While local Marxist and neo-Marxist parties attempted to synchronize their revolutionary struggles with the centers of world communism during the period 1945–1991, political currents on the ground in Malaysia and Singapore were pushing for the establishment of postcolonial authority, social peace, and economic prosperity. The Cold War struggle between 'communism' and 'democratic capitalism' was highly refracted, even distorted, on the ground in these two Southeast Asian countries. This refraction was largely manifested in the struggles by nationalists of all ideological stripes to achieve a multiracial society through interethnic decolonization under the banner of waging 'class warfare' against colonial authority. For many anti-colonial political parties, siding with or joining leftist movements was a façade for revolutionary agendas that were not necessarily Marxist-Leninist in orientation. Secondly, the biographies and civil society narratives of contending political figures of the time suggest that they were less inclined to define their thinking about development along Cold War ideological orthodoxy than to defy the latter to make things work for prosperity. Finally, the successor elites who took the place of the colonial rulers were consistently obsessed with burnishing sovereignty in spite of the international Cold War. This can be seen in their slippery practice of nonalignment in foreign policy. The Malaysian and Singaporean cases strongly present the thesis of indigenization of the Cold War for local purposes.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 179-208
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.