Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-7l5rh Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-25T22:07:53.164Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The ‘theory of the unity of all classes and races against foreign capital’ in Malaya: Socialism, communalism, and uneven development in the thought of James Puthucheary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2022

Charles Brophy*
Affiliation:
Independent scholar

Abstract

Based on the writings of James Puthucheary in the late 1950s and early 1960s, this article seeks to highlight Puthucheary's contribution to debates within the Malayan Left on the national question. It will highlight Puthucheary's situating of the Malayan Left within a wider transnational flow of nationalist, anti-imperialist, and socialist thought, as well as his attempt—through his own Marxist-influenced assessment of the Malayan situation—to answer the political problem of the relationship between socialist politics and nationalism in Malaya. In doing so the article will highlight the way in which Puthucheary's own position on questions of education and language policy placed him in opposition to dominant trends within the Malayan Communist Party and the left-wing of the People's Action Party, provided a theorizing of the need for nation-building within Malayan socialism, and contributed towards a socialist politics which placed emphasis upon economic development and cultural nation-building from the perspective of the Malay peasantry. The article finally goes on to explore Puthucheary's subsequent disengagement from politics in the early 1960s and the growing limitations of a socialist politics of nation-building in Malaya, which led Puthucheary and others on the Left to contribute towards a programme of nation-building within existing institutions and parties in the 1960s and 1970s.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1 Jeyakumar Devaraj, ‘Culture or Economy—Wherein Lies the Primary Contradiction?’, in Malaysia at the Crossroads, A Socialist Perspective, Ipoh: Parsosma Enterprise, 2009; Kua Kia Soong, Racism and Racial Discrimination in Malaysia: A Historical and Class Perspective, Petaling Jaya: Suaram, 2015.

2 Embong, Abdul Rahman, ‘Ethnicity and Class: Divides and Dissent in Malaysian Studies’, Southeast Asian Studies 7, no. 3 (2018), pp. 281307Google Scholar; Embong, A. R., ‘Revisiting Malaya: Envisioning the Nation, the History of Ideas and the Idea of History’, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 16, no. 1 (2015), pp. 923Google Scholar; Ali, Syed Husin, ‘Working Notes on the Malaysian Left’, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 16, no. 1 (2015), pp. 3541Google Scholar.

3 See Kankan Xie, ‘Contesting Equality: A History of the Malayan People's Socialist Front, 1957–1965’, Master's thesis, Cornell University, 2012, at: https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/31454/kx36.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y, [accessed 18 November 2021]. Muhammad Ikmal Said, ‘Ethnic Perspectives of the Left in Malaysia’, in Joel S. Kahn and Francis Loh, Fragmented Vision: Culture and Politics in Contemporary Malaysia, Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1992, pp. 254–282. R. K. Vasil, Politics in a Plural Society: A Study of Non-Communal Political Parties in West Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1971.

4 Jeyakumar Devaraj, ‘Culture or Economy—Wherein Lies the Primary Contradiction?’ and ‘Pakatan Harapan Debacle: A Clash of Narratives?’, Aliran, 12 July 2020, https://aliran.com/aliran-csi/pakatan-harapan-debacle-a-clash-of-narratives/, [accessed 18 November 2021].

5 James Puthucheary, Ownership and Control in the Malayan Economy: A Study of the Structure of Ownership and Control and Its Effects on the Development of Secondary Industries and Economic Growth in Malaya and Singapore, Petaling Jaya: INSAN, 2004. Khoo Boo Teik, ‘Flows and Fallacies: James J. Puthucheary on Race, Class and State’, in Caroline S. Hau and Kasian Tejapira (eds), Travelling Nation-Makers: Transnational Flows and Movements in the Making of Modern Southeast Asia, Singapore: NUS Press, 2011, pp. 209–233.

