When the journal was established in 1970 Peter was a driving force in developing an important publication with a remarkable editorial board that included many of the leading scholars who opposed the wars being waged in Southeast Asia.
After several years of poor health, Peter decided to step down as co-editor of the journal at the end of 2014, after 44 years of tireless work for the journal and progressive politics. However his links with the journal are not finished as he becomes Editor Emeritus and an advisor to the editorial board.
Born in Manila in 1939, Peter did his undergraduate studies at the University of the Philippines. He also undertook postgraduate studies at the University of Stockholm and Uppsala University in Sweden.
He was the Scandinavian representative of Bertrand Russell and an organiser of the Russell Tribunal on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in 1967. Peter assembled the report of the tribunal with Peter Weiss. Titled Prevent the Crime of Silence, the report was a compilation of reports by some of the world’s most respected academics, authors, philosophers, journalists, lawyers, jurists and activists. In that report, Noam Chomsky concluded that the tribunal “helped to crumble the defences erected by the government, with the partial collusion of the media, to keep the reality of the war from popular consciousness.”
Peter continued to work as a journalist and documentary filmmaker. His films with Ingrid Dahlberg and Lars Hjelm on the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos for Swedish Television were path-breaking. They included films made in North Vietnam during the war as well as in the liberated areas of Laos.
In addition to his films and journalism, Peter published several seminal books including: Industrialization and the Labour Process in Thailand (co-authored with Bruce McFarlane and Jan Odnoff, 1983), Neo-Marxist Theories of Development (co-edited with former journal co-editor Bruce McFarlane, 1983), Partisan Scholarship (1990), and Labour and Industry in ASEAN (1990) (co-authored with Bruce McFarlane and Jan Odnoff, 1990).
In the journal, Peter published numerous articles. These included path-breaking interviews with Prince Souphanouvong of Laos in 1970 in the liberated zone of the country. He interviewed the prince again in 1976, this time in the presidential palace, after the prince had become president. He also conducted a very important interview with Thailand’s exiled former Prime Minister Pridi Phanomyong in 1977.
Peter’s vision, hard work and determination played a major role in securing the position of the journal, including moving the whole operations base to the Philippines and managing every aspect of the journal from its sometimes challenging internal politics to the receipt of articles and reviews, and overseeing all aspects of production, printing and distribution.
As many academics and comrades know, Peter has always welcomed and encouraged his colleagues, usually over a beer, a good wine and an excellent meal. We look forward to many more years of his hospitality and political insight.
Thanks Peter, for 44 years of work for the Journal of Contemporary Asia. We look forward to your wise advice and direction as the journal matures further.
Kevin Hewison (Editor-in-Chief)