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Vol. 14, No. 3: July–September 1982
• Asoka Bandarage - The Establishment and Consolidation of the
Planation Economy in Sri Lanka
• Sharat G. Lin and Nagashwar Patnaik - Migrant Labor at ASIAD
‘82 Construction Sites in New Delhi
• Chen Guuying - The Reform Movement Among Intellectuals in
Taiwan since 1970
• Richard C. Kagan - Martial Law in Taiwan
• John Israel - The Fifth Modernization: China’s Human Rights
Movement 1978-1979 edited by James Seymour / A Review Essay
• Documents on CIA Surveillance of CCAS
• Hassan Gardezi and Jamil Rashid - Communication: Academia in
Pakistan under Military Terror
• A. Tom Grunfeld - The Coming Decline of the Chinese Empire by
Victor Louis; The Tibetans by Chris Mullin; The Struggle for Basic
Needs in Nepal by P.M. Blaikie et al; Peasants and Workers in
Nepal edited by D. Seddon / A Review Essay
BCAS/Critical AsianStudies
CCAS Statement of Purpose
Critical Asian Studies continues to be inspired by the statement of purpose
formulated in 1969 by its parent organization, the Committee of Concerned
Asian Scholars (CCAS). CCAS ceased to exist as an organization in 1979,
but the BCAS board decided in 1993 that the CCAS Statement of Purpose
should be published in our journal at least once a year.
We first came together in opposition to the brutal aggression of
the United States in Vietnam and to the complicity or silence of
our profession with regard to that policy. Those in the field of
Asian studies bear responsibility for the consequences of their
research and the political posture of their profession. We are
concerned about the present unwillingness of specialists to speak
out against the implications of an Asian policy committed to en-
suring American domination of much of Asia. We reject the le-
gitimacy of this aim, and attempt to change this policy. We
recognize that the present structure of the profession has often
perverted scholarship and alienated many people in the field.
The Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars seeks to develop a
humane and knowledgeable understanding of Asian societies
and their efforts to maintain cultural integrity and to confront
such problems as poverty, oppression, and imperialism. We real-
ize that to be students of other peoples, we must first understand
our relations to them.
CCAS wishes to create alternatives to the prevailing trends in
scholarship on Asia, which too often spring from a parochial
cultural perspective and serve selfish interests and expansion-
ism. Our organization is designed to function as a catalyst, a
communications network for both Asian and Western scholars, a
provider of central resources for local chapters, and a commu-
nity for the development of anti-imperialist research.
Passed, 28–30 March 1969
Boston, Massachusetts
Vol. 14, No. 3/July-Sept., 1982
Asoka Bandarage 2 The Establishment and Consolidation of the Plantation
Economy in Sri Lanka
Sharat G. Lin and Nageshwar Patnaik 23 Migrant Labor at ASIAD '82 Construction
Sites in New Delhi
Chen Guuying 32 The Reform Movement among Intellectuals
in Taiwan since 1970
Richard C. Kagan 48 Martial Law in Taiwan
John Israel 55 The Fifth Modernization: China's Human Rights Movement,
1978-1979, edited by James D. Seymour/ review essay
62 Documents on CIA Surveillance of CCAS
64 Communication: Academia in Pakistan
under Military Terror
A. Tom Grunfeld 66 The Coming Decline oJthe Chinese Empire by Victor Louis;
The Tibetans by Chris Mullin;
The StruggleJor Basic Needs in Nepal by P.M. Blaikie, et al
Peasants and Workers in Nepal, edited
by D. Seddon/ review essay
71 Correspondence and Errata
List of Books to Review
Asoka Bandarage: Dept. of Sociology, Brandeis Univ., Richard C. Kagan: History Dept., Hamline Univ., St. Paul,
Waltham, Massachusetts Minnesota
SharatG. Lin: Univ. of California, Berkeley, California John Israel: History Dept., Univ. of Virginia, Charlottes­
ville, Virginia
Nageshwar Patnaik: Jawaharlal Nehru Univ., New Delhi,
India A. Tom Grunfeld: History Dept., Empire State College/
State Univ. of New York, New York
Chen Guuying: A prominent Taiwanese intellectual and
leading member of the democratic reform movement, cur­
rently living in the U.S.
Life behind barbed wire. Cover photo: Lin/patnaik
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
The Establishment and Consolidation of the
Plantation Economy in Sri Lanka
by Asoka Bandarage
Some of the major economic and political problems facing
Sri Lanka today, such as the inherent instability of the export
economy, land hunger of the peasantry, backwardness of rural
agriculture and marginality of the Tamil estate labor force, are
commonly attributed to the colonial experience and to the plan­
tation economy in particular. Before we can understand the
neo-colonial manifestations of these problems or the strategies
necessary to overcome them, a careful analysis of their origins
and processes of evolution are necessary.
The focus of this article is on the origin and evolution of the
plantation economy in what is called the "coffee period," from
about 1833 to 1886, in the Central or Kandyan Highlands of Sri
Lanka. Although coffee-plantation agriculture was relatively
short lived, the institutional framework it set in place con­
tinued essentially intact into the subsequent "tea period." 1
These highlands where coffee (and later, tea) was cultivated
constitute the mountainous core of the pre-colonial Kandyan
Kingdom which remained politically, economically and cultur­
ally isolated from the expanding world economy and European
rule until its cession to the British in 1815 (see map).
Given the essentially historical and descriptive emphasis of
this paper, the theoretical issues that have guided it have had to
be left implicit. Nevertheless it should be made explicit that the
paper is concerned with pointing out some of the conceptual
inadequacies of "dualistic" theories popularly applied to third­
world social formations. Both the dominant modernization per­
spective (particularly dual-economy theory) and its nationalist
critiques (including some variants of underdevelopment theory)
posit colonial societies as comprising simply of a "modem" or
"developed" (e.g. plantation) sector and an undifferentiated,
"traditional" or "underdeveloped" (e.g. village/peasant) sec­
tor.2 Through our Sri Lanka case materials we shall demonstrate
that the colonial impact was a complex and differentiated proc­
ess which varied across modes of economic production, social
1. As coconut and rubber estates came on the scene, a greater diversity in tenns
of ownership, labor utilization, scale of operation, etc. was introduced into the
"plantation system" dominated first by coffee and then by tea estates.
2. Dual economy and underdevelopment theories, however, have fundamen­
tally different ideological pre-suppositions. These and other perspectives on
third world social transfonnations as well as their relative applicability to Sri
Lanka are discussed extensively in my forthcoming book, Bandarage, The
Political Economy ofColonialism, chap. 9. For examples of dual economy and
underdevelopment theories, see, respectively, l.H. BOeke, Economics and
Economic Policy of Dual Societies, New York: Institute of Pacific Relations,
1953, and George L. Beckford, Persistent Poverty: Underdevelopment in
Plantation Economies ofthe Third World, New York: Oxford University Press,
classes, etc., much more than has been suggested. 3
On the theoretical level, the paper seeks also to point out
that the dominance of the political sphere, namely the colonial
state, was a characteristic feature of colonial political econ­
omies particularly during the early stages of their evolution and
incorporation into the world capitalist economy. In fact, it will
be shown that colonial capitalism in Sri Lanka was a creation of
the colonial state. The primacy of the colonial state, it will be
suggested, is also vital for understanding the dialects of resist­
ance against colonialism, especially its predominantly nation­
alist character.
The Colonial State and the Expansion
of Capitalist Plantation Agriculture
Coffee was grown for export by Sinhalese peasant small­
holders for several decades before the plantations came on the
However, being primarily subsistence producers, the
Sinhalese peasants were not interested in making a large-scale
conversion to coffee as cash crop producers. They grew coffee
bushes in the highlands and gardens surrounding their homes as
a means of earning a supplementary income. Peasants' access
and attachment to rice fields, as well as the problems of social
control and labor mobilization which confronted the colonial
administration, prevented the transformation of the native culti­
vators into a class of smallholder cash-crop producers.
Unlike in some other European colonies such as Java or the
Gold Coast (Ghana), the primary agricultural strategy adopted
by the colonizers in Sri Lanka was not peasant or smallholder
cultivation, but large-scale plantation agriculture. However, as
other writers have noted, it was the early success of "peasant
coffee" that encouraged Europeans to undertake large-scale
coffee cultivation on plantations (or "estates" as they were/are
called in Sri Lanka) beginning in the 1820s.
3. The most explicit application of the dual economy model to Sri Lanka is
Donald Snodgrass's Ceylon: An Export Economy in Transition, Homewood,
Illinois: Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1966. For a nationalist perspective which shares
some of the assumptions of the underdevelopment school, see, Ceylon Parlia­
ment, Sessional Papers (henceforth denoted as SP), 1951, No. 18, "The Report
of the Kandyan Peasantry Commission."
4. A.C.L. Ameer Ali, "Peasant Coffee in Ceylon During the Nineteenth
Century," Ceylon Journal ojHistorical & Social Studies, (henceforth CJHSS),
Vol. 2, No. I (Jan.-June 1972), p.50.
5. The tenn "peasant coffee" is attributed to A.C.L. Ameer Ali. "Peasant
Agriculture in Ceylon, 1933-1893," Ph.D. dissertation, University of London,
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
_ Roads (1814- 1890)
••••• Roads (1891-1911)
___ Railways (1851 -1890)
=-=-=- Railways (1891-1913)
'1 NorwoOd
2 Dikoya
3 Hatton
4 Dimbll1a
5 Nanuoya.
6 Lindu'&
7 Agr&p&tana
8 Bulathkobupitiy.
9 Ambavela.
10 Haputale
11 KumbalvlllJa
Source: G.c. Mendis, Ceylon underthe British (Colombo: Apothecaries' Co .• Ltd .. (944). p.93.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Table 1
Extract of Return of Crown Land Sales
1840 Acres
District of Upper
Bulatgammu, or
Ambagammoon, all
sold at 5 shillings
per acre
The Hon. W. O. Carr (Judge) and Captain Skinner (Commissioner of Roads)
The Right Hon. the Governor, Mr. Stewart MacKenzie
F. B. Norris, Esq. (Surveyor-general) and others
Hon. G. Tumour (Government Agent, Kandy, Acting Colonial Secretary)
H. Wright, Esq. (District Judge, Kandy), and G. Bird
Sir R. Arbuthnot (Commander of the Forces) and Captain Winslow (A. D. C.)
T. Oswin, Esq. (a District Judge)
C. R. Buller, Esq. (a Government Agent, now of Kandy)
Capt. Layard (on the Staff) and friends
P. E. Wodehouse, Esq. (Government Agent, and Assistant Colonial Secretary)
Acres 13,275
At 5 s. £3,320
"All. sold in one day, and.the Ambegammoon Road surveyed and begun forthwith. Much of the above land was resold to other
parties at 2£ per acre, for It was well known that Government would carry on this line of road."
Source: British Parliamentary Papers. Vol. 12, 1850, p. 303.
Collusion Between the Planters
and the Colonial State
. Duri?g the early phase of coffee plantation development,
that IS until about the 1850s, almost all European officials ofthe
state were also coffee planters. The Governor of the island
Edward Barnes (1824-1831) and George Bird, a retired major
the colonial army, were among the first to open up coffee
plantations in the Kandyan Highlands. These officials used the
authority of their administrative positions to introduce legisla­
tion conducive to large-scale commercial agriculture. For ex­
ample, Governor Barnes passed ordinances which enabled the
colonial state to use pre-colonial corvee labor services
(riijakariya) of the native peasantry towards the building of
roads necessary for commercial expansion and the political
integretion of the island. In order to provide further incentives
for export agriculture, he also exempted all land producing cash
crops from export and import duties. 6
In addition, the reforms introduced by the Colebrooke­
Cameron Commission of Inquiry in 1833 not only laid down the
juridico-political framework for capitalist agricultural develop­
ment in Sri Lanka, but also helped extend the participation of
government officials in plantation agriCUlture. This was due to
the fact that the Colebrooke Commission allowed civil servants
to make up for the loss in salaries and pensions created by its
own fiscal recommendations through inveStments in commer­
cial agriculture. 7
The Crown Lands Encroachment Ordinance, No. 12 of
6. I.H. Van Den Driesen, "Coffee Cultivation in Ceylon (I)." The Ceylon
Historical Journal (henceforth CHi) (July 1953), p.38.
7. K.M. de Silva, "The Development of the Administrative System, 1833 toe.
1910," in K.M. de Silva ed., History of Ceylon vol. 3, (Colombo: Ceylon
University Press Board, 1973), p.213.
1840, the chief instrument used for securing land for plantations
was designed and implemented by government officials, such as
George Tumour, who were also the pioneer coffee planters in
the colony. The passage of this bill allowed the colonial state to
lay claims to all uncultivated and unoccupied land unless the
natives were able to prove ownership by the stringent criteria the
state laid down (discussed later). The land that the colonial state
thus obtained as "Crown land" was at first made available to
planters as free grants and in later years sold at the minimum
nominal fee of 5 shillings an acre. The minimum fee was
increased to one pound an acre in 1844.
Table I shows the amount of land sold by the colonial state
to various state officials in 'the course of a single day, within a
single district in the Central Province following the enactment
of the Crown Lands Ordinance. During the early days of the
"land in the Kandyan Highlands, such large-scale land
appropnatIOns were not untypical. Apparently, some of the land
in this manner was used for speculative purposes in
additIOn to plantation development by these officials.
Furthermore, the evidence of George Ackland, a promi­
nent coffee planter in the colony, given before the British
Parliamentary Committee enquiring into the peasant rebellion
of 1848 in Sri Lanka, helps validate the thesis that the British in
early and mid-nineteenth century Sri Lanka constituted a single
"planter-official" class. 8
Q. 3192 (Hurne) Were the district judges them­
selves coffee planters?
A. (Ackland) Everybody was a coffee planter
in Ceylon, from the Governor
downwards. except Lord T or­
8. The term "planter-officials" is generally attributed to historian Van Den
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
rington and Sir Colin Campbell
(Successive Governors).
Q. 3194 (Major Blackall) Then in the case ofany complaint
between themselves and the
Europeans, the natives had to go
to another coffee planter to seek
A. (Ackland) Yes
Q. 3196 (Major Blackall) Then that would affect their char­
acter in the eyes ofthe natives?
A. (Ackland) I should think very injuriously. "9
Ackland's evidence reveals the complete identification of
the colonial state with plantation development. Moreover, it
highlights the absence of an independent judiciary in the colony;
note that several judges are listed as buyers of "Crown land" in
Table l.
The practice of appointing Britishers already resident in the
island to official positions was common in the early years of
colonial rule. This led to the effective control of many of the
most coveted jobs in the higher bureaucracy by two British
families in Sri Lanka-the Layards and the Templars-who
came to be referred to as the "family compact. "10 A Captain
Layard and "friends" are listed in Table 1 as land buyers.
At least in the early years of British colonial rule in Sri
Lanka, the colonial administration was far from the neutral
bureaucratic type of authority that Max Weber has written
about, but Weber himself acknowledged that the British Empire
was basically an administration of notables. He pointed out that
the Empire provided a vast system of public assistance to the
British governing classes, especially for the younger sons of the
gentry who did not inherit the ancestral estates and were there­
fore sent off to the colonies to make their fortunes. II
The early British colonial administration in Sri Lanka
represented a personal form of rule by a few notables. The
names of Turnour, Layard, Skinner, Buller, Wodehouse (men­
tioned in Table I), crop up again and again in the colonial
documents with regard to political, economic, judicial and other
matters in the colony. Geroge Ackland, quoted earlier, was
himself a merchant, planter, a member of the Legislative Coun­
cil and the proprieter of the Colombo Observer, the organ of the
planter community and the semi-official newspaper of the co­
lonial government. 12
In the mid-1840's, the Colonial Office in London began to
acknowledge that the neglect of official duties by the civil
servants in Sri Lanka stemmed largely from their involvement in
plantation agriculture. In 1844-1845, Lord Stanley, the British
Secretary of State, ordered the civil servants to dispose of their
properties and issued a strict prohibition against their participa­
tion in commercial activities. \3 The local govemor at the time,
Colin Campbell, modified this ruling by allowing civil servants
to keep their estates, provided they did not manage them,
thereby introducing the principle of separation ofownership and
9. Parliamentary Papers -Great Britain (henceforth BPP) 1850, vol I. 12, p.20.
10. K.M. deSilva, "The Development ... ," op. cit., p. 214.
II. Han H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills eds., From Max Weber: Essays in
Sociology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1958), p.21O. See also Ralph
Pieris, "Some Neglected Aspects ofthe British Colonial Administration in the
Early Nineteenth Century," CH) vol. 12, Nos. 1-2 July and Oct. 1952, p.73.
management. Campbell attempted to discourage further com­
mercial investments on the part of officials by claiming that
promotions of those with planting interests within the admini­
strative hierarchy would be delayed. In attempting to separate
state officials from economic enterprise, Campbell also in­
creased their salaries and pensions. 14
In his evidence before the British Parliamentary Commit­
tee inquiring into the affairs of Sri Lanka in 1849, George
Ackland noted that the process of extricating public servants
entrenched in coffee planting was extremely difficult. In spite of
Governor Campbell's orders, the formal separation of the bu­
reaucracy and commercial enterprise was not yet effected. IS
Notwithstanding this formal separation, civil servants in Sri
Lanka continued to retain ties of capitalist enterprise. 16
Even after the state and economic enterprise were formally
separated, the European planter community continued to enjoy
a semi-official status in the colony. It was the most powerful
pressure group in colonial Sri Lanka and was represented by the
Chamber of Commerce and the Planters' Association, estab­
lished in 1837 and 1854 respectively. As a nineteenth century
critic of the colonial government, George Wall put it, the
Planters' Association became" a power in the state. " 17
While members of the British planter community found
easy representation in the Legislative Council, it became an
established practice for the Governor to consult the planters on
all matters of importance in the colony. 18 For example, planter
pressure was persuasive in the government's decision not to
introduce a general land tax that would have been extended to
the vast tracts of plantation lands in addition to the native paddy
lands that were already under heavy taxation. 19
. Following the inital period of conquest and political con­
solidation, the plantation enterprise became the raison d' etre of
British colonial rule in Sri Lanka. As historian Van Den Driesen
has said, the colonial state came to regard the problems of the
planters as synonymous with those of the country. 20
In fulfilling its commitment towards the plantation econ­
omy, the colonial state was compelled, advertently and inad­
vertently, to take actions that were detrimental to the village
economy, particularly the interests of the Sinhalese peasantry.
James Steuart, the Master-Attendant of the colonial state (1825­
1855) expressed this contradiction in the following manner.
We profess to governfor the exclusive good of the natives of
the country and devote our attention almost exclusively
to make the culture of the soil profitable to European
adventurers. 21
14. Jean Grossholtz, "Forging Capitalist Patriarchy: The Effect of British
Colonial Rule on Sri Lanka," (unpublished manuscript), p. I 16. I would like to
thank Jean Grossholtz for lending me a copy of her manuscript. See abo K.M.
de Silva, "The Development," pp. 214-215.
15. BPP vol. 12, p.20.
16. Grossholtz, "Forging Capitalist Patriarchy ... ," p. 117.
17. Speculum (pseud. taken by George Wall) en/on. Her PresentConditil'tl.
Revenues, Taxes and Expenditure (Colombo: Colombo 0: ,erver Press, IXh'"
18. K.M. de Silva, "The Development ...... p.n6.
19. Bandarage, The Political Economy. chap. 2.
20. I.H. Van Den Driesen. "Some Trends in the Economic History of Ceylon
in the Modern Period," CJHSS, vol. 3, 1960, p.2.
12. BPP vol. 12, p.2. 21. Quoted in G.c. Mendis, ed., The Colebrooke-Cameron Papers (Oxford:
13. K.M. De Silva, "The Development ... ," op. cit., p.214.
Oxford University Press, 1956), vol. I, p.57.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
The Role of the State in Providing Land
and Private Property Rights for the Plantations
The pre-colonial Kandyan village economy was comprised
of two inter-related modes of production-wet rice and dry
Wet rice or paddy agriculture was the pivot
around which the economic and social organization of the soci­
ety revolved. As market relations were relatively undeveloped,
paddy agriculture remained basically subsistence-oriented.
However, a substantial surplus was expropriated from the
paddy-cultivating peasantry by their respective overlords-the
king, nobility and the clergy. Given the surplus exaction and the
political control by the overlords and the uncertainty of paddy
harvests (due to weather conditions for example), shifting or
chena (this anglicized term is derived from the Sinhala term
hena) agriculture provided a supplementary but necessary
means of subsistence and a realm of relative political autonomy
for the cultivator class. 23
Paddy was cultivated in the irrigated village lands known
as mada him. Dry grains such as maize, millet, hill paddy, etc.
were grown on the vast tracts of forest and periodically culti­
vated highlands known as goda him that surrounded the
Kandyan villages. In addition to dry grains these highlands also
provided the peasantry with jungle such as honey
timber as well as pasture grounds for their cattle. Paddy IS a
land-intensive method of agriculture and the paddy fields were
regularly cultivated once or twice a year. On the other hand,
shifting agriculture is a land-extensive method and the highland
plots once used were allowed to lie fallow for several years
before they were cultivated again. 24
When opening up coffee plantations, the British had to take
into account not only the ecological needs of the crop, but also
the availability of vast tracts of uncultivated land and the labor
for clearing and preparing that land. The Central Highlands of
the island was selected due to its soil, climate, and the abundant
forest and periodically cultivated swidden land ideally suited for
coffee. The irrigated low lands, being unsuited for coffee, did
not interest the planters.
All uncultivated and unoccupied land in pre-colonial
Kandy was theoretically "Crown land. " But as land was plenti­
ful and was not a commodity, the king did not prohibit the
cultivation of lands. As in feudal
land had to be given out in order for the kmg to mamtam
authority over his people. Peasants were therefore encouraged
to bring new land under cultivation. 2S
What existed in pre-colonial Kandyan society was hier­
archical rights to land-not absolute private property rights.
According to the customary law of Kandyan society, peasant
cultivators had extensive users' rights to the highlands sur­
rounding their villages, so much so that these lands came to be
22. Without entering into the neo-Marxist debate on the definition of a mode of
production, we shall define a mode of production as a system characterized by
distinct productive forces (including labor organization and technology) and
distinct social relations of production (including property relations and surplus
23. Shifting agriculture is also known as slash and bum, hoe and swidden
cultivation. Where the term "swidden" comes from is not clear.
24. For a discussion of the modes of production and property relations of the
Kandyan Kingdom, see Bandarage, The Political Economy, chap. 2.
25. J. de S. Seneviratne, "Land Tenure in the Kandyan Provinces," Ceylon
EconomicJournal9, 1937, p.15.
considered communal village property. 26 In contrast, plantation
development along capitalist lines pre-supposed abs?lute pro­
prietary rights, fixity of tenure and land as a commodity. It was
when the colonial administration began to extend these modem
legal terms to the Kandyan Highlands that the old and the new
systems of land tenure began to clash. As other writers have
pointed out, the conflict between users' and owners' rights is a
common occurrence in the transition from pre-capitalist to capi­
talist forms of land tenure. 27
The strategy the colonial state used in laying claim to forest
and periodically cultivated swidden lands was based on t?e
legitimacy that it derived as the successor to the
monarch. It was by signing the Kandyan Convention of 1815
and by promising to govern according to the customary laws and
institutions of the Kandyan kingdom that the British stepped in
as the successor to the Kandyan king. 28
Although the assumption that "all land belonged to the
king" had only been theoretical in it
highly useful to the colonial state of Sn Lanka 10 the
Crown Lands Encroachment Ordinance of 1840.
The tactic of
laying claim to native land on the basis of pre-colonial rights
was commonly used by European administrations in many other
Far from completely eradicating pre-colonial feudal norms
and institutions, then, the colonial state in Sri Lanka built itself
and the plantation economy upon selected aspects of the
colonial society and idology. Those aspects of the pre-colomal
order which conflicted with the interests of the colonial state and
commercial agriculture such as users' rights to forest, pasture,
and swidden lands were either ignored or curtailed, while other
aspects such as the assumption that the king was the proprieter
of all uncultivated land was accepted literally. 31
The infamous clause 6 of the Crown Lands Ordinance
presumed that all uncultivated and unoccupied lands belonged
to the Crown unless private rights to these lands were proved by
furnishing title deeds (sanrzas) or tax receipts. 32 As many colo­
nial government officials themselves subsequently pointed out,
the colonial administration was demanding proof of ownership
26. Ibid, p.38. See also Ralph Pieris, Sinhalese Social Organization (Colombo:
Ceylon University Press Board, 1956), p.48; Ceylon Government Administra­
tion Report (henceforth AR) 1871, "Report of the Service Tenures Commis­
sioner-J.F. Dickson," p.370.
27. C.K. Meek, Land Policy and Practice in the Colonies (London: Oxford
University Press, 1956), pp.12, 26-30; 1.S. Furnivall, Colonial Policy and
Practice: A Comparative Study ofBurma and Netherlands India (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1948), p.3.
28. Colonial Office (henceforth CO) 54/643, June II, 1897, Stanmore's
Memorandum, p.3.
29. Michael Roberts, "Land Problems and Policies, c. 1832 to c. 1900" in
K.M. de Silva,ed., The History of Ceylon vol. 3, p.124; K.M. de Silva,
"Studies in British land Policy in Ceylon I: The Evolution of Ordinances 12 of
1840 and 90f 1841," CJHSS, vol. 7, 1964, p.124.
30. See for example, Harnza Alavi, "India and the Colonial Mode of Produc­
tion," The Socialist Register (1975); Alex Gordon, "Stages in the Destruction
of Java's self-supporting rural economic system, " unpublished paper read at the
seminar on "Underdevelopment and Subsistence Reproduction in Southeast
Asia," - University of Bielefeld, West Germany, 21-23 April 1978.
31. Compare E.A. Brett's observations with regard to Colonial East Africa,
Colonialism and Underdevelopment in East Africa: The Politics of Economic
Change (New York: NOK Publishers Ltd., 1973), pp.19-20.
32. The Crown lands Encroachment Ordinance, No. 12 of 1840 is reprinted in
A Revised Edition of the Legislative Enactments of Ceylon (1707-1909) Co­
lombo, 1923, vol. I, pp.120-123.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
to a category of land which had customarily been considered
communal village land and to which no title deeds nor tax
receipts were readily available. J3 Obviously, the Ordinance was
designed to abolish users' rights and to allow the state to make
highlands available to planters. 34
On the basis of the legal justification acquired through the
Crown Lands Ordinance, the colonial state alienated vast tracts
of forest and swidden lands to planters and speculators. We do
not have a breakdown on the proportion of "Crown lands" thus
sold that were actually converted into coffee plantations, but the
proliferation of Crown land sales in the planting districts sug­
gests that a large proportion of those lands were developed into
coffee estates. According to D.A. Vincent, the head of the
Colonial Survey Department, between 1833 and 1880 (i.e.:
roughly the span of the coffee period), a yearly average of
25,000 acres of Crown land was sold, mostly to European
According to historian Patrick Peebles' estimates,
Crown land sales between 1833 and 1889 comprised roughly ten
percent of the surface area of the island. 36
Table 2
Crown Lands Surveyed and Sold
Central Province, 1844-1860
Number Extent
of Lots (Acres) Sold £ Fees £
Europeans 750 79,172 116,293 13,648
Natives 1,514 10,471 25,796 3,702
Source: Ceylon Legislative Council, Sessional PaperNo. 30f 1860, "Reportof
the SUIVey Department. "
The preceeding table shows that the total extent of land and
the average size per lot bought by the Europeans far exceeded
that purchased by the numerically preponderant native buyers.
According to calculations made by historian Michael Roberts,
during the 1868-1906 period, Europeans bought 70 percent of
the Crown land acreage sold in the Central Province-the
primary coffee (and later tea) planting region in the country. 37
But outside the coffee regions, natives purchased the greater
share of the Crown lands sold.
While there is evidence of small scale coffee gardens
cultivated by Kandyan peasants and to a lesser extent by feudal
overlords and merchant capitalists, there is little evidence of
coffee grown on large-scale plantations by non-Europeans
(Table 3). Some of the reasons why the feudal overlords and
native capitalists failed to invest in coffee plantations have been
33. CO 54/345, Memorandum by J. Bailey, p. 122.
34. For a detailed discussion of the Crown Lands Ordinance, see Bandarage,
The Political Economy, chap. 5.
35. Ceylon Government Sessional Paper (henceforth SP) 1882, No. 68.
36. Patrick Peebles, "Land Use and Population Growth in Colonial Ceylon,"
in Contributions to Asian Studies, vol. 9, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1976, p. 71.
37. Michael Roberts, "Some Comments on Ameer Ali's Paper," Ceylon
Studies Seminar, no.3b 1970/72 Series, p.II, footnote 2.
38. Ibid., p.24.
Table 3
Ownership of Cultivated Plantation Coffee Lands
1871-1872 % 1880-1881 %
Acres Acres
Non-European 12,642 6.4 20,352 7.9
European 182,985 93.6 236,148 92.1
Total 195,627 100 256,500 100
Source: Michael Roberts, "Export Agriculture in the Nineteenth Century," in
K. M. de Silva, ed., History ofCeylon (Colombo: University ofCeylon
Press Board, 1973), vol. 3, p. 97.
discussed elsewhere. 39 Suffice it to mention here that, unable to
compete with the dominant British planter class for land and
credit and lacking the institutional support of the colonial state,
the non-European capitalists were confined to mercantile ac­
tivities (transport and the liquor trade) in the European planta­
tion sector, rentier activ'ities in the village economy, and coco­
nut (and later rubber) cultivation in the southwestern coastal
region of the island.
Local capitalist development during the nineteenth century
was a significant phenomenon. The spheres of activity of the
dominant British and subordinate local capital were clearly
demarcated and there emerged no noteworthy tensions or con­
flicts between the two. In fact, a mutually comfortable relation­
ship was worked out between them wherein local capital was
allowed to perform functions essential for the stabilization of the
colonial political economy (transport; renting the paddy tax;
distribution of arrack [local liquor ] and opium), but which for a
number of complex reasons British capital did not desire to
In spite of the passing of the Crown Lands Ordinance, the
nati ves continued to defy the law and to exercise their customary
users' rights to the highlands. For example, peasants continued
to practice shifting agriculture on the lands which the state
claimed as its own private property or had already sold to
planters or speculators. The colonial state in turn adopted a
policy to prevent chenalswidden cultivation, particularly in the
planting regions. The colonial administration condemned swid­
den as a "primitive" form of cultivation destructive of the soil;
swidden crops were declared to be of no nutritional value, and
its land-extensive nature was dubiously claimed to make the
natives indolent. 40 In fact, swidden was a supplementary fonn
of cultivation that peasants undertook in addition to their pri­
mary cultivation of wet rice. The remarks by C.R. Buller,
Government Agent of the Central Province, shed much light on
the underlying self-serving reasons for the colonial administra­
tion's antipathy towards chena agriculture.
The cultivation of chena is, I consider, more injurious than
otherwise to the country; it is destructive of the soil and
renders it unfit for any purpose for seven, eight or ten years
. .. it provides the native with a coarse kind offood, which
39. Bandarage. The Political Economy, chap. 5.
40. See Ronald Herring. "Redistributive Agrarian Policy: Land and Credit in
South Asia." Ph.D. dissertation. University of Wisconsin, Madison. 1976.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
he would soon abandon were he to apply himself to the
cultivation of more valuable productions (such as coffee,
cocoanut, potatoes, etc.), from the proceeds of which he
could purchase rice and other more nutritious substitutes;
and the time and labour he now devotes to the cultivation of
such unwholesome food as korakan, [.finger millet] would be
spent much more profitably to himself, and with far greater
general benefit, were they expended on the roads and public
works, or in aiding the well-directed efforts oflanded propri­
eters towards the public welfare. 41
Several other provincial officers, however, did acknowl­
edge the importance of shifting agriculture for the subsistence of
the peasantry. They pointed out that peasants turned to dry grain
cultivation not from indolence, but out of despair, particularly
as irrigational.and other facilities necessary for wet rice cultiva­
tion had been neglected by the colonial state. The officials
condemned the state's campaign against swidden by pointing
out that it was unjust and inhumane to curtail it when it was the
only safety valve of peasant subsistence. 42
Natives-both overlords and peasants-began to sell
highlands to planters and speculators with the object of making
quick money before the state could alienate the l!ll1d from
them.43 Not surprisingly then, litigation by planters and natives
became rampant and the security of title to plantation property
was threatened. As Sir Emerson Tennent, the Colonial Secre­
tary, expressed it:
These fraudulent and vexatious proceedings not only dis­
courage minor capitalists from settling in the colony, but
they greatly embarrass and disconcert the local arrange­
ments ofthe Government. 44
In attempting to reduce the native "encroachment" on
Crown lands to manageable proportions, the colonial state intro­
duced several compensatory measures. These included the sale
of swidden plots to people who had already brought them under
cultivation; grant of right to shifting cultivation on payment of
taxes or purchase of government licenses; and the issue of
certificates of Quiet Possession (under clause 7 of the Crown
Lands Encroachment Ordinance) to applicants with legitimate
claims to highlands.
It is obvious that these compromise measures amounted to
land sales rather then free land grants to the natives, or a
recognition of their customary users' rights. Only natives with
money were therefore in a position to take advantage of these
opportunities to establish private ownership rights to highlands.
As some government officials themselves pointed out, the li­
cense rate established by the state was beyond the reach of most
poor cultivators dependent on swidden agriculture.
more, the policy of demarcating separate chena reserves for
villages-yet another strategy adopted by the state in order to
bring the encroachment problem under control-did not neces­
sarily benefit the poorer classes of the population. The inher­
ently conflictual task of sorting out the division of these chena
reserves was left to the village itself, much to the advantage of
the more powerful classes within the village. 47
As this discussion has shown, the creation of private prop­
erty rights in land and a land market through the instrument of
the Crown Lands Ordinance did not prove to be an easy task for
the colonial state. The state therefore found it necessary to pass
an assortment of other auxiliary legislation such as the Private
Roads Bill, B ill against Coffee Stealing, Land Registration Ordi­
nance, Partition Ordinance, Kandyan Marriage Ordinances,
etc. in order to protect the newly established private property
rights. These ordinances, like the Crown Lands Ordinance,
point to the partiality of the state towards plantation interests.
The Private Roads Bill, the Bill against Coffee Stealing and the
Land Registration Ordinance will be discussed here. 48
Private Roads Bill
Conflicts between planters and natives over the construc­
tion of private roads to coffee estates through native landhold­
ings were common occurences during the period of plantation
expansion. Ordinance No. 17 of 1861 was enacted by the state
specifically during such a conflict when three planters could not
obtain access to a tract of land they had purchased from the
Crown because the natives holding the adjacent chena land
refused either to permit a road to be built through their land or to
sell their land to the planters. The colonial state stepped in on
behalf of the planters by passing the Private Roads Bill or
Ordinance No. 17 or 1861 which allowed the construction of
private roads to plantations through native landholdings. The
Colonial Secretary at the time, Newcastle, showed a keen
awareness of the class bias of this legislation, although he did
not stop its passage, when he said:
I must observe that legislation ofthis kind, the effect ofwhich
is to take away one man's property, not for public purpose,
but for the benefit of another man, requires to be very
carefully watched and not least so when it is for the benefit of
a member ofthe ruling class. 49
Bill Against Stealing
During the reign of the "planter raj," as the period of
plantation expansion was popularly referred to, stealing of cof­
41. BPP 1847-1848, vol. 42, Enclosure in Emerson Tennent's "Report on
Finance and Commerce," p. 120.
42. CO 54/345, No.46 of 29 Aug. 1859, pp.233-34; See also SP 1873 No. 15
"Papers Relating to the Cultivation and Survey of Chen a Lands," p.5.
43. CO 54/345 of 29 Aug. 1859,p.334.
44. BPP 1847-1848, vol. 4, Tennent's Report. See also CO 54/345 of 29 Aug.
1859, p.334.
45. Michael Roberts, "A Selection of the Documentary Evidence as Aids for
the Lecture on 'The Administration of the Waste lands Ordinance No. 12 of
1840 and its Impact in the Coffee Period, 1840-1880s' " The Archives Lecture
Series, Ceylon June 20 1969, p. 14.
46. SP 1973, No. IS, p.25.
47. Michael Roberts, "The Impact of the Waste Lands Legislation and the
Growth of Plantations on the Techniques of Paddy Cultivation in British Ceylon:
A Critique," Modern Ceylon Studies (henceforth MCSO vol. I 1970, p. 171.
48. The Partition Ordinance-No. 10 of 1863-was introduced in order to do
away with the Kandyan institution of joint or undivided ownership of land
among family members. The British felt that joint ownership placed impedi­
ments towards the extension of private property rights, agriCUltural development
and the emergence of wage labor. The Kandyan Marriage Ordinance-No. 13
of 1859-and subsequent amending ordinances were passed to make poly­
andry, the custom of taking one wife by several men, illegal. The British felt that
polyandrous marriages which made the determiniation of paternity and inheri­
tance difficult, were barriers to the application of the Land Registration, Parti­
tion and other Ordinances. Details, in Bandarage, The Political Economy,
chap. 5.
49. SP 1862, No.2 "Native Rights," p.5.
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fee from European-owned estates had become an organized and
systematic enterprise in which the estate laborers, petty traders
and neighboring villages colluded. 50 Perturbed by this growing
activity, the planters encouraged the state to pass legislation to
control it. Thus Ordinance No. 8 of 1878, also known as the
Coffee Stealing Bill. In colonial government documents,
came to be enacted. The bill made the possession of more than a
bushel of coffee by a native without a sales note a penal offense.
Unable to sort out plantation coffee from peasant coffee, the
colonial state took the easier step of calling the natives to prove
ownership by providing receipts or sales notes. In principle
then, this Bill was similar to the Crown Lands Ordinance in that
the burden of proving ownership was placed on the natives by
the stringent criteria set forth by the state.
The Ordinance also prohibited the loading of coffee be­
tween six in the evening and five in the morning. Like those
convicted of encroaching on Crown Lands, those convicted of
coffee stealing were to be imprisoned with hard labor. 51 We
lack statistical or other evidence on the extent of convictions
made under this Ordinance. But it is plausible that its enactment
discouraged the innumerable peasant coffee growers who now
had to prove ownership to their crops. Like Colonial Secretary
Newcastle before him the Chief Justice in Sri Lanka at the time
pointed out the class bias of this legislation. But he too did little
to revoke it although he suggested that the state attempt to
cultivate a more impartial image in the eyes of the natives.
