The only published source that we at SembangKuala could get our hands on with regards to the detention of Almarhum Raja Ahmad Hisham bin Raja Abdul Malek in the early days of the Japanese occupation of Malaya was from a book entitled Malay Nationalism Before UMNO: The Memoirs of Mustapha Hussain (the original version being the Bahasa Malaysia print – Memoir Mustapha Hussain: Kebangkitan Nasionalisme Melayu Sebelum UMNO – published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka), translated by the author’s daughter Insun Sony Mustapha and edited by Jomo KS.
The late Mustapha Hussain was previously a lecturer at the Serdang School of Agriculture (now UPM) and came from Matang. He was a nationalist and vice-president of the Kesatuan Melayu Muda (KMM), a body founded in 1938 and led by Ibrahim Yaakub. The memoirs contain details of events prior to the formation of the KMM, the invasion of Malaya by the Japanese Imperial Army and post-war politics leading to our independence from the British. Whilst these memoirs deal mainly with broader historical events during and after the war, we would like to share what we feel is the most detailed description of events currently available surrounding Almarhum Raja Ahmad Hisham’s arrest by the Fujiwara Kikan (or F Kikan, for short – the intelligence unit of the Japanese Army).
In 1941, Almarhum Raja Ahmad Hisham was the Malay Section Chief of the CID, and was based in Kuala Lumpur. The British had put KMM under surveillance since its inception and had arrested many members of the KMM a few days before the Japanese invasion. The arrested KMM members were initially placed in Pudu but were brought to Singapore as the Japanese army advanced further south. Almarhum was arrested together with two other Malay CID officers, Jalaluddin Abu Bakar and Hashim ‘Misai’, some time in January 1942, and they were brought to the F Kikan headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. The arrest was made by Onan Haji Siraj, a member of the KMM Central Committee. The three CID officers were arrested at their own homes and were brought in a car by Onan belonging to one of the captive officers.
According to Mustapha Hussain’s account of the event, he was brought to the F Kikan headquarters and found the three captive Malay CID officers “pale with unspeakable fear”. Mustapha was ordered by Major Fujiwara Iwaichi, the F Kikan chief, to interrogate the three officers whilst being observed by the other Japanese officers in the room. The questioning had to be done in a harsh and abrupt manner, to convince the F Kikan officers.
Almarhum was the first officer to be interrogated by Mustapha. Almarhum identified himself as a member of the Perak royal family and his commission as Malay Section Chief of the Criminal Investigations Department of the British Police Force. Almarhum was also asked about his monthly income, and went on to describe that he had arrested more than fifty KMM members and about twenty five Japanese nationals in December 1941. On hearing this, Mustapha had quietly instructed his Malay colleague to not note down the number of arrests Almarhum had made.
Mustapha then explained to the F Kikan that the Malay CID officers were only performing their duties and were under British orders when they arrested these KMM members. It was noted that one of the younger F Kikan lieutenants suggested that Almarhum must be executed. Mustapha then told the officer that the interrogation was not over yet and he had yet to question Jalaluddin and Hashim. On questioning Jalaluddin, Mustapha found that the CID officer was conversant in Mandarin and suggested to the F Kikan that Jalaluddin may be of some use in sniffing out communist insurgents. The brash young Japanese lieutenant again suggested that Almarhum was to be executed, and to spare the Mandarin-speaking Jalaluddin. Mustapha immediately told Major Fujiwara that Almarhum can still be of use – to analyse any intelligence collected by Jalaluddin in detecting the communists – and appealed that Almarhum’s life should be spared, to which Fujiwara agreed. The decision made by the F Kikan chief to spare the lives of the three CID officers obviously disappointed the young Japanese lieutenant and Onan, the man who went out to arrest the police officers.
Almarhum and the two other Malay detainees were housed at KMM House on Swettenham Road (now Jalan Sultan Salahuddin). Almarhum was held in an upstairs room. Jalaluddin was also asked to check on Almarhum’s family who lived on Circular Road (now Jalan Pekeliling) whenever he went out to bring back any information pertaining to communist activities. Mustapha had allowed Hashim, the third CID detainee, to escape, but told Almarhum, when they were hiding in a monsoon drain culvert from a British bomber flying over Kuala Lumpur, that he could not allow Almarhum to escape as he did with Hashim, as Almarhum was “‘wanted’ by many people”. Almarhum then reassured Mustapha that he would not attempt to make an escape.
The F Kikan than informed Mustapha that the Kempeitai wanted to take Almarhum away for “‘unforgivable’ crimes”. Mustapha appealed to Fujiwara that Almarhum was still useful in completing intelligence reports and required F Kikan’s protection, especially with Almarhum being closely related to the then reigning Sultan of Perak, Sultan Abdul Aziz. Mustapha described in his memoirs that keeping Almarhum alive and safe was not an easy matter to the point that when a request for Almarhum’s release was made by an Enche’ Tasa and his Japanese wife, Mustapha was vehemently opposed to the idea and warned Enche’ Tasa if anything were to happen to Almarhum following his release, he will be held fully responsible. Mustapha had added that the Kempeitai were patiently watching Almarhum’s house on Circular Road and it would be folly to release him then.
