Friday, October 11, 2019

Pertapakan British di Borneo Utara

Akhir abad ke-19 dikenali sebagai zaman imperialisme baru. Pada zaman itu kuasa-kuasa besar berlumba-lumba untuk menguasai tanah jajahan di luar Eropah, khususnya di benua Afrika dan Asia. Borneo Utara juga tidak terlepas daripada persaingan tersebut. Zaman itu memperlihatkan persaingan antara British, Sepanyol dan Belanda untuk menguasai Borneo Utara wilayah Kesultanan Sulu. Bagaimanapun persaingan itu berakhir dengan kemenangan British. Pihak Sepanyol mengiktiraf hak British ke atas Borneo Utara apabila termeterainya Protokol Madrid pada tahun 1885.

Belanda mengiktiraf Borneo Utara sebagai wilayah naungan British apabila termeterainya Konvensyen London pada tahun 1891. Bagaimanapun kerajaan British berjaya memerintah Borneo secara tidak langsung melalui Kompeni Berpiagam Borneo Utara yang mendapat konsesi daripada Sultan Brunei (1877) dan juga Sultan Sulu (1878), melalui Piagam yang ditandatangani pada tahun 1881 dan Perlindungan (1888).

An Open Letter to Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim

By Rachel Leow. First published in The Malaysian Insider, 15 April 2015.

Dear Professor Khoo,

You may not remember me and anyway, if you saw me today you probably wouldn’t recognise me. I was just a young student back then, thrilled to have run into you on a stairwell in Universiti Malaya. I told you I’d been planning to do a PhD in history. You listened indulgently to me stammering away, and at the end of it, gave me a copy of your book, Malay Society.

rachel_the malay society

On the title page, you wrote:

Dear Rachel,

I hope you too will come to accept that history is the mother of all disciplines.

Khoo Kay Kim, 1/4/07

It’s now 2015. I did that PhD, and your book has accompanied me across three continents over the last eight years. I haven’t seen you since, and I’m sure you have long put me out of your mind. But I have continued, from time to time, to be guided by your work and to find insight in it.

Last Sunday, I read news of your testimony at the trial of Mat Sabu (PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu). And I was filled with a kind of sadness and dread, reminded of how what we know as “history” lives at all times in the shadow of power.

On the question of dinaung v dijajah

You said that to call Malaya a colony is false, because we were “dinaung” and not “dijajah”, and we had nine sovereign monarchies which were never “colonised”. This is an astonishing conclusion. It’s a game of semantics that completely rejects the careful study of systems of imperial and colonial rule which historians do, and which you know so well.

If Malaya wasn’t “colonised”, then neither was India, with all its princely states, or any part of Africa that was governed through local leaders. Brokerage and ruling by proxy are key elements of what we understand as colonial empires.

Direct annexation is expensive: it’s much better to work through pliable local leaders, like chieftains, nawabs, and yes, even sultans.

But how can I presume to teach you what you know so well? Let me quote your own book at you, the one you signed for me:

“…in general, the most sweeping change introduced by the British was the establishment of a more elaborate and highly centralised administrative machinery to replace the indigenous administrative system which was somewhat loosely structured. The British undermined the position of the orang besar, the most powerful group in the indigenous political system… The policy of ruling the Malays through their sultan proved highly successful on the whole.” [ii]

No one is disputing the fact that there are structural differences between a protectorate and colony. But to use those distinctions to claim that the case of Malaya stands entirely outside the set of objects of historical study called “colonial empires” is not only wrong: it is positively perverse.

The day that this becomes canonical in Malaysian history textbooks is the day we should all revoke our professional credentials as historians.

On the question of the police and who they served

You said that the police at Bukit Kepong were not under the colonial government, as Johor and other Malay states were sovereign states. [iii] This, again, rests on the very perverse interpretation of “sovereignty” which I mention above.

In any case, it simply isn’t true even from the point of view of the chain of command. Yes, the early chiefs of police in Johore were Malay. [iv] But its last Malay chief of police was Che Ishmael Bachok in 1912, after which the Johor police was under the command of British men until independence.

