Kesatuan Melayu Muda
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Kesatuan Melayu Muda

Young Malays Union

Kesatuan Melayu Muda
? ?
LeaderIbrahim Yaacob (founder and leader)
Preceded byMalay Youth League[1]
Succeeded byParti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya[2]
NewspaperWarta Malaya (Singapore)
Paramilitary wingPembela Tanah Air (Malayan branch)[3]
IdeologyLeft-wing nationalism
Malay irredentism
Malay nationalism
Malay socialism
Political positionLeft-wing
ColoursRed, white
Coat of arms of Malaysia.svg

politics and government of
Flag of Malaysia.svg Malaysia portal

Kesatuan Melayu Muda (KMM) (Jawi: ? ? ; roughly Young Malays Union in Malay) was the first leftist and national political establishment in British Malaya.[4] Founded by Ibrahim Yaacob and Ishak Haji Muhammad, KMM grew into a prominent pre-war nationalist movement, notable for its leftist political stance and willingness to use violence, a sharp break with their contemporaries in the Malay nationalist movement.

The KMM, however, commanded very little mass support. By 1945, it only enjoyed a membership of 60 and limited to a few cities. In addition, their radical anti-colonialism was anathema to British authorities which had Ibrahim and other KMM leaders arrested in 1942. After World War II, KMM members later founded Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya, a predecessor to Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaya, Parti Rakyat Malaysia and later, Parti Keadilan Rakyat.[5]

Foundation and Development

Broadly speaking, the intellectual basis for what was to become developed both from external impetus from the spread of Indonesian nationalist ideas into Malaysia, and the development of an anti- colonialist intellectual climate within the Sultan Idris Training College for Malay Teachers. In 1927, Malay nationalism in British Malaya received intellectual impetus from their Indonesian cousins in the wake of the failed 1926 Communist uprising against the Dutch in the Dutch East Indies. Indonesian nationalist leaders, such as the Comintern agent Tan Malaka, sought refuge in Malaya in the wake of the crackdown that ensued, where they spread their radical anti-colonial ideology to Malaya.

This was a significant development in Malay nationalism, given that the nationalism that had developed in Malaya, in contrast to the movements developing in the other British colonial possessions of India and Burma, remained relatively placid and moderate. Groups such as the Kesatuan Melayu Singapura, while advocating self- strengthening within the Malayan community, for instance by purchasing land for Malay reservations in 1928, or by pooling funds to send Malays to Oxford and Cambridge in order to ensure the continued preeminence of Malays in the administration of British Malaya, did not challenge British rule, and opted to collaborate with the British. In contrast, the ideology of the Indonesian nationalists was fundamentally radical and anti- colonialist. Pamphlets from the Partai Nasional Indonesia were spread locally, advocating non- compliance with the British and resistance to colonial rule. This Indonesian radicalism would later come to form the intellectual nucleus of the KMM.

The establishment of KMM was closely related to the burgeoning anti-colonialism at several educational institutions such as Sultan Idris Training College for Malay Teachers (SITC, currently known as Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris). Founding members of the KMM owed significant inspiration and intellectual influences to the anti- colonial intellectualism of such institutions- indeed, Ibrahim Yaacob himself was an alumnus of the college. Along with him, other alumni of the college that were active in KMM were Hassan Manan, Abdul Karim Rashid and Mohd. Isa Mahmud, which has led to the recognition of the SITC as a birthplace of Malay nationalism.[6]

After the establishment of its main branch in Kuala Lumpur, Malay school teachers, most of whom had graduated from SITC continued to spread KMM's wings throughout Malaya.[6]


KMM and several other Malay organisations later organised a Malay Congress in August 1939 in Kuala Lumpur. The second congress was held in Singapore in December 1940 while the third meeting was planned in Ipoh in 1941. The third congress however never took place due to Japanese occupation.[6]

During the eve of World War II, KMM, Ibrahim Yaacob and his colleagues actively encouraged anti-British sentiments. The Japanese also aided KMM and financed Ibrahim Yaacob's purchased of an influential Malay publication called Warta Malaya in Singapore. By 1941, the British began observing the activities of KMM as they perceived KMM as a radical left-wing association. By the end of the year, Ibrahim Yaacob, Ishak Muhammad and many other KMM leadership were captured and imprisoned. KMM was severely weakened by the action taken by the British.[6]

