By HAMDAN RAJA ABDULLAH
Raja Ali Raja Ahmad, 92, who was a Johor Agriculture Department officer under the British Government, worked in Johor Baru before the Second World War.
He was assisted by his son Raja Naguib to the stage to receive the gifts.
The veteran Umno member was among the few close comrades of Umno founding leader Datuk Onn Jaafar and used to be part of a Malay freedom group called Kesatuan Melayu Muda.
“I was working in Johor Baru when some British officers arrested me and took me to a prison at Outram Road in Singapore.
“When in jail, I realised the British had also detained Ishak Mumahhad (Pak Sako), Ibrahim Yaakob and some other comrades,” he said.
Raja Ali said he was in the prison until after the Japanese Army entered Singapore and was able to leave the prison because there were no British guards manning it.
He said he was surprised when all the wardens and guards shed their uniforms one morning and left the jail, adding that, he, Pak Sako and Ibrahim then looked for the Utusan Melayu office and hid there.
He said the office was locked but Pak Sako broke open the door and they hid inside the office for several days before leaving for Johor Baru.
He said he then met up with Onn who offered him work as a storekeeper at a rice store in Johor Baru.
“I was very happy that I had a job and a free man but my happiness was short-lived as not long after the Japanese Army detained me and locked me up again at the Outram Road jail.
“The Japanese accused me of being anti-Japanese and that I belonged to a group that was fighting the joint independence for Malaya and Indonesia,” he said.
He said after the war, Ibrahim returned to Indonesia and later became the Governor of Bank Indonesia while Pak Sako returned to Kuala Lumpur.
Raja Ali, who is the great grandson of a Bugis warrior Tuk Siliwatang, also known as Raja Berambut Panjang during the Jementah War in 1879, said Onn sent him to Muar to help form Umno.
He said when Barisan Nasional first won the general election in Ledang, he was asked to organise a thanksgiving gathering and dinner at the Tangkak Padang.
He said Umno had no money then to rent the tents, tables and chairs but all the Chinese associations in Tangkak came forward to lend Umno the facilities.
“I served Umno in Ledang and worked under all its former leaders until I retired several years ago.
“Today, I feel very proud and honoured to receive an award and gifts from Umno Ledang,” he added.
SOURCE: THE STAR, Tuesday July 27, 2010