Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #580 “The Jews of Asia” — The Sook Ching Massacres and their Significance for Today

Recorded January 15, 2007


This program is one, 30-minute segment

NB: This stream contains both FTR #s 580 and 581 in sequence.
Each is a 30 minute broadcast.

Introduction: In many parts of the modern world, Muslims are in conflict with other religious groups and, in some places, with themselves. This broadcast illuminates a relatively little known historical episode–the Japanese persecution and slaughter of ethnic Chinese in Malaya during the Second World War. Repeated elsewhere in Japanese-occupied Asia, the “Sook Ching” massacres illustrate an important political and sociological dynamic underlying Muslim conflict with other religious and ethnic groups. In Malaya (and the modern nation of Malaysia that succeeded it), there is deep division and traditional hostility between the Muslim ethnic Malay majority population and the “Overseas Chinese” minority. Largely illiterate and economically disadvantaged as a result, the Muslim Malay majority has often expressed this hostility through violent persecution of the highly educated, prosperous Chinese. The highly educated Overseas Chinese are the economic elite of Malaysia, and their educational and economic advantage is mirrored by the Chinese minorities in other Muslim- majority nations in Southeast Asia. Seeking both to punish the Overseas Chinese for their resistance to occupation and to curry favor with the Malay Muslim majority, the Japanese launched the Sook Ching (“ethnic cleansing”) massacres. This murderous wave of terror was reinforced by supportive propaganda from Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. In addition to being an SS officer and Nazi spy, the Grand mufti was the first leader of the Palestinian national movement. The brutal treatment that the Chinese have received at the hands of Muslim majorities and the slaughter visited upon them by the fascist armies of World War II, have earned the Chinese have been called “The Jews of Asia.”

Program Highlights Include: Malaysian prime minister Mahathir’s Jew-baiting in his farewell address; contact between Mahathir and neo-Nazis associated with the so-called “9/11 Truth Movement”; collaboration between the Japanese who perpetrated the Sook Ching campaigns and the zaibatsu—the giant Japanese conglomerates that dominated the Japanese economy.

1. Beginning with analysis of political tensions in contemporary Malaysia, the broadcast highlights outgoing Prime Minister Mahathir’s anti-Semitic comments in a farewell address. As noted by Paul Krugman, Mahathir’s comments are “red meat,” spoken to assuage the Muslim majority in Malaysia. Of particular importance for our purposes, here is Krugman’s observation about the social strife that has historically existed between the educated, prosperous Chinese minority in Malaysia and the uneducated, illiterate and largely poor Muslim majority. The elite status of the Chinese has led to their active persecution in the past, when tensions have built beyond containment. As will be seen below, the Japanese utilized Muslim resentment of the Chinese minorities in the predominantly Muslim countries that they occupied. By stoking the fires of hatred against the Chinese, the Japanese sought to solidify their support among the Muslim majorities in those countries. “ ‘The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy: They get others to fight and die for them.’ So said Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia, at an Islamic summit meeting last week. The White House promptly denounced his ‘hate-filled remarks.’ Indeed, those remarks were inexcusable. But they were also calculated—for Mr. Mahathir is a cagey politician, who is neither ignorant nor foolish. And to understand why he made those remarks is to realize how badly things are going for U.S. foreign policy. The fact is that Mr. Mahathir, though guilty of serious abuse of power, is in many ways about as forward-looking a Muslim leader as we’re likely to find. And Malaysia is the kind of success story we wish we saw more of: an impressive record of economic growth, rising education levels and general modernization in a nation with a Muslim majority.”
(“Listening to Mahathir” by Paul Krugman; The New York Times; 10/21/2003.)

2. “It’s worth reading the rest of last week’s speech, beyond the offensive 28 words. Most of it is criticism directed at other Muslims, clerics in particular. Mr. Mahathir castigates ‘Interpreters of Islam who taught that acquisition of knowledge by Muslims meant only the study of Islamic theology.’ Thanks to these interpreters, ‘the study of science, medicine, etc. was discouraged. Intellectually the Muslims began to regress.’ A lot of the speech sounds as if it had been written by Bernard Lewis, author of What Went Wrong, the best-selling book about the Islamic decline. So what’s with the anti-Semitism? Almost surely it’s part of Mr. Mahathir’s domestic balancing act, something I learned about the last time he talked like this, during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98.” (Idem.)

3. “At that time, rather than accept the austerity programs recommended by the U.S. government and the I.M.F., he loudly blamed machinations by Western speculators, and imposed temporary controls on the outflow of capital—a step denounced by all but a handful of Western economists. As it turned out, his economic strategy was right: Malaysia suffered a shallower slump and achieved a quicker recovery than its neighbors. What became clear watching Mr. Mahathir back then was that his strident rhetoric was actually part of delicate balancing act aimed at domestic politics. Malaysia has a Muslim, ethnically Malay, majority, but its business drive comes mainly from an ethnic Chinese minority. To keep the economy growing, Mr. Mahathir must allow the Chinese minority to prosper, but to ward off ethnic tensions he must throw favors, real and rhetorical, to the Malays. [Emphasis added.]” (Idem.)

