Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Freedom fighter Ibrahim Mahmood - Malaysia's unsung hero
On Thursday, 31 August Malaysia will be celebrating it's 49th national day and as a run up to this auspicious day, main stream media are daily putting out writeups, features and documentaries on contributions by individuals and groups in their struggles to help the then Malaya to achieve independence or Merdeka. All three major races - Malays, Chinese and Indians were united and contributed to the cause.
However, every time we celebrates Merdeka, one name was omitted although his contributions were equally if not much more significant than some of the other names mentioned.
The man, one of the great sons of Penang, played his part as a journalist and politician, in the fight against the proposed Malayan Union, the formation of Umno and finally the independence of Malaya.
He was also jointly responsible in drafting the Proclamation of Independence (Lafaz Perisytiharan Kemerdekaan) with another Malay nationalist, Tan Sri Senu Abdul Rahman. The proclamation was read by Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra.
I am certain that the name Ibrahim Mahmood will not ring the bell to most Malaysians today. He was unknown to most of the younger generation and in fact to most of the present Cabinet ministers and political leaders alike.
Ibrahim Mahmood was born in 1908 in Tanjong Tokong, Penang and received his early education at the Tanjong Tokong Malay school, followed by religious education at Madrasatul Mashoor Al-Islamiah (Arabic) school and the Anglo-Chinese School. He was educated in Malay, Arabic and English.
In 1938, he was editor of several local dailies and magazines and authored several books including "Turki dan Kamal Ataturk", "Turki dan Tamaddunnya","Pantun Rindu Malam", "Kenang-kenangan Hari Raya" and "Wartawan".
Wartawan was the first book on journalism written in the Malay language. I hope that the National Archives or the National Library has a copy of the book.
After the Second World War, Ibrahim wrote a book on the Malay language, "Nilai Bahasa Melayu" and a patriotic novel "Johan Berjuang".
In journalism, he was editor of "Warta Malaya". a Malay language newspaper published by the Warta Malaya Press in Singapore, editor of "Warta Jenaka", a sister publication of Warta Malaya apart from editing several publications in Penang such as "Pemimpin Melayu", "Dewasa" and "Bumiputera".
During the Japanese military occupation, Ibrahim was editor of "Pinang Shimbun" and soon after the war, it was replaced by the "Warta Negara" newspaper, the first and most popular Jawi script daily ever published in the north of the peninsular. In fact, Ibrahim was the founder and first editor of both "Pinang Shimbun" and "Warta Negara".
In politics, Ibrahim was a founder member of Umno and a close associate of Dato Onn Jaafar, first president of the party. He was directly involved in the fight against the failed Malayan Union, particularly in Penang where he was the leader of Kesatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang (KMPP).
As leader and representative of KMPP, Ibrahim was one of the 29 people who signed the Umno Charter (Piagam Umno) at the party's first general meeting at Istana Besar, Johor Bharu on 11 and 12 May, 1946. The Umno Charter gave birth officially to the party and thus Ibrahim was one of the founder-member of Umno.
While serving Umno headquarters, first in Johor Bharu as an information officer in 1951 before moving to Kuala Lumpur, Ibrahim was appointed founding editor of "Suara Merdeka", the party's official organ which was later renamed "Merdeka" and then "Malaya Merdeka". He was the newsletter's editor until 1 November 1959.
In the field of linguistic, Ibrahim was a member of the board set up to formulate Malay vocabulary or Lembaga Menggubal Perkataan Melayu together with the late Datuk Haji Mohamad Said, Abdul Rahim Kajai, Othman Kalam and Zainal Abidin Ahmad or Za'ba.
Although Ibrahim Mahmood contributed so much to the country, he remained a humble and simple man and was not remembered even by his own party Umno.
It was with the grace of Allah that Ibrahim, a genuine freedom fighter and a true nationalist, returned to Rahmatullah when the nation was celebrating its 36th year of independence on 31 August 1993. He was 85 years old and remained an unsung hero.
It is my humble wish that, at least, the Penang state government can do something to honour one of Penang's great sons. Perhaps, the state government can consider to rename Jalan Tanjong Tokong as Jalan Ibrahim Mahmood.
If the state government could renamed or named certain roads after local dignitaries and politicians such as Jalan C Y Choy, after former late Georgetown City deputy mayor (Socialist Front) and opposition/independent legislator, Jalan Tan Sri Teh Ewe Lim to honour the late State Assembly Speaker (Gerakan party) and Jalan Aziz Ibrahim after the late Umno "acting chief minister", why not rename Jalan Tanjong Tokong in honour of Ibrahim Mahmood.
Let us not totally ignored and forget the vast contributions and sacrifices of a great man who was one of the "back room boys" who had tirelessly served the nation.