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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 37 No. 3. March 20, 1974

Jack De Silva Disgraced for Attacking Patriotic malayans in new Zealand

page 12

Jack De Silva Disgraced for Attacking Patriotic malayans in new Zealand

Late last year Victoria and other campuses erupted with a controversy about the rights of Malaysian Students in N.Z. The article below is a summary of the affair which was printed in New Malayan Youth; the London journal of the Malayan and Singaporean student movement. We reprint it mainly to acquaint those students who did not follow the controversy with details of what happened. Also, it shows the international nature of both the support of the students received and the condemnation of Jack de Silva.

London, Oct.31, 1973, NMY Reporter - The "Malaysian" High Commissioner in New Zealand recently raised a fantastic hue and cry about the activities of patriotic Malayan students in that country. The particular event which enraged Mr. Jack de Silva, the reactionary High Commissioner, was the staging of the 'Eastern Cultural Concert' in August this year by the Otago University Chinese Language Club. The concert which depicted the lives and struggle of the ordinary people in Malaya and North Kalimantan was well-received both by Malayan and other students in New Zealand, and was favourably complimented by several university newspapers. This praise-worthy endeavour by the students who sacrificed their time, energy and money to show their deep feelings for the Malayan people of all nationalities received the vilest attacks from the High Commissioner. Speaking separately to the T. V. and Press in New Zealand, he raised the obsolete bogey that Malayan students are being exposed to subversive communist propaganda" ; [unclear: ast-attacking] specifically the cultural concert, he said that the various sketches of fishermen, hawkers, rubber tappers and padi planters of all nationalities were, incredibly, "playing on Chinese chauvinism". (!) Indirectly slandering China, he made the usual unsubstantiated allegation of "manipulation by a foreign power" on our students, and deliberately refused to specify further. Lastly, he announced his intention to "combat subversion of Malaysian students by armchair revolutionaries in New Zealand".

The issue in question is the democratic rights of the Malayan students in New Zealand, in particular, their right to organise and politically support the people. It is a characteristic today that our youth and students everywhere are experiencing a rise in their political consciousness, and this is an inevitable product of national and international developments. In New Zealand, the progressive sentiments among the Malayan students is particularly strong, and this is bound to crystallize into organised activity. About one year ago, the students got together to produce a progressive journal called "New Thought" to publicize the struggle of the oppressed people of all nationalities in Malaya. This year they have advanced further to organize an even more difficult undertaking, the cultural concert, involving much labour and sacrifices. It is, nevertheless, an exercise of their inalienable democratic right.

However, any organized activity by progressive youth never failed to alarm the reactionaries. For some time already, the reactionary Razak clique, through its High Commission, had promoted pro-government "Malaysian" student societies in New Zealand universities to divert Malayan students from politics generally, and progressive politics in particular. Just as in Britain, these puppet societies neither win students over to a pro-government position nor made them apolitical, leaving the High Commissioner himself to come out and openly attack the progressive students. By threatening to "combat subversion", he is denying the democratic right of the students to be political, and has arrogantly brought into a foreign country the fascist laws of the reactionary ruling clique of Malaya. This has aroused various sections of the democratic-minded people in New Zealand to support and defend the students' right to organize the concert unhampered by any foreign government. The President of the New Zealand University Students Association as well as the President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association both issued statements giving full support to the activities of the Malayan students as validly exercising their just political rights, and criticised the High Commissioner's anti-communist witch-hunt as "paranoid" and "acting beyond his normal diplomatic functions". The President of VUWSA wrote: "We have no hesitation in condemning Mr. De Silva's comments as unwarranted and unjustifiable interference in the affairs of VUWSA and its constituents, especially the affairs of Malaysian students in Victoria." The acting Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University whom the High Commissioner tried to woo over sharply rebuked him, saying that his hysterical outbursts "smacked strongly of the sort of intimidations to which New Zealand Universities would not bow. " This reputedly 'veteran' diplomat has made a complete fool of himself in the country.

The High Commissioner is flogging an issue which his masters in Kuala Lumpur have been doing for some time. Earlier on in February this year, fascist Harun attacked university students and lecturers as "subversives and anti-national elements", and he was followed on July 20 by fascist Razak again on the same theme. These scare-campaigns are directed at conscious student youth and intellectuals who are at the forefront of the present student upsurges; yet progressive student movements both at home and abroad continue to develop. The repressive measures of the reactionary Alliance government has brought to the fore the struggle for democratic rights and has raised the political consciousness of students so as to advance their struggles further. There are many examples to show this e.g. when the 8 progressive students were politically victimized by the reactionary High Commission in London, 2126 students signed a petition in support of their demand for democratic rights. Up to this day the issue is still alive among our enraged students who refuse to forget this injustice. These are the same London students whom Jack de Silva tried to suppress 3 years ago and miserably failed !

Jack de Silva has served as a counter-revolutionary diplomat in Saigon and London before going to New Zealand. Wherever he has gone, he has attacked the right of students to organize themselves politically but has failed miserably in his dishonourable task because he is resolutely opposed by young Malayans who are determined to bring down the corrupt society that he and his ilk represent. The history of youth and student movement of various countries shows that they dare to defy even bullets and tanks in their fight for the democratic rights of their people. Noting this, a militant woman student quipped : "How can a jack-in-office cripple any conscious and determined student movement ?"

* A pompous or bullying petty official. - Ed. NMY.