During the Bukit Kepong incident, the chiefs of Police in Johor were L.F. Knight, and then P.H.D. Jackson. [v]

The whole peninsula’s police force was amalgamated into the Federation of Malaya Police in 1948, under a British commissioner, H.B. Langworthy, and later Col Nicol Gray, who’d been seconded from the British Palestine police. [vi] It was only on July 24, 1958, long after Bukit Kepong, that this Federation of Malaya Police Force, anointed by the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong of independent Malaya, became, as it is now, diraja – directly royal.

And anyway Bukit Kepong happened during the Emergency, when all civil and military units were placed under the command of British officers and directors of operations. So, to say that the Malay police were “under” the sultans at the time of Bukit Kepong seems an unhelpful misrepresentation of the nature of Emergency governance, as well as of the history of policing in Malaysia. [vii]

On the question of ‘the Malays’

You appear to have said that in “those days” there were two kinds of Malays: “the Malays” from the peninsula, and “other Malaysians”, who were Indonesians.

You also appear to have said that “the Malays” joined Umno and “other Malaysians” joined the left-wing PKMM. Then you said that Mat Indera was an “other Malaysian”, [viii] and because of this was “prone to left-wing movements”. [ix]

I am happy to accept you may have been misquoted by the media here, because this is an unbelievable confusion of falsehoods. You know the literature on Malayness far better than I do.

Using “other” Malays in this context is an awful simplification of a rich and subtle seam of historical work on the origins and evolution of Malayness as identity, census category, civilisational signifier and so on. [x] And invoking this literature to map Malay political loyalties is utterly disingenuous.

It is simply not true that “Malays” were all pro-Umno and “other” left-wing Malays were all from Indonesia and furnished the ranks of the PKMM and the Communist Party (if that is in fact what you said, which I can hardly believe).

Mat Indera himself was born in Batu Pahat, for one thing, and as recent communist memoirs have detailed with great sentiment, there were plenty of young idealistic local Malays serving in the Tenth Regiment army who died for their beliefs – or at least, for each other in the name of those beliefs. [xi]

You have an entire chapter on the Malay left in that book you signed for me, stating that although “it is well known that Indonesian political activists greatly influenced the political thinking of a large section of the Malay population… Still, Malay politics in the peninsula revealed certain characteristics of its own which deserve greater attention.” [xii]

You then proceed, in the fashion of a diligent and careful historian, to examine the differences in Malay political association across different states and groupings. You showed that we can understand the Malay communists as occupying the extreme end of a spectrum of left-wing groups who shared certain aspirations: of egalitarianism and social justice, of anti-British fury and of the unity of the Malays in a newly political age.

If we are to understand Malay political activity in this period, we cannot fail to include in our study the commitment which a significant portion of local left-wing Malays made to communism, and why they chose to do so.

On the question of communism and nationalism

You said that the objective of the communists was a communist world order, and they did not support the establishment of a nation-state. [xiii]

Yet you know very well that this was precisely the period of united front cooperation between communists and other left-wing groups. The ideology of Marxism across the Third World and decolonising states was easily allied with nationalist anti-imperialism.

Marxism lent its language and categories of analysis to Malays, as it did to many other groups, fighting essentially for independence – yes, even irrespective of their commitments to Islam. [xiv]

As you say in your own PhD thesis, “the KMM was the first truly political Malay association in the country committed to the cause of independence. It held comparatively radical views for it was not only anti-British but was critical of the upper strata of Malay society which it described as ‘kaum2 burdjuis-feodalis’.” [xv]

You know that states like Johor, Pahang, Perak and Kelantan all nurtured a long tradition of local Malay rebellion against British rule, from the Naning Wars of the early 19th century up to the To’ Janggut rebellions of the early 20th century, and well into the fractious era of post-war Malay nationalisms.