6 See James Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, ‘Socialism in a Multi-Racial Society’, ‘The Rise of Malayan Nationalism’, ‘Statement of Political Belief’, and ‘The University and the Student in Society’, in Jomo K. S. and Dominic Puthucheary (eds), No Cowardly Past: James Puthucheary—Writings, Poems, Commentaries, Petaling Jaya: SIRD, 2010. ‘Puthucheary On Socialism Yesterday and Today’, Fajar 2, no. 9 (June–July 1960), p. 7. James Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Accession Number 000570, National Archives of Singapore, 16 June 1985, as well as James Puthucheary, ‘Prison Notes’, provided by Dominic Puthucheary and James Puthucheary, ‘Are the English-Educated a Reactionary Class?’, Petir 3, no. 1 (1 December 1959).

7 Anthony Milner, The Invention of Politics in Colonial Malaya, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 4.

8 Oleksa Drachewych and Ian McKay, Left Transnationalism: The Communist International and the National, Colonial, and Racial Questions, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2020.

9 Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Disc 1.

10 Dominic Puthucheary, ‘James Puthucheary, His Friends and His Times’, in Jomo K. S. and Puthucheary (eds), No Cowardly Past, pp. 3–38.

11 Puthucheary, Ownership and Control in the Malayan Economy.

12 Ibid., pp. 174–181.

13 For earlier analyses in the AMCJA-PUTERA coalition, see ‘Analysis of the Communal Question in Relation to the Constitutional Issue’ quoted in Morrison, Ian, ‘Aspects of the Racial Problem in Malaya’, Pacific Affairs 22, no. 3 (1949), pp. 245246CrossRefGoogle Scholar, fn. 8. John Eber, ‘The Malay Peasant’, The Straits Times, 1 March 1948; J. Eber, ‘Mr. John Eber Replies’, The Straits Times, 16 February 1948.

14 Puthucheary, Ownership and Control, p. 175.

15 Ibid., p. 174.

16 Ibid.

17 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’. This piece is published in No Cowardly Past from a letter written to Wang Gungwu by Puthucheary from prison in 1958. Wang Gungwu, a friend of Puthucheary, recounts that after his return from studying in Britain he visited James in detention during which visit James updated Wang Gungwu on his mature understanding of socialism in Malaya. Email correspondence with Wang Gungwu, 19 June 2020.

18 Puthucheary, ‘Socialism in a Multi-Racial Society’. This piece is the transcript of a talk given to the University Socialist Club in 1959. Then publication secretary, V. Selvaratnam, recounts that after the release of detainees in 1959 the club organized a series of talks for them to give their perspective on the current political situation, which received a large audience. Interview with V. Selvaratnam, 29 June 2020. It was republished in PAP's journal: Petir 3, no. 3 (18 September 1959).

19 Ibid., p. 169.

20 ‘Analysis of the Communal Question in Relation to the Constitutional Issue’ quoted in Morrison, ‘Aspects of the Racial Problem in Malaya’, pp. 245–246, fn. 8.

21 ‘The Tasks Ahead’, Petir 1, no. 3 and 4 (Aug/Sept 1956).

22 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, pp. 190–191.

23 Ibid., p. 181. As he would argue in Puthucheary, ‘Prison Notes’, p. 23, communalism was not extraneous or imposed from outside, but existed within Malayan society.

24 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, p. 176.

25 Ibid., p. 173.

26 Nilanjana Sengupta, A Gentleman's Word: The Legacy of Subhas Chandra Bose in Southeast Asia, Singapore: ISEAS Publishing, 2012.

27 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, p. 176.

28 Ibid. p. 177. In Puthucheary, ‘Prison Notes’, he would understand this as poverty in China and India being enough to unite the masses against the colonial power, whereas in Malaya poverty emphasized communal divisions.

29 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, p. 177. For an account of British policy towards the Malay peasantry, see Lim Teck Ghee, Peasants and their Agricultural Economy in Colonial Malaya, 1874–1941, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1977; Jomo Kwame Sundaram, A Question of Class: Capital, the State, and Uneven Development in Malaya, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1988, Chapters 3 and 4.

