AND HOW TUNKU AND UMNO SAVED SABAH AND SARAWAK FROM BEING SWALLOWED BY THE
PHILIPPINES AND … INDONESIA
By Mansor Puteh
Not many Malaysians and Indonesians today knew that in the early 1960s, the two countries were literally at war with each other with
under President Sukarno more vicious when they sent their commandoes to launch
attacks in Johor, Melaka and Sarawak, but to
And it took a while before relations between the two countries returned to normal with
sending its students comprising mostly of the Melayu and establishing their
Malaysian Students Centers in all the major cities in Jawa and Sumatera. Malaysia
I finally managed to travel to
in May, 1974, long after relations were reestablish and not many in could
still remember what had happened between the two countries in the 1960s, now
that their President Sukarno had died after living in a virtual house arrest. Indonesia
Even then I still had to apply for a visa to go to Indonesia and if this is not enough I also had to get vaccination which caused the upper left arm to be inflamed when I had to carry my luggage all the time changing trains and buses, early on the trip from Jakarta after landing at Halim Perdana Kusuma International Airport after their major airport, Kebayoran Airport was closed.
But at the heights of the Konfrantasi, most of their soldiers could not function because they were not well-equipped with weapons and food and were duly arrested. But none were tortured by the Malaysian army.
So that was what happened when Sabah and Sarawak voiced their views on how they ought to join Tanah Melayu to form the Federation of Malaysia which finally happened on 16 September, 1963, following a referendum organized by the United Nations.
Thus Sabah and Sarawak were thus saved from being swallowed by the
Philippines and , respectively. Indonesia
After a short period of confrontation between
efforts were being made to pacify both countries with Tunku and Sukarno meeting
to trash their problems which finally ended the Confrontation or Konfrantasi as
the Malaysians and Indonesians then called it. Indonesia
So calls for Ganyang
And Ganyang Malaysia !
(Crush Indonesia !
And Crush Malaysia !)
that were shouted by the young in both countries’ capitals drowned. Indonesia
Tunku and Sukarno met in
, a neutral place but where
Sukarno who would later find a Japanese woman who he fancied enough to take her
as his new wife who was called Ratna Sari Dewi. Tokyo, Japan
The media did not like it that the two leaders were looking gloom as the mood they were in dictated it.
So a reporter asked them to smile. Tunku, being who he was, cracked a joke – but by uttering a word in Melayu which only had four characters which starts with the letter ‘P’ and that got Sukarno and the media people laughing.
But it was no laughing matter as Tunku had tried to save Sabah and Sarawak from being swallowed by the
and Indonesia, respectively,
and if not for these two states being accepted into the Federation of Malaysia
on 16 September, 1963, chances are Sabah would be in the Philippines and Sarawak in . Indonesia
Yet, till today no Sabahan and Sarawakian has shown any appreciation for Tunku and Umno for accepting these two states, which would be very backward if they are not in
I got this photo from inside the house of Utusan
journalist Melan Abdullah
who is seen standing and laughing between Tunku and Sukarno, on 9 April when I
was attending a tahlil for him together with former Utusan colleagues… Malaysia
So I was not unduly worried when I went to Indonesia in May, 1974, flying into Jakarta and traveling by land from the capital city to Bogor, Bandung, Jogjakarta, Surabaya and then crossing the straits over to the island of Bali and on to its capital city called Denpasar where I would finally find myself at Ubud, the cultural center of Bali for twelve days, before making my way back to Jakarta in the same way traveling by land through the same cities taking the bus, supervan and train.
It was fun traveling along at a time when the two countries had just decided to use the same spelling system which in effect caused the Indonesian version of Bahasa Melayu to be written more systematically from the Dutch colonial influences they had got earlier from.
Unfortunately, till today, most Indonesians are still not able to pronounce Melayu words properly because the Indonesian government did not bother to do away with the Dutch alphabets that they still use which are odd and not much used elsewhere other than in the
Despite having been to forty countries and all the states in Semenanjung Tanah Melayu or
I have yet to visit Sabah and Sarawak. I have
just made stops at the airports in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu when I flew to and back in
October, 1989. I aim to visit the two states in the country soon. Tokyo
But in the last some years I found myself visiting Aceh more than the other parts of the country. I started to visit Aceh four years after the Tsunami of 26 December, 2004 and returned there eight more times over the years.
Aceh is unlike Sumatera, Jawa or Bali that I had been to previously; it is more like
Malaysia with the people there also having
Melayu or Arab names which are similar to the ones we use in . Malaysia
But there are still many other parts of
that I have not been to
that I wish I could visit in the near future, all of which unfortunately have
not been that promoted by the media in the country, and vice versa with the
Indonesian media giving scan attention and coverage to things Malaysian. Indonesia