by Kenneth Lyen
While researching for a film based on university student life in Singapore during the 1950s, I came across an astonishing discovery. Malcolm MacDonald (1901-1981), who was Commissioner General to South-East Asia in the late 1940s through the 1950s, enunciated in 1949 a theory that was later known as the domino theory: if Indo-China were lost, Siam and Burma would shortly follow, and international communism would be on the borders of Malaya.
This theory was the raison d'etre for America's involvement in Korea and Vietnam. The paranoia of communism also affected policy decisions in Malaya and Singapore. Unfotunately the domino theory came under disrepute, when none of the above occurred. In an ironic twist of historical fate, the dominoes did fall, but not from right to left, but in the opposite direction.
Left-wing ideology went into retreat with the decline of Communism in the 1980s. Left-wing political parties, such as the British Labour party, gave up many of its socialist doctrines like nationalising industries, so much so that at one stage Tony Blair was accused of being even more right-wing than the Conservative party.
The spread of capitalism has conquered nearly every country in the world, with perhaps the exception of Cuba. It is interesting to see how former communist countries like Russia and China have embraced capitalism with all the zeal of a convert. So in the end, the domino theory was right (double entendre) after all!