"Iron Claws on Malaya": The Historiography of the Malayan Emergency.
Nevertheless, incidents remained frequent and, according to Short, resettlement areas ineffective. Some lacked wire and lighting. By late 1951 the Emergency was, according to Short and Stubbs, still at stalemate. It was "the worst of times". The murder of the High Commissioner, Sir Henry Gurney, on 6 October 1951, was "a fitting epitaph on the muddled policy" pursued, and that month saw the highest security force casualties for a year. One resettlement area was abandoned on 19 October.(3) Malaya, according to Stubbs, seemed "condemned to a chronic state of fairly intense guerrilla warfare for years to come".(4) Both Short and Stubbs therefore argue that an extra ingredient was required to turn stalemate into victory. Where they differ is in what this ingredient was.
For Anthony Short, in The Communist Insurrection in Malaya 1948-1960, the decisive factor was Templer's coordinating position, consequent to his appointment in early 1952 as both Director of Operations and High Commissioner. The key was Templer's ability, stemming from his absolute control in Malaya, to overcome previous red tape and inertia, energise the campaign, and so ride a favourable tide - a tide which otherwise might have been missed.(5) However, Richard Stubbs's Hearts and Minds in Guerrilla Warfare: The Malayan Emergency 1948-1960 paints a different picture. For him, the crucial change was the intensification of a "hearts and minds" approach in 1952 to 1954.(6) This had to be added to a pre-existing and insufficient, "coercion" approach. Most works taking the Emergency as their central theme use some blend of these "stalemate", "Templer" and "hearts and minds" theses in explaining how insurgency was defeated and to specify a turning point in 1952-54.(7)
By contrast, this paper argues the Emergency began to change in nature and direction as early as 1951-52 and that the necessary local and counter-insurgency ingredients were already in place by that time. This was happening even though "hearts and minds" measures were embryonic at this point, and despite the fact that Templer arrived only in late February 1952. This paper thus suggests the critical conditions had existed before Templer and "hearts and minds", and that in the most important policies there was, and was always likely to be, continuity not change around 1952.(8) It rejects the traditional view that the leadership and policy changes of one British general were both necessary and sufficient to transform the campaign.
In order to explain this, the article uses a two-stage interpretation. Stage One argues that British policy succeeded in "screwing down" Communist supporters, rather more than in wooing "hearts and minds". Stage Two then suggests how such a "population control" approach could work because of local ethnic, social and political patterns. In other words, Britain could "screw down" the fraction of the Chinese community which supported the Communists - and the small percentage of the Malay and Indian communities which did likewise - only because of Malaya's particular social and demographic structure. The outcome of insurgency and counter-insurgency can thus only be explained by integrating British "colonial records history" with texts written from the perspective of the communists, and of the Malaysian Chinese in general.
The first part of the article will now trace the critical years of the campaign, giving a new interpretation; the second will summarize the local terrain which made those events possible.
The Course of the Emergency in the Critical Years: 1949-54
Initial British counter-insurgency policy (1948-49) amounted to a "counter-terror".(9) Mass arrests, deportations, massive expansion of security forces and acts of arson against the homes of communist sympathizers, together disrupted large MNLA units. But they also increased support for the communists. After the MNLA reorganised its civilian supporters, the Min Yuen,(10) to survive despite such measures, it was able to strike back with increased effectiveness. Between mid-1949 and 1950 monthly incidents more than tripled. The MNLA also displayed an intimidating ability to eliminate "running dogs" (as it labelled informers). By 1950 the High Commissioner was pleading that he could not expect unprotected Chinese to support the government. He wrote that recently "a Chinese who was elected Chairman of [a] village by secret ballot wept on learning of his election".(11) A disconcerted British Chiefs of Staff stressed that ultimate victory now depended not on reinforcements, but on reasserting civilian control over the population.(12)
To this end, Lieutenant-General Sir Harold Briggs was appointed to the new post of Director of Operations (DOO). As such, he was given authority to coordinate the operations of the police (who had previously been responsible for coordination) and services on behalf of the High Commissioner. Taking up his post in April 1950, he drew up the first systematic plan for resettling the half a million jungle-fringe squatters. The aim was to deprive the communists of their main support, and so force them out of the jungle and into the open.(13) Beginning in June, large numbers of "resettlement areas" were created, ideally to be surrounded by barbed wire and lighting, and later renamed "New Villages". The aim was to undermine the communists' support network, the Min Yuen, by a combination of resettlement and a strengthening of civil administration, communications and police posts in populated areas.
Briggs also created a committee system which brought together the top military, police and administrative officers at all levels, allowing prompt, coordinated action. A Federal War Committee considered policy, leaving execution to State and District War Executive Committees. Combined military and police operations centres were set up. His tenure also saw a shift of emphasis from large army sweeps towards imposing a framework of small units across the country.
The "Briggs Plan" also aimed to clear the way for increased administrative control of the populated areas by concentrating striking forces in each state in turn, so as to roll the communists up from south to north. Since the communists were particularly strong in Johore - the southernmost state - this aspect of the plan failed. By the end of 1951, however, the other elements were becoming increasingly effective. The resettlement of nearly 350,000 squatters (over 70 per cent of the ultimate total) and the ongoing regrouping of 600,000 plantation and mine workers caused a crescendo of activity. Resettlement drove more communist supporters into the jungle, even as the MNLA saw its supply and intelligence sources endangered.(14) Planters, security forces and communists alike came under pressure as incidents and casualties peaked.(15)
As insurgent recruiting continued apace, it might be argued that Briggs's "law and order" and population control approach had failed. The stemming of the early British tendency towards "counter-terror", however, shows the MCP failure to force counterinsurgency into a downward spiral of insurgent and government terror.(16) The insurgents now faced the dilemma of how to extract continuing support from a weary population. From 1951 the ratio of insurgents eliminated for every security force loss began a steady improvement.(17)
With the prospect of outside assistance receding as the Korean War stabilised, and the vast majority of the Malays opposed to a predominantly Chinese insurgency, the campaign faltered. As early as 1949 Siew Lau, a senior party official in the Johore-Malacca area, criticised the MNLA for excessive reliance on coercion. His complaints were echoed by lower ranking members, such as the political organiser Liew Thian Choy. In November 1949 the latter forlornly told a MCP labour leader at Batu Arang "that we coerced the people too much" and taught them too little. These criticisms are echoed in the statements of surrendered insurgents, and in the high-level defector Lain Swee's pamphlet, My Accusation (1951).(18) MNLA exactions of "justice" by summary shooting, executions in front of families, or tossing grenades into the shops of alleged collaborators, were probably no more vicious than Viet Minh or FLN (Algerian insurgent) tactics. The MNLA, however, had difficulty sustaining support while using both these methods and widespread economic disruption.(19) Defectors and Surrendered Enemy Personnel (SEP) alike were emphasising that, by placing too much of the burden of supply on the poor and rural Chinese, the MCP was weakening its economic and ethnic base.(20)
Even before resettlement began to become effective, therefore, the MNLA's methods of securing support, and its difficulty in sustaining large groups, constituted an Achilles heel. Unable to dominate populated areas, lacking logistical links to other countries, and with the jungle offering only subsistence support to small groups, the MNLA had made itself reliant on its umbilical cord to the squatters. The 1950-51 Korean War Boom caused by Western stockpiling pushing up the prices of Malaya's tin and rubber exports - was also important. Stubbs shows that by increasing government revenue, the boom financed resettlement while also boosting employment and wages. This development seems to have exacerbated MNLA difficulties in extracting cooperation. By late 1951 the movement was facing problems maintaining popular support, heightening military pressure from the government, and the prospect of diminishing supplies as resettlement areas slowly became more effectively protected and policed.(21)
Unable to seriously disrupt resettlement only a handful of resettlements were ever abandoned - the MCP Central Executive Committee issued new orders in late September and early October 1951: the so-called "October Resolutions", referred to by the Government as "October Directives"? These announced that the armed struggle was now relegated to second priority in the MCP's "seven urgent tasks", behind building up mass organizations and support.(23) The aim was to fortify popular support, and so enable the military campaign to be sustained if not ultimately increased again. This cannot, however, be presented solely as a change in political tactics, despite the references in the decisions to the Chinese model of revolution, especially the early Maoist tactics of constructing a very broad "united front". The new measures were, to a significant degree, also aimed at avoiding the slow garrotting of supply-lines which the Directives otherwise foresaw.(24) Several of the changes decided upon clearly seem to indicate a declining ability to sustain large guerrilla groups, especially the decisions to move to smaller units, to increase jungle cultivation, and to foster relations with the orang asli (the indigenous tribespeople of the interior).(25)
These changes suggest that, though as yet only partially effective, squatter resettlement was already taking its toll on insurgent logistics. The implementation of a federal food denial plan from June 1951 was slowly increasing pressure on MNLA supplies.(26) The Resolutions' concern with supply matters confirms this and is not easy to square with Short's claim that given "the primacy of political considerations in the October directives, the military decisions seem to be largely derivative". Indeed, though the Resolutions did increase the salience of political work per se, the injunction to make "mass organization" the number one "Urgent Task" was more precisely a supply measure, for "mass" organizations meant Min Yuen and other supply and intelligence units. The Resolutions linked the need to make these "mass" organizations the number one "urgent task" to the supply question and government "starvation policy".(27) A Selangor State Secretariat Document (issued in January 1952) added that "the broad mass base has been narrowed down to pockets by the enemy's resettlement policy. This new factor is of grave importance for us".(28) Urgent Task Number Seven was, therefore, "to put food and material supplies in a sound basis", and there was a separate directive on "Clearing and Planting". The Resolutions also admitted the previous policy of resisting resettlement up to the last moment had caused "doubts about the Party's leadership". The disadvantages of this policy outweighed the advantages, and so it was to be replaced by an emphasis on building up the mass movements in resettled areas.(29)
