Author: CHUNG Yoon Ngan
Date: 09-19-11 23:23
The Malayan Emergency 1948 to 1960
The Battle of Pu Lai village (布賴村) in Kelantan State in 1950
Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army in parade after the war
During the reign of Emperor Qian Long (乾隆皇帝 1736AD to 1795AD), 謝高清
(Xie Gaoqing), a business man, wrote a book, called 海錄 Hai Lu. The book
mentioned about a country by the name of Ji Lan Dan (吉蘭丹 the present
day State of Kelantan in Malaysia) where there were many Hakka Chinese (客
家人) lived near the source of the Kelantan River. The main occupation of
these Hakka Chinese was digging for gold in the region near the Kelantan
River. Xie Gaoqing also mentioned about some Min Chinese (閩人 Hokkien or
Fujianese) living further down the Kelantan River where they grew peppercorns
and owned grocery shops. The Hakkas lived up in the hill and their settlement
was called Pulai village (布賴村 or a village of a large tree with milky
sap). During the Emergency (1948 to 1960) there was a battle fought near
the village of Pulai. It was called "The battle of Ulu Semur".
There stood a temple in Pulai village. The temple was called The Goddess
of Mercy (觀世音菩薩 or Guanyin temple). The Goddess of Mercy's birthday
falls on the 19th of Second Month every year which is equivalent to the
end of March in Solar Calender. The Hakka folks in Pulai village intended
to celebrate the festival by staging an opera show. They required attap (palm
leaf roof) to make a makeshift hall for the show.There were plenty of attap
deep in the jungle about ten miles away from the village. They requested
the British Authorities for an escort to protect the village folks when
they were going inside the jungle where the soldiers of the Malayan Races
Liberation Army (MRLA or Malayan Communist Paty) had their bases. It would
take them three days to collect the attap.
A scouting platoon from D Company of the 3rd Battalion of The Malay Regiment
and 16 Malay Special Constables were given the assignment to scout 18 Hakka
Chinese from Pulai village to an area a few hours walk to collect attap.
On Thursday, 23 March 1950 they left Pulai village.
After the Hakka Chinese had reached their destination the Malay platoon
trekked on, leaving behind the 16 Special Constables with the attap-gathers.
The platoon camped that night deep in the jungle and the 16 Special Constables
stayed with the Hakka Chinese.
At 9.15 am on Saturday morning the officer-in-charge, a Second Lieutenant,
of the Malay platoon told the Sergeant of the Special Constables that the
platoon was going back to Pulai. But the attap- gathers had not yet finished
their job. So the Lieutenant instructed the Sergeant and his men to stay
with the Hakka Chinese and to lead his men to return to Pulai as soon as
they had completed their job.
An hour and a half later the Malay platoon suddenly came under heavy attack
from the soldiers of the Malayan Races Liberation Army across the Semur
river. Many Malay soldiers, including the Second Lieutenant, were killed
in the initial burst by the MRLA. The Sergeant of the Special Constables
heard the firing and he knew that the Malay platoon was in some engagement.
He told the Hakka Chinese to stay where they were and he led his men to
the place where the firing came from.
When the Second Lieutenant was killed the Corporal took charge. Now the
whole platoon was under fire from a short range. The Corporal ordered the
mortar team into action. After firing two bombs the two soldiers firing
the mortar were killed.
The MRLA stopped firing. In a lull the MRLA shouted to the platoon to surrender.
The soldier of the MRLA did the shouting was brought down by a bullet.
Three or four soldiers of the MRLA, trying to pull back the wounded comrade,
were hit. The soldiers of the MRLA charged towards the platoon and three
of them were killed. Altogether the MRLA made four attempts trying to persuade
the platoon to surrender, but they refused. Four hours had passed.
Meanwhile, the 16 Special Constables had arrived at the battle scene. The
Sergeant ordered 7 of his men to cross the Smur to fire. Only three of them
made across the river. The Sergeant and his eight men lay low until night
fell. Under the cover of darkness the Sergeant and his eight men moved off
for Pulai. They reached Pulai village the next morning with the news of the
The MRLA captured the rest of the Malay platoon. Altogether 18 soldiers
of the Malay platoon were killed, six wounded and three were captured alive.
They also rounded up the seven Special Constables who were separated at
the river crossing. The leader of the MRLA, after giving a lecture to the
captured survivors, told them to go home and leave the army and the police.
Carrying their wounded comrade in arms the soldiers and the Special Constables
left the battle scene for Pulai.
The MRLA soldiers went to the place where the attap-gathers were waiting
for the Special Constables. The leader of the MRLA soldiers, after giving
them a lecture, told them to go home. The celebration of the Goddess of
Mercy's birthday was canceled.
Later the British Authorities, by digging up the graves made by the MRLA,
found that 29 soldiers of the MRLA were killed.
Posted to asiawind.com
By CHUNG Yoon-Ngan (鄭永元)