You were one of the first of our historians to write about two of those rebellions (Kelantan and Terengganu) in your PhD, which I’ve read, and was so inspired by. [xvi] You will also know that Malay communists drew deeply on this tradition, which they referred to as an illustrious history of peasant revolt.

As for Mat Indera? Well, as you know, one of the key skills of a historian is the ability to understand how people in the past thought about what they were doing, on their own terms. And I think it would be hard to deny that Mat Indera’s conception of what he was fighting for was something one might call nationalism.

We do ourselves no favours by failing to acknowledge the complexity of politics in this important period in our nation’s history. Mat Indera was Malay, he was Muslim, he subscribed to communist ideology, he was a willing and formidable member of the Malayan Communist Party, and he also believed absolutely in the need to evict the British from Malaya.

These visions were not incompatible with each other: this was, after all, a time when there were many competing ideas about what the nation would look, none of which had really been fixed yet.

Indeed, as the late Donna Amoroso’s book suggests, even Umno had to learn a new language of nationalism in this post-war period- too: it was not something that had come naturally to them. [xvii]

But again, how can I presume to tell you this? You know it so well, and you say it in your book. Let me quote you again, from your entire chapter on “The Malay Left”:

“While terms such as ‘socialism’, ‘communism’ and ‘democracy’ have long been used in Malaya before independence, it would be unwise to classify Malay political activists (of that time) into clearly-defined ideological categories”. [xviii]

Professor, how do we understand the history of Malaysia, the history of empire, the history of the world in the 20th century, and indeed the subtleties of history as a discipline itself, without acknowledging the conceivable truth of Mat Indera’s nationalism? Is this richness and complexity not the very reason that history is the mother of all disciplines?

On history and morality

Above all, you said that historians are not in the business of making moral judgments. [xix]

But I think that in this court case, you cannot absolve yourself of the responsibility of moral judgment.

Let’s stop to think for a second about what you have been asked to do in this trial. For what charges would Mat Sabu go to jail?

Mat Sabu is said to have made statements to the effect that:

Mat Indera and the communist forces he led to Bukit Kepong were the true national heroes for fighting the British, rather than the police defending Bukit Kepong, who were lackeys of the British and therefore not national heroes.
Umno founders were not national heroes because they were lackeys of the British. So in this court case, history is to be rolled out to adjudicate the following claims:
It is defamatory to suggest that the Alliance leaders who established what we know as independent Malaysia today were not patriots;
It is defamatory to suggest that the police and those who defended Bukit Kepong were not patriots; and,
It is defamatory to suggest that communists had patriotic motives.
Stated like this and stripped of emotional baggage, [xx] I hope you can see that this court case boils down to a plea for the historian (you) to adjudicate: who is the nationalist hero? Who is the patriot? Who is the counterrevolutionary and the traitor?

To me, it’s crazy that this claim is being discussed in court, rather than being energetically debated in classrooms. [xxi] But given that it is now a question of legal inquiry, you are in the position of being able to send a man to jail with your testimony.

Whether you acknowledge it or not, it is a matter of moral action now. For in these circumstances, historians act as arbiters of truth and falsehood, and as such, we put the weight of our professional authority in the service of moral or immoral outcomes.  [xxii]

So I asked myself: did you give an impartial testimony in the interests of a moral outcome? I think I have shown in this letter that you haven’t, even and especially by the standards of your own past work as a careful, inspirational and professional historian – the one I met on that stairwell in UM so many years ago.

I do believe, as you counselled me then, that history is the mother of all disciplines. And it’s precisely because I believe it that I am so saddened. You know all this history more extensively, more certainly, than I do.

You have spent a lifetime immersed in the study of the past – a privilege that probably few of our fellow Malaysians understand. But it’s those who understand that privilege – I am lucky to count myself among them – who feel the deepest anguish at what I can only call a betrayal of our profession’s value and dignity.

