By the Anti Jihadist
When Malaysians take time this upcoming Friday to reflect on the meaning of (what is widely referred to as) the 50th anniversary of Malaysian independence (a.k.a. Merdeka), they should spare a moment to thank one of the men who helped make it possible—Adolf Hitler.
That’s right. Adolf Hitler and his fascist allies, in an ironic twist of history, are in many ways the true fathers of independent Malaysia. Without their actions, Merdeka would have taken, at the very least, many more years if not decades to come to pass. Remember, in the years preceding World War II, Malaya’s status as a British colony was not seriously opposed by anyone, especially inside Malaya itself. British rule of the colony was unchallenged. And a unified Malaya not run by Britain was all but unthinkable.
The actions of one man thousands of miles away would change this status quo forever. It was Hitler’s Germany that launched war in Europe in 1939, and whose forces directly attacked the British homeland soon after. It was Hitler’s Afrika Korps and Italian allies who attacked British forces and possessions throughout the Mediterranean, and attempted to seize the British protectorate of Egypt and the vital Suez Canal. These assaults on multiple fronts concentrated British forces and planning on these theatres of war, and turned London’s attention away from Asia. The British Empire in 1940 and 1941 (when they did not yet have an official ally in the US) was stretched to the limit and fighting for its life.
Left all but forgotten at this critical juncture were the British possessions in the Far East—Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo, and Burma. Stripped of military units that had been hurried westward to fight the Germans and Italians, these areas were tempting targets.
Such an opportunity was not to go unnoticed, especially by Hitler’s other ally—the Empire of Japan, who had been planning their so-called “Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” for some time. Seeing that the chief colonizing power in Southeast Asia (the UK) had its hands full fighting the Germans in North Africa and elsewhere, the Japanese militarists carefully planned their coup de main. Germany’s conquest of Western Europe (and the fall of other colonial powers France and the Netherlands) also made for other ‘ripe pickings’ in Southeast Asia.
On December 8, 1941, Japan decisively struck the Malayan peninsula and landed a sizable invasion force near Kota Baru (on Malaya’s northeast coast). The few British units still left in Malaya resisted valiantly, but were outmaneuvered and overwhelmed in short order. Japan’s ‘jungle blitzkrieg’ succeeded enormously, and the seemingly ‘invincible’ British quickly surrendered in all of Malaya.
The resulting Japanese occupation of Malaya was humiliating as it was brutal. However, it did demonstrate to everyone (in particular, the Malays) two vital lessons that cannot be underestimated, and that ultimately paved the way for Merdeka. One, the British were clearly not unbeatable. And secondly, it could now be shown conclusively that a Malaya without British rule was possible.
When the British returned to Malaya in 1945, they did so as victors, but in full awareness that continued British rule in Malaya would not, and could not, continue as it had before. The British had won the war, true, but their victory over Hitler and fascism had bankrupted them, and they had lost much of their desire for empire as a result. Their soon-to-be former subjects, the Malays, knew that the genie was out of the bottle, and realised that they had to finagle the most favourable terms possible from the soon-to-depart British.
It was merely a question of time, of process, and of form, but thanks to the schemes of the Nazis and their friends, Malayan independence had become inevitable.
Remember that this week when you display your Jalur Gemilang.*
*Malay for the Flag of Malaysia ("Stripes of Glory")
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
By the Anti Jihadist