31 March, 2009

It was a multi-racial effort that won independence !

In 1954 Abdul Rahman led a delegation to London to seek independence for Malaya, but the trip proved to be unfruitful. The British were reluctant to grant independence unless there was evidence that the different races in Malaya were able to work together and cooperate in a new and independent country.

Race relations was the cause of Onn Jaafar stepping down. He wanted UMNO to be open to the Chinese and Indians but UMNO members were not ready to accept this. His successor, Abdul Rahman saw a way around this by forming a political alliance with the Malayan Chinese Association called the Alliance Party. The coalition proved to be popular among the people. The Alliance was later joined by the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) in 1955, representing the Indian community.

In the same year, the first federal general election was held, and the Alliance Party (Perikatan) won fifty-one out of the fifty-two seats contested. Abdul Rahman was selected as Malaya's first Chief Minister.

Later in 1955 Abdul Rahman made another trip to London to negotiate Malayan independence, and 31 August 1957 was decided as the date for independence. When the British flag was lowered in Kuala Lumpur on independence day.

During 1955 and 1956 UMNO, the MCA and the British hammered out a constitutional settlement for anciple of equal citizenship for all races. In exchange, the MCA agreed that Malaya’s head of state would be drawn from the ranks of the Malay Sultans, that Malay would be the official language, and that Malay education and economic development would be promoted and subsidised.

In effect this meant that Malaya would be run by the Malays, particularly since they continued to dominate the civil service, the army and the police, but that the Chinese and Indians would have proportionate representation in the Cabinet and the parliament, would run those states where they were the majority, and would have their economic position protected.

The difficult issue of who would control the education system was deferred until after independence. This came on August 31, 1957, when Tunku Abdul Rahman became the first Prime Minister of independent Malaya.

MCA: It was a multi-racial effort that won independence

The country’s independence was forged through the close cooperation of leaders of the Alliance party and was not the sole effort of Umno, said MCA central committee member Lee Wei Kiat.

He pointed out that it was the leaders of MCA, Umno and MIC in the Alliance, which preceded Barisan Nasional before Merdeka, who were all influential in negotiating with the British for independence.

“MCA will not allow efforts from any party in trying to rewrite facts of history or denying the efforts of the other races in helping to fight for the country’s independence 52 years ago,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Lee was commenting on Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein’s statement at the party general assembly that the process of independence and later developments were forged by “Umno and our Malay Rulers and no one else”.

Lee said: “If we look back at history in 1954, Tunku Abdul Rahman led a three-man Alliance delegation comprising himself, Tun Abdul Razak and Tan Sri T.H. Tan from the MCA to England to hold talks with the colonial authority.”

He said that Tunku Abdul Rahman also led an Alliance delegation to London to hold independence talks with the British with MCA represented by Tun H.S. Lee and Tan.

Lee, who is MCA information and communications bureau chairman, said the negotiations led to mutual consent for a draft constitution.

“We hope that Hishammuddin’s remarks are not aimed at gaining political mileage for himself after winning the Umno vice-presidency on March 26,” Lee said.

He urged the minister to show that he was a leader of all Malaysians and not just an Umno leader.

“Any deviation in history will not only affect the country’s harmony currently enjoyed by the various races but also hinder the government’s efforts in fostering racial unity between different ethnic groups,” he said.

He said Malaysian children must understand clearly that all races had to be equally recognised for their efforts and contributions to the country’s development.

- The Star Online.

Recognise role of Chinese in history: Tee Keat

The role of the Chinese community in Malaysian history should not be "diluted", says MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.

"Historical facts are historical facts. We cannot add to them or put a spin on them or ignore them. I speak generally of the commitment of MCA in its efforts to inform of the efforts of the Chinese community in the fight for independence and in nation building," said Ong, who pointed out that the struggle for independence ultimately involved all races.

"All parties are aware that in the struggle for independence, some communities rose up first, and others followed. This is a fact. But at the same time, the outcome of the struggle for independence was a united effort. If all the races were not involved, it would have been impossible for us to achive independence.

"Whether we like it or not, many historical facts, especially those that involve our multiracial society and the Chinese community look more diluted (on record and books)," he said.

"MCA was working actively to preserve the history of Chinese's contributions to the Merdeka struggle and nation-building."

"As part of my role as MCA president, I appointed a MCA leader to head the Historical Documentation Bureau. At the time, there were those who made fun of it, and questioned its priority. But history is important to a community and a nation," he said, adding that studies had been conducted on the matter.

Asked whether this was in response to statements made yesterday by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that it was the Malays who first sought for independence, Ong said: "I have already made similar statements in the presence of Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin when asked by the press.

"In a way, yes this is a response to the PM's statement. But I said this even earlier when Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and I were asked while campaigning in Bukit Gantang yesterday."

- Sun2Surf.



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