Malaysia, my country, has a very short history compared with that of most of the other countries of South-east Asia. The historical events that occurred here before the fifteenth century are still obscure. Yet many interesting developments have taken place in the last few centuries. New sultanates were established by fugitive rulers; parts of the country were occupied by Europeans of different nationalities who fought among themselves for supremacy, until the whole country came under British control; native powers in Indonesia clashed with one another for domination of this little country; the Japanese occupied it for a brief period, and there were internal conflicts caused either by nationalists who were opposed to foreign control or by elements who aimed to establish a system of government which the people opposed. Thus, there are many periods in the short history of Malaysia which are inspiring. But, to me, the most inspiring period is that when Malaya was under the rule of Japan.
The Japanese occupation of my country was characterized by many features. Those that appeal to me most are the complete absence of Japanese control in several parts of the country, which, according to what I have read, enabled the nationalists, who operated from the dense equatorial forest of the country, to strengthen their hold on most of those areas; the feverish activity of the India Independence Army under their great leader, Subash Chandra Bose, in preparation for the invasion of India, and the growth of the country against Japanese imperialism.
Japan was not able to consolidate her position after her conquest of South-east Asia during the Second World War. The allied forces began their counter-offensive, and Japan had to withdraw her troops from several parts of Malaya to meet the threat from the allied forces. This had the result of leaving many parts of the country out of Japanese control. In these areas, therefore, the anti-Japanese elements of all races were very active. They emerged from the jungle and tried to exploit the subdued discontent of the people against Japanese rule, which was marked by brutality of the people against Japanese rule, which was marked by brutality and extreme poverty and hardship. They also organized resistance groups. Even the members of the police force, who owed mominal loyalty to the Japanese government, cooperated with the discontented elements. These efforts of the anti-Japanese elements contributed substantially to the growth of a new spirit which inspired the people to oppose Japanese tyranny and free themselves from foreign rule.
The Indian Independence Army, on the other hand, had other ambitions. Though mistrustful of Japanese intentions, it relied on Japanese support for the realization of its aim to expel the British from India. With this aim in view, it tried to attract as many Indians as possible for military service. Even the Indian youths were taught to think only of the freedom of their mother land, and everywhere songs were sung and slogans shouted by Indians to express their patriotism. Thus, sentiments were expressed by the people against two imperialist powers, Britain and Japan, who were themselves rivals. These sentiments indicated the people’s aspiration for freedom.
All these events have indeed contributed to the development of a new attitude among the people towards colonial rule, and the political freedom that we enjoy today is a direct consequence of these developments. It is for all these reasons that I find this period in the history of my country most inspiring.”