Sunday, June 29, 2014

India To Observe "Saheed Ganapathy Day"- 15th May.


Ganapathy In Pudu Prison
British owned Calcutta Statesman conceded the execution was "draconian punishment" and that death sentence for carrying arms should be tempered in particular by tact and leniency. The paper added that in interest of Indo-British goodwill, Malayan authorities responsible "for this ill-timed, unstates manlike handling of affair - which from the nature necessarily had international significance- should be removed by Whitehall"

Kala Venkatarao, the General Secretary of Indian National Congress(Jan 1949 to Sept.1951) compared Ganapathy's prosecution with that of Cardinal Mindszenty, who spend twenty three years in prison under the Communist Government of Hungary before freed in the Hungarian Revolution in 1956.
Gen.Sec of Congress - Kala Venkata Rao

Indian Daily Mail in Singapore dated 9th May 1949, carried news on public outcry in India over execution of Ganapathy.

Nagpur Socialist Party would declare 15th May as "Saheed Ganapathy Day".

In the same news reported the British owned newspaper "Calcutta Statesman", wanted the responsible authorities in Malaya who mishandle this case to be removed.

India To Observe 'Ganapathy Day' On May 15?

Nagpur Socialists' Move

(From Our Correspondence)

Madras, May 8 - Sunday, May 15 will be observed as "Saheed (Martyr) Ganapathy Day" by the Nagpur Socialist Party, Secretary Suresh Gangga in an appeal states that execution of Ganapathy and the shooting of P.Veerasenan by the Malaya authorities compelled realisation that the life of an Indian was very cheap in the eyes of foreigners. He urged public opinion must be mobilised to impress on the foreign countries in general and the Government of India in particular that Indians will not tolerate any such further incidents. There is considerable support throughout the rest of India to observe May 15 in this manner.

Pandit Nehru has been urged to take up the issues by the Congress Secretary Kala Venkatarao who compared Ganapathy's prosecution with that of Cardinal Mindszenty by the Communist Government of Hungary. Nehru's attention was drawn to Ganapathy's execution immediately on his return to Bombay from Britain and he has assured to take up this issue after studying the question.

Public opinion here has been (not clear)..by British attempts put the blame on the Sultan of Selangor and paper throughout India published Ganapathy's picture with (not clear)..condemnation of the summary execution. Even the British owned Calcutta Statesman conceded the execution was "draconian punishment" and that death sentence for carrying arms should be tempered in particular by tact and leniency. The paper added that in interest of Indo-Britsih goodwill, Malayan authorities responsible "for this ill-timed, unstatesmanlike handling of affair - which from the nature necessarily had international significance- should be removed by Whitehall-Copyright

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sambasivam Goes Back to India - The Straits Times - 2nd June 1950

Sambasivam - Finally, he gained back his precious freedom from the clutches of British, only to be murdered in India.

The Straits Times
2nd June 1950

Sambasivam Goes Back To India


SAMBASIVAM, the 27-year-old South India trade unionist who was reprieved by the Privy Council has left the Federation for Madras.

He was put on the steamship Rajula at Port Swettenham yesterday afternoon.



The Federation Government announced yesterday that his departure was made under Section 17 (C) of the Emergency Regulation of which empowers the High Commissioner to order certain person detained under Section 1 of Regulation 17 “to leave and remain outside” the federation.

After leaving Johore Bahru Goal on April 1, when the Privy Council upheld his appeal against the death sentence, Sambasivam was re-arrested under the Emergency Regulations.

Seen in Johore Bahru before left for Port Swettenham Sambasivam told the Straits Times that he plans to return to his native village in Madras province. He will, after a rest, work on farm owned by an uncle.

Sambasivam was Secretary of the Segamat Rubber Workers’ Union when the Emergency was declared. He went underground, but in Sept.1948, he was arrested at Bukit Kepong, in Johore. He was charged with carrying illegal fire-arms and was sentenced to death by the Johore Bahru Supreme Court.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

John Thivy Condemned for Blaming Labourers

“That this conference condemns the Agent of the Government of India for his irresponsible attitude during the settlement of the Klapa Bali and Lima Blas Estate by putting the blame on the labourers and supporting the management, although he knew pretty well that the demand submitted by the labourers were quite reasonable." 

