Some 70 people agreed in unison to push for an inquest proceeding to be started into the “murder” of S.A. Ganapathy the former president of Pan Malaysian Federation of Trade Unions (PMFTU) in 1948.
The resolution for the inquest was brought upon by Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy during a forum in Taman Tampoi Indah, Johor Bahru, titled ‘Remembering S.A. Ganapathy and P Veerasenan’.
PMFTU was the pioneering union movement in Malaya established to unify all the trade unions under one umbrella, which at that time was seen as a great threat for British establishments, with Ganapathy and Veerasenan at the forefront.
Eventually, Ganapathy was hanged for accusation of arms possession under the emergency rule on 4th May 1949 and Veerasenan was shot dead in Pertang Estate in Negeri Sembilan on 3rd May 1949 at the age of 22.
The World Federation of Trade Union (WFTU) described the hanging of Ganapathy as “a murder”.
Many of his comrades were imprisoned or hanged, which eventually led to the disbandment of PMFTUM.
“Many of the documents obtained through research clearly indicates that Sir Henry Gurney received an instruction from British Prime Minister Sir Clement Atlee to advice the Sultan to grant reprieve from the sentence meted out to Ganapathy,” said the editor of Malaysia Indru, Jiwi Kathaiah, who was one of the speakers during the forum.
“However, the whole context of the incident has to be researched further, because around the same time Parti Komunis Malaya leader Kamaruzzaman Teh was arrested for the same conviction but was later pardoned by the Sultan of Pahang,”
Kathaiah also added that by looking at the documents obtained from Singapore National Library and British of Office of Records, Henry Gurney was under an immense pressure from the British Planters Association to “put him (Ganapathy) off”.
Workers social security
The principles that Ganapathy, Veerasenan and their comrades fought upon are solely based on the empowerment of working class.
“Apart from efforts on an inquest and getting the British government to apologise to Ganapathy’s family, we should start propagating the principles that Ganapathy and his comrades fought for Malaya and its workers, back then”
“For example, Ganapathy fought for workers social security in 1940s but it hasn’t seen the daylight, but workers money are being used to bail out big corporations. So, why can’t we pressure Employees Provident Fund contribute partially towards workers social security,” asked Kathaiah.
The forum also featured Secretary General of Parti Sosialis Malaysia S Arutchelvan gave a crash course on the history of Malaya, the left wing struggle for independence and presented the details of people’s constitution by AMCJA-Putera alliance.
The forum was organised by Hindraf, Sembaruthi Vasagar Sangam, Tamil Neri Kalagam dan Persatuan Kebajikan Ayirathil Oruvan MGR.
For more information on the struggle led by S.A. Ganapathy and P Veerasenan through PMFTU, please refer to The Malaya S.A. Ganapathy blog.
Related story: No tombstone but at least a brick for S.A Ganapathy
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