30 This division between urban and rural was not absolute, however. Scholarly emphasis has been given to anti-colonial mobilization in the Malay countryside: see T. N. Harper, The End of Empire and the Making of Malaya, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, Chapters 3 and 4, as well as the role played by rural Chinese squatters in Francis Loh Kok Wah, Beyond the Tin Mines: Coolies, Squatters, and New Villagers in the Kinta Valley, Malaysia, c. 1880–1980, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1988. However, Puthucheary's picture provided a general overview of relations between class and community in the period. See Michael Stenson, Class, Race and Colonialism in West Malaysia: The Indian Case, Queensland: University of Queensland Press, 1983, pp. xvii–xxv.

31 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, pp. 177–178; Puthucheary, ‘Prison Notes’, p. 23.

32 Puthucheary, ‘Statement of Political Belief’, p. 191; Puthucheary, ‘Prison Notes’, p. 41.

33 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, p. 179.

34 See V. I. Lenin, ‘The Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in Lenin's Collected Works, Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972, Vol. 20, pp. 393–454, and V. I. Lenin, ‘Critical Remarks on the National Question’, in Lenin's Collected Works, Vol. 20, pp. 17–51.

35 As Lenin argued, a right to self-determination would not imply a right to secession as such, but a right for oppressed and minority groups to realign their relations with dominant groups on a democratic basis, thereby seeking to produce a foundation for equality out of imperial relations. Lenin, ‘The Right of Nations to Self-Determination’.

36 Comintern, Second Congress of the Communist International. Minutes of the Proceedings, Vols 1 and 2, New York: New Park Publications, 1977, and John Riddell, Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922, Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012.

37 Fujio Hara, The Malayan Communist Party as Recorded in the Comintern Files, Petaling Jaya: SIRD, 2016, p. 39.

38 Cheah Boon Kheng, From PKI to the Comintern, 1924–1941: The Apprenticeship of the Malayan Communist Party, Cornell: SEAP, 1992, p. 104.

39 Hara, The Malayan Communist Party, p. 39.

40 See Moshe Lewin, The Soviet Century, London: Verso Books, 2005, Chapter 2.

41 Michael Lowy, ‘Marxists and the National Question’, New Left Review I, no. 96 (Mar–Apr, 1976); Vijay Prashad, Red Star Over the Third World, Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2017; Robin Kelly, ‘“Afric's Sons With Red Banner”: African American Communists and the Politics of Culture, 1919–1934’, in Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and The Black Working Class, New York: The Free Press, 1996; Becker, Mark, ‘Mariátegui, the Comintern, and the Indigenous Question in Latin America’, Science and Society 70, no. 4 (2006), pp. 450479CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Kamran Asdar Ali, Communism in Pakistan: Politics and Class Activism 1947–1972, London: I. B. Tauris, 2015.

42 Hara, The Malayan Communist Party, p. 40.

43 Shan Ruhong, Cong ‘ba kuo’ dao kang-Ying zhanzheng: Magong zhongyang zhengzhiju weiyuan Ah Cheng huiyilu [From the Eighth Enlarged Plenary Session to the Anti-British War: The Memoirs of Ah Cheng, Member of the Politburo of the Malayan Communist Party], in Marc Opper, People's Wars in China, Malaya, and Vietnam, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2019, p. 174.

44 AMCJA-PUTERA, The People's Constitutional Proposals for Malaya, Petaling Jaya: SIRD, 2017.

45 On the turn to united front tactics, see Khong Kim Hoong, Merdeka! British Rule and the Struggle for Independence in Malaya, 1945–57, Petaling Jaya: SIRD, 2003, pp. 159–174. This fact was also reflected in the ongoing concern within the MCP in mid-1946 to ‘Malayanize’ the party, with the call for the establishment of a ‘Central Racial Committee’ in the party to discuss racial issues and to study the Malay race. Cheah Boon Kheng, The Masked Comrades: A Study of the Communist United Front in Malaya, 1945–48, Singapore: Times Books International, 1979, p. 66. For the socialist basis for emphasizing the Malays in the struggle, see ‘Analysis of the Communal Question in Relation to the Constitutional Issue’ quoted in Morrison ‘Aspects of the Racial Problem in Malaya’, pp. 245–246, fn. 8. Eber, ‘The Malay Peasant’; Eber, ‘Mr. John Eber Replies’.

