The Life and Times of Gerald De Cruz: A Singaporean of Many Worlds

Gerald de Cruz is best remembered by Singaporeans for his robust lectures against the ideology of communism during the 1960s. His commitment to progressive ideas and movements reveals a man of integrity in search of himself in a better world. This book seeks to portray his place in time, particularly for younger Singaporeans who did not live in an era that has inaugurated the history of independent Singapore.

As a Eurasian, a nationalist, a communist and then a democratic socialist, as a journalist and a writer, he represents the insurgent energies of a truculent time when a nascent nation was seeking the basis of statehood. He captured the prevailing mood among an emerging class of young leaders who were determined to rid Singapore of colonial rule after the British returned at the end of the Japanese Occupation.

A consummate journalist, he worked for The Straits Times, The Malayan Standard and The Democrat in the 1940s. At the end of World War II, he joined the Communist Party of Malaya (MCP) and then a Communist front organisation in Singapore, the Malayan Democratic Union (MDU). His efforts, in which he was very successful for a time, were to conceal communist plans aimed at overthrowing the State, behind a front of unsuspecting non-Communists who would rally to an anti-colonial banner.

He became disillusioned with communism after visiting Czechoslovakia in 1948 and went to London, where he spent the next seven years looking after retarded children. He saw the folly of communism, broke completely, and came back to Singapore. On his return, he helped Mr G. G. Thompson set up the Government’s Political Study Centre in 1959 to educate civil servants on world affairs and local political changes. The centre closed in 1969. He was also chairman of the Singapore Association for Retarded Children and an adviser to the National Trades Union Congress.

He was diplomatic editor of the now-defunct New Nation in the early 1970s and contributed to The Sarawak Tribune in 1980s before leaving for a post in the Sarawak Foundation, a government-supported body which provides scholarships and other assistance to the people. He was the author of Facing Facts in Malaya, and Nationalism and Communism.

This biographical book is drawn from his oral history interviews, his private papers deposited at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Library, his books and his talks delivered for the Political Study Centre.

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