by Mgr Bruce Kent
A vote of thanks to the Justice and Peace Commission or its initiative in sponsoring a lecture recently given by Douglas Hyde. Something to do %s in] Sarawak, the invitation said. Sarawak? Where's that? Who does it belong to? Are the natives friendly?
Knowing nothing whatever of Sarawak, but having con siderable admiration for Douglas Hyde, I went along. The affair was not well attended. It should have been packed.
The story Douglas Hyde unfolded should give new hope to all those who, in a dim but optimistic way, think that violence should not be the only way of settling the world's conflicts. But a bit of background first. Since the Korean war, where he served as correspondent for a London paper, Douglas Hyde has devoted himself to what might be called a programme of understanding and pacification in many countries in the Far East.
With his own Communist Party background he is ideally plac ed to talk to those who are generally labelled as Cornmunist guerrillas. Out of the last • 20 years he has himself spent 2f years in prison, often in very
grim conditions, as a voluntary prisoner, in order to be able to meet and talk to detainees. Astonishing — and it brings us on to Sarawak.
About ten years ago the Colonial Office disposed of Sarawak and it became part of Malaysia. ¶ .,c ieft behind a nice link guerrilla war. Internment without trial, house searches, curfews, all the order of the day. The army looming larger and larger in the administration, and an American general offering to help things along by sending "gun ships" down from Vietnam to blast the guerrillas.
Happily the Chief Minister, after years of listening to the "meet force with force" argument, accepted other ideas. Why were the guerrillas, now numbering nearly a thousand, doing all the usual horrid things?
With Douglas Hyde engaged as adviser, he found out. Little helicopters shot administrators deep into jungle villages. Red tape vanished. Justice was done and seen to be done. The corrupt in the administration, even near relations, were dealt with rapidly. New jobs were created, afforestation began, and so on.
In less than two years of pacification with justice, the guerrillas came out. Not to surrender — there was no surrender, but only celebrations of mutual reconciliation. No victors, no vanquished.
It's not quite as simple a story as that, and it's not finished yet, but at least there will be no Vietnam Sarawak-style. The credit for new thinking goes to many people — not least the Moslem leader of the country who preached forgiveness and reconciliation from the Koran. But the story is worth telling.
Find out why people are burning with indignation before you move in to thump them. Perhaps, as Douglas Hyde has shown, the thumping isn't necessary.