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The Hakkas of Sarawak

The Hakkas of Sarawak: Sacrificial Gifts in Cold War Era Malaysia

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    The Hakkas of Sarawak
    Book Description:

    This book tells the story of the Hakka Chinese in Sarawak, Malaysia, who were targeted as communists or communist sympathizers because of their Chinese ethnicity the 1960s and 1970s.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6797-6
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-28)

    I have never met thethree heroes, or the guerrillas who died in the jungles of Borneo, or those who were detained at correction centres or relocated into barbed-wirenew villagesin Sarawak during the Cold War. But through my journey of fieldwork over the course of twelve months, I learned about their sacrifices, their demise, and, equally important, the survivors who live to reluctantly talk about the ambiguities of the battles that they fought. In fact, the first time I heard of thethree heroeswas at a coffee shop by the Sarawak Omnibus Company (SOC) bus station in...

  5. Chapter One Overseas Chinese
    (pp. 29-49)

    For most of the subjects I worked with in Sarawak, the Cold War’s personal meanings, its profound sense of rupture, and the differences it engendered or strengthened still lived on in their lives. It was also a division of properties, of assets and liabilities – or, as a bus conductor put it, “a division of feelings.” It brought untold suffering and trauma. It is true that many of them managed to move on, developing a sense of in difference towards their community leaders, their employers, and the State. But for many of these rural Hakkas, their easy victimization did not start...

  6. Chapter Two The Greater Malaysia Plan
    (pp. 50-67)

    Prior to the formation of Malaysia, Britain’s principle concern in its protectorates of Malaya, Singapore, Brunei, Sarawak, and Sabah was how to maintain its political and economic influence in the region with less police, military, and administrative forces – and without increasing their costs (Subritzky 1999). It was hoped that under a gradual decolonization policy that would promote political liberalization and trade, these protectorates would become quasi-independent and yet remain a pro-British federation. Only then would the idea of Greater Malaysia be considered. Unfortunately, developments in the region forced Britain to abandon its so-called benign federation plan and pursue more coercive...

  7. Chapter Three The Sri Aman Treaty
    (pp. 68-88)

    According to the “official” Malaysian history of communism in Sarawak, even though the Clandestine Communist Organizations (CCOs) waged guerilla warfare against the state for twenty-seven years (from 1963 to 1990), the beginning of the end of communism in Sarawak is said to have occurred in 1974 when close to 500 guerillas from the North Kalimantan People’s Army (NKPA), one of the communist guerilla groups that operated between Sarawak and West Kalimantan, laid down their arms and rejoined society under the Sri Aman Treaty (Asli 1993; Mahmud 1993; Pusat Arakib Negara 1994). Following the “aestheticizing impulse” of the nation state, the...

  8. Chapter Four Any Other Day at the Bus Station
    (pp. 89-110)

    From the very beginning of my fieldwork, I was curious as to why so many rural Hakkas who had been forcibly relocated intonew villagesended up working at the Sarawak Omnibus Company (SOC). Of the close to 800 total employees that had been working there since the 1960s, the overwhelming majority of them were rural Hakkas from thenew villages. Was it because the company and the rural Hakkas shared a certain synthesis between the socialist agenda of the SOC and the political motivations of these Hakkas? Most likely there was a bit of both. A few drivers confided...

  9. Chapter Five What’s There to Tell?
    (pp. 111-133)

    “What’s there to tell? One might go to prison for it,” was how Huah Li, a bus conductor from the KTC, responded to my queries about thenew villages. Even though there is no law in Malaysia that forbids people from talking about communism or the history of communism in Malaysia, my observation with former guerrillas and other subjects affected by the War on Communism in Sarawak would indicate that they were still haunted by it, so much so that they would rather not talk about it. Moreover, there was always the fear of being watched by the Special Branch.¹...

  10. Chapter Six Virtuous Subjects
    (pp. 134-152)

    Similar to other nation-states in the region, Malaysia has continued to cultivate ethnic differences as useful adjuncts of nationalism, in essence, muffling incipient class conflict (Ackerman and Lee 1988; Cushman and Wang 1988; Kua 2007). If anything else, the reification and performances of ethnic identities serves to bolster the overall power of the state and at the same time camouflage its fragile unity or unpopularity. This historical mix of bureaucratic ascription and social inscription along ethnic (and religious) realm has meantfreedomand emotional well-being for some, while prescribing violent consequences for others. For instance, the regional economic and financial...

  11. Chapter Seven Sites of Impermanence
    (pp. 153-176)

    Since its formation and throughout the tumultuous years of the 1960s and 1970s, and up to the late 1990s, SOC was like afamilyto its employees. But by 1999, this was no longer true. Hong had just retired and the torch had been passed to his grandson, George. With it, things started to change with the management reorganization that instituted a sharp division between the management and the employees. This created not only an air of uncertainty and impermanence at the workplace, but also a feeling of betrayal and resentment towards the company, especially when it finally succumbed into...

  12. Chapter Eight Facing the Artefact
    (pp. 177-186)

    During the past decade there have been a growing number of countries in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia that have witnessed a shift from repressive regime to more democratic governance with some sort of transitional justice initiatives to confront their haunting past. As a consequence, there has been a trend in the outpouring of oral histories from the subjugated populations and this has attracted great interest from the academy, human rights NGOs, governments, and multilateral institutions. This interest, in turn, has led to some impressive results: the arrests of Chile’s Pinochet and Yugoslav’s Milošević, the invalidation of amnesty laws...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 187-214)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 215-234)
  15. Index
    (pp. 235-242)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 243-244)