Bukit Kepong Incident was an armed encounter which took place on February 23, 1950 between the police and the Malayan Communists in pre-independence Malaya. This conflict took place in an area surrounding the Bukit Kepong police station in Bukit Kepong. The wooden station was located on the river banks of the Muar River, about 59 km from Muar town, Johor.
The incident started just before dawn with the Communists launching a guerilla assault on the police station. It ended in a bloody massacre with the aggressors killing almost all of the police officers stationed there. When they began the siege, the attackers strongly believed that they would be able to defeat the policemen and gained control of the police station within a short span of time. This is due to several factors in their favour: their arms and numerical superiority and the relative isolation of the station. The battle began at about 4:15 am.
According to eyewitness accounts, there were about 200 Communists attacking, led by Muhammad Indera, a Malay Communist. Despite the odds, the policemen led by Allahyarham Sgt. Jamil Mohd Shah, refused to surrender, although numerous calls by the communists for them to lay down arms were made. Several officers were killed as the shooting continued and two wives of the defending officers took up arms when they discovered that their husbands fell in battle.
Desperate and alarmed at the defenders’ tenacity, the Communists captured one of the officers’ wives and threatened her at gunpoint to urge the policemen to surrender. The defenders replied that they would never surrender and continued fighting. Another wife of the officers and her daughter were also forced to do the same. Their refusal then resulted in their execution.
In the final hours of the fierce battle, the Communists set fire to the officers’ barracks and station. Two women and their children were burnt to death in the married quarters. At that point only 3 policemen plus a village guard were still alive. They rushed out from the burning station, unable to withstand the heat. They then assaulted the Communists position, killing at least 3 of them.
Only about five hours after the first shot was fired did the communists manage to break their defences and set the place ablaze. They then retreated into the jungle, leaving a trail of destruction and bloodshed.
14 policemen, 4 village guards, 3 auxiliary policemen, wife of Abu Bakar Daud (one of the surviving policemen) and three of their children were killed in the incident. The total number of deaths is 25. Those who survived the bloody encounter are 4 policemen and 9 family members including their wives and children.
Reinforcements from Nearby Villages
During the attack, reinforcement were sent from Kampung Tui as the battle reverberated throughout several of the nearby villages. A band of villagers led by the village chief Ali Mustafa from Kampung Tui was escorted by 13 AP/HG (Auxiliary Police/Home Guard). They were ambushed by the Communists en route about half a kilometre away from the station. The villagers were outgunned by the Communists who were using automatic weapons as opposed to rifles and shotguns held by the village group. Several of the village guards were wounded and killed. Although stopped halfway, their presence relieved some pressure of the Bukit Kepong defenders and forced a general Communist retreat.
Due to the lopsided situation, Ali Mustafa ordered his guards to retreat while the rest were asked to defend the perimeter around Bukit Kepong town. The Communists eventually retreated after setting fire to the village office and robbing a few stores.
At the same time, another village guard group came from Kampung Durian Chondong using a sampan heading towards Bukit Kepong to render aid. On the way, they were also ambushed by the Communists. About half of the 7 villagers in the group survived to continue on to Lenga. They arrived there at 10am and that was when the first news of the attack on Bukit Kepong police station was communicated.
When the village guards entered the village, they were able to observe the carnage resulting from the brutal attack. The village chief took command of the outpost until relieved by a police team from Muar. The battle at Bukit Kepong is considered to be tragic defeat although it strengthened the Government and people’s resolve to fight the Communist insurgency. A small force defending against overwhelming odds gave the war against Communist insurgency a massive boost in terms of morale and honour. Some drew comparisons between the Bukit Kepong incident and the Alamo, where the Bukit Kepong policemen similar to the Texans came under overwhelming odds and fought to the last man.
List of killed in action (KIA)
Sergeant 3493 Jamil Mohd Shah (Bukit Kepong police chief)
Corporal 7068 Mohd Yassin Haji Wahab
Lance Corporal 7168 Jidin Omar
Police Constable (PC) 3933 Hamzah Ahmad
PC 5674 Abu Mohd Ali
PC 7493 Muhamad Jaafar
PC 7862 Abu Kadir Jusoh
PC 8600 Jaafar Hassan
PC 9136 Hassan Osman
Extra Police Constable (EPC) 3475 Mohd Top Lazim
EPC 3795 Jaafar Arshad
Marine Constable (MPC) 60 Ibrahim Adam
MPC 68 Awang Ali
MPC 181 Basiron Adam
Non-combatants (Auxiliary Police (AP)
Ins. Kudarina Naknok
AP 2130 Samad Yatim
AP Mahmood Saat
AP 1925 Ali Akop
AP 2127 Othman Yahya
Police family members
Fatimah Yaaba - wife of Marine Constable Abu Bakar Daud
Hassan Abu Bakar - son of Marine Constable Abu Bakar Daud
Saadiah - wife of Constable Abu Mohd Ali
Simah Abu - daughter of Constable Abu Mohd Ali
Auxiliary Police (AP) were killed in action (KIA) outside police station
AP Redzuan Alias
Koh Ah Cheng
List of survivors
PC 10533 Othman Yusoff
MPC 37 Abu Bakar Daud
EPC 3472 Ahmad Khalid
PC 7645 Haji Yusoff Rono (died on 14 April 2005)
Note: All officers are deceased
Police family members
Mariam Ibrahim - widow of Constable Muhamad Jaafar
Zainun Muhamad - daughter of Constable Muhamad Jaafar
Abu Samah Muhammad - son of Constable Muhamad Jaafar
Zaleha - daughter of Constable Muhamad Jaafar
Jamilah - daughter of Marine Constable Abu Bakar Daud
Hussain - son of Marine Constable Abu Bakar Daud
Fatimah Abdul Manan @ Timah Lawa - widow of Constable Hassan Osman
Pon Khalid - widow of Marine Constable Awang Ali
Fatimah Tuani - widow of Constable Hamzah Ahmad
Edmund Ross Williams Hunt - orang asli who worked as a sherpa at Bukit Kepong
The Bukit Kepong Police Station replaces
the original that was destroyed in an attack by
communist terrorists in February 1950