Before we can dwell further on reasons why Representative of Government of India, Thivy, failed to make any impact in Ganapathy case and further failed to save Ganapathy from being sent to gallows, lets look at the paper cutting below taken from Singapore Free Press dated 2nd June 1948, that shall gives us the insight of John Thivy.
R.G Balan
After the arrest of R. Balan, who was regarded as the most capable labour union organiser in Malaya by many scholars, Planting Labourers' Union of Perak condemned John Thivy for siding the management of Klapa Bali and Lima Blas Estate even though Thivy understood well the plight of Indian labourers in these estates.
The condition of Indian labourers did not only angered the trade unions but also many British trade unionists who have visited Malaya. Government of India knew very well of the suffering endured by their own race in Malaya, yet in many cases took sides with British imperialist.  Ganapathy was just a pawn in India-British political game and having John Thivy as Representative of Government of India in Ganapathy's case surely was not to favour PMFTU. 
John Thivy

 
 

Singapore Free Press
2nd June 1948
Indian Govt. Agent is criticized
Free Press Correspondent
IPOH, Tuesday.

The Agent of the Government of India, Mr.Thivy, was attached by the Planting Labourers’ Union of Perak, who yesterday “condemned” the Federation Government for the arrest of their president. Mr.R.Balan.
The resolution reads as follows:
“That this conference condemns the Agent of the Government of India for his irresponsible attitude during the settlement of the Klapa Bali and Lima Blas Estate by putting the blame on the labourers and supporting the management, although he knew pretty well that the demand submitted by the labourers were quite reasonable.
The “condemnation” apparently was in connection with Mr.Thivy’s visit to Lima Blas estate on Saturday night.
On the occasion, he was reported to have held discussion with the management and the labourers. He was then stated to have been of opinion that some of the demands made by the striking labourers were unreasonable.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quest on Finding Family Members of S.A Ganapathy- A 14-year Search Finally Ended



Mr and Mrs Shanmugam Thevar (second and third from right) at my wedding reception
It all happened in my wedding reception. I stood puzzled and surprised as an elderly couple walked toward me and congratulated me. I was curious looking at these strangers. When they introduced them as “Murugesh’s parents”, I jumped in joy and overwhelmed with the feeling of being blessed. That day will never going to fade away from my memory as I was so blessed to meet Mr. and Mrs. Shanmugam Thevar – nephew of S.A Ganapathy. My 14-year of quest to find any individual related to Ganapathy came to an end on that day when I met this lovely couple.

Ramu Thevar

Ramu Thevar

Young Ramu Thevar


















A little detail of Mr. Shamugam

Mr.Shamugam is son of Mr. Ramu Thevar and Mdm.Laksmi. Ramu Thevar was closely associated with S.A Ganapathy as both shared a very unique relationship. It was said that Ganapathy during his last days in Pudu Prison, wrote a letter to Ramu requesting latter to claim his body after execution. It was said that the letter was delivered to Ramu. But unfortunately Ramu was arrested and detained in Pulau Jerejak Prison (which was also known as The Alcatraz of Malaysia) for three months. Ramu’s only crime was his association with Ganapathy. Upon release from prison, traumatized Ramu destroyed all his collections of letters and photographs of Ganapathy. The family never spoke about Ganapathy ever again.
Mr Shanmugam's Mother - Mdm Laksmi

Madam Laksmi Ramasamy
(Ramu Thevar was married S.A Ganapathy’s cousin, Laksmi, who was daughter to Ramasamy Thevar. Ramasamy Thevar was elder brother of Arumugam Thevar, who was father of S.A Ganapathy (The initial “A” in S.A Ganapathy’s name is referred to his father – Arumugam)

In remembering of his “Ganapathy Mama (“Mama” means maternal uncle in Tamil), Mr Shamugam recalled that his mother, Mdm. Laksmi Ramasamy used to say that Ganapathy used to visit them at their home at Sungai Dua, Penang. Mr. Shammugam was too young to remember the other details of Ganapathy's visits.

