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A small rusted knife represented one comrade's revolutionary upbringing at a Marxist school.A 'historic whistle': a fragment from the great Battle of Jalan Chenor of August 1949.Today, they are the evil demons of nationalist historiography: ghosts in a postcolonial historical record that is loath to recognise them.And as Malay Communists, the Tenth Regiment guerrillas are ghosts of ghosts within Malayan Communism itself, for it is a movement often seen as one almost entirely dominated by Chinese.A 22-year-old shred of cloth: a glorious remnant from the Tenth Regiment's Long March that had somehow survived being borne up and down the Cameron Highlands, through the rivers of Perak and Pahang, and through many battles, bombings and party hardships.A tiny pin, it is painstakingly explained, symbolised a year of comity with the Orang Asli during the Long March.But one can find some tangible record of their existence.The Tenth Regiment Archive (itself in exile, in Amsterdam), is a rich source for writing their history, particularly from a cultural angle, as well as in the context of the global Cold War.
Pamphlet upon pamphlet of elegy: the fierce, proud mourning of the battle-fallen and the revolution's martyrs.
In these archives, we find polemical pamphlets; dramatic retellings of the glorious battles of the Tenth Regiment; music scripts for revolutionary fireside sing-alongs; cartoons; handwritten novellas; poetry and prose; revolutionary dance instructions; news reports on China and other parts of the world; frustrated commentaries on the neocolonialism of postcolonial Malaysia; and numerous translations of Chinese and Russian Communist texts into romanised and Arabic-script Malay, from Marx and Engels to Lenin and Mao.
Yet one often finds that even here in these tangible archives, the historical record seems to grasp at shadows. It is a feast of defiant memories clung to in the face of creeping failure.
As far as historical subjects go, the Tenth Regiment communists are like ghosts of ghosts.
Established on in the jungles of Pahang on peninsular Malaya, the Tenth Regiment was the only Malay-majority regiment of the Malayan National Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).