There is a natural prejudice in the public mind against
special criminal legislation on behalf ofa particular kind of
property especially when the owners ofthat kind ofproperty
belong mainly to a single class of the community. But if you
show that you are doing no more for it than has been already
done for another kind of property belonging to a different
class of the community, that prejudice must in reasonable
minds, be very much diminished and need no longer be an
obstacle to measures for securing the administration of sus­
tained justice. 52
Land Registration
As noted above, the Crown Lands Ordinance did not pro­
duce a smooth transition from pre-capitalist users' rights to
capitalist private ownership rights. The process of commodifi­
cation of highlands was fraught with many problems and con­
flicts. In making yet another attempt to bring the land situation
under control, the colonial state passed the Land Registration
Ordinance-No.8 of 1863. Through its passage the state aimed
to "lay claim to properties that were illegally claimed or en­
croached upon by natives" and ultimately to " prevent the
heavy losses sustained by capitalists for want of reliable infor­
Under the stipulations of this Ordinance, arrangements
were made to survey each district, investigate all lands in them,
register allotments of ascertained owners, and issue certificates
50. SP 1873, No. II, "Correspondence on the Subject of Coffee Stealing."
51. SP 1873, No. 10, "Coffee Stealing," pp.3-8.
52. SP 1873, No. II, p.6.
53. I.H. Van Den Driesen, "Land Sales Policy and Some Aspects of the
Problem of Tenure: 1836-1888. Part 2" University of Ceylon Review, vol. 14
Jan-April 1956, p.50; See also SP 1863, No.4, "Land Registration," p.3.
One of the important reasons for the introduction of
compulsory commutation ofthe paddy tax was to com­
pel the paddy cultivating peasantry to participate in
the cash economy. Given the fact that paddy agricul­
ture was the least profitable form of economic activity
. • .and was largely subsistence-oriented, the cultiva­
tors had either to increase the cultivation of their cash
crops such as coffee, or became wage laborers on the
plantations in order to find the cash to pay the com­
muted paddy tax.
of ownership to them. 54 According to Van den Driesen, the
Land Registration Ordinance enabled the colonial state to
strengthen the basis for private property rights already estab­
lished by the Crown Lands Ordinance. 55
However, the necessity for the passage of yet another bill
known as the Waste Lands Ordinance-No. 10f 1897-(itself
a re-enactment of Ordinance 12 of 1840) suggests that the
conflict over highlands was far from resolved during the nine­
teenth century and that it continued well into the "tea period" of
Sri Lanka's plantation history in the twentiety century. As one
time Governor of the colony, Lord Stanmore (1883-1890),
expressed his opposition to the 1897 ordinance:
. . . But with the growth of ideas of exclusively individual
alienable property, a different state of things has grown up.
On the one hand, the villager who has occasionally culti­
vated a patch of land in the adjacent forest claims it (often
impudently) as his own individual property, whilst on the
other hand, the Crown claims the absolute possession ofall
parts of the forest not shown to be already alienated and
claims with the possession, the full right of disposing of it,
and of regarding neighboring paddy owners using it, as
trespassers. 56
The Role of the State in Providing
Labor for the Plantations
At the time plantations were opened up in the Central
Highlands, labor, not land, was the scarce factor of production.
A striking characteristic of the Kandyan Kingdom was its sparse
population. According to the British Census Report of 1824, the
population of the entire Kandyan Kingdom (which comprised
roughly three-fourths of the whole island) was 256,835. The
population of Kandy , the capital city in 1818 was only 3,000.
On the other hand, the profitability of plantation agricul­
ture rests primarily on the availability of a large, regular, well
disciplined and cheap labor force. 58
Unlike in neighboring South India, there were no landless
agricultural laboring castes in Kandy. The Sinhalese artisan
54. Van Den Driesen, "Land Sales Policy ... ," op. cit., p.5 I.
55. Ibid., p.51.
56. CO 54/643,June II. 1897,Stanmore'sMemo.,p.3.
57: S.B.W. Wickramasekara, "The Social and Political Organization of the
Kandyan Kingdom," M.A. Thesis, University of London, 1961, p.2.
58. V.D. Wickizer, Coffee. Tea and Cocoa. (Stanford: Stanford University
Press, 1951), p.449.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
castes themselves were primarily wet-rice cultivators possess­
ing their own means of production. The elaborateness and
complexity of the pre-colonial division of labor, especially its
caste specificity, prevalence of serfdom, absence of agricultural
labor castes, and primarily the availability of land, made it
extremely difficult to find the large wage labor force needed by
the coffee plantations. 59
Given the absence of social and economic pre-requisites
for the emergence of wage labor in Sri Lanka, the colonial state
attempted to create such a "free" (i.e. freed from the means of
production) labor force externally by administrative fiat. The
first step was taken by the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission
when it abolished the pre-colonial forced labor services in 1833.
The underlying motive in attempting to free forced labor (ra­
jakariva) was the creation of a wage labor force needed for
capitalist economic development in the island. 60
However, it needs to be pointed out that the abolition of
forced labor introduced by the Colebrooke-Cameron Commis­
sion was only a partial measure. It was not extended to the
villages held under the overlordship of native headmen in office,
(nindagam) and villages held by Buddhist monasteries
(viharagam and devalagam). Furthermore, the Commission
allowed the colonial Governor the right to revoke compulsory
labor services to the state during crises
-aright which Gover­
nor Torrington exercised in 1848.
For purpose of discussion we need to separate the colonial
land and labor policies from each other. But in practice, they
were inextricably linked. For example, the alienation of high­
lands by the state was motivated not simply by the need to make
those lands available for plantation expansion, but also by the
desire to create a wage labor force out of the Kandyan peasantry.
These dual objectives of the colonial state's land policies were
highlighted by Lord Stanmore in his opposition to the Waste
Lands Ordinance of 1897:
There are two schools of thought ... one which holds that
the maintenance ofthe village communities and smallholders
is of vital importance to the well being and independence of
the native community, and another which desires to see all
such lands in the hands ofthe Crown to be sold by itfor profit,
and the villagers converted into tenants at will working for
wages. I strongly hold the first view. Most planters and many
officials hold the latter and this ordinance will enable them to
realize what seems to be desirable. 62
59. For a discussion of pre-colonial division of labor, see Bandarage, The
Political Economy, chaps. 3 and 6.
60. Colebrooke agreed with the American Missionaries who wrote to him in
1830 that "The practice of obtaining labor by compulsion greatly tends to
increase the difficulty of hiring voluntary laborers." Quoted from a letter by
Messers. Meigs, Poor and other American Missionaries, Jaffna, 20th Sept.,
1830, in "Report of Lieutenant Colonel Colebrooke upon the Compulsory
Services to which the Natives of Ceylon are Subject," G.c. Mendis, ed., The
Colebrooke-Cameron Papers, vol. I, p. 204. See also the "Introduction,"
p. xli.
61. "Service by Tenure" was abolished with qualifications by the order in
Council of 12 April, 1832. See, ARevised Edition ofthe legislative Enactments
ofCey/on, vol. I, pp. 68-72. Governor North first attempted to abolish forced
labor in the maritime provinces (i.e. the non-Kandyan regions) by introducing
the Charter of Justice in 1801, but was unsuccessful. See, G.c. Mendis, ed.,
Colebrooke-Cameron Papers, vol. 2, p. 170.
62. CO 54/635 - quoted in Lalith Jayawardena, "The Supply of Sinhalese
Labour to Ceylon Plantations, (1830-1930): A Study of Imperial Policy in a
Peasant Society," Ph.D. dissertation, Cambridge University, 1963, pp. 16-17;
see also CO 54/643, June II, 1897.
Like colonial land policy, colonial tax policy had its sev­
eral aims. In addition to the increase of state revenue and the
extension of cash economy, it was also used as a means to create
a wage labor force for the plantations. The compulsory road tax
introduced in 1848 is a good example. All males (except Bud­
dhist Monks and plantation laborers) between the ages of 18 and
55 were made liable to pay this tax either by road service for six
days per year or by commuting it to a cash payment of Rs.
A week's labor on a coffee estate, it was anticipated,
could eam this money for the average peasant. Indeed, the
several interests of the state, construction of roads, absorption
of the peasantry into the cash economy, and supply of labor for
the estates were brought together in the road tax. The introduc­
tion of this tax by Governor Torrington was in effect a reinstate­
ment of pre-colonial corvee labor which the Colebrooke Com­
mission had abolished in 1833.
It is also important to point out that the colonial state
exacted labor for road construction on the basis of its position as
the successor to the pre-colonial Sinhalese monarch. Here
again, the colonial state adapted a pre-existing institution to
further its own end of extending the market economy and
capitalist enterprise. In doing so, it deliberately changed the
fundamental character of pre-colonial labor exaction. Under the
Kandyan kings corvee labor was a form of service tenure based
on peasant landholdings. The Road Ordinance introduced by the
British subverted the pre-colonial arrangement by divorcing
corvee labor from landholding, and making it into a universal
head tax for all males. 64
The colonial state continued to levy a tax of one-tenth of
the produce on paddy lands held by the peasantry, until it was
finally abolished in 1892. In 1878, the state introduced compul­
sory commutation of the paddy tax by passing Ordinance No. 11
of 1878. Up to that time the tax had been collected in kind through
a variety of rent collecting arrangements such as the "renting
system. "65
It is important to interject here that, as in the case of its
claims to highlands and corvee labor, the colonial state justified
its right to the paddy tax on the basis of its assumed role as the
successor to the pre-colonial Sinhalese kings. In introducing
compulsory commutation, the colonial state justified its actions
on the basis of customary usage and the alleged leniency of its
implementation under British rule:
That a levy by the Crown of a portion ofthe grain grown on
paddy lands has been made from time immemorial, that is in
its origin it was a rent and not a tax, that it was heaviest
under the rule of the native sovereigns, that it has been
continuously reduced during the occupation of the Island by
the English, that as last settled by the Ordinance No. II of
1878 it is lighter than at any previous time, and that at
present it is the survival in a modified and more beneficent
form of the rent exacted by the ancient kings as lords para­
mount ofthe soil.
One of the important reasons for the introduction of com­
63. A Revised Edition of the Legislative Enactments ofCey/on, vol. I, p. 391,
64. BPP 1850, vol. 12, p. 276; see also Vijaya Samaraweera, "Economic and
Social Developments Under the British, 1796- 1832," in de Silva, ed., History
ofCey/on, p. 60.
65. These are discussed in Bandarage, The Political Economy, chap. 5.
66. SP 1890, No. 17 "The Crown Tax Ordinance--" 1878, p. 38.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
pulsory commutation of the paddy tax was to compel the paddy
cultivating peasantry to participate in the cash economy. Given
the fact that paddy agriculture was the least profitable form of
economic activity, (for reasons to be enumerated later) and was
largely subsistence-oriented, the cultivators had either to in­
crease the cultivation of their cash crops such as coffee, or
become wage laborers on the plantations in order to find the cash
to pay the commuted paddy tax. Other sources of potential cash
income such as trade and transport were few and were monop­
olized by outside groups such as Muslims and Sinhalese artisan
service castes from the coastal low lands, especially the Karava.
The Kandyan peasantry who highly valued their economic
and political autonomy, opted overwhelmingly for the former
alternative, i.e. the cultivation of their own coffee gardens as
opposed to working on the plantations for wages. Colonial
taxation then encouraged smallholder cashcropping rather than
wage labor on the estates or the production of paddy for the
market. It can be argued that by withholding labor from planta­
tions, peasant cashcropping, specifically peasant coffee, posed
a competitive threat to plantation coffee.
As economic historian Ameer Ali has pointed out, peasant
coffee was the chief monetizer of the Kandyan village economy
in the nineteenth century. 67 It helped the peasants not only to
pay their cash taxes, such as the road and paddy taxes to the
colonial state, but also to buy the few imported articles such as
kerosene oil, match boxes and Manchester cloth that they be­
came accustomed to during British rule. 68
But in the long run, the dependence on peasant coffee to
pay the cash taxes due on their paddy fields turned out to be a
precarious relationship for many a Kandyan peasant. This was
because when the peasants failed to pay their taxes-for exam­
ple when peasant coffee failed in the 1880s-the colonial state
expropriated their paddy fields in order to recover the taxes due.
The most widespread sales took place in the 1880s in the
Walapane and Uda Hewahata districts of the Central Highlands
where peasant coffee had thrived up to then.
The colonial state reserved for itself the right to sell the
paddy fields of defaulting cultivators through the legal machin­
ery provided by Ordinance No. 5 of 1866.
The right of the
state to alienate and sell the lands of tax defaulters was an
innovation that the British introduced. It did not exist under
pre-colonial customary law.
These paddy land sales of the peasants, particularly in
Walapane and Uda Hewahata, resulted in starvation, and
But many government officials and planters
hailed the indirect but "beneficial" effects of these sales to­
wards the creation of the wage labor force much needed by the
coffee plantations. The Assistant Government Agent of the
Badulla District, Aelian King, wrote in his Administration
report of 1883:
67. Ameer Ali, "Peasant Coffee ... ," pp. 57-58; see also D. Wesumperuma,
"The Migration and Conditions ofimmigrant Labour in Ceylon, 1880-1910,"
Ph.D. dissertion, University of London, 1974.
68. Michael Roberts, "Aspects of Ceylon's Agrarian Economy in the Nine­
teenth Century," in K.M. de Silva, ed. History of Ceylon, p, 148; A,C.L
Ameer Ali, "Changing Conditions and Persisting Problems in the Peasant
Sector Under British Rule in the Period 1833-1893," Ceylon Studies Seminar,
no. 3a 1970/72 Series, pp. 14-17.
69. Michael Roberts, "Comments on AmeerAli's Paper," p. 19.
It is probable that few sales will result in much change for the
worse as regards the owners, while the good of the greater
number will, there is to anticipate, be advanced. A section of
the community composed of pauper proprietors who are
unable to cultivate their lands for want ofenergy and want of
means and who instead of benefiting their neighbors are a
positive burden to them, will be got rid of. Ifthey behave like
sensible people, they will see the necessity ofworking for hire
and will thus become ofmuch more use to themselves and to
the community in their changed circumstance. There is
plenty of work for them, if they choose to seek it. 71
A.M. and J. Ferguson, the foremost journalists and
spokesmen of the coffee planting community in the nineteenth
century applauded the expropriation of the peasants' means of
production, when they wrote that "the pinching of the stomach
is morally good because it will induce the peasants to work on
plantations. "72
The neglect of the needs and repression of the rights of
the natives, particularly the peasant cultivators, was
not caused by mere ignorance on the part of British
officials. It resulted primarily from the incompatibility
ofthe interests ofcapitalist export agriculture and that
of peasant subsistence and smallholder production. It
resulted in a conflict between opposing modes of eco­
nomic production, a conflict in which the plantations
were victorious because they had the support of the
colonial state at every turn.
Neither the land and tax policies of the colonial state nor
the expanding market forces were able to create the regular and
routine labor force required by the plantations. A detailed dis­
cussion of this relative failure to create a Sinhalese plantation
proletariat cannot be undertaken here.
Suffice it to mention
that the existence of an alternative source of cash income (peas­
ant coffee), the intensive use of land in paddy agriculture, and
the emergence of rentier over production capital in the village
economy helped absorb a potentially surplus population in
paddy agriculture. What can be concluded is that although some
peasant families lost complete access to land during the coffee
period, by the end of the nineteenth century a large scale
landless Sinhalese proletariat had not yet come into being. In
arriving at this conclusion it is important to bear in mind that the
defiant actions of the cultivator class, such as the encroachment
on Crown land, had an important role to play in delaying the
process of their landlessness.
The few Sinhalese who did work on the coffee plantations
provided mostly non-routine supplementary labor rather than
routine field labor. The majority of the Sinhalese who ended up
71. AR 1883, p.26A.
72. A.M. and 1. Ferguson, Taxation in Ceylon with Special Reference to the
Grain Taxes: The Important Duty on Rice Balanced by a Logical Excise L ~ V ) '
and the Proposal to Substitute a General Land Tax. quoted in Ganarath Obeyse­
kere, Land Tenure in Village Ceylon: A sociological and Historical Study
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), p. 113.
70. For discussion see, Bandarage, Political Economy. chap. 5. 73. They arc discussed in Bandarage, The Political Economy, chap. 6.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Table 4
Migration of Indian Estate Labourers, 1839-86
(Annual Averages, Rounded to Nearest Hundred)
Arrivals Departures Net Inflow
Women and Women and Women and
Period Men Children Total Men Children Total Men Children Total
1839-42 4,800 400 5,300 6,400 500 6,900 -1,500 -100 -1,600
1843-49 46,600 1,500 48,100 23,500 800 24,300 23,100 800 23,800
1850-59 48,600 7,500 56,100 36,300 2,700 39,000 12,200 4,900 17,100
1860-72 52,400 17,300 69,700 54,700 12,400 67,100 -2,300 4,800 2,600
1873-79 82,603 32,813 115,416 85,066 19,026 104,092 -2,463 13,787 11,324
1880-86 36,659 9,423 46,152 43,233 12,310 55,543 -6,574 -2,817 -9,391
Sources: Donald Snodgrass. Ceylon: An Export Economy in Transition (Homeword. II: Richard D. Irwin Inc .• 1966). p. 26; I. H. Van Den Driesen. "Some
Aspects of the Coffee Industry in Ceylon with Special Reference for the Period 1823-85"; CO (Colonial Office-London) 54/235. pp. 4-6.
working on the European coffee estates were drawn largely
from the coastal lowlands rather than the Kandyan regions and
they worked in specialized occupations such as carpentry and
masonry. 74
Because the labor supplied by the Sinhalese semi-prole­
tariat to the plantations was generally unreliable, rebellious and
costly, the British planters sought a foreign labor force that was
regular, cheap and easily controllable. This they found in the
landless agricultural labor castes of South India which came to
provide the large, regular and well disciplined proletariat
needed by the plantations in Sri Lanka.
While the first experiments of the British is recruiting
Indian labor began in the 1820s, as Table 4 shows, it was with
the rapid development of coffee plantations in the 1840s that
labor recruitment from South India became a systematic en­
terprise. As the statistics suggest, the transient laborers of the
early decades rarely brought their wives or children. But later,
as an Indian community began slowly to evolve on the estates,
more families came. Many who arrived as immigrants with the
hope of saving money and returning to India, were not able to do
so; many never saw India again. This was largely because the
Indian laborers were tied to a system of debt bondage on the
estates from which they and their descendants were rarely able
to escape. 75
Unlike the colonial governments of other plantation col­
onies such as Mauritius and the West Indies, the colonial state in
Sri Lanka stopped short of state sponsorship of recruitment and
supply of labor to the plantations. Throughout the nineteenth
century, the planter lobby in Sri Lanka continued to agitate for
state sponsorship of foreign labor immigration. 76 But proximity
74. Governor Ward's Despatch to the Secretary of State for the Colonies cited
in The Colombo Observer. Nov. 261866; see also BPP. 1847-48, vol. 42, p.49;
Eric Meyer, "Between Village and Plantation: Sinhalese Estate Labour in Brit­
ish Ceylon," (uncorrected advance copy) Colloques Internationaux Du Centre
National De La Recherche Scientifique, Paris No. 582. 1978;AR 1888. "Report
of the Nunara Eliya District." p.78A; Michael Roberts. "Elite Formation and
Elites. 1832-1931." in K.M. de Silva. ed., The History ojCeylon. pp.28 1-2.
75. Bandarage. The Political Economy. chap. 6.
of the sources of labor supply in South India and the relative ease
of labor recruitment through a class of labor recruiters and
supervisors known as the kanganis prevented the direct partici­
pation of the colonial state in this manner. Laissezlaire ideol­
ogy was often invoked in justifying the non-interference of the
state in labor recruitment as well. 77 That the Indian labor migra­
tion to Sri Lanka was considered inter-Indian migration by the
Indian government and did not therefore come under the stric­
tures of the Indian Emigration Ordinances also helped the Sri
Lanka planters obtain their labor easily and without state spon­
sorship. However, the state did recruit the South Indian laborers
that it used for road construction work of its own Public Works
The colonial state provided the planters the institutional
means and supports that they needed in controlling and retaining
the immigrant laborers on the plantations. With the enactment
of Ordinances NO.5 of 1841 and No. 11 of 1865, the state
granted the planters a firm hold over "their" laborers. The
partiality of these laws to the planter becomes obvious, when
one considers the fact that the planter was liable to civil proceed­
ings and the laborer to criminal proceedings for breach of the
same labor contracts. 78
Role of the State in Providing
Infrastructure for the Plantations
In their efforts to keep out European invaders, the pre­
colonial Kandyan Kings deliberately isolated the Central High­
76. K.M. de Silva. Social Policy and Missionary Organizations in Ceylon.
1840-1855. (London: Langmans, 1965), pp. 238.267.
77. Wesumperuma. "The Migration ...... op. cit.. p.52.
78. Michael Roberts. "The Master Servant Laws of 1844 in the 1860's and
Immigrant Labour in Ceylon." Ceylon Journal ojHistorical and Social Studies.
vol. 8, 1963. p.25. With the introduction of the railway in 1864 and the' 'Tin
Ticket System" oflabor transportation in 190 I, the colonial state began to playa
more central role in the conveyance of South Indian labor to the plantations.
Wesumperuna. "The Migration." p. 86. The "kan[?ani system" of labor
recruitment, transportation and control was first evolved to meet the needs of
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
lands from the European ruled coastal lowlands of the island. A
thick forest belt prohibited to cultivators (tahansi kale) was
maintained between the mountainous core of the Kandyan
Kingdom and the maritime provinces. No roads were allowed to
link these two areas. 79
In contrast, the construction of communication networks,
particularly roads, was a sine qua non for the consolidation of
British political authority and commercial development in the
Central Highlands. Given the dependence of the estates on
imported labor, supplies (including food) and foreign markets,
the very profitability of the coffee enterprise came to rest on the
availability of an efficient communication system. In outlining
the aims of the Road Ordinance-No.8 of 1848-Earl Grey,
the Secretary of State for the Colonies, made clear the colonial
administration's commitment to providing the network of roads
needed by the planters.
The construction and maintenance of roads was one of the
heaviest charges upon the Colonial Treasury. Yet so far from
being advisable to curtail [this} work ... it was of the
highest importance to the progress and prosperity ofCeylon
that the roads should be improved and many new ones made.
The imperfections of the existing means of transit and the
consequently heavy expense of bringing down their produce
and of sending supplies to the higher country, which is the
best adapted for the growth ofcoffee, was one ofthe greatest
difficulties with which planters had to contend. 80
The response of the colonial state to the infrastructural
needs of the plantations was overwhelming. The impressive
communication network developed by the colonial state in the
nineteenth century was largely concentrated in the planting
region and was linked to Colombo, the capital and one of the
ports of the island.
Governor Barnes, the pioneer planter and
road builder of colonial Sri Lanka, had the Colombo-Kandy
road constructed by 1820.
By mid-nineteenth century, an
entire network of roads was completed between the planting
regions and the coast. In response to the agitation by the planter
community the state also undertook the construction of a rail­
way system. The first railway line was completed between
Colombo and Kandy in 1867.
Undoubtedly, the natives, particularly the cashcropping
peasantry and those groups engaged in commerce and transpor­
tation also benefited from the roads built by the colonial state. In
fact certain low-country Sinhalese castes such as the Karawa
found in the plantation-related transportation activities a basis
for their entry into the emergent local capitalist class.
However as colonial officials themselves, acknowledged, roads
plantations in Sri Lanka and later extended to other colonies. Bandarage, The
Political Economy, chap. 6.
79. Pieris, Sinhalese Social Organization, p.46.
80. Quoted in K.M. de Silva, ed. Letters on Ceylon, 1846-1850: The Admini­
stration of Viscount Torrington and the 'Rebellion of 1848': The Private
correspondence of the Third Earl Grey and Viscount Torrington, (Kandy:
K.V.G. de Silva and Sons, 1965).
8 I. See for example the map of roads and railways of nineteenth century Sri
Lanka, provided by G.C. Mendis, Ceylon Under the British (Colombo: The
Colombo Apothecaries Co., Ltd., 1944), p. 93.
82. A. Wickremaratne, "The Development of Transportation in Ceylon
c. 1800- 1947," in K.M. de Silva, ed., History ofCeylon, p.303.
83. Michael Roberts, "The Rbe of the Karavas," Ceylon Studies Seminar.
1968-69 Series, paper no. 5, Passim.
and railways were constructed with the European plantation
enterprise in mind and the plantations were the chief bene­
ficiaries of the new communication system.
For example,
while pointing out the reduction of costs of plantation coffee
production due to the introduction of the railway, Governor
Robinson did not fail to note that the natives could "never
derive any direct advantage unlike the European commercial
class from the railway. "85
The question that needs investigation is how and where the
colonial state obtained the labor and the finances necessary to
undertake these large scale infrastructural projects. In the period
prior to the Colebrooke-Cameron Reforms, all roads were built
using the corvee labor of the Sinhalese peasantry. As noted
earlier Colebrooke formerly abolished forced labor to the state
in 1833, but Governor Torrington reinstated it in the form of a
compulsory road tax via Ordinance No.8 of 1848.
It can well be argued that had the peasantry received
the institutional support of the state and credit agen­
cies, peasant cashcropping would have become a far
more important and dynamic sector that it did in Sri
Lanka during the nineteenth century.
The road tax was greatly resented by the peasantry, and as a
number of British planters and officials later admitted, it was a
decisive factor in the peasant uprising of 1848. George Ack­
land, the well known planter, stated before the British Par­
liamentary Committee investigating the 1848 rebellion that the
practical effect of the Road Ordinance was to transfer the ex­
pense of making roads from the colonial treasury to the people at
large. 86 In a situation of labor scarcity, the road tax provided the
colonial state with a ready made source of labor for road main­
tenance and construction. As Governor Barnes asked rhetor­
ically in the 1820s, "who ... was there so fit to undertake the
task as the people themselves?" 87
Yet road service was so abhorrent to the peasantry that
many of them opted to pay its commuted value. Between 1876
and 1880, out of an average of 517 ,000 people bound to work on
the roads, eighty five percent opted to commute.
There is
evidence that at least a few peasants worked on the coffee estates
principally to avoid the road tax as it was not levied from
plantation laborers. 89 It seems that still others insisted on com­
muting the labor dues even when they were experiencing severe
financial difficulties as when peasant coffee collapsed in the
The result of the failure to pay the commuted road tax
was either imprisonment or the sale of paddy fields of the
defaulters by the state in order to recover the monies due.
Meanwhile, the planters who were constantly in search of ave­
84. BPP 1950, vol. 12, Evidence of George Ackland, p.44.
85. Quoted in Wickremaratne, "The Development of Transportation .
86. BPP 1850, vol. 12, p.44.
87. Quoted in Vijaya Samaraweera, "Economic and Social Developments
. .," p.60.
88. SP 1882, NO.4 "Road Ordinance Commission Report," p.S.
89. AR 1888, p.78A.
90. AR \883, "Report of the Badulla District," p.28A.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
A STATEMENT of the several Old Taxes Repealed
in whole or in part after the Arrival of Lord Torrington,
and the expected Loss of Revenue by such
Repeal or Modification
Old Taxes Repealed or Estimated Loss
Modified ofRevenue
Similarly, with the enactment of Ordinance No. 14 of 1872
or "The Estate Medical Wants Ordinance," the state passed on
a portion of the medical costs of the estate laborers to the
In explaining this step to the planters Governor
Gordon pointed out that the vast majority of the native popula­
tion was unaffected by the coffee industry and it was therefore
unjust to shift the burden of medical care of the estate laborers
on to the Sinhalese peasantry. 96
Sources of State Revenue
Ordinance 9 Export Duty on Cinnamon, £ 15,000
of 1847 reduced from Is. to 4 d. per lb.
Export Duties on all other Miscellaneous
Articles (including Coffee), £3,000
Import Duties modified or No estimate
Ordinance 4 Port Dues modified No estimate
of 1848
Source: British Parliamentary Papers. Vol. 12. 1850, p. 428.
nues to pass on their financial responsibilities to the natives,
kept demanding that the commutation rate of the road tax be
In addition to supplying labor, the road tax also helped
augment government revenue and extend the cash nexus into the
village economy. Out of total public works expenditures in
1867, approximately fifteen per cent was derived from funds
collected under the Road Tax Ordinance.
Part of the cash
collected in the form of the road tax was used to pay the Indian
laborers that the state imported to work on the construction
projects of the Public Works Department.
Not all of the infrastructure essential to plantation develop­
ment was provided directly by the labor or the cash taxes of the
peasantry. As expenditures in infrastructure increased, the state
attempted to introduce a system of partial self-finance whereby
planters themselves were required to bear a portion of the
expenses towards private roads to estates, hospitals for the
estates and the government railway.
The introduction of the principle of partial self finance was
not easy. While the state was committed to a strict policy against
deficit financing, the planters too were committed to keeping
down costs of production to a minimum. It was after much
debate that the state managed to get the planters to pay part ofthe
costs. A grants-in-aid system was worked out between the state
and the planters whereby each bore a part of the costs of
construction of private roads to coffee estates. 93 This scheme
resulted partly from the colonial government's recognition that
"branch roads diverted from public roads were constructed for
the benefit of the planters and the advantages which the villagers
derive from them will be remote.' '94
91. SP 1882, No.4, p. 5 and SP 1864, No.6, p. 10.
92. The Ceylon Blue Book. 1867.
93. SP 1886. No.7 "Branch roads," p.3.
94. Ibid., p.3.
In spite of these meagre attempts to shift part of the costs of
plantation development on to the planters themselves, the gen­
eral thrust of colonial state policy was aimed at making the
peasantry pay for the maintenance of the plantation economy
and the colonial state. An obvious example of this shift of
burden is the rural police tax. The Government Agent for the
Sabaragamuwa District wrote in 1874 that the rural police tax
was a most unpopular tax, and, as an unjust imposition, it was
very difficult to collect. 97
Yet another striking example of this is the manner in which
the state turned over its financial burden to the peasantry during
the economic depression which hit the plantation economy
during 1846-48. At this time Governor Torrington came to the
rescue of the planters by abolishing the export duty on coffee
and reducing or abolishing a number ofother levies, such as port
duties which fell most heavily on the plantation sector. The total
loss of state revenue due to these reductions amounted to
The estimated loss of revenue due to the repeal or
modification of taxes is listed in Table 5.
In order to meet the deficit that stemmed from these reduc­
tions, Torrington imposed a series of new taxes which fell most
heavily on the peasantry. 99 These included license fees on dogs,
guns, courts, shops; the road tax (discussed earlier) and in­
creases in various stamp duties. It must be remembered that
these new levies made on the peasants' means of subsistence
(and even their stray dogs) were in addition to the paddy, salt
and other taxes already in operation. They are listed in Table 6.
In justifying the imposition of these new taxes, the Secre­
tary of State for the colonies, Earl Grey, expounded the dualistic
policy of the colonial state vis-a-vis plantation and peasant
Nor is to be lost sight of that while direct taxation is in
such circumstances calculated to promote the progress of
society, indirect taxation has the very opposite effect. To
create a taste for the habits of civilised life in a rude popula­
tion. it is requisite that they should have before them the
example ofcivilised men and the gratification ofthe wants of
civilised life should be rendered as easy to them as possible,
but with this view imported articles should be rendered
cheap. and those branches of trade and industry which
require the direction of civilised and educated men, such as
95. SP 1872, No. I "Correspondence Relating to the Medical Treatment of
Coolies. "
96. SP 1881. No. 30, p.2.
97. AR 1874, • 'Report of the Sabaragamuwa District," p.71.
98. K.M. de Silva, ed., Letters on Ceylon . .. " Introduction," p.7.
99. Ibid., p.6.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Table 6
A List of the several New Taxes imposed since the Arrival ofLord Torrington,
stating the Date on which each Tax was Passed, and Estimate of the Amount
of Revenue expected from the same; stating also the Dates of subsequent
Repeal or Modification of any of these New Taxes
(I) (2)
New Taxes Imposed Date of
(I) Licence to Possess
Fire Arms, Ordinance 14 Dec. 1847
13 of 1847
(2) Revision and Augmentation
of Stamp Duties, Ordinance 31 Jan. 1848
2 of 1848
(3) Licensing of Carriages
and Boats Used for Hire,
Ordinance 3 of 1848
31 Jan. 1848
(4) Licensing of Palanquin
and other Carriages
Used for Hire,
Ordinance 7 of 1848
10 April 1848
(5) Registration and Licensing
of Retail Traders, Ordinance
5 of 1848
10 April 1848
(6) Levy of Contributions
in Labour or Money
for Roads, Ordinance
8 of 1848
13 April 1848
(7) Licenses to keep Dogs,
Ordinance 9 of 1848 13 April 1848
Source: British Parliamentary Papers. Vol. 13, 1850, p. 429.
the production of sugar and coffee should be encouraged.
Hence, the peculiar importance ofavoiding the imposition of
any taxes which can inteifere with trade and the expediency
of adopting the very opposite policy that would be proper in
Europe by endeavoring in the imposition of taxes to make
them press so far as prudence will admit, rather upon those
who are content with a mere subsistence than upon the
possessor of property, and the purchasers of luxuries. (Em­
phasis added) 100
(3) (4)
Date ofModification Estimate ofAmount
or Repeal ofRevenue Expected
Previous to Modification
or Repeal
Modified 23 December
1848, Ordinance 22 10,712 lOs
of 1848
Extimate for 1848
Stamp Revenue
in 1847 (Blue Book of
Increase of Stamp Duties
- Revenue Expected
Modified 23 December
1848, Ordinance 23 2,260
of 1848
Repealed 18 December
1848, Ordinance 20 of 3,060
Modified 13 November
1848, Ordinance 14 No Retum
of 1848
Repealed 18 December
1848, Ordinance 21 2,635
of 1848
Earl Grey said that colonial taxation should encourage the
peasantry to follow the example of "civilised" European en­
trepreneurs. But he did not say how in fact the peasantry was to
find the necessary capital when their subsistence itself was so
heavily taxed. What the British had in mind was the creation of a
plantation wage labor force rather than a class of agricultural
100. Quoted in K.M. de Silva, ed., Letters on Ceylon . .. pp.9-1O.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
entrepreneurs out of the Sinhalese peasantry.
These so called direct taxes, like the paddy tax, were fixed
charges that had no relation to the peasants' ability to payor
their subsistence needs. In addition, the taxes imposed by Tor­
rington during the world economic depression of 1848 took
away the protection from market forces the peasantry would
otherwise have had primarily as subsistence producers. In intro­
ducing these taxes in 1848, the colonial state characteristically
failed to take peasant reaction into account. Soon it was faced
with a widespread rebellion. As James Scott has observed in
relation to Southeast Asia, what infuriated the peasantry most
about the colonial order was its taxes. 101
The Articulation of Modes of
Production and Consequences for
Peasant Agriculture and Subsistence
The impact of British land policy and the Crown Lands
Ordinance on the Kandyan peasantry in particular is the most
controversial issue in the colonial history of Sri Lanka. Many
contemporary writers hold the view that plantation development
resulted in large scale expropriation of land belonging to the
native peasantry. 102 They also point out that this expropriation
curtailed dry grain cultivation and pasturage for cattle. 103
In contrast, a few other writers claim that plantation de­
velopment in Sri Lanka did not result in a large scale expropria­
tion of the peasantry; that the lands alienated for plantations were
in fact forest and highlands of marginal usefulness to them; that
land sales by the natives themselves were responsible for much
of the that the colonial state did not administer its
land legislation to the letter of the law; and that the state
allocated separate village reserves for chena agriculture and
pasturage. 104
Effects of Highland Alienation
It is true that neither the land and tax policies of the colonial
state, nor the rapid expansion of commerce and the cash nexus
were able to create a large landless proletariat out of the native
peasantry by the end of the nineteenth century. It is also true that
native "encroachments" on highlands, concessionary meas­
ures adopted by the state, laxity in the implementation of land
policies and the ability of some groups to buy land and convert
them to coffee smallholdings, delayed the process of landless­
ness among the peasantry.
10 I. James C. Scott, The Moral Economy of the Peasant (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1976), p. 91.
102. For example, see SP 1951, No. 18, "The Report of the Kandyan Peas­
antry Commio>sion," pp. 69-77; J.B. Kelegama, "The Economy of Rural
Ceylon and the Problem of the Peasantry," Ceylon Economisl. Sep. 1959, pp.
341-370; Van den Driesen, .. Land Sales Policy ... ," op. cit., pp. 36-52; A.B.
Perera, "Plantation Economy and Colonial Policy in Ceylon," Ceylon HislOri­
calJournal I, July 1951.
103. N.K. Sarkar and S.l. Tambiah, The Disintegrating Village (Colombo:
The Ceylon University Press Board, 1957), pp. xiii-xiv.
104. Donald R. Snodgraso>, Ceylon: An Exporl Economy in Transition (Home­
wood, Illinois: Richard D. Irwin, Inc. 1966); Jayawardena, "The Supply of
Sinhalese Labour ... ," Michael Roberts, "The Impact of the Waste Lands
Legislation and the Growth of Plantations on the Techniques of Paddy Cultiva­
tion in British Ceylon: A Critique;" "Land Use and Population Growth in
Colonial Ceylon," in James Brow, ed .. Contributions to Asian Studies 9
(Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1976), pp. 64-80.
Nevertheless, the long-term effects of land alienation on
dry grain agriculture and peasant subsistence are quite clear.
Plantation expansion coupled with the various policy measures
of the state reduced the absolute supply of land available for dry
grain cultivation, pasturage, etc. Swidden was certainly subor­
dinated by the plantation-an extreme form of market produc­
tion as well as the dominant economic sector in the Island (see
Figure I). By the end of the nineteenth century, the extent and
importance of dry grain cultivation within the Kandyan village
economy had been greatly reduced. t05
Lal Jayawardena has argued that British land policy did not
dispossess the peasantry; instead it created a class of highland
peasant proprietors.
Michael Roberts has pointed out that
some individuals from the "middling-lower strata" in the vil­
lage were successful in buying Crown land put up for sale, \07
but it cannot be denied that the majority of the poor peasants
were not able to bid against rich planters and speculative
buyers. 108 Feudal overlords and particularly the village headmen,
who had greater access to the colonial administration and to title
deeds required as proof of ownership, were far more successful
in laying claims to Crown land than the cultivators. \09
The more important point to be noted is that, while a small
group of villagers with money were able to buy land and become
"peasant proprietors" in the sense of the new legal norms such
as absolute private property rights introduced by the British, the
peasantry as a class lost their pre-colonial users' rights to the
highlands. The policy of selling Crown land in freehold com­
pletely eliminated the customary communal village rights to
land by the end of the century. A British provincial admini­
strator observed in 1871 that there were very few villages in the
Kandyan coffee districts where the communal right to village
lands had not been totally extinguished. I \0
The reduction of chena robbed peasants of their traditional
safety valve. Its loss was felt most severely when paddy crops
failed or when the state expropriated paddy fields for defaulting
on cash tax payments. In districts such as Walapane where
shifting cultivation was wiped out due to government prohibi­
tions and Crown land sales, the peasants' primary means of
subsistence (paddy) failed in the 18808, and the peasants had to
subsist on roots and leaves gathered from the jungles. III
The loss of swidden cultivation tied the peasantry more
firmly to the paddy fields and thereby to the control of the
surplus appropriators-the feudal overlords, the new rentier
capitalists and the colonial state. In can be argued that the loss of
highlands weakened the economic and political autonomy of the
peasants traditionally associated with shifting cultivation.