During the Battle of Malaya, KMM was one of many organisations that aided the Japanese as they believed that Japanese would give Malaya independence. The KMM actively assisted the Japanese through fifth column activities.[7] This pro-Japanese anti-British tendency made KMM very close to the Japanese force. All of KMM members that were imprisoned by the British earlier were released by the Japanese during the occupation.[8] In January 1942, KMM requested the Japanese to grant Malaya the independence the Japanese had promised earlier. This was the first request for Malayan independence by a Malaya-wide political body. The request was turned down.[9] Furthermore, the Japanese authorities were aware that KMM had links with the Malayan Communist Party and the Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army.[3] These led to the disbandment of KMM and establishment the Malayan branch of Pembela Tanah Air (also known as the Malai Giyu Gun or by its Malay acronym PETA) militia in its stead with Ibrahim Yaacob made the commander-in-chief with lieutenant-colonel rank.[3] Despite the forced dissolution of KMM, Japan did not arrest its members because they needed to establish rapport with the Malays, which KMM members had provided.[10]

With the surrender of Japan in August 1945, former KMM cadres formed the nucleus of the emerging political movements like the Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya, Angkatan Pemuda Insaf, and Angkatan Wanita Sedar.[11][12][13]

Founding Members

Name[14] Position Education Occupation State of Origin
Ibrahim Haji Yaakub President Malay Schools Schoolteacher then journalist Pahang
Mustapha Hussain Vice-President Malay and English Schools Lecturer Perak
Hassan Manan Secretary I Malay Schools Schoolteacher Selangor
Othman Mohd Noor Secretary II Malay and English Schools Typist Kuala Lumpur
Idris Hakim Treasurer Malay and English Schools Clerk Perak
Ishak Haji Muhammad Central Committee Member Malay and English Schools Magistrate to Teacher to Journalist Pahang
Abdul Karim Rashid Central Committee Member Malay Schools Schoolteacher Selangor
Bahar bin Abik Central Committee Member Malay Schools Subordinate Officer Kuala Lumpur
Onan Haji Siraj Central Committee Member Malay and English Schools Odd-job Worker Perak
Sulung bin Chik Central Committee Member Malay and English Schools Subordinate Officer Pahang
Abdul Samad Ahmad Central Committee Member Malay Schools Journalist Selangor
Abdullah Kamil Central Committee Member Malay Schools Journalist Kuala Lumpur
Mohammad Salehuddin Central Committee Member Malay Schools Journalist Kuala Lumpur

See also


  1. ^ 'Pemikiran Islam di Malaysia: sejarah dan aliran' by Abdul Rahman Haji Abdullah; 1997; page 168
  2. ^ Sani, Rustam (2008). Social Roots of the Malay Left. SIRD. p. 30. ISBN 9833782442.
  3. ^ a b c Sani, Rustam (2008). Social Roots of the Malay Left. SIRD. p. 26. ISBN 9833782442.
  4. ^ Sani, Rustam (2008). Social Roots of the Malay Left. SIRD. p. 25. ISBN 9833782442.
  5. ^ Sani, Rustam (2008). Social Roots of the Malay Left. SIRD. p. 30. ISBN 9833782442.
  6. ^ a b c d Zainal Abidin bin Abdul Wahid; Khoo, Kay Kim; Muhd Yusof bin Ibrahim; Singh, D.S. Ranjit (1994). Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah Sejarah Tingkatan 2. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. pp. 208-209. ISBN 983-62-1009-1.
  7. ^ Southeast Asian Culture and Heritage in a Globalising World: Diverging ... By Ooi Giok Ling
  8. ^ b. Peninsular and Island Southeast Asia. 2001. The Encyclopedia of World History Archived 18 December 2002 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Insun Sony Mustapha. Review of Malay nationalism before UMNO Archived 29 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Malaysia Today. Retrieved 1 February 2007.
  10. ^ Sani, Rustam (2008). Social Roots of the Malay Left. SIRD. p. 27. ISBN 9833782442.
  11. ^ Ooi, Keat Gin (2004). From PKI to the Comintern, 1924-1941: The Apprenticeship of the Malayan Communist Party. Oxford: ABC-CLIO. p. 1791. ISBN 1-57607-770-5.
  12. ^ Mohamed Amin; Malcolm Caldwell; Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation (1977). Malaya: The Making of a Neo-colony. Nottingham: Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. p. 265. ISBN 0-85124-190-5.
  13. ^ Vasil, R. K. (1971). Politics in a plural society: a study of non-communal political parties in West Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press for the Australian Institute of International Affairs. p. 338. ISBN 0-19-638127-4.
  14. ^ Khairudin Aljunied, Syed Mohd (2015). Radicals: Resistance and Protest in Colonial Malaya. Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press. p. 51. ISBN 9780875804927.

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