Tuesday October 21, 2008
By MARTIN VENGADESAN
KUALA LUMPUR: Shamsiah Fakeh , the communist leader who spent nearly 40 years in exile in China, died at 9am yesterday at her home at Jalan Kuchai Lama here following a lung infection. She was 84.
Her businessman son Jamaluddin Ibrahim, 46, said: “She was in Hospital UKM for more than 20 days and finally she told us she felt it was her time to go and requested a discharge.
Within five days she passed away.
“She made a real contribution to the country before independence and we are proud of her. She was known as a communist, but her basic belief was to fight for a better life for the people.
“Even though she was in poor health, she maintained an interest in Malaysian politics. She still wanted the structure of the country to reform so that a just society could be developed.
“She believed that equality of the races was important for our progress. These were the values that she passed on to her own family.
“She belonged to a dying generation, she was a woman ahead of her time.”
An important figure in the struggle before Independence, Shamsiah led the Angkatan Wanita Sedar (better known as Awas, Malaya’s first nationalist women’s organisation) in the post World War II-era before joining the armed struggle of the Communist Party of Malaya in 1948.
After eight years in the jungle, she was sent to China in 1956 before returning to Malaysia in 1994.
The Kuala Pilah native, whose life was documented in the recent book Shamsiah Fakeh: Dari AWAS ke Rejimen Ke-10, was married five times and her husbands included nationalist leader Ahmad Boestamam and fellow CPM leader Ibrahim Mohamad.
Shamsiah was in poor health following a stroke in 1999 and in the years prior to her death was barely able to speak or walk.
She is survived by two sons and four grandchildren.
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