Aishah binti Ismail from Penang – is she for real?

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Koichi Takeda asked her “What if there was no Japanese landing at Kota Bahru?”  Aishah’s reply was “There would have been no country called Malaysia.  We would still be a British colony”.

I’m wondering whether Aishah actually exists.  Koichi Takeda, the author of the viral Malaysian Textbook meme (ie. Japan fought to liberate Malaysia from the British…) writes

in April 2009, I visited Mr Ismail bin Razak at his home in Penang, Malaysia.  The pictures below are from the textbook that I was given by his daughter Aishah who was in Form 3 of Penang Secondary School.

So she would’ve been around fifteen years old in 2009.  Well she looks about that age, but her father Ismail bin Razak according to Takeda would’ve been like 82 years old in 2009 so he would’ve been 75 years old when Aishah was born.  Is that for real?

Anyone from Penang know anything about Mr Ismail bin Razak or his daughter Aishah?  Love to hear from you in the comments section!

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Photo of Mr Ismail bin Razak from Koichi Takeda’s website about the Khun Yuam WW2 Japanese War Museum in Thailand (mouse-over to read the comments in English translation. Click to open original webpage)

Interview with Ismail bin Razak by Koichi Takeda (in English translation.  Japanese original is here).

 Ismail Bin Razak, born in Penang, 1927.  78 years old.  Former owner of haulage company.  Penang resident.  Father of one daughter. Islamic Malay who understands Japanese and Thai.  Photo taken on November 17 2005 in Phayao, Thailand

Question. When the Daitouasensou (Great East Asia War=WW2) began on December 8 1941 and the Japanese army landed in Kota Bahru, British Malaya,  concurrently with its attack on Pearl Harbor, how did you Malays feel about this?

Answer (Ismail). At the time the country was not yet Malaysia.  It was a British colony called Malaya.  The Malays did not have good relationship with the British.  The Malays were oppressed by the British, and Malays were not allowed to work in government, and if a Malay was to work he would only be paid a pittance.  There was no education.  The Malays had no power.  They did not recognize us as a human beings.  We could not live as human beings.  There was a feeling among the Malays that one day we will make this country ours.

Q. When the Japanese army landed at Kota Bahru, what did you think?

A. At the time information took time to travel, unlike today.  There was no radio, and although there were the English newspapers but it was difficult to understand.  So the situation came by word of mouth.  When we learned that the Japanese army were advancing, routing the British army on the way, we jumped for joy.  The Japanese had come to the aid of us the Malays.  We were so very happy.  The Malays welcomed the Japanese army, and cooperated with them.

Q.  Was that how you felt?

A.  Not just me, but this was how all us Malays felt.

Q. Who did the Japanese army fight, and who died?

A. In Malaya there were also the Chinese.  They were merchants in the towns, but when the Japanese army came they fled to the jungle and fought the Japanese army.  So I think that the Chinese died.  But no Malays died.

Q. Do you know about the sinking of The Prince of Wales and Repulse?

A. I heard it by word of mouth, and later it was in the papers.  Everyone was so happy.

Q. Please tell me about the situation when the Japanese army came to Penang.

A.  I was fifteen at the time.  The British army were in Penang, but one day a Japanese reconnaissance plane came and later twenty planes came and dropped bombs.  They only attacked the British base.  Seeing this before our eyes, we Malays were deeply moved.  We had been despised and bullied by the British.  They used to say we were stupid, that we were not human.  We were really grateful to the Japanese army.

Q. After that the Japanese army were stationed in Penang.  Did they ever discriminate against or bully the Malays?

A.  Never.  The Japanese army gave us school education.  The teachers from the Japanese army taught us in Malay.  We were able to work, and we were paid proper wages.  It was a total change from when the British were here.  The British did not give us education or allow us to work.  The Japanese had decided to entrust Malaya to the Malays.  At that time Malaya agreed with the Japanese “let us cooperate with each other”.  Malaya became a much better place.  The chinese were still hiding in the jungle.

Q.  What did you, Ismail, do after that?

A.  I joined the Japanese navy at seventeen.  They were recruiting and I took the exam. It was a very popular thing, and there was high competition for entry.  Then I went to SYOUNANTOU (Singapore), there were twenty five young men went from Penang.  With all 13 states of Malaya, I wonder how many went.  It’s not an exact number but I think there must have been about three hundred of us.  Apart from us young men from Malaya there were many high-caliber sixteen and seventeen year old men from Indonesia.

Q. What was your job in the Japanese navy?

A. I was intercepting radio in English and translating to Japanese.  I was on submarines, and also on battleships.  I went all the way to Indonesia.  Wages were 300 yen a month which even when compared to Japanese service men, was very good money.  We also ate well.  There was no problem between Malays and the Japanese.  The boss’s name was Nishihara-san.

Q. The Daitouasensou (Great East Asia War=WW2) ended on August 15 1945 with Japan’s defeat.  How was the situation then in Penang?

A. We got an official announcement.  They said they could not pay us wages, but that we could take what was there to use as we liked.  After that the Chinese and the British came back.  When they returned, the British were no longer as arrogant as they used to be.  We the Malays learned so much from the Japanese.  The Malays were no longer the same as before.

Q. What do you, Ismail, think now looking back at the Dai Towa War in Malaya?

A.  I feel grateful for the Daitouwasensou (Great East Asia War=WW2).  If Dai-Nippon (Great Japanese Empire) had not come, there would not be the Malaysia that we have today.  My feeling of utmost gratefulness does not waver.

Interview date:  November 17 2005
Place:  Phayao, Thailand
Interviewer: Koichi Takeda

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