I have not presumed to write such a letter in protest of any of the other numerous perversions of justice in Malaysia. Not Anwar’s insane trial. [xxiii]

Not the insane haemorrhaging of national funds that appears to have occurred in the name of 1MDB. [xxiv] Not the decimation of the Malaysian rainforests in the name of profit. [xxv]

Not the many civilian arrests that have been made under the flimsiest charges of “sedition”. [xxvi]

But I have written this one, because in no other circumstance have I thought my writing would have any meaning to the people who have the power to change the course of those perversions.

In that respect, I am writing to you simply as one historian to another, because you do have that power – to change your own mind and actions. I hope you might reconsider the testimony you gave, which may otherwise condemn an innocent (if impolite) man to jail, and our nation to the grievous abnegation of its truer histories.

As I’m of the opinion that Mat Sabu should apologise (for not being sopan santun in the public sphere, which sets a bad precedent) but should not be jailed. – April 15, 2015.

* Rachel Leow is lecturer at the Faculty of History, Cambridge University.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

For a book which makes this explicit, Frederick Cooper and Jane Burbank, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012).

[ii] Khoo Kay Kim, Malay Society, p. 128. Italics mine for emphasis.

[iii] “Prof Emeritus Dr Khoo Kay Kim told the Sessions Court here today that police were working for the Malay rulers and not for the British when the communists attacked Bukit Kepong in 1950.”

[iv] Dato’ Banjara Luar (1882-1883), Abdullah bin Tahir (1883-1886), Dato Sri Setia Raja (1887-1903), Abdullah bin Ja’afar (1906-1907).

[v] Federation of Malaya, Federation of Malaya and its Police, 1786-1952 (Kuala Lumpur: Government Printing Office, 1952).

[vi] Leon Comber, Malaya’s Secret Police, 1945-60: The Role of the Special Branch in the Malayan Emergency (Singapore: ISEAS, 2008).

[vii] For a good description of the authoritarian conditions under Emergency rule, see Cheah Boon Kheng, ‘The Communist Insurgency in Malaysia, 1948-90: Contesting the Nation-State and Social Change’, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 11(1) (June 2009). Governance during the Malayan Emergency had an unusual unified civil-military command structure: headed by civilians (although military men played key roles in the top posts), with a single Director of Operations who had operational control over all police and army counterinsurgency efforts. And British men held the majority of those top posts until 1956. See R. W. Komer, ‘The Malayan Emergency in Retrospect: Organization of a Successful Counterinsurgency Effort’, Rand Corporation report, February 1972.

[viii] “Other Malaysians” is an anachronistic census category from the 1920s. It did refer to “Malays” who emigrated from other parts of the archipelago, like Banjarese, Sumatrans, Sundanese, Bugis etc.

[ix] ‘Khoo also told the court that in those days, there were two types of Malays – one known as “The Malays”, who were from the peninsular, and the other was called “Other Malaysians”, who were of Indonesian origin. Both sides had different struggles, he said, with “The Malays” joining Umno and the “Other Malaysians” standing with Partai Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM), a leftist organisation…. Asked if he knew who Mat Indera was, Khoo said he was an “Other Malaysian” linked to PKMM, so it was not surprising that the man was prone to leftist movements.’

[x] In case you have forgotten, Anthony Milner, The Malays; Leonard Andaya, Leaves of the Same Tree; Joel Kahn Other Malays; Tim Barnard et al., Contesting Malayness; Henk Maier We Have been Playing Relatives etc.

[xi] See Abdullah CD’s Memoir Abdullah C. D. Bahagian Kedua: Penaja dan Pemimpin Rejimen Ke-10. Of course these sorts of memoirs have their own axes to grind too, though they’re also incredible resources for a fascinating period in Malaysian history. Which is why we need historians to give the reasoned, balanced assessment in the service of a useful public debate.

[xii] Khoo, Malay Society, p. 194

[xiii] “On whether the attackers were heroes fighting for independence, he said the objective of communists was a communist world order, which had no boundaries. To communists, Communist International (Comintern) was the most important. ‘They did not support the setting up of a nation state,’ he said.”

