Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hari Pekerja - Memperingati “Rengasamy, Yellumalle, Mayandy, Anggapan dan Konneri” Mangsa Mogok Kelang 1941

Perjuangan Mogok Kelang 1941 - Memperingati “Rengasamy, Yellumalle, Mayandy, Anggapan dan Konneri”

Lazimnya sambutan Hari Pekerja di negara kita sering dikaitkan dengan sejarah perjuangan golongan proletariat di Barat. Seringkali ini menjadi habuan untuk golongan anti-barat dan fundamentalis yang bertanggapan golongan pekerja di Malaysia mudah dipesongkan akidahnya kerana terlalu bergantung dan “pandang barat” terutama apabila kita berbicara topik perjuangan golongan pekerja untuk hak asasinya. Malah kita seakan-akan dilihat bagai ketandusan modal dan terpaksa mencedok inspirasi yang lahir daripada insiden-insiden perjuangan berdarah yang berlaku di Barat untuk menjustifikasikan sambutan Hari Pekerja di negara kita.

Tanggap negatif inilah yang menyebabkan saya teruja untuk membelik lembaran sejarah perjuangan pekerja di negara kita. Sayang sekali, banyak perjuangan pekerja di negara kita telah dilabelkan sebagai aktiviti-aktiviti subversif golongan komunis oleh pemerintah. Selain menyifatkan tahun 1946 and 1947 sebagai “the troubled years”, British juga melabel and mengkategorikan pemimpin-pemimpin buruh seperti P.Veerasenan and C.S.K Murthy sebagai agen komunis walaupun pada hakikatnya perjuangan mereka benar-benar berlandaskan hak asasi dan bukan untuk kepentingan Parti Komunis Malaya sama sekali.

Justera, terpaksa saya menyingkap perjuangan pekerja yang berlaku sebelum Perang Dunia Kedua yang tidak dicemari dengan tohmahan dan pengaruh komunis. Maka, hanya satu perjuangan sahajalah yang dapat saya utarakan dalam tulisan ini iaitu perjuangan pekerja ladang getah di Selangor yang berlaku pada tahun 1941 yang dikenali dengan nama “The Klang Strike 1941” – Mogok Kelang 1941. Malah British sendiri mengakui bahawa mogok ini bebas daripada sebarang pengaruh komunis setelah segala usaha untuk mengkaitkan perjuangan ini dengan elemen komunis gagal.

Walaupun ramai yang berpendapat Mogok Kelang 1941 tidak boleh dijadikan sebagai kayu pengukur untuk melahirkan aspirasi perjuangan pekerja di negara kita kerana ianya hanya melibatkan satu kaum tertentu sahaja, pengkaji sejarah Tai Yuen dalam tulisannya “Labour Unrest In Malaya, 1934 - 1941 - The Rise of the Workers' Movement", menyifatkannya mogok ini sebagai yang terbesar, terancang , tersusun dan paling militan yang pernah dilihat oleh British. British di Malaya tidak pernah menyangka kaum proletariat imigran India yang diperlakukan sebagai hamba mampu bangun menentang kezaliman. Mereka berorganisasi, membentuk kesatuan pekerja dan bermogok untuk memperjuangkan nasib mereka. Yang paling menarik, ramai antara pemimpin kesatuan ini terdiri daripada golongan muda kelahiran tempatan yang berumur antara 15 sehingga 20 tahun. Semasa perundingan dengan golongan kapitalis pemilik ladang, golongan ini amat jelas dan tidak berganjak daripada pendirian dan tuntutan mereka sehinggakan laporan polis melabelkan mereka sebagai golongan yang  “panas-baran” dalam berurusan dengan golongan majikan kerana tidak dapat lagi menanggung penderitaan di bawah rejim kapitalis pemilik ladang.

Sebelum kita berbicara terus tentang mogok ini, adalah penting untuk memahami pembentukan dan peranan Kesatuan India Daerah Kelang (Klang District Indian Union - KDIU) dalam mogok ini. KDIU ditubuhkan pada 22 Julai 1939 hasil usaha dua individu yang sering kali disebut iaitu R.H Nathan dan Y.K Menon.

R.Halashiya Nathan yang berasal dari selatan India berhijrah ke Malaya dalam tahun 1936 pada usia 24 tahun. Beliau tinggal bersama abangnya, seorang jurualih bahasa di mahkamah di Kelang. Pada tahun 1937, beliau mula berkerja sebagai kerani di Paterson & Simons di Port Swettenham (Pelabuhan Kelang). Walaupun Nathan merupakan penyokong tegar Pergerakan Dravida atau dikenali dengan Self-Respect Movement di India, Nathan meninggalkan pergerakan tersebut untuk menyertai pergerakan sosialis dalam Kongres Nasional India (India National Congress). Berikutan pemecatan R.H Nathan pada Mac 1940, dari Paterson & Simons kerana propaganda sosialisnya, Nathan menyertai akhbar "The Singapore Herald" seketika sebelum menjadi Penolong Editor dengan akhbar Tamil Nesan.

Y. Kesava Menon pula merupakan kerani di sebuah ladang dan aktif dalam kegiatan komuniti pekerja India di Selangor. Beliau bersama Nathan juga terlibat dalam mogok kesatuan pekerja Keretapi Persekutuan Tanah Melayu pada tahun 1939. Nathan and Y.K Menon juga merupakan ahli Persatuan Pusat India Malaya atau Central Indian Association of Malaya (CIAM).

CIAM yang dibentuk pada tahun 1937 adalah organisasi induk bagi banyak kesatuan seperti KDIU dan aktif di kalangan orang India di Kelang. Sejak penubuhan, CIAM didominasi oleh golongan profesional seperti peguam, doktor, ahli perniagaan, penjawat awam dan lain-lain. Sebelum kemunculan Nathan and Menon di arena perjuangan golongan pekerja ladang, CIAM hanya dilihat sebagai satu kelab eksekutif untuk golongan profesional. Tanggapan ini berubah apabila Nathan and Menon bergiat aktif membentuk kesatuan-kesatuan pekerja di Selangor, Negeri Sembilan dan Melaka sekitar tahun 1939 dan 1940 di bawah naungan CIAM. Dengan pekerja ladang menghadapi masalah gaji, tiadaan kemudahan air bersih, ketiadaan bantuan perubatan, persekitaran yang daif dan terasing, CIAM semakin menonjol dan lantang dalam mempersoalkan keadaan orang India yang dieksplotasikan oleh golongan kapitalis. Walaupun pada lewat tahun 1940, Penguatkuasa Buruh Malaya, C.Wilson melihat CIAM sebagai orang tengah yang mampu membawa penyelesaian kepada masalah pekerja India di ladang, Kesatuan Peladang Bersatu Malaya – United Planters Association Malaya (UPAM) pula semakin rimas dengan campur tangan CIAM dalam urusan pekerja ladang.

Dari tahun 1933 hingga 1936 harga getah melonjak tinggi sebanyak 250 peratus ekoran perkembangan industri automobil di Amerika. Permintaan getah juga tinggi dalam industri berat di Eropah yang dimangkinkan oleh Perang Dunia Kedua pada tahun awal 1939an. Berikutan mogok di kalangan pekerja ladang Cina di sekitar tahun 1937, UPAM sudah mula celik terhadap pekerja yang mahukan perubahan. Pekerja ladang India juga tidak ketinggalan bermogok secara sporadik di akhir tahun 1940 dan awal tahun 1941 apabila akhbar Tamil memuatkan berita keuntungan yang berlipat ganda yang dikaut oleh kapitalis hasil jualan getah. UPAM yang hanya bermatlamat untuk mengaut keuntungan yang sebanyak mungkin terpaksa bersetuju pada Januari 1941 untuk menaikkan gaji 50 sen kepada 55 sen untuk pekerja lelaki India dan 40 sen kepada 45 sen untuk pekerja wanita India berkuatkuasa pada 1 Februari 1941.

Kenaikan ini tidak membawa sebarang makna akibat inflasi dan kenaikan harga barangan keperluaan ekoran permintaan getah tinggi. Malahan, gaji ini tidak setimpal dengan gaji yang dibayar kepada pekerja Cina iaitu sebanyak 65 sen. Rata-rata pekerja tidak berpuashati dengan kenaikan yang dicadangkan oleh UPAM.

