Monday, August 24, 2009

Books on Communism in Malaya

In addition to Voice of Malayan Revolution, Select carries a number of good books on communism in Malaya. Here are four we recommend:
  • Emergency Propaganda: The Winning of Malayan Hearts and Minds 1948-1958 by Kumar Ramakrishna. A referenced and documented study of the nature and role of government propaganda during the Communist insurgency in Malaya 1948-58. The aspects explored include: the background of the Malayan Emergency; the impact of the MCP on the confidence of both the terrorists and the rural Chinese; the British propaganda "mistakes" of 1948-50; the changed styles of 1950-52; the ideas and major impact of Templer's actions and policies 1952-54; the post-Merdeka propaganda and policy synchronisation 1954-58 and its contribution to the 1958 demobilisation of the MCP. The writer demonstrates how successful propaganda embraces not only the transmission of words and ideas but also their validation and in demonstrated deeds and actions.
  • The Rise and Fall of Communism in Sarawak 1940-1990 by Vernon L. Porritt. Communism, underpinned by a China that aimed to extend its influence in the region, was a significant force in Southeast Asia in the 1950s and 1960s, including Malaya. As Sarawak evolved from a British colonial outpost to statehood in the Federation of Malaysia, its social and political stability was threatened by communist insurgency. This book explains how communism was nurtured among the youth of Sarawak's ethnic Chinese community from the early 1940s, how it grew into a powerful guerrilla movement that survived for decades, how the movement was overcome, and the amnesty that saw the last of the Sarawak communist guerillas lay down arms less than 20 years ago. With some maps and black-and-white photographs.
  • Fong Chong Pik: The Memoirs of a Malayan Communist Revolutionary by Fong Chong Pik and translated by Chan Siew Yip. China-born Singaporean Fong Chong Pik or Fong Chong Pi alias "The Plen", (1926-2004) was an important force in the Communist Party from 1950 until his death. These memoirs, originally published in Chinese, offer Communist Party points of view on various aspects of the anti-colonial struggle, the policies of the People's Action Party, and underground activities including jungle guerrilla activities in Northern Malaya. The pieces are illuminating, savagely bitter, episodic and combative as well as at times ruminative and more humane than self-justifying. After the 1989 Peace Accords the author and his family lived along with other former comrades at the Peace & Friendship village in Southern Thailand. With black-and-white photographs and sketch maps.
  • In Pursuit Of Mountain Rats: The Communist Insurrection In Malaya by Anthony Short. This is a welcome reprint of the scholarly and widely-recognized 1975 account of the Communist insurgency in Malaya, 1948-1960. Making use of much first-hand material and with access to many official records, this detailed study remains essential reading for anyone seriously interested in understanding the crucial events of the period which gave rise to the present political/social shape of Malaysia and its neighbours.

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