Tengku Hassan (83) was born in Pidie, Aceh on 25 September 1925. He was the third in line of the Aceh kings when the Dutch attacked Aceh in 1978. In his fight for Aceh's freedom, Tengku Hassan set up GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) in _____ . GAM soon became a symbol of Aceh's peoples' freedom fight but a controversial organisation and was later banned by the Indonesian government. Tengku Hassan fled to Stockholm, Sweden and lived in exile. He set up an Aceh government in exile while living in Stockholm. Aceh did not fare well without its warriors. Aceh suffered severely with some 200,000 lives lost in the tsunami of 26 December 2004.
After much deliberation, a peace treaty was signed between Indonesia and GAM in Helsinki, Finland on 15 August 2005. After 30 years living in exile, Tengku Hassan eventually returned to Aceh, via Penang, on 11 October 2008. He received a warm welcome by his relatives and the people of Aceh.
Tengku Hassan had friends in Penang. Among them were Malay leaders, including a religious man, Mualim Haji Yusof Rawa, the 5th PAS President (Yang di-Pertua PAS 1982-88) who succeeded Dato' Asri Muda (4th PAS President 1969-82). Haji Yusof Rawa owned a bookshop at Acheen St in Penang, close to the famed Masjid Jamek Melayu Aceh Pulau Pinang. Ustaz Fadzil Noor was the 6th PAS President (1988-2002).
A national hero, Tengku Hassan was regarded as Wali Negara and was alluded to as such. His colleague, also a national hero, was Daud Brueh. They wanted a free Negara Islam Aceh, from then President Soekarno and his deputy, Dr Mohd. Hatta. Indonesia gained its independence from the Dutch on 17 August 1947.
At the time, Mokhtar Petah was a student at the Daeratul Maariful Wataniah Islamic school in Kepala Batas, Seberang Perai Utara and was also a news writer with Warta Negara in Argyll Rd, Penang. He met with both the heroes Tengku Hassan and Daud Brueh in a room at Haji Yusof Rawa's bookshop in 1954. The two heroes always came to Penang for working out Aceh's independence. The two great men were not alone in Penang as there were also native Aceh traders who brought products from Aceh.
When President Soekarno was willing to deal with GAM, GAM requested for the Indonesian government to provide a free Quran to each Aceh subject aged 15 and above. President Soekarno agreed to the demand. The three men agreed to appoint Haji Yusof Rawa to print the needed quantity of Quran, which were then sent to Aceh.
Among those who met Tengku Hassan in Kuala Lumpur before he left for Aceh were PAS members, Kamaruddin Jaafar (Chief Secretary/Setiausaha Agung), Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli (Treasurer/Bendahari), and Abu Bakar Chik (AJK Agung). 7th PAS President (20003-present), Haji Abdul Hadi Awang could not make it to Aceh. However, his Political Secretary, Dr Ahmad Shamsuri Mokhtar, went as his representative.
Tengku Hassan returned to Aceh with 2 other leaders, Malik Mahmood (former prime minister of the Aceh government in exile) and Dr Zaini Abdullah (former external minister and health minister). There were some 20 people in his entourage.
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