Sedang golongan pekerja tidak berpuas hati dengan gaji, pada akhir bulan Januari 1941 seorang penoreh getah bernama Vellayan dari Ladang Midlands telah dihentikan kerja kerana enggan melakukan kerja lebih masa. Vellayan juga merupakan Setiausaha Kesatuan Pekerja Ladang Sungai Rasau yang merupakan salah satu cabang KDIU. Pada 2 Februari 1941, setelah bertemu dengan Vellayan di Ladang Midlands, R.H Nathan dan jawatankuasa KDIU memutuskan tindakan mogok sebagai membantah pemecatan Vellayan.

Pada 3 Februari 1941, Vellayan telah dipanggil untuk diberi gaji tetapi Vellayan bertegas enggan menerima gaji dan meninggalkan estet tersebut. Justeru itu pada keesokkan harinya, seramai 300 pekerja Ladang Midlands daripada West Division bermogok sebagai menyokong tindakan Vellayan. Surat protes telah dihantar kepada Agen Kerajaan India di Malaya, Penguatkuasa Buruh Malaya (Controller of Labourers) dan pihak Pengurusan Ladang Midlands. Nathan and Menon telah dilaporkan menemui pekerja pada waktu malam. R.K Thangiah, seorang lagi aktivis, membantu Nathan dan Menon untuk menguruskan bantuan kewangan untuk pekerja yang mogok. Pekerja menerima $20 daripada Klang Rubber Manufacturing Workers Association dan beras daripada pekerja ladang yang berhampiran. Walaubagaimanapun, mogok ini hanya bertahan sehingga 12 Februari 1941.

Selepas mengkaji kekuatan dan kelemahan mogok di Ladang Midlands, pada 13 Februari 1941, Nathan mengadakan perjumpaan dengan Vellayan bersama 60 pekerja ladang Midlands. Nathan berpendapat untuk melumpuhkan solidariti kapitalis, mogok perlu dilancarkan secara serentak di semua ladang. Nathan juga berpendapat setiap ladang mesti diwakili oleh satu jawatankuasa yang mempunyai kuasa untuk mengambil keputusan semasa berunding dengan pihak majikan. Pada perjumpaan itu, Nathan dan Menon memformulasikan tuntutan yang bakal dijadikan wadah perjuangan pekerja di semua ladang di Selangor.

Tuntutan itu adalah :

1. Pembayaran gaji sama dengan pekerja ladang kaum Cina

2. Penyingkiran kakitangan estet Tamil Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Malayalee yang agresif dan “brutal”. Mereka perlu diganti dengan kakitangan Tamil dari India.

3. Pendidikan untuk anak pekerja

4. Ganguan seksual kakitangan estet terhadap golongan pekerja wanita perlu dihentikan

5. Bantuan perubatan

6. Penutupan kedai todi

7. Kebebasan untuk bersuara dan berkumpul

8. Bebas bertemu dengan rakan dan saudara mara di luar kawasan ladang

9. Pekerja tidak harus turun daripada basikalnya semasa melalui di hadapan kakitangan estet

10. Pemansuhan waktu kerja 10 hingga 12 jam sehari

11. Pekerja yang mengadu tentang masalah kerja tidak harus dijadikan mangsa dan dihukum

12. Kebenaran untuk membentuk kesatuan atau persatuan untuk mewakili kepentingan pekerja

Dalam perjumpaan itu juga Nathan gusaran dan meramal mungkin ditangkap oleh kerajaan dan meminta agar pekerja terus berjuang kiranya Nathan dan Menon diberkas. Katanya,

“Menon dan saya mungkin akan ditangkap, kami pasti. Sekiranya kami ditangkap, kalian perlu teruskan mogok sehingga kami bebas”

Pada 18 Februari 1941, satu lagi perjumpaan diadakan oleh KDIU dan dihadiri oleh pekerja dari Ladang Morton, Tanah Bahru, Bukit Kamuning and Damansara. Keputusan diambil untuk menghantar 12 tuntutan tersebut kepada semua pengurus ladang di lembah Kelang. Sekiranya tuntutan ini ditolak, maka pekerja akan melancarkan mogok.

Menjelang bulan Mac 1941, kerajaan dan UPAM semakin gusar dengan aktiviti Menon dan Nathan. Pekerja ladang seakan akan diberi suntikan dan nafas baru. Mereka tidak lagi turun daripada basikal mereka apabila lalu di hadapan majikan mereka. Tindakan pekerja memboikot kedai todi di ladang menyebabkan pengurusan estet kerugian besar dalam penjualan todi. Pekerja juga dengan berani membantah kakitangan yang menganggu anak perempuan dan bini mereka. Pekerja tidak lagi rela melihat anak bini mereka menjadi habuan seks rakus kakitangan estet. UPAM dan kerajaan British semakin tertekan dengan laporan laporan pengurus ladang yang tidak menyenangkan. Pekerja imigran yang selama ini hanya dilihat sebagai “pak turut”, sudah sedar dari lenanya! Seperkara lagi, apa yang amat ditakuti selama ini oleh UPAM dan kerajaan sudah mula dikesan di kalangan pekerja ladang....Semangat Bersatu! Pekerja sudah bersatu dengan satu suara menuntut pembaharuan. Dengan nada yang seiring, mereka mahukan 12 tuntutan yang diutarakan oleh Nathan and Menon dipenuhi dengan segera oleh majikan.

Pada 2 Mac 1941, dalam satu perjumpaan pekerja di Kampung Jawa, Menon berkata,

"Sebelum pembentukan kesatuan ini, ramai yang bertanggapan kapitalis itu Tuhan dan kita sebagai hamba. Sekarang 25 peratus daripada kamu sudah sedar . Kita adalah orang India dan bukan hamba kepada sesiapa pun. Pada masa akan dating, kita harus berkerjasama dalam perjuangan sehingga majikan ladang menyedari yang kita juga insan manusia! “

Nathan pula memberi amaran bahawa golongan kapitalis akan memecahkan solidariti pekerja.

"Kebanyakan kuli sudah mula memahami perbezaan antara pekerja dan kapitalis. Solidariti adalah kata kunci perjuangan ini. Majikan di estet mula memecah-belahkan kita, tapi kita tidak harus meloloskan ini. Saya kuatir, Menon dan saya akan menghadapi masalah. Kalian perlu bersatu dan percaya dengan kami”

Pada hari yang sama pekerja Ladang Glenmarie buat pertama kali bermogok menuntut kenaikan gaji dan kondisi tempat tinggal yang baik. Nathan dan Menon dilaporkan berjumpa dengan pekerja ladang pada 28 Februari dan 1 Mac 1941. Mereka menuntut 70 sen dibayar untuk pekerja lelaki dan 60 sen untuk pekerja wanita. Bagaikan api mogok ini mula merepak ke Ladang Midlands apabila 8 pekerja estet dihentikan dan diusir daripada ladang mereka pada 4 Mac 1941. Gopal, Palaniandy, Karuppan, Periasamy, Murugesan, Gengan. Muthiah dan Samikannu diberkas kerana enggan meninggalkan ladang Midlands selepas diberi notis pengusiran 24 jam.

Ekoran kejadian ini, pada 11 Mac 1941, J.D Dalley, Pengarah Penyiasatan Jenayah (Director of Criminal Intelligence) mencadangkan Residen British Selangor, Major Kidd untuk menangkap R.H Nathan, Y.K Menon dan R.K Thangiah di bawah Peraturan Darurat. Walaupun cadangan ini mendapat sokongan daripada Pesuruhjaya Tinggi Malaya Shenton Thomas yang meluluskan waran tangkap untuk Nathan, Menon dan Thangiah, Penguatkuasa Buruh Malaya, C.Wilson berpendapat kelulusan waran tangkap ini perlu dilengahkan kerana berpendapat ianya akan mengeruhkan keadaan dan melumpuhkan usaha CIAM untuk menyelesaikan masalah pekerja. Pandangan Wilson disokong oleh Residen Selangor Major Kidd dan Penasihat Undang Undang Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, Adrian Clark. Kerana perbezaan pendapat inilah, Wilson dipaksa untuk bersara oleh Shenton Thomas selepas mogok Kelang reda.

