Salient. Victoria University Students Newspaper. Volume 38 Number 8. 1975
White (Paper) Washing
White (Paper) Washing
Climaxing the foreign economic invasion by the British, American and Japanese, the nationalist movements in South-East Asia have gathered momentum in recent years. Student movements in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore were incessantly activated against their 'anti-national' government. People from all walks of life — peasants, workers, students, intellectuals, religious groups, etc. — have begun to realise the corruptive nature of their governments and have gained in the fight for political liberty and social justice.
Foreign exploitation has resulted in the impoverished livelihood of the people in the region. The governments of these countries, corporated with the foreigners, resort to ruthless suppression whenever there is people's outburst. In Malaysia, the hunger march of the Baling peasants in November last year is no exception. The Federal Reserves Units (riot-police) dispersed what intended to be a peaceful demonstration with tear gas and flying batons. The high-handedness of the government angered the students of the tertiary institutions. In support of the hungry-stricken peasants, the students marched in the streets of Kuala Lumpur and other cities. Over one thousand students were arrested, followed by the suspension of the Student Union of Malaya University in the successive 10 days' struggle.
A Government White Paper, explaining the University of Malaya protest, claimed communist manipulators under the cover of the Chinese Language Society (UMCLS). It is, as the Far Eastern Economic Review put it 'a tattered cloth for the blanket explanation for what happened at the universities'.
Accusing the UMCLS for exploiting cultural means for Communist Party of Malaysia (CPM).
60% of this part of the White Paper is devoted to substantiate the accusation that the Minister of Internal Affairs, Tan Sri Ghazali termed 'to spearhead the promotion of subversive activities'. It also claimed that printing blocks, imitation rifles, boots, receipt books, propaganda music, cassettes, banners, New Year cards, etc. were recovered from the UMCLS premises by a police raid. This claim is far short of justification when one considers the fact that all the 'captured' items are previously approved by the Government and accordingly, obtainable from bookshops in the streets. The imitation rifles, boots and banners are in fact props for the cultural shows — presumably power comes from the barrel of a pop gun.
Accusing UMCLS for exploiting the Tasek Utara issue and inciting the student unrest through the University of Malaya Student Union.
This part constitutes 20% of the White Paper and contains perhaps the biggest loop holes in the document. How, for instance, a small society, comprising mostly of Chinese students, led thousands of students into the streets? In the list of those 1200 detained, less than 30 were Chinese. The overwhelming majority were Malays, including a few of Royal blood. For example, Saudari Sabiha Samad, whose mother is the cousin of Tun Razak's wife was detained for her courageous activities.
'It (the White Paper) did not touch on the demonstrations by the students of the Kebangsaan University (National University). Unlike the multi-racial University of Malaya, Kebangsaan is almost entirely Malay. Many of the girls there dress in the traditional, conservative Muslim style. Between 70%—80% of its students are peasants' offspring'.
(Far Eastern Economic Review, 10-1-75)
The Government claims to have captured documents relating to UMCLS from the bodies of 2 guerilla fighters.
The remaining 20% of the Paper relating to the UMCLS and the CPM is equally incredible. For if the Government is foolhardy enough to detain a person, whom it claims to have associated with the communists, under the Internal Security Act — an act which has aroused strong emotional feelings from the democratic people — and if the tale of the captured documents is true, why doesn't the government put the detained chairman of UMCLS of trial? Perhaps the documents are too fragile to withstand the scrutiny of the courts.
Perhaps the Malaysian government, understanding the nature of the dissent is more deliberate in its actions than would appear. Initially the Government blamed the Communists and Chinese-race inspiration behind the [unclear: deoranstrations]. But this was not effective as students were laughing openly, referring to 'Ghazali-isms' of the Home Affairs Minister.
The blame soon fell onto foreign students, especially Australians, New Zealanders and British. This was even more ridiculous.
Finally the blame shifted to the communists and the Chinese Language Society. The accusation not only lacked evidence, but expresses a sisister motive of the Government to divide the different races.
Prolonged hardships and growing poverty have disillusioned the people with the honey lip-service and empty promises of the Govt. It is the awakening of the patriotic students, religious groups, liberals, reformists, intellectuals and peasant workers that has mobilised into this united front. This is the motivating force behind the nationalist movement. Using the UMCLS as a scapegoat is a conspiracy of the Razak regime to divert the attention of the people and stir up emotional conflicts between the races. But reality has shown that the Govt. White Paper will never succeed in squashing the heroic natured nationalist ideology of the united Malay sian people!