Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: Kaatu Perumal - Why He was Sentenced to Death?

Many who read this book would have one question in their mind, why Perumal was sentenced to death? Why surrendering to the authority viewed as an ultimate act of treacherous among MCP cadres?
MNLA in Jungle (source:unknown)
To answer these questions, I am putting forward my arguments and point of views based on my discussions and interviews with ex MNLA members who have retired and some have also surrendered to the authority. 

Formation of Democratic Republic of Malaya 
It was decided during the formation of MCP in April 1930, that formation of an independence  Malaya must be based on a democratic republic principles. This mission has been reiterated over the years and also contained in the 8 Principles of Independence Malaya presented by Lai Tek during 1945 in the meeting where MCP decided not to seize the opportunity take over the nation when Japan decided to surrender in surprise. Once amnesty was announced by Tunku and leaflets containing the terms of conditions of surrender were dropped from air, many MNLA members decided to end their arms struggles and surrender to the British government. This act viewed a great treacherous act by MCP and decisions were made to conduct "jungle trial" and in most cases death sentences would have been metered out.

A flag taken from the Red guerrilla troops is exhibited by three British
soldiers who captured it in a fierce action during which
a prominent Communist leader was killed, 1955 (source:

Demoralizing to MCP      
It is always been the view of MCP that a surrendering personnel would be demoralize other MNLA members in the regiment. Therefore, the platoon commander had been vested the authority to shoot any of the platoon members who decide to surrender to the enemy.
British troops of the Special Air Service, having been dropped off
in the jungle in search of 'bandits' during the Malayan Emergency, 1953.
British officials interpreted almost all anti-colonial activity
as evidence of a planned Communist takeover (source:

  A Daimler Ferret Scout Car of the
1st King’s Dragon Guards During the
Malayan Emergency (source:unknown)

Any Information Leaked -Disastrous for MCP
In Red Star Over Malaya, Cheah Boon Keng has stated that many SEPs (Surrendered Enemy Personnel) would reveal confidential information of MNLA within hours after surrender. Initially,  the Special Branch treated the SEPs using harsh measures including torture and humiliation but later they realized the "soft" approach of treating with more “humane manner” proven to be a better and promising method. Using this soft approach, SEPs are well treated to extract information voluntarily.  British army would arrange raids and attacks based on the information given by the SEPs. This could be fatal and disastrous for MCP arms campaign against British in Malaya.
A British Royal Marine holding the severed heads
of a young man and woman who were accused
of supporting the Communist Party of Malaya
Easy Infiltration in Indian and Malay MNLA Units
MCP felt that strict measures needed to disciple the regiments in order to prevent infiltration mainly in Indian and Malay guerrilla units. Cheah has written that a Special Branch officer, TS Sambanthamoorty, managed to infiltrate an Indian guerrilla in Kluang, Johor in 1950. Many essential information retrieved from the guerrilla unit had been used in undermining the Regiment 4 units in Johor.
Indians in MNLA Regiment 5 (source:unknown)

Failed Peace Talk - Baling Talk
When the Baling Talk failed, Chin Peng vowed that MCP would fight till the last man! Surrender personnel was deemed to be disloyal or traitors to MCP leadership. Therefore, it was normal to meter out dead sentence to MNLA members like Perumal, who rebelled against the leadership.
This 1955 photo shows former leader of the banned Communist Party of Malaya Chin Peng, left, 
during negotiations between the communists and the British-ruled government with John Davies, 
Chen Tien and Rashid Maidin (back) 

Jananayagam - 5th May 1945 - Ganapathy's Short History

Jananayagam (Democracy) published on the 5th May 1949 carried the life story of Ganapathy on its first page - "Thukkilidapatta Ganapath...