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Two girls play in front of some old shops in the small town of Pusing, Perak state, Malaysia, about 14 km from Ipoh city. This town was marked as a “black area” by the British colonial administration during the Malayan Emergency (1948-60), infamous as it was for Communist activities around it. What was a “black area” to the British was a “red area” to the Communists. Old photographs show Pusing’s police station heavily fortified against attacks in the early 1950s with 50-gallon oil drums and coconut tree trunks, and the whole town was fenced in with barbed wire to prevent attacks by the Communists, who wanted the British to leave Malaya. ------------------ This week, I'm taking over @theiwmf’s @instagram feed.
I was awarded an IWMF Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists grant to continue work on my book project “One Day We Shall Understand”, on the 12-year war the British fought against indigenous Communists in their colony of Malaya (present-day Malaysia and Singapore) from 1948 to 1960.
My paternal grandfather ( born in Hong Kong but raised and lived in British Malaya) was part of the anti-colonial movement – eventually leading to his deportation and execution. His story is my point of departure on this search to uncover hidden histories and trauma from the period. This was an early chapter of the Cold War in Asia, but much remains poorly documented, with politically-imposed amnesia.
This week, I’ll be sharing some field notes from my third road trip starting from the Thailand-Malaysia border and going southwards, encountering landscapes and characters who were part of the 12-year war which left many repressed memories.
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