Sunday, December 13, 2009


Thank you for this advance birthday present...Za!
I know you are looking forward
To give me something special
Each year I receive a special gift

from my children....

BUT I have miss "downloaded" my pictures taken on my birthday dinner... from my phone cam... sob sob sob!  I shall have to wait for my daughter's cam to get some pics... which I shall upload later.

Today Sunday, Hafiz has just left and flew back to his campus on an early morning flight at 7:15a.m.  He not only had taken along his luggage but he had also taken along my  heart.  Now and until for a while more, I just pray alone, there is no more Imam to pray along... someone on my right on a blue prayer mat is missing...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Natrah's "grief"


Natrah's "grief" echoes in IB


Not many people can relate to Natrah's story, especially the young generation. Natrah's story ends with a tragedy, but with a lesson behind it.

Natrah, a Dutch girl raised by a Malay family in Kemaman used to be the focus of the country. It all happened due to a clash of culture and religion of an incident which happened in December 1950.

This story of a girl, named Bertha Hertogh, who was born to a Dutch soldier in Indonesia, started when her father was arrested by the Japanese army in December 1942. Her mother and grandmother, who were poor, then decided to rerturn to the Netherlands.

Bertha, who was then five years old was then given to Che Aminah Mohamed who took her to Kemaman, Terengganu.

Since then, Natrah was raised by a Malay Muslim family until she Arthur Locke, the British adviser in Terengganu, in September 1949. Natrah was 12 years old then at studied at Sekolah Perempuan Melayu, Chukai.

The meeting was the start to all the life sufferings endured by Natrah. To make the story short, there was a tussle on her custody and following the clever trick by the British and Dutch, Natrah was returned to her family in the Netherlands. Hence, began her story of bitterness when she was forced to abandon her religious faith.

That was some of Natrah's life story. It is not a fairy tale, but a bitter reality.

The strength of Natrah's story is what prompted Istana Budaya to bing her life to the theatre. Istana Budaya Director General Mohamed Juhari Shaarani said the idea to bring Natrah to the stage was mooted by Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim.

He said the idea of staging Natrah was made since seven years ago, but due to several constraints, especially budget, it was postponed.

Now, after Natrah's death last July 9 in Huijbergen, the Netherlands at the age of 72, efforts to stage her life story was revived.

"We chose Natrah after looking at the agenda behind the tragedy. Natrah's tragedy heightened hatred for the colonial masters. The public became angry when Natrah was forced to change her religious faith. They were more united in opposing the colonials.

"That feeling didn't only exisit among the Muslim Malays, but also other races and religions. That was what IB saw and it was that element which we want to promote on the theatre stage," said Juhari.

According to him, another aspect to look into, but which many people may not understand, was on the conspiracy by the British and Dutch in the case.

Natrah was not English, but the issue involved religious conflict, between Islam and Christian, which was the faith of the British and Dutch. They strongly wanted to win the case because it involved their pride as the colonial masters.

"The British helped the Dutch by deceiving Che Aminah into going to Singapore. The Dutch would not win if Natrah's case was heard in the courts of Malaya," said Juhari.

The trick by the British and Dutch was seen in the conspiracy between the two colonials.They tried to pressure the people even in small issues involving custody of an adopted child. If Natrah's story is studied, there were many hidden agenda by the colonials.

He said Natrah was also brought to the stage to give opportunities to those who didn't know Natrah to follow her life story.

Most important, he said, it was to serve as a lesson so that there would not be another "Natrah" in the society.

"We don't want the tragedy involving Natrah to recur. Let it be a lesson and those who see it will understand and pledge not to allow a second incident liike what Natrah went through.

"It was staged in the form of story telling. There will be Natrah when she was young. The story line is clear and the audience will understand the trus story and what happened," he added.

He also spoke on the love story in Natrah, about a Muslim girl of Dutch descendant, who fell in love with Mansor Adabi, a 21-year-old Malay teacher.

"It should be remembered that at the first meeting, when Natrah was taken to Singapore from Kemaman, the girl was only 13 years old. But a girl of that age in those days, was already matured and married.

"So Natrah was married to Mansor with the hope that she would no longer be harassed by the Dutch, but Che Aminah's move was wrong," he added.

Juhari believed that the staging of Natrah would leave a deep effect on the audience.

"We have to understand what Natrah went through. She suffered since leaving Malaya, especially after receiving news that Mansor had remarried," he added.

Asked on the selection of Erma Fatima as the theatre director for Natrah, Juhari said it was because of her capability.

"We evaluate from all aspects, including the success of the theatre on Sirah Junjungan which she directed. Apart from that, Natrah is about a woman. We feel a woman would understand another woman better.

"Also because of her track record, which gives IB the confidence to choose her. What is important is that we are confident Erma will not let us down," said Juhari.

He said Erma's capability was proven when she managed to bring the big names in the entertainment industry onto the Istana Budaya stage, like Maya Karin, Sofea Jane and Umi Aida.

"They accepted the offer by IB because they wanted to act under Erma. As a government institution, IB can't afford to make lucrative offers, but Erma and Natrah managed to bring them to this stage. We hope these big names will make Natrah a success," he added.