105. Michael Roberts" Aspects of Ceylon's Agrarian Economy.. ," op.
cit., p. 159.
106. Jayawardena. "The Supply of Sinhalese Labour ...... op. cit. pp.
107. Michael Roberts, "Comments on Ameer Ali's Paper," op. cit..p. 12.
108. Ameer Ali, "Changing Conditions. ," pp. 7-8.
109. The differential effects of colonial land policies and practtces on the
cultivators and overlords are discussed in Bandarage, The Political Economv.
110. AR 1871, Report of the Nuwarakalawiya District quoted in Michael
Roberts, "Waste Lands Legislation ... ," pp. 180-181.
II I. AR 1884, "Report of the Nuwara Eliya Districts," by Baumgarther,
p.67A; see also AR 1888. "Report of the Ua Province" by F.e. Fisher, p.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Figure 1
The Articulation of Modes of Production
in the Kandyan Highlands
Subsistence Market
Sectors Sectors
Primary Paddy" Plantation Coffee"
Sectors * rentier capital-free tenant - * semi-wage, semi-forced labor
owner producer shifting wage labor
Indirect linkage
** lord-serf
wage labor
Secondary Swidden/Chena
Smallholder Coffee
Sectors * owner-producer * owner-producer
** communal village rights rentier capital-free tenant
+ Complementary relationship a A Feudal Mode during the pre-colonial A Capitalist Mode emerged C
period during the colonial period.
Competitive relationship
b A Communal Mode during the pre-colonial A Petty Commodity mode emerged
* Dominant social relations
during colonial period
** Dominant social relations
One of the new and important developments in nineteenth
century Sri Lanka was smallholder cashcropping, particularly
peasant coffee. The growth of peasant cashcropping reveals the
fact that the Kandyan peasantry was quick to respond to market
stimuli. Their reluctance to become permanent wage laborers on
the coffee estates does not imply indolence or disinterest in
profit maximization as colonial officials and some social scien­
tists would have us believe. 112. The peasantry's decision not to
become routine wage labor on the estates was quite rational
gi ven the availability of land at the time and the relative eco­
nomic autonomy associated with smallholder cashcropping.
Had the Sinhalese peasantry made a large scale conversion as
plantation labor, it would not have helped improve their stan­
dards of living. The miserable living conditions and debt bond­
age of the immigrant estate laborers was a constant reminder of
112. For example ,cc statement by Lord Hobart, quoted by Vijaya Samara·
weera in "Economic and Social Developments," p. 61; Address by Governor
Robinson quoted in Leopold Ludovici, Rice Cultivation: Its Past History and
Present Condition (Colombo, 1867); I.H. Boeke, Economics and Economic
Policy of Dual Societies (New York: Institute of Pacific Relations, 1953), pp.
during the colonial period
that fact. 113 It is highly plausible that the rates of return from
peasant cashcropping were higher than from wage labor on the
estates although middlemen traders and distributors did not pay
a fair price to the peasants for their coffee and other cash crops.
The relationship between plantation and smallholder cash­
cropping was a conflictual one, particularly in the context that
both sectors produced the same crop, coffee. (Figure 1) The
competition for land between the two sectors was the most
striking feature of this conflict. Coffee smallholding (which
included owner-producing units as well as those cultivated by
native capitalists) were not able to secure the best land for
cashcropping against the European planters who had both
money and political force at their disposaL Furthermore, legis­
lation introduced by the colonial state such as the Coffee Steal­
ing Bill and the Private Roads Bill protected the interests of the
plantation sector at the expense of the smallholding sector. It
can well be argued that had the peasantry received the institu­
tional support of the state and credit agencies, peasant cashcrop­
ping would have become a far more important and dynamic
sector than it did in Sri Landka during the nineteenth century.
113. Wesumperuma, "The Migrations," passim.
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The linkages between the commercial plantation and the
largely subsistence oriented paddy agriculture were not as obvi­
ous as the links between plantations and the other two sectors of
the village economy, i.e. swidden and smallholder cashcrop­
ping. (Figure I) The plantations did not compete for the ir­
rigated lands on which paddy was cultivated, and planters were
not able to obtain to any worthwhile extent their labor needs or
food supplies for the estates from the paddy-producing Sinhal­
ese peasants. Nevertheless, the expansionary tendency of capi­
talist plantation agriculture, the activities of the colonial state,
and market relations in general linked these two sectors, albeit
The Enforced Decline of Paddy Agriculture
The colonial state's policies and activities in support ofthe
infrastructural needs of the plantations sector were systematic
and impressive. The pressure placed by the planter community
no doubt played an important role in achieving this. On the other
hand, there was neither a comparable peasant lobby nor a
commitment on the part of the colonial state to provide the
infrastructure, particularly irrigation necessary for wet rice ag­
riculture. The wholehearted commitment of the state to provid­
ing infrastructure for the plantations resulted in the relative
neglect of paddy agriculture. In the period before 1850 when
roads were being constructed on a massive scale, almost no
irrigation projects were undertaken. I 14 The amount spent on
irrigation varied with the whims of individual governors and the
general state of the revenue. As Government Agent, Bailey,
remarked in 1858:
I have dwelt on the ruinous condition of such works of
irrigation as are still in use. We have ourselves to blame for
this, for not only has the Government never devoted a fair
portion of revenue towards the rest of these works but by
inattention to the agricultural system of the people tacitly
permitted the national customs which, under the native gov­
ernment were the means ofkeeping all worksfor irrigation in
repair, to fall into disuse. 115
Suffice it to say that many of the ancient irrigation works
remained in disrepair throughout the nineteenth century and the
beneficial effects of the state's irrigation projects (except per­
haps in the Eastern Province and the Hambantota District in the
Southern Province where a wholly different set of conditions
prevailed) were minimal. 116
The British colonial state used pre-colonial corvee labor
services towards the construction of roads which were of prim­
ary use to the plantation sector. In contrast the Sinhalese kings
derived the legitimacy to exact corvee labor from the peasantry
by using at least a part of that labor towards the benefit of the
peasants themselves. This meant that corvee labor was used
towards the construction and maintenance of irrigation works
necessary for paddy cultivation and peasant subsistence. A
contemporary critic of the colonial state, George Wall, pointed
out the different uses to which corvee labor was put by the
pre-colonial and colonial states when he said:
114. SP 1890, No.3, p. 56.
115. Quoled in SP 1890, NO.3 Reports ofthe Central and Provincial Irrigation
Boards for 1888, p. 3; see also Ludovici. Rice Cultivation . ... p. IS.
116. SP 1890, no. 3, p. 7.
But if they (the native rulers) taxed the people severely and
worked them slavishly, they repaired the tanks, and pro­
tected vigilantly the sources oftheir own wealth and power.
They may have oppressed the people perhaps and have
devoted too large a share of their earnings to the luxury of
their own courts; but they did not export the profits of in­
dustry either to alientate them permanently to foreign uses or
to invest them temporarily in foreign securities whilst their
own national enterprise was starving for want of capital. II?
The colonial state's taxation policies were clearly biased in
favor of plantation agriculture. The exemption of cashcropping
land from taxation, while paddy fields were being heavily taxed,
is a clear cut example, as is the paddy tax which was harsh,
excessive, and did not take into account the peasants' ability to
pay. It was when the peasants were least able to pay, as during
the collapse of peasant coffee in the 1880s, that the colonial state
in its own efforts to augment the revenue, began to collect the
paddy tax with greater efficiency and rigor.
Many defaulting paddy cultivators lost their fields when
the state sold them off to private buyers. As Government Agent
of Nuwara Eliya, Le Mesurier, pointed out, the sale of paddy
fields was a death blow to many peasants in the district. Le
Mesurier, pointed out that over fifteen percent of the paddy
fields in Walapane were sold for default on taxes during 1882­
1886. Many of the fields sold were abandoned, thus reducing
the extent of paddy cultivation, and many of the peasants who
lost their land left the district. 118
Neither the British planters nor the colonial state had any
use for the minute paddy plots of the defaulting peasants. They
were sold off extremely cheaply to monied classes within and
outside the village economy. Many headmen in Walapane and
Uda Hewaheta hastened the eviction of defaulting peasants only
to buy up their lands at very low prices from the state.
to make ends meet, peasants themselves were often forced to
sell their ancestral lands to rentier groups such as Muslim
traders, Chettiyar moneylenders and low-country artisan castes.
Needless to say, these land sales contributed to changes in
property relations and ethnic relations within the Kandyan vil­
lages. Moreover, the new market forces, the cash nexus and
private property relations hastened' economic differentiation
within the cultivator class which had been relatively homogen­
eous (with respect to land) in the pre-colonial era.
In addition to being a threat to peasant subsistence, the
paddy tax inhibited domestic rice production. The paddy tax
was a proportionate levy, usually one tenth of the produce or its
commuted value, and rose or fell with the yield. An increase in
the yield meant also an increase in the surplus appropriated by
the state or overlord. It is quite likely that the paddy tax dis­
couraged the peasants from making efforts to increase the pro­
ductivity of their lands.
As in pre-colonial times, rice cultivation continued to be
the primary occupation of the people of Sri Lanka during the
nineteenth century. Yet, under colonial rule importation of rice
from India and Burma (which was then administratively a part
117. George Wall (Speculum, pseud.) Ceylon . . "p. 75.
118. AR 1886, "Report on Ihe Nuwara Eliya District," by C.l.R. Le Mesurier,
I 19. D. Wesumperuma, "The Evictions underthe Paddy Tax and Their Impact
on Ihe Peasantry of WaJapane, 1882-1885," Ceylon Journal ofHistorical and
Social Studies, vol. 10, 1970, p. 140.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
of India) increased dramatically, primarily because the entire
supply of rice needed to feed the South Indian plantation labor­
ers was being imported. There were several reasons for this.
One was the inadequacy of local rice supplies. Local rice sup­
plies were so inadequate that in addition to the estate labor force,
the growing urban population as well as even some peasant rice
cultivators came to depend on imported rice. 120
Another reason for the importation of rice was that once the
planters had established regular and reliable networks of rice
procurement, they did not want to depend on the vagaries of
local rice production. It is important to note also that the Indian
estate laborers in Sri Lanka plantations were paid their wages
partially in rice. Payment of laborers with Indian varieties of
rice (they supposedly did not like local rice) became a means of
labor control and labor retention on the estates. 121 Any attempt
to develop local rice supplies for the estates would have meant
the introduction of changes in the internal structure and opera­
tions of labor control on the plantations, which neither the
planters nor the state wanted to undertake.
Since a large portion of the imported rice was bought up by
the planters to feed their laborers, they came to bear the greater
portion of the import duty collected on rice by the colonial state.
In the absence of a general land tax, the import duty on rice came
to be considered the primary method of taxing the plantation
sector. What is interesting to note is that while the tax on home
grown paddy was proportionate to the yield, the import duty on
rice remained a low and constant levy at 13 cents per bushel of
unhusked rice throughout the nineteenth century. 122 This again
shows the partiality of the state's tax policy towards the planta­
tion sector.
The combined effects of the neglect of irrigation, the paddy
tax and cheap rice imports was the stagnation and backwardness
of paddy agriculture. Many critics blamed the extremely low
yields in local rice agriculture on the colonial state. C. S. Salmon
and other members of the Cobden Club in England who were
concerned with starvation among the peasantry pointed out that
while the acreage under cash crops was steadily increasing, the
acreage under paddy was decreasing. 123 The agricultural statis­
tics given in Table 7 show a generally smaller increase in paddy
acreage as compared with the substantial increase in acreage
under cash crops. They also reveal the increasing disparity
between the structures of production and consumption in Sri
Lanka, a characteristic feature of colonial economies.
Almost all observers of social change in Kandyan Ceylon
agree that the technology of production in paddy agriculture
remained backward during the nineteenth century. In some
cases, the technology of production actually retrogressed due to
the neglect of irrigation and reduction of pasturage.
continued backwardness of technology was due not simply to
the supposedly traditional values of the peasantry as some dual
120. BPP 1847-1848. vol. 42, p. 61.
121. Wesumperuma, "The Migration," p. 213.
122. On the question of rice imports, see Bandarage, The Political Economy,
123. C.S. Salmon, The CeYlon. Stan'ation Question: Its Cause and Remedy
(Colombo: Ceylon Independent, 1880), p. 12; see alsoSP 1867, NO.4. p. 21.
124. For the debate on whether plantation development resulted in the reduc­
tion of pasturage, see Michael Roberts, "The Impact of the Waste Lands
Legislation. . .," passim.
Table 7
Areas Cultivated by Estates and Peasants
Estate Land 1871 1881 1891
Coffee 214 228 45
Total 413 450 584
Export Smallholdings
Coffee 53 57 II
Total 353 373 493
Non Export Crops
Paddy 544 549 563
Total 601 718 750
Source: Donald R. Snodgrass, Ceylon: An Expon Economy in Transition, p. 49.
economy theorists have argued. 125 On the contrary, as Arthur
Lewis-who has advanced a more structuralist version of dual
economy theory-has observed in relation to Africa, there was
a direct relationship between the expansion of European eco­
nomic interests and the backwardness of native agriculture in
the colonies in general.
... In actual fact, the record of every imperial power in
Africa in modern times in one of impoverishing the subsis­
tence economy. Compared with what they have spent on
providing facilities for European agriculture or mining, their
expenditure on the improvement of African agriculture has
been negligible. The failure of imperialism to raise living
standards is not wholly attributed to self interest, but there
are many places where it can be traced directly to the effects
of having imperial capital invested in agriculture or in
mining. 126
In addition to the intrusion by the plantations and the
colonial state, the backwardness of technology and productivity
in paddy agriCUlture were closely linked to the type of social
relations of production that came into being within the village
economy. These new social relations of production, particularly
the new property relations and the role of the rentier and mer­
chant capitalists, came in the wake of overall changes in the
larger society-notably the expansion of plantations, com­
merce, cash nexus and the colonial state. In other words, the
evolution of the village and the plantation were inextricably
There were differences of opinion within the British com­
munity in nineteenth century Sri Lanka with regard to the effects
of the new politico-economic structures on the native society.
But even the sharpest critics of the colonial state, among them
George Wall, the journalist; Le Mesurier, the provincial offi­
125. Boeke, Economics l1nd Economic Polin' .. ., pp. >7-JX: see also P T
Ellsworth, "The Dual Economy: A New Approach." Economic Oelelol!!IIl''''
and Cultural ChanKe 10 July 1962. p. 437: Donald R. Snodgra>s. Cnloll.· All
export Economy in Transition. p. 59.
126. W. Arthur Lewis, "Economic Development within Unlimited Supplies of
Labour," The Manchester School, May 1954. pp. 149-150; see also Jairus
Banaji, "For a Theory of Colonial Modes of Production," Economic lind
Political Weekly, vol. 7, Dec. 23, 1972.
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cial; and Salmon, the member of the London Cobden Club,
were essentially in agreement with their British contemporaries
that the plantation enterprise was the life blood of the colony and
that it should be supported by the state. These liberal and
humanitarian critics differed with their colleagues only in their
idealism that the interests of the planters on the one hand and
that of the village and the peasantry on the other hand were
mutually compatible.
Their criticism it must be noted was hurled against the
failures of the colonial administration, not the inherent contra­
dictions of the capitalist plantation economy. While their agita­
tion helped bring some of the gross injustices into light such as
the evictions of the Walapane peasants from their paddy lands
and eventually led to the abolition of the paddy land tax, these
critics did not constitute a continuous or organized opposition
to the colonial politico-economic structures. Yet, being mem­
bers of the ruling class, they were able at critical moments to
point to the sharp contradictions between the ideological claims
of colonial rule and its detrimental effects on the native
The neglect of the needs and repression of the rights of the
natives, particularly the peasant cultivators, was not caused by
mere ignorance on the part of British officials. It resulted pri­
marily from the incompatibility of the interests of capitalist
export agriculture and that of peasant subsistence and small­
holder production. It resulted in a conflict between opposing
modes of economic production, a conflict in which the planta­
tions were victorious because they had the support of the colo­
nial state at every tum. A statement by Emerson Tennent, a
Colonial Secretary in nineteenth century Sri Lanka shed light on
the colonial state's position in this conflict. In recognizing the
injury caused the peasantry by capitalist agricultural expansion,
Tennent merely sighed at what he accepted to be the inevitable
costs of this process.
It must be obvious that these are grievances of peasants to
which we can apply no remedy, because they arise out of
legitimate causes which it would be injudicious in us to
control, I mean to check coffee-planting. 127
Native Protest and Challenge to the
Plantations and the Colonial State
In spite of the might of the colonial state, the task of
superimposing the capitalist plantation economy upon the pre­
existing Kandyan village economy and social classes was filled
with contradictions and conflicts. A comprehensive analysis of
the native opposition to the colonial political economy cannot be
undertaken here. Instead, we will briefly discuss the 1818 and
1848 rebellions since they relate to the issues raised above.
The 1818 Rebellion
The British came to Kandy in 1815 on the invitation of a
faction of the Kandyan aristocracy to depose their king. Upon
removing the Kandyan king, the British usurped the throne for
themselves, an outcome unanticipated by the aristocracy! From
the outset of British rule then, the British and the feudal over­
lords were envious and suspicious of each other's powers and
privileges. Although they signed the Proclamation of 1815 and
agreed to govern according to the customs and conventions of
Kandyan society, in practice the British began to violate many
of the Kandyan beliefs and practices.
The loss of political independence itself was a great blow to
the pride of the Kandyans who had fought for several centuries
to resist successive European invaders (Portuguese, Dutch,
British) from the coastal lowlands. 128 Furthermore the super­
imposition of a European administration over the feudal ad­
ministrative hierarchy meant that all Kandyan chiefs were now
compelled to pay homage even to a common British soldier. The
Buddhist clergy (sangha) too became dissatisfied with the
alien Christian government and the severance of the historical
link between the state and Buddhism. 129
The loss of pride and status on the part of the nobility and
the clergy ignited their desire to drive out the British and to
restore the Kandyan monarchy. There is consensus among his­
torians that the ensuing rebellion was a post-pacification re­
volt.130 The 1818 rebellion was also a nationalist revolt. The
nationalist sentiments shared by the feudal overlords (nobility
and clergy) and the peasantry based on their common Sinhalese
Buddhist ethnic identity came to the fore in their attempt to drive
out the European Christian intruder.
Some of the leaders of the 1818 rebellion were notable
Kandyan chiefs and Buddhist monks, But as social historian
Malalgoda argues, the series of movements against the British
in the early years of their rule in the Kandyan Provinces had their
origin in the masses rather than the nobility or the clergy. 131 It is
likely that even at this early stage of British rule, the changes
introduced by the British (for example in corvee labor exaction)
caused great hardship to the cultivator class and contributed to
their desire to restore the pre-colonial social order.
Malalgoda points out that after a pretender to the Kandyan
throne named Vilbave was "coronated" in 1817-18, the rebel­
lion gained greater legitimacy and spread rapidly "from the
remote areas to the more central provinces and from the lower to
the higher strata of society." 132 This rebellion, considered the
"most formidable insurrection during the whole period of Brit­
ish occupation in Ceylon" 133 is popularly known as the Great
Rebellion of 1818.
Before the rebels could capture power, the British inter­
vened and put down the rebellion most ruthlessly. Nevertheless
it was a traumatic experience for the British. Since then, they
became highly suspicious of the "rebellious" Kandyans and
acted quickly and harshly at the slightest indication of a "dis­
turbance" in the area. 134
128. The coaslal lowlands were under Portuguese ( 1505-1666), Dutch (1666­
1796), and British (1796-1948) rule successively. Until the lowlands was turned
into a British Crown Colony in 1802. it was governed by the British East India
129. Colvin R. de Silva, Ceylon Under the British Occupation, vol. I, Col­
ombo, Colombo Apothecaries Co., Ltd., 1953, p. 160; G.c. Mendis, Ceylon
Under the British,. p. 16.
130. Michael Roberts, "Variations on Ihe Theme of Resistance Movements:
The Kandyan Rebellion and Latter Day Nationalisms in Ceylon," Ceylon
Studies Seminar, 1970/1972 Series, No.9, p. 21.
131. Kitsiri Malalgoda, "Millennialism in Relation to Buddhism," Compara·
tivt! Studies in Society and History, Vol. 12, No.4, October, 1970, p. 434.
132. Ibid., p. 436.
133. K.M. de Silva, "The Kandyan Kingdom and the British-The Last
Phase, 1796 to 1818," in K.M. de Silva, ed., Historyo!Ceylon, vol. 3, p. 32.
127. Quoted in Van den Driesen, "Land Sales Policy ... ," p. 45.
134. Malalgoda, "Millennialism," p. 436.
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After putting down the Great Rebellion and a number of
other minor revolts in the highlands between 1815 and 1820, the
British attempted to break up the nationalist solidarity between
the Kandyan overlords and the peasantry which they perceived
to be the foremost threat to their political hegemomy in the
island. The British made a few attempts to create countervailing
social forces in the native society that could weaken the author­
ity of the aristocracy over the cultivators. The Proclamation of
1818 enacted after the abortive rebellion was aimed both at
reducing the powers and privileges of the nobility as well as
creating a free peasant proprietor class loyal to the British. 135 As
enumerated in this paper, the policies of the colonial state, such
as the paddy tax and highland alienation, as well as the effects of
the new market economy and the plantations, militated against
the emergence of a strong and independent peasantry loyal to the
British. In fact, the peasantry or the cultivator class became the
strongest opponents of the British and the new social order they
The Rebellion of 1848
Thirty years after the 1818 rebellion when the next major
upheaval took place in the Central Highlands (and the capital
city of Colombo), radical transformations were well under way
in Kandyan society. A network of roads connecting the Central
Highlands to the coast had broken down the isolation of Kandy.
The coffee plantations had integrated the region into the national
economy (itself the creation of the plantation enterprise), and
the world capitalist economy. Cash and commerce, planters and
traders, foreign estate laborers were among the new forces and
actors in the region.
In fact, the 1848 rebellion was largely a reaction against
these dramatic changes that had taken place during the short
time span since the introduction of the plantations in the 1830s.
Many British planters and officials such as George Ackland
acknowledged in retrospect that plantation development was the
underlying cause of this rebellion.
Alienation of the highland for plantations and the exaction
of the forced labor of the peasants for road construction had
created much antipathy towards the colonial state. Undoubtedly
the effects of the new political and economic forces were harsh­
est on the cultivators. The resistance against the new social
order understandably came from this class, rather than the
native aristocracy or the emerging entrepreneurial groups, and
took such forms as "encroachments" on "Crown" and planta­
tion lands; passive resistance against corvee labor duties; refusal
of wage labor on the plantations; and disregard towards state
While the underlying cause was the contradiction between
plantation development and peasant subsistence, the immediate
causc that sparked off the rebellion was the imposition of new
taxes by Governor Torrington which fell most heavily on the
peasant cultivators. The introduction of the new taxes at this
time was aimed specifically at shifting the burden of the world
economic depression of the mid-1840s from the plantation sec­
tor and the colonial treasury to the peasantry of the colony.
In Colombo, the opposition to the taxes was led by Dr.
Christopher Elliot, the editor of The Colombo Observer at the
135. See "The Proclamation of21s1 November, 1818," inA Revised Edition of
the Legislative Enactments, vol. I.
time. Elliot, an Irishman with great sympathy for the peasantry,
sought to stamp the ideas of the European revolution of 1848
into his campaign against the unjust taxes. In a letter printed in
The Observer he pointed out that while most natives did not
receive more than ten shillings a year, the new taxes alone
required them to pay seven or eight shillings a year to the
state. 136 Governor Torrington later claimed that the Sinhalese
translation of Elliot's letter circulated among the peasantry was
a major factor in inciting them to rebellion, but historians have
found it difficult to calculate the extent of its circulation or its
influence on the "disturbances" that followed. 137
Nonetheless, the news about the taxes and rumors of still
more taxes to come spread quickly through the Kandyan region.
On July 6, 1848, a mass protest against the taxes took place in
Kandy. On July 8, the colonial administration called a meeting
of the Kandyan chiefs to explain the need for the new taxes. But
between July 8 and July 29, a mass movement against the taxes
had already developed. There were several outbreaks of vio­
lence, the most severe of which took place in the Matale and
Kurunegala districts between July 29 and July 31, 1848.138
What distinguished the uprising against the taxes in the
Kandyan districts from the agitation in Colombo was that a
small group of men "sought to channel this discontent in an
attempt to drive the British out of Kandy. "139 In this respect,
the 1848 rebellion was similar to the Great Rebellion of 1818
although the British did not allow the 1848 revolt to last as long
or spread as widely as did the earlier rebellion.
Although the rebellion in the Kandyan districts was essen­
tially a peasant revolt, its most well known leader, Puran Appu,
was an adventurer from the coastal lowlands. This rebellion,
like the earlier one, was given a nationalist stamp by crowning a
pretender to the Kandyan throne.
Rebel attacks were concentrated on the installations of the
colonial state such as jails, court houses (kachcheris) , and
official residences. Few plantations were damaged. 140 Peasant
hostility then was directed against the state which was correctly
perceived to be the immediate oppressor. But as discussed
earlier, most of the state officials at the time were also planters.
As the situation in the Kandyan region began to get out of
hand, the state imposed martial law and harshly suppressed the
rebellion. The British had only one soldier wounded, whereas at
least two hundred Kandyans lost their lives. Among the reasons
for the unduly harsh suppression were the memory of 1818 and
the fear among the "planter-officials" that if the rebellion was
allowed to spread, it would totally damage their plantations and
the coffee crop.141
The British managed to quell the rebellion before too many
other regions and disaffected groups could join it. Nonetheless
the rebellion convulsed the British political hegemony and the
plantation economy in the island so greatly that the British
Parliament appointed a high ranking committee of inquiry
which included such notables as Robert Peel, Disraeli, and
136. Letter by an "Englishman" in The Colomho Obsenn, reprinted in RPP
1849, vol. 36, p. 153.
IJ7. K.M. de SilvaJetters on Ceylon, p. 12.
13R. K.M. de Silva. "The 'Rebellion' of 1 ~ 4 ~ in Ceylon, CJHSSvol. 7. No.2.
July-December 1964, pp. 16-17.
139. Ihid .. p. 16.
140. K.M. de Silva, Social Policy, p. 17.
141. Ibid., p. 19.
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Gladstone to investigate its causes.
The evidence given before the Parliamentary Inquiry Com­
mittee reveals the suspicion among many of the British in Sri
Lanka that the rebellion was engineered and led by the Buddhist
clergy and the aristocracy as was the rebellion of 1818. The
historian K.M. de Silva has pointed out, however, that the
Kandyan chiefs stood aloof from this peasant revolt and at no
stage were the British able to provide any evidence in support of
their contention. 142
Whether the British actually believed that the feudal over­
lords were behind the rebellion or not, it taught them an im­
portant political lesson: that it was impossible to control the
masses without the support ofthe native overlords. This realiza­
tion resulted in a shift of policy and methods of social control
over the peasantry. The rivalry between the British and the
Kandyan chiefs was quietly forgotten and from 1848 on steps
were taken to incorporate the native chiefs or headmen more
closely into the provincial administration of the colony. 143 The
native aristocracy in tum came to accept the permanency of
British rule and to enjoy the benefits that accrued to them in
monetary and status terms through this new partnership.
By the 1880s, the native headmen had acquiesced in the
colonial administration to such an extent that they sought to take
advantage of the peasants' plight rather than attempt to incite
them into rebellion as the did in 1818, or playa neutral role as
they did in 1848. By incorporating the native chiefs into the
colonial political economy at subordinate levels, the British
ensured that the chiefs did not join the peasantry in their nation­
alist struggles. Thus, the 1848 rebellion was the last major
upheaval against the British in Sri Lanka during the nineteenth
These developments lead us to conclude that by the 1880s,
the British plantation economy and the colonial state had subor­
dinated and begun the incorporation of the pre-colonial econ­
omy and society within the colonial politico-economic system
and the expanding world capitalist economy. The plantation
economy was so firmly set in place in Sri Lanka that in spite of the
total collapse of coffee agriculture in the 1880s, tea plantation
agriculture came in its place, found the social and instutitonal
framework set out by coffee intact and was able to traverse the
path of "development" set in motion during the coffee era.
Modernization theories which focus on aggregate eco­
nomic growth and infrastructural expansion as indices of "de­
velopment" and their critiques which point to the stagnation of
domestic production and neglect of the peasantry as indices of
"underdevelopment" capture only selected aspects of the colo­
nial experience. 144 One of the underlying attempts of this paper
has been to show that bi-polar models which depict an ever­
expanding modem or plantation sector and a stagnant traditional
or village sector are inadequate for understanding the complex­
ities of colonialism. The paper has sought to demonstrate that
142. K.M. de Silva. Leiters on Ceylon, pp. 25-26.
143. Discussed in Bandarage, The Political Economy, chap. 7.
144. For examples ofthe modernization and underdevelopment perspectives on
plantations, see respectively, W.O. Jones. "Plantations," The International
Encyclopaedia ojthe Social Sciences, 1968, ed. s.v., and Backford, Persistent
the colonial politico-economic impact on the Kandyan High­
lands was a highly differentiated process that varied across
modes of economic production and across social classes.
While the confluence of the effects of the plantations, the
colonial state and market forces helped wipe out one pre­
existing mode of village agriculture-chena-almost entirely,
it gave rise to a new mode-smallholder cashcropping-and
fundamentally restructured property relations in the primary
mode-paddy. We have also noted, admittedly very briefly,
some of the changes that took place in the native class structure
during the nineteenth century. These include the incorporation
of headmen into the colonial administration, entry of rentier
capitalists into the village economy, emergence of a South
Indian proletariat on the estates and a native capitalist class
largely in the interstices of the European plantation economy.
The paper has also sought to demonstrate the dominance of
the political sphere as a characteristic feature of capitalist de­
velopment in the colonies. 145 We have pointed out that the early
colonial state represented by the "planter-official" class in fact
created the institutions of capital, wage labor, and so forth
which were prerequisites for capitalist development in the
island. The protest movements against the colonial order took
the form of cultural, specifically nationalist struggles aimed at
the colonial state rather than the form of class struggles directed
against the planters. The primacy of the political sphere made
a decisive impact on the dialectics of resistance against
Colonialism did not simply wipe out the pre-colonial social
order or wield a uniform effect on all native groups or institu­
tions. Selected pre-colonial institutions were utilized for creat­
ing and maintaining the colonial political economy. Natives
were not simply passive victims of the colonial onslaught. The
more privileged natives-headmen and entrepreneurial
groups-chose to join the colonial political economy at subor­
dinate levels because of the many advantages to be derived from
doing so. The strategies of survival and protest of the peasantry
in turn-"encroachments" on "Crown" land for example­
had a determining effect on the structure and operation of the
superimposed colonial political economy. Colonialism then has
to be understood dialectically as a process which engenders its
own contradictions and dissolution in the long run.*
145. See, Bipan Chandra, "Colonialism, Stages of Colonialism and the Colon·
ial State," Journal ojContemporary Asia, vol. 10, no. 3, 1980.
The issues raised in this article are discussed more extensively in the author's
forthcoming book, The Political Economy ojColonialism: Kandyan Highlands
oj Sri Lanka, 1833·1886 (The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1983).
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Migrant Labor at ASIAD '82 Construction Sites in New Delhi
by Sharat G. Lin and Nagesbwar Patnaik *
Scope and General Forms of Migrant Labor
Throughout India the scale of migrant labor is reach­
ing alarming proportions. Apart the
migration of essentially free labor from Impovenshed rural
areas to urban centers, there exists a deliberately planned
migration of bonded or labor
ranging from 200 to over 2000 kIlometers. WIth the
demand for labor in the oil-rich countries of the Perslan­
Arabian Gulf, labor migration in India has also taken on
international dimensions.
The general pattern of deliberate migration is char­
acterized by transitory or seasonal movement of-poor peas­
ants and rural landless laborers from poorer regions of the
country where unemployment and underemployment are
exceptionally high or land fertility is exceptionally low to
regions of higher capital formation, economic growth,
labor productivity. In the former case of spontaneous mI­
gration, laborers themselves go in search of localities where
the market value of labor power is higher; in the latter
case, it is the employers who seek localities from
cheaper bonded or semi-bonded labor. may be
and transplanted. This latter form of mIgrant labor IS gen­
erally characterized by:
1. non-permanence, for otherwise the laborers
eventually lose their migratory character and wlllmg­
ness to accept wages at rates below the local market;
2. migration of large groups of workers from one or more
villages in an area; .
3. recruitment by intermediary labor contractors mdepen­
dent of the principal employer (factory, construction
company, etc.)-known by different names in various
parts of the country, e.g.,.'dlatadars in Orissa,)amadars
in regions of North IndIa, and mukadams 10 Maha­
• Nageshwar Patnaik has been assisting the over past
two years by helping to inform them of then legal nghts and servmg as a
liaison between them and lawyers associated with the People's Union for
Democratic Rights. A native of Orissa state, he has been able to establish
a very close relationship with the workers.
4. some sort of contractual bonding of the laborer to
labor contractor by means of indebtedness resulting
from a pre-recruitment loan advance-whether real or
5. frequent gross underpayment of wages resulting
disregard of minimum wage standards or excessIve
"commissions" taken by the labor contractor;
6. provision for the workers at the site of employment of
only the most meagre hutments Uhuggis) or barracks
usually without adequate, or sometimes any, sanitary
and medical facilities;
Large-scale agricultural harvesting is the chief form of
seasonal migratory employment involving annual travel
between home villages and fixed worksites. One example
of this is the introduction of migrant labor for sugarcane
harvesting in Maharashtra after independence. Today there
are over 400,000 migrant sugarcane cutters and carriers
contracted by the rapidly expanding sugar industry.
struction is the most prominent form of transitory employ­
ment of migrants in which laborers work for a time on one
pro ject and then move on to another or return home.
Employment of Migrant Workers in Construction for
ASIAD '82 .
In Delhi alone there are currently over 300,000 mi­
grant construction workers, half of whom are employed on
numerous glamor projects for the 1982 Asian Games or
ASIAD '82. Government agencies and private investors
are reportedly spending Rs. 7000 million (approximately
$800 million)** on the projects. Some observers estimate
that the real cost-mostly from the public exchequer-will
climb to as high as Rs. 10,000 million. Construction in New
Delhi is proceeding at a feverish pace. Luxury hotels bear­
ing such names as Siddharth Continental, Asian, Kanishka
Ashok, Ashok Yatri Nivas, and Kautilya are rising in many
parts of the city. The sprawling Asian Games Village com­
•• Approximately Rs.9 = $1 U.s.
1. Estimated from composite data from individual sugar factories.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Hotel Siddharth Continental under construction.
Hazardous working conditions on Hotel Siddhanh Continental.
All photos courtesy of the authors. 24
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Women construction workers carrying bricks at the Asian Games Village
pie x is being built at Siri. A new international airport
terminal, flyovers (overpass), huge stadia, and other ath­
letic facilities are under construction. With Delhi tele­
phones so frequently out-of-order, new underground tele­
phone lines are being laid expressly to serve tennis courts,
swimming pools, "five star" hotels, and press facilities.
In order to be ready for the games in November 1982,
contractors are working their laborers around the clock in
three shifts. In the rush virtually every applicable labor law
is being violated beginning with the recruitment of laborers
through their period of employment to the last moment
when a sick or in jured worker is left without payor medical
attention. Being mostly illiterate and from such remote
states as Orissa, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu,
Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal, these con­
struction workers are particularly susceptible to exploita­
tion. Living in a completely unfamiliar environment and
having been at lest temporarily uprooted from their native
social milieu, they feel helpless and are unaware of many of
their rights and of any channels for redress of grievances.
For precisely this reason, construction companies and con­
tractors employ almost exclusively migrants to perform
manual labor. They are considered easy to control and less
costly to maintain since they tend to accept lower wages
and more harsh living and working conditions than local
The largest number of new construction workers ap­
pear to have been recruited from two states, Orissa and
Bihar. They consist of both tribals and non-tribals from
such districts as Ganjam, Kalahandi, Keonjhar, and
Mayurbhanj in Orissa and from Bhojpur and Singbhum in
Surveys suggest that all the migrant construction
workers in Delhi are receiving less than the minimum wage
prescribed in accordance with The Minimum Wages Act
and the current price index. While the minimum daily wage
for a full-time unskilled worker in Delhi was Rs. 9.25 in
1981, workers were found to be receiving Rs. 8 or less.
Numerous cases have been cited in which, contrary to
management claims of wages paid at the rate of Rs. 11-12
per day, the workers repeatedly told of receiving an aver­
age of Rs. 4 plus one kilogram of rice and less than one
rupee worth of vegetables and condiments per day-equi­
valent to a total daily compensation of about Rs. 7. The
jamadar may even deduct a full day's pay if he is "not
satisfied with the work." Workers report that wages are
very often not paid on time or on a regular basis. Those
workers who attempt to leave and find work elsewhere are
penalized by further deductions from wages, suggesting an
element of labor bondedness. Still others say they are paid
only when there is work, and the work may be interrupted
by adverse weather or shortage of construction materials.
Almost all migrant workers at ASIAD '82 sites are denied a
"displacement allowance. "2
Yet the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act
cally prescribes that a displacement allowance equal to half
the monthly wage of Rs. 75, whichever is more, is to be paid
by the labor contractor at the time of recruitment. It further
mandates regular payment of wages commencing from the
date of recruitment, transportation allowance to the work­
site, and provision of suitable housing, free medical care,
and protective clothing to suit local climatic conditions and
work hazards. The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act
abolishes all forms of bonded labor by virtue of indebted­
ness. It prohibits anyone from making an advance in pur­
suance of the bonded labor system, and from compelling
any other person to render forced labor. Occasionally,
even children as young as ten years old have been em­
played at construction sites such as the swimming pool at
Talkatora and the flyover (overpass) near Minto Road.
2. People's Union for Democratic Rights, Contract Labour and ASIAD-82.
New Delhi, 1981, pp. 1-3.
3. The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and
Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 was enacted specifically in response to
the exploitative system of migrant, or dadan, labor in Orissa. In a prefat­
ory note to the Act, it is noted that the dadan labor system
lends itself to various abuses. Though the Sardars [labour contractors]
promise at the time of recruitment that wages calculated on piece-rate bais
would be settled every month. the promise is not usually kept. Once the
worker comes under the clutches ofthe contractor. he takes him to afar-off
place on payment of railway fare only. No working hours are fixed for those
workers and they have to work on all the days in a week under extremely bad
working conditions. The provisions ofthe various labour laws are not being
observed in the case and they are subjected to various malpractices.
4. PUDR, op. cit., p. 6.
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Workers' barracks at Hotel Siddharth Continental site. Jawaharlal Nehru
University is in the background.
