Sunday, October 6, 2013

R.G BALAN - The Political Head of Indian Section of CPM

R.G Balan was one of CPM Central Committee Members. He was arrested much earlier than Ganapathy. He was arrested on the 30th May 1948 before the declaration on Emergency in Malaya.

According to Prof Cheah Boon Kheng (taken form his unpublished work - Memoir of R. Balan, Vice-President of the Malayan Communist Party)

"In the spate of published memoirs of leaders and officials of the Malayan Communist Party that began appearing following the end of their armed struggle in 1989, the voice of R. Balan, the vice-president of the MCP, has been noticeably absent. English-educated and Chinese-speaking R. Balan was the nom-de-guerre in the party of R. Raja Gopal.

During the period 1946–8 Balan was a prominent trade unionist. He had organized workers on rubber estates in Perak and was a representative of the Pan-Malayan Federation of Trade Unions. In this capacity he helped organize a series of strikes, and the authorities arrested and detained him on 30 May 1948, just before the Emergency Regulations were introduced. In The Communist Insurrection in Malaya. 1948-1960 (London: Frederick Muller, 1975), a semi-official account of the Emergency, Anthony Short describes Balan as an exceptionally skillful and successful trade union organizer who was within six hours of taking to the jungle when he was arrested.

Balan had joined the propaganda unit of the Malayan Communist Party during the Japanese Occupation, editing its Tamil news-sheets and serving as a member of the party’s central committee. After the war, he emerged into prominence as one of three MCP representatives who attended the British Empire Conference of Communist Parties in London in 1947, the other two being Wu Tien Wang and Rashid Mydin. In 1955, while still in detention, he was elected vice-president of the MCP. In 1960, after being held for 12 years, he was released under certain restrictions, one of which was that he should forthwith eschew politics. Since then many friends and scholars had urged Balan to tell his story, in particular to explain what had led him to communism, his experience of the jungle life, his relationships with MCP leaders, and his activities as a labour leader. He began recording his memories in three sessions with me in 1974, but we were unable to complete the project because shortly after those sessions he fell ill and passed away. The truncated manuscript of his memoir then got lost among my papers, and I only found it again recently.

Abdullah C.D., Suriani remember R.G. Balan

When I met them, Abdullah CD and Suriani Abdullah remembered well one of their Indian comrades R.G. Balan who worked underground in Tapah-Kampar area as a Communist Party of Malaya's Tamil publicist during Japanese occupation. After the war, R.G. Balan became a labour organiser until he was detained without trial by the colonial authority on 30 May, 1948 and not released until 1961.

In 1955, while he was under detention, R.G. Balan was appointed a vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Malaya. They first met R.G. Balan in Ipoh immediately after the war had ended and when most of the underground party members emerged as victors of the Pacific War in Malaya.

In  'Pursuit of Mountain Rats', the author Anthony Short who was a former British soldier stationed in Singapore during the early Emergency period acknowledged and attributed R G Balan as 'the great strike promoter'.

According to Short,

"By mid-may 100 police were disposed on another estate in Johore where another big strike was in progress, but the most serious development was reckoned to be in lower Perak where R. G. Balan, a skillful communist union organiser, was running government officers ragged.

Eighty-five strikes were recorded in Perak during 1948 and nearly all of them in the first six months of the year and the most serious of these were attributed to Balan, but the strikes and wholesale evictions of Klapa Bali and Lima Blas estates were reckoned to be Balan's last success when he was arrested on May 30th.
- In Pursuit of Mountain Rats, page 91-92. Published by Cultured Lotus 2000.

John Brazier, the Trade Union  Adviser to Malaya was said to face uphill task to convince the estate workers to return to negotiation table as long as R.G Balan was in-charge of the strike. The British needed to get rid of Balan in order to allow them to persuade workers to return to work.  

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