46 Charles B. McLane, Soviet Strategies in Southeast Asia: An Exploration of Eastern Policy under Lenin and Stalin, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966, pp. 390–391.

47 Lee Ting Hui, The Communist Organization in Singapore: Its Techniques of Manpower Mobilization and Management, 1948–66, Singapore: ISEAS, 1976, and Lee Ting Hui, The Open United Front: The Communist Struggle in Singapore, 1954–1966, Singapore: South Seas Society, 1996.

48 Wah, Yeo Kim, ‘Joining the Communist Underground: The Conversion of English-Educated Radicals to Communism in Singapore, June 1948–January 1951’, Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 67, no. 1 (1994), pp. 2959Google Scholar.

49 Ibid.

50 Wah, Yeo Kim, ‘Student Politics in University of Malaya, 1949–51’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 23, no. 2 (1992), p. 359CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

51 Ibid., pp. 377–378.

52 Puthucheary, ‘The University and the Student in Society’.

53 Sidney Woodhull, ‘Into the Student World of India and Ceylon’, Fajar 1, no. 3 (22 October 1953).

54 Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Disc 2.

55 Ibid., Disc 3.

56 Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World, New York: The New Press, 2008; T. N. Harper, ‘Lim Chin Siong and the “Singapore Story”’, in Poh Soo Kai (ed.), Comet in Our Sky: Lim Chin Siong in History, Petaling Jaya: SIRD, 2015, pp. 14–25, 47; Sunil Amrith, ‘Internationalism and Political Pluralism 1950–1963’, in Carl Trocki and Michael Barr, Paths Not Taken: Political Pluralism in Post-War Singapore, Singapore: NUS Press, 2008, pp. 37–58; Tjin, Thum Ping, ‘The Malayan Vision of Lim Chin Siong: Unity, Non-Violence, and Popular Sovereignty’, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 18, no. 3 (2017), pp. 391413Google Scholar; Gareth Curless, ‘“The People Need Civil Liberties”: Trade Unions and Contested Decolonisation in Singapore’, Labour History 54 (2015), pp. 53–70.

57 Loh Kah Seng, Edgar Liao, Cheng Tju Lim and Guo-Quan Seng, The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya, Singapore: NUS Press, 2012, p. 110.

58 Harper, ‘Lim Chin Siong and the “Singapore Story”’, pp. 14–25, 47; Thum, ‘The Malayan Vision of Lim Chin Siong’; Curless, ‘“The People Need Civil Liberties”’.

59 S. Rajaratnam, ‘PAP's First Ten Years (1964)’, in Chan Heng Chee and Obaid Ul Haq (eds), The Prophetic and the Political: Selected Speeches and Writings of S. Rajaratnam, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987, pp. 26–30.

60 Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Disc 6.

61 See ‘The New Phase After Merdeka—Our Tasks and Policy’, in Lee Kuan Yew, The Battle for Merger, Singapore: Straits Times Press, 2014, pp. 150–151.

62 P. J. Thum. ‘“The Fundamental Issue is Anti-Colonialism, Not Merger”: Singapore's “Progressive Left”: Operation Coldstore, and the Creation of Malaysia’, Working Paper Series No. 211, Asia Research Institute, pp. 1–25.

63 Thum, ‘The Malayan Vision of Lim Chin Siong’, pp. 402–410; Amrith, ‘Internationalism and Political Pluralism 1950–1963’, pp. 40–42; Mah Lien Hwah, ‘Problems of National Unity in Malaya’, Fajar 3, no. 6 (August–September 1961); Linda Chen, ‘Language is not a Unifying Factor of a Nation’, in Pan-Malayan Students’ Federation: Second Annual Conference, A Souvenir Issue, Singapore: Pan-Malayan Students’ Union, 1955, p. 22. This was also evident in the platform of the Labour Party of Malaya: see ‘Our Education Policy’, in Tan Kim Hong (ed.), Malaiya Laogung Dang Wenxian Huibian [The Labour Party of Malaya, 1952–1972: Selected Documents], Kuala Lumpur: Party History Working Committee, Labour Party of Malaya, 2000, pp. 598–601.