Corrugated sheet metal barracks behind barbedwirefence.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Barbed wire fence surrounding Hotel Siddharth Continental labor camp.
Migrant construction workers: scenes reminiscent of a concentration camp?
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
People bathing behind barbed wire.
This is despite the prohibition of child labor in construction
by the Employment of Children(Amendment)Act of 1979.
Case Study of the Hotel Siddharth Continental
Construction Site
A detailed study of one specific site revealed violations
of almost all of the above legal provisions and corroborated
the evidence and general patterns found at other sites in
Delhi. This site was the 350-room Hotel Siddharth Conti­
nental under construction at Vasant Vihar. Representing
an investment of Rs. 160 million, it will include a swimming
pool, badminton court, beauty parlor, and fashionable res­
Of the nearly 1500 migrant workers, approximately
half are from Orissa, a large number from Ganjam District
in particular, and many of the rest from Bhojpur District in
Bihar. They are lodged in twelve barracks of corrugated
steel sheets, packed forty per barrack in each of three
sleeping shifts. Those coming from the milder climate of
coastal Orissa have no winter clothing and almost freeze
during the winter nights of Delhi. Before the workers or­
ganized, the only water source for the entire colony was an
open well about fifty meters outside the housing com­
pound. There were no latrines or bathrooms. Workers had
to relieve themselves in the open at the periphery of the
compound. Only after the workers agitated in late 1981 for
the most basic amenities and their case was brought to
public attention were a water tank installed within the
compound and supplied thrice daily by truck and latrines
The principal construction contractor, J aiprakash As­
sociates, provides free medical care for its own super­
visory staff and engineers. Formerly, however free use of
these facilities was denied to the unskilled migrant work­
ers. Only after the workers demanded their rights and
several major newspapers reported the story was free med­
ical care reluctantly made available to all workers.
Jaiprakash Associates has been a particularly flagrant
violator of minimum wage standards. Many workers at this
site reported typical compensation of only Rs. 3 per day
plus one kilogram rice and some vegetables daily. All were
receiving far less than the minimum wage and working ten
hours a day or more. Only after intervention by the Con­
struction Workers Solidarity Committee and the People's
Union for Democratic Rights was the minimum daily wage
of Rs. 9.25 finally paid in full as well as a large sum of back
The management also responded to the agitations by
enclosing the entire housing compound with a barbed wire
fence. Security guards watch the gates around the clock in
an attempt to discourage workers from meeting outsiders
and to prevent outside investigators from entering the col­
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
ony. There is a renewed sense of unease as.the area begins
to look more like a forced labor camp or pnson camp.
Furthermore, during the agitations several workers
who dared to complain about wage payments, working
conditions, or lack of amenities were de­
ported to isolated construction sites outside of Deihl where
J aiprakash Associates has other contracts. For
some were sent to work at Tihri Dam in Garhwal Dlstnct,
Uttar Pradesh.
Exploitation of Migrant Laborers from Orissa
Exploitation of migrant laborers often begins from the
moment they are recruited in their home village. A large
group of workers was brought to Delhi in May 1981 from
Ganjam District, Orissa by Saman.t Roy, a labor
contractor under Jaiprakash Associates. Jmprakash Asso­
ciates has grown into one of the largest construction com­
panies in India with tum-key projects in the Middle East
and many big contracts in various parts the co un.try '. All
of the workers in Roy's group were promised lucrative Jobs
in the Middle East. And for this each of them had to pay a
commission ranging from Rs. 2000 to 3000.
One worker, Subhash Behera, told this story of how
he paid the commission:
I sold an acre of land to the local maha jan for Rs. 2000.
Another thousand rupees was raised by mortgaging the re­
maining two acres of land. Now my family would have to
cultivate this land and give two-thirds ofthe yield as interest.
Within a few years my family would become landless.
guni Pradhan, which we have reproduced here, tell essen­
tiallv the same desperate tale.
Like all the other workers in the group, Subhash was
required to execute an agreement with the labor contractor
certifying falsely that he had taken a loan of Rs. 1O,00? to
cover daily expenses in Delhi. The agreement authonzed
the managing director of Jaiprakash to .deduct 250 per
month from the workers' salary dunng their Intended
three-year employment in Iran. The contractor "ad­
vances" Rs. 10,000 and recovers Rs. 9000. The Rs. 1000
"loss" does not matter since no money was advanced at all.
Subhash Behera, and others like him, have very little edu­
cation and can write little more than their own names in
Oriya. The agreements presented by the contractor, how­
ever are written in English.
The workers spent their first three months in Delhi
doing nothing and, of course, receiving no The
pect of being sent to the Middle East seemed
bleak. With their money exhausted and on the bnnk of
starvation, Jaiprakash Associates finally offered them
work at the Hotel Siddharth Continental site for three
months. The labor contractor told them that the manage­
ment was kind enough to give them free food during their
"training." The question of wages did not even arise. Dur­
ing this time Subhash Behera worked twelve hours a day,
seven days a week for which he received no wages. The
affidavits of others, such as Brundaban Pradhan and Ma­
guni Pradhan, which we have reproduced here, tell essen­
tially the same desperate tale.
Eventually quite a few workers were sent abroad.
Others were told that their tum might come at any mo­
ment. * When a few of them demanded their wages, the
I Brundaban Pradhan, son of Gobinda Mohapatra,
age 34 years, resident of Mathasirasingh, P.S.
Kodla, Dist. Ganjam do hereby solemnly affirm and say as
1. I am a poor peasant having only 81 cents of land and was
managing the family by cultivating my land and the
others. Shri Charan Samant Roy and Raghunath MaJhl
promised work in Iraq where I would get Rs. I was
asked to pay Rs. 2000/- which I raised by part of
my land. I was told to sign in a typed paper which said that I
had borrowed Rs. 10.000/- for the expenses during my stay
in Delhi which is false to the knowledge of the contractor.
The Managing Director of J ai Prakash Associates Pvt.
was requested to pay Rs. 2501- per month the
sion to its agent Mr. Charan Samant Roy dunng my stay In
2. I was brought along with others to Delhi on 1st February
1981 and from 3rd February 1981 I was asked to work in
Siddhartha Intercontinental Hotel (India) Pvt. Ltd. under
construction in Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. I used to work
for 10 hours a day and not given any wages. I was asked to
sign in the wage registrar of the company and the wage was
only Rs. 7/-. I was given one kilo of rice and vegetables
every day. There were no medical facilities. I was
accommodation in a shed where forty workers used to live.
In the night shift I was working from 8 P.M. to 8 A.M.
3. I got for the first time Rs. 9.25 as the wage from 1st
December 1981 after intervention by Mr. Nageshwar Pat­
naik and others. But till today the working hours are 10
hours without any overtime payment. The overtime per
hour wage is only Rs. 1/- and the agents of the Company
take Rs. 1/- from the wages of the workers every day.
4. This affidavit has been prepared under my instructions.
The contents of the affidavit have been read over and
explained to me in Oriya and I have understood the same.
The statements of fact contained in the affidavit are true to
my personal knowledge.
Solemnly affirmed before me at New Delhi
on the this 18th January 1982.
• Sharat G. Lin has been informed that most of the workers promised
employment in Iraq were finally sent there. However, shortly after arrival
they discovered further violations of contract and 900 reportedly went on
strike. (Ed.)
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Agreemellf olSublwsh Behera.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
I, Shri Maguni Pradhan, son of late Uday Nath
Pradhan, aged 25 years, do hereby solemnly affirm and
state as follows:­
1. I come from village Pitanapali, P.S. Kodla, District
Ganjam, Orissa. I am a poor farmer having only 60 de­
cimels of land and have been maintaining the family by
working in my land and the lands belonging to other
persons. Mr. Charan Samantaroy and Raghu Nath Majhi
promised me work in Baghdad where Jaiprakash Asso­
ciates Private Limited has a project under construction. I
was told that I would get Rs. 1850/- a month salary. The
contractors asked me to pay Rs. 2000/- as his commissison
and the payment to Jaiprakash Company officials. I sold
part of my land to raise the money.
2. I was also told that in Delhi I would have to work in
Siddhartha Intercontinental Hotels Pvt. Ltd. under con­
struction in Vasant Vihar, New Delhi for Asian Games for
3 months. I was brought to Delhi by Mr. Samantaroy in
January 1981 along with others. The train fare was borne by
me. I was asked to work in this site and I never got my
wages. Mr. Raghunath Majhi used to give us 1Kg. rice and
vegetables for cooking per day. I used to sign in the re­
gistrar of the Company but the contractor Raghunath used
to take my wages. The medical expenses also were borne by
me. There were no drinking water facilities, no toilets or
3. I was told not to divulge these things to anyone and
threatened that the consequence would be very bad. I was
also told that in case of grumbling I would not be sent to
Iraq. I used to work from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. with one hour
lunch break. In the month of September last year along
with twenty-five workers I was asked to vacate the labour
camp because of some reasons known to the officials of the
Company. I was not given the work and after the interven­
tion of Mr. N ageshwar Patnaik and others I was given work
in January 1982.
4. This affidavit has been prepared under my instructions.
The contents of the affidavit have been read over and
explained to me in Oriya and I have understood the same.
The statements of fact contained in the affidavit are true to
my personal knowledge.
Solemnly affirmed before me at New Delhi on
this the 18th day of January 1982
management returned their passports. They were suddenly
told that they were medically unfit and were evicted from
the barracks. The whole episode was designed to be a
lesson to the rest to keep quiet. Despite the threats, other
workers, growing suspicious of the entire operation, de­
manded that they be sent abroad immediately or their
passports and commission money returned. The jamadar
remained evasive and the management claimed complete
ignorance of the commission. Finally after exhausting all
normal channels of communication, on 24 December 1981,
85 workers went on strike demanding minimum wages,
provision of basic amenities, and reimbursement of the
commission. Management continued to disavow any re­
sponsibility for the alleged malpractices of the jamadar.
Then on 2 January 1982, while labor-management negotia­
tions were in progress, hired toughs attacked workers who
were on dharna (protest demonstration). Five workers
were injured. Despite complaints to the police, no one has
yet been arrested since the police say they are still investi­
Aided by some favorable Supreme Court rulings, the
workers finally won most of the demands for which they
went out on strike. But the struggle is not over. Accidents
due to negligence on the part of construction contractors
are quite frequent at the ASIAD '82 sites. At the Hotel
Siddharth Continental site, as elsewhere, the highrise scaf­
folding is not provided with ladders. Even women wearing
saris (long cloth worn by women as a floor-length dress) are
asked to climb the scaffolding without additional protective
clothing while men directly overhead are sawing off
wooden beams. Hazards abound and serious accdents have
occurred at other sites. At the Asian Games Village comp­
lex, one laborer died while digging when the earth caved in.
No wooden bracing had been provided. Other workers at
the site have begun agitating for improved safety stan­
dards. At the Hotel Kautilya site one worker suffered
serious head injuries when a wall collapsed over him. The
fingers of another were crushed in a cement mixer. Work­
ers complained that they received no compensation for the
injuries and for the resulting workdays lost.
Finally at
some sites some compensation was won, but only after
organized protests.
But the workers cannot forget that they have been
repeatedly cheated and denied justice in the nation's capi­
tal. When they go on strike for their legitimate rights, they
risk being beaten up while the police sit on the sidelines.
What makes the situation even more outrageous is that the
people for whom these five-star hotels are being built will
likely spend for a single day's food and lodging what a
migrant construction worker will earn in three months­
and that only if he or she is paid the full minimum wage.
The hotel guest will live in air-conditioned comfort while
the men and women who built the hotel had shivered out in
the cold winter nights of Delhi. The hotel provides all the
amenities while its builders had none. And the 1982 Asian
Games are to be a grand showcase for India.*
5. Ibid.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
The Reform Movement among Intellectuals
in Taiwan since 1970
by Chen Guuying
Taiwan youth in the sixties were commonly referred to
as the "silent generation." As the island entered the
seventies, the turbulent international situation, the
transformation of the economic structure due to the growth
of Taiwan's export-oriented industry, and the emergence
of a new generation of highly educated youth brought
Taiwan into the "age of participation."
The reform campaign initiated by The Intellectual
(Daxue zamih) collective in 1970--72 was the first of two high
tides which characterized this "decade of participation."
Its development, which marked a turning point in modern
Taiwan history, had been sparked by the Diaoyutai
movement (over the fate of Diaoyutai or the Senkaku
islands), which later evolved into movements for political
liberalization and social service. The second peak occured
at the time of the 1977-79 election with the democratic
movement promoted by the Dangwai (non-KMT) politi­
Two major intellectual controversies erupted during
this decade and coincided with these two reform move­
ments: the "Voice of an Ordinary Citizen" debate in the
spring of 1972 and the polemic over "Native Soil Litera­
ture" (xiangtu wenxue) from September 1977 to March
1978. The former incident broke out after the Guomindang
(KMT) authorities launched an "encirclement campaign"
through an article "Voice of an Ordinary Citizen" against
some of The Intellectual writers who had promoted the
student movement and encouraged intellectual youth to
voice their views openly. The debate over Native Soil Lit­
erature arose after rising young authors published realistic
works of fiction and literary criticism that reflected the
transformation of Taiwan society. This popular body of
literature brought on a sharp assault from vested interests
in literary circles and KMT house writers. This second
confrontation between officialdom and the public opinion
extended far beyond the social role of literature to touch
upon various social problems associated with the economic
colonialization of Taiwan.
The advance of popular movements often manifests a
pattern of "two steps forward, one step back." A period of
retrogression followed the first reform movement. It was
initiated by the "Nationalism Incident" involving the firing
of dissident members of the Philosophy Department of
National Taiwan University in 1973 and persisted until the
appearance of the Taiwan Political Review (Taiwan
Zhenglun) in August 1975. The second low tide was brought
on by the banning of the TPR in late December of that same
year and lasted until the province-wide local elections in
November 1977 and the riots in Zhongli city over fraud on
election day, November 19,1977 (the "Zhongli Incident").
A series of grave political arrests took place during this
period, including the Yan Mingshan case in early 1976, the
Chen Mingzhong and Huang Hua cases in late 1976, and
the Dai Huaguang case in late 1977. These two years were
the most oppressive of the entire decade.
After the civil-rights riots and subsequent arrests in
Gaoxiong on December 10, 1979 (the "Gaoxiong
Incident"), the Taiwan democratic movement entered its
third period of retreat. At present, the democratic
movement has already shaken off its post-Gaoxiong
depression, and public opinion has shown a renewed and
growing vitality since the spring of 1981.
The immediate origins and concerns of the reform
movement date back to the mid-1960s, when Taiwan ex­
perienced rapid economic development, but manifested a
state of political stagnation. This state of affairs led to
urgent demands for political reform, which focused on the
following themes:
• The right of participation. This is a demand for par­
ticipation in the formation of public opinion and the right of
popular political participation and representation. In each
succeeding election in Taiwan, contention between the
ruling party and non-partisans has intensified, gradually
heating up the political climate on Taiwan.
• Liberalization of speech. Since the Diaoyutai move­
ment, students have persistently attacked the strict control
exercised over the spoken and written word by campus
authorities and have demanded the abolition of the prac­
tice of examining students' term papers. Moreover,
reformists have unceasingly protested the frequent ban­
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
ning of books and magazines by the island's security agen­
cies. They stress that free speech is the major channel for
the expression of public will and can help clean up politics
and prevent corruption.
• Opposition to the monopolizationoJpublic opinion.Po­
litically sensitive topics are frequently subject to news
blackouts. Moreover, the island's media has increasingly
come under the domination of various consortia in pace
with the development of the economy. Given the condi­
tions of press monopoly by pro-government trusts, the
blacking out and/or distortion of the activities and state­
ments of Dangwai politicians has been a particularly sensi­
tive issue.
• The lifting of martial law. Martial law in the Taiwan
area has already lasted for over thirty years, setting a new
world record. Under martial law, authorities can detain
any citizen whose actions or words are considered "suspi­
cious" and try him or her by military court. Since military
judges are subordinate officers, their verdicts cannot be
independent of the will of their superiors. Military trials are
generally carried out in secret and sentences are often
severe, frequently seven years in prison or more. The use of
martial law to proclaim various special statutes and decrees
has formed the "legal foundation" for indefinite restric­
tions on speech, on establishment of new newspapers and
on political parties.
• Human rights. Violations of human rights in Taiwan
have often been censured by international public opinion
and are closely linked with martial law. For the past thirty
years, arrests, torture, and prison have been an
unavoidable issue which all critics must face.
Besides the above infringements on civil rights caused
by the KMT's "one party domination," reformists have
also paid increasing attention to various social and
economic problems, including the mutual interdependence
of political and economic special privileges, disparities in
the distribution of social wealth, capital flight, economic
crimes, exploitation of farmers and workers, and ecological
and environmental pollution.
Essentially, the central concerns of reformist activity
in the seventies revolved around the question of democracy
in its broadest sense. This movement, promoted by
Taiwan's "new generation" of intellectual youth, is by
nature a movement for democracy, and not-as the KMT
authorities have frequently declared-a movement for
Taiwan independence. Among leading activists we can
indeed find various degrees of localism, but this hardly
demonstrates that the movement aims at the creation of an
independent Taiwan. Similarly, the presence in the ranks
of the movement's leadership of individuals who advocate
unification with mainland China does not by any means
prove that the democratic movement is tantamount to a
movement for reunification.
Participants in this movement are concerned first and
foremost with democracy in its various political, social and
economic manifestations. From the methods and thought
displayed by this movement, we could even say that it is a
type of resistance movement. From the seventies to the
present, the reform movement of Taiwan's new generation
has focused on civil (or democratic) rights (minquan), while
becoming progressively more concerned with the question
of "people's livelihood" (minsheng). Nationalist aspira-
For the past thirty years, arrests, torture, and prison
have been an unavoidable issue which ail critics must
tions have been a thread that has at times been visible or
The Appearance of the "Liberal Bloc"
in the Early 1970s
The KMT political system in Taiwan in the seventies
was in many ways still fundamentally a continuation of the
regime of the Nanjing era. "Political mobility was ex­
tremely low and the KMT's tightly integrated nature re­
inforced conservative tendencies,"1 a weakness exacer­
bated by the aging of its upper ranks. By 1971, the average
age of National Assemblymen was sixty-six, while that of
members of the Control Yuan exceeded seventy. At this
time, the postwar generation of educated youth had al­
ready taken jobs and entered society in large numbers.
Various tensions began to build up, and the question of the
succession to the aged leadership had already been raised
by the 1960s. As groups of youthful intellectuals formed in
the 1970s this issue of the generation gap came to be gener­
ally understood as a contradiction of the power structure.
The members of The Intellectual collective took on the
epochal role of criticizing the KMT political system. The
magazine took advantage of the generation gap issue to
expose unequivocally the contradictions of the political
power structure.
The appearance of The Intellectual collective, which
enjoyed its main influence during 1971-73, gave notice that
a new generation had arrived. It broke through the
"decade of silence" which had ensued following the arrest
of Lei Zhen in 1960 for attempting to form a new political
party and raised the curtain on a new "decade of
participation. "
Although economic development had brought unpre­
cedented prosperity to Taiwan, it had simultaneously given
rise to numerous unanticipated political problems.
Intellectual youth educated in the principles of democratic
politics began to demand more democracy and rational
reforms. Moreover, the KMT regime itself had only
perfunctorily carried its historical burden into the
seventies. The blows dealt to its international identity
began to present a challenge to the legitimacy of its rule. In
October 1971, Taibei's seat in the United Nations was lost
to the People's Republic and country after country
subsequently shifted diplomatic recognition from Taibei to
1. See Nan Fangshou, "The Last Bastion of Chinese Liberalism," origi­
nally published in China Tide and published as a book in 1979 (Four
Seasons Publishers).
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Domestically, the central government system in­
herited from the mainland period had been preserved
without change for over twenty years. Central parliamen­
tary representatives continued to enjoy effective lifelong
tenure, even though they had long since lost any ability to
reflect the new circumstances and opinions of Taiwan
society. As a result, the representativeness of these
institutions-the Legislative Yuan, the Control Yuan, and
the National Assembly-and the legitimacy of the
government which derived from them faced more and
graver doubts and even direct challenge.
The Diaoyutai movement in the spring of 1971 served
as the springboard for demands for reform by Taiwan
youth and marked the maturation of the new generation's
challenge to the senior generation of power-holders.
Diaoyutai, a string of tiny islets northeast of Taiwan, had
historically been Chinese territory and have frequently
sheltered Taiwan fishermen. Indications of possible
oil-bearing structures in that region apparently prompted
Japan to declare its intention to occupy them as part of the
reversion of Okinawa. At the end of 1970, the U.S. agreed
to transfer the Diaoyutai chain to Japan along with
Okinawa. This announcement sparked an uproar from
Chinese students at home, in Taiwan and abroad to
"Defend Our Land."
Although fully aware of Japan's intentions, the Taibei
government did not make any concrete protest, but rather
moved to restrict the patriotic movement of the island's
educated youth. As a result, the spearhead of the
Diaoyutai movement gradually turned away from resisting
foreign aggression to uprooting corrupt government at
As the direction of the Diaoyutai movement shifted,
students on various campuses on Taiwan initiated
movements for liberalization and social service. 2 In society
at large, The Intellectual, published by a loose collective of
young university and college instructors, students, and
rising young businessmen, became the platform for these
political reform movements.
Taiwan's first major political reform movement had
been crushed with the arrest of Lei Zhen in 1960 for
preparing the founding of a "China Democratic Party."
The Free China Fortnightly (Ziyou Zhongguo) which he
founded (and which enjoyed its greatest influence from
1955-60) was shut down due to his imprisonment for ten
years. After the Lei Zhen case, a decade of deep political
depression set in, during which only the non-political
Apollo (Wenxing) monthly was able to sound some veiled
cultural criticism durings its peak period of 1962-65. Youth
in the sixties considered themselves to be the "lost
generation" and were called the "silent generation" by
many commentators. A type of existentialist thought,
which arose from a sense of the tragic fate of humanity and
2. Taiwan's Diaoyutai movement reached its peak in April, 1971. Begin­
ning in the following October, NTU professors Chen Guuying, Hong
Sanxiong, Chen Lingyu, and Qian Lingxiang initiated a liberalization
movement which criticized censorship and called for freedom of ex­
pression without fear. Subsequently, Wang Shaopo, Wang Fouying and
Wang Fusu started a social responsibility movement, calling on young
students to leave the ivory tower and draw close to the people.
individual feelings of alienation, became fashionable
during this time.
In early 1971, The Intellectual, under the editorship of
Professor Yang Guoshu of National Taiwan University
(NTU), leapt into the arena of public opinion. It shattered
the depressed state of political commentary which had
persisted in the sixties and expressed the views of the first
generation to be educated in postwar Taiwan. The
Intellectual called for a restructuring and revitalization of
the national power structure and specifically demanded
complete re-election of the central parliamentary organs.
In October of that year, fifteen intellectuals associated
with The Intellectual, including Zhang Junhong, Xu
Xinliang, Yang Guoshu, and this author, issued a joint
"Declaration on National Affairs" which called for:
(1) revitalization of the administration; (2) adoption of an
economic policy to benefit the people (e.g., reduction of
national defense expenditure which usually takes up over
forty percent of the government bUdget); (3) establish­
ment of political life based on the rule of law (including
judicial independence and revitalization of the Legislative
Yuan); (4) the establishment of a pluralistic and open
society (e.g., reform of educational system, restraint of
security agencies, and the realization of academic
The "Declaration" noted:
For more than twenty years, we have maintained an elite
privileged group which is bloated, aging, and broadly
speaking, isolatedfrom the masses ofpeople, all in the name
of respect for the public will . ... People under forty-three
years of age, who account for two-thirds of the population,
have never had the opportunity to elect their own
representatives at the central level. Evenfor those about this
age (who voted in the 1947 election on the mainland), it
cannot be argued tht the issue of their representation was
settled once andfor all time by this one ballot.
Although this statement basically followed the traditional
pattern of intellectuals petitioning for top-down reforms, it
did in fact touch on the sensitive questions of the legitimacy
and representativeness of KMT rule.
After it was published, unprecedented discussion
meetings on the issue of free speech were held at NTU,
marking a high tide in the "liberalization movement."3
Participants decried with intensity the fear and apathy that
permeated the campus because of the political pressure it
was under and demanded the liberalization of speech and
publication. In early December, a young audience packed
the NTU gym to overflowing to listen to a debate on
whether the central parliamentary representatives should
be re-elected.
The Intellectual reached into the university campuses to
report on and give support to the fledgling student
movement. The two national humiliations of Diaoyutai
and Taibei's expulsion from the UN prompted renewed
activity from reformers. From the publication of the
"Declaration" in October to the issuance of the related
"Nine Statements on National Affairs" in January 1972,
3. See Nan Fangshuo, op. cit.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
the level and force of The Intellectual's rhetoric ascended
j steadily. During this period, the call to "Operate First in
the Schools" had spread from NTU in Taibei to other
campuses around the island, along with simultaneous
efforts to "march into society. " The founding of the "NTU
Society for Social Service" displayed the determination of
young students to learn about all strata of society and "act
as spokesmen for the poverty-stricken masses. "
At the same time, the advocacy by this author of the
freeing of the student movement incurred the suspicion of
the KMT authorities. This helped set the stage for the
subsequent "invitation" by the security agencies for several
activists to "come in for a talk. "4
In the January 1972 issue of The Intellectual, this author
published an article entitled "Let the Student Movement'
Freely Develop" which urged the holding of democratic
forums on the campuses to allow students to express their
opinions freely. Previously, this author had proposed that
"democracy walls" be set up. Although this latter
suggestion was finally realized in this author's own
1 campaign for National Assembly in late 1978-coinciden­
I tally just at the time when the "Democracy Wall" in
Beijing appeared-the proposals for "democratic forums"
and "democracy walls" only aroused an unbridled assault
from the KMT authorities in April 1971. This attack was
delivered through the medium of the KMT party organ, the
I Central Daily News, which published an article entitled
"Voice of an Ordinary Citizen."
The unknown author of this essay rebuffed this
author's views on the student movement in an attempt to
restrain the rise of reformist influence. Its author
propagated a drifting, passive psychology that would be
content with the status quo, and accused proponents of
reform of adding to the nation's crisis. The KMT "printed
600,000 copies of this article and distributed it widely
among the military, schools, public offices and state
enterprises, even forcing middle-school students to write
reports on it. "5 The affirmation of authority contained in
"Voice" and the false sense of security which permeated its
tone sparked off a sharp response in Taiwan and abroad.
Over 100 critical articles followed during the course of this
controversy, as intellectuals and commentators delivered a
forceful counterthrust to the "Voice" of officialdom and
appealed to the public to support reform and oppose
passive conservatism.
Some time after the controversy over "Voice" died
down, a "Seminar on Nationalism" was held on the NTU
campus in December 1972.
At the seminar, Wang Xiaobo
and this author adopted the standpoint of Chinese
nationalism and refuted separatism and great-power
expansionism. They thus came under "suspicion of
assisting the Communist bandit's united front conspiracy. "
The security agencies took advantage of the winter
vacation in February 1973 to detain this author, Wang
4. Ibid.
5. Chen Guuying, Introduction to Speech forum (Taibei, Yuanjing
n. "Nationalism and China's Future," notes from a seminar published in
Liollhe (New York) and reprinted in The SHellties (Hong Kong). De­
cember, 1973.
Xiaobo and two other students and use this incident to
supress the entire reform movement. Although the four
were promptly released, the intent of the authorities was
clear. The following month, Zhang Junhong was dismissed
from his post in the KMT Party Secretariat, apparently for
his active participation in The Intellectual. The reform
movement thus hit a temporary ebb. 7
Essentially, the central concerns of reformist activity
in the seventies revolved around the question of de­
mocracy in its broadest sense.
The period from January 1971 to March 1973 is
commonly termed the "blooming" period in Taiwan.
Afterwards, the authorities exploited their success by
fabricating the "NTU Philsophy Department Incident."9
Fourteen professors in that department, including this
author, were successively fired due to political pressure in
that affair, which was itself a prelude to the imposition of
complete control over all campus activities. In the
subsequent decade, the NTU campus has not again
witnessed any discussion meeting in which critical opinions
have been aired. The channels of critical public opinion,
however, have since gradually moved from the campuses
into society as a whole.
The Nationalism Incident marked a key stage in
Taiwan's political evolution. It led to the dissolution of The
Inteffectual collective and also speeded the termination of
the Diaoyutai movement. Although the Taibei authorities
were able to repress dissident opinion for a time," the tide
of nationalist self-awareness actually spread even faster
and ultimately grew into one of the major influences on
Taiwan's youth in the past 30 years. "10 The forums of China
Tide and China Monthly (Zhonghua zazhih) in the late
seventies infused new meaning into its message. Moreover,
the Native Soil Literature debate manifested the vigor of
this wave of thought with even greater force. Another
trend among Taiwan intellectuals-reformist activity in
the sphere of the democratic movement-proceeded to
acquire even greater strength and momentum during the
election movement during 1977-79.
7. For details on the university reform movement. see Huang Mab.
flue//ee/lio! Ferlllent,!in' Po/iti('(J/ Re/imll.\ ill [0i\\ (III , 1'17 /·Il (in English).
I), In August. 1970. the KMT Central Committee had convened a seminar
on "The Role of Youth" chaired by Party Secretary Zhang Binshu and
attended by responsible persons from each group. All participants ex­
pressed themselves with great fervor. and the event sent tremors through
the entire KMT Central Committee, Chen Guuying was the first to speak
and asked whether the event marked the beginning of free speech.
9. See Yu Tianyi. The lrlie StorY tI/the NTU Philosophy Dep(/rtlllel1f fncident
(Taibei. Huahaier Publishers).
10. Wang Shaopo, "Post Diaoyutai Waves-the NTU Debate on Nation­
alism" in Qiu Weizhlln et al.. eds .. T(/;\\,(/n Student MOI'elllell/- /949-/979.
vol. I (Taibei. Longtian Publishers).
35 © BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
- .-"........--. :

-''''C!: -,
eO\'er of China Tide lI'hich was parl1cu/arir IIljluellfw/
T,llll (//1',1 {lllel/ecruu/,1 courtesy of Chen Guuymg.
The Development of Key Intellectual
Groups in the Mid-Seventies
At its peak, The Intellectual collective numbered over
100 associate members. Under intensifying political
pressure from outside, this heterogeneous "great unity" of
a "liberal bloc"ll gradually split because of the diverse
backgrounds and political positions of its components and
the magazine was eventually "reorganized." Its erstwhile
associates later reformed into several tendencies.
The Neo-Conservatives
These "heirs to power" were talented sons and
daughters of high government or party officials who were
subsequently absorbed into high positions under the slogan
of "promoting young talents." The most noted examples of
this trend include Guan Zhong (now secretary of the KMT
Taibei Municipal Branch), Wei Yong (Director-General of
the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission
of the Executive Yuan), Li Zhonggui, and Qui Hongda.
They slowly shifted from being mild critics to defenders of
11. Nan Fangshou, op. cit.
the status quo. Compared with the older generation of
power-holders, they hold more modem views and are more
liberal and open in their work style. They affirm the
existing political and economic system and, citing
differences in social system and life style, advocate the
maintenance of the status quo between mainland China
and Taiwan.
Academic Liberals
Some members of The Intellectual collective had
returned from overseas study to take up teaching positions
in various Taiwan universities. They included Yang
Guoshu, Jin Shenbao, Wang Wenxing, and others. For
reasons of individual or family background, they were not
coopted into the power structure, but generally remained
on campus. After the NTU Philosophy Department
incident, the intensification of political pressure on Taiwan
campuses forced them to moderate their critical role. They
then participated in The China Tribune biweekly put out by
the United Daily News (Lian He Baa) consortium, one of
Taiwan's two biggest semi-official newspapers. Editorials
and feature articles in this periodical generally display a
conservative-liberal orientation.
Yang Guoshu had acted as a general strategist of the
political reform movement due to his role as editor-in-chief
of The Intellectual. He and NTU Professors Hu Fu, Li
Yiyuan, Li Hongxi, and others are representative figures of
this liberal trend. Although their rhetoric is mild and
somewhat isolated from the masses compared with the
Dangwai. their statements and writings can exercise a
calming and balancing effect in tense periods.
After the Gaoxiong Incident in December 1979,
National Chengchi University Professor Huang Yueqin has
also often taken on this kind of role. He, Hu Fu and Li
Hongxi advocate a suitable degree of political relaxation
and do not approve of the long-term continuation of
martial law. The liberal group is basically anti-communist
and also opposed to Taiwan independence. As a whole,
this trend acts as a remonstrator for the KMT. During the
post-Gaoxiong crackdown, Hu Fu and others were thus
bitterly attacked by the KMTs extreme right wing. Their
position on the future of Taiwan can be described as being
"for unification in principle, but not at present." Among
them are people who have proposed the use of "The
Taiwan model" to reunify China.
Local Politicians
After The Intellectual was forced to reorganize, some of
its members began to participate in practical politics.
Zhang Junhong and Xu Xinliang joined with local political
figures, including Legislators Huang Xinjie and Kang
Ningxiang, to found the Taiwan Political Review in August
1975. Zhang became the editor-in-chief, while Huang
acted as publisher and Kang as president.
During the two and a half years from the "Nationalism
Incident" to the TPR's birth, political commentary on
Taiwan had been in a state of lonely silence. In 1974-75,
the first oil crisis delivered a heavy blow to the island's
economy. The death of President Jiang Jieshi, the
Vietnamese victory and the establishment of diplomatic
ties with Beijing by the Philippines and Thailand in the
36 © BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Twbds "Democracy Wall" erected
oUlSlde Chen Guuying's campaign head­
quarters in the WInter of 1978
Democratic leaders at a meeting at the
height ofthe public opposition mo\'ement
III the summer of 1979. Left to right,
front rOl\',' Yang Qmgchu, L/U Fengsong,
unJ..nown, Huang Xingjie, Chen GuU) mg,
ZhangChunnan. He Wen;:hen, ZhanK
JUllhong. Xi Xinliang. All except the
author and XI Xmllallg, who are III the
United States, are now in prison
January 22, 1979 demonstration
protesting the arrest of Yi Dengfa on the
preceding day. This was the first public
opposition demonstration in Taiwan
during thirty years of martial law . Most
of the leaders were arrested after the
Gaoxiong Incident ofDecember, 1979.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
spring of 1975 successively forced us to confront a new and
trying situation. However, this state of affairs also provided
a fine opening for critics to express their views.
The TPR founding statement expressed its hope to
follow in the path of the Free China Fortnightly and The
Intellectual "in criticizing the bureaucratic system and
giving free play to the function of sweeping away irrational
phenomena fostered by the closed environment. " The TPR
collective's members were predominantly native Taiwan­
ese. They strongly attacked the "unequal opportunity for
political advancement" and called on the KMT authorities
to take the "realistic" path of restructuring the National
Assembly and holding genuinely fair elections.
stressed the importance of elections in the democratic
political process. During local elections, they presented
themselves as spokesmen for the common people;
however, in more normal times, their writings clearly
reflected the interests of the middle intelligentsia or the
small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs. Members of this
trend also displayed a rather strong localist color.
The TPR Publishers' Statement said that the journal
would "tolerate the ideas of all parties or groups" and thus
individuals with more progressive views-such as Chen
Yuxi, Wang Tuo, Su Qingli and this author-became regu­
lar contributors. 13 In TPR's first issue, two articles by Wang
Tuo-a critique of Song Jiang in the classical Chinese
novel Water Margin and "Impressions of Batouzi"­
received special attention from readers. The former article
was censured by party hack writers as "singing the same
tune as the communists," but Wang's critique of Song Jiang
actually had no connection whatsoever with the campaign
to criticize Water Margin which was then taking place on the
mainland. 14 Any allegory in this article would have been
directed at Taiwan's own political stage.
Wang wrote:
The longer a bureaucratic system operates, the more it
stiffens and loses the ability to vigorously assimilate new and
advanced things. The ruling organs thus become
progressively ossified. When the capability of the ruled
greatly surpasses that of their rulers, then a situation of
"driving a runaway wagon with rotten reins" arises.
At the same time, Wang analyzed the tendency to
compromise with the rulers through the background of the
chiefs of "the opposition party. "
The heroes of Liang Shan Bo wanted to arrange an
honorable surrender with the government . ... The main
reason for this was that the line was set by Song Jiang and
other heroes of Liang Shan Bo who had not come from the
lower strata ofsociety.
12. See Kang Ningxiang, "How We Should Promote Progress and Har­
mony in Taiwan" and Zhang linghong, "What Should We Do in the Midst
of Change?" in the first issue of Taiwan Political Review.
13. All writers except Wang Tuo used pen names. Chen Guuying wrote
the first draft of Tai"'(Jn Political Rn';ew's founding statement, which was
revised before publication.
14. Wang Tuo's "On Water Margin" was published at the same time as the
"Criticize Water Margin" campaign on the Mainland, but he had com­
pleted the manuscript over a year earlier and unsuccessfully submitted it
to Yow'hi magazine. Later he gave it to Chen Guuying, who passed it on to
Zhang Yihong for publication In Taiwan Political Rel'iew
This passage alluded to some of the Dangwai leaders who
also possessed an "opportunism which their background
and education from childhood has impregnated in them,"
by referring to the attraction of following in Gao Yushu's
footsteps. IS
Because the fifth issue of the TPR coincided with the
November 1975 supplemental central parliamentary
election, the tone of its content was especially sharp. Of the
five articles considered to have gone beyond the pale, the
most heretical was penned by Professor Qiu Chuiliang
from Australia entitled "Two Kinds of Impressions." Qiu
cited the comments of one Professor Liu; "Mainland China
will never again experience abnormal social states such as
the great famines in the past when millions of people
starved. . . . There is no point in denying this." Liu
maintained that "the survival of the KMT regime for over a
half century was due to the cruel dictatorship of an authori­
tarian privileged class." After dismissing the campaign of
KMT liberals to "Revitalize and Protect Taiwan" as
"purely an obscurantist policy of the KMT" and declaring
that Taiwan independence could "only perpetuate the
aggression of U.S. imperialism in Asia and Taiwan," this
Professor Liu declared that "the people of Taiwan had only
two possible roads if they wanted to become 'masters of
their own house' - to overthrow the KMT dictatorship by a
popular, armed uprising or to unite to struggle for early
reunification with the motherland."
For TPR to publish these statements in Taiwan in 1975
was truly akin to running a red light. The authorities viewed
the last section as "incitement to sedition" and therefore
ordered the magazine to cease publication. TPR thus died
only five months after its birth. Although it had achieved
instant success, its lifespan was too brief to allow it to
broaden and deepen its influence.
