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Sakmongkol ak 47

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Capital Punishment- The Life and Times of Dato Mokhtar Sir Mahmud

Towards the end of 1941, the boys at MCKK were probably preparing for end of year exams. Mokhtar bin Mahmud was in Form One then. He recalled clearly that he was housed in prep school. It was a building meant for students of the lower forms. His older brother Mustafa was in form two.

As I pry open and instigate his memory, many more facts are revealed. He now remembers more of his classmates. Tan Sri Jamil Jan, once head of MIDA was his classmate. Jamil Jan hailed fromTaiping. There was another boy, whose acquaintance we shall become more familiar shortly. His name was Meor Mohd Ali whose nickname was 'Arab'. That was earned it seemed by his uncharacteristic sharp nose. Jamil Jan was known as Jamil Cina, no doubt deriving that moniker from mixed parentage. Salim Osman was also his classmate. Salim is the son a former Malacca chief minister- Osman bin Talib. Salim became a wealthy man by buying Malay Reserve land with rich tin deposits. He was able to buy his sons houses in Kenny Hill, Kuala Lumpur.

The world of schoolboys then was one that wasn't impaled by the worries of the world. It was a carefree world, free from worries. The Second World War which began sometime in 1939 was worlds apart and was seen as merely a European affair. This carefree world, unflustered by the troubles of adults was soon to be shattered. Unbeknownst to Mokhtar and his classmates, things were different in Kota Bharu:-

Shortly after midnight on 7th/8th December, a group of Indian guards at Kota Bharu spotted three large shadows, the IJN transport ships: the Awagisan Maru, the Ayatosan Maru and the Sakura Maru, dropping anchor approximately 3 km's off the coast of Kota Bharu. The ships were carrying approximately 5,200 troops of the Takumi Detachment, commanded by Major-General Hiroshi Takumi, who was on board IJN transport Awajisan Maru. The majority of them were already the war veterans, with several months of harsh jungle training and battles in China. The force consisted of the 56th Infantry Regiment (Colonel Yoshio Nasu, on board IJN transport Sakura Maru), one mountain artillery battery of the 18th Mountain Artillery Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Katsutoshi Takasu), the 12th Engineer Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Ichie Fujii), the 18th Division Signal Unit, one company of the 12th Transport Regiment, one company of the 18th Division Medical Unit and No. 2 Field Hospital of the 18th Division Medical Unit. They were escorted by a powerful escort fleet (Kota Bharu Invasion Force) under the command of Rear-Admiral Shintaro Hashimoto, consisting of a light cruiser Sendai, destroyers Ayanami, Isonami, Shikinami and Uranami, minesweepers No. 2 and No. 3, and subchaser No. 9.

Seconds later the guards heard shells passing over their heads. World War II in Pacific had begun, while the Japanese planes from Nagumo's carriers were still flying towards Pearl Harbor. The loading of landing craft began almost as soon as the transports dropped anchor. The first wave of landing craft carrying troops under the command of Colonel Masu were heading for the beach in four lines.

British artillery immediately began firing along the shore line and out to sea once it became clear the Japanese were coming ashore. Despite local counter attacks, the Indian sepoys position became untenable and the defenders began to fall back.

…..Also by morning it became clear the Japanese had successfully landed their invasion force. At 10:30 hours the Japanese forces finally reached Kota Bahru.

The Japanese, now backed by freshly landed troops, forced the British-Indian troops to retreat to the Kuala Lipis area and advanced south to capture Kota Bahru (township) by 2 p.m. on the 9th.

The head Master, Mr Carey must have been aware that invasion had started. He was careful not to alarm the boys especially the younger ones.

A few days after the Japanese landing in Kota Bharu, Carey assembled the students in the Hall. He announced that he was giving the boys a one month's holiday. Mokhtar did notice however, that Carey did not specify the date as to when they must report back at the College.

The announcement was greeted with jubilant shouts of joy as were expected from boys who were oblivious to the darkening clouds over the horizon.

Mokhtar talked with his brother Mustafa and they agreed that it would be better not to bring back all their belongings. And so they bundled their belongings and placed the bundles on their bunks. Once the chores were completed, they proceeded to the train station to go back to Tapah.

On the way to the station they were joined by Jamil 'Cina' Jan. Jamil Jan and Mokhtar were close friends. Often they would walk, hands over each other's shoulders. Only the closest of friends do that. Dato Mokhtar recalled the many happy memories he had with Jamil Jan.

Jamil Jan was to feature prominently in the episode involving this venerable gentlemen around which the story I am writing with the boy whom I have mentioned in passing above. The boy was Meor Mohd Ali aka Arab.

Meor Mohd Ali was the terror of the form one fraternity. He made good what he lacked in physical size by an overarching bravado. He would pick fights with the bigger boys. He would always taunt the others which often ended in fisticuffs. He just had this proclivity to annoy others.

One day, Mokhtar confided in Jamil Jan about the annoying behaviour of Meor Ali. "You are the class prefect, Ta. You must do something. You are bigger than him. Your reach is longer. I am sure you can have him licked.