Pada 25 Mac 1941, semasa perbicaraan lapan orang yang diberhentikan dari Ladang Midlands, 200 pekerja hadir untuk memberikan sokongan. Keadaan mahkamah menjadi kecoh apabila keputusan hukuman dua bulan penjara dijatuhkan kepada pekerja pekerja tersebut. Pekerja-pekerja yang hadir untuk memberi sokongan, memprotes dengan bertindak "duduk dan bantah" dan tidak meninggalkan ruang mahkamah ala protes seperti yang dilakukan pengikut pengikut Mahatma Gandhi di India. Melihat keadaan ini, hakim terpaksa akur dengan desakan rakyat dan membebaskan pekerja dengan wang jaminan. Kejayaan ini memberikan aspirasi dan pengertian baru kepada pekerja yang menyedari mereka mampu mengubah keadaan mereka sekiranya mereka bersatu. Agen Kerajaan India C.S Venkatachar mengkritik tindakan kerajaan British Malaya menggunakan undang-undang sebagai instrumen untuk melumpuhkan mogok.

Menyedari kerajaan British perlu melakukan sesuatu, pada 27 Mac 1941, C.Wilson mempelawa Presiden CIAM, N.Raghavan dan Timbalan Presiden K.A Neelakanda Aiyer melawat estet –estet yang terlibat. Pada keesokannya, satu perjumapaan diadakan antara N.Raghavan dengan Pengerusi Peladang Daerah Kelang yang juga Pengurus Ladang Sungai Way, T.E Upton untuk membincangkan kenaikan gaji dan memulihkan keadaan mogok.

Berikutan perjumpaan ini pada 9 April 1941, UPAM bersetuju and mengumumkan kenaikan gaji sebanyak 60 sen untuk pekerja lelaki India dan 50 sen untuk pekerja wanita India. Presiden CIAM N. Raghavan menasihatkan pekerja untuk kembali berkerja. Dengan ini berakhirlah fasa pertama Mogok Kelang. Berikutan persetujuan ini, UPAM melihat kerajaan British sudah lemah dan tidak lagi dapat mengekang tuntutan pekerja. Malah UPAM menyifatkan keputusan ini satu pengkhianatan kepada British di Malaya. Ini kerana CIAM mempunyai hubungan baik dengan Kongres Nasional India yang memboikot pengerahan sukarelawan sebagai tentera untuk membantu koloni British menghalang kemaraan Jerman. (Dalam Perang Dunia Pertama. KNI menyokong pengerahan sukarelawan India yang membantu British berperang menentang tentera Jerman. Seramai lebih kurang satu juta sukarelawan rakyat India yang terkorban dalam Perang Dunia Pertama)

Kenaikan gaji ini merupakan satu peningkatan yang dapat membantu memulihkan ekonomi pekerja tetapi terdapat sesuatu yang dinilai lebih daripada wang duit oleh pekerja...Maruah dan Jati Diri! Mereka merasai diri mereka perlu dilayan sebagai manusia. Momentum anti-kapitalis yang terjana memberi kesedaran kepada golongan pekerja. Mereka sedar hanya satu bahasa yang difahami oleh golongan kapitalis dan kerajaan British iaitu “mogok”. Mereka sedar mogok adalah satu-satunya senjata yang dapat menundukkan keangkuhan kapitalis. Semua ini mereka pelajari daripada Nathan dan Menon yang disifatkan sebagai “pengacau” oleh golongan kapitalis dan kerajaan British.

Pada 11 April 1941, mogok dilaporkan di kebanyakan estet di Kelang, Kuala Langat dan Kuala Selangor. Ini menandakan sudah mulanya fasa kedua "Mogok Kelang". Pengurusan estet pula memberi tentangan dalam pelbagai rupa. Contohnya, bekalan air dipotong di Ladang Whiteareas, Damansara dan Blackareas.

Pada 15 April 1941 akhbar tempatan melaporkan mogok merebak secara sporadik di kebanyakan estet. Mogok di Ladang Highlands sebagai membantah penyingkiran empat orang pekerja. Mogok di Ladang Carey untuk menuntut satu jam sebagai waktu rehat makan yang sekian lama cuma hanya 30 minit sahaja. Di Ladang Port Swettenham pula, pekerja bermogok menuntut agar bendera Kongress Nasional Indian dikibarkan di pintu masuk estet dan gambar Gandhi digantung di semua rumah termasuk pejabat ladang.

Pada 18 April 1941 pula, pekerja Ladang North Hammock bermogok membantah tindakan penolong pengurus menghalang pekerja daripada memakai topi Gandhi.

Pada 26 April 1941, Nathan dalam satu perjumpaan dengan pekerja berkata;

" Jangan lupa semangat bersatu adalah senjata kita. Pakailah apa yang kalian mahu kerana itu adalah hak kalian. Pakailah topi Gandhi jika kalian mahu..jangan tanggalkannya. Jangan turun daripada basikal kalian sekiranya lalu depan kakitangan estet. Usah takut tempat kalian akan diambil-alih oleh orang Cina dan Jawa kerana negara kekurangan pekerja. Masa ini amat kritikal untuk memastikan tuntutan kalian dipenuhi.”

Mogok semakin merebak. Dilaporkan pada 1 Mei 1941, pekerja di sembilan ladang – Ladang Sungei Buluh, Ladang Brooklands, Ladang Bukit Chedang, Ladang Vallambrose, Ladang Bukit Panjang, Ladang Bukit Chu, Ladang Bukit Cheraka, Ladang Beveriac bermogok.

Untuk mengawal keadaan pada 6 Mei 1941, Nathan ditahan di bawah Akta Buang Negeri. Nathan dituduh melakukan aktiviti subvesif terhadap kerajaan British yang mampu melumpuhkan usaha perang kerajaan British Malaya. Menon terlepas kerana pertukaran kerja ke Singapura.

Sebagai membantah penahanan Nathan, seramai 300 pekerja berarak ke Kuala Lumpur dan berdemo di hadapan Pejabat Pesuruhjaya Buruh pada 7 Mei 1941.

Melihat perkembangan ini, UPAM semakin kritikal terhadap kelemahan kerajaan menangani mogok. UPAM menyalahkan kerajaan Malaya terutama Penguatkuasa Buruh Malaya,Wilson, kerana gagal untuk memaksa pekerja untuk kembali bekerja. UPAM juga mahu kerajaan menggunakan kuasa polis untuk membanteras mogok walaupun permintaan ini ditolak oleh Wilson. Pengerusi UPAM, S.B Palmer dalam perbincangan dengan Pesuruhjaya Tinggi Malaya, Shenton Thomas, pada 6 Mei 1941, menyelar kerajaan Malaya yang tidak lagi berupaya mengekang mogok. Palmer memberi amaran sekiranya mogok tidak dihentikan, ianya akan menular mengakibatkan kemerosotan ekonomi British yang bakal akan membawa kepada kelumpuhan usaha perang untuk memperkasakan British menghadapi kemaraan Jepun. Wilson pula terus mempertahankan CIAM dengan alasan Nathan dan Menon adalah cuma golongan prihatin yang mahukan perubahan yang munasabah untuk golongan pekerja.

Bantahan terhadap penahanan Nathan juga  berlaku di ladang-ladang. Pada 8 Mei 1941, pekerja Ladang Bukit Panjang Estate dengan bersenjatakan kayu dan batu bata menyekat cubaan pengurus estet mengeluarkan satu konsimen getah. Kerana gagal mengeluarkan konsimen tersebut, Pengurus A.J Gomm telah meminta bantuan polis. Pada hari keesokannya, seramai 160 orang polis telah dikerah untuk membantu pengurus. Perhimpunan pekerja yang membantah pengeluaran getah itu dileraikan dengan serangan ganas kayu belantan oleh pihak polis. Lapan pekerja cedera dalam serangan tersebut. Seramai 500 hingga 600 pekerja yang cuba menghalang empat buah lori yang membawa keluar getah tersebut bertembung dengan polis. Pekerja dikatakan bersenjatakan kayu, batu, botol, tombak dan rod besi. Dalam serangan itu dua orang pekerja dari Ladang Bukit Cheraka dan Ladang Highlands, Rengasamy dan Yellumalle terkorban.

