Thursday, April 7, 2016

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

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

The arrested labourers were charged in court on the 3rd June 1941 (refer to my article

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.   

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