“The book was endorsed by the Johor state government. It was not an individual effort but the whole foundation itself. Prominent historians were involved in the process of creating this book such as Ramlah Adam and Abu Bakar Hamid,” he said.
He also took a stab at Professor Khoo Kay Kim who had said that Mat Indera was a communist who was not from Malaysia. Suhaizan said Khoo should present concrete research to back his claims instead of merely making statements.
The Mat Indera controversy came about when PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu in his speech on Aug 21 had allegedly defended the communist fighters who attacked the Bukit Kepong police station on Feb 23, 1950, as heroes and not the 17 policemen who died during the exchange of fire.
Many quarters have criticized Mohamad better known as Mat Sabu for his comments which he claims had been taken out of context .
To date, over 500 police reports have been made against Mat Sabu over his speech.

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