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Former police officer recalls struggle for Merdeka

Krishnan Nair Raman Nair saw years of active service including conflict with the communists.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
3 minute read
Retired police officer Krishnan Nair Raman Nair reminisces about his days in the service at his apartment in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
Retired police officer Krishnan Nair Raman Nair reminisces about his days in the service at his apartment in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

More than 60 years after the first shouts of “Merdeka!” rang out, the memory of the country’s struggle for independence is still fresh in the mind of former police officer Krishnan Nair Raman Nair.

Krishnan, who is now 85 years old, was among the first to join the police force which at the time – 1953 – was known as the Federation of Malaya Police Force.

“When I was young, one of my relatives told me to work at the Central Electricity Board,” he reminisced, referring to what would later become utilities giant Tenaga Nasional Bhd.

“But I refused,” he added in a recent interview with MalaysiaNow at his home in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

After making up his mind to join the police force, Krishnan who was born in Sungai Kasap in Segamat, Johor, went for an interview in Muar.

After passing the interview, he was sent to Tanjung Kling in Melaka for three months of training.

A young Krishnan Nair Raman Nair grins at the camera as he eats his simple lunch with a friend.

“After I finished my training, they sent me to the Tangkak police station, and then to Sagil in Muar to carry out an anti-communist operation. That was around 1954,” he said.

“We got our intelligence from spies in Tangkak and were straight away asked to go there to surround the town of Sagil.

“We succeeded in shooting dead two communists, and we brought their bodies to the Tangkak assistant superintendent, Gurchan Singh.”

Gurchan, nicknamed “the Lion of Malaya”, was known for his resolve in the struggle against the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945.

Krishnan was stationed at Unit PSG 4 which had a total of 400 members.

He said although the majority of them were Malays with only a handful of Chinese and Indians, they worked together in harmony and never experienced any discord.

Krishnan Nair Raman Nair (right) in full uniform alongside other members of the police force.

After that, Krishnan was transferred to Durian Condong, near Bukit Kepong which is known for the communist attack on the police station on Feb 23, 1950 where more than 25 members died.

The events at Bukit Kepong were later made into a movie screened in 1981, starring Jins Shamsuddin.

But even without the movie, Krishnan remembers vividly what it was like at that historic spot.

“Many villagers came and went carrying milk tins filled with rice and covered with layers of newspaper,” he said.

“They sent goods out of the village, then brought them back again. They mostly planted vegetables and other crops around the village.”

It was not until later that they discovered this was how the villagers brought supplies to the communists.

“Not just food, either,” Krishnan said. “They gave the communists information, too.

“Most of the time, they did it because they were threatened. They had to, otherwise they would be killed.”

Krishnan Nair Raman Nair holds up a letter of recognition for his service and a medal presented to him by Queen Elizabeth II.

Next, Krishnan was transferred to the Hulu Langat police station where he underwent leadership training for two months before being sent back to Durian Condong.

“At that time, we received information that Bukit Kepong would be attacked again, and we were asked to prepare,” he said.

“We were not instructed to go there, but I saw fires burning. Maybe there had been an attack or a fire. I saw smoke rising into the air.”

Krishnan himself was an expert in mapping and the use of the compass, and could handle a wide range of weapons. Throughout his years of service from 1953 to 1960, he was never ambushed by communists.

Krishnan Nair Raman Nair’s police badge which he has kept until today.

“Each time we moved to carry out our duties or patrol the area, I would make sure we moved in the opposite direction,” he said.

“If the communists went left, we would go right.”

In the event of conflict, it was his job to collect and carry the bodies of the communists.

“This might sound like a menial job, but extra care was needed as the communists were full of tricks,” he said.

“Some of them had time to place a bomb at their chest before they died, so when we turned the body over, the bomb would explode.”

A portrait of Krishnan Nair Raman Nair and his family. He and his wife had four children and nine grandchildren.

After leaving the police force, Krishnan led a much quieter life as a security guard at the Merlin Hotel, now known as the Concorde Hotel in Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

He continued working there until the mid-80s.

His wife, who had diabetes, died four years ago. Together, they had four children and nine grandchildren.

For his years of service, Krishnan was awarded the General Service Medal by Queen Elizabeth II in 1964.

Today, he will receive the Pingat Jasa Pahlawan Negara.