There was also an incident during which a Japanese soldier wearing a uniform signifying the status of an executioner came up to KMM house and performed some form of ‘war dance’ whilst brandishing his sword! Mustapha had then informed an F Kikan officer and the executioner was brought to Major Fujiwara, leaving empty-handed. Mustapha wrote that it was likely the Japanese nationals who were previously arrested had described Almarhum’s actions against them – more reasons for Raja Ahmad Hisham to be a ‘wanted’ man at that time! Following this incident, Mustapha requested for a letter of authority written by Fujiwara to ensure Almarhum’s safety.
Mustapha was in Singapore when she finally fell to the Japanese (during which he had met Allahyarham Captain Raja Aman Shah bin Raja Harun Al Rashid of the FMSVF who was then detained by the Japanese) on 15 February 1942. On his return to Kuala Lumpur, Mustapha found Almarhum’s Morris 6-cylinder left by Onan Haji Siraj in Johor Bahru and brought it back to Almarhum at his home. Almarhum was later released by Mustapha and the Morris 6 was brought to Almarhum’s home on Circular Road by an Indonesian political mentor of Mustapha’s named Sutan Jenain. Almarhum’s colleague, Jalaluddin, was also released with the personal guarantee of MN Othman, the KMM secretary for Selangor, and returned to his home in Temoh.
When the war ended in 1945, Mustapha was arrested by the British Military Administration and was incarcerated at Batu Gajah. Mustapha was then brought to Kuala Lumpur for questioning by the British CID chief and met Almarhum (who was then CID Chief of Malaya) together with Jalaluddin Abu Bakar and Hashim ‘Misai’. Allegations of arresting, detaining and torture of the Malay CID officers were made by the British and Almarhum was the first person to step up and set the record straight. Mustapha wrote in his memoirs that Almarhum spoke in a “very English accent” and announced, “Not true! In fact, if not for Encik Mustapha’s help, my assistants and I would have been beheaded by the Japanese.” Jalaluddin and Hashim concurred. Following the interrogation by the CID, Almarhum thanked Mustapha for returning his Morris 6 which Almarhum later sold to help support his family during the Japanese occupation.
We at SembangKuala dedicate this synopsis of a part of Mustapha Hussain’s memoirs to the daughters and descendants of Almarhum Raja Ahmad Hisham. If any of them have anything to add to the events that occurred during and after Almarhum’s detention, we would be eternally grateful. We also recommend any SembangKuala readers who want to know more about Mustapha Hussain and the struggle for our nation’s independence to read the book which is available at all good book stores.
Mustapha Hussain and the other leaders of the KMM were left in the dark when Ibrahim Yaakub colluded with the Japanese to facilitate the invasion which took merely three months. Whilst Mustapha was a radical left-winged nationalist who wanted to rid Malaya of the British, he was not one to have Malaya colonialised by another power. The code used by Japanese army intelligence for the KMM was kame (亀 – Japanese for tortoise) and the code name had been broadcasted openly by the Japanese propaganda radio which gave just cause for the British Police Force to arrest KMM members. Mustapha had therefore felt that the KMM’s collaboration with the Japanese army during the Japanese occupation of Malaya was a forced one, and he strived his best to save as many Malays (especially those in the military, police and volunteer forces) from Japanese execution.
The Kempeitai (憲兵隊) was the much feared military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army, akin to the Gestapo of Nazi Germany.
Enche’ Tasa was married to an influential Japanese woman, who was the secretary to the Japanese Governor.
Almarhum Raja Ahmad Hisham, when he was OBJ Hilir Perak and Raja Kechil Sulong, had given a written testimonial, dated 11 November 1975, in the memoirs reaffirming Mustapha’s role in keeping him and his two CID colleagues safe from being executed by the Japanese. Almarhum had added that, following advice given by his uncle, Almarhum Sultan Abdul Aziz, he had put the incident of his detention out of his mind. Almarhum had reassured in his testimony that Mustapha had “done (his) utmost to calm (Almarhum’s) mind and had not caused much distress”. As for the mental torture endured in detention, this was described in the written testimonial by Almarhum’s colleague, Jalaluddin Abu Bakar, who described being psychologically tormented by Onan Haji Siraj.
1. Mustapha Hussain. Saving Malay Police Officers. In: Malay Nationalism Before UMNO: The Memoirs of Mustapha Hussain, ed. Jomo KS. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publications; 2005.
2. Mustapha Hussain. Appendix 2 – English translation of signed letter by Raja Dato Sri Ahmed Hisham bin Raja Abdul Malik. In: Malay Nationalism Before UMNO: The Memoirs of Mustapha Hussain, ed. Jomo KS. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publications; 2005. p403.
3. Mustapha Hussain. Appendix 3 – English translation of signed statement by Jalaluddin Abu Bakar, former CID officer. In: Malay Nationalism Before UMNO: The Memoirs of Mustapha Hussain, ed. Jomo KS. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publications; 2005. p404.