Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Shirley, James R., 1925-1993||Evans, Emory G.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of History


Communism--Malaysia; Malaysia--Politics and government


In Southeast Asia there has been a revolt against the old order. The usual explanation oi the political revolution in Asia is that it was a revolt against European imperialist control. But the new leadership to whom power was transferred was a creation of the old order, a Western-educated middle class. It was only rarely that they cane from the aristocracy or the peasantry. The majority were lawyers, doctors, civil servants, businessmen, intellectuals and students, many of these leaders were influenced by Marxist-Leninist ideology which fox the first time explained the imperialistic evils imposed upon them end their countries. The revolutionary socialist of Southeast Asia formed one of the strongest and most aggressive "left-wing" parties in the area. Few dynamic counterparts to communism were to be found in the region’s nationalism, which blankets too many vague emotions, or its religions, which are too diverse and passive; and their power has bean felt only when they have opposed a frontal attack by the communists. Southeast Asia's revolutionary socialist parties serve as a rallying point for all who are dissatisfied with the existing authority and provide clandestine activity and violent outlets to the adventurous Asians respond to the ideas which Lenin popularized and later crystallized in the thesis of the Second Comintern Congress. The number of Asians, who, between the wars, introduced and spread Marxist-Leninist principles was exceedingly small; yet by any estimate the effect of this work was exceedingly large. Local, national, and international communist propaganda never abandoned its anti-colonial, anti-imperialistic tune, no matter ow many variations it played. Thus, revolutionary and democratic socialists had little difficulty in accommodating their strategy to the anti-alien revolt which characterized the Asian nationalist movements prior to War II and independence. Non-communist nationalists, believing in democratic socialism, were handicapped by their mutual support of the anti-west line and by the fluent dogmatism of the communists. To differ with the communists, the nationalists would have to conduct a "fight on two fronts". In Southeast Asia the strength of the "left-wing" has been based on three main elements; first, the struggle for national independence; second, the redress of serious and widespread economic grievances; and third, the influence and encouragement of outside sources. In order to understand the impact of the "left-wing" on Malaysia one must understand the basic strengths and consider their application to Malaysia. Malaysia has been an exception in its relationship to the strength of the "left-wing". Whereas nationalism became the binding force within a country, it has had the opposite effect in Malaysia. Since the local Chinese minorities were most influenced and affected by Marxist doctrine, it was only natural that the major indigenous group would reject those doctrines. The disliked and feared Chinese in Malaya have been the main cause of its failure to take root among the Malay people. In regards to economic grievances, another "left-wing" strength, Malaysia has been affected differently from its neighbors. Malaysia is the most prosperous country in Southeast Asia. Its vast amounts of tin and rubber resources have kept its standard of living high. But the country is in a precarious position; its economy is tied to the overseas market and the demands for tin and rubber. Food stuffs must also be imported in great amounts. During periods of depression the "left-wing" has made gains among the Chinese and Indian laborers. External influences have had an impact on the "left-wing" in Malaysia. In the pre-war period the Comintern tried to formulate policies for Malaya, but in most cases the effect was more confusion than leadership. Post-war influences have had a greater impact on Malaysia. The purpose of this paper is to define and identify the nature of the "left-wing"; to show its historical background in Malaysia and to relate these findings to current political processes and activities, domestic and international, in Malaysia.


Includes bibliographical references.


92 pages




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