Former Supreme Court judge and now deputy chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysian (Suhakam) Harun Hashim recently suggested that, after Malaya achieved its independence in 1957, there has not been any foreign troops in our country.

Writing in his column 'Benchmark' in the New Straits Times on Sept 12, Harun said: "As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Merdeka we are reminded that we achieved Independence after 400 years of colonisation. First, it was the Portuguese, then the Dutch, the British followed by the Japanese, and then the British again. We watched with much satisfaction and pride when the British military forces finally left our shores. We were free at last."

He added: "In the early days of our independence, the US made its first attempts to gain a foothold in Malaya by persuading us to join the South East Asia Treaty Organisation (Seato), a military alliance led by the US, by offering to build for free the East-West Highway in the north of Malaya bordering Thailand. Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra refused to have anything to do with Seato to keep this country free from the presence of foreign troops on our soil."

While it is true that Malaya/Malaysia had never joined the US-led South East Asia Treaty Organisation (Seato) throughout the existence of the anti-Communist military alliance from 1954 and 1977, it is wrong and a distortion of historical fact that Malaya/Malaysia had no relationship whatsoever with Seato.

It is also factually wrong to suggest that there was no more foreign troops on Malayan/Malaysian soil immediately after Aug 31, 1957.

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