64 ‘Left Wing Adventurism’, Petir 1, no. 10 (October 1957); Irene Ng, The Singapore Lion: A Biography of S. Rajaratnam, Singapore: ISEAS Publishing, 2010, p. 260; ‘The Fixed Political Objectives of Our Party (1960)’, in Lee, The Battle for Merger, pp. 167–171; ‘The Road to Socialism in an Independent Malaya’, in ibid., pp. 193–195.

65 See Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Disc 8; James Puthucheary, ‘Puthucheary Writes … What Caused the Break with PAP’, The Straits Times, 21 August 1961.

66 Harper, The End of Empire, Chapter 7.

67 Harold E. Wilson, Social Engineering in Singapore: Policies and Social Change, 1819–1972, Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1978, pp. 197–198; Amrith, ‘Internationalism and Political Pluralism 1950–1963’, pp. 40–42; Mah, ‘Problems of National Unity in Malaya’; Labour Party of Malaya, ‘Our Education Policy’.

68 See ‘The New Phase After Merdeka—Our Tasks and Policy’, pp. 150–151; Xie, Contesting Equality, pp. 24–27.

69 Nevertheless, attempts to radicalize the Chinese Chambers of Commerce failed. Yeo Kim Wah, Political Development in Singapore, 1945–1955, Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1973, p. 168; Wilson, Social Engineering in Singapore, pp. 197–198; ‘Tempers and Boos at Big Meeting’, The Straits Times, 7 June 1955. Lim also raised the question of the United Nations providing a right to vernacular education in the Legislative Assembly: see Singapore Legislative Assembly Debates, Vol. 1, 27 April 1955.

70 ‘Labour Party Wants Full Inquiry’, Singapore Standard, 18 December 1956; ‘The Chung Ling Aftermath’, Labour 1, no. 2 (June 1957).

71 ‘Penang Debacle—The Tengku Gives Three Reasons’, The Straits Times, 3 December 1956.

72 Ang Ming Chee, Institutions and Social Mobilization: The Chinese Education Movement in Malaysia, 1951–2011, Singapore: ISEAS Publishing, 2014.

73 ‘Contrary Public Opinions in a Multi-Lingual, Multi-Cultural Society’, Petir 3, no. 10 (March 1960).

74 Lim Shee Ping, ‘Chauvinism and Suicide’, Petir 3, no. 10 (March 1960).

75 Nanyang Students Union, ‘Statement on the Reorganisation of the Nanyang University’, Petir 3, no. 10, (March 1960).

76 Lim, ‘Chauvinism and Suicide’. In a speech to Nanyang University students, Lee Kuan Yew walked a middle road, arguing that the suggestion that Nanyang was a separate Chinese university would only provoke ‘racialism’ among the Malays, and that if the university continued to promote the national language and ‘Malayanize’, its existence should be secure. ‘Talk by the Prime Minister Mr. Lee Kuan Yew to the Nanyang University Political Science Society on March 29, 1960’, Singapore National Archives, JK/MC.MA 93/60.

77 Vasil, Politics in a Plural Society, pp. 200–202; ‘Front Rift over Agreement on School Policy’, Straits Times, 19 September 1960.

78 In his Oral History Interview, Devan Nair argued that he, Puthucheary, and Sidney Woodhull were vocally critical of the Left's emphasis on ‘Chinese chauvinistic issues’. In his Oral History Interview Woodhull maintained that, while there was a bias towards Chinese issues in the period, more explicit criticism on this would only emerge later with some members displaying a greater ‘chauvinistic’ attitude later on; yet he noted that questions of language rights produced ‘interminable’ debates among the detainees. See Devan Nair, ‘Political History of Singapore 1945–1965’, Oral History Interviews, Accession Number 000049, National Archives of Singapore, 16 May 1981, Disc 14. Sidney Woodhull, ‘Political History of Singapore 1945–1965’, Oral History Interviews, Accession Number 000572, National Archives of Singapore, 16 June 1985, Discs 4 and 5.