For those who want to see Natrah, the performance at Istana Budaya would be held from Nov 30 until Dec 9.

Can Natrah competes with Mahsuri and Di Mana Setangginya? This will be determined by the audience, but it is IB's hope that Natrah will be a huge success before the curtain is let down for this year's theatre performance.



KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 (Bernama) -- The Natrah Theatre play which portrays the tragic life story of Nadra Maarof, also known by her Dutch name Bertha Heartogh, who passed away earlier this year, may be turned into a film said Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.
The possibility would be studied from all aspects, including the script.
"We (Ministry) are mulling the prospect of filming the story but the script need to be different and not 100 percent absorbed from the staged play.
"To be filmed, there should be some innovations and modifications to make it interesting, especially the script and how the story will be played," he told reporters after watching Natrah at Istana Budaya here tonight with his wife Datin Seri Masnah Rais and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The story evolves around Natrah, raised in Malaysia by her Malay foster mother before a custody dispute ensued over custodial rights between Che Aminah and Natrah’s natural parents in Holland.
The love conflict between Natrah and Mansoor Adabi was the cause of riots in Singapore in 1950 and this riot was sparked off as a result of religious sentiments and skin colour.
On July 9, 2009, Natrah died of Leukemia, at the age of 72 in Huijbergen, Holland.
The play (Natrah) was staged at Istana Budaya on Nov 30 and was supposed to have ended yesterday but due to overwhelming response, the dateline has been extended to Sunday.

NATRAH - A documentary done by students

Maria Hertogh riots

Hi everyone, My name is Maria Hertogh. I was born on March 24, 1937 to a Dutch Catholic family near Dutch East Indies( Now known as Indonesia). Adeline hunter and Adrianus Petrus Hertogh are my biological parents. I was a Catholic since young. I led a carefree life with my five other siblings until World War Two broke out. I went to stay with Aminah binte Mohammad as my father was captured by the Imperial Japanese Army during the war.

This controversial transfer of custody created in chaos, and chaos resulted in causalities. Little did I know that I was the cause for the racial riots that broke out in the 1950s.

The riots.

The riots started on 11 December 1950, in Singapore.

It consisted of outraged Muslims who resented the court decison to give the custody of Maria Hertogh.

The riots lasted till noon on 13 december, with 18 killed, 173 injured and many properties damaged - the worst incident of its kind ever witnessed in Singapore.
The Maria Hertogh riots had received widespread press coverage by The Straits Times, etc.

When I was 13,I had been raised as a Muslim under the care of Aminah binte Mohamed, whom I regarded as my mother.

Che Aminah renamed me as Nadra bte Maarof and was brought up as a Muslim.

Early life

Aminah, my foster mother, moved out of Jakarta to Bandung where her fluency in Japanese enabled her to work as an interpreter for the Japanese military police. In 1947, fearing that my Dutch background made her vulnerable during the Indonesia War of Independence, Aminah and I fled to Terengganu, Malaya. I grew up in Kemaman, Aminah's hometown, where Aminah was highly regarded. Studying at Chukai Malay Girls' School, Kemaman, Malaysia, I was also trained in Koran reading outside school hours by an ustazah.

Reunited after the war, my biological parents began seeking for me in the late 1940s. They lodged a request with Dutch officials to locate me. Arthur Locke, the Administrative Officer (East) was the first to alert authorities about my whereabouts when he spotted me at a school competition in Kemaman. A custody battle then ensued over me,drew much public attention and fuelled religious sensitivities.

Initially, my custody was given to Aminah. Within 4 days of the ruling, on 1 August 1950, I was married off to Mansoor Adabi, a 22-year old Kelantan teacher at Bukit Panjang Government School, heading a second year Normal Class.

The marriage of me, who was 13 year old then, was raised in court, at Adeline's appeal for custody over me.

On 2 December 1950, my custody was gained by Adeline who whisked her to Amsterdam.

On 11 December 1950, riots were sparked off over the custodial ruling, resulting in the death of at least 18 people.


In Adeline Hertogh's point of view.
I think that Adeline Hertogh has the right to claim Maria Hertogh back as she had clearly stated that she did not give up Maria Hertogh's custody. She had to leave Maria Hertogh under the care of Che Aminah due to some financial problems. Lastly, according to the Dutch law, a girl can only married after 16, therefore the Dutch did not recognize juvenile Maria Hertogh's marriage.

In Che Aminah's point of view.

I think that the court is being unfair to Che Aminah as the judge threw out the appeal within 5 minutes. This meant that the judge did not even bother to look into the situation of Che Aminah, being deprived of her foster daughter. As Singapore was still under the British rule, I think that the British did not wish to offend the Dutch who gave them three islands, in trade of Sumatra and the Dutch East Indies. I think that the British should still respect the Malay tradition even though they did not recognize their culture.

The riots highlighted the insensitive way the media handled religious and racial issues in Singapore. The British colonial authorities also failed to defuse an explosive situation when emotional reports appeared in the local press of the custody battle accompanied by sensational media photographs of a Muslim girl in a Catholic convent.

