Hating one’s oppressors

I hated the brutal thugs of the People’s Anti-Japanese Army for their reign of terror in Japanese-occupied Malaya. They controlled, through fear, the country-side where my family lived. This occurred near the end of World War Two. A gang of Chinese, self-labelled communists, seemingly preparing for the takeover of Malaya when the Japanese departed, held to ransom every individual and every family. How extensive their area of control was not known.

Not knowing who their spies were resulted in the death of all conversation in public spaces. I blame these thugs for shortening my father’s life. I have been firmly anti-communist ever since; I am unsure of my attitude to socialists. I am comfortable being a communitarian small-l liberal.

Also hated by me and others was the Japanese military, although they left us alone if we behaved. And I was too young to appreciate that the Japanese were clearing out of Asia all the European colonial nations, those of the innately superior ‘white race.’ My hatred of the Japanese grew out of their brutality, our worsened level of freedom and comfort, and (particularly) my hunger.

However, in the mid-1970s, I decided, as a federal official, that I had to discard my prejudice. That was after I had commented to the Australian representative of a major Japanese conglomerate that they had, by shifting money from one pocket to another, acquired ownership of valuable pastoral property. It had been an unscrupulous means of cheating an Anglo-Australian, the majority shareholder; but he had not been alert.

There were comparable cases elsewhere in the country. I had previously noted that other Japanese enterprises had acquired ownership of this or other major property, even when the partnership had been 51:49 % in favour of the Australian partner. In these cases, there could have been necessary collusion, to bypass official policy on foreign acquisition of Australian real estate.

Then, after a major Japanese investment proposal had been finalised, to mutual satisfaction, a Japanese diplomat had reportedly defined me as ‘hard but fair.’ That’s me!

As for my hatred of British colonialism, it was based on our loss of freedom, my father’s principal teaching. Finally, we achieved that, because all empires do fail. I remain anti-colonial, thereby despising today’s neo-colonialism, while having no antipathy to the British or the Japanese or the Chinese peoples. We are all essentially alike.

Hatred is a corrosive emotion. It needs to be dispersed through a maturity of spirit.