4. “Part of that balancing act involves reserving good jobs for Malay workers and giving special business opportunities to Malay entrepreneurs. One reason Mr. Mahathir was so adamantly against I.M.F. austerity plans was that he feared that they would disrupt the carefully managed cronyism that holds his system together. When times are tough, Mr. Mahathir also throws the Muslim majority rhetorical red meat. And that’s what he was doing last week. [Emphasis added. During World War II, the Japanese literally threw the Muslim majority some “red meat”—the flesh and blood of murdered ethnic Chinese.—D.E.] Not long ago, Washington was talking about Malaysia as an important partner in the war on terror. Now Mr. Mahathir thinks that to cover his domestic flank, he must insert hateful words into a speech mainly about Muslim reform. That tells you, more accurately than any poll, just how strong the rising tide of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism among Muslims in Southeast Asia has become. Thanks to its war in Iraq and its unconditional support for Ariel Sharon, Washington has squandered post-9/11 sympathy and brought relations with the Muslim world to a new low.” (Idem.)

5. “And bear in mind that Mr. Mahathir’s remarks were written before the world learned about the views of Lt. Gen. William ‘My God Is Bigger Than Yours’ Boykin. By making it clear that he sees nothing wrong with giving an important post in the war on terror to someone who believes, and says openly, that Allah is a false idol—General Boykin denies that’s what he meant, but his denial was implausible even by current standards—Donald Rumsfeld has gone a long way toward confirming the Muslim world’s worst fears. Somewhere in Pakistan Osama bin Laden must be enjoying this. The war on terror didn’t have to be perceived as a war on Islam, but we seem to be doing our best to make it look that way.” (Idem.)

6. As noted above, the Japanese conducted a murderous campaign against the ethnic Chinese majority in what was then Malaya. Outraged by Japanese atrocities against mainland Chinese, the “Overseas Chinese” (or “Outside Chinese” as they are sometimes known) generated economic resistance against the Japanese occupiers. Deciding to literally “kill two birds with one stone,” the Japanese sought to punish the Overseas Chinese and curry favor with the Muslim majority at the same time. The result was the “Sook Ching” (or “ethnic cleansing”) massacres, a pattern repeated in other Muslim majority nations conquered by the Japanese. “ . . . Because most of the stolen treasure reaching Japan made its way into private vaults and the vaults of the Imperial Family, Tokyo’s strategy for the exploitation of Southeast Asia was a failure. It was also sabotaged by Overseas Chinese, who controlled the region’s raw materials, industries, agriculture, smuggling, and rackets. [Emphasis added.] While they despised the Japanese for the rape of China, they hated them in particular for bombing Amoy, Swatow, and other harbors along the China coast that were the ancestral homes of their dialect groups. In the past, Western companies had been successful in Southeast Asia only when they found ways to work with the Overseas Chinese. As Japan took over and tried to set up equivalent monopolies of oil, sugar, rice, salt, and other commodities, whole sectors of local economies collapsed. Prices shot up, the supply of goods came to a halt, and there was massive unemployment, famine, inflation and hoarding.”
(Gold Warriors; Sterling and Peggy Seagraves; Copyright 2003 by Sterling and Peggy Seagrave; Verso Books [HC]; ISBN 1-85984-542-8; pp. 52-53.)

7. “In retaliation, Overseas Chinese became special targets. Experts in terror were sent to punish them. Colonel Watanabe Wataru spent ten years in North China developing techniques, such as kidnapping members of prosperous Chinese families, amputating body parts starting with ears, noses, and fingers, then continuing to breasts and testicles. He was especially effective when he threatened to castrate eldest sons. In this manner, Watanabe was credited with bringing in great quantities of gold, gemstones and artworks. In China, he had headed one of the Special Agencies (Tokumu Kikan) whose duties were espionage, counter-espionage, propaganda, and fifth column subversion. Watanabe was then given the job of terrorizing Malaya’s Overseas Chinese. His techniques are well known from speeches he made and papers he drafted: ‘The Chinese . . . are prone to maintain a false obedience, and they are as crafty as anything, and hard to control. They ought to be dealt with unsparingly.’ To help, he enlisted cronies from his days in Manchuria. One was his old friend Colonel Tsuji Masanobu, a flamboyant leader of the Total War cult, who had helped plan the Strike South and the Malaya campaign of General Yamashita. Another was Takase Toru, who had served in China as an intelligence officer with Special Service Section Eight, and was an expert in ‘the Chinese problem.’ [Emphasis added. Note that the rhetoric used by the Japanese is similar to that used by the Nazis, who routinely referred to the ‘Jewish problem’—D.E.] Watanabe described Takase as ‘a complicated character, conceited, quarrelsome, aggressive,’ but his ruthlessness was exactly what was needed.” (Ibid.; p. 53.)