Although the rioters were mainly Malays, they included a large number of foreigners including Indians, Pakistani and Indonesian Muslims.

Adding to this, the mainly Malay Police Force appeared to sympathise with the Muslim rioters and displayed some measure of deliberate inaction and defection during the riots. Gurkha Police Riot Squad Department, constituting at least 149 men were withdrawn at critical conditions.

As a result of this historic event, the Government of Singapore, upon independence in 1965, instituted legislation against racial discrimination. It became an offence to incite racial and religious hatred in Singapore. The local media exercised greater discipline in the coverage of sensitive issues. National integration and nation-building took top priority in the formulation of government policies.

Renascent of The Late Maria Hertogh - Nadra/Natrah

This posting has gone haywire while trying to edit Natrah's spelling. It was posted in July 2009 but after writing Natrah on the title, it jumped to today's date, 11th December 2009. I would try to edit the pictures tomorrow or whenever I am free.

Special tribute to the late Maria Hertogh aka Nadra

The late beautiful Nadra in Malay attire with her "selendang", a head gear...

Probably ....

The most heart-rending story ever brought about in my home-land, which was the place where I was born, Kemaman. Resulting "it" to be in the history, which carried and tagged all the way until today, while bloggers write about the late Maria (may peace be upon her) . My late mother was also a close friend of the late Cik Aminah binti Mohamed and I have vaguely heard about her aka Nadrah during their conversations.

In 1980's I came across writings about her by a distinguished writer, Datin Fatini Yaacob, who spent a great deal of time, traveled the continent looking for her, found her, met her with her family... but... but... could not hug her (as she put it)... although she sadly very much wanted to... instead, the late Nadra was hugging her child at that instant. I was personally moved by her effort to trace and write about this lady.

The beautiful distinguished writer

Fatini and Nadra - fully dressed in Malay baju kurong which she was extremely familiar of since her childhood days.

Each time I found articles about her, I read with intent and my whole heart went with it... I felt so deeply for her although I did not get the chance to get to know her at all... But I knew her adoptive family and all their extended family members. Reports (today) about Kartini (presumably one of the grandchildren of Cik Aminah) went over to see the late Nadra just four months ago was evidently clear that they were all "in touch" with each other....

Trials and tibulations for a young girl whom no one knew and cared "how she felt, what she felt and for how long after she felt"....
Until her passing on, no justice was ever done to her.... only Allah Knows best.

Maria Hertogh riots

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maria Hertogh and Che Aminah binte Mohamed, circa 1950. A heart-rending picture...

Hertogh riots or Nadrah riots, which started on 11 December 1950 in Singapore, consisted of outraged Muslims who resented the court decision to give the custody of Maria Hertogh (or Bertha Hertogh), then 13, to her biological Dutch Catholic parents after she had been raised as a Muslim under the care of Aminah binte Mohamed, whom she regarded as her mother. The riots lasted till noon on 13 December, with 18 killed, 173 injured and many properties damaged – the worst incident of its kind ever witnessed in Singapore.

Prior to the riots, the disputed custody of Maria had received widespread press coverage. Many Muslims living in Malaya and Indonesia believed in the legitimacy of the adoption of Maria and a later short-lived marriage to Mansoor Adabi, two major points of contest in the court proceeding to determine the custody of Maria. They thus lent their support, financial and moral, to organizations that fought to keep Maria in Malaya. But some, such as the Malayan nationalists, seized the incident as an opportunity to further weaken the colonial government's position in the region. The insensitivity of the colonial reversed in a Singaporean court eight years later, was the centre and opening episode of the tragic riots that were to come.

Maria Hertogh[1] was born on March 24, 1937 to a Dutch Catholic family living in Tjimahi, near Bandung, Java, then a part of the Dutch East Indies. Her father, Adrianus Petrus Hertogh, came to Java in the 1920s as a sergeant in the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army. He married Adeline Hunter, a Eurasian of Scottish-Malaybaptized in the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Ignatius at Tjimahi on descent brought up in Java, in the early 1930s. Little Maria was April 10 by a Catholic priest.

When World War II broke out, Sergeant Hertogh was captured by the Imperial Japanese Army and sent to a POW holding facility in Japan, where he was kept till 1945. Meanwhile, Adeline Hertogh stayed with her mother, Nor Louise, and her five children, among whom Maria was the third and youngest daughter. On December 29, 1942, Mrs. Hertogh gave birth to her sixth child, a boy. Three days later, Maria went to stay with Aminah binte Mohammad, a 42-year-old Javanese woman and a close friend of Nor Louise. This controversial transfer of custody, reversed in a Singaporean court eight years later, was the centre and opening episode of the tragic riots that were to come.

Adoption or a short stay?
Adeline Hertogh's version
According to Adeline Hertogh, in the version given in evidence before the court at the hearing in November 1950, she was persuaded by her mother after the birth of her sixth child to allow Maria to go and stay with Aminah in Bandung for three or four days. Consequently, Aminah arrived on 1 January 1943 to fetch Maria. When the child was not returned, Mrs. Hertogh borrowed a bicycle on 6 January and set out to retrieve her daughter. She claimed that she was arrested by a Japanese sentry on the outskirts of Bandung as she did not possess a pass and was thereupon interned.

