Selepang Merah vigilantes

A direct translation of the Malay term selepang merah. Selepang is a type of shawl or kesa draped diagonally over one’s shoulder. Merah means red. This is the name of a group of Malay vigilante groups that formed and reformed several times during Malaya’s and Malaysia’s tumultuous periods of the State of Emergency and racial conflicts between 1945 and 1969. Originally formed after the war by Javanese communities in Johore to resist the Communists, the concept gained ground elsewhere in Malaya where locals were felt compelled to mobilise against terrorists. In the 1950s, this group was led by the Banjarese communities in Perak. In 1969, troubles were concentrated only in the capital city and Selangor. It wasn’t certain if the Red Sash vigilante group mobilised there. The Red Sash is noted not only for its membership of martial art experts, but also in the use of magic. See ‘flying blades’.

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