Dalam keadaan yang semakin meruncing, pada 10 Mei 1947 Pesuruhjaya Tinggi Malaya Shenton Thomas mengambil keputusan untuk mendapatkan bantuan tentera British yang ditempatkan untuk menghadapi kemaraan tentera Jepun. Pada mulanya, Thomas telah meminta bantuan tentera Australia tetapi permintaan itu ditolak oleh tentera Australia atas dasar prinsipnya. Tentera Australia enggan bertembung dengan golongan pekerja kerana ia hanya ditugaskan untuk menentang kemaraan Jepun. Kecewa dengan reaksi tentera Australia, Thomas meminta pula bantuan tentera British India yang ditempatkan di Ipoh. Tanpa banyak soal, tentera British India yang kebanyakannya dianggotai orang India setuju dengan permintaan Thomas. Bagaikan kata pepatah, menggunakan jari sendiri untuk mencucuk mata, kaum India sendiri digunakan untuk menentang kaum India. Selain itu, Pasukan Askar Melayu dari Singapura juga dikerah untuk mengekang kebangkitan pekerja. Jelas keputusan untuk mengerah askar British India untuk menghalang kebangkitan pekerja India dibuat tanpa memikirkan implikasi dan kesannya terhadap pemerintahan British di India.

Tetapi British mengakui bukan mudah untuk mengekang mogok pekerja yang sudah menular jauh meresapi setiap pelusuk estet-estet di Selangor dan Negeri Sembilan. Pemimpin pekerja dikatakan mengayuh basikal menyebarkan berita mogok dan meminta pekerja menyokong mogok di ladang-ladang di Selangor. Pada 11 Mei 1941, seramai 150 pekerja berarak berjalan dan menaiki basikal dari Kuala Selangor ke Sepang. Sepanjang perjalanan itu, banyak kedai todi dimusnahkan termasuk sebuah sebuah kilang di Telok Merbau.

Keadaan menjadi genting di Kelang apabila sekumpulan pekerja berkumpul di Balai Polis Kelang menuntut pembebasan pemimpin pekerja pada 12 Mei 1941. Polis meleraikan kumpulan pekerja tersebut dengan menggunakan kekerasan. Ketua Polis Selangor H.B Langworthy turut tercedera bersama sepuluh orang anggota polis dan 20 orang pekerja.

Pada 13 Mei 1941, mogok dilaporkan di sepuluh estet sekitar di Kuala Lumpur. Tiga puluh pekerja disabitkan di Mahkamah Kelang dan direman atas kesalahan berkaitan dengan mogok. Juga dilaporkan talian telefon di kebanyakan kawasan Kelang diputuskan oleh pekerja yang sedang bermogok. Di Ladang Raja Muda, kereta kebal dibawa untuk membantu untuk meleraikan 300 pekerja yang bermogok.

Pada 14 Mei 1941 mogok dilaporkan di 38 ladang daripada 53 ladang di Kuala Selangor, 20 ladang daripada 24 ladang di Kuala Langat, 35 ladang daripada 43 ladang di Kelang dan 27 ladang di Kuala Lumpur. Sejumlah 120 ladang dilaporkan sedang bermogok. Antara 120 ladang yang dilaporkan adalah seperti berikut:

Ladang Beveriac, Ladang Blackacres, Ladang Brooklands, Ladang Bukit Cheedong, Ladang Bukit Cheraka, Ladang Bukit Chu, Ladang Bukit Kamuning, Ladang Bukit Panjang, Ladang Carey Island, Ladang Damansara (Batu 7), Ladang Effingham, Ladang Glenmarie, Ladang Haron, Ladang Highlands, Ladang Kundang, Ladang Mary, Ladang Batang Berjuntai, Ladang Midlands, Ladang Morton, Ladang North Hummock, Ladang Philmoor Estate, Ladang Port Swettenham, Ladang Raja Muda, Ladang Seaport, Ladang Seafield, Ladang Sungai Buluh, Ladang Sungai Sedu, Ladang Sungai Tinggi, Ladang Sungai Rasau, Ladang Sungai Way, Ladang Tanah Bharu, Ladang Telok Datok, Ladang Telok Ganting, Ladang Vallembrose, Ladang Whiteacres, Ladang Wilkinson, Ladang Tremelbye, Ladang Batu Tiga, Ladang Bukit Badak dan Ladang Bukit Darah.

Dianggarkan 20 ribu pekerja dari 120 ladang tersebut telah mengambil bahagian dalam mogok ini.

Pada 15 Mei 1941, di samping 3000 pekerja Ladang Kumpulan Sochin dilaporkan mogok, kemelut berdarah yang berlaku Ladang Brooklands yang melibatkan 900 pekerja dianggap paling parah dalam sejarah perjuangan pekerja. Pekerja Ladang Brooklands dan Sungai Sedu menahan Pengurus Ladang Sungai Sedu, C.B Wheeler di kediaman milik Pengurus Ladang Brooklands, P.C Fisher. Pekerja berkumpul mengelilingi kediaman pengurus menuntut pembebasan Nathan yang masih ditahan polis. Pekerja bertekad hanya akan membebaskan Wheeler and Fisher sekiranya Nathan dibebaskan.

Gagal untuk meleraikan keadaan, OCPD Forbes Wallace meminta bantuan tentera British India. Dibawah arahan Major Howes Roberts, tentera melepaskan tembakan terhadap kumpulan pekerja. Dalam serangan ini tiga pekerja terkorban – Mayandi, Angappan dan Konneri. Tujuh pekerja cedera parah dan seramai 124 orang ditahan dan dihadapkan ke mahkamah pada 3 Jun 1941.

Keadaan yang semakin merosot menyebabkan kerajaan British mengumumkan darurat di Selangor pada 16 Mei 1941. Polis dan tentera melancarkan operasi “pembersihan” yang sistematik secara besar-besaran. Dalam operasi tersebut ramai pemimpin buruh diberkas di tengah malam antara pukul 1 pagi dan 6 pagi tanpa pengetahuan pekerja pekerja lain. Mereka ditahan dan disabitkan dengan kesalahan di bawah peraturan darurat. Operasi ini dilanjutkan sehingga 24 Mei di mana 90 peratus pemimpin buruh berjaya ditahan.

Menjelang 17 Mei 1941, seramai 20 orang pemimpin buruh di Ladang Teluk Ganting di Pulau Carey ditahan. 16 lagi ditahan di Klang. Pada hari yang sama R.H Nathan telah dibuang negeri ke India. Pada 18 Mei 1941, polis menahan 21 pemimpin buruh di Ladang Damansara. Pada 19 Mei 1941, 200 polis melancarkan operasi mengejut menahan 12 pemimpin buruh di Ladang Seaport pada malam buta.

Penahanan pemimpin buruh secara besar besaran ini melumpuhkan mogok di kebanyakan estet. Menjelang 22 Mei 1941, hanya sebahagian pekerja di Ladang Carey Island keluar mogok membantah penahanan 25 pemimpin buruh. Pada keesokannya, semua pekerja dilaporkan kembali bekerja seperti biasa. Sebagai menyangkal kebangkitan pekerja, akhbar bahasa Inggeris melaporkan kegiatan memeras ugut merupakan antara faktor utama yang menyebabkan pekerja menyokong mogok selama ini.

Selain penahanan pemimpin buruh, seramai 500 pekerja Ladang Wilkinson di Kuala Lumpur dibuang kerja pada 24 Mei 1941.

Menjelang akhir Mei 1941, “Mogok Klang” seolah-olah sudah berjaya dimatikan oleh kerajaan yang bersekongkol dan akur dengan kehendak kapitalis. Mogok ini memperlihatkan nyawa enam pekerja terkorban, 21 pekerja telah dibuang negeri ke India, 95 pekerja dihantar pulang ke India atas permintaan, 300 pekerja ditahan dan dipenjara dan 186 pekerja dibebaskan dengan syarat tidak kembali ke ladang mereka. Sebagai menghukum kaum pekerja, kenaikan gaji yang dipersetujui oleh UPAM tidak ditunaikan. Gaji kekal di paras asal iaitu 50 sen untuk lelaki dan 45sen untuk wanita. Setelah Nathan dibuang negeri, dalam perutusan rasminya, kerajaan British Malaya menyifatkan R.H Nathan sebagai pengkhianat kepada empayar British dan punca kepada rusuhan pekerja di Selangor. Penguatkuasa Buruh Malaya, Wilson dipaksa untuk bersara kerana menyokong kebangkitan pekerja ladang. Walaupun kerajaan India British menekan kerajaan Malaya untuk mengadakan inkus terbuka, tetapi Shenton Thomas terus berdolah dalih. Alasan yang diberikan adalah sibuk dengan persiapan untuk menghadapi tentera Jepun. Perang Dunia Kedua yang terletus di Pasifik melenyapkan terus kebangkitan pekerja di Malaya.