From her internment camp, she smuggled a letter to her mother, requesting for her children to be sent to her. This Nor Louise did, but Maria was not among them. So Mrs. Hertogh asked her mother to fetch Maria from Aminah. Her mother later wrote and told her that Aminah wanted to keep Maria for two more days, after which she herself would bring the child to the camp. This did not materialize and Mrs. Hertogh did not see Maria throughout her internment. After her release, she could find neither Maria nor Aminah.

Aminah binte Mohamed's version
The above version was rejected by Aminah binte Mohamed in her affidavits and sworn testimony to the High Court on several occasions. She claimed that Adeline Hertogh had given Maria to her for adoption in late 1942. She asserted that she, without offspring of her own, told Mrs. Hertogh then that she would regard Maria absolutely as her child, whom she would bring up in the Muslim faith. To this, according to Aminah, Mrs. Hertogh replied that she would be glad as she herself had been brought up as a Muslim[2].

Aminah also contested the truth of Adeline Hertogh's internment by the Japanese. She testified that she and Mrs. Hertogh continued to visit each other frequently after the adoption until the latter left for Surabaya to look for a job "about the end of 1943 or the beginning of 1944." Thereafter the two never saw each other again till 1950.

A new home and a new religion
Anyhow, Maria Hertogh received her circumcision in late 1943, whereupon she was given the name Nadra binte Ma'arof. For unknown reasons her new family moved to Jakarta for a period before moving back to Bandung again, where Aminah worked for the Japanese military police as an interpreter until the end of the war.

Then, in 1947, fearing harm upon the family during the Indonesian National Revolution as Maria was a "Putih", or a "White Child", Aminah moved via Singapore to her hometown in Kemaman, in the state of Terengganu, then Malaya. By then Maria was completely the same as any other Malay Muslim girl of her age: she spoke only Malay, wore Malay clothes and practised her religion devoutly.

To court
In 1945, with the end of World War II, Sergeant Hertogh was released and returned to Java, where he reunited with his wife. The couple said that they inquired about Maria but could find neither their daughter nor Aminah. They then returned to the Netherlands after requesting the Dutch authorities in Java and Singapore to try to trace the child. Investigations were then made by the Red Cross Society, the Indonesian Repatriation Service, the Royal Netherlands Army and local police. Finally, in September 1949, Aminah and Maria were traced to the kampong they were living in.

Negotiations were opened to retrieve Maria in early 1950. The Dutch Consulate offered S$500 to make up for Aminah's expenses in bringing up the girl for eight years. Aminah rejected the offer and refused to give up her foster-daughter. Nonetheless, she was persuaded to travel with Maria to Singapore in April to discuss the issue with the Dutch Consul-General. However, Aminah's firm position could not be wavered and the Consulate eventually applied to the High Court on 22 April for Maria to be delivered into the custody of the Social Welfare Department pending further order. The Chief Justice heard it on the same day and approved the application ex parte.

The next day, an officer from the department served the order on Aminah and brought Maria away. After a routine medical examination at the Middle Road Hospital, she was admitted to the Girls Homecraft Centre at York Hill. From this point onwards, Maria had made it clear that she wanted to stay with Aminah and did not wish to be returned to her natural parents. However, the High Court ruled on 17 May after a short hearing of about 15 minutes that the custody of Maria be entitled to the Hertoghs.
As Aminah and Maria exited the court via the backdoor, a car from the Consulate was waiting to take Maria away. Maria refused to enter the car and clung on to Aminah, both shouting in Malay that they would kill themselves rather than be separated. A large crowd quickly formed around the commotion. It was only after much persuasion that Aminah agreed to enter the car together with Maria and pay a visit to her lawyer, who explained that Maria had to be given up until an appeal was made. The duo then parted in tears, with Maria returned to York Hill for temporary safekeeping.

At York Hill Maria stayed for two more months, under a further order from the Chief Justice pending appeal, which was filed on 28 July. The verdict was an overruling of the earlier decision. Aside from the ex parte order to hand Maria to the Social Welfare Department, the Appellate Court found ambiguity in the Dutch Consul-General's representation of Maria's natural father, a rather minor and technical detail but apparently significant enough under the circumstance. Both Aminah and Maria were overjoyed.

Controversial marriage

On 1 August 1950, merely four days after winning the appeal, the events took a dramatic and unexpected turn. Maria was married to 22-year-old Mansoor Adabi, a Malayan-born who was then a teacher-in-training at the Bukit Panjang Government School, in a Muslim ritual. The marriage could have been a manoeuvre by Aminah to prevent further attempts by the Hertoghs to get back their daughter, as Maria returned to live with Aminah after the wedding night and the new couple never consummated their marriage. Whether such speculation was true was unimportant in the subsequent development of events, in which Maria, a willing bride nonetheless, became the central figure.