79 Woodhull, Oral History Interviews, Disc 5.

80 ‘The Road to Socialism in an Independent Malaya’, in Lee, The Battle for Merger, pp. 190–195.

81 Nair, Oral History Interviews, Disc 17; Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Disc 6.

82 ‘The Ends and Means of Malayan Socialism’, in Lee, The Battle for Merger, pp. 184–188.

83 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, p. 179.

84 Ibid., p. 184.

85 See Sidney Woodhull, ‘Open Letter to Lee Kuan Yew’ and ‘Towards a Concept’, and James Puthucheary, ‘Are the English-Educated a Reactionary Class?’, Petir 3, no. 1 (1 December 1959); Sidney Woodhull, ‘Random Reflections’ and ‘Woodhull Explains…’, and Lee Kuan Yew, ‘Mr. Lee Kuan Yew Replies’, Petir, 3, no. 2 (19 December 1959).

86 ‘No Privileges for the English Educated’, Singapore Standard, 14 May 1959.

87 Woodhull, ‘Towards a Concept’, p. 3.

88 As he would note, the English educated had played prominent roles in India and in other British colonies, but not yet in Malaya. Puthucheary, ‘Are the English-Educated a Reactionary Class?’.

89 ‘If our primary task is nation-building, then we should give a sense of belonging to all those groups which are not fundamentally reactionary. Fundamentally reactionary groups are those whose vested interest would be destroyed by a change in the system created by the British’. Puthucheary, ‘Are the English-Educated a Reactionary Class?’, p. 8.

90 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, p. 179.

91 Ibid. pp. 184–185; Puthucheary, ‘Are the English-Educated a Reactionary Class?’, p. 8.

92 Puthucheary was arguing against the kind of position later expressed by Mah Lien Hwah, ‘Problems of National Unity in Malaya’, Fajar 3, no. 6 (August–September 1961). Linda Chen, ‘Language is not a Unifying Factor of a Nation’, in Pan-Malayan Students’ Federation: Second Annual Conference. A Souvenir Issue, Singapore: Pan-Malayan Students’ Union, 1955, p. 22. This was also prominent in the Labour Party of Malaya: see Vasil, Politics in a Plural Society, pp. 128–130.

93 Ibid. p. 180. For a similar critique, see Woodhull, ‘Towards a Concept’.

94 Ibid., pp. 179–180.

95 Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Discs 6 and 7.

96 Woodhull, Oral History Interviews, Disc 5. Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Disc 10.

97 Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Disc 10.

98 Puthucheary, ‘Statement of Political Belief’, p. 195.

99 ‘Letter to G. Mapara’, 13 April 1960, ICFTU File 3775, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam.

100 In his Oral History Interview, Woodhull termed the brand of socialism of the group around Lee Kuan Yew ‘milk and water stuff’, devoid of a meaningful philosophical base. Woodhull, Oral History Interviews, Disc 4.

101 Puthucheary, ‘Statement of Political Belief’, p. 191.

102 See Emphraim Nimni, Marxism and Nationalism: Theoretical Origins of a Political Crisis, London: Pluto Press, 1991; Lowy, ‘Marxists and the National Question’.

103 Nimni, Marxism and Nationalism, pp. 18–22.

104 Marx's position would foreshadow debates on the centrality of the Chinese and Indian working class in Malaya. ‘I long believed it was possible to overthrow the Irish regime by way of English working class ascendency … A deeper study has convinced me of the opposite. The English working class will never achieve anything before it has got rid of Ireland. The lever must be applied in Ireland. This is why the Irish question is so important for the socialist movement in general…’: Karl Marx, The First International and After: Political Writings. Volume 3, London: Verso Books, 2010, pp. 166–167. See also Rodden, John, ‘“The Lever Must Be Applied in Ireland”: Marx, Engels, and the Irish Question’, The Review of Politics 70, no. 4 (2008), pp. 609640CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

105 Puthucheary, Ownership and Control, pp. xix–xxii, 174–181. As Donna Amoroso has argued, beyond the formation of a plural society, the British also played an active role in reproducing the feudal aesthetic of the Malay aristocracy through a reinvention of tradition. See Donna Amoroso, Traditionalism and the Ascendency of the Malay Ruling Class in Colonial Malaya, Singapore/Petaling Jaya: NUS Press/SIRD, 2014.

