This paper discusses the significant role of the Indonesian Communist movement in the formation of Jose Maria Sison as a leading Filipino Marxist radical and its possible influence on the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968. After a study fellowship in Indonesia in 1962, Sison published pioneering translations of Chairil Anwar’s poetry and popularized matters pertaining to Indonesia during the Sukarno era through the journal Progressive Review. He also had a memorable and intellectually fruitful friendship with the Indonesian nationalist guerrilla and University of the Philippines graduate student Bakri Ilyas. A small but persistent controversy on the alleged plagiarization by Sison of Indonesian radical sources in the late 1960s and early 1970s will then be addressed through systematic textual analysis. The paper will propose some general theses on authorship, modularity, adaptation, and dissemination of texts and ideas in twentieth-century radical movements. Finally, the article will assess the impact of the 1965–66 massacre in Indonesia on the revolutionary ideas and practice of the CPP.
Making a case for studying student activism outside of elite university students, this paper investigates the sources of polytechnic student activism in a tightly controlled society: 1970s Singapore. It seeks to find less obvious histories: the limits of state control, the relative openness of the city-state, and the identity and lived experiences of the polytechnicians. Through the writings and cartoons of the Singapore Polytechnic Students’ Union, augmented by oral histories, the paper traces the contours of student activism as defined by everyday events as well as momentous experiences formed at the intersection between campus, national, and transnational—particularly pan-Asian—developments.
At the national level, the polytechnicians’ identity responded to the state’s instrumentalist view of students, which was to define the polytechnic student in a more expansive way, attacking student apathy toward social and political issues. Some student matters, such as protests against bus hikes, escalated into national issues, bringing the polytechnicians into encounters with state officials and politicians. Political surveillance caused fear and anxiety but also fostered a sense of injustice. Conversely, international contact, such as reading critical literature and participating in pan-Asian seminars, helped the polytechnicians place Singapore in an Asian context and plot themselves on a mental political spectrum. Reading was an experience: universal ideas in books enabled the students to contextualize local issues, just as everyday experiences in Singapore helped them locate the abstract. The international contact thus enabled the polytechnicians to give meaning to concepts such as “students,” “education,” and “Asia.”
This article reads Ahmad Boestamam’s Testament Politik API (1946) to understand his political thoughts, especially on the notion of justice and freedom. The text was written as an agitation against the British and the social structure of Malay and Malaya society. This article also reads Boestamam’s novel, Rumah Kacha Digegar Gempa (1969), to discuss his idealism and views on the political landscape of post-colonial Malaysia. This article argues that Boestamam’s thoughts on justice have made important contributions to the discourse of the nation.
This paper discusses the strategic essentialism of gender and politics in modern Indonesia by rereading literary works of Siti Rukiah (1927–96): her first novel, Kedjatuhan dan Hati (1950), and her collection of poems and short stories Tandus (1952). It locates Rukiah’s position in modern Indonesian politics and the literary world to understand how she crafted her literary skills. It highlights the importance of her hometown, Purwakarta, as the locus of her literary development. It argues that as a representative female writer of the time Rukiah offered important contributions to the nation’s consciousness of gender equality and liberation from the oppressive social structure.
Jit Phumisak (1930–66) is one of the most well-known figures among Thai leftist scholars and activists in the 1950s. He was born slightly before monarchical absolutism was abolished, and he grew up in an anti-American atmosphere when socialism was booming. Apart from his numerous writings, what makes Jit different from other socialists and Marxists of his time is his legendary life and untimely death. He became a cultural hero and a legendary figure among young activists in the mid-1970s democracy movement. His image, however, was constructed and modified by different actors under different agendas. This paper reviews Jit’s life and work by focusing on the construction of his image by the military regime, Communist organization, scholars, political activists, and local authorities from the 1970s to the present, taking into account the different political situations in Thailand throughout these periods.