Even some supposedly "political" aspects of the Directives concerned questions of the first military importance, those of supplies and of sustaining popular support. Hence the MCP placed new emphasis on avoiding actions which harmed the people, such as shooting up buses and trains, destroying people's livelihood, or indiscriminate fire when "running dogs" mingled with crowds. Along with the failure to attract broader support, these were now labelled "left deviation". Previous failure to take adequate account of "concrete" conditions in Malaya and the "extant" interests of the masses now necessitated a reexamination of way Marxist-Leninist thinking was applied on the ground. The MCP recognised that their support was also being undermined by the degree of economic sabotage they were inflicting, by their attacks on resettled areas, and by excessive and ill-directed violence.(30) At the same time, economic sabotage was failing in its main aim of destroying Malaya's economic value to Britain and so the latter's will to fight. Rubber production in Malaya peaked in 1950 despite terrorism, and the Korean War boom saw government receipts from rubber and tin companies balloon in 1950-51.(31)
The October 1951 Directives thus show the MCP forced to admit that resettlement threatened its survival, that its economic strategy and handling of violence were counterproductive, and that it therefore needed to change tactics. Nor is this to deny that they also encouraged courting of the "medium national bourgeoisie" - local capitalists - and upgrading political and subversive work in general.(32)
This interpretation is shared by important contemporary British documents. In October 1952 the Malayan Combined Intelligence Staff (CIS) presented the communist change in tactics as a reaction to the maturing of the Briggs Plan and its resettlement of the Chinese. These had "robbed the M.C.P of the initiative" and resulted in its suffering "a steadily increasing casualty rate", so that "the situation clearly called for a drastic revision of tactics".(33)
A review on the "Aim and Strategy of the MCP", which is filed with the lecture notes of Police Commissioner Colonel Young for 1952 and 1953, also described the change of tactics as partly the result of "the success of the Government's resettlement in New Villages of the Chinese". This had increased the need for MNLA work amongst the Malays and Indians, "whose importance from the supply point of view had been enhanced...." The switch in emphasis towards political effort and more selective use of violence did not indicate any intention to call off the shooting war, nor any admission of defeat. It was "because a reverse policy had alienated mass support". The aim of the directives was to buttress popular support by increasing the emphasis on "united front" action.(34)
The Director of Operations' "Review of the Emergency" for 1957, by contrast, stated that the 1951 directives were also "based on instructions published in the Cominform Journal". Short counters this by arguing that "the advice that was offered by both China and Russia to Malayan Communists was at best uncertain". Perhaps the most that can be said is that changes in the international communist "line" towards placing more emphasis on "united front" tactics in insurgencies may have contributed to the MCP's October decisions. At the least, if stalemate in Korea made outside help decreasingly likely, it was best to prepare the political ground for a long haul by appealing to the broadest spectrum of support.(35) Neither of these factors, however, should detract from the MCP's domestic military, logistic and politico-military difficulties.
The MCP's October 1951 Resolutions were reaching State Committees by April 1952, though urgent sections were sent earlier. According to one British estimate, the resulting increase in Cultivation Units and in Armed Work Forces - especially the latter, to give added protection to the Min Yuen and those engaged in political work - implied a net reduction in mainstream MNLA strength of around 1,500. This represented 25 per cent of the average 1952 MNLA strength of approximately 6,000. MNLA comrades had to be sternly reminded that wielding the "changkol" (hoe) was not inferior to fighting, but rather 'glorious work conducive to the Revolutionary enterprise'. In other words, the MCP's change in tactics not only was an early symptom of the success of the Briggs Plan, but also implied a reduction of military operations. The October Resolutions and the statements by SEP and defectors, internal debates within the MCP, some British documents of 1952, and the MCP's inability to challenge tightening resettlement all suggest MCP fortunes were on the wane by the beginning of 1952.(36)
Meanwhile, in 1951 and 1952 the security forces continued to eliminate near-peak monthly levels of the MNLA, partly because of improving intelligence. With the communists engaged in Korea and Indochina, and the Briggs Plan maturing, the flow of information from the public slowly began to improve. In spring 1952 a pattern of uneven improvements in Emergency indicators (incidents, and security force and civilian casualties) gave way to a sustained improvement. In 1951 incidents averaged over 110 a week, while in the second, third and fourth quarters of 1952 they fell to weekly averages of 90, 56, and 31 respectively. Sabotage of rubber trees, running at 70,000 a month in February 1952, declined every single month thereafter, dropping to 600 in December. Attacks on buses likewise trailed off, reflecting the October Resolutions' orders to avoid undermining public support. By the second half of the year a general reduction in communist activity was increasingly obvious.(37)
With improvements in resettlement likely to have a ratchet effect on MCP supplies, the change in fortunes was probably decisive, even if it could be exploited only through sustained security force action.(39) How far the change was caused by the MCP's Resolutions themselves - as the dramatic falls in economic and transport sabotage obviously were - and how far by the "population control" which provoked them, is impossible to tell. All that can be said with certainty is that one of two things happened: either "population control" genuinely forced the MCP to change tactics, or the MCP had miscalculated in thinking it needed to make such a change. If the latter, then it was the MCP belief that it had to change its tactics which provided the security forces with a slackening campaign, the window of opportunity in which Stubbs argues they made the MNLA decline irreversible by implementing policy changes.(40) If the former, as this study suggests, then it was specifically population control which had broken the back of the campaign.
Ironically, just as the campaign approached the crest of the hill, High Commissioner Gurney's assassination on 6 October 1951 had spread a sense of gloom. With the MCP perhaps given a momentary boost by Gurney's death, a series of major incidents and spectacular train derailments gave the impression that the communist campaign was steady or even increasing. In particular areas, such as Johore, the MCP appeared to be maintaining its effort despite the early completion of resettlement, even though successes against Min Yuen cells were increasing even there.(41) The very fact that resettlement and food control were threatening to become more effective and that resettlement had forced more communist supporters into the jungle, ensured this moment was not just pivotal, but also still desperately violent. On 5 September the Straits Times announced, under the banner "Briggs Steps Up 'Starvation War' Against Bandits", that further restrictions were being placed on the transport of food.
Churchill, returning to the premiership in October 1951, was thus dismayed to discover that the Emergency was still costing [pounds]56 million a year. His Conservative government sent its Colonial Secretary, Oliver Lyttelton, to Malaya in December 1951, and concluded drastic action was required. He chose General Gerald Templer to be both Director of Operations and High Commissioner (February 1952 to May 1954). Malaya had a supremo.(42)
With previous hopes of an early turn in the Emergency having been repeatedly dashed, Britain was understandably slow to realize that the Emergency was approaching a watershed. Likewise, most historians have been slow to realize that the Emergency was now not so much at a high-level stalemate - virtually requiting Gurney's death and Templer's arrival to break it - as at a murderous climax and turning point.
Short reinforces this case for a stalemate (accepted by most authors) by using counterfactuals. He suggests conditions would have deteriorated but for Gurney's death and Templer's arrival. He asks: "How would Gurney have dealt with the Chinese?"; "Would resettlement have continued?" Yet well over 70 per cent of squatters were moved before 1952. On 3 October 1951 Gurney wrote to Sir T. Lloyd (Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Colonial Office, 1947-56), saying that consolidation of resettlement areas could now begin and that he was attempting to increase Chinese cooperation. On 1 December the government announced it would grant land titles in New Villages.
Short also uses Gurney's so-called 'political will' - in fact a note or aide-memoire of 4 October 1951 - to argue Gurney would have become tougher with the Chinese. The note severely criticized the Chinese failure to help more, and warned of extreme dangers if this attitude persisted. Yet it was probably written not as a prelude to a significantly harsher policy, but as part of Gurney's campaign to pressure Tan Cheng Lok and his coleaders into more action. Short seems unaware of Gurney's long letter to Lloyd of 3 October, and he omits the will's positive suggestions from an otherwise lengthy quotation. The "political will" in fact concluded by suggesting Tan Cheng Lok's Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) should put men into every settlement, raise $2,000,000 and develop a full-time central organization. Short and Stockwell thus accept a document harshly critical of the Chinese but motivated by the desire to secure more Chinese help, as evidence of dangerously hardening attitudes.
Gurney's policies had in any case always mixed ruthless "population control" of Chinese who supported insurgents (he favoured large-scale deportation), and pressure on neutrals, with the courting of potential Chinese allies. Admittedly, some extra measures against recalcitrant Chinese were suggested in late 1951, such as confiscating property. But overall Gurney and Templer both continued the policy of balancing harshness toward recalcitrants (including deportation, resettlement and group punishment) with encouraging more MCA help and improving New Villages. This basic policy continuity was confirmed in both London and Singapore in November 1951.