“My mother told me that Ganapathy Mama used to carry me when he visits my father who was into cattle farming business,” said Mr.Shanmugam.

Ramu Thevar with his motorcycle
According to Mr. Shamugam, his father was the first "milk-man" in Penang to use motorcycle to deliver milk to his customers.

I also understood from our conversation that Mr. Ramu was detained immediately after receiving a letter from Ganapathy. According to Mr. Shamugam, an Indian police CID officer who came with the pretext of buying cows from his father, arrested Mr. Ramu for his association with Ganapathy. The lead to the arrest was believed to be the letter that Ganapathy wrote from prison.

I was privileged to browse through some old photographs in Mr. Shamugam’s collection and I took some shots of Mr. Ramu Thevar to be posted here.

I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Shanmugam for sharing their collection of Mr.Ramu Thevar and Mdm. Laksmi Ramasamy and treating us with a beautiful lunch at their residence in Penang.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pressure on Inquest for Ganapathy’s Hanging said Hindraf Leader Waytha

(Article extracted from CJMY website
http://cj.my/post/96731/pressure-on-inquest-for-ganapathys-hanging-said-hindraf-leader-waytha/)

Some 70 people agreed in unison to push for an inquest proceeding to be started into the “murder” of S.A. Ganapathy the former president of Pan Malaysian Federation of Trade Unions (PMFTU) in 1948.

The resolution for the inquest was brought upon by Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy during a forum in Taman Tampoi Indah, Johor Bahru, titled ‘Remembering S.A. Ganapathy and P Veerasenan’.

PMFTU was the pioneering union movement in Malaya established to unify all the trade unions under one umbrella, which at that time was seen as a great threat for British establishments, with Ganapathy and Veerasenan at the forefront.


Paper Cutting 1949

Eventually, Ganapathy was hanged for accusation of arms possession under the emergency rule on 4th May 1949 and Veerasenan was shot dead in Pertang Estate in Negeri Sembilan on 3rd May 1949 at the age of 22.

The World Federation of Trade Union (WFTU) described the hanging of Ganapathy as “a murder”.
Many of his comrades were imprisoned or hanged, which eventually led to the disbandment of PMFTUM.

“Many of the documents obtained through research clearly indicates that Sir Henry Gurney received an instruction from British Prime Minister Sir Clement Atlee to advice the Sultan to grant reprieve from the sentence meted out to Ganapathy,” said the editor of Malaysia Indru, Jiwi Kathaiah, who was one of the speakers during the forum.


S.A. Ganapathy and his PMFTU comrades.
(Front left to right) R Sreenivasan, S A Ganapathy, P Veerasenan
(Back left to right) Bharathimohan, K Appu, Punniyakodi Muthaiya, M A Hamid


The copy of official telegram sent by Sir Clement Atlee to Sir Henry Gurney hours before Ganapathy’s hanging.

“However, the whole context of the incident has to be researched further, because around the same time Parti Komunis Malaya leader Kamaruzzaman Teh was arrested for the same conviction but was later pardoned by the Sultan of Pahang,”


Paper Cutting 1949

Kathaiah also added that by looking at the documents obtained from Singapore National Library and British of Office of Records, Henry Gurney was under an immense pressure from the British Planters Association to “put him (Ganapathy) off”.

Workers Social Security
The principles that Ganapathy, Veerasenan and their comrades fought upon are solely based on the empowerment of working class.

“Apart from efforts on an inquest and getting the British government to apologise to Ganapathy’s family, we should start propagating the principles that Ganapathy and his comrades fought for Malaya and its workers, back then”


Jiwi Kathaiah emphasising his point

“For example, Ganapathy fought for workers social security in 1940s but it hasn’t seen the daylight, but workers money are being used to bail out big corporations. So, why can’t we pressure Employees Provident Fund contribute partially towards workers social security,” asked Kathaiah.

The forum also featured Secretary General of Parti Sosialis Malaysia S Arutchelvan gave a crash course on the history of Malaya, the left wing struggle for independence and presented the details of people’s constitution by AMCJA-Putera alliance.