[xiv] The debates on the compatibility between Islam and communism are fascinating and important; see eg. Tan Malaka on Communism and pan-Islamism

(1922) , and other debates among Indonesian radicals like Haji Misbach and Datuk Batuah, featured in Ruth McVey, The Rise of Indonesian Communism (Cornell: SEAP Press, 1965), esp. ch. 5. I am not making a statement that they are compatible; I just want to show that in the context of early to mid-20th century Malaya there were precedents for, and good reasons why, some Malays might have understood them to be compatible.

[xv] Khoo Kay Kim, ‘The Beginnings of Political Extremism in Malaya, 1915-1935’, Ph. D. thesis, University of Malaya (1979), p.125.

[xvi] Khoo, ‘The Beginnings of Political Extremism in Malaya’.

[xvii] Donna Amoroso, Traditionalism and the Ascendency of the Malay Ruling Class in Colonial Malaya (Singapore: NUS Press, 2014). (

[xviii] Khoo, Malay Society, p. 128. Italics mine for emphasis.

[xix] “History is something that can be tested and inferences drawn from it must be precise. Historians are not allowed to make moral judgements.”

[xx] Let me say here that I believe the reaction of the Bukit Kepong survivors and their families to Mat Sabu’s statements to be entirely understandable. What the guerrillas did at Bukit Kepong was atrocious, horrific. The violence of it is matched only by the likes of, say, what the British did at Batang Kali, and all the other “terrorist elimination” operations they carried out. For this was war, although the British did not wish to call it that. In conditions of war, all sides commit unspeakable atrocities. On how the British did not like to call this a civil war, see Philip Deery, ‘The Terminology of Terrorism: Malaya, 1948-52’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 34, No. 2 (2003).

[xxi] I also do not think that history should be so baldly in the business of extracting “heroes” or “non-heroes” from the past. History is for deeply understanding the present, or for learning sympathy for an unthinkably distant past. I don’t think it’s for finding action figures and pahlawan to put on our national shelves – do you?

[xxii] As an example, the trial in 2000 featuring Deborah Lipstadt vs. Holocaust denier David Irving, with historian Richard Evans as arbiter of the historical evidence. See

[xxiii] ‘Court upholds five-year jail term for Malaysia’s Anwar’

[xxiv] ‘Jho Low to feature in New York Times real estate expose’

[xxv] ‘Illegal Logging and Related Trade: The Response in Malaysia’

[xxvi] ‘Zulkiflee Anwar Alhaque charged after critical tweets’

Download the PDF for this article here – Open letter to Khoo Kay Kim by€“ Rachel Leow – The Malaysian Insider

Pergabungan UniSZA dengan Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) oleh Prof Madya Dr.Mohd Afandi Salleh

Baru-baru ini saya telah disapa oleh seorang profesor sebuah Universiti awam dari Lembah Klang semasa hadir dalam satu program pembangunan akademik. Setelah memperkenalkan diri saya sebagai pensyarah Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), beliau terus bertanya tentang isu pergabungan UniSZA dengan Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT).

Saya maklumkan Insyaallah akan berlaku kerana ia adalah keputusan Kabinet yang bermotifkan untuk kecemerlangan IPT di Pantai Timur itu. Namun, beliau dengan jujur menyatakan pandangan tidak setuju dengan pergabungan tersebut atas alasan UniSZA berteraskan pengajian Islam manakala UMT sains kelautan. Saya mengatakan kepada beliau itu adalah pandangan yang terkhilaf kerana UniSZA mempunyai pelbagai fakulti dan program yang berteraskan sains tulen seperti Perubatan, Farmasi dan Bio-Teknologi, IT dan program profesional seperti Undang-Undang dan Perakaunan. Bahkan, UniSZA akan mempunyai Hospital Universiti yang akan siap pertengahan tahun 2020.

Hakikatnya, penyataan beliau, walaupun seorang profesor , saya kira adalah paparan salah faham masyarakat luar terhadap UniSZA. Saya bersetuju jika beliau mengatakan UniSZA adalah sebuah universiti Islam. Memang UniSZA diletakan dalam kelompok 'Universiti Islam' bersama UIAM dan USIM. Tetapi mengatakan UniSZA hanya menumpukan pengajian Islam adalah tidak benar sama sekali.