In line with this drive to increase Chinese assistance, Tan Cheng Lock got MCA approval to form a re-organizing committee on 16 September. Tan met Gurney about this matter on 3 October. Gurney wrote back on the 5th (the day after the so-called 'will'), arranging to meet Tan's new committee on 28 October. The Government kept the appointment, and on 26 November Tan read the will's positive parts to his re-organising committee. In accepting Short's interpretation, most works thus miss the point that the period 1951/52 was critical to MCA's development into a full-fledged political organization and so to the future of the Alliance and Malay[si]an politics. Equally important is the fact that the Emergency and political formation were in this way intimately intertwined.(43)
Most authors thus follow Short and Coates in seeing late 1951 as "the worst of times". And the October Resolutions are usually treated not as clear symptoms of change, and as contributors to that change, but with equivocation. Noel Barber calls the decisions "a document that was to change the course of the war", representing the MCP's partial admission of defeat and the failure of terrorism. But he also says the subsequent killing of Gurney paved the way for the appointment of a supremo, which alone could bring victory. Stubbs, meanwhile, argues that the Directives, by reducing incidents and relieving pressure, gave the government a window of opportunity to reorganize and improve allimportant "hearts and minds" measures. Gurney's death and Templer's appointment supposedly ensured that this opportunity was grasped.(44)
In November 1951, Oliver Lyttleton gave the Cabinet a report in which the top British generals in South East Asia concluded that "the communist hold is as strong as ever. This fact must be faced".(45) This impression was reinforced by a spate of bad ambushes around October, partly reflecting the MCP's annual boost to "celebrate" the anniversary of Russia's "October" (or "November" according to one's choice of calendar) Revolution.(46) Besides, there was a crisis in command. Briggs' term in Malaya had ended. Colonel Gray (Commissioner of Police and an ex-commando) had not yet retrained the hastily expanded police and was only reluctantly allowing them the armour necessary to protect them from ambush in Malaya's jungle terrain. There was room for improvement in the direction of intelligence, and the Malay States were still reluctant to grant citizenship to more Chinese.(47)
Templer thus arrived in February 1952 with the turning tide, but before it was obvious this was in fact what it was.(48) Energising the administration, he brought the campaign to peak efficiency.(49) Special Branch was reorganised, with the attachment of additional Military Intelligence Officers to quickly produce "hot" intelligence for the troops. Gurney's "New Villages" began to receive more amenities (schools, medical assistance, councils) and perimeter lighting. Colonel Young, seconded from London as the new Commissioner of Police, retrained the Malayan force to emphasise normal policing and service to the public.
Since Short suggests Templer only began to have a major impact from March, however, we may suspect that improvements before summer 1952 were due more to cumulative progress in New Village security and to changing MCP tactics and strengths than to Templer, unless it is thought that charismatic leadership can have instant, transmogrifying effects on complex and dispersed campaigns.(50) Indeed, for communist changes in tactics in 1951-52 to be interpreted as a Templer-induced turn-around, his effect on the insurgents, whose communications were slow, would need to have been both instant and cataclysmic. Security Force weekly reports showed increasing successes against the Min Yuen in and before February 1952. Extracts from two private communist letters, captured in Kedah around January 1952 and chosen to illustrate an emerging trend, read as follows: "the situation has changed since the beginning of the month" due to "the aimless fury of the mad dogs [British]" ... "the public are so frightened they even refuse to open the door when we visit them" ... "They ... begged us not to come to the village. So you see we have completely lost the co-operation of the public."(51)
In addition to such increasing incidences of local Min Yuen units suffering problems, and to the October 1951 Resolutions themselves, in 1952 the MCP began what developed into its version of the Chinese Communist Party's "Long March": a "Little Long March". In 1952 the MCP's Secretary General, Chin Peng, moved from Pahang to the Cameron Highlands; in mid-1953 he began moving with the 12th Regiment towards the Betong region in the Thai-Malaya border area.(52) These dramatic 1952 changes - notably in statistics and communist policy - are more likely to have been caused by what preceded them chronologically (the October Resolutions and "population control") than by what happened simultaneously (Templer's early months and new initiatives). Continuity can be seen, rather than the drastic change depicted in much of the traditional historiography.
In so far as Templer did have a significant additional impact on the MNLA in this period, it might be seen more as a result of his perfection of military tactics and population control than of "hearts and minds" measures. Even then, Templer's "energising" impact produced only a marginal increase in security force pressure. "Contact rates" - the number of times security forces initiated contact rather than being ambushed - attained near-peak levels after mid-1951, even increasing in early 1952 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 5 OMITTED](53). But they fell thereafter, with a timing that seems to correlate well with the MCP's change of tactics and reduction of activity.(54)
By 1953 the Emergency was much improved. The government could thus increasingly afford to concentrate forces for intensified operations in selected areas, lasting up to three months. Tins would be punctured, and sometimes rice pre-cooked or served from central kitchens. Such combined Special Branch and food operations would bring population control to a climax at the local level. With insurgent supplies running short, mass arrests would sweep up committed Min Yuen, their less skilful replacements being more easily compromised and "turned" to become agents. This grip might be relaxed briefly, but only at selected points, to create "honeypots" where insurgents could be drawn and ambushed or more suppliers discovered. Success in these operations produced accurate intelligence, and intelligence bred success, thus creating a virtuous circle.(55)
In 1953 an area of Malacca was declared "white", with all restrictions removed. The inducement to maintain an area trouble-free proved effective, and white areas slowly increased. By mid-1954 there were as few as 3,500 insurgents in the jungle. The main threat was increasingly from subversion, and this was increasingly more pronounced in urban Singapore than in rural Malaya.
The Historiography and the Role of Inter-Ethnic, Intra-Ethnic and Social Factors
Why was a counter-insurgency technique centred on population control so effective? The predominant historiographical answer is that the turning of the Emergency was a victory for Templer's leadership and combined politico-military power, and for British "hearts and minds" tactics.(56) According to "hearts and minds" interpretations, there was an early, clear commitment to independence, and from 1952 resettled Chinese received medical, educational and social facilities. Elections were introduced from the village level up in 1951-52, and citizenship extended to increasing numbers of non-Malays, particularly from September 1952. By 1953 non-Malays were allowed to join the senior administrative service in a ratio of one for every four Malays. SEP were used for tours of villages. Surrender was made as easy as possible, with financial rewards for helping to secure other insurgents. As the British-directed "hearts and minds" strategy took effect between 1952 and 1954 - adding the carrot of political concessions and practical amenities to the stick of coercion - the Emergency turned for good.(57)
By contrast, this article argues the tide in the Emergency began to turn between summer 1951 and summer 1952, before most New Villagers enjoyed more than rudimentary facilities to compensate for being uprooted from their homes. Often villagers' new houses were located further from jobs or from vegetable plots and livestock. Farmers found themselves enclosed in barbed wire, sometimes with inadequate farming land.
Han Suyin - Belgian-Chinese autobiographer and novelist, doctor, then wife of a Special Branch officer and sympathizer of the new China, captures the feel of some of the worst resettlement conditions in 1952, as seen by someone sympathetic to villagers: "The dirt road was a red gash across the jungle. There, at the edge of a fetid mangrove swamp ... the barbed wire manned by a police post, was the 'new village', spreading itself into the swamp. Four hundred beings, including children, foot-deep in brackish mud ... there was no clean water anywhere".(58) Curfews and food controls were intensified precisely when the security forces stepped up operations in an area. One of the first things Templer did on arrival was to descend on the unfortunate Chinese village of Tanjong Malim, harangue the villagers and impose a 22-hour curfew in retribution for their unwillingness to supply information on nearby ambushes.(59) Chin Kee Onn's novel The Grand Illusion, written by a government information officer, also has its MNLA hero Kung Li say around 1952 that "the Government still had a long way to go to win the hearts of the squatters. Squatters were essentially people of the open spaces. They wanted to farm land. They would never be happy cooped up in fenced-in villages, no matter how well managed...."(60) With the Emergency changing face rapidly in 1952, it can hardly have been due to winning the hearts and minds of recently uprooted inhabitants.