Jamil is right, thought Mokhtar. I am the class prefect and this bloke Meor is much smaller in size than I am.

It was the practice at MCKK then, to have desserts after meals or just something to have as after dinner snacks. Peanuts were often served as after meal snacks. Meor Mohd Ali put the peanuts to good use other than eating them. He would often use the peanuts as pellets and throw them as projectiles at the other boys. Meor Mohd Ali must have had a reputation as a tough nut as most often his shenanigans were silently tolerated.

Tonight- said Jamil Jan, I will sit at dinner with you. We must teach this Meor a lesson. True to form, Meor Mohd Ali was at his usual mischief- pelting others with nuts without provocation.

On seeing this, Mokhtar at the instigation of Jamil Jan, decided to take action. The plan was to trap Meor into doing something to Mokhtar so that Mokhtar can have a justification to get into a fight. So, it was on purpose that Mokhtar decided to walk across Meor Ali's firing line. And in doing that, some of the pellet shots rained on Mokhtar. This was the opportunity that Mokhtar was looking for. He turned with a menacing look on Meor and asked- who did that?

Living up to his reputation, Meor shot back- what? Want to fight? Mokhtar was of course waiting for that answer and promptly answered – any time.

The two antagonists, at the cheering of the others who were obviously hoping to do unto Meor what they themselves were unable to, then proceeded to walk from the dining hall along the passageway to the prep building.

Reaching a spot, they traded punches and blows on each other. It was not a choreographed fight. The boys gave all what they could. Arms flailing, kicks abounded. It was soon apparent that Mokhtar, being the taller of the two with longer reach, was gaining the upper hand. Meor Ali was forced to retreat and was cornered dangerously towards the edge of the steep drains at the sides of the passage. As if in submission he stopped punching back by which time Mokhtar realised if he continued the boy would fall into the drain.

Playing the good guy, and just in time too, Jamil Jan intercepted and exclaimed- enough, why are you people fighting? Enough enough.

Hence the scuffle ended as quickly as it began. Meor Ali got the worse from this fight but nothing was more damaged than his pride and reputation. As they made their way back to the dorms, Jamil Jan put his hands over the shoulders of his friend Mokhtar, and congratulated Mokhtar on a job well done.

From that day onwards, Meor Ali was on his best behaviour. But after the war, Meor Ali did not resume his studies at MCKK. Dato Mokhtar is wondering what happened to Meor Ali.

The headmaster, Carey was captured by the Japanese and sent to Burma as a prisoner of war. He was beaten and abused by his Japanese captors. One day, a Japanese soldier smacked him on the nose with a wooden container where he kept his forks and spoons. Carey suffered a broken nose and was to live the remainder of his life with a deformed nose. After the war, amazingly Carey came back to MCKK and served a while longer as Headmaster. When asked why his nose is crooked, he narrated the story of Japanese atrocity.

Next: Money and Food from home, how the MCKK boys behaved.


Anonymous,  27 May 2009 at 00:56  

A very nostalgic yet deeply entertaining story of Dato' Mokhtar..he is definitely an admirable guy.
May Allah SWT continue to bless him with lots of good health and happiness always!

flyer168 27 May 2009 at 07:26  

Dato' Ariff,

This has been a great & nostalgic journey into the History of our THEN great MCKK with its student's life experience.

Thank you for your wisdom to pen this great & nostalgic journey....


Anonymous,  27 May 2009 at 07:27  

tHIS Tan sri jamil jan was also a good man had a chance to meet him and found him to be one jovial fellow.

Cikgu Ngah,  27 May 2009 at 08:07  

Assalamualaikum Dato'

Could you please provide us with a picture of Dato' Mokhtar? I have seen the pictures of his father before. I have also read his father's memoir. I think it would be good for the readers to know how does this main character look like.

Thank you.

Small Talk 27 May 2009 at 14:34  

>>>Mokhtar at the instigation of Jamil Jan, decided to take action. The plan was to trap Meor into doing something to Mokhtar so that Mokhtar can have a justification to get into a fight<<<

the moral of the story...if u want to pick a fight...get a pahang guy?

Anonymous,  29 May 2009 at 22:48  

Dato Sak,

This is the 3rd installment ... you are really driving us down memory lane. I have posted it to our EGroups [the second too] and of course, with credits and attribution to you. It's simply great: my seniors are now doing their own "dementia benchmark" test ala kolet boys, of course.

Looking forward to hear the next installment and I would be delighted if you could private mail me as well.

best regards,
Asst.Hon.Sec {Special Functions)
MCOBA Secretariat HQ,


Also from Pahang
(Kg.Ketari, Bentong)

Anonymous,  30 May 2009 at 19:03  

I truly enjoyed reading this post esp since i had the rare opportunity of working with the late Tan Sri Jamil Jan which i thoroughly enjoyed. Have always held him in high regards for he was indeed a great person/boss/leader/sportsman who 'worked hard and played hard'. He had great talent whilst wearing this 'poker face' look most times and was a good sportsman till his twilight years. May Allah SWT bless his soul. Wouldn't have known how he was like during his younger days if not for this posting as we were from 2 diff generations.

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