PSM General Secretary Arul Chelvam with Jiwi Kathaiah

The forum was organised by Hindraf, Sembaruthi Vasagar Sangam, Tamil Neri Kalagam dan Persatuan Kebajikan Ayirathil Oruvan MGR.


The forum attendees listening intently

For more information on the struggle led by S.A. Ganapathy and P Veerasenan through PMFTU, please refer to The Malaya S.A. Ganapathy blog.

Related story: No tombstone but at least a brick for S.A Ganapathy
The resolution for the inquest was brought upon by Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy during a forum in Taman Tampoi Indah, Johor Bahru, titled ‘Remembering S.A. Ganapathy and P Veerasenan’.
PMFTU was the pioneering union movement in Malaya established to unify all the trade unions under one umbrella, which at that time was seen as a great threat for British establishments, with Ganapathy and Veerasenan at the forefront.
- See more at: http://cj.my/post/96731/pressure-on-inquest-for-ganapathys-hanging-said-hindraf-leader-waytha/#sthash.gHXz0T0X.dpuf
Some 70 people agreed in unison to push for an inquest proceeding to be started into the “murder” of S.A. Ganapathy the former president of Pan Malaysian Federation of Trade Unions (PMFTU) in 1948.
The resolution for the inquest was brought upon by Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy during a forum in Taman Tampoi Indah, Johor Bahru, titled ‘Remembering S.A. Ganapathy and P Veerasenan’.
PMFTU was the pioneering union movement in Malaya established to unify all the trade unions under one umbrella, which at that time was seen as a great threat for British establishments, with Ganapathy and Veerasenan at the forefront.
- See more at: http://cj.my/post/96731/pressure-on-inquest-for-ganapathys-hanging-said-hindraf-leader-waytha/#sthash.gHXz0T0X.dpuf
Some 70 people agreed in unison to push for an inquest proceeding to be started into the “murder” of S.A. Ganapathy the former president of Pan Malaysian Federation of Trade Unions (PMFTU) in 1948.
The resolution for the inquest was brought upon by Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy during a forum in Taman Tampoi Indah, Johor Bahru, titled ‘Remembering S.A. Ganapathy and P Veerasenan’.
PMFTU was the pioneering union movement in Malaya established to unify all the trade unions under one umbrella, which at that time was seen as a great threat for British establishments, with Ganapathy and Veerasenan at the forefront.
- See more at: http://cj.my/post/96731/pressure-on-inquest-for-ganapathys-hanging-said-hindraf-leader-waytha/#sthash.gHXz0T0X.dpuf

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Was Government of India Sincere in Saving Sambasivam? Something to Ponder!

UK High Commissioner to India, Sir Archibald Edward Nye conveyed G.S Bajpai's request to Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relation, Noel-Baker in a telegram date 9th May 1949 to delay any action against Sambasivam.

After meeting the India's Secretary General of Ministry of External Affairs, Nye extended Bajpai request to delay any action in connection to Sambasivam pending further investigation in his case.
Sambasivam
One of the reasons for doing so was due to "storm of protest" staged in India over the death of Ganapathy in the hands of British imperialist. If the execution of Sambasivam takes place at the time when Nehru to explain to the country of the advantages that flow from Commonwealth association, this would meant "unfortunate political effect" which would give Nehru's critic "very effective weapon" against Nehru and Indian government. Bajpai also mentioned that Nehru shall be addressing the Constituent Assembly on the 16th May 1949 on the recently held Commonwealth Conference.

Being critical of Government of India, this could be a sincere attempt to save Sambasivam using Commonwealth or Nehru was more concern of his reputation and government that execution of Sambasivam would meant threat to his political status and career!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Efforts Took Place to Save Sambasivam


Sambasivam
Lord Listowel, Minister of State for the Colonies has written to Indian High Commissioner for UK, Krishna Menon on the 28th May 1949, in which he have stated that:

1. Gurney has telegraphed the colonial office that after consideration of all the representations which Government of India put forward (in the case of Sambasivam), the Sultan in Council decided that the law should take its course.

2. Date of execution (for Sambasivam) is not fixed and Sec. of State has asked Gurney to inform India Government through their representative, Thivy.