Over 12,000 Chinese, meanwhile, were deported, while many more were repatriated by request. Indeed, the intensification of resettlement from 1950 should be seen partly as a reaction to the closing off of outlets for deportation - Britain's favoured option for detainees - as China fell under communist control.(61) In May 1952 the Australian Commissioner's Office in Singapore reported that the police were still often haughty, allegations of assault too common, and improvements in the police only just beginning to show.(62)
At the end of 1952 constitutional advance was also unlikely to impress sceptical Chinese. The vast majority of citizens, and more so registered electors, remained Malay. Despite the 1948 Federation Agreement having called for elections as soon as possible, there had been no elections above municipal level. There was also no guarantee that with the vast majority of electors being Malay, UMNO (the United Malays National Organization) would not secure all the real power. Britain's previous willingness in 1946 to dilute proposals for generous citizenship measures in order to appease Malay anger hardly suggested Chinese would be able to gain an equal place. In 1954 Victor Purcell (who visited Malaya as a guest of the MCA in 1952 and quarrelled bitterly with Templer) described Malaya as a "police state". Tan Cheng Lok, chairman of the moderate, collaborationist Malayan Chinese Association (MCA), could say as late as December 1953 that "the government has struck no root in the heart of the people". Purcell's book Malaya: Communist or Free, embittered as it appears to be, drew on the genuine frustrations of less than radical Chinese.(63)
On a more negative note, Judith Strauch notes one Chinese New Village felt the stick had been more important than the carrot. Many resettled Chinese did not receive long-term land titles until long after 1952, or did not understand what rights they had received.(64) A study by Loh Kok Wah, based partly on participant-observation in four New Villages in Kinta, Perak, also confirmed that New Villagers remained frustrated agriculturalists. They received insufficient farming land; consequently there was recurrent pressure after resettlement for a return to the squatting which they had traditionally used to escape low wages, unemployment and poor conditions.(65)
Despite obvious improvements, with some New Villages developing into thriving communities, many of them posed a public health menace even in 1954.(66) As late as 1956 the Director of Operations could talk of one area where, "in spite of the sullenly hostile population, we are making very good military progress by screwing down the people in the strongest and sternest manner". The Chief Minister of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman, then reportedly saw "no hope whatsoever of changing the Chinese mind", which he felt was wedded to China.(67) These views echoed earlier British attitudes that most Chinese would support the government only when "forced into giving practical assistance",(68) and that even rural Chinese were mostly "wind-blown", giving verbal support to whoever brought the greatest pressure to bear upon them.(69) Cheah Boon Kheng has thus argued that, "the Chinese memory of Templer's reign is probably one of fear and resentment, a most unhappy experience in which Templer used tough language and tactics to intimidate them ... the Malay memory of the Emergency was equally unpleasant - one of government indifference and neglect of Malay rural areas ..." tempered by appreciation of Templer's tough approach to the Chinese.(70) In so far as there is direct evidence of Malayan Chinese attitudes, it seems to suggest Chinese squatters were not won over by a "hearts and minds" approach so much as they were acquiescing in firm control.
It is therefore difficult to see the slow maturing of "hearts and minds" measures - real as these were - as critical in the crucial period of 1951 to 1952, especially in relation to the recently resettled Chinese "squatters".(71) No doubt Britain's repeated commitment to guiding Malaya towards eventual self-government did help avoid alienating local opinion, but the change of tide which occurred then, before decolonisation picked up speed, demands further explanation. The key seems to have been the Briggs Plan's "law and order" and resettlement - its population control approach - in which "hearts and minds" tactics played an auxiliary role. Yet why should this have worked in Malaya, and not Vietnam, Palestine or Algeria? Why were the insurgents unable to step up guerrilla or terror activity and so win the battle over the legitimacy of force?(72) Why was it possible to arm increasing numbers of Chinese "New Village" Home Guards from 1952, without them turning these weapons back on the security forces?
One answer lies in the complexity of the fractures within Malaya's "Chinese community", where an over-abundance of possible identities and choices reduced the potential number of communists and multiplied the communists' potential enemies. These choices and fractures included: Malaya-centred versus China-centred identity; communist versus Kuomintang allegiance; participation in modern, ideological political organizations versus the protection of Chinese identity through communally organized clan groups or chambers of commerce; Chinese- versus English-language education; first- or second-generation immigrants versus long-established, pro-British and well-integrated 'Straits Chinese' such as Tan Cheng Lok; and, of course, class differences. Malaya's Chinese community, because of its immigrant and entrepreneurial origins, had a large middle class: traders, shopkeepers, estate owners.
An extreme example of this is the Kuok brothers. Their father arrived in Malaya, opened a grocery store and engaged in commodity trading. Sons Robert and Philip went on to develop multi-billion dollar interests in sugar, hotels and property. Much of their wealth was made in Malaysia and Hong Kong, especially the Malaysian Sugar Company, with links to Indonesian-Chinese Liem Sioe Liong. The Kuoks are thus a classic "Overseas Chinese" entrepreneurial, Malaysian success story. Yet one brother - "Willie" - was killed fighting for the MNLA. This sort of family split is also reflected in Suchen Christine Lim's historical novel Fistful of Colours. Its central narrator is surprised to find that the son and daughter of a towkay (Chinese businessman) - both Chinese-educated, idealistic and the narrator's relatives - as well an uncle had joined the MCP - the son during the war and the daughter in the 1950s. The Emergency could thus be reconceptualized as part Malay battle to maintain Malay political dominance, part Chinese civil war, and part search for identity and focus by individual Chinese presented with a bewildering array of choices - a search in which even individual family members sometimes took different roads.(73)
Furthermore, put in this way, the Emergency becomes central to the process by which the business-dominated MCA emerged as the dominant Chinese political party and was integrated into the UMNO-MCA Alliance as a junior partner. The MCA's ability to convince the British that it was a sufficient representative of Chinese views, and the dominance within the Association of people willing to seek independence without first getting more concrete guarantees of Chinese power-sharing, must be related to Emergency conditions. These conditions helped ensure that the MCA gave priority to anti-communism over particularistic Chinese interests and accepted the entrenchment of Malay rights in 1957. How far the Emergency also removed from politics capable but more Chinacentred and Chinese-speaking Chinese, is open to question. The Emergency, decolonisation and the formation of the postcolonial political landscape can in these ways be rejoined as one, integrated process, rather than being told as separate stories.
What is here proposed, then, is a two-part explanatory model for the Emergency. Britain won the Emergency by "screwing down the people", by "population control" tactics. But these could and did succeed largely because of local conditions, namely both the inter-communal and the less noted but equally important intra-communal characteristics of Malaya's population. Success can thus be only partly explained by the racial situation of the MNLA, reliant on Chinese for over 90 per cent of its fighters.(74) The leadership's persistent calls for its ranks to be "Malaya-minded" made little impression. Insurgent caps may have sported three stars (tiga bintang - one for each main race), but the units wearing them were too frequently of one race.(75) Chinese was often used as the lingua franca in units, where small attachments of Malays might find themselves in an alien cultural milieu. Malay nationalism had its origins partly in a fear of being swamped by the Chinese. Clashes between Malays (some of whom had been wartime collaborators in the guise of police and administrators) and Chinese MPAJA units during and after the war limited the MNLA's ability to recruit Malays.
As late as May 1952, the MCP Central Committee was still wrestling with these problems. It then proposed to set up Departments of Indian Work and of Malay Work within existing structures, from Central Committee to State Committee level. But it warned against entirely separate racial organizations or criticism of "essential" Chinese leadership. The document noted "past failure ... to influence and organize the Malay and Indian mass". It insisted Marxism was trans-national but denied this meant that "the party intends to try and weld all such different races into one Malayan nationality", recognising instead that race-specific cadres were best for each community. Yet it also acknowledged continuing language problems, and warned the party must "give up belittling" Malays and Indians (which it nevertheless described as backward culturally and politically!).(76)
The racial-social factor can also be plotted quantitatively. On a 1957 security force map, overwhelmingly Malay States such as Trengganu (fourteen guerrillas left) and Kelantan (thirty-eight guerrillas) are shown to be relatively free of insurgency. But with just 1,830 insurgents still listed, almost 1,200 were concentrated in two of the states with the highest percentage of Chinese: Perak (754), where there were a large number of Chinese tin miners; and Johore (435).(77) MCP Secretary-General Chin Peng - who came from Sitiawan himself, near the Perak tin-mining districts, has emphasised the centrality of this racial factor, and the MCP's failure to surmount it, as recently as June 1998.(78)
What Chin Peng did not acknowledge was the fracturing within the Chinese community suggested above, and the fact that the Chinese base of his MNLA may have suffered from adulterated and poorly focused nationalism. According to one British estimate, only around one million of Malaya's five to six million people (the population was growing fast in the 1950s) were potential communist sympathizers.(79) Chinese loyalties were tom between Nationalist and Communist China, traditional Chinese societies and the modern political organization of the MCP, between cultural introversion and participating in the nascent Malayan state.(80) It is suggested that the MNLA could never hope to command the breadth and depth of emotional commitment that the Algerian insurgents could against France, or the Viet Minh from Vietnamese. The origins of the Chinese presence in Malaya, stemming as it did from relatively recent economic migration, also resulted in a particularly large and important pro-business group in Chinese society, with strong interests in the defeat of the insurgents.(81) Considerable Chinese business interests and ex-KMT supporters opposed communism.(82)
Many Chinese thus joined the MCA - for which local shopkeepers, traders and Chinese Chambers of Commerce formed the backbone - despite the danger that they would be labelled "running dogs" and suffer attacks.(83) Minor MCA officers risked losing shops and families. Take the town of Kuala Pilah as an example. Its first MCA President fled after his shop was attacked with a grenade, and then an MCA Working Committee member lost three of his children in another grenade attack. Tan Cheng Lok himself, as MCA President, survived having a grenade thrown onto the platform during an address at Ipoh in April 1949, after which he reported losing two to three pints of blood.(84) It is no surprise then, that the MCA found it a struggle to persuade Chinese to join as twa kau (derogatory Hokkien for "big dog") or police inspectors.(85) Besides, the Chinese saying was that you don't make soldiers from good men (or nails from good iron). The same went for police.
MCA help to the government included social welfare in New Villages, screening detainees, and forming a legitimate focus for Chinese political activity. From the beginning the MCA was also asked to give assistance in promoting surrenders.(86) MCA Liaison committees were also supposed to suggest individuals who might penetrate the MCP.(87) By 1951 ad hoc MCA consultative committees were being established for these purposes, meeting the police at circle and contingent levels.(88) In the critical states of Perak (13.2 per cent) and Johore (7.9 per cent) the MCA already had respectable proportions of the Chinese as members by mid-1952, when it was expanding its organization.(89) Despite its inability to encourage large numbers of Chinese into the police, the understandable reluctance of many of its officers to take public actions which would brand them as "running dogs", and the distance between its wealthy, business elite and the squatters, the MCA played important auxiliary roles.
