January 1, 2007
ISMAIL’S immaculately dressed elder brother Suleiman met him on his arrival, and quickly briefed him on the controversy over the Malayan Union. What immediately struck Ismail after being six years in Australia was how “political feeling engulfed Malaya as a fire engulfs a forest on a hot dry day”.
Ismail’s family was deeply involved in the resistance against the Malayan Union that the British, after the fall of Imperial Japan, were trying to impose on the whole peninsula. After the Sultan of Johor signed the MacMichael Agreement, a treaty with the British accepting the Malayan Union idea, seven men, led by (Ismail’s father) Abdul Rahman Yassin and including his eldest son Suleiman as well as son-in-law Awang Hassan, issued a pamphlet criticising the move. These men, all government servants, were consequently suspended for six months.
Ismail’s reading of the times was that Malaya was undeniably bound for independence, with “the pace (being) dictated by the national leaders while the British would try their level best to thwart them”. He also thought that Onn feared for the Malays should the British simply withdraw and felt the “wealth and the intellectual power” of the Chinese “would submerge the Malays” if independence was achieved too soon.
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