Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 23. September 24, 1969
Letters To The Editor
Letters To The Editor
All Letters Submitted For Publication Must Be Signed With The Writer'S Own Name. No Pseudonyms Will Be Accepted Save In Exceptional Circumstances.
After reading Niel Wright (Salient 22) I can only wish that the Great African Rift were as simple as he thinks it is and the Sundanese politics were as straightforward.
I lived in South Sudan from 1962-3 and I find that Niel Wright's outline of Sudanese politics, though appealing in its simplicity, leaves out some important issues. For in the Sudan there is another great rift, namely bewteen Arab and African. Niel Wright knows of course that slavery of Africans by Arabs, though officially ended 80 years ago, still exists. Hence the African distrust of Arab domination in politics (in South Sudan as in Biafra) and hence South Sudan's distrust of federation with the north. But to complicate matters still further, there is a third great rift, this one between Islam and the Pagan and Christian religions.
I watched the enforcement of Islam and of the Arabic language in South Sudan. The reaction by school children all over South Sudan was to go on strike —in 1962, long before the older French students thought of it. Arab soldiers there wielded whips to force the children back, but without success, so the government closed the schools.
Now under the new military rule, the schools are to be reopened, after six years' closure. Major Nimeri is believed to be attempting also to rebuild the South's economy. For whose benefit? For the South has been a colony of the North since 1955, and colonialists are exploiters. Even so. Nimeri's words seem hopeful until one remembers the 1967 government headed by Saddik El Mahdi who, with the Southern representative Mr Deng, planned also to improve conditions in the South. Mr Deng was assassinated under mysterious circumstances and Saddik El Mahdi was done away with by his powerful relatives. What hope for Nimeri?
A correspondent for Time who visited South Sudan at the end of last month (August, 1969), says that the Anya Anya national movement has lost its sting. No wonder, when four-fifths of the Southerners have been killed by Arabs since 1962. (Leonard Barnes in African Renaissance and personal communication). Pacification of the remaining fifth should be relatively easy.
• The writer included with her letter a copy of an article reprinted from Pacific Viewpoint (May 1968) which is available in the Salient office if anyone is interested. —Ed.
In Salient 22 a certain Mr. Sharifudin alleges that the Malaysian Students Association has never been consulted in any of the matters recently arising both locally and at NZUSA councils concerning Malaysian Students.
May I point out that all matters that have arisen this year and especially those relating to councils have been discussed at International Affairs sub-committee at which the president of the MSA and/or the secretary have been present as representatives of the MSA.
If the president and secretary of the association cannot speak for the group they represent or if there is a singular lack of communication of the outcome of the meeting I cannot say but the blame must lie there and nowhere else.
If Mr. Sharifudin has any complaints on what has been done let him tell me and I will in consultation with my sub-committee take whatever actions seems appropriate.
International Affairs Officer.
David Shand's article in Salient 22 on Malaysia must be commended for its highly perceptive content. He has understood us in many ways.
There is one slight technical error in describing Lee Kuan Yeu's party as the People's Progressive Party (PPP). Actually, its the Peoples' Action Party (PAP). The DAP was originally PAP. viz., when Singapore was in Malaysia. But after eviction, it had to change its name owing to legal technicalities.
New Zealanders were quite right in believing that Malaysia was a democracy before the present development. We were a democracy in many senses of the world. Shand's main argument was that (1) there was gerrymandering, (2) there were special privileges for the Malays, (3) the Internal Security Act gives initially absolute power to the government.
Gerrymandering is not uncommon even in the U.S. though not so in New Zealand. The special privileges were supposed to creat a more democratic society and it was agreed that in due course these privileges would go. When there are elements in a society which try to undermine the very basis of that society by soliciting (often successfully) loyally to Mao and "great" China and even preparing for armed revolt, can one help but to contain them?
This is not to say that there is an absence of a "competitive struggle for the peoples' vote". The last election clearly showed a return of a considerable number of opposition leaders.
I for one, would not like to harbour the grim view that "there does not seem to be any middle way for Malaysia". Granted that the degree of polarisation of the races are at the moment acute, still I would like to think that under a "wise" and "benevolent" government a process of integration (not assimilation) would be possible.
The irony of the situation is that we were so close to a workable democracy and yet we lost it through our intolerance (perhaps?)
As the new president of the Malaysia-Singapore Students' Association. I would like to make the following statement:—
The Committee and I intend to place emphasis on the following three issues during our term in office:
• Welfare: Aiding, supporting and helping our members in their studies or in other personal matters.
• Social: Ensuring that members achieve a balanced medium between studies and social activities.