Wang Gungwu, meanwhile, argues that most Chinese wished to retain their traditional communal organizations rather than follow mainland Chinese politics or seize the initiative locally. According to him, the MCA thus ran with the grain of Chinese politics while the MCP, with its modern political organization, went against the grain.(90) Arguably, the war had only temporarily disrupted the Chinese trade guilds, clan houses and associations, whose focus was on achieving economic success through the existing system of government and whose leaders later underpinned the MCA.
The nature of the Chinese community might also help to explain the willingness of many SEP - which so puzzled British officers - to work with the state, some joining the security forces in hunting down old comrades. Lucien Pye has argued that for many, communism did not represent a commitment to an ideology or to a cause such as nationalism, but rather was more a means of adapting to a changing and modernizing world, a potential avenue of advancement or a personal commitment.(91) For others, it was simply the most prestigious pro-Chinese, anti-Japanese body of the war, or for still others, a means of addressing social and economic grievances. In all these cases, the motivating force may have been less powerful than that involved in nationalism per se. A comparison between SEP behaviour and motivation in Malaya and the Philippines, and in Vietnam, Cyprus and Algeria, might here prove instructive.(92)
Divisions between and within communal groups thus fatally undermined the MCP's "revolutionary space", limiting its choice of targets.(93) Had the insurgents concentrated attacks on the mainly Malay police rather than Europeans, the military and estates, for instance, they would only have reinforced the "Chinese" nature of the insurgency.(94)
This paper has argued that population control was central to the policies which won the Emergency. The turning point came with the switch from poorly directed counterterror and coercion in 1948-49, to tightly organized population control from 1950. This approach was one of massive control and intimidation. The ratio of Security Forces (including Home Guard) to insurgents ranged from 5:1 to 12:1. Around ten per cent of the population was resettled, more if labour regrouping is included. This was accompanied by curfews, food control and large-scale arrests, with the right to detain without trial. In addition, over 12,000 were deported.(95) This approach initially, and almost inevitably, increased insurgent numbers and incidents as a battle for the New Villages intensified. But by late 1951 the MCP had been persuaded to change tactics. Resettlement had not yet made life impossible, but the MCP recognised that current supply difficulties would inevitably multiply as the noose tightened. Its October 1951 decisions then contributed to an accelerated decline in incidents in 1952. This foundation was strengthened under Templer in 1952-54, who brought counter-insurgency to peak efficiency.
But this is a two-part, not a uni-dimensional, explanation. Population control could succeed only because of favourable local and international conditions. Locally, Malaya's communal patterns ensured neutrality or support for the government from Malays. Within the "Chinese community", many of the commercially orientated and pro-KMT elements were hostile to communism, even if a significant number paid communist "subscriptions" when the MNLA was strong in their area. Many more wanted simply to protect their communal identity, a task for which the MCA seemed appropriate. As the MNLA's wartime role as a popular anti-Japanese force became more distant and British coercion more effective, the communists' ability to command Chinese support waned.(96)
Internationally, stalemate in the Korean War from 1951 and Malaya's isolation from any external communist sources of materiel, both exercised positive effects. In short, given propitious local and international circumstances, Britain was able to "screw down" that fraction of the Chinese community which was willing to die for communism, and to avoid the likelihood of too many Chinese concluding communism was the logical route to modernity and Merdeka (independence).
"Hearts and minds" tactics were an important, but auxiliary, part of the "population control" paradigm. British propaganda, for instance, tried to "win hearts" by persuading Chinese minds that support for Communism, or loyalty to Communism once captured, could mean just one thing - death.(97) Nevertheless, British traditions of "minimum force" did - albeit belatedly and imperfectly - help prevent coercion from spiralling into selfdefeating oppression, and army action from producing excessive and alienating "collateral damage". Political concessions from 1951 - leading to independence by 1957 - also ensured that few Malays, and fewer Chinese than might otherwise have been the case, were tempted by the MCP's anti-colonialist rhetoric. Finally, social welfare in New Villages must have had some impact on rural Chinese, though many sources suggest Chinese "New Villagers" were - in 1952 if not later - at best resigned, at worst hostile.(98)
These conclusions have been made possible by a tentative integration of works which focus on Malaysian sub-national stories and communities - Loh Kok Wah, Wang Gungwu and even literature and autobiography such as Han Suyin's - with the predominant Emergency historiography, the latter being more a "Colonial Records" narrative. Also, part of the approach has been to take seriously as evidence the relevant communist documentation, and sources such as the Tan Cheng Lok papers. Ideally, more space would have been devoted to the Emergency as an essentially Malayan process, but the claims of the dominant historiography had to be addressed first.(99)
This article is, therefore, offered as a comment on the historiography of the Emergency. It is also a small contribution towards explaining the course of the Emergency not just as a "Colonial Records" account or a small part of a larger, supra-national story about "British policies" and "British success" in the Cold War, decolonization and counterinsurgency, nor as a minor part in a sub-national story of one social or ethnic group, but as one of the central integrating processes in "Malayan", or "Malaysian", history which was both shaped by, and in return shaped, most communities as well as the emerging post-colonial state.(100)
2 The MNLA originated in the communist-led, wartime Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army. This stood down in 1945-48, as the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) sought power through politics and unions. It was reconstituted in June 1948, when relations between an increasingly violent MCP and an increasingly restrictive government broke down, and the Emergency was declared. Initially, the re-formed guerrillas called themselves the Malayan Peoples Anti-British Army. In 1949 it switched to "Malayan National (Min-tsu) Liberation Army"; the term min-tsu was unsatisfactorily translated as "Races" by Special Branch. Thus most works on the Emergency use MRLA. See C.C. Too, New Straits Times, 3 December 1989; and Lee Ting Hui, The Open United Front: The Communist Struggle in Singapore, 1954-1966 (Singapore: South Seas Society, 1996), pp. 38-39, endnotes 100-101.
3 See Anthony Short, The Communist Insurrection in Malaya 1948-1960 (London: Frederick Muller, 1975), pp. 305-306 for "worst of times"; John Coates, Suppressing Insurgency: An Analysis of the Malayan Emergency (Boulder: Westview, 1993), p. 108, for the death being "symptomatic of a losing cause"; p. 186 for "epitaph", p. 110 for "worst of times"; and Richard Stubbs, Hearts and Minds in Guerrilla Warfare: The Malayan Emergency 1948-1960 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1989), pp. 133-40. Gurney was ambushed in a flag-flying car, with inadequate escort. Yet as short a time before the assassination as 12 Sept. 1951, one J. Jones wrote to the Straits Times about officers suicidally riding in cars with "Flags but no Armour".
4 Stubbs, Hearts and Minds, p. 126.
5 Why does Short use hydraulic metaphors, and thus the still influential idea of Templer alone having the skills required to ride the "tide"? Born in Singapore and educated in England, having done his National Service in Johore during the period 1947-49, he taught in the University of Malaya from 1960 to 1966. His book, written with access to official records in Malaya, was submitted to the Malaysian government in 1968. He eventually had to find another publisher, possibly because his comments about race relations and policy were sensitive after the May 1969 Kuala Lumpur riots. How far did Short share the Anglo-centric, World War Two perspective of C. Northcote Parkinson (1950-58 Raffles Professor of History at the University of Malaya)? The latter's Templer in Malaya (Singapore: Donald Moore, 1954) was almost hagiographical (he also co-wrote a book on Heroes of Malaya). Short (p. 387) distances himself from Parkinson, yet they share the argument that 1951 saw stalemate, which Templer's leadership transformed. Short also adopts Parkinson's tide imagery. Parkinson entitled Chapter 4 of Templer in Malaya "Turn of the Tide". Short (p. 387) suggested that a quotation from Shakespeare's Caesar - not Parkinson's favoured Henry V - best fits Templer: "There is a tide in the affairs of men which if taken at flood leads on to fortune". Short drops Parkinson's lectures on the value of Britain's war-trained generals, along with his multiple quotations from Henry V. It seems strange that the difference between two historians of Malaya can be reduced to which Shakespeare to quote, until one realises that Short was a teenager during the war, while Parkinson served in wartime military education. Do their interpretations emerge not from Malaya, but from wartime England? From its images of military leadership, of Montgomery turning the World War Two "tide" at El Alamein? See Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore) biographical cuttings, filed at DS510 B61 Ref; and Who's Who in Scotland 1992-93 (Irvine: Cartick Media, 1992). For World War Two and Western historiography, see R.J. Bosworth, Explaining Auschwitz and Hiroshima: History Writing and the Second World War (London: Routledge, 1993).
6 Stubbs suggests "coercion", but he fails to make explicit the distinction between coercion per se and "population control". The latter is an integrated attempt to survey and control a population, using proportionate and directed force. By "hearts and minds" Stubbs means political concessions and providing amenities: a votes-and-piped-water approach. In a wider sense, it could also include military hearts and minds measures, such as payments for information, or psychological warfare.