106 Puthucheary, ‘Socialism in a Multi-Racial Society’, p. 170.

107 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, p. 180.

108 Puthucheary, ‘Socialism in a Multi-Racial Society’, p. 168.

109 He argued that the development of capitalism in India was removing communal barriers between Hindu and Muslim: M. N. Roy, ‘Manifesto to the Delegates of the XXXVI Indian National Congress’, 1923, at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/roy/1923/01/manifesto.htm, [accessed 19 November 2021].

110 Puthucheary, ‘Socialism in a Multi-Racial Society’, p. 168.

111 Ibid.

112 Ibid.

113 S. Rajaratnam, ‘Malayan Culture in the Making’, Petir 3, no. 13 and ‘The Cultural Approach to Politics’, Petir 3, no. 15 (September 1960).

114 Loh et al., The University Socialist Club, pp. 181–184; Peter Eng, ‘The Rural Problem in Malaya’, Fajar 3, no. 6 (August–September 1961); R. Joethy, ‘We are for Malayan Unity’, Fajar 2 no. 7 (April 1960).

115 Loh et al., p. 179; For UMNO's hegemony over the Malay peasantry, see Amoroso, Traditionalism and the Ascendency of the Malay Ruling Class.

116 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, p. 178.

117 Puthucheary, ‘Socialism in a Multi-Racial Society’, p. 171.

118 Ibid., pp. 171–172.

119 Puthucheary, ‘Are the English-Educated a Reactionary Class?’

120 Loh et. al., The University Socialist Club, p. 103.

121 Puthucheary, ‘The University and the Student in Society’.

122 Ibid., pp. 182–184.

123 Gramsci argued that the advanced workers of the Italian North would have to attain hegemony over the rural peasantry in the South, in a division that was regional, economic, but also cultural. Antonio Gramsci, ‘Some Aspects of the Southern Question’, in his Selections from Political Writings (1921–1926), (trans. and ed.) Quintin Hoare, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1978, pp. 421–462. Puthucheary's perspective can also be seen to reflect Jose Mariategui's call to ‘Peruanise Peru’, by privileging the indigenous Indian peasant majority in the context of similar ethnic and class-based cleavages.

124 Puthucheary, Ownership and Control, p. 180.

125 Seng-Guo Quan, ‘“How I wished that It Could Have Worked”: James Puthucheary's Political-Economic Thought and the Myth of Singapore's Developmental Model’, in Loh Kah Seng, Thum Ping Tjin and Jack Meng-Tat Chia, Living with Myths in Singapore, Singapore: Ethos Books, 2017, pp. 93–102.

126 Dominic Puthucheary, ‘James Puthucheary, His Friends and His Times’, p. 28. Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Disc 10.

127 Puthucheary, ‘Puthucheary Writes … What Caused the Break with PAP’.

128 Peter Hastings, ‘Malaysia’, The Bulletin, 4 November 1961.

129 Dominic Puthucheary, ‘James Puthucheary, His Friends and His Times’, p. 28. See also Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Disc 10.

130 Lim Chin Joo, ‘An Extract from Lim Chin Siong's Posthumous Manuscripts’, in Poh, Comet in Our Sky, pp. 193–194.

131 Interview with Dominic Puthucheary, 30 June 2020; Puthucheary, Oral History Interviews, Disc 10.

132 ‘Tengku: I Would Have Said “No” to Winneba Mission’, The Straits Times, 20 May 1965.

133 ‘Another Malaysia Delegation Going to Algiers’, The Straits Times, 19 June 1965. The conference itself did not take place.

134 Ibid.

135 ‘Towards a New Malaya’, in Hong (ed.), Malaiya Laogung Dang Wenxian Huibian, pp. 61–90.