3. A brief detail on Sambasivan is given. It said that Sambasivam had tried to draw his revolver, but was over powered by the three Malays. Sambasivam sustained wounds and was hospitalised until 28th February 1949.

4. Sambasivam was put to trial on the 2nd and 3rd March 1949 for unlawfully carrying arms. The assessors found him not guilty but the trial judge disagreed and ordered a retrial. Retrial took place on 22nd March 1949 when he was convicted by both assessors (a Malay and an Indian) found guilty and he was sentenced to death.The court of Appeal dismissed his appeal on 28th April 1948. All the three Appeal Judge (including the Chief Justice) agreed with the Trial Judge.

5. India Government made their representation in Sambasivam's case to Chief Secretary on the 1st April 1949 which were forward to the Johor government.

6. Mentri Besar informed Chief Secretary that the letter of the representation would be placed before the State Executive Council.

7. The Representative of Government of India (Thivy) called High Commissioner (Gurney) on 14th May 1949. Gurney discussed the position of the case in length with Thivy and has informed the Sultan of Johor on the representation made by Indian Government to UK Prime Minister, Creech Jones and Listowel.

8. UK High Commissioner to India (Archibald Edward Nye) has written to Sec.of State for Commonwealth, Noel-Baker, that Indian government is in the impression that Thivy was treated in an off-hand manner. But Lord Listowel confirms Thivy was treated with every courtesy by Gurney. In a meeting between Thivy with Gurney on the 14th May 1949, Thivy made no complaint that he was treated in off-hand manner.

 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

UK High Commission Archibald Edward Nye Requested Indian Government to be Kept Informed in Sambasivam's Case

...The decision to execute this man has been universally condemned and Pandit Nehru himself, at press conference yesterday, criticised the action of the Malayan authorities - Sir Archibald Edward Nye- UK High Commissioner in India

Sir Archibald Edward Nye
Sir Archibald Edward Nye who was serving as the UK High Commissioner to India from 1948 to 1952 wrote this telegram to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relation Office, Philip Noel- Baker, in London after meeting Girija Shankar Bajpai , who was a principal foreign affairs adviser to Nehru and also the first Secretary General in the Ministry of External Affairs. Outbreak of the news that Ganapathy's was hanged despite India made her representation through Indian Representation to Malaya, John Thivy, angered many Indian politicians including Nehru who regards British administration in Malaya has acted "folly".
Clearly, it stated India's dissatisfaction for being kept in dark over the development of Ganapathy's case. India seemed to be not convinced with British claimed that they had no jurisdiction over the executive decision in Malaya over execute Ganapathy. India felt that British government should have done more in Ganapathy's case. India's agitation also an attempt to save Sambasivam, another Indian waiting to be hanged in Malaya. The High Commissioner made it clear unless there is any interference from the British government, the Commonwealth will not interfere with the competent authority in Malaya even though Sambasivam to be executed.
Girija Shankar Bajpai with Nehru


To avoid further clashes with India, the High Commissioner recommended that India Government to be well informed in the case of Sambasivam. And statement should be issued in London to set forth the facts of Sambasivam's case so that the Indian press would have the British version of the case.
But certainly, it is clear that John Thivy, the Indian Government Representative to Malaya was treated "in a offhand manner".

Why Thivy was treated as such? I am assuming there should be some kind of correspondences with Indian Government - Krishna Menon in particular. So, what were transpired between Thivy and Krishna Menon?

Surely Malayan British government's attitude in Ganapathy's case alerted the Indian Government and this may have saved Sambasivam from the noose.