7 A few examples blending the three theses include: John Cloake, Templer: Tiger of Malaya (London: Harrap, 1985); Coates, Suppressing Insurgency; Noel Barber, War of the Running Dogs (London: Arrow, 1989), chs. 12-14. Malaysian works often share these interpretations, e.g. Dato' J.J. Raj, The War Years and After (Petaling Jaya: Pelanduk, 1995), ch. 13. However, two types of British works are slightly different. Those which sell the idea of British counter-insurgency as a particularly effective paradigm emphasize "population control" as part of an overall "British" model, downplaying Templer's personality slightly. See Robert Thompson (a British adviser in Vietnam), Defeating Communist Insurgency: Experiences from Malaya and Vietnam (London: Chatto and Windus, 1972); and Richard Clutterbuck, Riot and Revolution in Singapore and Malaysia: 1945-1983 (Singapore: Graham Brash, 1984). Some more junior figures in the British "Establishment", especially those in Malaya before Templer, also see him in a more equivocal way. See, for example, Victor Purcell, Malaya: Communist or Free (London: Gollancz, 1954), and Leonard Rayner, Emergency Years: (Malaya 1951-1954) (Singapore: Heinemann Asia, 1991). (Leon Comber, who formerly served as a Special Branch officer in Johore, made this point about junior/senior establishment differences in a generous e-mail correspondence.) Malaysian-focused works more critical of British policy tend to be written by Malaysian Chinese - such as the following from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) staff- and focus on Chinese communities or shorter periods of time: Loh Kok Wah, Beyond the Tin Mines: Coolies, Squatters and New Villagers in the Kinta Valley, Malaysia, c. 1880-1980 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1988); and Cheah Boon Kheng, Masked Comrades: A Study of the Communist United Front in Malaya, 1945-1948 (Singapore: Times, 1979). It would be interesting to compare the output from USM - in the mainly Chinese state of Penang which, along with Singapore, was a part of the Straits Settlement Colony until 1946 and which had a secessionist movement in the 1940s and 1950s - with those of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in the capital.
8 Thus while A.J. Stockwell argues for continuity in colonial policy through 1945-57, I argue that a similar continuity existed in Emergency policy between 1950 and 1960. The major discontinuity was the introduction in 1950 of the Briggs Plan and its population approach. For Stockwell's views see, for instance, Malaya, ed. A.J. Stockwell (London: HMSO "British Documents on the end of Empire" series, 1995). i, Introduction.
9 The term is used by both Short, Communist Insurrection (p. 160) and Stubbs, Hearts and Minds (pp. 66-93).
10 Min Yuen was short for Min Chung Yuen Tung, or "People's Movement".
11 DEFE11/34, High Commissioner to Secretary of State, 15 Feb. 1950.
12 For the quotation, see Prem8/1406, MAL. C(50)6, 21 Apr. 1950, "Military Situation in Malaya".
13 A Government Squatter Committee advised resettlement in Jan. 1949, but this was left up to the initiative of each individual state. They moved slowly because of cost, reluctance to give land to Chinese and a feeling that uncoordinated resettlement would simply displace insurgents; Stubbs, Hearts and Minds, p. 101.
14 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore) (henceforth "ISEAS"), Tan Cheng Lok Papers, note dated 22 May 1950 from a "subscription collector" to Tan Cheng Lok, for the hatred caused by initial resettlement, and swelling MRLA numbers in 1948-50.
15 For the "Briggs Plan", see Short, Communist Insurrection, pp. 231-53; and Air20/7777, "Report on the Emergency in Malaya from April 1950 to Nov. 1951", by Lt-General Harold Briggs. "Regroupment" meant moving workers' huts short distances to concentrate them in more easily defended groups.
16 It was this erosion of the distinction between civilian and insurgent which fuelled Vietnam's cycle of state counter-terror and peasant alienation. See G. Kolko, Vietnam: Anatomy of a War (London: Allen & Unwin, 1986), pp. 92-96, 107-108, 131-37; and Milton Osborne, Strategic Hamlets in South Vietnam (Ithaca: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 1965), for the failure of "strategic hamlets" because Vietnamese peasants were settled farmers.
17 After a low of 2.5 in 1950 the insurgent:security force elimination ratio climbed to 3 in 1951, 6 in 1952, and 15 in 1953. See Coates, Suppressing Insurgency, p. 76 (note 76), for MCP strength; pp. 190-202, for monthly figures; p. 202, for the ratio. See also Richard Clutterbuck, Riot and Revolution in Singapore and Malaya, 1945-63 (London: Faber & Faber, 1973), pp. 183-86; and AIR20/10377, "Report on Emergency Operations", DOO, Sept. 1957, para. 11. The latter estimates average yearly CT strengths at 7,292 in 1951 and 5,765 in 1952, numbers falling roughly 20 per cent a year from 1951-57.
18 Lam Swee was pre-Emergency Secretary-General of the Pan-Malayan Federation of Trade Unions. On the excessive use of fear and hardening public opinion, see Rhodes House, Oxford, Walker-Taylor Papers, "Statements" of SEP, p. 1, and Liew Thian Choy file, pp. 25-29. See also Rhodes House, Young Papers, MS British Empire s486/2/1, (N), "Surrender of CTs", pp. 29, 35-39, and (B); Coates, Suppressing Insurgency, pp. 63-65; and Lucian Pye, Guerrilla Communism in Malaya: Its Social and Political Meaning (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1956), pp. 95, 104-105.
19 Distinguishing between insurgent violence as policing and as terrorising the population into support is difficult, since the MNLA did not have the luxury of a secure prison system. For "random" atrocities, including the murder of a Chinese girl by driving a nail into her head: Rhodes House, Young, MS British Empire s486/2/1, Federation Police Hq - Misc.: "Short History of the Emergency", 21 Oct. 1952.
20 Tim Harper, "The Colonial Inheritance: State and Society in Malaya, 1945-1957" (Cambridge: D. Phil thesis, 1991), pp. 190-93, on MCP difficulty maintaining support. Harper mentions the fear in late 1951 that ex-supporters of the SEP would be betrayed, leading to a 'confessional kind of politics'.
21 For the Korean War boom, Stubbs, Hearts and Minds, p. 107. For MCP worries about future supply difficulties intensifying, see CO1022/187, High Commissioner to Colonial Office, 31 Dec. 1951, Oct. Resolutions, pp. 84-85 and 144. The seventh urgent task was to "strive to put food and material supplies on a sound basis", and increase farming, "even if it reduces the combatant action of the armed forces".
22 For the terminology, Lee Ting Hui, The Open United Front, p. 34, endnote 43.
23 An English-language copy (not a British translation) of the Directives, in the form of seven documents, is in CO1022/187, pp. 62-158, enclosed with High Commissioner (Malaya) to Colonial Secretary (from J.P. Morton, Director of Intelligence), 31 Dec. 1952. The "Directive of the Central Politburo on Clearing and Planting" specifically dealt with the present and future dangers posed by resettlement. For the "seven urgent tasks", CO1022/187, "Captured MCP Documents", FO memorandum, 27 Nov. 1953.
24 It is also difficult to believe the MCP were not aware that the prospects for a "united front" strategy were poor. Political difficulties were part of the reason for the revolt, and Special Branch control of the population was now tighter than in 1948.
25 For the directives being caused by pressure, Rhodes House, MS British Empire s486/2/1, Misc., p. 53, paras 33-35, "Short History of the Emergency", by Operations Branch, Federal Police Headquarters, 21 Oct. 1952, paras 33-34; and (F), "Aim and Strategy of the MCP". These are filed in the Young Papers for 1952-53 as lecture notes. For MCP difficulties with support, see Harper, "Colonial Inheritance", pp. 190-93. See also Annual Report on the Federation of Malaya: 1951 (Kuala Lumpur: Federal Printers, 1952): "Evidence from captured documents corroborated that measures to control food seriously disrupted the terrorist food supply system. These measures, coupled with the Security Forces success in finding a large number of reserve food dumps, caused no little concern to the Malayan Communist Party leaders and forced the merging of their armed units and supply organization into small mobile gangs - a continuation of the trend which had become apparent during the latter part of 1950".
26 AIR20/10377, DOO Report 1957, p. 18, "One of the Chief weaknesses of the CTO has been its inability to live off the jungle"; and p. 18, para. 68 (a) for measures including rationing, food movement restrictions, licensing shops, etc. See also Hack, "Intelligence and Counter-Insurgency", for the point that intelligence was best secured by combined and protracted food/Special Branch operations.
27 The Resolutions' origins are too complex to discuss in full; see Hack, "Intelligence and Counter-Insurgency: The Example of Malaya", Intelligence and National Security 14,2 (1999). "Mass organization" is often wrongly interpreted as being mainly or solely political. See CO1022/187, Oct. Resolutions, p. 72, which introduces the "Urgent Tasks" for connections between "starvation policy" and mass organization becoming "Urgent Task" number one. It said: "owing to the enemies' concentration of and rigid control over the masses the party is confronted with numerous difficulties ... [with mass organizations] ... At present, certain difficulties in our procurement of supplies are closely connected with these weaknesses". For clearing, planting and supplies see also Oct. Resolutions, pp. 65-66, 85, 141-50.
