Had I not watched ‘Tanda Putera’ in person, then probably I might be convinced that my father has been lying to me since 1977 about the most challenging period of Malaysian history. Considering the overpowering propaganda by pro-Opposition news portal, social media network accounts and constant statements by Opposition leaders, where many Malaysians based their basis of forming an opinion.
This is because what some so-called Malaysians have been upto very serious no good trying to manipulate half truths, twist, confuse and debunk a historical film about the lives, challenges, mitigating circumstances and decisions made by Tun Hj Abdul Razak Hussein from 4 May 1969 till 16 January 1976 and his closest ally, Tun Dr. Ismail Abdul Rahman (till 2 August 1973).
Both of the statesmen were called back by Allah s.w.t. on the respective dates mentioned.
In the tone of the certain group of extremists and probably “radicals and subversive elements” amongst the minority within the Malaysian society of the day, who in desperation have been systematically drumming up trying very hard to confuse and demonise highly acclaimed film maker Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba’s latest project. ‘Tanda Putera’ which is supposed to be a landmark work to promote the spirit of nationalism, has now evolved as something highly controversial.
‘Tanda Putera’ is based on the National Operation Council (NOC) report dated 9 October 1969 which was tabled in Parliament as a White Paper and account of individuals who privy to all of the events within the five and a half years depicted in the film. Shuhaimi also recollected how Tun Razak and Tun Dr. Ismail brought the nation back together again in so short of time, considering the challenges that they were facing.
The challenges include the Communist Terrorists, who have gone underground and operation in the urbans. They have resorted to assassinating top security officials, as part of their plan to weaken the administration. IGP Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim was assassinated near Bukit Mahkamah on 7 June 1974 and Perak CPO Tan Sri Khoo Chong Kong was gunned down on 13 November 1975.
All of these events were depicted in the 125min film, which will go into public screening through the cinema circuits three days from now.
My father was very much involved in the immediate post-13 May 1969 racial clashes in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. He was then a loyal civil servant of His Majesty’s Government.
The insults again the Malays by the Non Malays especially the Chinese fanned by hatred by Chinese Chauvinists such as the DAP and “radicals and subversive elements” in the planned series of provocative demonstrations before and after the 3GE in May 1969 were overbearing. The ‘temperature’ was already heated when in Setapak, a few Malay men were clobbered by some Chinese men.
The day the clash erupted in Setapak, Abah was on his way out of Kuala Lumpur heading East Coast for official duty. He managed to get information about “Big clashes in Kuala Lumpur” from the Police at a road block somewhere near Raub and hastily turned back.
As he approach the city limits, the night already set in and there an eirie feeling in the streets, with a deep tinge of chaos. He immediately sought refuge at Sentul Police station.
Later, he tagged behind a convoy of Police land rovers going to the High Street Police Station (now Jalan Bandar). Along the way, he witnessed the first day carnage of racial rioting and clashes in places like Ipoh Road (now Jalan Ipoh), Chow Kit Road and Batu Road (now Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman) and China Town.
He wanted to go High Street because a very close childhood friend from Muar is a Police Inspector on duty at the Police Station. Later, Uncle Din escorted Abah home to Petaling Jaya.
A few days later, he was recalled for active duty even though there was a 24 hour curfew enforced as Tun Dr. Ismail declared Malaysia, “A state of Emergency”. He was ‘volunteered’ into active duty, to assist in the food section of then the NOC, which was then the government of the day.
He is now one of the ration officers in the NOC.
Since there was a 24 hour curfew, food storage was critically low because the supply chain was completely disrupted. Many homes were running low on food because no one stocked up before 3GE nor the clashes. The reason is simple; Majority of Malaysians couldn’t imagine the country would come to then the current state of distress. Especially twelve years earlier Merdeka was achieved out of a series consultation and agreements, in the spirit of togetherness, understanding, accommodating and most importantly, compromise.
One of the most distress facility which was short of food was the hospitals. The hospitals needed freshly cooked food and patients were not advised to eat canned food (which was available in the army and police stores).
Abah is now entrusted to search for raw food, for the patients in then General Hospital Kuala Lumpur. He would go around farms around Selangor and take chickens, eggs and fresh vegetables from the farmers and issue them letters of indent. This is so that the government would pay them later when the administration machinery is back in operation.
A few days later, his duties also include the task of bringing cooked food prepared by the army central kitchen in MINDEF, to enclaves such as new villages in Kepong, Jinjang, Serdang and Cheras, as these Chinese settlements are totally cut off from the supply chain. Even though Chinese sundry shops were owned and operated by them, many chose to hoard food for obvious reasons.
He saw more carnage and how really bad inviduals broke curfew laws and were infact armed for the sinister reasons, to perpetuate the bloody conflict.
Shuhaimi depicted some of the scenes that collaborated my father’s take on the aftermath, in ‘Tanda Putera’. Watching the film is like understanding what Abah have been trying to tell me all these years about what and how it happened.
Shuhaimi depiction of some of the scenes were accurate to the details. Example is the scene where Police Sergeant Aman and Corporal Kop escorted Kara and Allen back to Petaling Jaya in the night of the racial clash, was exactly like when Uncle Din escorted Abah back home in the early hours of 14 May 1969.
The media could also interview persons who are still around and were privy to ground zero of the 13 May 1969 racial clashes such as retired IGP Tun Mohamed Hanif Omar, retired Director of Special Branch Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Rahman and Brigadier (Rtd) Syed Hamzah.
The Malaysian public should come and watch ‘Tanda Putera’ first before making any comments. Even if they are prejudicial about this film, they must at least watch for themselves first before making any statements which persons like me (since I already watched this film more than once) considers as racial slurs, with deep sinister motives.
In my mind, it is certain the firm believe that Lim Kit Siang had lied and continue to perpetuate a web of twisted lies about DAP’s direct involvement in terms of planning, excution and post-event actions of the 13 May 1969 tragedy, rather than having a tinge of doubt that Abah made up even a tiny portion of his own account.
P/S: Why since 1977? That’s when the first time I was told about the 13 May 1969 racial clashes and riots. I was hardly ten years old then.