Sudah lebih tujuh dekad insiden ini berlalu. Mereka yang masih ingat raut wajah Rengasamy, Yellumalle, Mayandy, Anggapan dan Konneri tidak lagi bersama kita sekarang. Wajah pejuang pekerja ini mungkin sudah dilupakan tapi nama mereka masih lagi dikenang. Bagi mereka yang menyelar dan mempersoal kita terlalu taksub dengan barat untuk menimbah inspirasi untuk Hari Pekerja, sini saya persembahkan nama pejuang pekerja ini sebagai mengganti Lingg, Spies, Fischer, Engel dan Parsons. Walaupun mereka berlainan bangsa, negara dan agama tetapi perjuangan mereka tetap sama. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Klang Strike 1941 - Trade Union Act to be Introduced - Tamil Murasu May 26, 1941

Looking at the effects and changes after Klang Strike, I would consider one of the most important changes that was implemented was the introduction of Trade Union Act in June 1941. It has been asserted that prior to 1940, the unofficial policy of the Malayan government has been "to strangle trade unionism at birth."  With increasing demands for better treatments and wages, the FMS government realized that it needed to introduce Trade Union Act in Malaya. Thus, the Klang Strike staged by plantation workers under Nathan, played important role in changing the mindset of the British in Malaya.

The Tamil daily Tamil Murasu on 26th May 1941 reported the elements behind the Klang Strike based on statement released by the FMS government. It reported that the movement led by R.H Nathan intimidated workers in Selangor and spread elements that threatened the stability of the government.

Even though there were arrest warrants issued against Nathan and his movement, it was put on-hold as the workers' demands also involved wages of plantation workers. The statement also mentioned that the reason behind the agitation was not labourers' dissatisfaction over their wages and living condition but elements meant to disable the government.

Nathan was accused of spreading hatred towards the government despite being "a guest" under the immigration law in Malaya. Nathan, who had no experience working or living on plantation estates also accused involving in subversive activities against the government. Due to act of "treason", Nathan was departed and barred from entering Malaya. The agitators were reported to have been carrying on with their subversive activities in many parts of Selangor.
   
The statements also mentioned that since "war efforts" have been affected due to the strike and workers to be urged to resolve their grievances through talks, trade union acts shall be soon introduced.
Tamil Murasu - May 26, 1941



Friday, April 8, 2016

The Casualties of Klang Strike 1941 - Rengasamy, Yellumalle (Elumalai), Mayandi, Angappan and Keneri (Konneri)

Finally, I managed to find out those names of labourers who were killed during the Klang Strike in 1941.

On 9th May 1941, Rengasamy and Yellumalle became the first causalities during the clash on Bukit Panjang Estate. Rengasamy was from Bukit Cheraka Estate and Yellumale (Elumalai) was from Highlands Estate (refer to my article http://www.malaya-ganapathy.com/2015/06/klang-strikes-causalities-rengasamy-and.html)

On 15th May 1941, Mayandi, Angappan and Keneri were killed when the British Indian troops opened fire to disperse some 900 labourers protesting on Brooklands Estate (refer to my article http://www.malayaganapathy.com/2016/04/klang-strike-1941-four-labourer-died-in.html)

(With this findings, only one labourer who died of bayonet wounds remains unknown and I am determined to find his/her name soon)

Out of all these names, the name "Keneri" sounds a little bit odd due typo-error. The actual name of the person was Konneri (கோனேரி) based on report published in Tamil Murasu dated 11th July 1941. There are a few places in Tamil Nadu with reference to name "Konneri". Konneri derived from two words "Kon" which means King and "Eri" which means pond. There is "Konneri Kuppam" (Konneri Village) in Vellor. There is also a place with a similar name "Konnerirajapuram" in Kumbakonan district in Tamil Nadu, which the Temple Uma Mahewarar housed the biggest bronze Nadaraja statue in the world. In Thirupathi, there is a pond referred as "Konneri" (most probably used by the kings for ritual purposes)
Largest Nadarajar bronze statue
at Uma Maheswarar Temple in Konnerirajapuram, Kumbakonam
(source:http://www.ghumakkar.com/the-big-nataraja-of-konerirajapuram)

The Straits Times dated 9th July 1942, carried a news of the investigation findings of Brooklands Estate incident where the names of those killed in the gunfire Mayandi, Angappan and Keneri (Konneri) were mentioned. However, it did not mention about the fourth person who died due to bayonet wounds.

Raja Ayoub, the District Officer of Kuala Langat, found Major Howes Roberts of the Indian Army not guilty in ordering his men to open fire towards 900 plantation labourers in Brooklands Estate.

The Tamil Murasu reported that there were four eye-witness were called to give their statement in the inquiry. A research officer of Rubber Research Institute, J.F Dovey, Bandha Singh and Lieutenant F. Derrick and Inspector Yahaya from Klang Police Station, who identified the bodies. The Deputy Public Prosecutor, A.J Graddon also called upon 4 wounded labourers to give their statement before mentioning their crime charges for taking part in the strike on Brooklands Estate, Banting on the 15th May 1941.  

According to H.E Wilson, the author of "Labour, Planter and Politics in Pre-War Malaya: The Selangor Riot, 1941", the inquiry was held after tremendous pressure from Government of India under Victor Alexander John Hope, the 2nd Marquess of Linlithgow as the Viceroy of India.  Wilson stated the "inquiries were limited to the question of whether or not the use of force has been justified, and on the basis of the evidence presented mainly by senior police and army officers and estate-manager."

The Straits Times 9th July 1941


Tamil Murasu - 11th July 1941

The Casualties of Klang Strike 1941 - Rengasamy, Yellumalle (Elumalai), Mayandi, Angappan and Keneri (Konneri)

Finally, I managed to find out those names of labourers who were killed during the Klang Strike in 1941.

On 9th May 1941, Rengasamy and Yellumalle became the first causalities during the clash on Bukit Panjang Estate. Rengasamy was from Bukit Cheraka Estate and Yellumale (Elumalai) was from Highlands Estate (refer to my article http://www.malaya-ganapathy.com/2015/06/klang-strikes-causalities-rengasamy-and.html)

On 15th May 1941, Mayandi, Angappan and Keneri were killed when the British Indian troops opened fire to disperse some 900 labourers protesting on Brooklands Estate (refer to my article http://www.malayaganapathy.com/2016/04/klang-strike-1941-four-labourer-died-in.html)

(With this findings, only one labourer who died of bayonet wounds remains unknown and I am determined to find his/her name soon)

Out of all these names, the name "Keneri" sounds a little bit odd due typo-error. The actual name of the person was Konneri (கோனேரி) based on report published in Tamil Murasu dated 11th July 1941. It is also interesting to note few places in Tamil Nadu with reference to name "Konneri".  The name Konneri derived from two words "Kon" (கோன்) which means King and "Eri" (ஏறி) which means pond. There is alos a place by the name "Konneri Kuppam (கோனேரி குப்பம்)" or Konneri Village in Vellor district bordering to Andra Pradesh. There is also a place with a similar name - "Konnerirajapuram" in Kumbakonan district in Tamil Nadu, which the Temple Uma Mahewarar housed the biggest bronze Nadaraja statue in the world. In Thirupathi, there is a pond referred as "Konneri" (most probably used by the kings for their ritual purposes)
Largest Nadarajar bronze statue
at Uma Maheswarar Temple in Konnerirajapuram, Kumbakonam
(source:http://www.ghumakkar.com/the-big-nataraja-of-konerirajapuram)

The Straits Times dated 9th July 1942, carried a news of the investigation findings of Brooklands Estate incident where the names of those killed in the gunfire Mayandi, Angappan and Keneri (Konneri) were mentioned. However, it did not mention about the fourth person who died due to bayonet wounds.

Raja Ayoub, the District Officer of Kuala Langat, found Major Howes Roberts of the Indian Army not guilty in ordering his men to open fire towards 900 plantation labourers in Brooklands Estate.

The Tamil Murasu reported that there were four eye-witness were called to give their statement in the inquiry. A research officer of Rubber Research Institute, J.F Dovey, Bandha Singh and Lieutenant F. Derrick and Inspector Yahaya from Klang Police Station, who identified the bodies.

The Deputy Public Prosecutor, A.J Graddon called upon four wounded labourers to give their statement before mentioning their criminal charges for taking part in the strike on Brooklands Estate, Banting on the 15th May 1941.  