A brief note of Sambasivam
Sambasivam
    Sambasivam was a clerk of Rubber Worker Union Segamat in Johor. He was arrested on the 13th September 1948. At the time of his arrest he was in the company of two Chinese who were armed. Three Malays who were armed with knives (parangs) tried to arrest him and it was reported Sambasivam was wounded in the fight. One of the two Chinese was killed and other escaped. A revolver and ammunition found on Sambasivam during his arrest. Due to his injuries he was hospitalised for more than 5 months and was discharged on 28th February 1949.
    Sambasivam was tried at the Johor Bahru High Court on the 2nd and 3rd March 1949 for unlawfully carrying arms. The assessors found him not guilty but the trial judge disagreed and orders a retrial.
    A retrial took place on 22nd March 1949 when he was convicted by both assessors (a Malay and an Indian) who found Sambasivam was guilty and sentenced to death. Sambasivam further appeal at the Court of Appeal.
    The court of Appeal dismissed his appeal on 28th April 1948. All the three Appeal Judge (including the Chief Justice) agreed with the Trial Judge. He was sentenced to death. The execution was scheduled to take place on the 4th June 1949. But John Thivy took enormous efforts to save Sambasivam’s life by pursuing Sambasivam in person to sign the application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council on the 3rd of June 1949 - a day before his scheduled execution.
    Eventually Sambasivam was found not guilty by the Privy Council and he was released and deported to India.
      (Note: Sambasivam - Photo Courtesy Annamalai Sundara Murthy - Maaveran Malaya Ganapathy)
       


      Inward Telegram to Commonwealth Relation Office
      ALLOTTED TO POLITICAL DEPARTMENT (I)
      CYPER (TYPEX)

      FROM: U.K HIGH COMMISSIONER IN INDIA

      D. New Delhi, 17.50 hours, 12th May 1949
      R. 16.14 hours, 12th May 1949

      EMERGENCY
      No.X880 SECRET

      Your telegram No.1530: Indians in Malaya

      2. I decided it was better to deal with Bajpai on an oral basis and saw him today. I gave him the substance of your telegram under reference and your telegram 1531.

      3. Whilst he accepted my statement that neither our on Government nor high Commissioner for the Federation of Malaya had any jurisdiction in this matter, he was inclined to treat our approach as purely legalistic one and seemed convinced that if we so care we could advise the Sultan to take whatever steps we consider desirable. He ultimately accepted my assurance that we were no more entitled to bring pressure to bear on the Sultan that we were on the Government of India but I do not think he was really convinced. His interpretation was rather more that whilst we could exercise influence, the fact was that we did not wish to do so. I made it quite clear to him however that without H.M.G giving many view on the merits of the case they were not prepared to interfere in the jurisdiction of the competent authorities and that there was therefore a possibility that Sambasivam might he hanged and that the Government of India must be prepared for such an eventuality.

      4. Whilst he would clearly like to have received an assurance from me that we would bring influence to bear to prevent that execution of this man and was disappointed that I was prepared to give no such assurance, he was even more concerned at the treatment of the representative of the Indian Representative in Malaya and those of the Indian Government. He felt that had the Indian Government been informed before the execution of Ganapathy as to the decision which had been taken, they would have had less cause for complaint. This view was separately given to Roberts today when he interviewed Dr. Keskar, Deputy Minister for External Affairs. He indeed went so far as to say, in private conversation, that the Malayan authorities were probably quite right in executing Ganapathy, but that the representatives of the Indian Government had been treated in a very offhand manner.

      5. In my view some concession should be made to the susceptibilities of the Indian Government not repeat not as to whether Sambasivam should be executed or not, but as to keeping them properly informed. I recommend therefore;

      (A) That if the local authorities have decided that this man should be executed, the Indian Government should be informed of the fact well in advance and give a full statement of the case and the reasons which have actuated the deciding authority in coming to a conclusion. (Bajpai hinted that if this was done the government of India may to some extent be able to tone down the press comments.)

      (B) That a statement should be issued in London as soon as it would be legally permissible setting forth the facts of the case so that the Indian press would have our version of it before comments were made.

      6. Reference your telegram 1531, paragraph 3, first sentence. I should make it clear that the criticisms which have appeared in the Indian press have been widespread and by no means confined to critics of the Prime ministers Conference. The decision to execute this man has been universally condemned and Pandit Nehru himself, at press conference yesterday, criticised the action of the Malayan authorities.

      Copies to:
      Prime Minister’s Private Secretary (2)
      Secretary of States for Colonies
      Minister of State for Colonial Affairs
      Colonial Office Mr. O.H Morris

      Newpapers in Tamil Nadu Protested Against Ganapathy's Sentence

      The Singapore Free Press 19th April 1949 The Singapore Free Press dated 19th April 1949, (around two weeks before Ganapathy to be execu...