A year and a half after the TPR was closed down,
Zhang Junhong took over editorship of New Generation
from July 1977 to December 1978. This monthly focused on
issues related to the 1977 and 1978 elections and on pro­
moting Western-style democracy.16 After Zhang was
elected to the Taiwan Provincial Assembly in November
1977, he had little time to devote to editorial affairs, and
the magazine began to stray from its schedule. As a result,
its content and influence fell far short of its Dangwai rival
China Tide (Xia Chao), which appeared from July 1976 to
January 1979.
The local politicians scored some important victories
in the 1975 and 1977 elections. After the Zhongli political
riots, the popular fervor to participate in politics rose to an
unprecedented height. This tendency proceeded to expand
its influence through mass activities and ultimately became
the mainstream of the Dangwai democratic movement.
Social Democrats
Several contributors to The Intellectual, such as Wang
15. This description of Wang Tuo's views was written by Christian Science
Monitor reporter Bill Ambruster on the basis of an interview after the
appearance of "Criticize the Leadership Line of Song liang." The in­
terview took place at the home of Chen Guuying in Jingmei.
16. Katherine Lee, "Taiwan's Dissidents" in Index on Censorship, De­
cember, 1980, published in London.
38 © BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Tuo, Wang Xiaobo, Wang Xingqing, Gao Jun, and this
author, later participated in China Tide monthly, which was
taken over by Ms. Su Qingli in the summer of 1976.
Along with another group of writers, notably
Yingzhen and Wang Jinping, they held a common behef 10
the need for social reform, a conclusion which they had
come to under the turbulent conditions of Taiwan in the
late 1960s and early 1970s.
Taiwan was still an agrarian society in 1960 when the
KMT government accepted the "Nineteen-Point Program
of Economic and Financial Reform" drafted by the U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID) and
promulgated the "Statutes for the Encouragement of In­
vestment" which were derived from the Nineteen Points.
The commercialization and industrialization of Taiwan
based on foreign trade accelerated from this time. By the
end of the sixties, the economy had attained high rates of
growth and living standards rose substantially.
there was another side to export-led development-It
brought about the depletion of population in rural areas
and an increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a
few consortiums. Taiwan's economic growth was built on
the complementary policies of low grain prices and low
wages. Taiwan farmers, pressured by recurrent inflation
and the grossly unequal exchange of fertilizer low
priced agricultural produce, were the first to be sacrificed
for the island's industrial and commercial development.
Growth rates in agriculture dropped from 5.1 percent
per year between J953-58 to only 1 percent annually during
the period 1973-75, and the yields and profits earned by
farmers plunged accordingly. Paper-thin earnings from
agriculture were a prime factor in generating the large scale
migration of young laborers from the countryside to the
cities. 18
Between 1965 and 1980, over one-million rural youth
left their homes and flowed into urban districts, crowding
into factories. The cities swelled with countless numbers of
people with low wages and unstable livelihoods. The fate of
this "silent majority" found little reflection in the monop­
olized media.
Throughout the seventies, foreign capital poured into
Taiwan and began to exercise a powerful influence eco­
nomically, politically and culturally. The share of profits
granted by multinational corporations to their local
"related entrepreneurs" and subcontraters created a new
17. China Tide was founded in February, 1976, with Dr. Zhen Hanmin as
editor. He published three numbers in a readers' contributions format. In
July, NTU philosophy graduate Su QingJi took over the editorship and
changed the format completely to the one which lasted until it ceased
publication. Most references to China Tide begin with the fourth issue.
18. In Countryside and Society, NTU School of Agriculture Professor Cai
Hongdao puts the rate of outmigration of agricultural labor at over three
percent, exceeding 15,000 people in 1970. Lee Dongming assesses it at five
percent, reaching eight percent in 1973, with over 30,000 leaving the
countryside. (See his Research on Taiwan Village Population Outflow and its
Background.) Yue Yongzhai notes that in 1977 over 170,000 people en­
tered Taibei and Gaoxiong cities in his Taiwan' s Local Government and the
Outlook for Local Reconstruction. It is clear that the migration from
Taiwan's villages to its towns is very large. The 1975 Agricultural Survey
found that ninety-five percent of rural people working away from home
were between the ages of fifteen and forty-five. (See Mao Yugang, Thirty
Years ofAgricultural Economy in Taiwan.) The departure of large numbers
of young people has raised the average age of the rural population.
Over the seventies, intellectuals in Taiwan moved
from sedentary discussion and contemplation ofsoclaI
and political issues to active participation in poHtics;
from a division between abstract thought and poHtical
action to their integration; from contributing to maga­
zines to social activism.
stratum of people enjoying special economic privileges
alongside the existing political elite. The evident mutual
support between the politically and economically privi­
leged had the effect of intensifying the maldistribution of
social wealth and power domestically, and also encouraged
foreign powers to perpetuate the division of Taiwan and
the mainland.
Confronted with this fundamental transformation of
the island's social and economic structure, a group of young
intellectuals swept up in the Diaoyutai movement began to
explore these problems in a deeper and more theoretical
way instead of simply reacting to issues superficially on the
basis of patriotic emotions. They reviewed the bitter
experience of the past century of tragedy suffered by all of
China. They vowed to break through the limits of an island
consciousness and "open our eyes to the world" by
dissecting the economic and political activities of the great
powers and by manifesting their deep concern for
conditions in China and the Third World. As a result, they
adopted a perspective markedly different from previous
reformist tendencies in the examination of their own
history and contemporary affairs. China Tide became the
pivot for these young intellectuals as they expanded their
literary and cultural activities.
TPR and China Tide emerged as the two principal ten­
dencies among reform-minded intellectuals in the seven­
ties. The fonner had focused on electoral activity, while the
latter exercised predominant intellectual influence. During
the autumn of 1978, the two tendencies formed an effective
"united front" and pressed forward the island's democratic
movement together.
Because China Tide had a longer lifespan, printing
thirty-one issues in all between July 1976 and January 1979,
its impact on youthful intellectual circles was correspond­
ingly greater. Its critique of the political and economic
status quo and its heart-felt concern for the livelihood of
the common people of Taiwan had a profound impact on
educated youth in Taiwan. Its own history and significance
thus merits separate and more detailed discussion.
China Tide and the Heightening
of Social Consciousness in Taiwan
Taiwan's political barometer dived to its lowest level
of the decade in 1976. After the TPR was suppressed, all
dissidents and critices were uneasy. In February 1976, Bai
Yacan was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of
"incitement. " He had distributed a leaflet for his campaign
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
in the 1975 elections which raised twenty-nine sensitive
questions, one of which demanded then-Premier Jiang
Jingguo to reveal the value of his property and wealth. In
May, well-known non-KMT politicians Yan Mingshan and
Yang Jinhai were arrested and later sentenced to ten and
twelve years, respectively, for "intent to overthrow the
government by illegal means." Their apparent "crime" in
fact was planning together with Guo Yuxin (another
well-known Dangwai elder) to hold a "Conference on
National Affairs." In July, TPR deputy editor Huang Hua
was arrested and subsequently handed a ten-year sentence
for "sedition." He had already served eight years on the
same charge even before joining TPR after his release due
to the reduction of sentences promulgated after President
Jiang Jieshi died in 1975.
The gravest incident in this string of arrests was the
Chen Mingzhong case in the summer of 1976. On July 1,
Huang Li-na, the young daughter of Dangwai Legislator
Huang Shunxing was arrested. Two days later, Chen
Mingzhong, a pharmaceutical engineer who was a friend of
the Huang family, was detained and a total of almost thirty
people was ultimately caught up in this net. Chen was put
away for fifteen years on charges of "reading mainland
Chinese books," "seditious intent," and "secretly conspir­
ing to stage an armed uprising. "
In the middle of this most eventful year, the first issue
of the revamped China Tide under the editorship of Ms. Su
Qingli appeared on the eve of Chen Mingzhong's arrest.
Despite the inauspicious timing of its birth, China Tide
represented the concrete realization of the unity of the
older, middle and younger generations of Taiwan social
reformers. Among its contributors were senior mainland
Chinese writers and politicians like Legislator Hu Qiuyuan
and Yan Lingfeng, elder Taiwanese activists like Huang
Shiqiao (a key member of the Taiwan People's Party in the
1930s), Yang Gui (a novelist and social activist under
Japanese occupation), and longtime Dangwai leader
Huang Shunxing. Younger associates included Chen
Yingzhen, Wang Tuo, Li Qingrong, Yu Tianzong, Tang
Wenbiao, WangXiaobo, WangXingqing (Nan Fangshuo) ,
Wang Jinping, Jiang Xun, and this author. The magazine'S
director was Doctor Zeng Hanmin.
Its editor-in-chief, Ms. Su Qingli, was a graduate of
the NTU Philosophy Department and an outstanding
woman of the younger generation. Many of her father's
friends had been key participants in the anti-colonial move­
ment during the Japanese occupation in the 1920s and
1930s. She thus grew up amidst recollections of this effort
"to resist oppression and strive for freedom." She had
gained a profound concern for the future of the Third
World and China and devoted a great deal of attention to
human rights and the hardships of lower-income people in
Taiwan. She had contributed to TPR and had initiated the
"Look at the World" column in that publication.
In Su Qingli's background was the bitter personal
experience of separation from her own flesh and blood
because of the Chinese civil war. Her father, Su Xin, had
been a leader of the anti-Japanese movement on Taiwan
and a member of the Taiwan Communist Party's central
committee. He spent twelve years in prison after his arrest
by the Japanese colonial authorities in 1931. In 1947, he
February 28th Incident and fled first to Shanghai with his
wife and daughter, then to Hong Kong and finally back to
the mainland in 1949, where he passed away at the end of
1981 in Beijing. After she and her mother returned to
Taiwan in 1948, Su Qingli was separated from her father
forever. In January 1982, The Eighties (a leading Dangwai
monthly published by Legislator Kang Ningxiang)
recounted the fate of the Su family: "The experience of the
Su family is an epitome of the great tragedy of Chinese
politics. Who knows when the curtain will finally come
down on this tragedy?"
In its thirteenth issue, China Tide explained its name:
"The name China Tide refers to huaxia-an ancient name
for China-and chaoliu for tide. This tide has been created
by the pioneering efforts of our land and people over the
past five-thousand years." (Number 13) Re-examination of
past trends of thought and culture in China and Taiwan
became the first major feature of China Tide, and the voices
of dissidents in classical Chinese history and literature were
once again to be heard. For example, the article "Voices of
the People in the Book ofSongs" described the cries of the
destitute common people in the late Zhou dynasty for an
end to the incessant civil wars among corrupt aristocratic
cliques. 19
China Tide's primary focus was on the tragic history of
modern China. Literary works of the thirties have been
strictly prohibited in Taiwan since the KMT retreated to
the island in 1949, effectively cutting the democratic move­
ment following in the tradition of the May Fourth Move­
ment in half. China Tide therefore devoted a great deal of
effort to resurrecting the history of the Nationalist
Revolution of 1925-28 and the struggle against despotism
during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. The magazine
discovered that "the popular movement of Taiwan
compatriots against Japan was closely linked with the
Nationalist Revolution in the motherland." (No. 16) China
Tide introduced the writings and lives of Sun Yatsen, Liao
Zhongkai, Zhu Zhihxin, and other progressive figures of
the Nationalist Revolution and took special note of the
hopes of Dr. Sun Yatsen for peaceful reunification"20 and
the "avoidance of division. "21
The banner of the "Three People's Principles"­
Nationalism, Democracy and People's Livelihood-had
long been buried in the dust on Taiwan and had lost much
of its true color. The ruling clique had always used the
Three Principles as a fig leaf, but now this group of young
intellectuals began to restore the original force of the San
Min and use them as the theoretical foundation for their
demands for reform. One China Tide contributor declared:
"The Three People's Principles can be summed up as the
principle of fighting against injustice." (No. 10)
China Tide's contributors employed the San Min as a
theoretical weapon against neo-colonialism and capitalism.
Previously, criticism of imperialism or capitalism were
almost completely taboo on Taiwan, but soon after China
19. Published in China Tide, No. 11. Chen Guuying published many
discussions of ancient progressive intellectuals under the pen name
20. Sun Yatsen in The Causes a/China's Civil War.
was listed as wanted by the KMT security agencies after the
21. Sun Yatsen, China's Present and Future, reprinted in China Tide, no. 7.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Tide shattered this unwritten law, strong censure of
imperialism blossomed.
One of the magazine's most notable accomplishments
was its resurrection of the history of Taiwan intellectuals
during the Japanese colonial period. ChiTIIJ Tide exposed
the crimes of the Japanese colonialists with feature articles
on the Wushe Incident and other affairs. Two long series by
Huang Shiqiao on the Taiwan peasant and workers move­
ments narrated how Taiwan intellectuals in the 1920s and
1930s united with the common people to form anti­
Japanese organizations and described their activities.
ChiTIIJ Tide also introduced the lives of Jiang Weishui, Laix
He, Zhang Shenqie, Wu Xinrong, Zhong Lihe, Wu
Duoliu, Yang Kui, and other leading political activists and
writers of the older generation.
An article written by Chen Yingzhen (under the pen
name of Ai Deng) is worthy of special mention.
thoughtful essay, "An Orphaned History and the History
of an Orphan," described the painful predicament
confronted by Taiwan intellectuals on the question of
national identification.
Some intellectuals from the colony of Taiwan were under
surveillance by the preying eyes of the Japanese, but they
were uTIIJble to gain the complete trust of the oppressed
compatriots on Taiwan. Moreover, when they encountered
mainland Chinese compatriots, they were often received only
with insults and mistrustful glares. Their own compatriots
feared that they were hired thugs or lackeys ofthe Japanese
imperialists. . . Wu Zhuoliu's novel Orphan of Asia is the
most vivid and moving literary expression ofthis type ofsoul
cruelly wounded by Japanese imperialism. This experience
... may not possess universality over all of China, but it
nonetheless manifests an issue of vital importance that
cannot be overlooked or treated with indifference.
Chen also noted:
In the midst of this kind of historical period (The War of
Resistance Against Japan), the most prominent theme of
Chinese literature was none other than that of resistance to
imperialism. . .. Without a moment's hesitation, the
previous generation of Taiwan authors boldly . .. turned
their pens and writing brushes into swords to engage in
face-tolace struggle with the Japanese oppressors. The last
generation of Taiwanese writers thus flowed together with
the glorious and brave tradition of modern Chinese
lite rature .
This viewpoint became the underlying theoretical
foundation of the Native Soil literature movement (see
Of the many earlier political activists introduced by
China Tide, the most prominent was Jiang Weishui
(1891-1931). Originally a doctor, Jiang gradually laid aside
his practice (as had Sun Yatsen) to engage in political and
social movements. Indeed, Sun Yatsen exercised a deep
influence on Jiang, especially after the victory of the 1911
Revolution. (No. 16) In 1927, Jiang and other activists
founded the Taiwan People's Party which initiated an
22. See China Tide. no. 10. Chen Yingzhen used the pen name "Ai
around-the-island lecture tour to enlighten the people and
promote the movement to resist Japan.
Leading Dangwai theoretician and now Legislator
Huang Huangxiong had written recently: "The modern
Taiwan nationalist movement under the Japanese
occupation maintained and even deepened the ties and
identification of the Taiwan compatriots with the Chinese
nation." (The Asian, No.6) With this accomplishment in
mind, Huang, writing in ChiTIIJ Tide, praised Jiang Weishui
as a "great anti-Japanese hero of the Chinese nation." (No.
China Tide's efforts to resurrect this history produced
new insights into the present. As Su Qingli noted in an
interview with Song Guocheng and Huang Zongwen in
By reviewing this history of oppression and resistance, we
can attain a proper understanding of the tragic fate of
modern China and the nature of imperialism. Moreover, we
can even more fully perceive that Taiwan's fate, under
capitalist imperialism since the 19th Century, is precisely the
same as that ofall other' 'backward" people ofAsia, Africa
and Central and South America.
Based on a rich understanding ofTaiwan's history, we
can avoid losing our bearing when we probe into Taiwan's
future. Taiwan's fate is indivisible from the fate ofChiTIIJ as a
whole; Taiwan must stand on the side ofthe weak TllJtions of
the world.
The desire to trace the history of anti-imperialism in
Taiwan was aroused by the conditions of the present; "The
question of Taiwan has been hanging in the air for over
thirty years because of the intensification of the contradic­
tions among imperialism. " This reality furnished one prac­
tical motive for ChiTIIJ Tide's opposition to imperialism. The
neo-colonialization of the Taiwan economy and the nega­
tive side effects of capitalist development provided ample
caue for educated youth to be ill-disposed toward imperial­
ism. Moreover, the impact of the anti-Vietnam war move­
ment in the V.S. further stimulated reflection by Taiwan
intellectuals. As Su Qingli noted, "the critique of V.S.
imperialism in the V.S. grew into a tide of thought which
eventually influenced Taiwan."
Given this background, a reappraisal of the V.S. and
the predicament of the Third World developed into the
second main theme of ChiTIIJ Tide. Through its "Window on
the World" column originated by Su Qingli, ChiTIIJ Tide
examined various aspects of the status quo in the V .S.,
including: the politics of money and V.S.-style democracy;
numerous V.S. social problems; and the nature of the
international political, economic and military activities of
the V.S.
Articles published in ChiTIIJ Tide sketched a composite
image of the Vnited States previously unknown in Taiwan.
As V.S. international expansionism demonstrated, the
American people had created a power that was often
misused by their goverment. V.S. expansionism was mani­
fested in the activities of its multinational corporations, its
massive exports of arms around the world, and its support
for despotic regimes in South Korea, Chile and elsewhere.
These actions mocked the V.S.'s own much-advertised
concept of democracy and violated the spirit under which
the country was established.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
"Window on the World" also featured articles on Mid­
dle East oil, U.S. commercial activities in Latin America,
export of pollution by multinationals, and other related
topics. These essays explored the connections between the
plight of the Third World and the U.S. economy. For
Taiwan, critical reflection on the unequal relationships be­
tween the world powers and weaker nations was both new
and refreshing.
Not surprisingly, China Tide employed the same pers­
pective to examine Taiwan's own economic and political
conditions. Taiwan has developed "an economic structure
oriented toward the world market." Its "dependent, as­
sembly-based economy" is dominated by its trade relations
with the U. S. and Japan, which respectively accounted for
29 percent and 19 percent of Taiwan's total merchandise
trade in 1980. Moreover, enterprises which have been
propped up for the past thirty years cannot attain inde­
pendence in production technology, for
the planning of production and its benefits are completely
dependent on the will of the foreign shareholders. When it
comes to any re-investment of capital, they adopt a preda­
tory, commercial psychology and only seek short-term com­
mercial investment opportunities, rarely making any
planned long-term industrial investments.
As Taiwan's economy has grown, wealth has become ever
more concentrated in the hands of a few big consortiums.
When these consortiums encounter bad times, they re­
direct their capital to investments in the opportunistic
property market, thus gradually expanding their monopoly
power. On the other hand, their "degree of deficit opera­
tions and state of capital flight" are absolutely shocking. 23
Excessive dependence on foreign trade, commercial
opportunism, monopolization, and capital flight-prob­
lems whose damaging impact is now clearly evident-were
already discussed in numerous China Tide articles several
years ago. Furthermore, the close connection between the
lack of democracy in both the political and economic
spheres had been given prominent coverage in the month­
ly's commentaries. Criticism of the existing economic sys­
tem was indeed the third principle focus of China Tide's
The development of a "colonial economic pattern"
under the fine-sounding name of "technical cooperation"
has become a frequent point of discussion by progressive
Taiwan intellectuals in the past few years. As Hu Qiuyuan
told China Tide's chief editor in an interview in late 1977:
So-called' 'technical cooperation" is no more than process­
ing! Anything that requires lots of manual labor, you can
handle it! High technology industry, that he'll take care of!
This is the standardformula ofpresent-day imperialism and
economic colonialism.
Under the shield of government protection, enter­
prises that participated in "technical cooperation" pros­
pered and grew rich in only a few years. The privileges of a
small number of big consortiums, such as enjoying easy
23. Cai Xianzong, "Taiwan's Economy: Retrospect and Prospects," in
The Asian (September, 1981).
credit, opportunities for tax-evasion, overdue debts which
often were never pursued, and profiting from capital flight,
were central points for assault by China Tide commenta­
tors-especially considering that the opposite conditions
pertained for the vast majority of the island's small- and
medium-sized enterprises.
Unequal distribution of income and the resultant dis­
parity between rich and poor were also subject to censure
by China Tide. The manipulation of elections by consor­
tiums and big local capitalists and the corresponding trans­
formation of the politics of democracy into the politics of
money as well as the monopolization of the media by
ascending newspaper bosses were also favored targets. In
brief, China Tide probed beyond the mere lack of political
democracy in Taiwan to examine its roots in the absence of
democracy and equality in the economy.
Some Taiwan economists regularly spoke out in de­
fense of the existing economic system, saying that it was
necessary to accumulate wealth before equal distribution
could be pursued. Moreover, they claimed that the gap
between rich and poor was determined by individual ability
and the amount of work performed. Taiwan's rapidly rising
per capita income was frequently cited as the demonstrable
fruit of economic development. All these arguments
brought refutation from China Tide authors.
In the debate on Taiwan's strategy for economic de­
velopment, China Tide reprinted "A Commentary of Eco­
nomic Affairs Minister Sun Yuansuan's Economic Pol­
icies" by the prominent theorist Ren Zhouxuan and
"Quantitative and Qualitative Change in Taiwan's Eco­
nomic Development-on Li Guoding's The Experience of
Taiwan's Rapid Economic Growth" by the economist Hou
Lichao. Premier Sun Yuansuan and Minister without Port­
folio Li Guoding (K. T. Lee) are key formulators of eco­
nomic policy. When Sun was Minister of Economic Affairs
in 1977, he declared that "the economic policy of our
country is that of a planned free economy under the Princi­
ple of People's Livelihood." His formulation was rebuffed
by Ren Zhouxuan, the island's leading authority on the
thought of Sun Yatsen, who argued: "The key points of the
Principle of People's Livelihood are the equalization of
land rights and the restriction of capitalism. . . The Princi­
ple of People's Livelihood does not call for a free economy,
but for a planned one."
Hou Lichao, in his essay, expressed deep concern that
Taiwan "had adopted certain patterns of monopolist capi­
talist countries and would move from the inequality of
income distribution to the unequal power of capital." He
worried that "the union of state and private (mostly local
Taiwan-born Chinese) monopoly capital will squeeze small
and medium enterprises, shear the independence off
self-cultivating farmers and small businessmen, repress
wages and raise the rate of unemployment."
China Tide commentators sharply refuted the then­
fashionable theory of equal competition: "In this society,
competition between the rich and the poor is on extremely
unequal terms from the moment of their birth. The
children of rich families can ride to the competition in cars,
while those of the poor must bear heavy irons and chains.
What kind of fair competition is this?" (No. 10)
When some economists said "the rich are wealthy
because of their diligence and hard work," a China Tide
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
writer replied: "Don't our farmers work hard enough?
While most people work five and a half days a week, they
must labor in the fields seven days a week, from sunrise to
sunset. But where are the fruits of their labor? Countless
workers slave like beasts of burden; where is their wealth?"
(No. 34)
The official media used average per capita income to
advertise the degree of "equality of wealth" in Taiwan. But
China Tide authors pointed out that "the fraudulent nature
of the so-called average per capita income has long since
been demonstrated.... The averaging out of the incomes
of a tycoon and a poverty-stricken worker cannot mask the
true face of poverty. "24
China Tide made special efforts to pass on the voices of
hard-pressed workers living on the other side of Taiwan's
"luxury and extravagance. " Reports about child workers in
Taiwan's factories and workers in the island's declining and
dangerous coal mining industry were among the most mov­
ing of these accounts.
To sum up, China Tide's praise for anti-colonialist ac­
tivists under the Japanese occupation and its critique of
imperialism, separatism and compradorism were based on
the principles of social justice and nationalism. The advo­
cacy of nationalism at that time had a special significance
and was aimed at the permeating influence of foreign pow­
ers and capital and was used to unify compatriots at home
and abroad. According to Ms. Su Qingli, "the wave of
nationalism set off by the Oiaoyutai movement in the sev­
enties has not subsided to this day. Rather, they have led
China Tide to become-with the sale exception of China
Monthly-the magazine on Taiwan most insistent in its
advocation of nationalism."
The Native Soil Literature Controversy
The commercialization of Taiwan in the seventies had
given rise to serious social problems, which had become
even more striking by the end of the decade. Under condi­
tions of excessive economic dependence on foreign capital
and trade, an ill-considered westernization had brought
forth a host of multi-faceted social ills and social pollutants.
The attempt to expose them and search for solutions gradu­
ally became the most pressing task to be shouldered by
Taiwan intellectuals.
On the other hand, Taiwan intellectuals were
influenced by a combination of the nationalist awakening
emerging from the Oiaoyutai movement and a growing
sense of national self-confidence prompted by the rapid
growth of light industry. This combination stirred them to
pour out their heart-felt aspirations and worries for the
This surge of nationalism also brought in its wake
criticism of the "modernist" school of literature, which had
dominated the Taiwan literary scene for over twenty years
and which had primarily expressed ideas and emotions
imported from abroad. Literature by rising young authors
vividly depicted the actual face of life on the "native soil"of
Taiwan, and imperceptibly displaced works featuring an
extreme individualism and formalism divorced from the
24. Chen Guuying, Social Pollution.
lives really led by the island's people.
This new crop of authors, who had personal experi­
ence and deep understanding of Taiwan social reality,
threw off the ivory-tower mentalilty of previous modernist
writers who had all too often been indifferent to common
society. Rather they broadened the range of their literary
and creative work to touch the lives of people in all walks of
life. Farmers, fishermen, factory workers, businessmen,
clerks, and prostitutes began to make frequent appear­
ances in their short stories. Their works reflected the trans­
formation of Taiwan society and the difficulties encoun­
tered by various strata of people because of that transfor­
mation. Huang Chunming and Wang Zhenhe described the
hardships of the island's farmers in their short stories,
Wang Tuo wrote of the fishermen of his home near Jilong,
and Yang Qingchu focused on factory workers.
Native Soil literature constituted a counter-attack on
the westernized literature of the sixties. At that time, liter­
ary techniques and moods modeled after or copied from
American or European modernist literature were in vogue.
In the early seventies, Guang Jieming, Tang Wenbiao and
Gao Zhun were among the first to criticize the decadence of
modernist poetry. At that time, Yu Tiancong exposed the
illusory and escapist content of that body of work. Native
soil literature was opposed to the transplantation of
modernist literature to Taiwan and attempted to build up a
body of literature that was Chinese in both spirit and style.
Moreover, the devotion of Native Soil literature to
depicting Taiwan society at the grass roots level gave it a
rich and distinctive local flavor. It mirrored the distressing
swelling of the urban areas and the disintegration of rural
life induced by the process of capitalist transformation. It
reflected the separate and unequal experiences of ordinary
people during this process. Native Soil literature can there­
fore be seen as a variety of realism and also as a kind of
protest literature. Its appearance disturbed vested interests
in literary and cultural circles and prompted them-de­
spite their apparent liberalism-to link up with KMT party
writers to launch a political counter-attack and a persecu­
tion of the Native Soil writers. This assault sparked the
most heated and significant cultural controversy in Taiwan
of the past three decades.
From August 17-19, 1977, Peng Ge, then one of the
top editorial writers from the KMT organ Central Daily
News (Zhongyang ribao) and now its president, published an
article entitled "How Can There Be Literature without
Human Nature?" in the United Daily News (Lianhe bao).
Peng criticized by name Yu Tiancong, Wang Tuo and Chen
Yingzhen,25 and declared: "Native Soil literature is in dan­
ger of becoming a medium for the expression of hatred. "
To speak of class theory-as he accused these writers of
doing in imitation of Mao Zedong's literary theory-is to
force "literature to sink into becoming a tool of the
25. Yi Tianzhong, now professor of Chinese literature at Zhengzhi Uni­
versity, was formerly the editor of such important literary journals as
Literary Quarterly and Literature. His books include: One Person's Path Is
Not a Road and MallY Gods. After the Native Soil literature debate, he
edited Colle(,ted Writings on Native Soil Literature, which includes several
dozen articles on both sides of the issue.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
The KMT simultaneously stirred up another encircle­
ment campaign, this time against "worker, farmer and
soldier literature," the writings of Yu Tiancong and Gao
Poetry Tide (Shi Chao) edited by
Gao-bemg the prInCipal targets. The outstanding rep­
resentative of this trend was 'The Wolf Has Come," which
was penned by modernist poet Yu Guangzhong and ap­
peared m the United Daily News on August 20, 1977. Yu
warned .that "there are already people in Taiwan openly
advocatmg worker, peasant, and soldier art and literature!"
As soon as these two articles appeared, Native Soil
authors feel the chilling wind of an impending purge.
However, m September, the senior critic and China Monthly
publisher, Legislator Hu Qiuyuan,26 entered the fray. In
"On 'Human Nature' and 'Native Soil Literature,' " Hu
likened the differences between the two sides with the
difference between "those content with the status quo and
those who are dissatisfied." Hu noted: "Literature in all
times, in China or abroad, has had some works expressing
contentment with the status quo, but that which manifests
dissatisfaction has been in the majority." Moreover,
"Native Soil literature is a voice of discontent. It calls on us
to realize that this society has problems; it calls on us to
implement reforms." After Hu's article, other statements
against the encirclement began to appear in succession in
Chi na Monthly and China Tide, signalling the initiation of the
polemic in earnest. Over the eight months of this con­
troversy, tens of authors participated on either side.
The subsequent involvement of the KMT and armed
fo,rces in this debate
created a tense and antagonistic
chmate that surpassed the polemic over "Voice of an Ordi­
nary Citizen" in 1972. While the battlelines in the "Voice"
confrontation were drawn between supporters of a "stable
status quo" and advocates of reform, the Native Soil de­
bate extended beyond the social character of literature and
literature's influence on society toward a critique of vari­
ous social ills generated by the promotion of a capitalist
economic system.
After the controversy over Native Soil literature,
Wang Tuo, who had been sharply attacked by KMT party
hack writers for his literary theories, began active involve­
ment in the election movement and became one of the
leading activists of the Dangwai movement. Another
Native Soil writer, Yang Qingchu, also participated as a
candidate for legislator in the "workers' organizations"
division in the supplemental election for central parliamen­
tary in December 1978 in order to struggle
for the rIghts of workers. In mid-December 1979, both
arrested in the crackdown after the Gaoxiong
InCident and were respectively sentenced to six years and
four years in prison.
26. Hu Qiuyuan. a well·known historian. founded Chilla Chilla
is a popular. independent voice in which discussions are vcrv
balanced. Thus it was able to sUr\we the storms of the 1'J70s and continue
to this day. It played an important role during the fears at the time of the
Native Soil debate and the Gaoxiong incident.
27. In January. 1'J7H. the Military Administration convened a huge Na­
tional Forces Cultural Assembly at which speaker after speaker described
the "dangerous character" of Native Soil literature.
The Zhongli Incident and the Rise of the Dangwai
Not long after the controversy over Native Soil
erupted, Taiwan was shaken by the Zhongli
!ncldent. on November 13, 1977, the election day for
balloting for provincial assembly, county and
city executive posts and other local assemblies.
The campaign for magistrate (xianzhang) of Taoyuan
county (about thirty kilometers southwest of Taibei) had
been an especially heated contest between the KMT
candidate and Xu Xinliang, a liberal member of the Taiwan
Provincial Assembly and a former contributor to The
who had been expelled from the ruling party.
Widespread anger at suspected KMT election fraud
touched off a mass riot at ZhongIi city on election day-the
such incident in twenty years. (For a detailed descrip­
tion, consult Ling Zhengjie and Zhang Fuzhong, Long Live
Elections! [Xuanju wansui.'], the work cited below.)
Actually, the atmosphere of the campaign had not
become heated due to any daring rhetoric on Xu's part, for
he had adopted a centrist line (zhongjian luxian). Although
he had been expelled from the ruling party, he had earlier
received the KMT's nomination and had been elected to
the Taiwa? Assembly in 1973 with its support.
Xu was strIpped of hiS party card simply because he insisted
on running for the Taoyuan county magistrate post. Subse­
quently, he publicly declared: "In my heart, I will always
remain a member," in order to preserve his political
stand and Image as a KMT reformist. He had no intention
of allowing himself to be seen as a radical oppositionist.
The unprecedented heat of this campaign resulted
from Xu's own genius in manipulating public opinion and
his performance in the provincial assembly
With the fact that the KMT's choice was painfully
unSUItable for the post. Ou Xianyu has previously served as
vice-director of the county office of the dreaded Bureau of
Investigation. As the author of Long Live Elections! noted:
i',l do not have very fond feelings for those
engagmg m or m charge of security work." (p. 62) More­
the .KMT election machine employed a variety of
mappropnate vote-getting measures which were distasteful
to the electorate.
On election day, "stories about election fraud commit­ other side (the KMT) and about interference by
pohce with the performance of duty by voting supervisors
were rife. " (p. 243) The fury of the people finally flared up
over an apparent accident. That morning, an elderly illit­
erate couple entered a Zhongli voting post to cast their
ballots. Fan-Jiang Xinlin, the chief voting supervisor and
the principal of the Zhongli Primary School, reached over
close to the voting booth and touched their ballots. One of
Xu's campaign workers spotted this action and protested.
the spread like wildfire, and popular dis­
satisfactIOn qUickly surged. Under these strained circum­
stances, police escorted Fan-Jiang to the Zhongli city po­
lice station for protection. The crowd followed and swelled
and bigger. By 3 :30 p. m., the atmosphere of the
tightly packed and impatient crowd was reminiscent of a
traditional Taiwanese religious gathering. (Elections, p. 258)
The Zhongli police chiefappealed to Xu's campaign workers
to help disperse the crowd. Lin Zhengjie then approached the
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
crowd, with his hands cupped around his mouth, and
shouted: "Everyone, please disperse! We'll seek legal
means to settle this dispute!" Meanwhile, the police chief
stood next to him and called out the same message. However,
the crowd responded with hoots and shouts:
"What good is the law!"
, 'They own the courts and the law too!"
"What's the use! They're fixing ballots everywhere!"
These cries reflected not only the widespread belief
that ballot-fixing was indeed going on everwhere, but also
showed that the masses of citizens realized that the perpe­
trators of such crimes would be immune from punishment.
Declarations that "they own the courts and the law too!"
revealed that these common citizens had a more direct and
profound perception of whom the law was established for
and who controls it than most scholars and intellectuals.
These slogans also pointed to a state of affairs in which the
law is used to control people instead of society being ruled
on the basis of law.
Election fraud has quite a long history on Taiwan. The
popular saying that "the KMT wins the elections but loses
the hearts of the people" attests to the regular use of unfair
and illegal practices to get votes. In 1977, memories of the
late 1975 supplemental parliamentary elections were still
fresh. At that time, non-KMT "old tiger" Guo Yuxin was
defeated in his campaign for a seat in the Legislative Yuan.
However, it was reported that "over SO,OOO votes had been
invalidated." Upon hearing of Guo's unexpected defeat,
over 10,000 people marched and demonstrated on the
streets of Yilan, where Guo's campaign headquarters had
been located, and a riot nearly erupted. From this incident
and others like it can be seen the source and depth of the
long-suppressed anger that eventually triggered the
Zhongli Incident.
After 4:00 p.m. on the 19th, the massed crowd at the
Zhongli police station started to throw rocks and smash the
windows of the police station building. By dusk the anti­
riot vehicles called to the scene to suppress the people had,
on the contrary, been overturned one by one and set afire.
When the election results were in, non-KMT candi­
dates had scored their most impressive victory since the
start of KMT rule in Taiwan, garnering over thirty-five
percent of the popular vote and snaring twenty-one of
fifty-seven seats in the Taiwan Provincial Assembly. They
had also won four of twenty-one executive posts at the
county or city level.
The first elections in Taiwan after the termination of
Japanese colonial rule were held in 1950, and until the
mid-seventies they were the key political activity of the
upper strata of society. As one critic wrote, "elections in
Taiwan comprise a political investment combining both
capital and special privileges. "28 Non-KMT politicians
with dissident views were unable to overcome local faction­
alism or develop the kind of thorough-going critiques of
KMT rule which would win mass support. Hence, at elec­
tion time they offered only superficial alternatives to the
ruling party. By the mid-seventies, however, middle class
28. See Nan Fangshuo, "Elections and Social Mobility in Taiwan" in Last
Bastion olChinese Liberalism.
politicians with firmer financial foundations had entered
the ranks of the opposition and were able to gain support
from large numbers of intellectual youth. The participation
of young intellectuals and workers had the effect, in addi­
tion to boosting the strength of the non-KMT political
movement, of generating changes within the KMT as well.
Between 1970 and 1977, KMT members under the age of
thirty-five comprised over ninety percent of new party
members and 54.S6 percent of the total membership. 29
This new generation inside the party generally also sup­
ported changes in the status quo. Thus, the Zhongli Inci­
dent was the manifestation of fundamental changes in the
character of electoral politics in Taiwan, changes which the
KMT leadership was not ready to acknowledge.
The Taibei Spring and the Gaoxiong Winter
Opposition politicians grasped the new situation, and
intellectual interest in politics hit a new high after the 1977
elections. Some China Tide writers became candidates for
National Assembly posts in supplemental parliamentary
elections slated for December, 1975. Together with non­
KMT politicians of the TPR group, they formed a common
front which became the main current of non-party cam­
paigning. The new bloc called for an end to martial law,
freedom of speech, guarantees of basic human rights, and
the release of political prisoners.
As the election approached, the non-party candidates
held fundraising dinners with discussions of democratic
issues. Activists from all over the island joined together at
these meetings and expressed unprecedented criticism of
the ruling party. Eventually, for the first time, non-party
politicians formed a "mutual aid group" to support each
other's campaigns. The coordinator was Shi Mingde (now
serving a life sentence in prison). During the campaign, in
addition to the usual leaflets, there was the new feature of a
"big character poster debate. ,. This debate was touched off
when this author, then a candidate for National Assembly,
erected a "Democracy Wall" opposite his campaign head­
quarters in front of the main entrance to Taiwan Univer­
sity. A rightist KMT candidate promptly put up a "Patriot­
ism Wall" next to it. Campaign workers and supporters
from both sides-and many independent voters-partici­
pated in the discussion by means of pen, brush and mouth.
Soon, the trend had spread to the rest of the island. For
instance, in Taizhong, Huang Shun Xing put up a poster
the size of a building. (After the campaign, the area in front
of Taiwan University was converted to a flower bed and
speeches forbidden.)
However, the elections were cancelled by the KMT
government upon the establishment of diplomatic relations
between the United States and the People's Republic of
China. In a joint declaration, most members of the non­
KMT candidate alliance demanded the reinstatement of
the elections. The government responded with the arrest of
seventy-eight-year-old non-KMT elder Mr. Yu Dengfa.
Activists of the non-KMT coalition replied with the first
protest demonstration in the over thirty years of KMT rule
in Taiwan.