• Cultural: To promote our culture throughout the community and to encourage closer contact with other students and members of the community.
Our programme will be oriented towards these three factors in which we invite any interested parlies to participate. We would also like to express our best wishes to our readers in their forthcoming examinations.
Pak Yoong, M.Sc.
President, Malaysia-Singapore Students' Association.
In reply to your reply to my comments on your published reaction to events connected with the Malaysian Students' Association (M.S.A.), the Malaysian-Singapore Students' Association (M.S.S.A.) and the Student Action Committee for a Multi-Racial Malaysia (S.A.C.M.R.M.) I should like to make some preliminary points:
•My letter in Salient 22 was not intended as either a personal attack on you or or an attack on the way you run your newspaper but a pea that some efforts be made to assess the views of the supporters as well as opponents of the M.S.A. on its formation last year and continued existence. So far we have read many reports of criticism and expression of "concern" not only from certain Malaysian students but also from the New Zealand Students' bodies including V.U.W. S.A. (only last week were M.S.A. members invited to express their views).
• Though I have been secretary of the M.S.A. for the past financial year till 14 September, the views I expressed in my letter were not necessarily official M.S.A. views.
• The tone of the majority of New Zealand's newspapers' articles on recent happenings in Malaysia that I have read have been sensational. I assure you that those who, by their nationality, are involved in these events (some of whom are at this university and elsewhere in this country) find them slightly less entertaining than "Westerns". To these people, and in the face of daunting political, socio-economic, religious, geographic and racial obstacles, the stressing of, and the opportunity of blame for, setbacks are not really very helpful.
And five points in conclusion:
• There was No pressure from the Malaysian Government for the formation of the M.S.A. But when a group of Malaysian students, including myself, decided (admittedly belatedly) that when Singapore ceased to be part of Malaysia, that it would be for our country's sake to establish the M.S.A. since it would afford the best means of liaison with our Government. And this would enable Singapore students to form their own association of they so wish. This fitted in with the Malaysian Government's reluctance to subsidise a "Malaysian House" which was shared by students from Singapore whose Government did not share in the subsidy. Furthermore these two governments do not see eye to eye, and for the nationals of these countris to ignore this is to be unreasonably perverse and dissident, especially in view of the need for a strong central control in Malaysia, much less homogeneous and stable than New Zealand.
• Whether the majority of members of the M.S.A. are covertly racialistic is extremely hard to establish objectively. Uniformed generalisations are childish, surely. But overtly, both numerically and vocally, if there was any racial domination of the M.S.A. Committee or recent, well-attended, multiracial general meeting, it was certainly not by Malays.
• The photo you published in Salient 20 next to the front page story on the S.A.C.M.R.M. is very striking. As far as I can remember that photograph was not taken during the recent riots. One can only wonder what impression of Malaysia it was intended to concoct.
• Again the formation of M.S.A. was felt necessary last year for, (though it was to be basically a social association, it would help to promote the idea of our national identity and to foster the spirit of co-operation among fellow-Malaysians lacking in the M.S.S.A.
• And finally, in my view, some of these Malaysians who prefer the M.S.S.A. to the M.S.A. are inspired more by a type of anti-patriotism than by any high-minded internationalism.
James G. Entika.
I gather from Press reports that the Victoria University Socialist Club (so called) is disseminating misinformation in Wellington on Auckland events, in order to support one of its partners in the Radical Activists Conference political coalition, the Progressive Youth Movement. Demonstrations in Auckland, so far from centering around some alleged general persecution of the left, rather improbably starting with the Progressive Youth Movement (which claims not to be a left-wing group), have been simply directed against individual instances of excessive use of force by police in making arrests at demonstrations. Demonstrations, in other words, have been for civil liberties, rather than in defence of the Progressive Youth Movement.
I gather individual members of the Socialist Club, particularly George Fyson, have made what they have claimed to be attacks on the tactics of the Progressive Youth Movement. Such "attacks" have not prevented Mr. Fyson and his associates from arranging an Easter Conference with this group among others, and he has now gone out of his way to show his solidarity with PYM by organising a demonstration to support it. As he very well knows it is from the publications of this group on the 1968 French Revolution that the Progressive Youth Movement derives its theories that simply by engineering confrontations with the police they can make a revolution Why do Mr. Fyson and his associates in the Socialist Club, not admit that they are taking every step possible to provide theories and organise demonstrations in favour of the only New Zealand political group whose effective political programme consists entirely of provocation of the police?
(P.S.—If police attacks on PYM are a prelude to anything else, it it to an attack on Other groups which provoke the police, such as the "Hell's Angels", —O. G.)
Owen Gager. Auckland