The first challenges on the appropriateness of the marriage actually came from the Muslim community. On 10 August, a Muslim leader wrote to The Straits Times pointing out that although the Islamic law permits the marriage of girls after puberty (which Maria had reached a year earlier), there were Muslim countries such as Egypt that legislated for a minimum marriage age of 16. He added, however, that it would not be in the interest of "the friendly understanding... between Christians and Muslims" to object to the marriage since it had already taken place. The latter view was held by the Muslim population at large, albeit in a more antagonistic mood against the Dutch and Europeans at large.

To court, again

Meanwhile, the Hertoghs had not given up legal pursuit to retrieve their daughter. Only a day after the marriage, Aminah received the Hertoghs' representative lawyers from Kuala Lumpur. The lawyers delivered a letter demanding the return of Maria by 10 August, failing which legal action would be taken. Believing that the marriage settled the matter, Aminah and Mansoor both ignored the deadline. The Hertoghs did not. On 26 August, an originating summons was taken out, under the Guardianship of Infants Ordinance, by the Hertoghs as plaintiffs against Aminah, Maria and Mansoor, who were all made defendants.

The hearing did not begin till 20 November. For four months the matter hung in suspense. During this time, Maria rarely left her residence in the house of M.A. Majid, then president of the Muslim Welfare Association, because in her own words, she attracted "too much attention". Nevertheless, media coverage on the incident had grown to a global scale. Letters from Muslim organizations in Pakistan promising financial and other help arrived, some going so far as to declare any further move by the Dutch Government to separate the couple as "an open challenge to the Muslim world". Pledges of aid also came from Indonesia and as far as Saudi Arabia.

The hearing finally opened, and Maria's natural mother, Adeline Hertogh traveled down to Singapore to attend. The judge, Justice Brown, delivered the verdict two weeks later. The marriage, instead of resolving the dispute, had instead complicated it. Justice Brown had two issues on his hand, namely the legality of the marriage and the custody of Maria. He held that the marriage was invalid because:

1. Maria's country of domicile was, by law that of her natural father, i.e. the Netherlands. Under the Dutch laws, the minimum age of marriage for girls was 16. The English law applicable in Singapore recognized the marriage laws of the subject's country of domicile.

2. An exception to the above point could not be established because neither Mansoor, born in Kelantan, could be proved to be domiciled in Singapore nor Maria be considered a Muslim by law[3]. During her minority, Maria's natural father, who was a Christian, had the legal right to control her religion. He had testified that he would never consent to her conversion to Islam.

Having overruled the purported marriage, Justice Brown went on to deal with what he described as the "most difficult" question of custody. He noted that his duty to the law required him "to have regard primarily to the welfare of the infant". He believed this meant that he not only had to consider the current wishes of Maria, but also her future well-being.

He stated:

It is natural that she should now wish to remain in Malaya among people whom she knows. But who can say that she will have the same views some years hence after her outlooks has been enlarged, and her contacts extended, in the life of the family to which she belongs?"

He also noted that whatever the details of the contested initiation of the custody at the end of 1942 might be, Adrianus Hertogh had not been part of it and had not abrogated his parental rights. He therefore awarded the custody of Maria to the Hertoghs and ordered that she should be handed over to her mother with immediate effect.

Stay at the convent

When policewomen came to take Maria away, she wept and clung to Aminah and Mansoor. Aminah fainted on the spot and a doctor standing by had to attend to her. Mansoor advised Maria to concede for the time being and promised that he and others would carry on the legal fight. Thus Maria allowed herself to be brought away into a car. Outside, the police, including a Gurkha contingent, held back a crowd of several hundred.

The car delivered Maria to the Roman Catholic Convent of the Good Shepherd in Thomson Road. Mrs. Hertogh stayed at another address for a few days, from where she visited Maria daily, before moving in to the convent herself. According to an official of the Netherlands Consulate-General, such arrangement was because of "greater convenience" while the stay of execution pending appeal was in effect. But it proved to be the falsest step, the spark that lit the fuse of the subsequent riots.

First and foremost, the press was not barred from entering the convent grounds. Nor were they restricted in any way in their approach to the incident, which had been nothing shy of sensational. On 5 December, the Singapore Standard published on its front page a photograph of Maria standing holding hands with the Reverend Mother. There were several more pictures on page 2, under the headline: Bertha knelt before Virgin Mary Statue. The Malay press retorted. The Utusan Melayu published on 7 December three photographs of Maria weeping and being comforted by a nun, as well as articles about Maria's "lonely and miserable" life in the convent.
These pictures, whether presenting Maria as happy or sad, mostly showed Maria surrounded by symbols of Christian faith. The Muslims, who looked upon Maria as one of their own, were deeply offended by such pictures, not to mention the sensational reports, some of which explicitly labeled the case as a religious issue between Islam and Christianity.

On 9 December, an organization calling itself the Nadra Action Committee was formally constituted under the leadership of Karim Ghani, a Muslim political activist from Rangoon. This extreme organization solicited support among local Muslims by distributing free copies of its newspaper, the Dawn (not the Dawn, an English paper published in Pakistan). Karim Ghani had also made an open speech at the Sultan Mosque on 8 December in which he mentioned jihad as a final resort.