28 CO1022/187, "Extract from Weekly Intelligence Summary" no. 110 (no date).
29 CO1022/187, High Commissioner to Colonial Office, 31 Dec. 1951, Oct. Resolutions, pp. 65- 66.
30 See CO1022/187, sheets 62-158, enclosed with High Commissioner to Colonial Secretary, 31 Dec. 1952, 63-69, 89-90, 116, 120-21; and "Captured MCP Documents", FO memorandum, 27 Nov. 1953. The quotation is in Short, Communist Insurrection, p. 321. Short is targeting Purcell's claim that "Ternpler's predecessors had succeeded in subjecting the Communists to such pressure that they had virtually called off the shooting war four months before his arrival ..." (Purcell, Communist or Free, quoted in Short, p. 318.) It is possible to argue for military causes and consequences without assuming an intention to call off the shooting. On "left deviation", see Stubbs, Hearts and Minds, pp. 147-51.
31 Nicholas White, Business, Government and the End of Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 97, 121-23; "Capitalism and Counter-Insurgency", Modern Asian Studies 32,1 (1998): 149-77.
32 There may be a direct line between the easing of the Malayan campaign from 1951-52 and the increasing prominence of strikes and demonstrations in Singapore by 1954-55. For an interpretation which also sees the October directives as forced on the MCP and yet identifies this link between 1951 and Singapore events, see Lee Ting Hui, The Open United Front, pp. 13-16, 34 (endnote 43).
33 Rhodes House, Young Papers, MS British Empire s486/2/3, CIS(52)(7)(Final), "Combined Intelligence Staff Review of the Emergency as at 30th September 1952", 10 Oct. 1952, paras. 6-7. This examined reasons for changes in the Emergency in the six months to Sept. 1952. The CIS comprised civil service, police, army and RAF members who produced appreciations for the Director of Intelligence; see AIR20/10377, "Review of Emergency", 1957, p. 15, para. 54, (c); and Short, Communist Insurrection, p. 360.
34 For the quotations, Rhodes House, Young Papers, MS British Empire s486/2/1, (F), "Review of the Security Situation in Malaya: Aim and Strategy of the MCP", paras. 5 and 6, pp. 35-36; and (I).
35 See Hack, "Intelligence and Counter-Insurgency". Short, Communist Insurrection, p. 318, argues the Cominform line was unclear. For the quotation, see AIR20/10377, "Review of the Emergency", DOO, 1957, p. 3. Ralph Smith stresses the world context and international communist "line" (not instructions) in, "China and SE Asia: The Revolutionary Perspective, 1951", Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 19,1 (1988): 97-110.
36 For reductions in MNLA strength, Rhodes House, Young Papers, MS British Empire s486/2/1, item I, "Review of the Security Situation", para. 5. For the Directives' diffusion, see para. 4. Para. 3 suggested that "too forward a policy had alienated mass support and prejudiced Party Security". See also CO1022/187, sheet 168-69, "Secret Abstract of Intelligence" for 17 Nov. to 16 Dec. 1952. Pye, Guerrilla Communism, pp. 105-106, suggests the directives reduced the aggressiveness of MCP commanders, leading to orders in late 1952 to increase activity. These failed, because MNLA units were now too weak to increase activity significantly. For planting as "glorious", CO1022/187, High Commissioner to Colonial Office, 31 Dec. 1951, Oct. Resolutions, p. 144.
37 See Figs. 1, 2 and 5; and DEFE11/47, "Malaya Report", Mar. 1952, (C), Average weekly incidents by months, (1576B). By the fourth quarter of 1952 incidents were at 1949 levels. For rubber trees, Richard Stubbs, Counter-Insurgency and the Economic Factor: The Impact of the Korean War Prices Boom on the Malayan Emergency, Occasional Paper No. 19 (Singapore: ISEAS, 1974), pp. 43-44. AIR20/10377, "Review of the Emergency", DOO, 1957, p. 9, para. 34, dates improved information to late 1951-52. Rhodes House, MS British Empire s486/2/3, CIS(52)7(f), "Combined Intelligence Staff Review", 10 Oct. 1952, para. 4(a), and appendices, for statistics steadily improving from Feb.-Mar. 1952. Thus when Short notes (p. 306) that a week after Gurney's death security forces suffered the heaviest weekly total of casualties for a year, this is not representative of any deterioration or trend, but rather one of the erratic peaks within the pattern for 1951 to early 1952, which at best could be read as incipient but very slow, erratic improvement.
38 AIR20/10377, "Review of the Emergency", DOO, 12 Sept. 1957.
39 Short, Communist Insurrection, p. 381, stresses resettlement deficiencies in 1951 (e.g., insufficient barbed wire). He thereby downplays gradual improvement and the way the Resolutions reflected communist reaction to resettlement. The main test of resettlement must be empirical not theoretical, that is, based on communist documents or reactions, not on theorizing about the state of British operations.
40 Stubbs sees the October Resolutions as MCP miscalculation. Together with Gurney's death, which Stubbs feels provided a personnel change vital to allow policy modifications, the resulting lull gave the chance to introduce the winning "hearts and minds" policy (Stubbs, Hearts and Minds, pp. 191, 249-54).
41 See CAB129/C(51)26, "The Situation in Malaya", Colonial Secretary, 20 Nov. 1951, for a BDCC telegram of 15 Nov., describing the communist hold as being "as strong as ever"; CO1022/13 and 14, "Security Forces' Weekly Intelligence Summary", 1951-52; and Stockwell, Malaya, ii, pp. 302-355. For Johore, DEFE11/46, "Progress Report", DOO, Nov. 1951, Conclusions; and Malcolm MacDonald Papers, 25/2/86-87, "A note found in the handwriting of the late Sir Henry Gurney", c. 4 Oct. 1951, states that the MNLA in Johore increased from 700 (1950) to a peak of around 2300 (1951) as resettlement pushed communists into the jungle and sorted the sheep from the goats.
42 For Gurney's death as a necessary development, see Coates, Suppressing Insurgency, p. 186; and Rhodes House, Granada End of Empire, Malaya, vol. 2, pp. 98-99, and vol. 4, p. 70. For British frustration, the change of government, and changes in personnel but not in the thrust of policy, see Stockwell, "British Imperial Policy and Decolonization in Malaya", Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 13,1 (1984): 79-83; and Stockwell, Malaya, ii, pp. 306-353.
43 Tan Cheng Lok was President of the MCA. See Short, Communist Insurrection, pp. 303 and 306, for quotations on counter-factuals. For Gurney's policy, see Durham University, Malcolm MacDonald Papers [henceforth MMP] 25/2/56-62, Gurney to Lloyd, 3 Oct. 1951; 25/2/86-87, "A note found in the handwriting of the late Sir Henry Gurney", c. 4 Oct. 1951 (also slightly less complete version in Stockwell, Malaya, ii, p. 300f); MMP25/2/85; 19/7/40; 25/2/54. For continuity in Chinese policy in London and Singapore, see CAB 129/C(51)26, Nov. 1951. For Gurney's attitudes to Chinese, see Stockwell, Malaya, ii, pp. 77, 88-91, 114-17, 195; for additional measures, see p. 300. For the MCA, see ISEAS, Tan Cheng Lok Papers 3/271, "Memorandum submitted to the Rt Honourable Oliver Lyttelton" MCA Delegation, 2 Dec. 1951; ibid., 11/11, passim; and MMP25/2/85, 22 Nov. 1951, Del Tufo to MacDonald. See also Stubbs, Hearts and Minds, pp. 207-213.
44 Noel Barber, The War of the Running Dogs: Malaya 1948-1960 (London: Arrow, 1992), pp. 157-59, 161 for quotations. Stubbs, Hearts and Minds, pp. 148-51, presents the Directives as attempting to breathe new life into the campaign, but (like Short) portrays MCP motivation as dealing with political shortcomings, internal dissent and the need to win more support. Unlike Short, however, he links the decisions to the dramatic statistical changes which followed in 1952. See Stubbs, p. 191, for the argument that the Resolutions were a mistake.
45 Barber, War of the Running Dogs, says what others imply: "For the British the murder of Gurney would pave the way to victory. It had needed his death ..." to get Templer appointed (pp. 158-59). See also Rhodes House, Oxford, Granada End of Empire, Malaya volumes, for Madoc's (Head of Special Branch, 1952-54) similar opinions. See Stockwell, Malaya, ii, p. 324. CAB129/C(51)26, "The Situation in Malaya", 20 Nov. 1951, for Lyttelton and Malayan officers pitching for equipment for Malaya (wire, armoured cars, etc.) in the middle of Korean War rearmament. He probably overdrew the picture to maximise claims for priority. Yet Briggs' departing report in Nov. 1951, on the other hand, argued things were improving. One report was optimistic, the other gloomy, each for its own reason.
46 For the point about the "celebration", see CO1022/249, "Translation of a cyclostyled document entitled 'Workers Express' Issue No. 6, 25 December 1951".
47 Cloake, Templer, pp. 197-98, 228-29.
48 Continuing Short's favoured hydraulic imagery, high tide - the moment before a change - is by definition precisely that time when things are at their peak, whether in terms of water-level or of incidents.
49 For Templer's undoubted efficiency and the term "energized", Short, Communist Insurrection, pp. 342-43. For peak efficiency, AIR20/10377, DOO Report 1957, pp. 25-26. Nevertheless, how far were morale and activity "energized" by the improving situation? Given new MRLA orders, the partly consequent decline in incidents, and near completion of resettlement, to what extent would resources and energy be freed at this time, anyway?