136 Dominic Puthucheary, ‘James Puthucheary, His Friends and His Times’, p. 16.

137 Jeyaraj C. Rajarao, ‘The Legacy of the Socialist Club of the University of Malaya’, in Poh Soo Kai et al. (eds), The Fajar Generation, Petaling Jaya: SIRD, 2010, p. 61. See also the essays, ‘On the Question of People's Unity’, ‘Explaining the Question of “United Front”’, and ‘Unite, Go on to the Streets, Penetrate the Kampungs’, in Tan Pek Leng (ed.), An Uncommon Hero: M. K. Rajakumar in Politics and Medicine, Petaling Jaya: SIRD, 2011, p. 190.

138 Vasil, Politics in a Plural Society, pp. 211–212.

139 Lim Kean Siew, ‘The Role of the Socialist in Malaya Today’, Fajar 2, no. 5 (December 1959).

140 Ibid.

141 See ‘Text of Radio Speech of Mr. Lim Kean Siew Given on Behalf of the Malayan People's Socialist Front on the 13th August 1959’, ‘Towards a New Malaya’, and ‘Our Education Policy’, in Hong (ed.), Malaiya Laogung Dang Wenxian Huibian.

142 Vasil, Politics in a Plural Society, Chapter 5; ‘Front Rift over Agreement on School Policy’, Straits Times, 19 September 1960; ‘Boestamam: Why I Back Special Malay Rights’, The Straits Times, 29 September 1962.

143 Vasil, Politics in a Plural Society, pp. 219–221.

144 Syed Husin Ali, Memoirs of a Political Struggle, Petaling Jaya: SIRD, 2012.

145 Tan Kim Hong, ‘The Labour Party of Malaya, 1952–1972’, Aliran, https://aliran.com/aliran-monthly/2008/200810/the-labour-party-of-malaya-19521972/, [accessed 19 November 2021].

146 Ibid.

147 Samad Ismail, ‘UMNO Will Have No Real Rival for Many Years to Come’, The Straits Times, 16 June 1958. See also Samad Ismail, ‘The Fears Are Behind Now’, The Straits Times, 30 August 1958.

148 Samad Ismail, ‘Why UMNO Said “No” to the Welfare State Move’, The Straits Times, 2 August 1966; Samad Ismail, ‘Learning the Secret of the Ra'ayat: How the Peasant is Misunderstood’, The Straits Times, 13 May 1969.

149 Woodhull, Sidney, ‘Is Socialism in Malaysia Dead?’, Venture 18, no. 3/4 (1966), pp. 911Google Scholar; ‘Umno May Move Towards the Left: Woodhull’, The Straits Times, 16 June 1966.

150 Puthucheary was conscious of the need for state power to achieve both poverty eradication and the removal of communal barriers. ‘Malaya has three major problems which have to be solved … For this we must have political and economic power’: Puthucheary's ‘Prison Notes’, p. 11.

151 Puthucheary, ‘On the Future of Socialism in Malaya’, p. 178.

152 Stenson, Class, Race and Colonialism in West Malaysia, pp. 187–193.

153 Tan, An Uncommon Hero, pp. 82–87.

154 Ahmad Mustapha Hassan, The Unmaking of Malaysia: Insider's Reminiscences of UMNO, Razak and Mahathir, Petaling Jaya: SIRD, 2008.

155 ‘Arrest the Puthucheary Brothers: Umno Youth’, The Straits Times, 25 March 1977.

156 S. Rajaratnam, Oral History Interviews, Accession Number 000149, National Archives of Singapore, 16 June 1985, Disc 2.

157 ‘Kean Siew “Man of Different Lives”’, The Sun, 1 October 2007.

158 Rodolphe De Koninck, Malay Peasants Coping with the World: Breaking the Community Circle?, Singapore: ISEAS, 1992; Wan Hashim, Peasants under Peripheral Capitalism, Bangi: Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 1995; Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Patricia Todd, Trade Unions and the State in Peninsular Malaysia, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.