Radicals: Resistance and Protest in Colonial Malaya

Radicals tells the story of a group of radical Malay men and women from ordinary social backgrounds who chose to oppose foreign rule of their homeland, knowing full well that by embarking on this path of resistance, they would risk imprisonment or death. Their ranks included teachers, journalists, intellectuals, housewives, peasants, preachers, and youths. They formed, led, and contributed to the founding of political parties, grassroots organizations, unions, newspapers, periodicals, and schools that spread their ideas across the country in the aftermath of the Great Depression, when colonialism was at its height and evident in all areas of life in their country. But when their efforts to uproot foreign dominance faltered in the face of the sanctions the state imposed upon them, some of these radicals chose to take up arms, while others engaged in aggressive protests and acts of civil disobedience to uphold their rights. While some died fighting and hundreds were incarcerated, many lived to resist colonialism until their country attained its independence in August 1957, all of these Malay radicals were devoted to becoming free men and women and to claiming their right to be treated as equals in a world riddled with prejudice and contradictions.

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Radicals tells the story of a group of radical Malay men and women from ordinary social backgrounds who chose to oppose foreign rule of their homeland, knowing full well that by embarking on this path of resistance, they would risk imprisonment or death. Their ranks included teachers, journalists, intellectuals, housewives, peasants, preachers, and youths. They formed, led, and contributed to the founding of political parties, grassroots organizations, unions, newspapers, periodicals, and schools that spread their ideas across the country in the aftermath of the Great Depression, when colonialism was at its height and evident in all areas of life in their country. But when their efforts to uproot foreign dominance faltered in the face of the sanctions the state imposed upon them, some of these radicals chose to take up arms, while others engaged in aggressive protests and acts of civil disobedience to uphold their rights. While some died fighting and hundreds were incarcerated, many lived to resist colonialism until their country attained its independence in August 1957, all of these Malay radicals were devoted to becoming free men and women and to claiming their right to be treated as equals in a world riddled with prejudice and contradictions.

“The story of the Malay radicals has never been told so fully and so vividly; the author has pieced together a fascinating history which he tells with considerable compassion. Though the history of the Malay radicals may, as the author suggests, be seen as a history of losers, if we never know about those who lost, we may never have a proper appreciation of those who won, and the recent emergence of a more pluralistic politics in Malaysia suggests a need to have the fullest understanding of the emergence and shaping of Malay political consciousness as charted in this book. The prose is exceedingly readable (and often almost lyrical).” — Carol Tan, SOAS, University of London

 

Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press

Paperback

2015

ISBN: 9780875804927