According to H.E Wilson, the author of "Labour, Planter and Politics in Pre-War Malaya: The Selangor Riot, 1941", the inquiry was held after tremendous pressure from Government of India under Victor Alexander John Hope, the 2nd Marquess of Linlithgow as the Viceroy of India.  Wilson stated the "inquiries were limited to the question of whether or not the use of force has been justified, and on the basis of the evidence presented mainly by senior police and army officers and estate-manager."

The Straits Times 9th July 1941


Tamil Murasu - 11th July 1941

Klang Strike 1941 - Four Labourers Died in Police Military Clash and Emergency Declared

The Singapore Free Press (17th May 1941) reported clash between Indian plantation labourers, police and military at Banting on 15th May 1941.

The Indian Army under orders of Major Howes Roberts opened fire killing 3 strikers and another labourer died due to bayonet injuries. A contingent of Malay Regiment from Negeri Sembilan were also brought in for assistance.

Around 300 labourers armed with parang, six-foot long poles with hooks and "changkol" surrounded the residence bungalow of Manager of Brooklands Estate where the Manager of Sungai Sedu C.B Wheeler who took refuge with P.C Fisher.

Around 124 labourers has been arrested.  The Chief Officer Selangor H.B Langworthy was in-change of Klang and the Director of Criminal Intelligence G.R Livette in-charge of Kuala Lumpur area.

On 16th May 1941, the Resident of Selangor  Major G.M Kidd declared the state of emergency in Selangor and called out the Second Battalion of the Federated Malay State Volunteer Forces, the Signal Company, Armoured Car Unit, the Light Battery, Motor Transport Company, and Mobile Field Ambulance.

All those four dead labourers were not named in the newspaper.
(You may find their names in my article http://www.malaya-ganapathy.com/2016/04/the-causalities-of-klang-strike-1941.html)

The Singapore Free Press down played the number of labourers surrounded the bungalow as 300 but in a telegram of Shenton Thomas to Secretary of States for the Colonies, on 16th May 1941, "Disturbance on Klang Rubber Estates," file - CO 717/145/12 p.385 and Report on strike in Selangor by Federal Secretary, " Disturbance on Klang Rubber Estates," file - CO 717/145/12 p.88 indicated 800 to 900 labourers were involved.

The same colonial papers also indicated that the British Indian troops were involved in the clash.




Thursday, April 7, 2016

Klang Strike 1941 - Indian Labourers Forced Court to Change Verdict

At the beginning of Klang Strike, seven workers and a "Kangany" from Midlands Estate were dismissed for instigating workers to strike. They were Gopal, Palaniandy, Karuppan, Periasamy, Murugesan, Gengan, Muthiah and Samikannu. They were told to get their pay and leave the estate. But when the men refused. they were changed under trespassing offence.

The Straits Times on 26th March 1941, reported that huge crowd of labourers presented in the court room and compound staged a protest when the men were sentenced to two months of vigorous imprisonment. Finally, due to the commotion the court allowed the men released on bail.
ST - 26th March 1941
    
Trespass On Estate
Tamil Labourers Demonstrate

(From Our Own Correspondence)

Kuala Lumpur Mar., 26.
 Found guilty of trespass on Midlands Estate after having been given notice, seven Tamils labourers were yesterday sentenced to two months' rigorous imprisonment by the Klang Magistrate.
The accused were Gopal, Palaniandy, Karuppan, Periasamy, Murugesan, Gengan, Muthiah and Samikannu and with the exception of Palaniandy, who was acquitted, others were convicted. 
A large crowd of Tamils were in court to hear the proceedings.  

Refused Pay
Mr.R.M Bousfield, general manager of the estate, said he learned from Mr G.C.W Pringle, the divisional superintendent that some labourer in Pringle's division had gone on strike. He went to the estate and decided to pay off the offenders.
Mr. Beaufield said the accused refused to accept pay for the days they had worked and when the divisional superintendent called out the names of 30 labourers at the muster, the accused, who were in the number, refused answer to their names.
When they persisted in refusing to accept the money due to them it was sent to the labour office in Klang and asked to leave the estate in 24 hours.
They did not obey and it was the prosecution's allegation that the eight accused were instrumental in causing a strike on the estate. 
The accused only agreed to leave the estate if they were paid in full for march and received another month's wages in lieu of notice.
Mr. Beaufield told them that they had broken their contract under the Labour Code by going on strike. 

Constituted An Offence
In sentencing the seven accused the magistrate remarked that he was satisfied their refusal to leave the estate after notice had been given them constituted as offence.
After the accused been sentenced a large crowd of Tamils gathered at the entrance to the court house and refused to disperse in spite of advise by the police.
They created a disturbance outside the court and held up proceeding in other cases.
Eventually they dispersed at 3.30 pm and the accused were released on bail $70 each pending appeal.  

Chronology of Klang Strike 1941 - Part 3 (Final)

1st May 1941 - Workers in nine estates - Sungei Buluh Estate, Brooklands Estate, Bukit Chedang Estate, Vallambrose Estate, Bukit Panjang Estate, Bukit Chu Estate, Bukit Cheraka Estate, Beveriac Estate were on strike.

6th May 1941 - Nathan was arrested with banishment warrant. He was to be charged for offences against the state. Menon avoided the arrest as he has been transferred by his company to Singapore.

7th May 1941 - 300 workers marched to Kuala Lumpur and demonstrated in front of the Commissioner of Labour office demanding Nathan to be released.

8th May 1941 - In the Bukit Panjang Estate, strikers armed with sticks and stones stopped an attempt by the estate manager to deliver a consignment of rubber.

9th May 1941 - 160 policemen were called for re-enforcement as workers surrounded the packing shed of the Bukit Panjang Estate. Crowd only dispersed when police charged them with "lathi". Eight labourers were wounded in the lathi charge. In the afternoon, around 500 to 600 workers blocked four lorries carrying consignments of rubber. The workers were armed with bottles, sticks, spears, iron bar and bricks. Workers removed planks from bridge to stop the lorries. The lorries were forced to take another exit which was about one mile away. But the roads were blocked by fallen trees. Workers and police clashed resulted in two deaths - Rengasamy and Yelumalle (refer to my article http://www.malaya-ganapathy.com/2015/06/klang-strikes-causalities-rengasamy-and.html.)

10th May 1941 - Shenton Thomas, the High Commissioner decided to call troops for assistance. A battalion of Indian Army which was stationed for World War II, was brought to Klang and amoured car unit and signal company of the Malay States Volunteers Force were deployed.

11th May 1941 - 150 workers went down the Coast Road from Kuala Selangor to Sepang to spread strike. On their way, they destroyed many toddy shops and a factory at Telok Merbau.

12th May 1941 - Workers surrounded the Klang Police Station demanding arrested workers to be released. They were discharged violently with lathi charges. H.B Langworthy Chief Police Officer of Selangor was knocked down and trampled in the clash. 20 strikers and 10 policemen including Langworthy sustained injuries.
J. H Hindmarsh, OCPD of Kuala Lumpur also injured in a separate clash.
M.S Dutt, the Agent of the Government of India visited Klang and had a long conversation with the Deputy Controller of Labour E.A Ross. Strikes have been spreading to Sepang Negeri Sembilan.

13th May 1941 - 10 estates in Kuala Lumpur area were hit by strike. 30 labourers have been charged in court in Klang for offences related to strike and remanded for a week. Strikers cut of telephone lines in various are in Klang. Amoured cars have to establish wireless communication with military stations in Klang. Near Raja Muda Estate, an amoured patrol car assisted Staithairn to disarm 300 labourers (armed with sticks)
Shenton Thomas again met up with government officials and representative of planting industry at the King's House.

