Scholars commonly regard the Comintern as having played a critical role in the emergence of the communist movement in late-colonial Malaya. When discussing the Comintern’s early influence, existing scholarships often use the arrest of Joseph Ducroux — alias Serge Lefranc, a French agent of the Comintern — in Singapore in June 1931 to illustrate the Comintern-China-Malaya connection. Additionally, historians have attached special meanings to the Ducroux Case, primarily because of the more significant repercussions it caused internationally. Laurent Metzger has conducted detailed research on Ducroux’s arrest in and eventual exile from Singapore between 1931 and 1932. While such an account is useful in demonstrating the incident’s international significance, little is known as to what immediate impression it created in the cosmopolitan port city. Moreover, it is also unclear how Singapore’s general public perceived communism when communist organizations had yet firmly established themselves in the British colony. This article seeks to make sense of such issues by investigating how the Singapore press reported on the Ducroux Case.
Geoffrey Robinson’s The Killing Season is one of the most-awaited books by the Southeast Asian studies community in 2018. The 456-page monograph explores in great detail the anti-communist massacres of Indonesia in 1965-66 and the long-term repercussions in the following decades. As one of the worst human atrocities in the 20th century, the mass killing led to the death of some half a million real and alleged communist members and sympathizers. After more than 50 years, however, reflections on this tragic event are far from sufficient. Although academic work in recent years spurred growing discussions within small circles, the mass violence has not received adequate attention from the international audience. Worse still, a troubling silence permeates Indonesia even today, as many of those who committed the atrocities have stayed in power. While victims struggled to find viable ways to pursue justice, numerous murderers managed to get away with impunity.