8. “Colonel Tsuji was Japan’s most ruthless Special Service agent, combining traits that made Goebbels, Heydrich, and Skorzeny uniquely feared in the Nazi Party. Prior to the Strike South, Imperial General Headquarters issued to officers a handbook written by Tsuji, which makes repeated references to plundering the wealth of the ‘treasure-house of the Far East.’ The methods he recommended were based on terror. Compassion and sympathy were to be avoided. No longer could the Overseas Chinese ‘indulge themselves in a hedonistic and wasteful way of life . . .\.’ Japan would force them ‘to account for their past mistakes and to make them ready to give up their lives and property.’ Tsuji got everyone’s attention with a horrific atrocity. By noon on February 21, 1942, all male Chinese on the island of Singapore between age eighteen and fifty were assembled in five locations. Each walked past a row of hooded informers. When a hood nodded, that Chinese was condemned to death, his skin stamped with a triangular ink chop. Others were stamped with squares and released. A total of 70,699 Singapore Chinese were taken off for torture and killing. Mass executions lasted many days, with Tsuji watching closely. Most were shot, bayoneted or beheaded, but 20,000 were roped together on barges and taken into the sea lanes off Singapore, where they were forced overboard. Those who did not drown quickly were machine-gunned. This nightmare was called Sook Ching or ethnic cleansing. Tsuji then extended Sook Ching to the whole Malay Peninsula, where another 40,000 were slain, including women, school children, and babies. Similar mass executions of Chinese happened elsewhere.” (Ibid. pp. 53-54.)

9. “Colonel Watanabe declared that Singapore Chinese must atone to Emperor Hirohito to the sum of 50-million yen, as a gift on the emperor’s birthday in April. This was equal to one fourth of the total currency in circulation in Malaya at the time. Takase was to collect the contributions. Since nobody could produce that much cash on short notice, Takase arranged a loan of 22-million yen from the Yokohama Specie Bank so the birthday present did not fall short. Chinese were required to repay the loan (and interest) with gold bullion, hard foreign currency, or other tangible assets.” (Ibid.; p. 54.)

10. Note that in Malaya, as elsewhere in occupied Asia, the Japanese zaibatsu profited handsomely from the plundered wealth, as well as the enslavement of allied POW’s and citizens of occupied countries. [The zaibatsu were the giant, family-controlled conglomerates that dominate the Japanese economic landscape to this day.] In evaluating the history of World War II and its aftermath, it is essential to understand that the giant Japanese economic entities (like their German counterparts) were cartel partners with the dominant corporate interests in the United States. (For more about this relationship, see—among other programs—FTR#’s 290, 426, 446, and Miscellaneous Archive Show M26, available from Spitfire.) “While Sumatra had its Royal Dutch Shell oilfields, Malaya was the greatest rubber-producing region in the world. Using scrip, Watanabe bought up all rubber stocks for shipment to Japan. He then ordered all rubber estates and processing facilities sold to Japan’s zaibatsu conglomerates, again for scrip. The shock of his anti-Chinese reign of terror brought results for a few weeks, but ultimately backfired as the flow of rice, salt, and other commodities dwindled further. . . .” (Idem.)

11. Attracted (perhaps) by Mahathir’s obvious anti-Semitism, a group of so-called “9/11 truth activists” met with the former prime minister, in order to enlist his help. Worth noting is the fact that one of the activists was one Michael Collins Piper, a writer with the neo-Nazi American Free Press, the successor to the Spotlight magazine. The fascist Liberty Lobby, headed by Willis Carto, publishes both. Piper authored a book blaming the assassination of President Kennedy on—you guessed it—the Jews. Piper may well be attempting to recapitulate the fascist chapter of Malaysia’s past. “A group of concerned Americans and their sympathizers has sought the support of former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in their effort to push for an international investigation into the Sept 11, 2001 (9-11) tragedy. Representatives of the group, including a survivor of the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York, met Dr Mahathir here Monday with a claim that the official version of what transpired on that day was far from the truth. ‘We want him (Dr. Mahathir who is chairman of Perdana Global Peace Organization) to help us set up an international commission to reopen the investigation,’ said Jimmy Walter who has brought together individuals under the Reopen 911 organization dedicated to opening a real investigation into the tragic attacks. Joining him today were American Free Press journalist Michael Collins Piper, Yvonne Ridley who is the political editor of Islam Channel United Kingdom and William Rodriguez — the last man to run out of the WTC before it collapsed. . . .”
(“Jimmy Walter, Rodriguez, Piper Meet With Mahathir Mohamad: Group Seeks Dr Mahathir’s Assistance To Reopen 9-11 Investigation” [Bernama–The Malaysian National News Service]; 6/12/2006.)

12. During the latter years of World War II, Haj Amin al-Husseini—SS officer, genocidist and the first leader of the Palestinian national movement—did propaganda broadcasts for the Japanese to Asian countries that had large Muslim populations. These countries included Malaya and the Grand Mufti’s broadcasts were supportive of the Sook Ching massacres. Just like Mahathir after him, the Grand Mufti was in the habit of throwing the Muslim majority some “rhetorical red meat.” For more about the Grand Mufti, use the search function on the main page of this website. FTR#’s 414, 456 are particularly useful. Mr. Emory’s source for the Grand Mufti’s work on behalf of he Japanese is Spies and Traitors of World War II, a 1947 volume by Kurt D. Singer. His copy of the book is currently in storage. A diligent Internet search should yield information about the Grand Mufti and the Japanese.


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