Saturday 25 May 2013



Sultan Abdullah of  Perak
The Larut Wars in Perak saw the involvement of the Chinese triads  that rallied their support to the feuding princes in the Perak succession dispute.

The tense rivalry between the Chinese triads (公司) prompted the formulation of specific covert signs and codes mastered by their members  to distinguish friends from foes. As allies to the Chinese Ghee Hins and the Toh Pek Kong, the Malay White (Bendera Putih) and Red flag (Bendera Merah) societies too  were not far behind in the usage of such codes and signs. 

Noted some of the secret signs used by the  Malay Secret Societies dominant in Lambor  Perak during the early years of the last millennium. The societies in Lambor, Perak had  strong ties with Malay triads in Penang. The Ghee Hins associated with the White Flag Malay secret society while the Toh Pek Kong rallied strongly with the Red Flag.At the time of their establishment the prime objective was no more than a religious one i.e to attend and assist at the religious ceremonies of its members such as marriages, funerals, circumcisions, etc. The rules contained nothing bad or injurious to the general public and members adhered to strict rules and regulations set by the societies.They gradually lost bearing of their original purpose and all manner of evil and mischief plotted.

Masjid Maqbul Jelutong - A big
role played
'Tutur' or Rituals of the Lambor Kanan Society  (White Flag )1916 
1.    When meeting a member:- He puts  a thumb across the palm of the right hand push back the 'kopiah' (headgear).
       Reply:  Put thumb on left hand of palm, and holding
                   the 'kopiah' by the front at the  top push 
                   it  back.
2.    When meeting a person uncertain
       if a member or not: Thumb across the palm of right , place had  across right cheek 
                                       and support right elbow in left palm, left arm being stretched
                                       across the body.
       Reply: Points toes inwards, heels outwards, cross forearms in front of the  front of
                  the body with the  right arm underneath, elbows to the side, hands open and 
                  extended forward thumb across the palm.
3.    Shaking hands: Instead of simply gripping , put thumbs on knuckles of first fingers of the other person's right hand and slide it down, pressing hand firmly.
       Reply:              Same action as above  
4.    If want to borrow money: Reverse 'kopiah' an move it round and back with both  
       Reply - If can lend money: Turn 'kopiah' 2 or 3 times
       Reply - If cannot lend money: Take 'kopiah off with left hand gripping it at the top.
5.    If have hit someone severely:  Grip the back of one's neck repeatedly with right
6.    If have killed someone: Grip throat with right hand, thumb on side fingers on the
7.    Calling members to fight: Seize right fist with left palm and carry the hand down
                                                the arm.
8.    Calling members at night: Light 4 matches one by one and throw them up in t air.
       Reply:                                Same as above.
'Tutur' or Rituals of the Lambor Kiri Society  (Red Flag )1916 
1.    When calling members to fight: Half take off coat and have it.
2.    To recognise members: Button up alternative buttons from coat from the bottom 
        and the following questions as password used-
        Q: Datang mana? (where from?)
        A: Datang Topeng (from the mask)
        Q: Ada chap? (Got a chop or stamp?)
        A: Ada (Yes) holding right hand second finger on thumb, first finger on top of the
3.    If hungry: Take off  'kopiah' squeeze it flat and hold it on stomach with hands    
                       longitudinal to  body an opening to the right.
4.    If want money: Fold up paper three corner wise and throw it away.      
(Triad & Tabut :468)               
Members of the White Flag  society on shaking hands will press the point of their fore finger slightly into the palm of the other man's hand  and withdraw it sharply. The Red Flag  society shake hands, the pattern  the thumb was placed with some pressure on the knuckle of the fore finger, withdrawing the hand, the tips of the fingers were drawn lightly along the tips of the fingers of the other man's hand. I have had experienced this kind of hand shake or 'salam' and is a vivid indication  that this old tradition is still kept alive to this very day.

These old Malay secret societies of the last millennium collaborated well with the Chinese 'Hui'  (会).When the triads were declared illegal, the circumstances prevailing forced the groups underground and they posed a threat to the public security. Secret societies activities were carried out under a cloud of secrecy which were, at times, punctured by serious clashes attracting intervention from the authorities.  Secret societies involvement in the May 1969 disturbances gave birth to the draconian Emergency Ordinance (EO) 5/69 seen as an effective tool in the fight against secret society activities and crimes of violence. Triad, hooligan and gang activities  with direct threat to security and public order were  disrupted and minimised by the Ordinance while active  members of the secret societies were on the run.

 However, with the abrupt demise of the EO, a revival in activities by these covert societies are now being felt strongly despite having the newly enacted Security Offences Special Measures Act (SOSMA) in place that in fact created superficial impact on these forces of evil. A resurrection of clandestine groups feared, with the attempt to copy societies of the past. However interesting factor here was the close association that existed between the Malays with the Chinese in the past. The Red and White flag societies were only kept alive by the knowledge that they had in the Triad society a powerful organization behind them.

 It was said that most Malays were in the secret societies mainly because they needed the society's protection than anything else. As in the last millennium even policemen and government servants were enlisted as members of these covert Malay societies. Will history repeat itself  is left to be seen. Only time will tell. In the meantime it is the wish of every  law abiding and peace loving Malaysian that the government of the day places greater emphasis on the rule and law to maintain peace and security. Let us all lock arms and  pray to Almighty God to spare our nation from any form of turbulences  or instability  for building an exemplary, respected and progressive Malaysia for everyone.