Thursday, September 15, 2011

You know what we did last Merdeka day?

Ok ok, so I stole the title from the Jennifer Love Hewitt's movie.

While waiting for our esteemed guests - the Mahmoods, to arrive for a second day visit, the kids and I decided to head to Port Weld. Port Weld is not a destination that we would frequent to even when I was living in Taiping. I thought that there was little to see in this Chinese-based fishing port/town. As with many fishing ports, it is a bit untidy and smells.

I knew exactly where I would be heading on the Merdeka day.

Kota Ngah Ibrahim in Matang!

How apt it is to be visiting a historical figure at this time and age when so much debate and emotions had been conjured. I hknew of his existence for the longest time, since his name is always in the history book as far as Malaya/Malaysian history is concerned. It's Ngah Ibrahim this, Ngah Ibrahim that,  Long Jaafar this and Long Jaafar that.

But I have never been bothered - until 31 Aug 2011, that is. Well, he is not a hero in my eyes, but we had a spare of a couple of hours, so why not, right?

And I would like to know the mainstream version of history, and judge things for myself.
Partially blue sky on 31 Aug 2011, and on the second day of Syawal.
Surprisingly the Ngah Ibrahim Fort - now a museum, is open.
The house that Ngah Ibrahim built. If he can live luxuriously like this in
the 1800s, I certainly know how the Malay peasants live
in those days. I am sure this house of his is located right in the
middle of the Malay kampungs, just like the Mat Deros' mainsion.
The fort from the back/side. As I have mentioned, Taiping is
very green, and if we are lucky to get blue sky, the picture
can be stunning
The man who started the gold rush in Taiping. Eh I mean
the tin rush. This is Che Long Jaafar
Long Jaafar was descendent of the chieftain of Lubok Merbau in Kuala Kangsar, which is about 45 mins or so from Matang or Taiping, and was sent to Larut Matang district, I presumed by the Sultan, to manage the district. In 1848, he opened a tin mine in Klian Pauh and brought in the Chinese to work in his mine.

Apparently, he is a multi-millionaire and a well influenced guy. Click on his picture to read his bio in more detail than what I have written.
And the man who lost it all - Ngah Ibrahim
Upon Long Jaafar's death , his son, Ngah Ibrahim who took over as ruler of Larut. To protect his wealth, he built his house surrounded and protected by a fort, which is later known as the Ngah Ibrahim Fort. He brought in more Chinese workers to work, and they are divided into two different clan - Ghee Hin and Hai San.

And it is because of the clashes between these secret societies that led to the Pangkor Treaty and the starting of the the British colonialization in Perak and Malaya. The person who asked for their 'help' is none other than Ngah Ibrahim.

Let me say this:

1. First the job is inherited. It can be passed down to one's son. I wonder if my former job at one oil's organization can be passed down to Arif?

2. He is so rich, that he built a fort to protect it from his fellow Malayans, I would think. Who was there then? Malays mainly, with his Chinese workers. There was no British yet in his early days of administration. He is probably worse than the owner of the Mat Deros' mansion. At least, the mansion owner did not build a fort!

3. I am sure his fellow 'citizens' are poor but lazy Malay buggers, who prefer to idle their time away and not work in a mine, eking a living. Malays are known for that and perhaps would prefer to enjoy themselves at a pub and discotheque. Otherwise they would be underneath some trees, and would disturb some Malay lass passing by.

4. And to protect his wealth, he called in the Brit and the whole country was then ruled by the colonials. Is he a hero or what?
Dan jangan lah kau Jebat bermaharaja-lela di sini. Eh salah
century la, Dato Maharaja Lela wasn't even born yet then. Pity him,
to be honest, even his own race has disgraced him!
I pity Datok Maharaja Lela. I am sure he is a rich man too as he derived his income from tax collection, and is a high ranking office in the Sultan's court. But he did the right thing and started the war against colonialism by murdering the man below.

I wonder what's his role in the getting the Brit in in the first place. Was he opposed to it? Was he in favour, but later on realized that he had sold his own soul and country? I am not sure but I am sure I need to read more history book.
All because of this Mat Salleh
And because of the treaty in 1874, we practically handed over this
country to the British. So the Union Jack would be flying
in the tropics
So it is death to Dato Maharaja Lela, and Sultan Abdullah
was exiled to Seychelles. You don't know where Seychelles is? YOu know
the 'she sells sea shell on the sea-shore. That is where Seychelles is!
While Ngah Ibrahim still sleeps comfortably in his room in this
comfy bed
And still have an office to collaborate with the colonials
While many were lucky enough to still be living, if they are not sentenced
to death, even if it only in this small cell at a penitentiary.
Only the elites get to go to school
or ride a bicycle - otherwise you walk.
As I was reading the plaques and the information boards inside the museum, I was left wondering. The rich and powerful feudal leaders of then Malaya would invite the foreign Chinese workers to work in the tin mine. What's the difference between those feudal leaders then with the current breed of politicians who would bring in foreigners from the world over, on the pretext that Malaysians did not want to work the menial jobs, and then give them IC and citizenship?

Our current leaders are only following what our fore-fathers did - they are great teachers. This time around, they brought in the Indonesians and Bangladeshis, and start giving them IC.

I wonder too if the peasant and poor Malays then were so choosy - like the Malays today, that they refused to work in the muddy estuaries to look for tin, so much so that you had to import foreigners from outside?

I am not questioning my fellow Chinese citizens' right as at 2011. History has been made, and there is little we can change what transpired between the local leaders prior to Merdeka day in 1957. We have to live with each other and make the best of it. We have to live as Malaysian now.

But as a citizen, I am compelled to question the 2.4 million illegals currently in the country and in no time, they would be accorded citizenship.

History never repeats - so says Split Enz, a popular NZ group quite popular in 80s Australia. It is a beautiful song.

They are certainly wrong.

Those who fails to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, that's a more credible saying attributed to Winston Churchill/George Santayana.

Inilah Melayu - Melayu yang jual negara dia sendiri. Tidak perlu kepada pertolongan penjajah dalam hal ini. Even then, especially now. We are the expert in this area.

I felt so ashamed, as I left Kota Ngah Ibrahim, and trotted off to Port Weld with a heavy sigh.

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