29. Ibid.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Throughout the remainder of 1979, non-KMT activists
often held street rallies in connection with the Yu case and
began to broaden their political and social movement.
Meanwhile, they founded several socio-political maga­
zines. The TPR faction split and published The Eighties and
Formosa monthlies. The China Tide group, whose magazine
had been banned along with New Generation after the can­
cellation of the December 1978 elections, came out with
Tocsin and Spring The flurry of critical posters and
magazines qualifies this period as "the Taibei Spring,"
coincidental in time with the "Beijing Spring" on the
Chinese mainland.
Formosa magazine later gathered together the core
members of the non-KMT dissidents in the summer and fall
of 1979 and continued to expand its mass activities and
movement. It ultimately attained a circulation of over
100,000, setting a new record for political magazines on the
island. The climax came on December 10, 1979, when a
peaceful rally in Gaoxiong city to commemorate Interna­
tional Human Rights Day turned into a mass riot. Nearly
100 non-KMT leaders and activists, mostly connected with
Formosa, were arrested. Many were subsequently put on
trial and convicted for "sedition" and other charges. The
Gaoxiong Winter dropped the curtain on Taiwan's Demo­
crative Movement of the seventies at the moment of its
peak. The Gaoxiong Incident of December 10, 1979, was a
spontaneous conflict between civilians and police, but the
Taibei authorities labeled it a "rebellion" and propagated
this illusion through the press. The rally in Gaoxiong com­
memorating "International Human Rights Day" was the
culmination of a series of events sponsored by non-KMT
political activists. it came in the wake of protests against the
imprisonment of Yu Dengfa and several mass rallies for
civil rights.
Tension first started to mount the night before, when
two non-KMT leafleters were severely beaten by the police
in front of the Gushan precinct station. This appears to
have been part of a systematic ploy by the authorities to
provoke the crowds which were to erupt the next day. On
the next day of the rally, the KMT, in anticipation, de­
ployed heavy anti-riot forces together with undercover
agents equipped with evidence collecting paraphernalia
such as tape recorders and ultra-violet cameras. The rally
erupted into a melee after troops cordoned off all the exits
and began to charge into the crowd firing tear gas. At that
moment the non-KMT speakers at the rally tried to re­
strain the demonstrators but to no avail. Meanwhile, the
undercover agents netted "incriminating" evidence which
would later be used both for propaganda and for prosecut­
ing key participants in the rally. Afterward, a popular catch
phrase summarized the KMT's strategy as "suppress the
riot beforehand and cause the riot because of the
su ppression.
Security agents rounded up all the non-KMT activists
early in the morning on December 13, three days after the
incidert. Within a few days, the numbers in custody grew to
152. According to the Taiwan Garrison command Oil
Fehruary 1, 1 9 ~ O , the people arrested were processed in the
following ways: released on bail, fifty: under probation on
hail, forty-one; imprisoned, sixty-one. Among those im­
prisoned, fifty-three persons were charged with "treason."
Later on, in an effort to sustain the policy of "narrowing the
scope of the attack," only eight defendants were tried in
military court. The other thirty-two were prosecuted under
civilian law.
Wang Tuo, Yan Jingchu, Wei Dingzhao, Ji Wensheng,
Zhang Fuzhong, Zhou Bingde, and twenty-six others re­
ceived jail sentences ranging from ten months to six years.
Zhang Shuhong, Shi Mingde, and six other defendants
received stiffer sentences of from twelve years to life
In the midst of the mass arrests and sentencing over
the Gaoxiong Incident, Lin Yisiong's mother and daughter
were slashed to death by a mysterious assailant on
February 28, 1980. A year later, Chen Wencheng, a Car­
negie Mellon professor, died under mysterious circum­
stances during interrogation by the Taiwan Garrison Com­
mand. In such a climate of terror, one cannot but feel that
"institutionalized violence" has further degenerated into
"lawless violence."
Just as the ultra-rightists in Taibei were gaining
ground, they were censured by public opinion as expressed
through the election results of 1980. The fact that all the
relatives of the imprisoned Dallgwai leaders won decisively
is indicative of the public feeling over the miscarriage of
justice in the Gaoxiong Incident. 30
After the bitter lesson of the Gaoxiong Incident and its
aftermath, the democratic movement on Taiwan continued
cautiously on its path. Starting in 1981, new political jour­
nals have appeared to replace Formosa and its antecedents.
The Political Monitor and the Progressive were quickly
banned, but others have sprung up to reflect popular senti­
ments. Among these are Broad Horizons, Cultivate, Mother
Earth, the Asian Monthly, Liberty Bell, The Eighties, and Life
and Em-ironment Monthly.
Over the seventies, intellectuals in Taiwan moved
from sedentary discussion and contemplation of social and
political issues to active participation in politics; from a
division between abstract thought and political action to
their integration; from contributing to magazines to social
activism. Behind all these transformations, one could see
that Taiwan society was undergoing radical change.
The experience of the participants in the movement
for democratic reform during this time could be sum­
marized as follows:
• Their field of vision shifted from top to bottom,
from looking up to looking down. Generally, the focus of
the young puhlicists was initially directed upward at the
political structure and groups in high society. Later, after
hroader and deeper contact with social reality, their vision
shifted downward to the examination of problems at the
grassroots level.
• Their viewpoint advanced from the printed or
spoken word to action, which always ended in arrest. The
imprisonment of Lei Zhen terminated his attempt to form a
China Democratic Party; the detention of The Intellectual
30. Yao liawen's wife Zhou Qingyu received 150,(XX), the highest in the
city, to win a scat on the Taibei City Council. Huang Xinjie's hrother
Huang Tianfu and Zhang lunhong's wife Xu Rungsu were elected to the
Legislative Yuan.
46 © BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
As (J.S. involvement in Southeast Asia has waned,
so has in-depth coverage of Asia in the American
media. That's where The Asia Record comes in. We
provide detailed coverage of East and Southeast
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ience at a fraction of the cost of our competitors.
We draw on Reuters, Oepthnews Asia, FBIS, the
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editor Chen Guuying and contributor Wang Xiaobo put a
stop to the student movement of that time; the arrest of
TPR deputy editor Huang Hua cut short his activity as a
polemicist; and finally, the roundup of the various leaders
of Formosa aborted Taiwan's first mass democratic
The sudden transformation of Taiwan society in the
sixties and seventies caused many new and old political
problems to flare up. The van of publicists and critics only
reflected the existence of these problems; their suppression
or elimination can by no means resolve them.
The relatively high degree of growth of the social
forces of Taiwan's lower and middle strata have necessarily
led to demands for social reform. The diplomatic shocks
and alterations in the domestic situation in the early seven­
ties provided the movement for the birth and development
of a new political-social movement. Either the deteriora­
tion of the economy or the impending departure of Presi­
dent Jiang Jingguo (Chiang Ching-kuo) could very well
touch off a new period of turbulence. Internationally, the
improving relationship between mainland China and the
U.S. and the tension between Beijing and Taibei will also
exert a strong influence on the domestic situation in
Taiwan and the mainland have been separated for
over three decades because of the antagonism between the
KMT and the Chinese Communist Party. If the relation­
ship between the two sides remains frigid, Taiwan's politi­
cal situation-under conditions of international isola­
tion-might turn into a pressure cooker. On the other
hand, if there is progress in communication between the
mainland and Taiwan, the movements for democracy and
reform might enter a new stage, but how they would de­
velop under such changed circumstances is naturally dif­
ficult to predict at this time.
At present, there are still no major conflicts ofideolog­
ical principle between the current major Dangwai political
leaders and the authorities; rather only technical disputes.
Nevertheless, Taiwan's political power structure is the
weakest link in the island's entire social framework. The
three pillars of the KMT regime-the party, the secret
police, and the government bureaucracy-are still the
major bases of conservative influence. The latter two, in­
deed, are almost entirely devoid of any enlightened in­
Regardless of the changes which a worsening of the
economy or the death of Jiang Jingguo might bring, the
conservative forces will wait for a suitable time to move
against the growing and spreading forces of opposition.
When their chance comes, they might well tum once again
to their accustomed practice of seizing upon a conscious­
ness of crisis to provide an occasion and a justification for
the overt use of their authority and power for suppression.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Martial Law in Taiwan
by Richard C. Kagan
The following testimony was presented to the House
on Asian and Pacific Affairs, chaired by
RepresentatIve Steven Solarz from New York. He is con­
ducting a series of hearings on the nature of political rule in
Asia .and its relationship to human rights and strategic
The hearings do not deal directly with human rights
because of. the Reagan administration's shift in policy.
Under PresIdent Carter human rights became a significant
prong of American foreign policy. Hearings were held each
on scope and nature of human rights in Asia (I
testIfied In 1980 and 1981 on this topic). Under Carter,
human rights were construed as including not only the basic
political and civil rights (fair trial, freedom from torture,
but .also economic and social rights (job security,
nght to stnke, etc.).
The Reagan administration, after waiting for over a
year to fill the post of Undersecretary for Human Rights
(the Undersecretary has still not appointed personnel to
some of the area desks), decided to drop any reference to
economic and social rights. Furthermore it has decided to
the previous policy of linking hu­
man t? the deCISIon of whether or not to give military
or pohce ald. In response to this change in policy, the
Solarz Subcommittee has decided not to address the issue
of human rights per se but to question whether the repres­
sive regimes in Asia are justifiable at all, whether in their
ability to govern and in their reliability as allies in the U.S.
defense system.
Currently, the Subcommittee has asked Secretary of
Commerce Malcolm Baldrige to testify regarding the sale
of mace and handcuffs to the Army of the Republic of
China. After many months of debate between the State
the Commerce Department, the Reagan
admIlllstratlOn SIded with Commerce and without any an­
nouncement made the sale. (The sale happened so sud­
denly that a Commerce official on the O1ina desk was
totally unaware of it and somewhat startled that it had
occurred.) It is within this perspective that the following
testimony should be read.
Courtesy of the author.
date. of the hearing, May 20, was deliberately set
to COInCIde WIth the 30th anniversary of the establishment
of martial law in Taiwan. On that day, a press conference
with Senators Kennedy and Pell and Representatives
Leach and Solarz was held to call for the end of martial law .
to the hearings, Chairman Solarz wrote an open letter
to hIS fellow Congressmen asking them to support his stand
against Taiwan's martial law, presenting his case with a
comparison of martial law in Taiwan and Poland. The
Republicans answered with an attack on such an invidious
comparison and privately many opposed any criticism of
At the hearings, which consumed four hours of heated
debate and argument, Professor James Gregor (Berkeley)
took the position that martial law should continue in Tai­
Representative Hyde took a strong pro-Taiwan
pOSItIOn. Thus, the hearings made clear once again that the
"Taiwan lobby" was still intact and ready to leap to the
defense of the Reagan administration's attempts to prop up
the martial law regime.*
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
It is in the interests of the United States and of the
government and people of Taiwan to end martial law im­
mediately and without hesitation or anxiety. I advocate this
position for the following reasons. The abolition of martial
law will terminate the conspiracy of terrorism which has
been. perpetrated by the Kuomintang (KMT), the Taiwan
and other military and para-military
1Ostltuttons agamst the people of Taiwan. The end of mar­
tiallaw will allow for a true democratic system-one based
on law and judicial principle and not upon ambiguous and
capricious rules arbitrarily and secretly administered. The
abandonment of martial law will also allow political parties
free expression of public opinion in stark contrast to the
single and tyrannical voice of the Taiwan Garrison Com­
mand. The end of martial law will release the repressed
ideas of the people, allowing books, articles and communi­
to flourish. will provide a sense of personal secur­
lty now totally lack1Og. The network of Taiwanese spies
at and abroad will be dissolved. Finally, the
ehmmatton of martial law will promote the national secur­
ity interests of Taiwan. It would significantly ease the cur­
rent distrust of one another due to the pervasive reporting
system. It would reduce the hostilities between Taiwanese
and Mainlanders. And it would remove the controls on
thought which people cynical and unbelieving. This
can only result 10 strengthening the body politic.
1. The History and Purpose of Martial Law
In 1949 the Peace Preservation Command of the
Chinese National Army proclaimed a state of siege. This
became the authority for the martial law which is in effect
today. Soon after this promulgation, the Taiwan Garrison
<;ommand assumed responsibility for implementing mar­
tIal law. The declaration of martial law by the Chinese
National Army was unconstitutional. In the Constitution of
the of China the Legislative Yuan or Congress
has the nght to declare or repeal martial law . This right was
usurped by the military and the head ofthe Kuomintang­
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
Originally, martial law was justified because the Na­
tionalist Chinese government faced possible invasion from
the Mainland and local uprisings from the Taiwanese. In­
deed, Chinese Communist agents had been active in
Taiwan. And in 1947 and in 1949 the local Taiwanese did
stage two non-violent demonstrations against military rule.
Gradually, however, the threat from Mainland China
diminished. As it did so, the internal threat from the in­
digenous Taiwanese population who wanted full political
representation and human rights took on greater signifi­
cance. In any case, the Nationalist Chinese have consis­
tently maintained that the Republic of China is seriously
The [Taiwan] Garrison Command can usurp any civil
law or procedure. It has a license for tyranny. • • •
It is not communism but democracy that is the real
enemy and the target of attack.
threatened. They blame both communists and Taiwanese
for this perennial "state of siege" and they hold up martial
law as their only protection against open attack. General
Wang Ching-hsi, Commander of the Taiwan Garrison
Command, warned again in 1978 that application of martial
law would intensify, if a
small minority of conspiratorial elements, used by the com­
munist bandit or Taiwan independence elements, take ad­
vantage of the situation to develop splitist, destructive or
subversive activities damaging to national security and the
people's welfare. Illegal activities include the holding of
illegal marches or assemblies.
2. The Control and Application of Martial Law
The Military Investigation Bureau, which was under
the control of Chiang Ching-kuo, sought to gain dominance
over the Central Bureau of Investigation. The ensuing
struggle resulted in the arrest and incarceration of several
the chiefs. of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
LI Shih-chleh, seDlor deputy commissioner of the First
in charge of research and investigation, was ar­
10 February of 1966 and detained for 345 days before
hIS case was transferred to the Taiwan Garrison Command.
Although known as a vociferous anti-communist-over
three-million words of published anti-communist articles
and a recipient of a 1951 commendation from President
Chiang Kai-shek, Li was accused of being a member of the
Communist Party since 1937 and of trying "to influence
public opinion." He was charged with sedition. The
Taiwan Garrison Command sentenced him to death on
Feb. 13, 1970. This sentence was commuted in 1972 to a life
term, forfeiture of property and disenfranchisement for
life. In 1975 he was transferred to the political prison on
Green Island. Since 1978 he has not been allowed to send
for any documentation relative to his constitutionally pro­
tected appeal. Currently his health is failing (he is 64 years
old). Attempts to publicize his case are met with indiffer­
ence or threats of intimidation.
Many other Bureau chiefs met the same fate in 1966.
Chiang Hai-jung was held incommunicado for 420 days. He
was also sentenced to death. This sentence was commuted
to life imprisonment. His incarceration and torture in the
Green Island prison have been recently told by a fellow
prisoner. (For a translation see SPEAHRhead, #12/13. The
report is from "On Ching-mei Prison" by Liang Shan.) The
* This statement was prepared for the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific government reported that he committed suicide in prison in
Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, 1979. However, the cause of his death is in doubt.
Washington, D.C. 20515, May 20, 1982. Normal Bulletin style is Pinyin The forceful reorganization of the Central Intelligence
but in this instance we have left the statement as delivered. 'Bureau by means of a purge strengthened Chian Ching­
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
kuo's hold over all eleven of the government intelligence
agencies. From that time on, it was clear that martial law
could be used not only to protect against the Mainland and
not only to suppress the Taiwanese, but also build
one individual's power base in the KMT. Chiang
kuo's acquisition of the Intelligence Bureau was
because it authorized his control over the agency that di­
rected the activities of the Garrison Command.
The Function of the Garrison Command
In the last thirty years the KMT has assembled a huge
administrative apparatus and a large force of agents for the
purpose of providing surveillance on entire population
including loyal KMT members, Taiwanese and
communists. The Garrison Command can usurp any Civil
law or procedure. It has a license for for
arbitrary or oppressive exercise of power. The .mil!tary
commander can arbitrarily suspend the Constitutional
rights of freedom of speech, assem?lr, teaching, .writing,
publication, privacy, freedom of religious expression, and
legal guarantees of a fair trial.. .
The Garrison Command has consistently expanded ItS
jurisdiction over so-called political This incl.udes
areas not usually included in other countnes. There IS no
statute of immunity for political crimes. Political crimes
include: engaging in labor strikes, petition!ng, demonstrat­
ing, attending public meetings, and rumors. Sup­
plementary regulations have increased pUnIshments, have
broadened the scope of offenses and have legitimized many
deviations from constitutional procedures. Perhaps the
most unique addition is the Statute ofI?enunciation (1954)
which was written in a vague and ambiguous manner. If a
relative or acquaintance does not denounce a of­
fender that person will receive one to m
have his property confiscated. Even If the mformatlon IS
already known and published, failure to report a "crime:'
can result in a long jail sentence. Finally, once one IS
arrested, his or her sentence can be extended without re­
view and his or her prison conditions will be kept secret.
Ayear after the 1954 revisions of martial law , Chiang
Ching-kuo declared: "Our us to democ­
racy, but so long as we let commUnIsm eXist we can never
implement our principles can never democracy."
The claim that all martial law does IS to prevent Com­
munist subversion and citizen unrest is exposed as false
when one views the scope of the law-it suspends all con­
stitutional guarantees, denies political freedom, and sup­
presses any legitima!e the and
especially of the regnne s nght to In
fact it is a legal convenience for authontanan rule. And
because it legitimates authoritarianism, it is not commu­
nism but democracy that is the real enemy and the target of
4. Martial Law and Daily Life
The atmosphere of Martial law is pervasive. It is im­
posed upon all the not the seditious .ones.
Individuals accused of pohtIcal cnmes are placed mto a
totalitarian system of imprisonment legitimated by the
Garrison Command.
Consider the following current examples of martial
a) The Garrison Command manages two taxicab
companies in Taipei. The drivers are intelligence agents.
They pick up information from their customers, and listen
in on conversations. This occurs in other Taiwanese cities
as well.
b) The post office carefully checks all air mail letters
and packages against three lists of suspicious addresses
spot checks others. Lack ?f re!urn
inspection. A list of proscnbed Journals Identifies
that can be mailed within Taiwan but cannot be mailed
c) All international phone calls are monitored. Local
phones are tapped whenever necessary. Some private
phones are tapped permanently. The phones at Tainan
Seminary and other "liberal" institutions are tapped 24
hours a day. In my own experience in the dormitories of
Tainan Theological Seminary, suspicious phone calls were
investigated by police agents within a few
d) The Garrison Command deploys political officers
in all schools to observe and report on the students.
e) In 1977, the former head of the Taiwan Police
Academy became the new president of
sity. The regulations regardmg student have smce
become so restrictive that, as one University professor put
it: "There is nothing they [the students or faculty] are
allowed to do but follow the line." This professor would
only talk about such things outside of his University­
provided house for fear of bugging devices.
f) In 1981 the government imposed sanctions against
453 publications. The rationale given by the Taiwan Garri­
son Command for banning issue #6 of Deep Plough (No­
vember, 1981) was that "the of this
confuse the public." No reason was given for bannmg the
February 27, 1982 issue of The may
because it discussed Chiang Chmg-kuo s detenoratmg
g) Copies of every publication must be to the
Garrison Command for approval. If the authontIes do not
approve, all copies will be confiscated and the authors will
face proceedings.
h) The government gagged reporters from publishing
details of President Chiang Ching-kuo's collapse at a meet­
ing of the Standing Committee of the KMT in late March of
i) A vast system of Taiwan report
on Taiwanese abroad. (see the Committee s Heanngs on
the Chen Wen-cheng case) In Minnesota they have been
involved in gathering charges and information on Ye Dao­
lei and intimidating critics of the regime.
j) Even the KMT the qhung-yang
jih-pao, is censored when It IS dlstnbuted to pnsoners. So
many sections are cut out that it is called the
k) Yao Chia-wen, a famous lawyer and political pns­
oner in Taiwan, was placed in greater penal confinement
after his wife won an election in Taipei. During the cam­
paign she was not allowed to mention her or .his
activities. Although no reason has been given, link
between her victory and his increased confinement IS clear
to all.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
l) Torture, sensory invasion, manipulation of diet are
perpetrated without right to appeal or protest. There is
considerable evidence of torture at Green Island. Lu Xiu­
lien, one of the Kaohsiung, is suffering from a diet that
forces her to gain weight.
These eleven examples are merely the tip of the ice­
berg. To maintain the machinery of martial law requires
vast expenditures of money and time, constant vigilance,
appeals to patriotism and loyalty, and consistent accusa­
tions of communist invasion and subversion. The least
openly discussed aspects of this system, yet the most fright­
ening, are the vigilante groups who beat up, injure, falsely
accuse and even kill. This group and its associates are
handled in the next section.
5. The Vigilante Gangs and Agents
Who Prosper Under Martial Law
Since the rise of a strong reform movement for demo­
cratic rule, there has been a growth in power of vigilante
groups who attack and intimidate the leaders and followers
of the democratic movement. Although these groups travel
under various names, the most widely known label is the
"anti-communist heroes."
The term "anti-communist heroes" (fan-kong i-shih)
originally was used to identify former Chinese Prisoners of
War who were brought to Taiwan in 1953. Some ofthese
individuals spent the next decade in work-camps, prison,
the army, or under other forms of heavy surveillance.
Others became part of the anti-communist commando
forces. Their energies were enlisted to engage in counter­
insurgency on the Mainland.
Today, the "heroes" are often young men who have
participated in undercover activities in Southeast Asia or
Mainland China. Upon their return to Taiwan their serv­
ices are used by the secret police to watch over and bully
critics of the regime.
Based on a few written documents and many inter­
views, I have been able to put together the following de­
scription of this group's organization and activities. Since
they have been immune from investigation, it is difficult to
research their activities. Two ex-heroes agreed to inter­
views in secrecy and with my pledge of their anonymity. In
general, people are afraid to discuss the organization.
The leaders of the group are Hsiao Yu-ching and Lao
Tseng-wu. They have close ties with the Intelligence Office
of the Ministry of Defense. (This office regularly sends
spies to China.) Although Messers. Hsiao and Lao were
employed in a commercial firm (run by the family of Yeh
Hsiang-tzu, the former head of the above-mentioned Intel­
ligence Office) they spent a great deal of their time editing
Chi Feng, the group's publishing organ, and organizing
activities against the democratic movement.
Whereas the linkage between this group and the Min­
istry of Defense is clear, the linkage with Chiang Ching­
kuo's second son Chiang Hsiao-wu is only speculative. It
would be logical for there to be a connection because Mr.
Chiang Hsiao-wu controls the Coordinating Commission
on Intelligence Activities in Taiwan. These activities cover
both internal and external operations. The Intelligence
Office of the Ministry of Defense has close ties with this
Since the rise of a strong reform movement for demo­
cratic rule, there has been a growth in power of vigi­
lante groups who attack and intimidate the leaders
and followers of the democratic movement.
Over the last four years, Fan-kung i-shih "heroes" and
other agents have been identifiably involved in the follow­
ing incidents:
a) In early 1978 the "heroes" stormed a public meet­
ing of the Democratic Movement and provoked a fight.
The opposition leadership was arrested. No "heroes" were
arrested. This is a consistent arrest pattern.
b) The anti-U.S. riots of December 1978 were organ­
ized and led by agents provocateurs from various intelli­
gence groups. While I was photographing the scene, a
military platoon came out of the shadows and at bayonet
point, confiscated my film. The photographs would have
been evidence for the charge that the "rioters" were not
composed of the masses but were from the military intelli­
gence. At another "demonstration" I was led through the
crowd by an old Chinese friend who pointed out which
units of the secret agents were involved. Later, all my notes
and photographs were confiscated by government agents.
c) In the 1979 Kaoshiung Incident, "heroes" were
observed and photographed attacking the police. Despite
the fact that leaders of the opposition shouted at them to
desist, the leaders were arrested and the "heroes" re­
mained free and unscathed.
d) Two bizarre murders have become associated with
the heroes' activities. The first is the murder of the family of
Lin Yi-hsiung; the second equally mysterious murder of
Chen Wen-cheng.
(1) Arrested for inciting the crowd in Kaoshiung,
even though he had not spoken at the demonstration, Lin
was held incommunicado for forty-two days. He was inter­
rogated and severely beaten by the Garrison Command.
They warned him that if he disclosed these beatings to his
family, "unfavorable" events would occur. On February
27, 1980 Mr. Lin met with his wife. During this visit he
indicated that he had been tortured and had not signed the
customary confession "voluntarily." On the next day, Lin
Yi-hsiung's grandmother and two daughters were mur­
dered in his home. This occurred despite the fact that the
house had been under a 24-hour-a-day police surveillance
since mid-December. Officially the murderer or murderers
have not been caught. The government has blamed the
opposition movement for the murders. It has even impli­
cated an American and a foreign clergyman. American
government sources have confidentially provided a con­
trary opinion, that this terrorist act was committed by a
member of the "heroes."
(2) The mysterious death of Chen Wen-cheng was
reported in the July 30 and October 16 Hearings of this
Committee. Information since then confirms the suspicion
that the death not only was murder but also was carried out
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
by a vigilante group. Although any concrete evidence is not
publicly available, it is widely assumed that the Taiwan
Garrison Command did not in fact torture or harm Mr.
Chen. In fact, they did release him on the evening ofJuly 2.
It is also assumed that a vigilante group, perhaps the
"heroes," were not happy with the leniency displayed by
the Command. They kidnapped, tortured and finally killed
Mr. Chen. A 100 dollar bill in Taiwanese currency placed in
his shoe exaggerated the curious and threatening nature of
his death. In Taiwan, this "payment" means that a murder
is a warning for others.
A critic of the Elections Commission who is also a
professor at Taiwan University was criticized by the mem­
bers of Chi F eng. During an interview he stated that a friend
warned him to be careful, because "behind them [the Chi
Feng Editors] stand the generals." On December 8 of 1980
he received another warning because of his recent attacks
on martial law. He began to receive threatening phone
calls. The intimidation took on a public aspect when "a
group of ill-mannered folks swaggered in and hassled his
students," and boldly inquired if " 'his blood was red or
not.' " At first he did not openly discuss these incidents and
their cause. But one night the government controlled TV
criticized him directly.
The "heroes" and other vigilante groups' indulgence
in macabre and grisly terrorism is protected by martial law .
Even if martial law is only invoked in a small percentage of
the legal cases, as argued by its proponents, it exercises an
undeniable influence over the everyday lives of all the
people of Taiwan. Martial law gives both governmental
and extra-legal groups license to intimidate and be arbi­
trary. The vigilantes are a product of their system. The fear
that is engendered in the local population and the overseas
Taiwanese should not be underestimated.
Should this fear be taken seriously? Perhaps the best
analogy can be drawn from the nuclear issue in America.
On May 15, 1982 a federal appeals court ruled that the
Three Mile Island nuclear power "plant may not be re­
started without consideration of the psychological distress
it could cause those living nearby." The Minneapolis
Tribune report continued:
The unprecedented decision said that the 'anxiety, ten­
sion and fear involved in restarting Three Mile Island must
be taken into account . . . ' Dissenting Judge Malcolm
Wilkey predicted a 'court-imposed paralysis of nuclear
power' if the decision is allowed to stand.
The psychological and emotional effects of martial law
have never been queried. If they were, it would be safe to
say that martial law would be considered cruel and unusual
The issue of martial law cannot even be discussed
without great fear and trepidation. No one can forget Pai
Ya-tsan's 1975 heroic critique of martial law:
Why isn't Mr. Chiang Ching-kuo willing to rescind
Tai\\'{1n's State of Siege which, after 26 years, remains the
H'or/d's oldest uninterrupted period of martia/law; abolish
the military rule of the Taiwan Garrison Command, which
violates the people's rights by indiscriminately arresting and
detaining the innocent; do away with the secret military trials
which set Mainlander against Taiwanese; and rid us of the
poisonous control methods prevalent under this State of
Siege which violates constitutional human rights guarantees
-thus establishing an open Taiwan society in which Tai­
wanese and Mainlanders are integrated harmoniously?
He was arrested for committing sedition and sen­
tenced to Green Island. In 1980 the warden of Green Island
would not allow him to visit with friends nor allow release
of any direct communication about his condition.
6. Predictions on the Consequences of Ending Martial
There is no doubt that a viable multi-party system
would result. The Kuomintang Party would indeed lose a
lot of votes, but it would still exist as a useful force in
Taiwan's politics. In fact many observers feel that the exis­
tence of martial law has in fact made the KMT sloppy and
unresponsive to the needs of its constituency. Making it
perform in an open political arena would weed out the good
from the bad.
Chiang Ching-kuo would still be popular. Many Tai­
wanese disassociate him from the evils of his family's in­
volvement in the security apparatus. Among many Tai­
wanese he is viewed as responsible for Taiwan's continued
economic growth.
By ending martial law many taboo issues would be
open for public debate. Currently one can never be sure
when a topic is safe. Some people are arrested for discuss­
ing an issue while others are not arrested for discussing the
same issue. Abrogation of martial law will result in wide
ranging discussions. There is no evidence that the repre­
sentative of Taiwan's citizenry would engage in seditious
activity. Both the KMT and the democratic movement are
committed to the economic welfare and security of the
If martial law is not lifted soon severe consequences
may occur. The leadership is faced with two explosive
situations: naming a successor to President Chiang, and
planning adequately for future problems.
Chiang Ching-kuo's current severe health problems
have made the question of transference of power a critical
issue. There is no one else in government leadership who is
as popular as the current President. If martial law con­
tinues, the best scenario is that a collective leadership will
take over. This will be based on an uneasy alliance among
three groups: (1) General Wang Sheng and the military
political office. General Wang's popularity is extremely
low. His support stems from the Chiang family and his
growing control over the Taiwan Garrison Command. His
writings on political ideology express a great resentment
toward both Taiwan and the Taiwanese. (2) The old milit­
ary and KMT factions which have their base in Chiang
Kai-shek's entourage. These are rather old men who still
yearn to return to the Mainland. (3) The new technocrats
who are recognizing that Taiwan the island, and not
Taiwan the government of China, is their main base and
concern. They are pushing for democratization, for liberal­
ization of the system, and for political and intellectual
freedoms. This last group, however, does not have a large
popular constituency and does not have military or security
forces to protect or back it up.
52 © BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
The most likely scenario for the future is the most
pessimistic: rule by an economic-military oligarchy legiti­
mated by controlled elections and secured by a network of
spies and secret police. Intimidation and outright terror
will be finely tuned to keep the citizens in line.
Not so clear is the reaction of the populace to an
economic-military oligarchy. This is further complicated by
the unknown effects of a possible economic depression and
the effects of pressures, mainly economic, from Beijing.
For the former, the anticipation is that the Taiwanese may
just rise up in violent protest against the aging and socially
isolated rulers. For the latter, it is clear that martial law
created disaffection and factions within the State. Some
might want to join with the Communists-both the old
guard and the young radicals-but most will probably
grudgingly accept the necessity to defend Taiwan. In case
of either economic or international pressures, the reaction
will be more mixed under a repressive regime than under a
democratic one.
In planning for the future, the most significant issue
today is the controversy over nuclear power and ecology.
Professor Lin Jun-yi, chairman of the Biology Department
at Tunghai University and President of the Asian Ecolog­
ical Society, has publicly called for criticism and open dis­
cussion of the proposal to build twenty nuclear power
plants in Taiwan. Irrespective of the merit of the arguments
of this scientist, he has been attacked for questioning gov­
ernment policy. A recent attack came from the "anti­
communist heroes. " They charged that his proposal to use
bicycles rather than motorized vehicles "proved" that Pro­
fessor Lin was "under communist influence. " Professor Lin
has been under surveillance, his phone is tapped, agents
check his mail, and his movements are watched.
The pressure is not confined to Professor Lin. Other
colleagues have been arrested and their articles censored.
Unsubstantiated stories exist about how workers in nuclear
plants have disappeared after criticizing the quality of the
work or design.
Needless to say, the future of the world, not just
Taiwan, depends upon open and full discussion of nuclear
power issues. Currently, imposition of martial law prevents
such discussion.
7. U.S. Government and Martial Law
When one by force subdues men, they do not submit to
him in their hearts. They submit because their strength is not
adequate to resist.
The people are the most important element in a nation;
the spirits ofthe land and grain are next; the sovereign is the
lightest. (Mencius 372-289 B.C.)
The principles of a free constitution are irrevocably
lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the execu­
tive. (Edward Gibbon /737-/794)
In both the Chinese and European tradition, the value
of democracy has long been recognized. A democracy
which freely represents the will of an educated and eco­
nomically satisfied populace possessed a more stable politi­
cal and economic system than one run by a secretive minor­
ity which maintains itself through threats, fear, ideological
is no doubt that the level of the intimidation, the amount of
harassment, and the corruption of government agencies
would be drastically reduced by lifting the cover of martial
law. The spectre of being charged with endangering secur­
ity and the threat of a military investigation inhibits criti­
cism that could lead to more rational economic policies and
a more just political system.
The Wall Street Journal (November 13, 1980) accu­
rately reported that
The price ofTaiwanese stock is entirely controlled by profes­
sional manipulators. There is so much fraud and hanky­
panky going around that it is more dangerous than a gambl­
ing joint. A well-placed source at the SEC (Securities and
Exchange Commission), who did not want to be identified,
said that most ofthe staffmembers are either retired service­
men or relatives ofinfluential people.
U.S. foreign policy and economic interests can only be
aided by a more open political and economic system.
8. Relations with the People's Republic ofChina (PRC)
Martial law prevents any open and rational discussion
of relations with the PRC. Anyone who talks about rela­
tions with the PRC is left conscious about the danger he
places himself in. Nonetheless it is clear that those in au­
thority who are "safe" have many dealings with the PRe.
Trade, travel, and private contact are maintained by gov­
ernment officials, selected businessmen, and protected in­
dividuals. The contradiction between punishing some and
encouraging others to trade or meet with the Communist
regime exposes the martial law authorities as hypocrites. It
is clear some individuals or groups in Taiwan do have
dealings with China. Only by ending martial law can a
unified, publicly discussed, and participative approach be
worked out. Currently, only the influential benefit from the
trade and the visits.
9. Beijing's Reactions to an End to Martial Law
I believe that Beijing would oppose the end of martial
law. Beijing's great fear is the weakening of the Nationalist
Party. China has made it very clear that they favor working
with the KMT and not with the people of Taiwan. During
CCP Vice-chairman Deng Xiaoping's trip to the United
States he refused to meet with several non-KMT Taiwan­
ese delegations. Recently, the PRC has even increased its
attempts to curry favor with the KMT. If the end of martial
law meant that the Taiwanese obtained more control and
that this control meant a gain for views of a "Two Chinas"
or Taiwanese Independence, Beijing would definitely take
a hostile approach to Taiwan.
The issue for Beijing would be how they could express
their displeasure. They have no military force or equip­
ment capable of an amphibious landing. Taiwan would not
be in danger.
One could take a more optimistic view and hold that the
moderates in China would welcome a stable Taiwan that
could engage in trade and communications without the
threat of provoking a "rebellion" or being constantly vigil­
ant about "selling-out" to the Communists. A democratic
Taiwan could form a constructive relationship with China.
discipline, arbitrary rules, and outmoded ideologies. There
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
10. Effect of Democratization in Taiwan on Asia
The policies we support in one area of Asia or even the
world effect other areas. During President Carter's Ad­
ministration a strong Asian Human Rights movement de­
veloped. Taiwanese copied Democracy Wall in Bei­
jing with their own Democracy Wall in Taipei. Popular
support for human rights surfaced in South Korea, Japan,
Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries. Based upon
the historical record, one can conclude that the end of
martial law in Taiwan would be seen with hope and admira­
tion by citizens in other countries in Asia.
11. Regarding the Sale of Police Equipment
Until the people in Taiwan are fully represented by a
freely elected legislature, until the judiciary is
from the military, and until civil law and the constitution
are equally available and applied to all citizens in all cir­
cumstances, the U.S. government should disassociate itself
from all police and military instruments which are used to
overpower the will of the people.
On July 3, 1981, Professor Chen Wen-cheng of Car­
negie-Mellon University was found
Taiwan University. He had been vlslt10g his family 10
Taipei. He had applied for an exit visa but it was not
approved. On July 2 he was summoned to the
Garrison Command. The next day he was dead. An 1Ovestl­
gation after this curious death a man of
learning, of professional accompitshments, and of
involvement in the Taiwan reform movement. ThiS 10­
volvement was discovered by the Nationalist government
through illegal tape recordings of Professor Chen's conver­

sations while he was in the United States and by govern­
ment spies on American University campuses. No evidence
was ever gathered that he had committed a crime and the
autopsy by an American forensic expert ruled out suicide
or accidental death, leaving murder as the only option.
Even if one accepts the government's argument that
Chen's death was accidental, the gloating tone of the obitu­
ary notice delivered on the occasion of his funeral by the
government-controlled press cannot help but make one
think the government was involved in, or at least pleased
by, the death. While reading the following article recall
that the self-confident accusations made here are without
any evidence:
Dr. Chen Wen-cheng's body will be buried on Wednesday in
Chunchiu Cemetery in Chungho.
While Chen's peers were confidently advancing toward
higher scholastic achievements and living a happy life, Chen
died mysteriously on the campus ofhis alma mater, National
Taiwan University. Maybe Chen is notfreefrom remorse and
confusion even while resting in Hades.
If Chen is able to think after death, he must regret
having taken part in political activities overseas that were
contrary to national interests.
His unfortunate death has been used by some malcon­
tents overseas to defame the government's policy toward the
Republic ofChina and stop Washington's supply ofarms to
the ROC. Ifhe could speak, Chen would probably express his
hatredfor the despicable behavior ofthe malcontents.
Taiwan Daily News
September /5, /98/
It is clear from this article that a warning has been
given to all "malcontents." Under martial law, a
ing" means harassment, arrest, torture, or murder. Is thiS a
situation we want the U.S. government to support? *
S ("'sigh"')


"Don't talk about politics."
A political cartoon by CoCo, dated 1974. Note that all one does is "sigh" Other cartoonists and satirists have been jailed for making fun of govern­
to be categorized as being political. CoCo's cartoons are carefully subtle. ment goals and politics. R.C. Kagan
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
A Review Essay
by John Israel
The smashing of the Gang of Four and resurrection of
Deng Xiaoping produced a sense of euphoria and gave rise
to unrealistic expectations in many areas of Chinese life. In
the economic realm, visionary planners drew up blueprints
based upon resources that simply were not there. In the
political realm, young men and women dared to act upon
the conviction that the Gang's downfall would open the
way to an overall democratization of Chinese politics.
The planners went back to the drawing board. The
human rights advocates went off to jail. This volume docu­
ments the high tide of their democracy movement, from
November 1978 to March 1979.
