Forgotten Wars: The End of Britain's Asian Empire
Christopher A. Bayly, Tim Harper
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This extraordinary book is a vivid, highly original account of the creation of a new Asia after the Second World War - an unstoppable wave of nationalism that swept the British Empire aside. It tells the definitive story of how India, Pakistan, Burma and Malaysia came into existence and how British interference in Vietnam and Indonesia fatally shaped those countries' futures.
British king-emperor, George VI. Created in 1943, Mountbatten’s new command was the first expression of ‘Southeast Asia’ as a distinct geopolitical entity. It was a partner to the Pacific vision behind General MacArthur’s South West Pacific Command, but there was little love lost between the two unequal allies. To Americans, Southeast Asia was an ‘unnecessary front’.23 To wits, SEAC stood for ‘Save England’s Asian Colonies’. There was much truth in this: ‘Here,’ Winston Churchill thundered in
encouraged uneducated people to be passive and accepting of exploitation. Instead, Buddhism was a science to perfect the human soul. Later, at an archaeological excavation on the site of an ancient monastery, he alluded to the discovery of penicillin and the invention of jet propulsion and the atom bomb, but pointed to the even more important and equally ‘scientific’ discoveries of the Buddha. At least in these early days, many Burmese saw him as an almost ideal ruler, akin to the legendary
overwhelmed; some were hastily erected and others, such as St John’s Island in Singapore and Pulau Jerejak off Penang, were former quarantine stations. The clinical language used to describe the process disguised a brutal reality. Families were irrevocably divided. In January 1949, at the Malacca camp, British observers found elderly persons and parentless children awaiting ‘repatriation’ to a homeland with which they had lost all connection.77 Of the individual detainees around 1,000 were Malay.
Banjarese, in Malaya, 42, 44, 359–60 Bao Dai emperor, 142, 143 Bartlett, Vernon, 275–6 Batang Kali, 449–56 Battle of Midway, 11 Battle of Surabaya, 180–81, 183 Batu Arang colliery, 122, 339, 421, 445, 448 Batu Caves massacre, 34–5, 126, 349, 514 Batu Gajah jail, 92, 126 Batu Pahat, 211, 212, 216 Bedong, 338 Bekasi, 182 Bengal Club, 223, 248 Bengal, 81–6, 242–52 famine, 81, 89, 244 partition, 286–7, 292–301 Bengali language, 85 Berkeley, Hubert, 495–6 Bhonsle, 22 Bhowani
agitation about the region. This was the movement for the return of Indian nationals who had fled Burma at the beginning of the war, a cause that was by no means popular among Burmese, Malays or Indo-Chinese. In October the Burma government’s Civil Supplies Board announced that, come the following March, it would begin repatriating half a million of these refugees from Calcutta, Chittagong and Vizagapatnam in the south. Moreover, it promised that: ‘all Indian merchant refugees returning to Burma