Namun begitu, ada beberapa perkara yang lebih menarik minat saya menulis di sini ialah tentang naratif dan tanggapan umum sebahagian masyarakat yang melihat keilmuan Islam dalam kerangka yang terpisah. Persepsi bahawa program atau pengajian sains tidak boleh wujud bersama atau bergabung di universiti yang berteraskan Islam. Dalam hal ini anggapan bahawa UMT tidak boleh bergabung dengan UniSZA hanya kerana tujahan UMT adalah kelautan dan maritim boleh menjadi satu bukti berlakunya salah faham tersebut.

Naratif yang dipaparkan oleh sebahagian besar yang menentang pergabungan UMT - UniSZA tertumpu kepada bidang tujahan kedua-dua universiti yang dilihat berbeza. Seperti mana yang saya nukilkan pandagan seorang pensyarah kanan universiti awam di atas dan pandangan Presiden CUEPACS Malaysia, Dato Azih Muda baru-baru ini yang berhujah dua bidang ini tidak boleh duduk sekali.

Ini adalah paparan salah faham tentang konsep ilmu dalam Islam itu sendiri di mana tiadanya isu permisahan apatah lagi pertentangan antara cabang-cabang atau disiplin ilmu. Asasnya, laut dan isinya, pelayaran dan kisah yang berkait dengan laut banyak disebut secara jelas di dalam Alquran dan Hadith Rasulullah SAW.

Sejarah Tamadun keilmuan Islam jelas menunjukan bagaimana ilmu-ilmu berteraskan sains termasuk ilmu pelayaran dan maritim dimulakan oleh sarjana Islam dan mereka juga adalah alim dalam bidang agama. Nama-nama penting seperti Sahabat Nabi, Saidina Muawiyah RA adalah pelopor terawal dalam ilmu kelautan. Tokoh-tokoh seperti Ibnu Khurdadhib (850m), al-Masudi (947m), al-Maqdisi (955m) dan Ibnu Majid (1430m) adalah nama besar yang mengkaji pelbagai ilmu dan teknologi dalam ilmu kelautan dan pelayaran ratusan tahun sebelum 'sains kelautan' Barat muncul. Nama Ibnu Batutah pula tidak boleh dipisahkan dengan ilmu pelayaran dan geografi.

Vasco Da Gama sendiri mengakui kehebatan ilmu kelautan dan mengiktiraf kompas 32 arah mata angin yang diasaskan oleh sarjana dan pelayar-pelayar Islam sebagai ciptaan terhebat dalam ilmu kelautan dan pelayaran. Selain itu, nama Laksamana Cheng Ho atau Zhen He, seorang Cina Muslim Empayar Dinasti Ming China yang memimpin 300 buah kapal dengan kekuatan 30,000 orang kelasi telah memgharungi lautan dari tahun 1405 hingga 1433m terpahat sebagai mariner dan admiral terbaik sepanjang zaman.

Selain itu, Laksamana Khayr al-Din Barborosa dari kerajaan Othmaniah yang cukup disegani di Eropah pada sekitar abad ke 16 dan telah diabadikan dalam filem Pirates of the Caribbean juga memaparkan kehebatan orang Islam menguasai ilmu kelautan dan maritim. Seterusnya, nama Piris Reis yang menulis Kitab al-Bahrie pada tahun 1521 telah menjadi rujukan penting sarjana ilmu kelautan dan maritim.

