Merdeka Then and Now




Its the 55th ‘Merdeka’ celebrations with a theme of “Janji Ditepati” (Promises Fulfilled) What do you think the mood was back in 1957 ? What about today ? Lets hear what Mr Jiwi Kathaiah(A.V. Kathaiah) has to say! He went on to stress the significance of ‘Merdeka’ to the Batu Arang community back in 1957. He says how the coal miners in Batu Arang were mistreated by the British and finally the joy of having to say farewell to the colonial masters. He also stresses on the feelings of the Indian community in Malaysia.

Mr Katthaiah was born in Batu Arang, Selangor in 1938 and had his early education at the Batu Arang Tamil School and Batu Arang English School. Completed his Higher School Certificate at the Mahatma Gandhi High School which was then situated at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Kuala Lumpur. After completing school Mr Kathaiah joined Socfin, which was a well known plantation company and served the company for more than two decades. During this period he joined the ‘All Malayan Estate Staff Union’ and was elected as President in 1971 and later served as General Secretary. He also stood as a Parliamentary candidate in three general elections, first with PEKEMAS and later with DAP. He later pursued higher education in United Kingdom and graduated with a Masters in Labour Sociology from Warwick University. Since coming back to Malaysia he is very active in research, writing and journalism. In 2009, he had the rare opportunity to interview Chin Peng. He express the mood in 1957, now and what he hopes for in the future.