In the light of these potent signs of a great disturbance, the Criminal Investigation Department sent a memo to the Colonial Secretary suggesting moving Maria back to York Hill to avoid further inciting Muslim anger. The Secretary did not agree on grounds that he had received no such representations from Muslim leaders, nor did he have the authority to remove Maria without further court orders - weak excuses since Maria could be relocated with her mother's consent. Nonetheless, it could never be said if moving Maria out of the convent at such a late stage could have averted the riots.

The riots
The appeal hearing opened on 11 December. Maria stayed at the convent and did not attend. Since early morning, crowds carrying banners and flags with star and crescent symbols began to gather around the Supreme Court. By noon, when the hearing eventually began, the restive crowd had grown to 2,000 to 3,000 in number. Unbelievably, the court threw out the appeal within five minutes. The brevity of the hearing convinced the gathering that the colonial legal system was biased against Muslims. The riots erupted.

The mob (largely consisted of Malay or Indonesian Muslims but local Chinese gangs were also reported to have joined in) moved out to attack any Europeans and even Eurasians in sight. They overturned cars and burnt them. The police force, its lower ranks largely consisted of Malays who sympathized with the rioters' cause, were ineffective in quelling the riots. By nightfall the riots had spread to even the more remote parts of the island. Help from the British military was enlisted only at around 6:45 PM. Major-General Dunlop promptly deployed two Internal Security Battalions while calling in further reinforcements from Malaya. Meanwhile, various Muslim leaders appealed over the radio for the riots to cease.

Reinforcements arrived early on 12 December, but riotous incidents continued on that day. The troops and police only managed to regain control of the situation by noon on 13 December. In total, 18 people were killed, among whom were seven Europeans or Eurasians, two police officers, and nine rioters shot by the police or military, 173 were injured, many of them seriously, 119 vehicles were damaged, and at least two buildings were set on fire. Subsequently, two weeks of 24-hour curfew were imposed, and it was a long time before complete law and order was re-established.

The trials
After the riot, the police set up a special investigation unit which detained 778 people, among them Karim Ghani[4]. Out of these, 403 were released unconditionally and 106 were released on various conditions (they generally had to report to the police station monthly and adhere to a curfew after dark). The police eventually brought rioting charges against 200 people, of whom 25 were acquitted, 100 were convicted, 62 were referred to the Inquiry Advisory Committee, and seven were brought to trial at the Assize Court for wanton killing and five of them were subsequently sentenced to death on the gallows.

On 25 August 1951, Tunku Abdul Rahman, who would later become the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, took over as the president of UMNO, a Malay and therefore Muslim party, that remains the largest and ruling political party in Malaysia today. He immediately set out to save the five on death row. Having garnered support from the Muslim population, Abdul Rahman placed pressure on the authorities, who finally gave in. The British government was expecting their role as the colonial master to end very soon and did not wish to leave behind grim memories. The death sentences for all five were commuted to life imprisonment.

A Commission of Inquiry was appointed by Governor Franklin Gimson. It was headed by Sir Lionel Leach, a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Commission placed large blame on the police command for not having anticipated the violence from many indicators between 2 and 11 December. Furthermore, when the riots first started, the police failed to act promptly to disperse the crowd. The Gurkha contingent standing by was not put into action, while too much dependence was placed on Malay policemen, many of whom defected or at least hesitated to carry out their duties. The British House of Commons criticised the colonial government for its poor handling of the situation.

Present day Government of Singapore also attributed the tragedy to the insensitivity of the colonial government towards the racial and religious feelings of the locals. It cites the incident as a vital lesson learnt in the importance of racial and religious understanding and harmony. It also cites the incident as a case for placing a certain degree of governmental control on the media, especially when racial or religious issues are implicated.

On the night the riots broke out, Maria Hertogh was moved out of the convent, where the rioters tried twice to march on and were only kept back by the police. Plans were made at York Hill to receive her but she was instead sent to Saint John's Island, an offshore island 4 miles south of the main island of Singapore. The next day, Maria and Adeline Hertogh departed for the Netherlands by aeroplane. After landing in Schiphol Airport, they quickly proceeded to the Hertogh home on the outskirts of Bergen op Zoom.

At first, Maria could only talk to her mother, the only one in the family who understood Malay. She demanded rice with every meal, resenting the western diet. She continued to say her Muslim prayers five times a day. In addition, a policeman in plain clothes was assigned to escort her whenever she left the house, for fear of possible kidnappers who might take her back to Singapore, following reported sighting of "oriental strangers" around town. The house was also placed under surveillance.

Slowly, Maria began to adjust to her new environment. A nun came to the house daily to teach her Dutch until she was proficient enough to attend a local convent school. She also began to attend Mass with her family. Back in Singapore, Aminah and Mansoor had apparently given up hope of retrieving Maria after leave to appeal to the Privy Council was not granted. Earlier interest of the several Muslim groups involved had also gradually died down.

On 20 April 1956, Maria was married to Johan Gerardus Wolkefeld[5], a 21-year-old Dutch Catholic. On 15 February 1957, she gave birth to a son, the first child of ten. However, Maria did not seem to be content. As she told De Telegraaf, she often had rows with her mother, who lived near by. She also said she still longed for her Malayan homeland. Johan and Mansoor began corresponding. In letters both expressed wish for Maria to travel to Malaya to visit the aged Aminah, but such trip was never made due primarily to financial difficulties. Aminah died in 1976.