Bahkan, sarjana - sarjana Islam lampau juga yang menjadi penyumbang besar dalam ilmu astronomi atau Falak untuk memberi kemudahan navigasi di lautan. Cukuplah sebahagian catatan sejarah di atas untuk membuktikan ilmu kelautan dan maritim adalah sebahagian dari keilmuan Islam itu sendiri. Ini menjawab secara tuntas persoalan ilmu kelautan dan maritim yang dikatakan tidak boleh bersama dengan keilmuan Islam. Menafikannya umpama menidakkan kewujudan ilmu perubatan dalam keilmuan Islam. Atau dengan lebih mudah seperti mengatakan ilmu dan sumbangan Ibnu Sina dalam perubatan tidak ada kaitan dengan keilmuan Islam.

Perbahasan di atas juga menjawab persoalan identiti dua universiti yang dikatakan berbeza disebabkan sejarah penubuhan dan tujahan berbeza. Tidak dapat dinafikan dua universiti ini mempunyai sejarah tersendiri dan mereka agak sentimental bagi sesetengah warganya.

Walau bagaimanapun, lamanya sejarah kedua universiti ini tidaklah lama berbanding dengan University of Sorbone yang telah ditubuhkan pada abad ke 13 digabungkan dengan Pierre and Marrie Curies University yang agak baru dan mempunyai tujahan yang amat berbeza.

Sorbone sejak ratusan tahun mempunyai tujahan yang amat kuat dalam sastera dan kemanusiaan, manakala Pierre and Marie Curies terkenal dengan sains dan perubatan. Namun, kedua mereka sanggup bergabung pada tahun 2018 demi kecemerlangan akademik dan sumbangan mereka kepada perkembangan ilmu dan pembangunan masyarakat.

Begitu juga, University of Manchester yang bergabung dengan University Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) untuk mejadi antara universiti terkuat di United Kingdom. Sebab utama berjayaan pergabungan mereka pada tahun 2004 adalah kerana pentadbiran, pelajar dan masyarakat setempat membuka mata hati dan berjiwa besar demi masa depan yang lebih gemilang untuk bangsa, negara dan antarabangsa.

Menariknya, kedua-dua Naib Canselor universiti ternama itu telah mengistiharkan secara bersama "we now have a solid foundation on which to build a truly world class university that will continue to attract the best students, the most talented staff and significant research funds from around the world".

Akhirnya, sejarah dan hari ini membuktikan kedudukan gabungan mereka berjaya mendapat tempat di persada antarabangsa. Jujurnya saya optimis gabungan UNISZA-UMT ini bakal melakar sejarah baru perkembangan pendidikan tinggi di Malaysia. Insyaallah siri kedua tulisan saya nanti akan mengupas tentang perspektif masa depan dan kesan pergabungan dua universiti Pantai Timur ini.

Mohd Afandi Salleh
Timbalan Naib Canselor (HEPA)
Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin

Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers: A History of the Conflict

Originally known as Ceylon (“the Holy Island”), Sri Lanka is located near the southeastern coast of the Indian subcontinent, in the Indian Ocean. Its population of 21 million resides in an area of about 65,600 square kilometers.

The Sinhalese (“lions”) are the largest ethnic group, constituting 73.8 percent of the population, while the Tamils (“tigers”) constitute 12 percent, and the descendants of the Arab traders (“Moors”) constitute 9 percent. The main religions are Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, respectively.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Portuguese and Dutch controlled the island. In the eighteenth century it became a British colony, and hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tamils were brought by the British from southern India to work in the tea, coffee, and coconut plantations.

The origin of the struggle between the two dominant ethnic groups, the Sinhalese and the Tamils, can be traced back to the British policy of “divide and conquer.” Despite their numerical inferiority, under the British the Tamils held a disproportionate number of positions in the public service and were over-represented in government institutions.

In 1948, the island became a British Commonwealth Dominion, with independent control over foreign relations and defense. The Sinhalese majority sought to assert its religion, its language, and its culture on the entire country at the expense of the Tamil minority. The Ceylon Citizenship
Act was passed, denying citizenship to the Tamil plantation workers who had come from India. As a result, the Tamils began promoting the establishment of a federal system with a Tamil autonomy.

