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HISTORY | Ahmad Boestamam – nationalist and ‘people’s tiger’

HISTORY: TOLD AS IT IS | Ahmad Boestamam – a staunch nationalist, a fiery politician, a respected journalist and a well-known novelist – has not been given due recognition and adequate coverage in our school history textbooks, most likely due to his anti-establishment and radical political views.

A little-known fact is that he was justifiably dubbed the “People’s Tiger” (Utusan Zaman, March 12, 1967) as he ardently championed the interests of the “exploited common people” and the creation of a more egalitarian Malayan society, besides seeking Malaya’s independence.

In a similar vein, Abdul Samad Ismail, a renowned Malaysian journalist, writer and editor, has described Boestamam as “a fighter and a leader of the Malays whose place in the history of the country was well and truly deserved.” Hence, this article seeks to accord Boestamam his rightful place in our nation’s history.

Boestamam was born Abdullah Thani (Sani) Raja Kechil into a family of Minangkabau descent on Nov 30, 1920 at Kampung Behrang Ulu, about 12km north of Tanjung Malim, Perak. He attended Anderson Secondary School in Ipoh in the 1930s. Boestamam, however, did not complete his secondary school education as he failed his Junior Cambridge examination which he sat for in 1937.

In 1939, Boestamam started work as an English to Malay translator and a sub-editor with the Penang based bi-weekly...

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