The life story of Maria took another dramatic turn on 16 August of the same year, when Maria found herself on trial in a Dutch court charged with plotting to murder her husband. She admitted in court that she had been thinking about leaving her husband but was afraid to start divorce proceedings in case she lost custody of her children. She came into contact with two regular customers at her husband's cafe bar. The trio bought a revolver and recruited a fourth accomplice to carry out the actual murder. However, the latest member got cold feet and gossiped about the murder plan. The police quickly learnt of it and arrested all four conspirators.
In her defense, Maria's lawyers brought up her background, which the court acknowledged. With this in mind, and because the plot was never executed and there was no proof that she offered any inducement to the other three, the three-man bench acquitted Maria. Meanwhile, Maria had also filed for divorce on the grounds of the irreparable breakdown of her marriage.

On 8th of July 2009, Maria Hertogh died at her house in Huijbergen at the age of 72. The cause of her death was believed to be the Leukemia that she had been suffering from[6].

See also
• 1969 Race Riots of Singapore

• 1964 Race Riots

1. ^ Her full name at birth was Huberdina Maria Hertogh. To Dutch and other westerners she was normally known as Bertha (or Berta) Hertogh. The name given to her when circumcised by Muslim rites was Nadra binte Ma'arof, which was the name used by the Malays and other Muslims. However, Maria Hertogh was the name most frequently used in court proceedings and the English press.

2. ^ There was an uncanny parallel between the early lives of Maria Hertogh and her mother. Adeline Hunter, born a Eurasian, was adopted by a Muslim family at a young age. She married Adrianus Hertogh at the age of 15, upon which she converted to Christianity. Maria would later go through the same conversion, at around the same age, albeit involuntarily. Moreover, both were eventually married to Dutch soldiers.

3. ^ If and only if both conditions were met could the Muslim law practiced in Singapore be applied to the case, which would render the marriage valid.

4. ^ Karim Ghani was arrested along with several members of the Nadra Action Committee and held at the detention camp on Saint John's Island for 15 months under Emergency Regulation 20 for his part in the riots before being released on grounds of poor health.

5. ^ Family tree of Johannes Gerardus Wolkenfelt, Berthe and their ten children

6. ^ Maria Hertogh (Natrah) meninggal dunia di Belanda as reported by Malaysian ambassador to the Kingdom of Netherlands through e-mail to Bernama News Agency.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


The war torn country
Opened up a history for me
With gladness I accepted this despe
rate request
That vary day Bertha was in my care

From someone I had known
To be a friend and companion
Who was facing serious trouble
In a war torn country

Sincerely I adhered to her wishes
Back to Kemaman with Bertha I went
I then treated her like my own
Embracing Islam as she should

From a merely less than 5 years of age
She was tenderly cared and loved
Affection was showered endlessly
It grew and grew blossomed like flower

She was a good and a beautiful child
She was a faithful child
She obeyed me so well
She was much loved by all

However, beyond our expectations
Things abruptly changed
Someone came and looking
Manipulated facts and promises were made

Believing they were true
I adhered to the words
I was naive
I agreed to the plan

I was promised a letter
The Dutch Consulate was going to issue
For the legal adoption of Natrah
I would just do anything for her

The bloke who gave the promise
Was the bloke that manipulated it all
I and Natrah traveled the seas
To Singapore we sailed with high hopes

The Colonial time was the time
Innocent people were taken for a ride
I was one who fell victim
Losing my self esteem and pride

Once the promise was proven untrue
I was desperately fighting
With guts, pride, spirits and faith
Were my best weapons put in use

Supports received were overwhelming
People tried to save a young Dutch girl
Whose faith in Islam was so strong
Whose love and affection was undying

WE had sleepless nights and restless days
Desperately trying all avenues
To save Natrah's faith and the love so pure
Soon to be torn from this heart mine

Winning the court case was not the end
Natrah's paternal family fought strongly
The second time round we were defeated
Natrah was to return to them, her rightful parents

Heart breaks, aches, despair and helplessness
Tormenting nights and days followed
Battles lost won wider sympathy
Endless empathy set in from people all around

The distinguished politicians
The men in the streets
The whole nation felt
The whole battle was coming to an end

I would have never thought
The desperate lady would turn around
And say "I have never given Natrah to you"
Sadly I also have misplaced the letter she once wrote

Out of ignorance I lost
I had lost everything
I felt my whole life was taken away
My heart died the moment she went

Now I am home alone in Kemaman
Pondering the past wondering the present
How is Natrah getting on over there
With life and religion so very different

I severed my friendship with the Hertoghs
It was so unbecoming of them
No words of appreciations were delivered
No feeling of gratitude ever felt

The pain, anguish, disappointment, emptiness
All set in like the fierce strikes of lightning
My heart went with Natrah, my beloved child
My whole life was suddenly bleak

What do I have now?
I was left with empty arms
My heart was full of pain and hurts
NO! It was more than pain...

