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Decolonization in Southeast Asia

French colony
Occupied by Japan from 1941-45
King Sihanouk declared it independent after
WWII and France granted it in 1953
Important People

King of Cambodia today

Pol Pot: Leader of the Khmer
CambodiaPost-Independence Problems
1. Vietnam War destabilized the country
Tried to stay neutral
1970-King overthrown in a coup led by General
Nol, who was supported by the US
2. Cambodian Genocide
King allied with (Communist )Khmer Rouge
rebels to fight against Nol, causing civil war
Khmer Rouge eventually took power in 1975
Their leader was Pol Pot
Cambodian Genocide
Renamed Democratic Kampuchea
Pol Pot instituted a radical transformation of
Cambodian society
Tried to destroy all urban and civilized life
Emptied the cities, killed all the educated people,
and everyone worked in agriculture
1.5 million people died (out of 7 million)
Vietnam overthrew Khmer Rouge in 1979 &
fighting raged throughout the 1980s
CambodiaPost-Independence Successes
1. 1991- Peace achieved and today it is again a
constitutional monarchy
2. Still trying to rebuild from devastation caused
by the Khmer Rouge
Dutch colony
Occupied by Japan from 1942-45
Indonesians fought Dutch for 4 years and won
independence in 1949
First president was Sukarno
Important People


General Suharto
IndonesiaPost-Independence Problems
1. Sukarno-authoritarian leader who pushed
country close to bankruptcy
2. General Suharto took power in 1965also
authoritarian and corrupt
3. Terrorism and ethnic violence are also
problems in some areas
IndonesiaPost-Independence Successes
1. Suharto resigned in 1998 which strengthened
democratic elements
2. Under Suharto the economy revived and
Indonesia experienced substantial economic
British colony
Occupied by Japan 1942-45
Malayan Communist Party launched guerilla
attacks against the British to force them to leave
Federation of Malaya became independent in
MalaysiaPost-Independence Problems
1. Conflict with Indonesia over the formation of
2. 1965 Singapore left the Federation of Malaya
3. Anti-govt rallies demanding electoral reform
MalaysiaPost-Independence Successes
Between 1980s and 90s Malaysia experienced
significant economic growth
Focused on manufacturing & industry in
electronics and computers
Built a number of mega-projects to showcase
their increasing wealth
Kuala Lumpur
International Airport

Bakun Hydroelectric
French colony
Occupied by Japanese1941-45
Communist Ho Chi Minh led the Vietminh in
guerilla attacks against the French
1954 Vietnam temporarily divided
Elections were never held to reunite the country
because US intervention prevented a Communist
US pulled out in 1973 & Vietnam was reunited in
Important People

Ho Chi Minh
VietnamPost-Independence Problems
1. Lengthy Vietnam War and US use of napalm
and defoliants devastated the environment
2. Economy was crippled
3. Communist govt collectivized farms and
factories so reconstruction was slow
4. Brief war with China in 1979
VietnamPost-Independence Successes
1. 1986 Vietnam implemented free-market
reforms which resulted in rapid economic