Men That Matter
Leaders of Young Malaya
A young man of an unassuming nature, humble and modest but capable of rising to fiery eloquence when he talks to his compatriots is Dr. Burhanuddin, the President of the Malay Nationalist Party which has about one hundred thousand followers in Malaya.
This party though not a year old is more than what it appears to be. It is a Party which shows young Malaya arisen, awakened and united to assert itself, to find its due place in the history of the world.
Malaya was no doubt a sleepy hollow in matters political before the war. The people had been lulled into sleep and were blissful in their sweet slumber and ignorance of world affairs. Then came the war and the after-math. And there was one glaring fact which made the Malays open their eyes. It was the rise of a New Indonesia determined to be free. The Indonesians were the same stock, speaking the same language and professing the same religion. And they had worse fetters that the Malays for the imperialism of the Dutch was of a more crushing and strangling type than British Imperialism. Their Brothers who were under the iron regime of the Dutch had become free and they who were under the Britishers who were more reasonable were in a stagnant condition. And so came the Awakening.
And the awakening came in time. When destiny moves to raise a people who have fallen too low, to awaken a people who have slept too long, everything that happens whether by well-wishers or ill-wishers contribute towards the awakening and onward march of the people. The British Government, for reasons best known to themselves, launched the Malayan Union scheme and contributed towards rousing the political consciousness of the people. And Malaya which was once backward became politically conscious. The Constitutional controversies are going on, the ruling powers could not yet decide what to do. But as the controversies are going on, there has come into the arena a powerful factor, Young Malays, with all the vigour that was latent in its blood.
And Dr. Burhanuddin stands today as the leader of this Young Malayan Movement.
Dr. Burhanuddin started his life studying Theology and aiming to become a religious teacher. Finishing his theological studies he studied Arabic, English a little, Dutch, French and a little Urdu, became a journalist and an author of books. He then became a Homeopathic doctor. After a short stay in India, he started the first political magazine to be published in Malaya. After the end of the war, he organized the Malay Nationalist Party which first joined the UMNO but finding that the revolutionary tendencies of youth and the reactionary tendencies of age cannot go together, the younger elements represented by the MNP seceded from the UMNO and have been since then occupied with strengthening their organization.
The writer had the pleasure of meeting and conversing at length with Dr. Burhanuddin and found him to be not only an enthusiastic patriot but a very reasonable man. The young Malays have in him a leader who will lead them onward, a leader who has in him the stuff of which real Muslim leaders are made. Asked about his organisation, Dr. Burhanuddin said, “The young men who have rallied to the call of the MNP are full of enthusiasm but that they are poor; in fact the Malays are all poor except for the few rich and well-to-do. We do not want to become the tools of any vested interest. We want to be ourselves and to stand on our own legs. The progress of our organisation may be slow, but it is steady. We stand for a complete revolutionising of the outlook of young Malaya, and we shall succeed before long in doing so.”
“But what is this theory of yours that Malaya should become part of Indonesia?” the writer asked.
The young leader said, “Our first object is no doubt that the Malays should progress and achieve political liberty and economic well-being. But we are living in days when there is no room for small pocket countries. Malaya with its population cannot stand by itself in the future. A free Malaya will need be allied to their neighbours and because of the similarity of language, race and religion there will be in the future a federation of free Malay-speaking states. As a political movement we have to keep before our people a distant goal as well as the immediate goal. The alliance with Indonesia is the distant goal. Our nearer goal is that Malaya should advanced on a democratic basis as against feudalism.”
“Then are you in favour of the Malayan Union?” the writer asked. He said, “We are in favour of a Malayan Union according to the will of the people of Malaya but not in favour of the Malayan Union which the White Paper wanted to impose upon us.”
“Will your Party be bound by any settlement that may be made by the British Government with the UMNO and the Sultans?” the writer asked. “Absolutely not. The British Government is making a blunder in not recognizing the voice of Young Malays. They are judging by appearances and not by real strength. But I hope saner councels will prevail later, if not now.”
The MNP has in it the potentiality of becoming the leading political party in Malaya not only because it has the right leader but because the leader has around him a band of enthusiastic, sincere and self-sacrificing workers.
The writer wishes Young Malays every success in its aspirations.
Sumber: Akhbar mingguan 'The Comrade',1 Sept 1946.