-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- THE tradition of cutting hair to fulfill a vow goes back in time. The reason, as my guru explained it, is simple: The hair is the only part of the body that we can offer to God without mutilating ourselves.
Anything else we offer is not an intrinsic part of ourselves.
This reflection was occasioned by the reading of an article in the Straits Times of Sept 1, 1957. It said that a Kedah Umno Youth leader by the name of Mohamed Zakaria kept a Merdeka vow by cutting his hair at midnight Aug 31 in Alor Star.
He had not cut his hair for two years, swearing that he would only visit the barber on the day Malaya achieved independence.
The report said as the clock struck midnight, Kedah Umno deputy chief Mohamed Zahir snipped off one lock of hair and that as it fell, Zakaria shouted "Merdeka". A waiting barber did the rest.
The same issue talks about a communist terrorist, Siew Fong, 29, surrendering on the morning of Aug 31 because: "Today is Merdeka Day, and with independence already achieved, there is no more reason for us to continue our struggle."
He was the first terrorist to surrender in independent Malaya. Siew gave himself up to estate conductor E.V. Kunji Raman at Nova Scotia Estate near Telok Anson (today’s Teluk Intan).
Kunji Raman (Kunji, by the way, is one of the names the National Registration Department frowns upon) told the estate manager who told the district police chief who came to take Siew away.
On the same page were some quotes from Malayans about how they felt. Regimental Sergeant Major Mohamed Noor of the Malay Regiment wept as the Duke of Gloucester handed over the constitutional instruments to the father of the nation, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj.
Mohamed Noor said: "For a moment, I forgot that I was a soldier. I was deeply touched by the Duke’s words. There was also the thought that the British had now relinquished their power over Malaya. But when the Tunku declared that we were now free and equal as the people of other free nations, I could not help but cry for joy."
Housewife Che Halimah Endot said: "When I return home to Kuala Terengganu, I shall tell my children of this historic event so that when they grow up, they can be really proud of the country."
Student Pang Kee Jual said: "I am proud to be a citizen of this new independent nation."
Civil servant Gorbex Singh said: "We shall now look forward to real unity in this new nation of ours."
I think most Malaysians feel the same way even today. We can be united if we are willing to treat each other not as Malays, Chinese and Indians but as Malaysians.
Dad told me to look after family. He did not speak again...... from the Straits Times Singapore Tuesday January 1, 1957
Friday, September 01, 2006
Jokes and Laughter then into a bandit trap
Dad told me to look after family. He did not speak again.................
AMBUSH BOY'S STORY
Arnold (15) refused to quit by Nelson Rutherford
Mentakab, Monday. It took 15 minutes for Arnold Harris to become a man, 15 horrifying minutes in which he saw his father and seven other men shot down in a terrorist ambush.
Arnold 15, told me about it today. Quietly. Dispassionately. He did not cry. I spoke to him in an army mess near here. He is a slightly dark haired. Only his vacant expressionless eyes tell of his ordeal.
All in high spirits. His story began at 4 am on Boxing Day when he and 10 men of the 6th Battalion Malay Regiment, set of for Ayer Hitam to repair a broken down scout car. In the Land Rover with him were his father, Staff Sergeant William Harris, 38, Captain Shukor bin Chik and two Malay soldiers.
They were all in high spirits. Arnold was thinking of his aircraft carrier kit his father had given him as a Christmas present. He would start to build it as soon as they got back. Behind was a breakdown wagon with six Malay soldiers aboard. The time was 1.45 pm as they approached a bend in the road. Beyond it 34 terrorists waited in concealed positions. Arnold told me, "We were all laughing; Captain Shukor had just made a joke. Suddenly I heard firing. I thought something had happened to the engine. Then the windows were shattered and Captain Shukor shouted to me to get down.
Hit by pellets
The two soldiers sitting in the back with me jumped out and were shot. I was hit by shotgun pellets but didn't feel it. I put my head down near the floor. There were more shots. Then I heard voices. I looked up and saw two Chinese terrorists behind me.
They were taking the canvas roof off the Land Rover. They were fully uniformed and wore peak caps with red stars and twigs for camouflage. All carried guns. One asked me if I or my father had a gun. I shook my head. Then a short fat man carried me to the road and laid me on the grass verge. He was very gentle. He gave me two aspirins. I swallowed one but decided not to touch the other because I thought it might be poison.
AMBUSH BOY DRAINED RADIATOR WATER FOR DYING FATHER
Then they threw everything out of the Land Rover and took the two young mouse deer we were taking back to the camp and bayonetted them. The gang went over to my father who had been hit in the first burst and searched him. They also searched the bodies and took everything they could find.
The Reds stole two rifles, a pistol, two watches, Sgt Harris's camera containing shots taken the previous day at a Christmas party, jungle boots, wallet and shirt.(They also took Arnold's hat.)
As they had finished a PWD jeep with 3 men in it arrived from the direction of Bentong. The bandits stopped. It was the man sitting next to the driver.....(undecipherable - edit) I saw him give something to one of the terrorists. I think it was a piece of white paper. Then he got back in his jeep and drove away. The driver saw me beside the road but pretended not to notice me.
A few seconds later a terrorist on the bank above the road began shouting and waving his hands. The whole gang ran up the bank and disappeared. I knew they had seen the recovery wagon. It had been traveling about four minutes behind us.
The bandits opened fire above me with Bren guns from three different positions. A soldier sitting beside the driver of the wagon leaped out of the window with his gun at the ready. He was about to shoot when a bullet caught him.
Then dad called to me. He was lying beside the Land Rover and told me to drive it away. I said I couldn't leave him behind. "Never mind me," he said. I dragged him into the vehicle and was trying to start it when the gang started firing again. I thought they were firing at me so I took cover. My father fell out. He asked me for some water and told me to find a stream. There were no streams. Then I remembered the radiator of the Land Rover. I hoped it wasn't punctured. I filled the lid of a cardboard box with water and gave it to dad. One of the soldiers lying in the drain had come to and I tied a piece of string round his legs. It was bleeding badly. Suddenly my Dad said, "I’m going Arnold. Look after the family." He didn't say anything more.
Arnold paused for a moment his eyes on the floor. Then he continued. "I waited beside Dad for a car to come. Five minutes later a black car packed with people arrived. I shouted to the driver but he would not stop."
Arnold paused again, " I can't remember any more," he said. Then he got up and walked away.
Police interviewed Arnold today and showed him photographs of terrorists, including Tam Fook Loong the Negri Sembilan bandit boss who is believed to have led the gang