Syed Husin remembers #1: Merdeka-era leaders lost to the nation

INTERVIEW | He was drawn to grassroots leaders who championed the poor.

23/9/2021 3:32:00 AM

Syed Husin Ali was 21 when Merdeka was declared. It was almost inevitable then to join politics - but it wasn't the elite-led parties that drew him in. 64 years later, he looks back at notable grassroots left-wing leaders who influenced his journey.

INTERVIEW | He was drawn to grassroots leaders who championed the poor.

INTERVIEW | Syed Husin Ali is no ordinary politician. A former PKR deputy president and acclaimed academic, he is soft-spoken but steadfast. He was also a long-serving political prisoner, who was detained without trial from 1974 to 1980 and has been an important figure in Malaysian progressive politics for most of his life.

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Syed Husin was born in Batu Pahat, Johor on Sept 23, 1936, to a family with royal lineage from the Indonesian Sultanate of Siak. He had three older half-siblings and three younger siblings, the youngest of whom - Syed Hamid Ali - was head of PKR’s Batu Pahat division.

He was formerly president of Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) from 1990 to 2003 until it merged with Parti Keadilan Nasional to form Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).Syed Husin contested three Dewan Rakyat elections in the 1990s but lost each time before going on to serve in the Dewan Negara for two terms from 2009 to 2015.

The father of three has written and edited approximately 20 books including 'The Malays: Their Problems and Future, Poverty and Landlessness in Kelantan', 'Two Faces: Detention Without Trial, Memoirs of a Political Struggle', 'The Malay Rulers: Regression and Reform', 'Ethnic Relations in Malaysia: Harmony and Conflict', and 'A People's History of Malaysia'.

As a historian, he constantly stressed the need to revisit Malaysia's official history, which he believes to be too much about individuals and groups who were part of the elite strata of society.He believes there is also an alternative history that needs to be explored which tells of the struggle of the common man.

Today, as he turns 85, Syed Husin takesMalaysiakinion a look back at many of the notable individuals who accompanied or influenced his life’s political journey which spans more than 60 years dating back to the Merdeka era.Syed Husin began his schooling during the Japanese Occupation and was nine when World War II ended.

He did his primary and secondary studies in Batu Pahat before obtaining a place at University Malaya’s only campus, then located in Singapore.Being 21 when Merdeka was declared, it was almost inevitable that he be drawn to politics. However, it was not the parties led by Malaya’s elites that interested...

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Komen skit pasai geng yang anti Merdeka... A veteran n seasoned politician.

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