Salient. Official Newspaper of Victoria University Students Assn. Volume 40 Number 2. Feb 7 1977
Student Movement in Asia
Student Movement in Asia
This week we print the second part of our interview with Chan Yuk Cheung, the Deputy General Secretary of the Asian Students Association to which NZUSA is affiliated.
Thailand and the Coup
People are concerned about the recent developments in Thailand especially after the military coup of October 1976. The Thai student movement was well known for its genuine struggle for people's democracy and independance and because of this struggle and the success of the integration of the movement with the people, the reactionaries were very much frightened. Because the imperialists were not willing to withdraw their interests, the Thai student movement was smashed resulting in the military coup.
But the military coup does not mean that the Student movement has come to an end. It merely shows very clearly that the imperialists themselves are weak and they are frightened by the growing strength of the peoples power. They could only resort to violent means as a way to suppress the people's movement. They thought that they could kill the people and suppress the student movement which, in fact, they could not be achieved, because the Thai students have a famous saying — "One of us has fallen, yet thousands stand up", and the Thai students say that where there is more suppression, more people will become awakened. When more of their brothers and sisters are tortured and killed, they will become braver.
"Dare to Struggle and Dare to Win".
This is their slogan. After the military coup we witnessed the struggle of the Thai people becoming more intense.
It also proved to the students that sometimes peaceful means could not achieve the purpose of people's democracy and they must look for another alternative if they are facing suppression by a reactionary regime.
Peaceful Methods Fail
Have you every witnessed success by peaceful means?
After the uprising in Thailand in 1973, the Thai people seemed to have experienced an experiemtn in parliamentary democracy. But through the people's struggle, the students found that parliamentary democracy does not fit into the society. They don't want democracy on paper — they strive for democracy for the majority of the people and they give it the term "people's democracy".
The Thai students have a famous saying —"one of us has fallen yet thousands stand up".
They could never achieve people's democracy through parliamentary proceedures because those who are in positions would never be willing to give up their own interests. They are there to protect their own interests. The October 6 coup proved that parliamentary democracy is an illusion and that people must become awakened through the bloody massacre and the hundreds and thousands of students and people who were arrested and tortured.
They don't want democracy on paper — they strive for the majority of the people and they give it the term "peoples democracy".
This is a lesson — even though the lesson is learned with the price of blood. We have the confidence to say the Thai people struggle will make further advances in the future.
It is a bright future. Some people say that after October 6 everything is finished. This is not the case. We have to consider the struggle of the Thai people as part of the struggle of Third World peoples for national liberation and national independance.
The success of the Thai people is the success of the Third World. The success of African nations for national independance is an encouragement to the Thai struggling for their own destiny. The success of the Indo-Chinese people in particular gives them much encourgement showing that people are the motive force of history.
NZ Students have a Role
We must work hard to arouse the interest of the NZ students in the struggle of the Asian people and to see the relationships of their struggle with ours. Your student movement has had a long history of fighting against apartheid and I think this is good. It is important that this struggle is brought to the attention of people in the Second World. Most developed countries are parasitic on Third World countries in natural resources and economic relations. Progressive students in these developed countries should work hand in hand with the people of the Third World. This is one way of hastening liberation through peoples movements. On the other hand it will also strengthen the student movement at home and give it a correct direction.
Because of the world economic recession in the capitalist societies, the people in general suffer from unemployment and inflation, and students are no exception. With increases in fees and cuts in bursaries, grants and welfare it is quite obvious that students are part of the oppressed class in the society. If only they would join with the people and fight for common interests.
Some people say that after October 6, everything is finished. This is not the case.
In the past, people have tried to divide the students from the people by saying that they are part of the ruling class. This is true only of a minority. If they work for their own interests they will attempt to climb up to the ruling class. But look at the majority — they are used by the ruling class as their tool. The middle level technicians and managers help to stabilise and maintain the system. We are all under this oppression of the system. We should all realise this point.
I notice that students here pay a lot of attention to the people of the South Pacific and the activities of Nuclear Warships in the area. Your campaign is a progressive move to ensure the security of the people and by doing so it will further educate our students to recognise the intentions of the superpowers. This will further expose the real nature of superpower contention.
I wish to stress the importance of women's role in the movement. In many of the Third World countries the women students have become involved in the struggle because they realise their oppression is not from the men but from the whole system of imperialism. So they join hand in hand with their male counterparts to fight against the whole system to get rid of the control over them by imperialism. They could only achieve their emancipation in this direction.
I believe women students in developed countries like NZ should also develop a womens movement to fight with their male counterparts for their rights and interests but not try to split themselves and jeopardise the unity of the student movement. This is something we must realise and try to bear in mind.
NZ Students and ASA
Some students from Australia and New Zealand used to think that they were part of Europe and not part of Asia. This is not true. In recent years we can see that New Zealand and Australia have had more contact with Asia in trade, communications etc and I think students here should build up an Asian identity rather than a European identity so that they can become part of Asia and build regional co-operation and independence.
...the women students .... realise their oppression is not from men but from the whole system of imperialism.
Asia is making progress through the struggle of the people of Asia, this will bring NZ students into the Asian context and help them realise the problems of people in Third World countries and give students here strength and correct direction in the movement to support the Third World struggle.