Focal point for political protest was Beijing's Democ­
racy Wall at the Changan Jie-Xidan intersection but, as
Mab Huang and James Seymour note in their incisive intro­
duction, the movement was by no means confined to Bei­
jing; it encompassed at least thirty organizations and publi­
cations in some half dozen cities. In addition, issues raised
by the young dissidents were discussed in the official press
and among government and Party cadres-albeit in more
subdued tones.
The philosophical perspectives of Seymour's sixty­
nine translated documents cover a spectrum from Marxist
reformism to Western-style democratic thought, and the
cacophony of voices range from Jeffersonian invocations of
self-evident rights to Mencian assertions of the duty to
remonstrate to misguided sovereigns. But the voices come
together in certain major motifs; "democracy, civilliber­
ties, employment, and meeting basic economic needs. " (p.
2) The most famous publication of the movement (if it may
be called a movement) was appropriately entitled, Explora­
Just as the struggle for human rights was not limited to
freedom of speech, press, assembly, and due process of
law, neither were tactics confined to the written and spoken
word. During the cold Beijing winter of 1978-79, the De­
mocracy Wall publicists were but the tip of an iceberg, the
bulk of which consisted of thousands of ordinary men and
women who flocked to the capital to beseech China's high­
est leaders to rectify wrongs perpetrated by their under­
HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT, 1978-1979, edited
by James D. Seymour. Introduction by Mab Huang
and James D. Seymour. Stanfordville, New York:
Human Rights Publishing Group, 198(t 301 pp.
Significantly Ms. Fu Yuehua, who supported and
marched with the petitioners, was the first activist to be
arrested. The event shocked her comrades and demarcated
the early euphoric phase of protest from the later angry
phase. An extreme example of the latter is Wei Jingshen's
essay, "What is Wanted: Democracy or New Despotism?"
(pp. 196-2(0), which raises the ultimate question of the
regime's legitimacy and suggests that only freely elected
representatives of the people have valid claim to political
power. Perhaps, as Seymour suggests, it was this declara­
tion that precipitated Wei's arrest; perhaps (as Seymour
implies elsewhere) Wei had become a marked man three
months earlier for his essay, "The Fifth Modernization"
Why could several hundred million Chinese
people not do anything about the handful in the Gang
of Four, and why could Mao Zedong, who was praised
by the people as the Great Savior, not use his mono­
polistic power to control the Gang of Four? Why was
democracy in reputedly most democratic socialist
China so limited, not even up to the level of moribund
capitalist countries? Why did the economic develop­
ment of the People's Republic fall behind Tai­
wan? ... The remnant influence of feudalism has
infiltrated not only into our country's system and into
various aspects of social life, but has also infiltrated
into the Communist Party....
When we comment on the national leaders we
commit the "crime" of "counterrevolution." What is
the difference between this and the feudalist crime of
falsely accusing the emperor? (Seymour, p. 45)
(pp. 47-69). In either case, Wei Jingshen emerges from this
collection as the most radical and articulate of the young
rebels-if not necessarily representative of the mainstream
of their opinions. Now serving a fifteen-year prison sen­
tence, he is also the movement's most famous martyr.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Even were Chinese tradition utterly devoid of liberal
Socialism guarantees many rights, such as the right of
a citizen to receive education, to use his ability to the
best ad vantage, and so forth. But none of these rights
can be seen in our daily life. What we can see is only
"the dictatorship ofthe proletariat" and "a variation
of Russian autocracy" -Chinese socialist autocracy.
Is this the kind of socialist road that people want? Can
it be claimed that autocracy means people's happi­
ness? Is this the socialist road depicted by Marx and
hoped for by the people? Obviously not. (p. 50)
Liberalism and the Chinese Political Tradition
Huang and Seymour take issue with the theory that the
Chinese political tradition is unrelievedly authoritarian and
thus provides no indigenous basis for the development of
democracy and human rights. "Like other dictatorships,"
they contend, China's rests upon "power relations within
the system" rather than "any unusual features of the politi­
cal culture." They argue persuasively that Chinese history
offers practical examples of the concept of moderation, the
idea of benign rule, and even philosophical anarchism and
resistance to tyranny. They fail to demonstrate, however,
that Chinese traditions provide much basis for the develop­
ment of liberal political thought as that concept is generally
understood in the West.
If human rights are conceived as absolutes, based on
natural law, there is little support in China's heritage for
the values incorporated in the first amendment to the US
Constitution. Chinese tradition offers a few examples of
rulers who permitted intellectual controversy and many of
brave subjects who risked life and limb to struggle for the
right to speak out-but Chinese tradition denies human
rights advocates the kind of sustenance that Western think­
ers draw from the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Greco­
Roman heritage, the Enlightenment, or the liberal-human­
itarian thought of the 19th and 20th centuries. "Liberal­
ism" can be identified in the Chinese political tradition only
if we give the word an unacceptably broad definition of
"principled resistance to unrestrained authority." Mem­
bers of the Enlightenment Society were close to the truth
when they lamented that "the words 'human rights' cannot
be found in China's history-not in two thousand years,
nor six thousand years, nor eight thousand years." (p. 29)
We want to be masters of our own destiny. We need no
gods or emperors. We do not believe in the existence of
any savior. We want to be masters of the world and not
instruments used by autocrats to carry out their wild
ambitions. We want a modern lifestyle and democracy
for the people. Freedom and happiness are our sole
objectives in accomplishing modernization. Without
this fifth modernization all others are merely another
promise. (p. 53)
antecedents, the introduction of Western thought since the
late 19th century has exposed several generations of lit­
erate Chinese to these ideas. The writings in this volume, in
fact, find intellectual progenitors in the ideas of Liang
Qichao and Yan Fu as well as in the New Culture Move­
ment, the human rights movements of the 1930s, the Third
Force tendencies of the 1940s, the Hundred Flowers of the
1950s and, in some respects, the Cultural Revolution of the
1960s. In the late 1970s, liberal democracy again became an
option on the philosophical level in the realm or articulate
public opinion, if not in the world of political power.
The fact remains, nonetheless that, in the eyes of many
Chinese, a liberalism that takes as its point of departure the
moral autonomy of the individual is still regarded with
suspicion, as a foreign import. Natural rights doctrine de­
nies a fundamental precept of Chinese political thought:
that individual rights (or, more accurately, individual in­
terests) must be subordinated to the needs of the group.
Chinese liberals, therefore, are hard put to reconcile their
cry for individual freedom with the priorities of the body
How do Chinese human rights advocates attempt to
justify themselves to their fellow citizens and (more im­
portant in the short run) to their rulers? Aside from bor-
Western people are not satisfied even though they
already have many freedoms; Chinese people are al­
ready laboring under too many disciplines and yet
some people still want to add more. Western govern­
ments regard the safeguarding of the citizen's human
rights as one of their main duties; citizens of "socialist
countries" can only be submissive to a small group of
Enough! In such a society, who is subject to rule
of law? Law is in the hands of a small group defying all
laws, while those who are ruled, enslaved, and de­
prived of all rights are the citizens.
Enough! ... (p. 59)
rowing arguments from the canons of Western liberal tradi­
tion, the authors in this volume seek to legitimate human
rights in two ways; (1) as an instrument for modernization
and (2) in terms of Marxist historical theory.
Since modernization has become a virtually sacrosanct
precept in China, anything that can be sold as "modem"
stands a better chance of moving public opinion and win­
ning official approval. If democracy somehow can be seen
-like science and technology, industry, agriculture, and
defense-as an irreducible feature of the modem world
-a "fifth modernization"-then a China intent upon be­
coming a modem state should adopt democracy. The prob­
lem is that the regime's ultimate reason for pursuing the
Four Modernizations is not simply that they are modem
but that they are essential to the building of a strong state.
As Benjamin Schwartz has so often and so correctly
reminded us, it is hard to demonstrate that human rights
are essential to the building of state power or to material
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
and military modernization. In fact, from the point of view
of China's rulers, a contrary series of propositions seems
more logical: (1) modernization requires unity; (2) human
rights activists threaten to undermine unity with dissent
and agitation; (3) therefore, human rights run contrary to
modernization. This syllogistic reasoning has been devas­
tatingly effective, first, because it appeals to Chinese prin­
ciples of unity, order and harmony (especially in vogue
since the Cultural Revolution); second, because it invokes
sentiments of national loyalty and patriotism, irrefutable
arguments for modern Chinese; and because it is backed up
by a state monopoly of police and judicial power.
To those who seek to justify human rights and general
liberalization in Marxist terms, the main historical chal­
lenge confronting China is not the shattering of capitalism's
fetters, as was argued during the Cultural Revolution, but
the antecedent task of breaking the still-powerful chains of
feudalism. Among the feudal bonds gripping China, none
are more unyielding than the traditions of authoritarian
absolutism. Some contemporary reformers explicitly draw
a parallel between the use of liberal ideas by 18th century
western theorists as a weapon against "feudal autocracy"
and the utility of similar ideas for similar purposes in pres­
ent-day China.
Why do contemporary socialist countries appear
in the most backward societies? This is a thought­
provoking question. Up to now, this type of socialism
has followed the line which leads democratic revolu­
tions to utopianism. It relies on a feudal culture and
traditional customs to destroy the tender shoots of
democratic culture, and it invariably uses feudalist
social philosophy to encourage blind faith in a small
group regarded as saviors and leaders. Therefore, its
inevitable trend is toward totalitarianism or auto­
cratic fascism. Such an outcome is not coincidental,
but follows a universal pattern. This type of socialism
is a direct inheritance from feudal philosophy at its
pinnacle-classical German philosophy. This is again
not coincidental, but inevitable because of its very
nature. Therefore, if we continue to uphold this type of
utopian socialism, we are actually supporting totali­
tarianism or autocratic fascism. (p. 61)
For all its theoretical cleverness, this theory shatters
against the hard reality that the officially acknowledged
embodiments of feudal autocracy are not China's living
rulers but the dead Mao and the deposed Gang of Four. For
practical reasons as well as theoretical ones, China's cur­
rent rulers are not prepared to countenance an interpreta­
tion of Marxism that would place the cap of feudalism on
their own heads.
The official critique of Mao offers little solace to the
human rights forces, for it cites as one of his gravest errors
his undermining of Party authority. To undo the damage,
the Party has launched a concerted movement to reestab­
lish unquestioning faith in its leadership. Here the thrust of
the official line runs directly athwart that of the liberaliza-
Liu Qing, addressing a crowd at Democracy Wall in 1979. Liu was subse­
quently sentenced (without trial) to three years labor reform, after he
published the transcript of Wei lingsheng's trial. (Wei had coined the
phrase "'fifth modernization.") Courtesy of James Seymour, SPEARhead.
tion movement, refuting "bourgeois" democratization in
the name of "proletarian" dictatorship. The writings of the
Democracy Wall have been linked to the slanderous big
character posters of the Cultural Revolution that destroyed
careers and lives, and the right to express one's views in this
fashion has been excised from the constitution. Hence,
even the campaign to reevaluate Mao, which human rights
advocates had hoped to steer toward the cause of freedom,
has been turned against them as a weapon of suppression.
From the Red Guards to the Democracy Wall
Official spokesmen who claim to have heard echoes of
the Red Guards reverberating from the Democracy Wall
were not necessarily being devious or paranoid. Though
leaders in the democratic movement were second to none
in decrying the disastrous consequences of the politics of
the late sixties-the violence, the manipulation, the deifi­
cation of the Leader, the unchecked exercise of coercive
power-they found in the Cultural Revolution several ele­
ments of enduring value: (1) the removal of party control of
communications; (2) the involvement of the masses in the
political process; and (3) the recognition of the need for
sweeping changes in China's political institutions. Particu­
larly striking is Lu Min's essay, "Democracy or Bureauc-
All Marxist theorists have told us that democracy
is only some trick practiced on people by bourgeois
windbags, and that dictatorship provides the only way
to people's equal rights and freedom in daily life.
However, from what we can witness, the human rights
of Western people, who are "deceived by social wind­
bags," are safeguarded; their thinking is free; and
their material life far surpasses what is possible under
our "advanced socialist" productive system. (p. 62)
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
racy?" (pp. 72-77), which suggests that the problem with
the Cultural Revolution was that it assaulted individual
bureaucrats but failed to destroy the bureaucratic struc­
ture, and which points to the Paris Commune as an alterna­
tive model.
There is an undeniable link between the Cultural Rev­
olution, the Qing Ming protest of April 5, 1976 (the so­
called Tiananmen Incident), and the Human Rights Move­
ment. The reversal of verdict on the Qing Ming demonstra­
tion in fact, helped propel the democracy movement to
high tide. However, the same officials who have lionized
youths who defied the Gang of Four to pay tribute to
Enlai on April 5, 1976, have denounced the human nghts
movement as the work of extremists. These officials miss a
basic point. The driving force in 1978-79, as in 1976, came
from the Cultural Revolutionary generation of youths
steeled in the fires of the late 19608, "sent down" to farms
and factories in the early seventies, and struggling for a
place in the sun since the mid-seventies. These young men
and women trained in the "school of hard knocks" are a
worldly, politically savvy generation. They have in current
parlance, "seen through everything" (kantoule)-the slo­
gans, excuses, evasions, hypocrisies, and lies. It is a
tion accustomed to being heard. And some members of thiS
generation-a minority to be sure-are prepared to place
their lives on the line in defense of their right to speak out.
It is not surprising that timid officials tend to lump
dissident intellectuals together with petty criminals-as
two groups whose sense of discipline and loyalty were
destroyed by the Cultural Revolution. And it is no coinci­
dence that both groups have been subject to summary arrest
and incarceration in labor camps.
To destroy the old state machinery, we must therefore
not only topple the standing army and the bureau­
cratic system. We must also replace them with the
militia system and with the democratic system which is
modeled after the Paris Commune. (p. 72)
The authors of the documents in The Fifth Moderniza­
tion, as Huang and Seymour observe, are young in
their twenties and thirties whose formal education was
curtailed by the Cultural Revolution and who have had
limited access to information about the rest of the world.
Hence one does not have to look far in their writings for
evidence of naivete about foreign lands:
What is democracy? True democracy means the holding
ofpower by the laboring masses. Are laborers unqualified to
hold power? Yugoslavia has taken this road and proved to us
that even without dictatorial rules, big or small, the people
can work even better. (p. 52)
D jilas would not be amused. Nor will Americans criti­
cal of the imperfections of their own society be amused to
read stuff that would make even a flag-waving chauvinist
It is fortunate that besides the dark side of mankind
there is a bright side ofmankind. This bright side ofmankind
is the United States, which champions democracy. The
United States is the banner ofmankind's democracy. There­
fore the Constitution and the law are above all. Whether a
person is a senator or a president, the speaker ofthe House
or a common citizen, all are equal before the law . ... (p.
As an objective description of America, such pane­
gyrics may be worthless. The underlying message, how­
ever, is not without merit-that in the sphere of democracy
and human rights, there is an enormous, qualitative, differ­
ence between China and America.
While negative lessons make us sober, Yugo­
slavia's experience is a source of inspiration. In com­
pliance with Marx's great teachings and in light of the
concrete conditions in their country, Yugoslavia grad­
ually abolished the "system of posting according to
grades" and step-by-step established a democratic
system modeled after the Paris Commune. Because of
this, they not only quickly recovered from war losses
but in no time achieved economic prosperity and built
a socialist society in which there is political liberty,
democracy, stability, and unity. They have set an
example for us. (p. 76)
"Gao Yang Zhuang"
"Tell the American people about us," he said ear­
nestly. "Tell them what we want."
"What do you want?" I asked.
"Freedom," he replied, "freedom."
I was talking with a group of young men and women­
teachers, workers, and functionaries. They were doing one
of the worst things that a Chinese can do in the eyes of the
authorities- "gao yang zhuang" -to "appeal to a foreign
court" or, more colloquially, to "cry on the foreigner's
shoulder." Every Westerner who has lived in China is
familiar with the phenomenon. One of the most serious
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
charges against the Democracy Wall dissidents was that
they did precisely this, and it was change of
divulging military secrets to a foreign Journalist that led to
Wei Jingshen's long prison sentence.
From the beginning the foreign connection was grossly
exaggerated for political The fact that West­
ern and Japanese journalists filed sympathetic
the Democracy Wall, the underground press, and the diss.l­
dent network. The accusation was that the democratic
movement was a media event, created for and sustained by
foreign correspondents. This charge to discredit and
isolate the democracy movement, but It also a
that foreign reports finding their way back mto China Via
short wave broadcasts and translations in"internal circula­
tion" publications, were giving the movement nationwide
as well as international publicity.
Some activists, to be sure, not only viewed the United
States as a repository of values and institutions to be emu­
lated in China but even made direct appeals for American
help. The best known of such documents is "Gong Min's"
("Citizen's") famous "Letter to President Carter" which
Seymour prints (pp. 227-239) together with "Quan's"
("Rights") sharp rejoinder (pp. 240-244). The latter .con­
cedes that "the United States surely has numerous achieve­
ments to its credit which reflect the progress of mankind"
but contends that "this in no way alters America's im­
perialistic character." The United States, the pseudon­
ymous author says, "has passed the zenith o.f its prosperity
and is rapidly going down the road of and
This eloquently demonstrates that the Umted IS
a 'democratic paradise' and that Jimmy Carter IS no foreign
Buddha." (p. 244)
Opponents of the human rights movement have fully
understood that, to the extent that American democracy
Look closely at Chinese history over the past two
thousand years over four thousand years, or over
eight or even thousand years, and you will seek in
vain for two terms-democracy and man's rights.
Thus, to realize our dreams, we must take action. (p.
could be made to appear flawed, corrupt, or the
movement to emulate American values and mstltutIons
would be discredited. Not coincidentally, the suppression
of the human rights movement has accompanie? in
the official media by a harsher evaluation of Amencan
society and of liberal values in general. is now
held responsible for a broad of .and at­
titudes, including smuggling, bnbery, of
selfishness, moral permissiveness, unfilial be­
havior, and civil libertarianism. Knowmg little about the
facts of life in American,human rights advocatesbavebeen
thrown on the defensive.- Chinese Americaphiles in the
1980s are learning what American Maoists learned in the
1970s-that it is impossible to sustain arguments for do­
mestic change by invoking a sugar-coated foreign model.
China has never gone through the stage of capi­
talism. The Chinese people have no idea what democ­
racy and human rights are about. They are not ac­
customed to having democracy and human rights and
are inured to acting according to the instructions of
officials. The trouble is, many of our officials are un­
educated bureaucrats who climbed to high posts by
specializing in waging class struggle (but then they
would be dismissed ifthey did not wage class struggle).
We can hardly bring about the Four Modernizations
under such circumstances.
Modernization requires that every one of us gives
full scope to our resourcefulness and wisdom. Without
full democracy and fully emandpated minds, moder­
nization is inconceivable. (p. 137)
Divisions among Dissidents
The vigorous debate that occured within the demo­
cratic movement was both its glory-a testimony to its
health and vitality-and its Achilles heel, rendering it vul­
nerable to enemies.
Had Deng Xiaoping wished to invoke Jefferson's say­
ing that there is no danger in error "where reason is left free
to combat it," he might well have pointed to the April 5th
Forum's rebuttal of charges leveled against himself by ex­
ploration. (The Forum may have erred in denying that
Deng was moving to suppress the movement,
but that is another matter.) In keepmg With Its posture of
moderation, the Forum went so far as to endorse the Shang­
hai Public Security Bureau's edict that "Gatherings and
demonstrations should be under the direction of the p0­
lice" and that "Posting slogans, newspapers and posters
outside designated areas" should be prohibited. Byaccept­
ing such restrictions, the forum was, in agreeing to
regulations that would stifle the democratic
Similarly the statement that "we firmly oppose anarchism
and democracy" may have appeared unavoidable
in terms of,short-range political realities, but in the long TIm
it was self-defeating so long as the authorities and not the
dissidents had the power to define those terms.
Even though our country has entered the era of
socialism, we still require a double revolution:
capitalist and socialist. Capitalist revolution empha­
sizes raising cultural and ideological standards, there­
by liberating people from the confines offeudalism. It
also involves an industrial revolution to promote the
development of productivity and enrich society's
material resources. Socialist revolution, on the other
hand, emphasizes both political revolution, which up­
grades people's political consciousness and wipes out
the old ideology of exploitation, and social revolution,
to correct the shortcomings of capitalism and to col­
lectivize the private sector. We must have both revolu­
tions, because without the capitalist foundation social­
ism cannot be achieved. (pp. 156-57)
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
The factional struggle within the movement reflected
not only differences of temperament and philosophy but
also divergent approaches to tactical issues TheExploration
faction obviously viewed any self-restraint in criticizing
powerlulleaders as equivalent to disarming the movement
in its hour of need, and any acceptance of official control of
free expression as nothing short of suicidal. Yet the Forum
faction grasped the harsh reality that a democracy move­
ment set upon winning all might well end up with nothing.
Deng deftly used the movement when it suited his
purpose and divided his critics before suppressing them.
His strategms left defenders of Democracy Wall confused,
weakened, and easily crushed. By the time they rallied
together for mutual defense, it was too late. It is no small
irony that Liu Qing, editor of the moderate Forum, was
arrested while going to the aid of Exploration extremist Wei
Jingshen and that the two wound up in the same prison.
Dissidents disagreed over the value of the new con­
stitution and the "rule of law." Some saw these highly
touted reforms of the Deng regime as beacons of progress,
but the more skeptical among them realized that the con­
stitution was not necessarily more than "a scrap of paper"
and that laws could be used to suppress, as well as to
uphold, popular rights, or could simply be ignored.
The enormous gap between principle and practice is
nowhere more apparent than in the handling of accused
dissidents. After so many years during which political of­
fenders were punished without a pretense of judicial proce­
dures. even the semblance of formal trials open to an
officially-selected audience-as in the case of Wei Jing­
shen-was proudly hailed as heralding the advent of an
enlightened era.
Not even the pretext of judicial legalities was observed
in the treatment ofLiu Qing, who was peremptorily thrown
into prison while protesting Wei's incarceration. No indict­
ment was brought against him until nine months later,
when he was officially accused of distributing transcripts of
Through a hundred years of bloody struggle, the
proletariat obtained freedoms of expression, press,
assembly, organization, religion, and the right to
strike. Why did these freedoms disappear after the
so-called proletarian Community [sic] Party gained
power? Why do all "proletarian" governments dic­
tate to their masses and repress those who really speak
for the masses? It is because their basic approach to
government is incorrect. If the majority benefits from
democracy and freedom, why do we go to such ex­
tremes to maintain dictatorship? Why is it necessary
to arrest people who simply express their opinions.
Qincheng [Prison] proves that our government is not
the people's government, because it has deprived the
people of free speech. Those who have been tortured
are usually the masses' friends, whereas the prosecu­
tors are the enemies f the people. Only those who lack
the support of the people have to resort to making false
charges and torturing their opponents in order to
perpetuate their dictatorship. (p. 221)
We have been hardened in the Cultural Revolution,
and we are no longer stupid. (p. 204)
Wei's trial in violation of an ordinance establishing a state
monopoly of news distribution. Liu's case shows that the
security apparatus is just as arrogant now as it was during
the Gang of Four period. As one of Liu's interrogators
reminded him when he invoked the rule oflaw, "This is the
place for dictatorship." A foreign correspondent who pub­
lished accounts of Liu's imprisonment was officially de­
nounced for lacking the "responsible attitude" appropriate
to his profession (Washington Post, September 15, 23,
On balance, the proletarian democratic system is
not as perfect as bourgeois democracy. The prole­
tarian democratic system has not become a strong
lever for the advanced development of social sciences,
technology, literature, art, and productive forces. (p.
The Fate of the Fifth Modernization
By the fall of 1981, the wave of suppression that began
with the destruction of the underground press, the outlaw­
ing of the Democracy Wall, and the arrest, imprisonment,
or disappearance of human rights activists was moving
toward a new crest with the campaign to tighten the permis­
sible limits of literary expression and to reassert the ideo­
logical authority of the Party. The campaign to vilify liberal
ideas has sometimes attained a stridency equal to that of
the Cultural Revolution. For example, in the September
21, 1981 issue of Beijing Review, Vice-Minister of Culture
Chen Huangmei blasted writers who "resort to bourgeois
human feelings, humanism and human rights; eulogize the
abstract dignity of humanity, the value of man, human
freedom, and the position of mankind." (p. 15)
Vice-Minister Chen may rest assured that "class en­
emies" are not being treated with undue regard for "bour­
geois human feelings," "human rights," "the abstract dig­
nity of humanity," or "the value of man." If he has any
doubts, he need only read Section Eleven of The Fifth
Modernization, "China's Gulag," consisting of several ex­
poses of China's prisons. To these brief but grim testimo­
nials we now can add a 196-page account smuggled out by
Liu Qing. (An abridged version appear in the Washington
Post, September 15, 1981. A fuller account has been pub­
lished in SPEARhead, no. 14-15, Summer-Fall 1982.) Con­
ditions in correctional institutions with such edifying or
poetic names as "Forest of Virtue" or "Lotus Flower
Temple" make Sing Sing, San Quentin, and Attica almost
resort-like in comparison.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Their publications banned, their network shattered,
their comrades jailed or intimidated into silence, China's
human rights leaders face a grim future. Their slim hope for
protection against unchecked state coercion no longer rests
on a modem rule of law but on an ancient law of rule-the
law of countervailing bureaucratic power. Before security
operatives make arrests, they are well advised to make sure
that their victims are persona non grata to other powerful
segments of the leadership, oratlleastthatapprehending the
young critics will not prove unduly embarrassing to any­
body of importance. In the case of Wei lingshen and his
comrades who had dared to confront Deng Xiaoping, the
security apparatus unquestionably enjoyed support from
the highest level.
The muzzling of the democratic movement and the
harsh treatment dealt out to its leading advocates lend a
poignancy to Huang's and Seymour's judgment that, for all
its internal divisions, political weaknesses, tactical errors,
and ideological loose ends:
Still, China's democratic movement of 1978-79 will
stand as a monument to the free spirit of mankind. The
courage which these men and women exhibited in the face of
overwhelming power cannot fail to inspire, and leads us to
suspect that, indeed, "the movement has not died." (p. 26)
Now that Sino-American relations have been normal­
ized and the two countries have become, to some extent,
allies, it is more essential than ever that we be as unblinking
in recognizing the negative features of each other's socie-
What has caused all the discontent? It is the reac­
tionary policies of the Gang of Four and the current
antipeople policies you want to continue. It is those
privileged people who have, through their incorrect
policies, forced people to live in hunger and cold and to
march down dead ends. It is those executioners who
have not hesitated to sacrifice the poeple's lives and
cause the economy to slump while fighting among
themselves for power and personal interests.
• • • Our view is that we must first eliminate those
bureaucrats and masters and realize people's democ­
racy before it is possible to realize the socialist Four
Modernizations. (p. 261).
as we in praising the positive accomplishments.
Chmese wnters, who do not hestitate to discuss the ugliness
as. as the beauty in American life, surely act in this
spmt. We should be no less candid in our evaluation of
In focusing on human rights, Huang and Seymour
have chosen an area in which no nation has an unblemished
record but !o which A.mex?cans have given serious thOUght
and made SIgnal contnbutlons. For concerned Asian schol­
ars to remain silent on that issue would be a service neither
to ourselves nor to the Chinese people.*
'.' ••<"
j." •.
. .': ........
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" , .;', '!.
'j;l, I," ;;, /\. "'I) I; -1.{&1 If -t /":;---1 f I'/'!";')
. , • t f' '-.. I,J'W, "-. . . ,r Y f-...... ._. _ .u. • _, .J •
1 /;'- 1"'-(;' , /." - . ,"] /.,{ .J- h -h; J: 12 (}
. ''; ,. 'i, ;:, \!JFI ,! //',1 ii /-.....Lx..., ti to In %: :; -ttl!, ,'/l :y·}i;' -t-1!6 \
-li:FJj,1"" Ih'J-t}!:"d./, i.,i, .--" ,,:, I " I. t, :::]",. '.1 '11
;fJ 'i'-,I jil!!J/il L J", tJ '1:1) \ fr , t.1b iii}, I!' (';5 'l-F) 2·tfo·ttJ
2'\!F l' l%1J;v..1Y-)
First page of "In Search of Truth," a publication of the human rights
movement. Courtesy of James Seymour.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Documents on CIA Surveillance of CCAS*
CIA Domestic Intelligence
Retyped Copy
Director, Domestic Contact Service 8 October 1971
Chief, San Francisco Office
Celebration of the 22nd Anniversary of the Peoples' Re­
public of China, 1 October 1971, in San Francisco, Cali­
1. We attended the first open public commemoration
of the 22nd Anniversary of the founding of the People's
Republic of China on 1 October 1971 which was held in San
Francisco's Veterans War Memorial Auditorium. This was
under the joint auspices of the US-Chinese Friendship
Association, 2501 Bryant St., San Francisco, California,
and the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars. We were
admitted through a group of yellow arm-banded black and
white, hippie-type ushers (who were prepared to double as
vigilantes in the event of disturbances) and seated without
question. This auditorium is located in the Civic Center and
has a seating capacity of 1600. More than 1500 people were
in attendance.
2. The audience was predominately (sic) non­
Chinese. Chicanos appeared to be in the majority but there
were many Negroes and whites. Only an estimated 20% of
the audience was Chinese. These were mostly middle-aged
Chinese and female sweatship (sic) workers from the small
garment factories in and around Chinatown. About 800 of
the total audience appeared to be middle-aged women or
young people. The majority were garbed informally and
some men wore traditional establishment suits while some
of the women wore Chinese gowns. The program was
printed in Chinese, English and Spanish.
3. The program began one-half hour late and after
singing "East is Red," the chairman, one K.C. Foung, aka
Feng Kuo-hsiang (7458/094S/4382) got things underway.
Foung is a member of the I Wor Kuen (aka I Wo Chuan)
who are known as the "Boxers" of Boxer Rebellion fame.
He is a ~ ' V a t o w native. The I Wor Kuen is headquartered in
• Provided by Tom Grunfeld from the Library of Empire State College at
New York City.
New York and the San Francisco branch was recently
opened. The members are radicals from Hong Kong.
Foung spoke fluent English, Mandarin and Cantonese. The
program also included the inevitable singing of the
"Internationale" and "Sailing the Seas Depends on the
Helmsman. "
4. The main Chinese speaker was John Ong, aka
Wong Shau-Chiu, publisher and editor of the Communist
Chinese Voice, which was converted from a weekly to a daily
on 1 October 1971. He made a vicious attack on the US and
Chinese Nationalists but was lavish in his praise for Mao
Tse-tung. Miss Molly Cove [sic], a tall, slim blond from the
Pacific News Service spoke on the rise of Communism in
China. She spoke in English and represented the Commit­
tee of Concerned Asian Scholars. She was soft-spoken and
merely traced the historical background of Mao's rise to
power. The other American speaker was Miss Ann
Tompkins, a former literature teacher but now chairwo­
man of the US-Chinese Friendship Association. She
teaches a course in Mandarin in the Association. She said
she was on the mainland for four years and had witnessed
the Cultural Revolution. She said that Liu Shao-chi was
definitely still a Kuomintang member and that his purge
was justified. She received many rounds of applause from
the audience.
5. Mao's poems were also read as were congratulatory
telegrams from a number of people and organizations. The
entire meeting was orderly and ended with a two and
one-half hour showing of Communist movies. There were
exhibits in other parts of the building. Two long tables in
the front lobby were lined with Communist literature and
periodicals which were for sale in Chinese, English and
Spanish. The meeting was not over-crowded because it
received little coverage in the media before the meeting.
An exhibit and additional movies were also shown on the
second day but there were no more mass meetings. Mean­
while, the pro-Nationalists were holding a memorial meet­
ing in Chinatown for the people massacred by the Com­
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
munists on the mainland during the last twenty-two years.
(There were no disturbances at this meeting as there had
been on a previous occasion when pro-Communists stormed
an outdoor platform in Chinatown park and placed Red
flags and photographs of Mao and Lenin on the stage.)
6. Some bedlam did break loose during the slogan­
shouting period and strangers, male and female, old and
young, blacks and whites, Chinese and non-Chinese hug­
ged and kissed each other to indicate solidarity. Some
women wept openly. This went on for a full 30 minutes until
the meeting was called to order. Coffee and sandwiches
were served after the movies. A huge tin receptacle was
placed at the exit for donations, and many Chinese were
seen dropping in ten and twenty dollar bills. The chairman
claimed that similar celebrations were being held in a dozen
cities in the US and Canada.
7. There were no Overseas Chinese present from the
establishment of the community. One report said that a
Mr. Y.M. Lin, aka Lin Yi-min, Purdue University graduate
and former Nationalist government official in Canton who
is now retired in Berkeley, California, was seen in the
audience. A Harry Yuen, who operates the Dragon Foun­
tain Restaurant, was one of the moving spirits of the occa­
sion and was directing most of the action behind the stage.
His cashier is one Maurice Chuck who is manager of the
Chinese Voice. He was formerly connected with the East­
West Week Newsweekly. There seemed to be few students at
this meeting and most of the younger people in the crowd
were in their twenties and seemed to be either part-time
workers, or, in some cases, students. Other than the
slogan-shouting demonstration, the meeting was orderly
and ended without incident. The young militants and local
Red Guards were not in sight.
8. The Chinese present were undoubtedly impressed
by the lack of discrimination manifested by others in the
audience. This may be a harbinger of future celebrations as
US-Communist China relations continue to improve.
There was no counter-demonstration or disruption by the
pro-Nationalist goon squads. Chinese and English lan­
guage newspapers gave the celebration no coverage.
9.The above recount maybe of some interest to DDP.
Other reports may be forthcoming from other cities in the
US where similar meetings were held. We thought this
meeting was interesting although the content was dull, but
we felt it might serve as background.
CIA Intelligence Report
[deleted] 0309:3Z MA Y 72 CITE [deleted]
[deleted] MHCHAOS
[deleted] VISIT OF [deleted] THE COMMITTEE OF
10. [deleted]
11. [deleted]
DATE: 27 MAY 1977
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Academia in Pakistan under
Military Terror
Pushed to the sidelines and largely unreported by the
world mass media is a story of daily brutal oppression being
perpetrated on the people of Pakistan by a military regime
with whom Canada conducts business as usual, and on
whom the present U.S. administration has showered $3.2
billion in military and economic aid.
In a systematic crackdown on all institutions of civil
society such as political parties, trade unions, the judiciary,
journalist and lawyers associations, the Pakistani military
has now intensified its barbaric attacks on the academic
community. The nature and intensity of this oppression can
only be comprehended by looking at a few cases, out of a
large number of persons who are daily being victimized by
the police state. These cases are fully verifiable and are
extracted from the few news reports that filter through
Pakistan's press, gagged as it is by draconian censorship
ordinances, and two recent reports: (1) Amnesty Interna­
tional, Pakistan: Human Rights Violations and the Decline of
the Rule ofLaw, London, 1981 and (2) Pakistan Committee
for Democrucy and Justice, Pakistan: A People Suppressed,
New York, 1981 (available from P.O. Box 776, New York,
N. Y. 10009).
Since the autumn of 1977 when the military generals
finally reneged on their promise to hold national elections
within ninety days of the coup, steps have been taken to
control the nation's educational institutions. Each blow
dealt to the structure of democracy and due process of law
was accompanied by prolonged closing of universities and
colleges, posting of police and military units on campuses
and arrests of student leaders in anticipation of protest
demonstrations. At the same time university and college
administrators with reputations for holding independent
views or sympathies with the policies of Pakistan Peoples
Party were replaced.
This, however, did not stop expression of dissent from
academia against the military regime's repressive acts such
as imprisonment, public floggings, torture and executions
of political workers, trade unionists, journalists, writers
and lawyers. The dissident students in particular continued
to hold on-campus rallies and put out pamphlets and
leaflets demanding restoration of democracy and an end to
brutal repression. But since 1980, the military government,
buoyed by the support it has received from Western and
Arab countries, in the name of the Afghanistan situation,
has now embarked on the course of silencing once and for
all the bothersome voices of dissent which continue to arise
from academia. While earlier students and teachers were
warned, intimidated and shuttled in and out of detention
centers, now they are chosen for exemplery and brutal
Some Student Victims
NAZIR ABBASI, President of the Sind National Stu­
dents Federation, was picked up by police in July 1980
along with six others, including a Karachi professor and
two ex-student leaders. Abbasi was tortured in military
custody and died on 9 August 1980. The rest of his compa­
nions were finally produced before a military court five
months later and charged with "possessing literature likely
to promote hatred between classes, creating disaffection
towards the armed forces and promoting opinions prejudi­
cial to the ideology of Pakistan." They are still in prison
awaiting trial.
HABIB ULLAH SHAKIR, a leader of the National
Students Federation, was picked up by police in August
1980 from the campus of the Multan University and re­
moved to the infamous interrogation center located in La­
hore Fort. He was not allowed any visits from outside until
January 19, 1981 when he was produced before Military
Court No. 26 in an emaciated condition and sentenced to
one year's "Rigorous Imprisonment" for "delivering an
objectionable speech."
ABDUL HAMID BALUCH, a member of the Ba­
luchistan Students Organization, was arrested on 9 De­
cember 1979 on the charge of firing at a military officer
from the Gulf state of Oman who was recruiting Pakistani
mercenary soldiers from the Baluchistan province. While
the Omani officer was not hurt in the alleged incident,
Special Military Court No.4 charged and sentenced Baluch
to death for killing another person, in spite of the fact that
the military prosecutor was not able to establish the identi­
ty of this other person. The Military Court's sentence was
appealed to the Baluchistan High Court, which found the
abuse of due process in this case so blatant that it issued
injunctions to the military regime to "settle some funda­
mental questions of law and constitutional rights before
executing Hamid Baluch." The military regime retaliated
by promUlgating a "Provisional Constitutional Order" on
24 March 1981, stripping the civilian courts of their review
powers over convictions awarded by military courts. The
civilian prison authorities still refused to execute Baluch,
claiming to be under the jurisdiction of the Baluchistan
High Court. On June 11, 1981 General Zia ul Haq's milit­
ary men entered the jail where the accused Hamid Baluch
was being detained and hanged him to death.
NASIR KHAN ACHAKZAI, a leader of Pashtun
Students Organization convicted by a military court for
"subversive activities" and detained in the same jail with
Hamid Baluch, was hanged on August 21, 1981 now that
the last legal hurdles were removed from the path of milit­
ary courts.
The few cases outlined above illustrate a brand of
justice used by the Pakistani military when it has taken the
trouble of applying its "Marshall Law" to silence its youth­
ful opponents in the academic community. Many more
progressive and dissident students have lost their lives as a
result of murderous attacks by lamiat-e-Tuleba, henceforth
lamiat, the student arm of the right-wing fundamentalist
party, lamat-e-Islami, which is behind the "Islamization"
policy of the military regime. The lamiat is a highly or­
ganized, armed and well funded band of professional stu­
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
dents which conducts its violent campaign against progres­
sive student organizations in the name of "defense of
Islam." By its terrorist tactics and official patronage, the
lamiat now runs parallel administrations in academia, espe­
cially in the nation's oldest institution, the Punjab Uni­
versity. The specific role of this organization will be better
appreciated in the context of what follows.