14th May 1941 - 38 out of 53 estates in Kuala Selangor, 20 out of 24 estates in Kuala Langat, 35 out of 43 estates in Klang were on strike. In total 93 estates were on strike. (I managed to find out the names of 41 estates out of those 93 estates which were on strike)

1. Beveriac Estate
2. Blackacres Estate
3. Brooklands Estate
4. Bukit Cheedong Estate
5. Bukit Cheraka Estate, Jeram
6. Bukit Chu Estate
7. Bukit Kamuning Estate
8. Bukit Panjang Estate
9.  Carey Island Estate
10. Damansara Estate (7th Mile)
11. Effingham Estate
12. Emerald Estate
13. Glenmarie Estate
14. Haron Estate
15. Highlands Estate, Klang
16. Kundang Estate, Rawang
17. Mary Estate, Batang Berjuntai
18. Midlands Estate
19. Morton Estate
20. North Hummock Estate
21. Philmoor Estate Petaling
22. Port Swettenham Estate
23. Raja Muda Estate
24. Seaport Estate, Petaling
25. Seafield, Batu Tiga
26. Sungai Buluh Estate
27. Sungai Sedu Estate
28. Sungai Tinggi Estate
29. Sungai Rasau Estate
30. Sungai Rengam
31. Sungai Way Estate
32. Tanah Bharu Estate
33. Telok Datok Estate
34. Telok Ganting Estate
35. Vallembrose Estate
36. Whiteacres Estate
37. Wilkinson Estate
38. Tremelbye Estate
39. Batu Tiga Estate
40. Bukit Badak Estate
41. Bukit Darah Estate

27 estates in Kuala Lumpur with 3500 labourers were on strike. With help of a few labourers, 16 men were detained by Bukit Darah Estate Manager D.F Hutton. Estimated around 20,000 workers within 1500 square-miles took part in the strike which also spread to some parts of Negeri Sembilan. Strike situation was dire that more troops were deployed - Malay Regiment from Singapore was deployed.

15th May 1941 - 3000 workers of Sochin Group Estate in Klang came out to strike. Serious causalities at Brooklands Estate reported where 900 workers confined the Manager of Sungai Sedu Estate, C.B Wheeler in a bungalow belongs to the Manager of Brooklands Estate, P.C Fisher. The strikers surrounded the bungalow and intended to keep the manager confined to the bungalow until Nathan to be released. Police and military troops under Forbes Wallace opened fire and charged workers brutally with bayonets. Three workers were shot dead. One was wounded by bayonet and died later. Seven were wounded and 124 workers were arrested. (refer to my article http://www.malaya-ganapathy.com/2016/04/klang-strike-1941-four-labourer-died-in.html)

The arrested labourers were charged in court on the 3rd June 1941 (refer to my article http://www.malaya-ganapathy.com/2016/02/klang-strike-1941-124-tamil-labourers.html)

16th May 1941 - Emergency was declared in Selangor. Police and military carried out systematic large scale round-up and arrests of labour leaders under the Emergency Regulation. Usually the arrests were carried out during wee hours from 1am to 6am without the knowledge of other workers. Raids continued till 24th May 1941. Almost 90% of the labour leaders were arrested.

17th May 1941 - 20 labour leaders from Teluk Ganting Estate on Carey Island were arrested. Another 16 more arrested in Klang under Emergency Regulation. R.H Nathan was deported to India.

18th May 1941 - Police raided and arrested 21 labourers from 7th Mile Estate along Damansara Road.

19th May 1941 - Some 200 over police carried out surprise raid on Seaport Estate and arrested 12 labourers when majority of the labourers were still asleep. The Straits Times reported only 3 out of 29 estates in Kuala Lumpur still on-strike.

22nd May 1941 - Some divisions of workers on Carey Island were on-strike to protest the arrest of 25 labourers

23rd May 1941 - The entire workforce of workers turned up to work including those who went on-strike on the May, 22nd.

24th May 1941 - 400 to 500 workers on the Wilkinson Estate near Kuala Lumpur were dismissed by the employer.  

End of May 1941 - All strikes came to an end. The uprising caused 6 deaths. 21 labourers were deported, 95 labourers were repatriated on their own-will to India, 300 labourers were arrested and imprisoned and 186 labourers were released on the condition that they should not return to Klang district.

Klang District Indian Union which was started on 22nd July 1939 was de-registered. Shenton Thomas, the High Commissioner who promised an investigation over the riot did not keep his promise. With more emphasis given to World War 2, the first ever strike that shocked the British and the most militant and best organised Indian labour movement slipped through the pages of our history.   

Chronology of Klang Strike 1941 - Part 3 (Final)

1st May 1941 - Workers in nine estates - Sungei Buluh Estate, Brooklands Estate, Bukit Chedang Estate, Vallambrose Estate, Bukit Panjang Estate, Bukit Chu Estate, Bukit Cheraka Estate, Beveriac Estate were on strike.

6th May 1941 - Nathan was arrested with banishment warrant. He was to be charged for offences against the state. Menon avoided the arrest as he has been transferred by his company to Singapore.

7th May 1941 - 300 workers marched to Kuala Lumpur and demonstrated in front of the Commissioner of Labour office demanding Nathan to be released.

8th May 1941 - In the Bukit Panjang Estate, strikers armed with sticks and stones stopped an attempt by the estate manager to deliver a consignment of rubber.

9th May 1941 - 160 policemen were called for re-enforcement as workers surrounded the packing shed of the Bukit Panjang Estate. Crowd only dispersed when police charged them with "lathi". Eight labourers were wounded in the lathi charge. In the afternoon, around 500 to 600 workers blocked four lorries carrying consignments of rubber. The workers were armed with bottles, sticks, spears, iron bar and bricks. Workers removed planks from bridge to stop the lorries. The lorries were forced to take another exit which was about one mile away. But the roads were blocked by fallen trees. Workers and police clashed resulted in two deaths - Rengasamy and Yelumalle (refer to my article http://www.malaya-ganapathy.com/2015/06/klang-strikes-causalities-rengasamy-and.html.)

10th May 1941 - Governor of Strait Settlement and British High Commissioner of Malaya, Sir Shenton Thomas, decided to call army troops for assistance. A battalion of Indian Army which was stationed for World War 2, was brought to Klang and amoured car unit and signal company of the Malay States Volunteers Force were deployed.

11th May 1941 - 150 workers went down the Coast Road from Kuala Selangor to Sepang to spread strike. On their way, they destroyed many toddy shops and a factory at Telok Merbau.

12th May 1941 - Workers surrounded the Klang Police Station demanding arrested workers to be released. They were discharged violently with lathi charges. H.B Langworthy Chief Police Officer of Selangor was knocked down and trampled in the clash. 20 strikers and 10 policemen including Langworthy sustained injuries.
J. H Hindmarsh, OCPD of Kuala Lumpur also injured in a separate clash.
M.S Dutt, the Agent of the Government of India visited Klang and had a long conversation with the Deputy Controller of Labour E.A Ross. Strikes have been spreading to Sepang Negeri Sembilan.

13th May 1941 - 10 estates in Kuala Lumpur area were hit by strike. 30 labourers have been charged in court in Klang for offences related to strike and remanded for a week. Strikers cut of telephone lines in various are in Klang. Amoured cars have to establish wireless communication with military stations in Klang. Near Raja Muda Estate, an amoured patrol car assisted Staithairn to disarm 300 labourers (armed with sticks)
Shenton Thomas again met up with government officials and representative of planting industry at the King's House.

14th May 1941 - 38 out of 53 estates in Kuala Selangor, 20 out of 24 estates in Kuala Langat, 35 out of 43 estates in Klang were on strike. In total 93 estates were on strike. (I managed to find out 38 out of those 93 estates which were on strike)

1. Beveriac Estate
2. Blackacres Estate
3. Brooklands Estate
4. Bukit Cheedong Estate
5. Bukit Cheraka Estate
6. Bukit Chu Estate
7. Bukit Kamuning Estate
8. Bukit Panjang Estate
9.  Carey Island Estate
10. Damansara Estate (7th Mile)
11. Effingham Estate
12. Glenmarie Estate
13. Haron Estate
14. Highlands Estate
15. Kundang Estate
16. Mary Estate, Batang Berjuntai
17. Midlands Estate
18. Morton Estate
19. North Hummock Estate
20. Philmoor Estate Petaling
21. Port Swettenham Estate
22. Raja Muda Estate
23. Seaport Estate
24. Sungai Buluh Estate
25. Sungai Sedu Estate
26. Sungai Tinggi Estate
27. Sungai Rasah Estate
28. Sungai Way Estate
29. Tanah Bharu Estate
30. Telok Datok Estate
31. Telok Ganting Estate
32. Vallembrose Estate
33. Whiteacres Estate
34. Wilkinson Estate
35. Tremelbye Estate
36. Batu Tiga Estate
37. Bukit Badak Estate
38. Bukit Darah Estate

27 estates in Kuala Lumpur with 3500 labourers were on strike. With help of a few labourers, 16 men were detained by Bukit Darah Estate Manager D.F Hutton. Estimated around 20,000 workers within 1500 square-miles took part in the strike which also spread to some parts of Negeri Sembilan. Strike situation was dire that more troops were deployed -  Malay Regiment from Singapore was deployed.

