Returning to Malaya: the strategy and significance of the communist party of Malaya’s southward advance
HO Kee Chye (Translated by Josh HONG)
ABSTRACT In 1948, the British colonial authorities promulgated the Emergency Ordinance, banning Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) activities and arresting its members, forcing CPM to launch its armed struggle earlier than expected. Under British colonial authorities’ formidable encirclement strategy, CPM gradually retreated to southern Thailand in 1950 to set up new bases. CPM in its retreat began to scale down military force and personnel. With the evolvement of international affairs in mid 1950s, CPM further suspended its military activities. In the early 1960s, the issue of Malaysia Project and the change of international circumstances prompted CPM to declare the New Directive in which it redefined its direction of struggle and persisted in the path of armed struggle. While the New Directive enabled CPM to gradually revitalize its military strength, Malaysia’s internal political conflicts were also worsen, which allowed CPM to take further action. In 1963, in preparation for its southward advance, CPM identified clearly “neo-colonialism” and its agent, the “Malaysian” regime, as its new targets of struggle. In mid 1960s, the Struggle against the Counter-revolution incidents broke out within CPM, triggering a political and military crisis in the party which split into three factions. When the first Struggle against Counterrevolution ended, CPM issued “Raise High the Great Red Flag and March on with Courage” on 1 June 1968, an important statement announcing officially its readiness to send troops southward. It took CPM seven years (1961-1968) to adjust and prepare itself before officially launching its assault teams southward on 29 March 1968, which marked a new milestone in CPM’s historical development. This article is of the view that CPM’s southward advance strategy is significant and impactful for CPM in three aspects: (1) it extended the history of CPM’s armed struggle, (2) it provided CPM’s armed struggle with momentum, and (3) it reinforced the authoritarian regime in Malaysia.
Keywords: the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), armed struggled, New Directive, Southward Assault Teams.
Ho Kee Chye [何啟才] is a PhD candidate at the School of Southeast Asian Studies, Xiamen University. He is also an Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for Chinese Studies, Malaysia.
Josh Hong received his BA in Cultural Studies from London Metropolitan University and MSc. in International Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He writes for several alternative media in Malaysia including Malaysiakini and The Rocket, and his field of interests include refugee and migrant worker issues, sexual minorities, ethnic politics and nationalism.