Some Faculty Victims
In its direct assault on the teaching staff of various
educational institutions the military regime has been merci­
ful, so far, to the extent of stopping short of hanging and
inflicting death by torture. Part of the reason is that as the
clouds of repression thickened over academia. many youn­
ger teachers left the profession or the country itself, and
many senior faculty members, caught in the web of serious
economic problems and family obligations, took recourse
to prudent self-restraint. Nevertheless, the military rulers,
it appears, were looking for excuses for a showdown with
the teaching profession.
On 7 April 1981, DR. ASLAM KHAN NARU, a
chemistry professor, was arrested, an obvious target be­
cause of membership in the Central Committee of the
Pakistan Peoples Party. He was kept incommunicado and
savagely tortured in the Lahore Fort until June 30, 1981,
when he was for the first time allowed a visit by his rela­
tives. He has so far neither been charged nor tried of any
offense, but remains confined in one of Pakistan's most
notorious detention centers where hundreds of political
prisoners have died since the British Colonial authorities
opened this facility in the early 1900s.
The crackdown on the professoriate got into full-swing
immediately after an incident that took place on November
3, 1981. On that day JAMIL OMAR, a lecturer in the
computer science department of the Ouaid-e-Azam Uni­
versity, was arrested for having in possession and distribut­
ing an illegal newspaper, lamhoori Pakistan (Democratic
Pakistan), in Islamabad. On November 8, 1981, the mili­
tary dictator, Zia ul Haq, went on national television and
after staging the bizarre action of presenting a cash award
to the policeman who arrested Omar, held out emphatic
promises to the nation that he will "totally eliminate all
western type intellectuals, leftists, anti-Pakistan and sub­
versive elements from the universities. "
Following Jamil Omar's arrest, the houses of many
university teachers in Islamabad were raided and a pile of
"subversive" material confiscated. A picture of this pile
was published in the government controlled media, prom­
inantly displaying such titles as Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward,
and journals such as International Affairs and Peking Review.
Omar, in the meantime, was removed to the Lahore Fort
and according to different sources, including Amnesty In­
ternational, savagely tortured. Subsequently two other
professors of Islamabad, T ARlO AHSAN (political sci­
ence) and M. SALEEM (chemistry), were picked up as
accomplices of Omar and sent to the torture chambers of
the Lahore Fort. To date none has been released or even
brought to trial before the military's own kangaroo courts.
Encouraged by the above example set by the military
head of the state, the lamiat goons got into their own act in
ences, who had declined to donate money to their cause
and also refused to increase the marks of lamiat members
taking his course in economic development. But Hussain
stood his ground. Subsequently the University administra­
tion under lamiat pressure removed him from teaching
economic developement, his area of expertise.
Next the lamiat launched an attack on a female mem­
ber of the Department of Applied Psychology, Punjab
University. On November 29, 1981 DR. SEEMEN
ALAM, a senior teacher of clinical psychology, was drag­
ged out of her classroom by 50-60 male lamiat goons who
did not belong to her department. She was subjected to a
torrent of filthy abuse, physically roughed up and warned
not to teach her classes anymore. When finally rescued by
her students, mostly females, she pleaded to the university
authorities and the Military Governor of the province for
protection of her "honour, dignity and self-respect as a
teacher and as a woman." The university authorities re­
sponded by relieving her of all her teaching duties and the
provincial Military Governor gave her a lecture about
"Western educated women who want to Westernize our
Islam living people." Ironically, all students of the Islamic
code of life will agree on one thing-respect for the dignity,
honour and privacy of women. The lamiat justified its
conduct towards this woman professor on the grounds that
she propagated leftist ideas, although she has continued to
protest that her subject, clinical psychology, has nothing to
do with any ideology. They also claimed that her morals
were questionable because when the lamiat toughs broke
into her office they found a photograph of a departmental
gathering in which she appeared next to her male col­
The purpose of narrating these few incidents, from
many, is to appeal to men and women of conscience and
dedication to the cause of human and civil rights to come to
the aid of Pakistan's beleaguered academic community in
particular and people in general. Having failed to legiti­
mize its authoritarian rule internally, the present military
regime relies heavily on support from its foreign allies.
There is an urgent need to let it be known to the military
tyrants of Pakistan that their morally bankrupt regime
deserves no sympathy in the international spere unless they
cease their acts of terrorism. Let it be impressed by all
means on the governments of Canada and the United
States that all educational and scientific exhanges, as well
as all trade and aid to Pakistan should be suspended until
fair and free elections are held in that country and power
restored to the elected representatives of the people.
Hassan Gardezi and Jamil Rashid
* * * * *
Protests in the U.S. can be addressed to:
General Eijaz Azim
Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States
Embassy of Pakistan
2315 Massachusetts Ave., N. W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Protests can also be sent to U.S. Secretary of State George
Punjab University, Lahore. First they went after a young Shultz and Senator Charles Percy, Chairman of the U.S.
lecturer, DR. AKMAL HUSSAIN, of administrative sci- 65 Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
A Review Essay
by A. Tom Grunfeld
If one glances across a map of Asia it is not difficult to
determine which areas have received the least attention.
Certainly this would not be the Soviet Union, or China, or
the so-called "Middle East," or India, or Indochina. What
newspaper reader doesn't have images of Bangladesh,
Thailand or Japan? But what does the average person
know about the vast central part of Asia which stretches
from the deserts of Mongolia in the north to the foothills of
the Himalayas in Nepal to the south? To demonstrate this
point I took a look at back issues of the Bulletin and dis­
covered that in 13 years not a single article and only one
review essay! had been published about the entire region.
The books under review here can help carry the reader
some way towards a better understanding which is valuable
when one recalls the historical significance to China of
invasion across the steppes of central Asia and the more
recent attempts at rapprochement between India and
Books written for latent political purposes but passed
off as objective scholarship are certainly not a new phe­
nomenon. Recent studies denying Nazi atrocities during
World War II are an example of this genre, as is Victor
Louis' The Coming Decline of the Chinese Empire.However,
there is a critical difference in this instance for this book has
an ominous political purpose with the potential of being
translated into action one day and therein, to my mind, lies
the purpose to its publication.
Victor Louis is an extraordinary Russian. A journalist
of French parentage, he is known widely as an operative of
the Soviet Secret police, the KGB. He travels freely around
the world extolling the virtues of Soviet-style socialism
while living in bourgeois splendor (2 swimming pools, 2
cars, etc.) when home in Moscow.
The book itself was written exclusively for foreign
publication and can be assumed to carry the official im­
primatur of the Soviet authorities, as all of Louis' work
1. A. Torn Grunfeld, "Roof of the World," Bulletin of Concerned Asian
Scholars 9:1 (January-March, 1977), pp. 58-67. M.e. Van Walt, "On
Grunfeld's 'Roof of the World', "Bulletin ofConcerned Asian Scholars 10:3
(July-September, 1978), pp. 40-41. A. Torn Grunfeld, "Rejoinder," Bul­
letin o/ConcernedAsianScholars 10:3 (July-September, 1978), pp. 41-42.
PIRE, by Victor Louis. Dissenting introduction by
Harrison E. Salisbury. New York: Times Books, 1979,
198 pp., index.
THE TIBETANS, by Chris Mullin. London: Minority
Rights Group, 1981, 16 pp., maps.
by P.M. Blaikie, J. Cameron and J.D. Seddon. Paris:
Development Centre of the Organization for Econ­
omic Co-operation and Development, 1980, 100 pp.
D. Seddon with P. Blaikie and J. Cameron. London:
Aris & Phillips Central Asian Studies, 1979,214 pp.,
appears to. The thesis is engagingly simple: the minority
people of China (6 percent of the population occupying 60
percent of the land area) have had their independence
brutally suppressed by the ruthless Han majority and now
await impatiently for their Soviet liberators to arrive and
afford them the same freedoms, democracy and indepen­
dence that the non-Slav (about 50 percent of the Soviet
population) peoples in the USSR enjoy. The latter part of
this paradigm is so ludicrous that if it were published in the
Soviet Union it would probably be met with cries of
Harrison Salisbury's dissenting introduction provides
a wonderful opportunity to prepare the reader before em­
barkation on the text itself. The purpose, as Salisbury so
aptly points out, is to place before the world"... a pseudo­
historical, pseudopolitical framework to justify whatever
aggression the Kremlin decided upon." (p. xviii) In perform­
ing this feat, Louis"... has not bothered with minor falsifi­
cations. Instead, he has attempted to construct The Big
Lie." (p. ix) In other words, Louis has woven an intellectual
justification for any future attacks on China by the Soviet
Union, especially across central Asia.
To be fair this "Big Lie" is not based totally on illusory
foundations. The history of the minority peoples in China is
bleak at best and something Han people are far from proud
of. Even after the victory of the communist forces in 1949
and the concerted efforts of the government of the newly
established People's Republic of China to alter the tradi­
tional racist views, problems of "Great Hanism" persist.
I t is from this undeniable historical foundation that Louis
constructs a picture that owes more to his imagination than
to historical accuracy.
In a mere 187 pages of text Louis appears to have set
some record for the number of historical facts misrepre­
sented. A mere sampling follows.
• He claims the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo
was only recognized by Japan and the Soviet Union (p. 15)
when 15 nations maintained diplomatic offices there .
• He says that early in this century the Dalai Lama
returned to Lhasa "in triumph" from Mongolia (p. 50)
when in reality the Dalai Lama travelled to Beijing from
Mongolia, stayed almost a year before returning to Lhasa
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
for only 8 weeks, then to India for 2 years and only then
back to Lhasa "in triumph".
• He quotes an 8th Century treaty between the rulers
of China and Tibet to argue that theY'were equal states (p.
51) while neglecting to mention the title of the treaty which
indicated that it was between the "Uncle" (China) and the
"Nephew" (Tibet).
• He cites the Simla Conference as having taken place
in 1904 (p. 52) when in fact it took place in 1913.
• He cites a Sino-Tibetan treaty in 1914 (p. 52) which
is a total figment of his fertile imagination.
• He argues that the Guomindang government of
China never raised the issue of sovereignty over Tibet while
it was in power (p. 53) when it did so countless times not the
least of which were missions dispatched to Lhasa in 1930,
1931, 1934, and 1936 expressly for that purpose.
• He argues that China is not a centralized state due to
regional differences in culture and linguistics (pp. 105-106)
while ignoring the Han written script which is the same
throughout China and the unifying effect of Chinese cul­
ture through the centuries.
• He disdains the Chinese claim that the issue ofTibet
is an internal one (p. 54) when that is exactly what the
Soviet media preached throughout the 1950s when ". . .
the sun of Sino-Soviet friendship was at its zenith. " (p. 64)
The list could easily be tripled given the space.
At times Louis uses his misinformation to develop an
analysis that is so divorced from reality that it leaves one
breathless in anger over the author's insulting view of how
naive he assumes his readers are. Take for example Louis'
claim that the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962 and the Indone­
sian civil war of 1965 were both willfully precipitated by
Beijing in order to destroy the communist parties of these
countries to prevent their becoming potential rivals to Mao
Zedong as the premier Asian communist leader. (pp. 17­
18) This is about as ludicrous as arguing that Moscow
feared the potential rivalry of the Communist Party,
U.S.A. in the 1950's and was therefore behind McCarthy­
ite efforts to destroy it. Needless to say' Louis does not
provide a shred of documentation for these wild allega­
Now that Louis has created his "strawman" he is pre­
pared to knock it down and consequently we can discern
the real purpose for this major effort at fabrication. Louis
informs us that the ethnic relations of China's minority
peoples who reside on the Soviet side of the Asian frontier
are being trained in military tactics (p. 91) and that these
young Kazakhs, Uighers and Kirghiz are so anxious to
march across the frontier that it takes the most strenuous
efforts of the peaceful Soviet state to hold them back. It is
regretable these same efforts were not exerted to hold back
Soviet troops from Afghanistan. And as to how long they
can be held back Louis warns ominously that:
. . . it would be far more difficult to achieve a military victory
over China today than it was a decade ago. And it will be
immeasurably more difficult in another decade than it is
today. One highly placed Soviet official has been reported as
saying that it would even be unjust and cowardly to leave the
solution of the Chinese question for the next generation to
cope with. (p. 142)
Since Louis has no qualms about fabricating historical
events it is not surprising that he also doesn't shirk from
attempts at aggrandizing the nation he is apologizing for.
Comparing Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler
at Munich to the West's current close ties to China he boldly
states, " ... if Russia has saved Western civilization once
before, why not again?" (p. 140)
But as I pointed out earlier, this work should not be
shrugged off as just another piece of worthless propaganda.
It has ominous implications in the light of up to one million
Soviet troops along the Chinese frontier, active Soviet
broadcasts of anti-Chinese material in the minority lan­
guages into Central Asia and Tibet, and the recent pro­
nouncement of a Soviet official, while on a visit to India,
that Moscow would be willing to aid Tibetan refugees who
wish to rekindle the flames of guerrilla war and sabotage
current efforts at reconciliation between Beijing and New
Delhi as well as between Beijing and The Dalai Lama.
Louis would have done well to have spoken to Chris
Mullin or waited for Mullin's succinct, superb account of
Tibet, its history, and present situation. Mullin is a British
free-lance journalist who has written often about Tibet and
has provided the best study of CIA covert operations in the
He has recently returned from Tibet after having
spent several years interviewing Tibetan refugees in India
and, on three occasions, the Dalai Lama.
Tibet is an issue as emotive as Northern Ireland or
Israel and the literature to date has reflected that by being
almost exclusively dogmatic and sectarian.
This fortun­
ately is now changing. Mullin's effort in The Tibetans along
with an article by an American free-lance journalist who
has also long been interested in Tibet, T.D. Allman,4 are
the finest examples of this new approach to matters Tibe­
Because of these deeply felt emotional reactions on
any utterance concerning Tibet, Mullin was compelled to
walk a precariously thin line in trying to deal honestly with
the subject. I believe he has succeeded admirably. As yet,
as far as I can discern, Mullin's recent journey through this
political minefield has not elicted any response from Beij­
ing, but a large measure of success can be gauged by the
reactions in the widely read Tibetan refugee publication
Tibetan Review which rebuked him only relatively mildly
and even allowed itself to agree with some of the author's
Since past practices has been to vituperate anyone
who deviates in the slightest from the Dalai Lama's posi­
tion Mullin seems to have managed quite a feat.
Mullin offers us a brief history of the relations between
the Han and the minority populations and follows with a
2. Chris Mullin, "How the CIA Went to War," Guardian (London) 19
January, 1976. Also in Far Eastern Economic Review.5 September 1975.
3. For criticism on Tibetology see: A. Tom Grunfeld, "Some Thoughts
on the Current State of Sino-Tibetan Historiography," China Quarterly 83
(September, 1980), pp. 568-576. A. Tom "Tibetan History: A
Somewhat Different Approach," Tibetan Reivew (New Delhi) 16:6 (June,
1981), pp. 8-14.
4. T.D. Allman, "Credit Cards and Calculators Come to Shangri-La,"
Asia 3:5 (January-February, 1981), pp. 26-27,42-44.
5. "Minority Rights Group Publishes Report on Tibetans," pp. 4-6 and
Tsering Wangyal, "In Defence of the Majority Rights," pp. 26-27, both in
Tibetan Review 16:6 (June, 1981).
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
capsule history of Tibet itself. In this latter section I believe
he relies too heavily on non-experts such as British journa­
lists and British colonial officials and would have been
better served by relying upon the likes of Giuseppe Tucci,
the West's foremost Tibetologist, or on the autobiogra­
phies of former Tibetan's of high station such as Rato
Khyongla Nawang Losang. Mullin also unwittingly fell vic­
tim to the oft repeated claim that in 1948 a Tibetan delega­
tion travelled around the world on fully recognized pass­
ports thereby justifying Tibet's claim to be an independent
nation since the passports were accepted as legal. Hope­
fully, my own research has finally dispelled that notion.
But I'm quibbling. The excellence of the work is not in
any substantial way diminished by these drawbacks. Mullin
describes fairly the horrors of the Cultural Revolution
which almost succeeded in forceably destroying Tibetan
religious practices and which did succeed in alientating
Tibetans towards the Han to an immeasurable degree.
Mullin also accurately describes the persisting difficulties in
eliminating "Great Hanism" which has succeeded in pre­
venting a single native Tibetan from rising to any position
of power in this "autonomous region" in the three decades
since communist forces arrived on the "roof of the world. "
The current head of the Communist Party in Tibet, Yin
Fatang, is a Han as were all his predecessors. There is one
major difference, however, and that is that Yin speaks
Tibetan, the first individual in that position to do so.
The Chinese government is now cognizant of these
difficulties and has begun a process which they have prom­
ised will bring about substantial change. Mullin discusses
these recent efforts, applauds the government for being
honest enough to admit their faults and, wisely, restrains
himself from predicting whether these changes will trans­
form the situation in Tibet. This short work, and the All­
man article mentioned earlier, will do more to inform lay
readers about Tibet than any combination of several scho­
larly books gathering dust on library shelves.
Readers of the Bulletin should also be made aware of
the group that published The Tibetans. The Minority Rights
Group is headquartered in London with affiliates in a do­
zen countries. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to
securing"... justice for minority or majority groups suf­
fering discrimination," publicizing human rights violations
and educating people about the deleterious effects of ra­
cism. The report on Tibet is their 49th and other topics have
been as disparate as minorities in Japan, Asians in Africa,
Gypsies in Europe, women in Asia and Arab women. The
half dozen or so reports that I have read over the years
struck me for their consistency in scholarly excellence,
forthright prose, and superb documentation. The work of
the MRG deserves far greater dissemination. More infor­
mation and a list of their publications can be had from
Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London
WC2N 5NG. Reports are about $2.50 each.
Unlike Central Asia and Tibet, Nepal has for centuries
been a clearly defined and widely recognized nation state.
Be that as it may, Nepal remains as mysterious to most
people, let alone Asianists, as a remote island. The two
works under review, by the same trio of authors, will not
6. Grunfeld, "TibetanHistory,"pp.1O-11.
necessarily help the inquisitive learn a great deal about
Nepalese history. Their purpose is to trace and analyze the
economic development of Nepal and its current position and
in that respect the books are highly enlightening. Further­
more, because Nepal shares a great deal in common with
other underdeveloped nations, these books deserve a far
greater audience than strictly those interested in Nepal, for
the lessons learned here can be applied, albeit with the
greatest of care, to most Third World countries.
The studies are based largely on field work conducted
in west central Nepal during 1974-1975 and once again in
1978 when previously visited households were revisited and
reinterviewed. Using an integrated social science approach
(the team included economists, historians, anthropolo­
gists, and sociologists) the studies were meant to examine
the political economy of Nepal in an historical context.
Since both studies were based on the same investigations
one can safely say that The Struggle for Basic Needs in Nepal
(hereafter Basic) can be viewed as a detailed abstract of
Peasants and Workers in Nepal (hereafter Peasants).
The study itself is a part of a larger project sponsored
by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and De­
velopment (OECD) which tried to define a "Basic Needs
Strategy" for the world's deprived peoples. This entailed
devising a strategy for providing the basic essentials of life:
food, clothing, shelter, household implements, sanitation,
drinking water, transportation, etc. Other studies in the
series deal with India, Peru and Egypt, in addition to a
bibliography and an overall synthesis by the project
The authors make no bones about their ideological
inclinations and their honesty is refreshing indeed.
[O]ur approach assumes that history is the history of class
struggle, and the category ofclass becomes the starting point
in this analysis of social change in Nepal . .. [We] fully
understand the importance of caste, and of regional hetero­
geneity in any but the crudest materialistic analysis ofNepal,
but take as part of our ideological position, the assumption
that they are not the determining categories upon which an
analysis of social change in Nepal can be based. (emphasis
in original) (Peasants, p. 17)
They are equally candid about their purposes. They
. . . one in which the central dynamic is the changing struc­
ture of relations between classes-relations ofproduction,
surplus appropriation and domination, economic and polit­
ical struggle. (Peasants, p. 13)
As a result:
.. the report seeks to identify both the contradictions in the
political economy ofNepal which constrain the transforma­
tion of society along the lines of suggestions which already
appear in official and academic documents and current polit­
ical debates . .. (Basic, p. 10)
But above all else their purpose is to understand the
continuing conflicts between the haves and the have-nots in
... attempt to understand the deprived as active subjects in
relationships not of their choosing, rather than passive vic­
tims ofinevitable processes. (Basic,p. 41)
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
Nepal is a depressingly poor country of almost 12­
million souls, 93 percent of whom are engaged in agricul­
tural pursuits and only 2 percent in industry. The per capita
annual income is less than $100. Land-locked with severely
limited communications and an economy that is perhaps
now approaching an inability to keep up with population
growth, it is not surprising that a recent United Nations
report began with the sentence, " ... Nepal is poor and
daily becoming poorer." (Basic, p. 14) Out of this popula­
tion the authors selected the most deprived people, admit­
tedly an extreme case, but necessary they argue in order to
highlight the impending crisis which they believe is engulf­
ing the Nepalese.
Using interviews with hundreds of families and, parti­
cularly, detailed case studies of77, they relate the suffering
of daily deprivations in, at times, moving personal accounts
reminiscent of Jack Belden's work in China in the 1940s.
They discuss the struggle for survival in terms of the search
for food and security, the struggle to obtain ownership of
the means of production ("rarely successful"), and the
attempts to confront the accepted notion that a just society
is defined solely by individual liberty linked to private
The discussion and reporting are quite comprehen­
sive, particularly in the Peasants volume. They include
detailed information concerning conditions faced by the
peasantry, rural artisans,porters, agricultural laborers, the
petty bourgeoisie, and urban workers. Both volumes touch
on the problems and failures of foreign aid, which tends to
cater almost exclusively to the interests of the landowners,
and that of the development strategies which are still vogue
in many quarters (Washington, D.C. for instance) which
argued that aid for the poor is best administered in a
"trickle-down" fashion.
There are some minor slip-ups such as the wrong date
for the last Nepali invasion of Tibet (should be 1855) (Peas­
ants, p. 31) and on a more serious level a failure to give
readers an over-all context in which to understand the
situation in west, central Nepal. Some economic statistics
and class analysis for the whole of Nepal would have been
extremely useful as would have a solid concluding chapter
in the Peasants book. As it is, one is left dangling having to
go back and attempt a conclusion on one's own.
This publication is indexed in the
P.O. Box 7229
Baltimore, MD 21218
Moving is costly. For you. And occasionaDy for
us. If you change your address but do not teD us,
the Post Oftice throws away your copy of the
Bulletin. • • and then charges us!
Give us a break. TeD us before you move.
As mentioned before, the discussions in these texts
and their findings provide us with lessons which have
broader applications than merely in Nepal. This is evident
from some conclusions drawn by the trio of authors as
stated in their own words.
[T]he struggle of the deprived is not simply against "na­
tural" circumstances, but against the social constraints
which derive from this complex structure of social relation­
ships. (Basic,p. 56)
[W]e concluded that a basic needs strategy must aim to
provide the deprived and poor with the means ofescape from
their deprivation and poverty, not as a result oftheir identifi­
cation as a "target" for assistance from above, but through
their own involvement in the process of development and
most crucially through their greater control over production,
and thus over the conditions under which deprivation and
poverty are generated and reproduced. Basic,p. 42)
As for Nepal, is it capable of recognizing the problem
and solving it? The government has established programs
such as limited rural co-operatives and a small farmer's
development program but they are controlled totally by
government functionaries and have enjoyed limited suc­
cess at best. And, while the authors are cautiously op­
timistic pointing out that a "basic needs strategy" has be­
gun to be a topic of discussion among officials in Kathman­
du, I believe the studies demonstrate that given the present
social formulations "basic needs" will be little more than a
topic of discussion.
When I mentioned to a highly prominent Nepali that I
was to review Peasants and Workers in Nepal he informed me
that it was unofficially banned in that country and after
reading it I am not surprised. Ruling elites throughout the
underdeveloped world never welcome sharp criticism. By
emphasizing increasing population pressures, rapid deple­
tion of natural rsources, a growing accumulation of wealth
into fewer hands, and a government dedicated to paying
only lip service to adequate developmental programs
Messrs. Seddon, Cameron and Blaikie have provided a
comprehensive outline of the problems and frightening
prospects of a future crisis. The officials in Kathmandu
would be well served to take heed. Readers concerned
about development in the Third World would be well
served to read these studies. *
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Praxis #6: Art and Ideology (Part 2)
Michel Pecheux, Language, Ideology and Discourse Analysis:
An Overview
Douglas Kellner, Television, Mythology and Ritual
Nicos Had;inicolaou, On the Ideology of Avant-Gardism
Kenneth Coutts-Smith, Posthourgeois Ideology and Visual
Marc Zimmerman, Francois Perus and Latin American
Modernism: The Interventions of Althusser
Fred Lonidier, "The Health and Safety Game" (Visual Feature)
Forthcoming issues:
Praxis #7 Antonio Grarnsci Praxis #8: Weimar and After
Single copy: $4.95 Subscription (2 issues): $8.00
Make checks payable to "the Regents of the University of California"
Praxis, Dickson Art Center. UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90024 USA
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
To the Editors:
. It is with regret that I must say R.J. Robison's other­
WIse excellent "The Transformation ofthe State in Indone­
sia" (BeAS vol. 14, no. 1, 1982, 48-60) is marred with a
sloppy use of the term "Chinese."
Br using it as "domestic Chinese" (54), he seems to
subscnbe to the Indonesian oppressor class' effort to ignore
i the fact that these "Chinese" are citizens of Indonesia. The
of :'Chinese" with the "indigenous" bour­
geolSle (e.g. 56) IS as racist as to single out Jewish capitalists
of, .say, or USA from capitalists of other ethnic/
racIal ongms who make up the "Australian/American"
capitalisms. Why segregate the Chinese-descended Indo­
nesians in this way?
It was to facilitate the colonial mission of exploiting
the Indonesian people as a whole that the Dutch used the
Indies Chinese-as I outline in my article in the same BeAS
issue (61-71)-as the colony'S corporate scapegoat-cum­
bogeyman. It is now kept alive by Indonesia's oppressor
similar politico-economic purposes. Today's
verSiOn IS based on the assumption that Chinese-descended
Indonesians, by virtue of their "blood," allegedly have
"specia! connections" with those of Singapore, Hong
Kong, If not the People's Republic of China. Hence, so
goes the argument of some chauvinistic "indigenous"
are of Indian, or European descent) In­
doneSian bourgeOISIe, to be assumed as "having their loy­
alty elsewhere." This is not only unscientific but also un­
Only the biggest towkays have such foreign
connections . .s.ut then, the upper ecpelons of the indigen­
ous bourgeOISIe and "P-B" too have connections with
numerous groups abroad. Indeed, one can safely say that
the of capitalists having
accounts m SWISS banks easIly surpasses that of their
Chinese-descended counterparts.
A.R.T. Kemasang
London, England
A general note about typographical and other mistakes in
the Bulletin: We are always glad to acknowledge any errors that
are to confuse or mislead. In all such cases, we request
your mdulgence and wish to explain that we have neither proof­
reading staff nor time or funds to mail galleys to authors who
reside in many parts of the world.
To the Editors:
There are some mistakes in the article which you kind­
ly published in vol. 14, no. 1 (1982). I shall omitthose which
are clearly misprints. The most important mistakes are the
. (1) p. 65, left column, third paragraph. The last three
lInes should have read: "in the new economic era one
famous case was Governor General Zwaardecroon's pa­
tronage of the Regent of Cianjur."
(2) p. 71, right column next to last paragraph. The
number of barbers should have been 20 and not 120 as
printed. '
(3) p. 71, right column, same paragraph, lines 4-5.
Part of this was omitted and should have read: "corro­
borated further by the fact that, in contrast to contrary
pronouncements (colonial propaganda speaks of "rap­
prochment"), the pattern of Dutch policies from 1740 on­
consistently anti-Chinese. Among the first
m the regIme's containment policies were the March 16 and
August 3, 1742 resolutions which actually tried to limit the
number of Chinese residents by ...."
Lastly, there are the less important ones noted below
for clarification and future reference:
. (1) term "Javans" (or "Javan") I originally used
m my TS IS not a mistake. It is not, furthermore, inter­
changeable with "Javanese". I use there two terms to dis­
tinguish the residents/population of Java from the ethnic
Javanese, who originate from Central and East Java.
. (2) It is true that arak can be made from rice (hence
nce wme), but the famous Batavian arack was rum. I
mentioned this in one letter and on p. 61 you correctly
printed it as "rum", but on p. 66 you have once again
printed it as "rice wine".
Yours fraternally,
Taunus Kemasang
Books to Review
The fo.zlowing review copies have arrived at the office of the
Bulletm. If you are interested in reading and reviewing one or
more of them, write to Joe Moore, BeAS, P.O. Box R, Berth­
oud, eo 80513. This is not, ofcourse, an exhaustive list ofthe
available books in print-only a list of books received. We
welcome reviews ofother worthy volumes not listed here.
Harnza Alavi & Teodor Shanin: Introduction to the Sociology of' 'Develop­
. ing Societies" (Monthly Review, 1982).
Enk Baark and Jon Sigurdson (eds.): India-China Comparative Research:
Technology and Science for Development (Curzon Press, 1981).
Noam Chomsky: Myth and Ideology in U.S. Foreign Policy (East Timor
Human Rights Committee, 1982).
& (eds.): Essays in Twentieth Century Ameri­
can DIplomatIC HIstory (Umv. Press of America, 1982).
Herbert J. Ellison (ed.): The Sino-Soviet Conflict: A Global Perspective
(Univ. of Washington, 1982).
Payer: The World Bank: A Analysis (Monthly Review, 1982).
Wilham G. Rosenberg & Manlyn B. Young: Transforming Russia and
. China: Revolutionary in the Twentieth Century (Oxford, 1982).
Wilbur Schramm and Erwm Atwood: Circulation of News in the Third
World: A Study ofAsia (The Chinese univ. Press, 1981).
E. Shore, P:J. Case & L. Daly (eds.): Alternative Papers: Selectionsfrom the
AlternatIve Press, 1979-198C (Temple Univ. Press, 1982).
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
East Asia
G. Apalin and U. Mityayev: Militarism in Peking's Policies (Progress
Publishers, 1980).
Richard C. Bush & James R. Townsend (comp.): The People's Republic of
China: A Basic Handbook (3rd ed., China Council of the Asia Society,
Hsi-sheng Ch'i: Nationalist China at War: Military Defeats and Political
Collapse, 1937-45 (Univ. of Michigan, 1982).
Frank Chin: The Chickencoop Chinaman and The Year of the Dragon: Two
Plays (Univ. of Washington, 1981).
Y.V. Chudodeyev (ed.): Soviet Volunteers in China, 1925-1945 (Progress
Publishers, 1980).
Fei Hsiao Tung: Toward a People's Anthropology (New World Press, 1981).
Francis L.K. Hsu: Americans and Chinese: Passage to Differences, 3rd ed.
(Univ. Press of Hawaii, 1981).
Ed Hammond: Coming of Grace: An Illustrated Biography of Zhou Enlai
(Lancaster-Miller, 1980).
Ed Hammond: To Embrace the Moon: An Illustrated Biography of Mao
Zedong (Lancaster-Miller, 1980).
Raphael Israel: Muslims in China: A Study in Cultural Confrontation (Hu­
manities Press, 1980).
Michael Kahn-Ackermann: China: Within the Outer Gate (Marco Polo
Press, 1982).
Fredric M. Kaplan & Arne J. de Keijzer: The China Guidebook, 1982/83 ed.
(Eurasia Press, 1981).
Fredric M. Kaplan & J.M. Sobin: Encyclopedia of China Today, 3rd ed.
(Harper & Row, 1981).
Harish Kapur: The Awakening Giant: China's Ascension in World Politics
Hyung I. Kim: Fundamental Legal Concepts of China and the West: A
Comparative Study (Kennikat Press, 1981).
Liu Zheng, Song Jian et al: China's Population: Problems and Prospects
(New World Press, 1981).
Lucian W. Pye: The Dynamics ofChinese Politics (Oelgeschlager, Gunn &
Hain, 1981).
John L. Scherer (ed.): China Facts & Figures Annual, vol. 4, 1981 (Aca­
demic International Press, 1981).
Mark Selden & Victor Lippit (eds.): The Transition to Socialism in China
(M.E. Sharpe, 1982).
Bobby Siu: Women of China: Imperialism and Women's Resistance, 1900­
1949 (Zed Press, London, 1982).
Derek J. Waller: The Government and Politics of the People's Republic of
China (3rd ed., New York Univ. Press 1981).
Wang Gungwu: Community and Nation: Essays on Southeast Asia and the
Chinese (Heinemann Educational Books, 1982).
Wang Xizhe: Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution (Plough Publications,
Hong Kong, 1981).
Brantly Womack: The Foundations ofMao Zedong's Political Thought 1917­
1935 (Univ. Press of Hawaii, 1982).
Xu Liangying and Fan Dainian: Science and Socialist Construction in China
(M.E. Sharpe, 1982).
Zhao Ziyang: China's Economy and Development: A Report by Premier Zhao
Ziyang (Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1982).
South Asia
A.R. Desai (ed.): Peasant Struggles in India (Oxford Univ. Press, 1979).
Mark Juergensmeyer: Religion as Social Vision: The Movement against
Untouchability in 20th-Century Punjab (Univ. of California, 1982).
Ranjini Obeyesekere and Chitra Fernando (eds.): An Anthology ofModern
Writing from Sri Lanka (Univ. of Arizona, 1981).
Gregory L. Possehl: Indus Civilization in Saurashtra (Humanities Press,
Enayetur Rahim: Scholars' Guide to Washington, D.C., for South Asian
Studies (Smithsonian, 1981).
Northeast Asia
Brett de Bary (trans.): Three Works by Nakano Shigehoru (Cornell Univ.,
Roger W. Bowen: Rebellion and Democracy in Meiji Japan: A Study of
Commoners in the Popular Rights Movement (Univ. ofCalif. , 1980).
Thomas W. Burkman: The Education of Japan: Educational and Social
Reform (MacArthur Memorial, 1982).
E.N. Castle & K. Hemmi (eds.): U.S.-Japonese Agricultural Trade Rela­
tions (Resources for the Future, 1982).
C. Harvey Gardiner: Pawns in a Triangle ofHate: The Peruvian Japonese and
the United States (Univ. of Washington, 1981).
Jiro Horikoshi: Eagles ofMitsubishi: The Story ofthe Zero Fighter (Univ. of
Washington, 1981).
Ronald A. Morse (ed.): The Politics of Japan's Energy Strategy: Re­
sources-Diplomacy-Security (Inst. of East Asian Studies, Univ. of
California, 1981).
Kazuo Sato (ed.): Industry and Business in Japon (M.E. Sharpe, 1980).
Conrad Totman: Japan Before Perry: A Short History (Univ. of California
Press, 1981).
Y oshiko Uchida: Desert Exile: The Uprooting ofa Japanese American Family
(Univ. of Washington Press, 1982).
Peter H. Lee (ed.): Anthology ofKorean Literature from Early Times to the
Nineteenth Century (Univ. Press of Hawaii, 1981).
Dae-Sook Suh: Korean Communism 1945-1980: A Reference Guide to the
Political System (Univ. Press of Hawaii, 1981).
Christina Tse: The Invisible Control: Management Control ofWorkers in U.S.
Electronic Company, with reference to Hong Kong and Korea (Center
for the Progress of Peoples, 1981).
Southeast Asia
Chr. L.M. Penders (ed.): Indonesia: Selected Documents on Colonialism and
Nationalism, 1830-1942 (Univ. of Queensland, 1977).
Alfons van der Kraan: Lombok: Conquest, Colonization and Underdevelop­
ment, 1870-1940 (Heinemann Educational Books, 1980).
Michael Chamberlain (ed.): East Timor International Conference Report
(East Timor Program, 1981).
Jill Jolliffe: East Timor: Nationalism & Colonialism (Univ. of Queensland,
Heri Akhmadi: Breaking the Chains ofOppression ofthe Indonesian People
(Cornell Univ., 1981).
Indonesian Documentation and Information Centre (ed.): Indonesian
Workers and their Right to Organise (INDOC, 1981).
Hamish McDonald: Suharto's Indonesia (Univ. Press of Hawaii, 1980).
Robert J. McMahon: Colonialism and Cold War: The United States and the
Struggle for Indonesian Independence, 1945-49 (Cornell, 1981).
Pardy, Parsons, Siemon and Wigglesworth: Purari: Overpowering PNG?
(International Development Action, 1978).
Mike Bishop & Ann Wigglesworth: A Touch ofAustralian Enterprise: The
Vanuata Experience (International Development Action, 1982).
Micronesia Support Committee (ed.): Marshall Islands: A Chronology
1944-1981 (Honolulu, 1981).
Micronesia Support Committee & Pacific Concerns Resource Center;
From Trusteeship to . .. ? 2nd ed., (Honolulu, 1982).
F.E. Huffman & 1m Proun: Cambodian-English Glossary (Yale Univ.
Press, 1981).
S. Husin Ali: The Malays: Their Problems and Future (Heinemann Asia,
H. Osman Rani, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Ishak Shari (eds.): Develop­
ment in the Eighties: With Special Emphasis on Malaysia (Journal Ekon­
omi Malaysia, nos. 3 & 4, 1981, special issue).
Walden Bello and Elaine Elinson: Elite Democracy or Authoritarian Rule?:
The Crisis ofthe Political Regime ofu.s. Domination in the Philippines and
the Third World (PSN & CAMD, 1981).
Benedict J. Kerkvliet: The Huk Rebellion: A Study ofPeasant Revolt in the
Philippines (U. Calif. Press, 1982).
James P. Harrison: The Endless War: Fifty Years ofStruggle in Vietnam (Free
Press, 1982).
Gerald Cannon Hickey: Sons of the Mountains: Ethnohistory of the Viet­
namese Central Highlands to 1954 (Yale Univ. Press, 1982).
Gerald Cannon Hickey: Free in the Forest: Ethnohistory of the Vietnamese
Central Highlands, 1954-1976 (Yale Univ. Press, 1982).
Huynh Kim Khanh: Vietnamese Communism, 1925-1945 (Cornell Univ.
Press, 1982).
Joan K. McMichael (ed.): Health in the Third World: Studies from Vietnam
(Spokesman Books, 1976).
Wallace J. Thies: When Governments Collide: Coercion and Diplomacy in the
Vietnam Conflict, 1964-1968 (U. Calif. Press, 1982).
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.
© BCAS. All rights reserved. For non-commercial use only.

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