Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Unjustified Communist Glorification

Written by johnleemk on 2:03:31 pm May 21, 2007.
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Many historians revisiting the early days of our country don't have much good to say about the members of the establishment then. In particular, they revel in attacking the pro-British views of the Alliance leaders, condemning them as perpetuating subtle foreign domination of the country — neo-colonialism, they call it.

These same people also glorify — or at least refrain from condemning — the Malayan Communist Party, praising it for its independence from the British (hey, they did wage a guerrilla war against the British in the first place).

Now, there actually is quite a bit of substance to those claims about the Alliance leaders being pro-British. But as the Tunku pointed out, what was the point of being anti-British for the sake of it?

Does it make us any more grander, any more greater, to have avoided co-operating with the British? Yes, people point to agreements where the government of newly independent Malaya promised not to impose capital controls and to avoid nationalising foreign holdings — but why would we have wanted to do these things in the first place then?

(Then again, I suppose mine is a bit of a laissez-faire point of view — I believe statist economies don't work, though I'm sure many of these leftist historians would beg to differ.)

There are of course valid reasons related to the British to criticise the Alliance men. One thing that grates me is the Malayan perpetuation of a British creation that the British later backpedaled on — Malay supremacy. The maintenance of identification of race with economic function is another frustrating thing.

But none of these things occurred because the Alliance consciously wished to adopt British policies, or because the British exerted undue pressure on the Malayan government. The blame for them lies alone on the Malayan Alliance government.

But what truly disturbs me even more is the whitewashing of communism which I have seen in some circles. Because we are so fed up with the stupid policies of the Alliance, we have jumped from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak.

Modern day revisionists often emphasise how the MCP had earlier fought against the Japanese, and later the British, for Malayan independence. They paint the MCP as benevolent, and at the worst, conflicted heroes.

The reality is, the true victims of the MCP — as in almost any guerrilla war — were the Malayan people. The MCP attacks killed hundreds of innocent Malayans, and extorted supplies from many more.

That the men and women of the MCP continued their armed struggle after independence, even killing high-ranking police officers well into the 1970s, should tell you something about the so-called greatness of their struggle.

So the Alliance wasn't exactly the best government we could have hoped for (to say the least). But unlike the MCP, they at least chose to subjugate Malayans and later Malaysians in a peaceful way, rather than a violent one like the MCP's.

Should we glorify the Alliance? Hell, no. But should we praise the communists? No. If you think rationally about it, both the Alliance and MCP were far from the best choices to lead Malaya. But that remains no excuse to glorify one or the other — both deserve to be recognised for the few good things they did, and to be condemned for the many bad things they did. That is the only fair assessment possible.


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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.


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