In 1956, Solomon Bandaranaike, a Sinhalese, was elected Prime Minister. The Sinhala Exclusivity Act was passed, establishing Sinhalese as the official language and limiting the number of Tamil employees in the public service.  In 1957 and 1965, agreements were signed discussing the status of the Tamil language and decentralization of part of the political power through its transfer to the provincial councils, but neither was honored because of Sinhalese objection within the government.

In 1972, the island received independence from Great Britain and changed its name from Ceylon to Sri Lanka. The new constitution continued the policy of discrimination, making Buddhism the dominant religion in the country and establishing restrictions on the number of Tamils attending
universities.  As a result, many Tamil communities began migrating to the northern and northeastern parts of the country.

Although at a certain point more than forty-two official Tamil groups operated in Sri Lanka, there was no meaningful Tamil representation in the political system. This vacuum was quickly filled by armed groups.

In 1976, an unknown eighteen-year-old by the name of Velupillai Prabhakara established the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). His charismatic and dictatorial leadership style allowed him to lead the organization for over three decades.

In 1981, the Sinhalese took to the streets in a violent campaign against the Tamil minority and set fire to the Tamil public library in Jaffna. The library held over 100,000 rare ancient manuscripts and was considered the main Tamil cultural institution.

Two years later, riots broke out in what was later termed “Black July,” following the killing of thirteen Sinhalese soldiers by Tamil rebels. For several days, a retaliation campaign was carried
out, during which masses of Sinhalese, with the aid of the army, raided Tamil homes, looted their property, and killed thousands. The “Black July” riots led hundreds of thousands of Tamils to flee the country and marked a watershed in the civil war between the Sinhalese and the Tamils.

At the time, following pressure from its Tamil citizens in the state of Tamil Nadu, India offered support in negotiations between the rival groups. It assisted in establishing training camps in Indian territory and later sent its “peace force” to oversee implementation of local ceasefire agreements.

It was not long before the Indians were dragged into military involvement by Tamil rebels. The “peace force” did have some success, but it lost over 1,500 soldiers.  In light of these losses, criticism at home, and the elections in India and Sri Lanka, India retreated from its peace initiative in 1990.

The lack of external intervention allowed the LTTE to establish its position as the dominant Tamil organization, and the suicide attacks against military targets expanded to assassinations of politicians and civilians.

Upon its establishment, the LTTE formed ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in London, including training of Tamil rebels in Middle Eastern refugee camps. The relationship expanded and later included Hamas, Hizbollah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,headed by George Habash.

In 1990, the Tamil Tigers attacked a Sri Lanka military base using chlorine gas, wounding more than sixty soldiers, and a year later, the group carried out a naval suicide attack against a Sri Lankan supply ship. In 1991, a female suicide bomber assassinated former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Premadasa on Sri Lankan soil, and in 1993, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa was killed in a suicide attack.

In 1997, the world’s first cyber attack was carried out against Sri Lankan embassies around the globe, as over 800 e-mails a day flooded the embassies and paralyzed embassy networks for almost two weeks. Through the LTTE, stolen Norwegian passports made their way to al Qaeda in 1993 and reached operatives such as Ramzi Yousef, one of the planners of the attack on the World Trade Center. It is possible that Tamil rebel merchant ships were used to transfer weapons to al-Qaeda as well.

In 1990, the Tamil Tigers began to expel tens of thousands of Muslims from the areas under their control in northern Sri Lanka and reinforced their military and civilian control in the north, particularly the Jaffna district. Up to the year 2000, a de facto state called Tamil Eelam governed the northern provinces, with a flag and a national anthem, a court, a police force, and even a taxation system, alongside the official Sri Lankan system.

In 1999, Norway—which was considered a neutral country with no colonialist past or hidden political and economic agendas—began to assist in the negotiations. Norway’s involvement in negotiations for the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO had made it a favorable mediator.

Two years later, the Tamil Tigers declared a unilateral ceasefire, and a short time after that, a joint memorandum of understanding was signed. Under Norwegian auspices, six meetings were held, but repeated violations on behalf of Sri Lanka led the LTTE to announce in 2003 that the talks were suspended.