Survivor of 1980 Batu Pahat Police Station attack recalls the day he nearly died

Survivor of 1980 Batu Pahat Police Station attack recalls the day he nearly died
"Survivor of 1980 Batu Pahat Police Station attack recalls the day he nearly died"

The Samurai sword came down in a precise, unfettered arc. Abd Hashim Ahmad (main image), instinctively raised his right hand to prevent it from slicing through his neck.

That action saved his life, and the 19 stitches he received were nothing, compared to the relief of still breathing.

It was a memory Abd Hashim didn’t enjoy reliving, but his mind went back to that fateful day when he heard about the fatal attack on the Ulu Tiram Police Station on May 17, which killed two police constables and injured another.

The lone assailant, a 21-year-old local man, was shot and killed by police.

On Oct 16, 1980, Hashim was a finance clerk at the Batu Pahat Police Station. At 9.30am, 16 members of the ‘Kumpulan Nur Zaman’ cult attacked the station.

Clad in white robes and dressed like “ninjas”, the cult members stormed the police station. They arrived by private car and a taxi, and entered through the front and back of the station. They slashed 23 victims – police officers and civilians – before eight of them were killed.

“I had a bad feeling when I went to work that morning. It had been 100 days since a chance encounter with an elderly man. He warned me to take care of myself as something bad would happen to me before Raya,” Hashim told Twentytwo13.

“That was in mid-July. Hari Raya Aidilfitri was on Aug 13. I even performed a ‘doa selamat’ 40 days after ‘meeting’ the man, thinking everything would be fine.

“However, Hari Raya Haji was on Oct 20, four days before the attack. I didn’t think about that then.”

Hashim said that when he arrived at the Batu Pahat Police Station on that fateful morning, he met with 30 ‘Unit Kawalan Kawasan’ (Home Guard) trainees.

“It was 7.30am. I had a quick chat with some of them, and went to my desk,” recalled Hashim.

“I remember having a bad feeling the whole morning, but didn’t think about it until 9.30am, when the intruders arrived.

“We heard some noise and saw several people dressed like ‘ninjas’, but in white, instead of the black outfits you see on television, or in the movies.”

Hashim and several others quickly rushed into their boss’ office and locked the doors. A few minutes later, a colleague banged on the door, demanding to come in.

“One of us stood up to open the door, but just as my colleague came in, an intruder rushed in, swinging a sword and slashing at anyone and anything,” said Hashim.

“I was close by, and he swung at me. I instinctively put my hand up to protect my neck, and the Samurai sword cut deep into my arm.

“The attacker then went after my other colleagues. Although hurt and bleeding, I managed to jump out of the office window and escape. Thankfully, none of my colleagues died.”

Hashim recalled that there were rumours that the Japanese Red Army (JRA) was still active, and his first thought, when seeing ‘ninjas’ and ‘Samurai swords’, was that they were the ones attacking the station.

For the record, five years earlier, on Aug 4, 1975, the JRA took 53 hostages – including United States Consul Robert Stebbins and Sweden’s Charge d’Affaires Fredrik Bergenstrahle – at the AIA building in Jalan Ampang. It was Malaysia’s first hostage crisis.

In 1977, terrorists hijacked Malaysian Airlines System Flight 653. The Boeing 737 then exploded in mid-air and crashed into a mangrove swamp in Tanjung Kupang, near Gelang Patah in Johor, killing all 102 crew and passengers. Early reports initially implicated the JRA, but there was insufficient evidence linking it to the hijacking.

“JRA was feared back then. Seeing the attackers dressed like ninjas made us extra fearful for our lives,” recalled Hashim.

“We were lucky in 1980 as none of the police officers or civilians were killed in the attack, unlike what happened in Ulu Tiram.”

On May 19, two days after the Ulu Tiram episode, a man attacked a policeman and tried to grab his 9mm Heckler and Koch MP-5 submachinegun at the Dato Keramat police station in George Town, Penang.

Over the years, there have been several other attacks on police stations – in Guar Chempedak, Kedah (2001), Teluk Bahang, Penang (2012), Jeram, Selangor (2016), Kuala Muda, Kedah (2017), and Pinggiran USJ, Selangor (2017).

“I would have expected better security protocols for police stations, especially after these attacks,” said Hashim.

“I hope the George Town incident is the last of such attacks.

“I will pray for those killed in Ulu Tiram, and for the survivors. This kind of thing should never have happened.”

Main image: Hashim shows an image of then Inspector-General of Police, Tun Mohammed Hanif Omar and his wife (left), visiting him. Hashim is on the right (with glasses). Also present were the then Batu Pahat OCPD, DSP Ahmad Long (second from right), and another victim of the attack (middle).

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