Our heroes who lived through the terror of the communists in Malaya share their views and experiences at the History of Malaysia colloquium.
MORE than 60 years have passed since the Bukit Kepong siege but the stench of burning flesh when he arrived at the police post on the fateful day in February still lingers in the mind of Datuk Seri J.J. Raj.
Vividly recalling the horror of burning bodies, screaming victims and tragic end to the defence of the police station, he told an enthralled audience at a recent colloquium: “These men were my family. I felt helpless and lost as I dragged their half-burnt bodies out of the fire.”
He was the Pagoh OCPD at the time and was on a routine visit to the post a day before the tragic incident on Feb 23, 1950.
Before leaving the post, he told the officer-in-charge of the station, Sgt Jamil Mohd Shah, to take care, to which the sergeant replied: “Jangan bimbang, Tuan. Biar putih tulang, jangan putih mata (Don't worry, Sir. Death before dishonour).”
“It was like a premonition,” said Raj, who heard later that night that Sgt Jamil and 26 policemen at Bukit Kepong were attacked by 180 communists.
The battle went on for two hours, ending in the sergeant and 19 others losing their lives.
Raj, the only officer still alive to tell the story as it happened, was one of the panel speakers at the History of Malaysia colloquium, which was opened by Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim at Universiti Malaya on Saturday.
The audience heard how Raj returned to the station at 7.30am with a team of police rescuers just a day after he had visited the post.
Raj praised Sgt Jamil as a “super Malay hero” who would rather die in honour than surrender to the terrorists.
The one-day colloquium relayed the historical facts in the fight for independence.
It served as a reminder to today's generation and the generations to come to always remember the sacrifices made by the nation's freedom fighters and heroes.
It was organised by the National Heritage Department and agencies under the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry.
Prominent speakers included Institute of South-East Asian Studies visiting senior research fellow Dr Leon Comber, who was also a Special Branch officer in the police force from 1948 to 1960, who gave his views on the Malayan Emergency.
Greeting the audience in Malay and saying he felt honoured to be back in Malaysia, Dr Comber said much credit should be directed at the Special Branch, who had provided operational intelligence to the police and greatly assisted in the defeat of the communists.
Another speaker was former army man Datuk Kanang anak Langkau, a recipient of the Pingat Gagah Berani and Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa awards, who recounted his experience tracking communist groups in the jungles of Perak in 1979.
He told the crowd how his abdomen was ripped open by a gunshot and he had to force back his intestines so he could continue fighting.
Also present to share their views and experiences were former Inspector-General of Police Tun Mohammed Hanif Omar and retired Deputy Supt Mohd Noor Razak as well as academicians Prof Datuk Dr Ramlah Adam, Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim, Dr Ho Hui Ling, Prof Nordin Hussin and Prof Abdullah Zakaria.