Thus their demise ended their despair
BUT something else never ends
History, journals, texts, pictures
Lingers on and on and on
Theater liven the history
Finger tips writing endless stories
Poems and scripts replacing their torments
Heart felt grieves were shared across
They both made a grieving history
Successfully capturing our hearts, mind and soul!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


We (me and my pic) drove out at almost 8:00p.m. The roads were traffic-friendly indeed.  10 minutes? Or was it 15?  We were already at the car park... It was full.  It appeared impossible to get one.  As I maneuvered the bends and in between the parked cars,  I thought, oh how far shall we have to walk before we found their main entrance?  The grand Istana Budaya (Cultural Palace- direct translation) stood there, still and motionless.  Couldn't care less if we managed to trot up the corridors, turning to the right and then left and into its grand lobby.

We were finally there.  Many people were taking pictures,  buying the program books and perhaps the Book entitled "Natrah".  I was looking for the writer herself.  It was obvious, she was not around.  Soon we found our way into the theater and looking for our seats.

Thus the theater began.....

The husky, deep and prominent voice of  "Natrah" (acted by Sophia Jane) describing her beginning, her journey through life at a raw young age, her faith, love and feeling of belonging to Allah, how others forgetting her own feelings towards her well being and existence, battling between self pity, love that was torn apart, the anguish,disgust,  frustrations, pretense, manipulations, helplessness, bitterness OF a YOUNG girl ... just being born to understand life.  Eventually,   she was forced to grow up much too soon for her tender age to bear,  to face the consequences of LIFE which seemed all the while treating her unfairly and she had to walk through this thorny path, endure the pain and sorrow and the torture of her minds and soul.... till July 2009.  

Her demise ended her life's journey but ours have not.

As we watched, listened and felt... TEARS left our vary eyes non stop... The Director was so talented and I should congratulate her and all those involved for such a beautiful and remarkable performance.  It was a great success.

Natrah's life as I am describing in my poetic manner

Was it my fault that the war happened?
Was it my fault that I was forced to be separated?
Was it my fault that I was fostered 
At that raw age of 4 yrs plus?
Was it my fault that I embraced Islam?
Which I was glad that I did

Was it my fault that I learned to read 
the Al Quran and to pray?
Which I was glad that I did

Suddenly you came back into my life ...
After 9 years??
Yes, after 9 long years of silence

When happiness was all over me 
AND I was enjoying life to the fullest

I was loved and I loved this family
This special mother in particular
I owe her my life and soul

Who had for so long sacrificed for me 
...and for you (my parents)
She who had taken care of me 
With such  affection
Her undying love and  undivided attention 
Were showered upon me
I was trying to adapt and I managed well
A long nine years of life in peace,
tranquility and enjoyment
With a strong faith in Allah

With AlQuran as my constant companion
Prayers that gave me 
A feeling of contentment

Suddenly you broke the silence 
of that 9 long years
IT was like an end to this world
I was to be separated? 
From a kind-hearted lady whom I called MAK
What about her?  
Must I leave her and go home with you?
You had given me away into her care

She had done overwhelmingly for my own well being
Where were you all those while?  
Where have you been?
Why now? Why suddenly you came looking for me?
Coming back into my life???


After such manipulation, court battles, the 3 day-marriage
Commotions, worn out emotions

The bloody riots in Singapore

CAME THE leaving behinds

The leaving of my beloved MAK(mother) for good
Who was not told but waited with empty arms
With immense disappointments after disappointments
With  much heart breaking moments

Leaving behind fortunes of memories in Kemaman
Leaving behind a newly wedded husband 
Whose love was pure and sincere

Without  proper good byes neither last kisses nor warm hugs
Without any proper send offs 
Nor gesture of gratitude

I was snatched and forced  against my will
To go home to where I have never been before
It was not my birth place but my homeland
Where you think I belonged

DID anyone bother to  pause, to ponder, 
To care for this little girl of 13 years old?
How I have felt all the while
Facing such a rough and tough fight against my will?
Never have I forgave anyone 
For the ordeal I was forced to face

Life in my homeland 
Was full of shadows of the past
That kept haunting me through and through

The loves left behind, the religion 
And the friends I have met
All filling up my life's journey
Until the day I bid you goodbye

SAD, sad, sad
No one ever cared about my feelings

How I had wanted my life to be
Where I had wanted to be
No one ever bothered about me
But they bothered so much 
About how they felt
How things should be 
According to how they wanted
There was no fairness at all 
Did they ever bothered 
How deep inside I was severely hurt?


Yes! Fate was not on my side
Fate was molded by them???
I went through a sad life full of despair, 
grieves and suicidal
But did anyone bothered after that battle?
Who came to my aid?  Who?
I battled my life alone, all alone
I shall never forget my childhood life


All these pictures were taken using my phone cam 
*from the  lobby area
*inside the theater

*from a printed media....their program book

Honestly, If ANYONE were to invite me for another go, I would not hesitate.  It really touched me deep down.  But I am not expressive enough to post a better poem... BUT I have expressed it the way I felt Natrah had wanted it...It took me a total hours 5 to complete this poem.

May God Bless Her Soul and May She Rest In Peace.