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Monday November 19, 2007

New edition of Shamsiah Fakeh’s book launched


KUALA LUMPUR: The eight years living in the jungle was hard but Shamsiah Fakeh persevered because her faith in her struggle kept strong. 

Shamsiah, 84, used to reminisce to her children about the hard life in the jungle when she joined the communist guerillas.  

“She got lost in the jungle for as long as five nights. She was dirty, cold at night, wet, lonely and afraid. She foraged for food, even eating tree roots. There were times she starved.  

A woman’s struggle: Jamaluddin holding up the second edition of Shamsiah’s book entitled Memoir Shamsiah Fakeh – Dari AWAS ke Rejimen ke-10, as well as its Chinese version (left) in Kuala Lumpur Sunday.
“But the eight years in the jungle made her a strong woman and she persevered. She had no regrets because she fought for what believed in,” said her son Jamaluddin Ibrahim. 

Jamaluddin is one of three sons born to Shamsiah and her fifth, and last, husband Ibrahim Mohamad. Like her, Ibrahim was also a Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) member.  

Ibrahim had helped Shamsiah put down her experience in writing. The new edition of her book Memoir Shamsiah Fakeh – Dari AWAS ke Rejimen ke 10 in Bahasa Malaysia was launched yesterday.  

The book was published by the Strategic Information and Research Development Centre. It was first published by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 2004, which drew some controversy.  

The Chinese version was also launched at the event yesterday. Shamsiah did not attend as she has been hospitalised for lung infection. 

Shamsiah, from Kuala Pilah, led the women’s wing (Angkatan Wanita Sedar or Awas) in Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya in 1946.  

Following Awas’ ban by the British, she joined the 10th regiment of the CPM. She was formerly married to Angkatan Pemuda Insaf co-founder Ahmad Boestaman. 

“She had two children with her first husband but they died during the Japanese Occupation. She met my father in the jungle,” said Jamaluddin. Ibrahim died last year. 

The couple continued their struggle in Indonesia and Vietnam before they were deported to China.  

After leaving the CPM in 1968, Shamsiah and her family remained in China where she worked in a steel factory.  

But the urge to return home was strong. They appealed to the Malaysian Government to let them come home – an effort that took nine years and required her to denounce Communism. 

“Perhaps the Government felt the time was not right. We were only granted permission in 1994 and (former Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad signed the letter himself,” said Jamaluddin. 

After over 40 years, Shamsiah – together with her husband, their three sons and their four grandchildren – returned. 

Her sons had to leave behind their wives in China. They obtained permanent residency in Malaysia sometime later.  

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