Anti-Communist moving images and Cold War ideology: on the Malayan Film Unit
ABSTRACT: The Malayan Film Unit (MFU), a film organization affiliated to the British colonial government, produced a large number of anti-communist films accompanied by multilingual recordings and commentaries. The ultimate goal of the MFU was to interpellate Malayan identity in order to eradicate the threat posed by communist ideology during the Cold War era. This article considers films made by the MFU alongside Cold War archival materials gathered from the UK and Singapore, and reportage on the MFU in the US, UK and local newspapers of the time. It will explore how Malayan communists and Chinese New Villages settlers were represented in semi-realistic/semi-fictional moving images during the Cold War period. This article aims to reconsider the question of whether the aim of the MFU really was to hasten the end of empire, or if it was an extension of the imperialist machinery of state in South-East Asia.
Wai Siam HEE is Assistant Professor of Chinese and film at Nanyang Technological University. He has written extensively on cinematic and gender issues, with articles in the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Journal of Chinese Cinemas and Frontiers of Literary Studies in China. He is the author of From Amorous Histories to Sexual Histories: Tongzhi Writings and the Construction of Masculinities in Late Qing and Modern China. He has co-edited two books, including Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Corporeality, Desire and The Ethics of Failure and Memorandum: A Reader of Singapore Chinese Short Stories. He is currently working on a research project on anti-Communist films sponsored by the UK and US governments in Southeast Asia during the Cold War period.