M.K. Rajakumar and Poh Soo Kai
Originally published in FAJAR: ORGAN OF THE UNIVERSITY SOCIALIST CLUB, Issue No. 7, Monday, 10th May 1954. Transcribed by Karen Goh
Looming large in Asia once again is the threat of Western aggression. The West has been the aggressor in modern history and Asia has suffered bitterly from Western barbarity. The bitterness of these memories is not easily removed. They will greatly influence Asian thinking for a long time, until the West proves itself worthy of trust and friendship. This day is yet to come and vigilance is needed to prevent any form of Western imperialism getting a foothold in Asia again. Recent events in Asia give great cause for alarm.
We see signs all over Asia that that West is still a menace. In Indo-China the French, backed by American arms, are striving to suppress the Vietminh Nationalists in their struggle for freedom. Republican China is being denied her rightful place in the United Nations, whilst an émigré government is being maintained in Taiwan under the protection of the U.S. navy. Republican India is being dragged into the theatre of war by the purchase of American military bases in Pakistan. Now we are told that Asia is to be defended, whether she likes it or not. A military pact is being formed against Asian objections and without Asian participation. We view this as being, in Mr. A. Bevan’s words, “for the purpose of imposing European colonial rule.”
Little attempt is made to maintain more than a pretence of consulting Asian opinion. The time is past, however, when European nations could make decisions binding on Asia. But this is still not recognized. The South East Asian “defence” pact is the latest example of Western interference. Its immediate object is to stamp out the freedom movement in Indo- China. Its long term object is to prevent the development of any movement in Asia that will stand up against the West. Asian national must take a firm stand now before it is too late. We must warn the West to “Hands off Asia.”
Clearly Asian friendship cannot be won under such hostile conditions. Asia needs Western technical knowledge and we welcome Western friendship. But there can be no compromise with colonialism in any form. “The dramatic change, the psychological revolution” that Jennie Lee speaks of is needed. Anti-communism is not a substitute for this. Yet apparently this negative philosophy is all that the West can offer.
The prospect of Asia “going communism” has been responsible in a large measure for every major Western concession ranging from Indian Independence to land for the Chinese squatter in Malaya. Is it therefore surprising that the spectre of Communism haunting the West should leave Asia unperturbed? Is it any wonder that Asia will have nothing to do with anti-communist fronts? For that is not our problem. We need peace and freedom. The solidarity of Asia is the solidarity of the suppressed. This alone is our fight and we will fight be our fight and we still be dragged into no other. Our sympathies are with all people like us who are thirsting for peace and freedom. We are therefore comrades of the African struggling for the most elementary human rights, of the Indo-Chinese fighting for his freedom. Our enemies are those who would deny us these rights.
Malaya, however, cannot choose. It is one more pimple on the face of Asia where a Colonial Power rules with the help of quislings. As such our interests will always be sacrificed to imperial expediency. Thus we see our country being committed into a military alliance, the SEATO, without the sanction of its people. Our young men are being conscripted; our land is being turned into a military base. Our country is to fight in wars over whose making it will not have any say. We must collaborate in crushing the Indo-Chinese people. We are to be the allies of petite fascists like Syngman Rhee, Chiang Kai Chek and hibun Songgram who stand for totalitarian tyranny. We would rather stand with Republican Indian, Republican China, Republican Burma and their allies in Asia and Africa. The people of this country do not identity themselves with the actions of the Colonial government.