Friday, 1 August 2008

The Spirit of Merdeka - The Hartal.

In keeping with the "Spirit of Merdeka", my first post this month is dedicated to the early patriots.

They were quite a different "breed" of Leaders- from the "Etonesque" generation (mainly from a certain Kolek) of pretenders, usurpers and pirates (whose legacy in leadership, we now put up with) who were nurtured by Brits and came later.

Unlike the pirates, these patriots of old Truly Fought & Suffered for Independence against colonialism.

For more on the early patriots (long before UMNO or Umno Baru), please visit 10 Tahun, the blog.
The following was taken from "10 Tahun" on Facebook.
(My apologies for the "Lazy blogging")

October 20th, 1947 was a historical day in the rakyat's constitutional struggle for independence from British colonialism.

On that day, the whole of Malaya and Singapore bore witness to the first political action that involved the united action of people of all races - the Malaya-wide hartal.

Two weeks before Hartal Day, PUTERA-AMCJA had released a "Hartal Manifesto" that called upon all those who regarded Malaya as their home to observe Oct 20, 1947 as a Day of Protest against the Revised Constitutional Proposals, by staging a Malaya-wide hartal on that day.

"October 20 has been selected as the Day of Protest because it is on that day that the British Parliament is scheduled to begin its autumn session, during which it is reported that a debate on the constitutional issue in Malaya will take place."

"On October 20, therefore, between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight, all those who regard Malaya as their real home and who support the People's Constitution issued by PUTERA-AMCJA, are asked not to carry out their usual occupations, but to remain indoors throughout the day and night."

"You are asked for one day to cease work in order to demonstrate to the government that you reject the Revised Constitutional Proposals, and in order to carry our struggle for acceptance of the People's Constitution one step further."

"October 20 is the day on which the people of Malaya will be called upon to stage the greatest political demonstration that this country has ever seen."

Thus, on Oct 20, 1947, beginning from 6 a.m, the whole of Malaya underwent the hartal. Merchants shut their shops, labourers stopped going to the mines, factories, shipyards, and rubber plantations, farmers did not work their lands, fishing folk stayed ashore, housewives did not go to the markets, and the youth stayed away from amusement parks. Only colonial government offices, European stores and several other shops operated as usual.

It was estimated that the British colonial government suffered £4 million in losses from the nationwide strike that day.

According to the Putera-AMCJA, the hartal was also "a unique method of political education. It brought the constitutional issue into every home in the country, and confronted every man, woman and child with this issue. Even in the Government English schools, children in the fourth and fifth standards questioned their teachers about the hartal, asked about its nature and why the government was opposed to it".