15th May 1941 - 3000 workers of Sochin Group Estate in Klang came out to strike. Serious causalities at Brooklands Estate reported where 900 workers confined the Manager of Sungai Sedu Estate, C.B Wheeler in a bungalow belongs to the Manager of Brooklands Estate, P.C Fisher. The strikers surrounded the bungalow and intended to keep the manager confined to the bungalow until Nathan to be released. Police and military troops under Forbes Wallace opened fire and charged workers brutally with bayonets. Three workers were shot dead. One was wounded by bayonet and died later. Seven were wounded and 124 workers were arrested. (refer to my article http://www.malaya-ganapathy.com/2016/04/klang-strike-1941-four-labourer-died-in.html)

The arrested labourers were charged in court on the 3rd June 1941 (refer to my article http://www.malaya-ganapathy.com/2016/02/klang-strike-1941-124-tamil-labourers.html)

16th May 1941 - Emergency was declared in Selangor. Police and military carried out systematic large scale round-up and arrests of labour leaders under the Emergency Regulation. Usually the arrests were carried out during wee hours from 1am to 6am without the knowledge of other workers. Raids continued till 24th May 1941. Almost 90% of the labour leaders were arrested.

17th May 1941 - 20 labour leaders from Teluk Ganting Estate on Carey Island were arrested. Another 16 more arrested in Klang under Emergency Regulation. R.H Nathan was deported to India.

18th May 1941 - Police raided and arrested 21 labourers from 7th Mile Estate along Damansara Road.

19th May 1941 - Some 200 over police carried out surprise raid on Seaport Estate and arrested 12 labourers when majority of the labourers were still asleep. The Straits Times reported only 3 out of 29 estates in Kuala Lumpur still on-strike.

22nd May 1941 - Some divisions of workers on Carey Island were on-strike to protest the arrest of 25 labourers

23rd May 1941 - The entire workforce of workers turned up to work including those who went on-strike on the May, 22nd.

24th May 1941 - 400 to 500 workers on the Wilkinson Estate near Kuala Lumpur were dismissed by the employer.  

End of May 1941 - All strikes came to an end. The uprising caused 6 deaths. 21 labourers were deported, 95 labourers were repatriated on their own-will to India, 300 labourers were arrested and imprisoned and 186 labourers were released on the condition that they should not return to Klang district.

Klang District Indian Union which was started on 22nd July 1939 was de-registered. Shenton Thomas, the British High Commissioner of Malaya, who promised an investigation over the riot did not keep his promise. With more emphasis given to World War 2, the first ever strike that shocked the British and the most militant and best organised Indian labour movement slipped through the pages of our history.   

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Chronology of Klang Strike 1941 - Part 2


18th Feb 1941 - Another meeting was organised by Klang District Indian Union which attended by workers from Morton Estate, Tanah Bahru Estate, Bukit Kamuning Estate and Damansara Estate. The meeting was chaired by Thangiah. They decided that a series of strikes to be staged soon and copies of demand formulated by Nathan and Menon were sent to the managers of a number of estates.

2nd Mar 1941 - In a meeting of the Kampung Jawa Indian Union, Menon said:
"Before we organised this Union you all thought that the Capitalists were God and we were slaves. Now at least 25 per cent of you realise that this is not so. We are Indian and slave to nobody. In future we must co-operate and advance our Union until the estate proprietors and officials will realise that we are human beings. 
In the same meeting, Nathan said:
" A lot of coolies now understand what is the difference between labourers and capitalists. Co-operate is our watchword. The estate proprietors and agents will try to break this co-operation, but we cannot allow them to interfere with our work. Because of this, I fear Menon and I are expecting trouble. You labourers must believe in us and unite together." 

2nd Mar 1941 - Workers of Glenmarie Estate were first to go on strike demanding higher salary and better living conditions. It has been reported that Nathan and Menon had visited the estate workers on the 28th February and 1st March 1941. They demanded 70 cents for men and 60 cents for women.

4th Mar 1941 - At Midland Estate 7 workers and a Kangany (Gopal, Palaniandy, Karuppan, Periasamy, Murugesan, Gengan. Muthiah and Samikannu) and were arrested for instigating labour disputes. Earlier they were dismissed and ordered to leave the estate within 24 hours. When they refused, they were prosecuted for illegal trespassing.

11 Mar 1941 - J.D Dalley, the Director of Criminal Intelligence suggested to British Resident of Selangor, Major Kidd to take action against R.H Nathan, Y.K Menon and R.K Thangiah under Emergency Regulation.

18th Mar 1941 - The High Commissioner Shenton Thomas approved the issuance of arrest warrant for R.H Nathan, Y.K Menon and R.K Thangiah. But the Controller of Labour, C Wilson, thought the arrest might aggravate situation and hamper CIAM's efforts of peaceful solution. Wilson's view was supported by Major Kidd and Legal adviser of Federated Malay States, Adrian Clark. For Wilson's tardiness in approving the arrest Nathan and Menon, he was removed from the office by Shenton Thomas after Klang Strike was subdued.

25th Mar 1941 - 200 workers attended court hearing where 7 those arrested were sentenced to 2 months of rigorous imprisonment. Workers caused up-roar when refused to vacate the court-room and compound. Workers only dispersed after the accused were granted bail. (Refer to my article http://www.malaya-ganapathy.com/2016/04/klang-strike-1941-indian-labourers.html)

27 Mar 1941 - Agent of the Government of India C.S Venkatachari criticized the use of court and law as an instrument to break strike.

C.S Venkatachari
Agent of Government of India to Malaya 1939 to 1941
source: http://rajassembly.nic.in/cm-photo.htm
28th Mar 1941 - C. Wilson arranged meeting between President of CIAM Nadyan Raghavan, Secretary K.A Neelakanda Aiyer, the Agent of the Government of India, Venkatachar and T.E Upton who was the Manager of Sungei Way Estate, Chairman of Klang District Planter Association and Secretary of UPAM. In the meeting it was decided and announced that the wages to be increased for 60 cents for males and 50 cents for females with effective of 9th April 1941. Yet, the members of the UPAM expressed bitter resentment over the settlement and viewed it as a betrayal of UPAM interests.
N. Rahgavan
President of CIAM 
9th April 1941 - Following meeting with CIAM, the United Planter Association of Malaya (UPAM) agreed and announced increase in wages from 55 cents to 60 cents for men and 45 cents to 50 cents for women. N. Raghavan advised the workers to return to work thus bringing to end of first phase of strike. Even though the increase in wages was seen as improvement, Nathan and Menon argued that that the new wages will not satisfied the workers' needs thus determined to press for full demands through further strikes. It was not only the wages issue triggered a second waves of strike, there was some very subtle seems to be knitted in the labour struggle. For centuries the Indians were treated as less than human being and slaves. In all estates, the labourers were forces to alight from their bicycles when they met their British masters. Indian labourers wanted to be treated with dignity. Thus, the workers started to realise that only one language understood by the capitalist planters ...STRIKE! Only through strike the basic demands shall be met!

11th April 1941 - Strike resumed in many estates. Water supplies to workers in Whiteareas, Damansara and Blackarea Estates were cut off.

15th April 1941 - Sporadic strikes occurred again. Highlands Estate was in protest over dismissal of four workers. In Carey Estate workers demanded an hour for their lunch break instead of the usual 30 minutes. In Port Swettenham Estate, workers demanded that flag of Indian National Congress to be flown at the entrance of estate and picture of Gandhi to be hung in homes of estate workers in the estate.

18 April 1941 - At North Hammock Estate, workers staged strike due to an attempt by the an assistant manager to remove the Gandhi cap worn by workers.

26th April 1941 - Nathan in addressing the gathering of workers said;
" I am glad to see such unity in this district. Continue united until you get required results. Unity is strength. In future, make your demands to the Management two weeks before you stop work. When you strike, see the essential services are maintained, such as Line Sweepers, postman and etc. During strike, do not ask for the summary dismissal of your superiors. If any of you are paid off as a result if taking parts in a strike, all of you must immediately strike again for his account. Do not forget, unity is strength. Dress any way you wish, it is your privilege. Wear Gandhi hats if you like, and do not remove them. In the same way, do not get off your bicycles on public road. Do not fear that your place will be taken by Chinese or Javanese. The country is short of labour, and there is no immigration at present. These are critical times and for this reason your demands will met. For the first time the Europeans realise that you are human beings; now your opportunity."

(.......to be continued) 

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