50 Short, Communist Insurrection, pp. 336-37, discusses the initially equivocal response to Templer.
51 CO1022/14, SF (WIS) 7 Feb. 1952. Increasing Min Yuen troubles seem to constitute a theme, though of course some weeks could show bad figures, especially if a few big ambushes pushed up security force casualties, as they did in Oct. 1951 and Mar. 1952 (see SF WIS for 27 Mar.).
52 The Betong border area - the MCP's Yenan - became their main base until a 1989 agreement ended hostilities. See Leon Comber, '"The Weather ... Has Been Horrible", Malayan Communist Communications during the "Emergency"', Asian Studies Review 19,2 (1995): 49, note 6. The 10th and 8th Regiments moved in 1954. Against this, a Frontier Intelligence Bureau was set up by Aug. 1953. I am grateful to C.C. Chin for confirming the "Little 'Long March'" idea, but see also Lee Ting Hui, The Open United Front, p. 36, endnote 52.
53 Figs. 1 and 5 are from AIR20/10377, DOO Report 1957. They were constructed by reading figures from originals, then replotting. They are thus accurate for trends, but not precise numbers. The fact that these graphs use averages evens out fluctuations around the trend. For precise figures on incidents and some other indicators, however, see Coates, Suppressing Insurgency, Appendices.
54 Many policies continued to develop across the Briggs-Gurney and Templer periods with little alteration, e.g. resettlement and increasing citizenship opportunities for Chinese. How quickly did changes made in mid-1952, such as reorganizing intelligence and police, become effective? Police retraining, for instance, involved 10 per cent of the force per month in 1952, and the opening of a Special Branch Training School. In both cases the impact would be cumulative over several months from May 1952 to 1953, not sudden.
55 For a detailed account of these techniques, see Hack, "Intelligence and Counter-Insurgency".
56 See Stubbs, Hearts and Minds, pp. 1-2, 125-27, 248-49; Cloake, Templer, pp. 224-27, 26294; and Short, Communist Insurrection, pp. 301-306.
57 For "hearts and minds" as adding the "carrot" to the "stick", see Stubbs, Hearts and Minds, ch. 6.
58 Han Suyin married Special Branch officer Leon Comber and acted as doctor to one New Village. Her autobiography, My House Has Two Doors (London: Granada, 1982), pp. 77-79, 81, 232-33; and semi-factual novel ... And the Rain my Drink (London: J. Cape, 1956) depict New Villagers pounded between insurgents and government. For the quotation, see My House, p. 81.
59 Short, Communist Insurrection, pp. 340-41, 343; Stockwell, Malaya, ii, p. 424.
60 Stubbs, Hearts and Minds, p. 168. Chin Kee Onn, The Grand Illusion (London: G.G. Harrap, 1961), p. 144. After writing a book on the MPAJA, Chin - an English-educated teacher and Malayan tennis champion - was made research officer in the Psychological Warfare Unit for a year, afterwards working in the federal Information Department. While interviewing SEPs, he had the idea for the book, which traces the disillusionment of "good" communist Kung Li. (This background information is courtesy of Mr. Lee Liang Hye.) As late as 1957, the DOO Report on the Emergency (AIR20/10377), p. 17, noted the loss of villagers' land or interference with their farming as a major minus point in resettlement.
61 AIR20/10377, "Review of the Emergency", DOO, 1957, pp. 13, 17. Also Rhodes House, Oxford, Granada End of Empire series, Malaya, vol. 2, pp. 17-19, for Hugh Humphrey, Secretary for Defence and Internal Security, 1953-57. His 1983 interview described deportation as "ruthless" but "necessary".
62 Commonwealth Records, Australia: A5954/1, 2294/4, "The Police", 26 May 1952, Australian Commissioner's Office (Singapore) to DEA. For a more sympathetic account, see A.J. Stockwell, "Policing During the Malayan Emergency", in Policing and Decolonisation, ed. David Anderson and David Killingray (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992), pp. 105-126.
63 Victor Purcell, Malaya: Communist or Free, pp. 5-14. Purcell was a Chinese scholar, a member of the pre-war Chinese Protectorate and post-war military administration in Malaya. For critical views of him, see Short, Communist Insurrection, pp. 379-87. For more radical and Marxist accounts of the Emergency, see Malaya: The Making of a Neo-Colony, ed. Mohamed Amin and Malcolm Caldwell (Nottingham: B.R. Peace Foundation, 1977); and Asoka Giukon, A People's History of Malaya: the New Emergency (Oldham: Bersatu, 1980), pp. 3-6. The Tan Cheng Lok Papers confirm Purcell accurately reflected Chinese anger at the harshness of population control, though his serious lack of tact and balance caused problems; see ISEAS Tan Cheng Lok Papers, 3/158-158j, 5/3047, 6/1-3, 10/passim. Tan refused to disavow Purcell despite severe government pressure (3/271). For Purcell on New Villages, see 6/1 passim. TCL9/2/15-16 has Tan's threat to poll the MCA's '200,000 members' on whether they agreed with Purcell's views on villages point by point - in order to stop the Acting Secretary for Chinese Affairs from demanding MCA disavowal.
64 Judith Strauch, Chinese Village Politics in the Malaysian State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), pp. 63-72.
65 Loh Kok Wah, Beyond the Tin Mines, pp. 127-28, 139, 144-47, 154, 161, 178-81, 192-99. Donald Nonini's review in Kajian Malaysia 10,1 (1992): 96-99, argues Loh "demolishes the myth" of "hearts and minds", depicting a "Foucaultian nightmare" of control and alienation. Yet if most New Villages had (for instance) schools by late 1952, this was a gain for squatters who had previously had minimal facilities. The hope of more might have encouraged acquiescence, especially since Loh argues the squatters' mode of mobilization was socio-economic. Loh and Harper also present the Emergency as a crisis on the agricultural frontier, see Harper, "Colonial Inheritance", Chs. 4 and 5.
66 Short, Communist Insurgency, pp. 400-401. For the good example of Sungei Boleh (near Sungei Siput, site of the three 16 June murders which provoked the declaration of Emergency), see Vernon Bartlett, Report from Malaya (London: D. Verschoyle, 1955), pp. 50-51. By 1954 it had a metalled central road, bean factory, all-important pig farm (the government later provided access to better pig breeding stock), fish-pond, elected town council, and visits from medical and veterinary services. Pigs and vegetables might make good guides to New Villagers' experiences and 'hearts and minds'. Vegetable production plummeted with resettlement in 1950-52. Foodcrop acreage almost recovered 1948 levels by 1954-55. In 1952, the proportion of agriculturalists amongst squatters/resettlers had plummeted by 60 per cent to just 27 per cent (see Stubbs, "CounterInsurgency and the Economy", pp. 31-32). Not surprisingly, the October Resolutions were then desperately calling on the MNLA to step up its own farming, including pumpkins and melons (see CO1022/187, Oct. Resolutions, p. 124).
67 WO216/901, 15 Mar. 1956, DOO (Geoffrey Bourne) to Templer.
68 This view dates from an Apr. 1949 paper enclosed with a letter from Gurney to Creech Jones, see Stockwell, Malaya, ii, pp. 129-33 (132 for the quotation).
69 For the "wind-blown" Chinese, see CO1022/148, R.P. Bingham, Secretary for Chinese Affairs, Federation of Malaya, paper on Chinese for Secretary of Defence, Malaya. This is attached as Appendix B to a memorandum for the Malaya Borneo Committee, MBDC (51) 74, 16 June 1951.
70 Cheah Boon Kheng's review of Stubbs' Hearts and Minds, in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 22,2 (1991): 427-30.
71 In other low-intensity conflicts that Britain won for instance Kenya (beginning in 1952) and Oman (1957-59 and the 1960s), "hearts and minds" tactics were even less salient.
72 Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-62 (London: Macmillan, 1977), pp. 131-36, 170-72. What made the Viet Minh and FLN level of "terror" ineffective in Malaya?
73 Yet the towkay and another son - in this fictional example - provided the Japanese with mechanical services, being dubbed "wipers of Japanese bottoms". See Suchen Christine Lim, Fistful of Colours (Singapore: EPB, 1993), pp. 253-79.
74 The 90 per cent figure is corroborated by communist sources. Rhodes House, Indian Ocean s251, Malayan Security Service, Political Intelligence Journal 9/1947, report for 15 June 1947, cites the communist Freedom News. According to this there were then 11,800 top grade communists (full Party members): 11,000 Chinese, 760 Indian, 40 Malay and Indonesian. More Malays, of course, would have been low level members of front organizations and farmers' unions. The largest numbers of communists were in Johore (2,650), Perak (1,800) and Selangor (1,700).
75 Rhodes House, Malayan Security Service, Political Intelligence Journals, 1947/6, MCP 'Freedom News', 15 Jan. 1947.
76 CO1022/187, Precis of MCP document in English, "Central Committee's Resolution on the Question of Policy in Regard to Malay and Indian Work", 15 May 1952. See William Roff, The Origins of Malay Nationalism (Singapore: University of Malaya Press, 1967), for the roots of Malay nationalism. Up to 10 per cent of the MRLA were non-Chinese, often radicals or recruited through unions. The MRLA 10th Regiment was formed from Pahang Malays in 1949, though government action soon crippled it. See also Cheah Boon Kheng, Red Star Over Malaya, pp. 6373; and Tan Chee-Beng, "Ethnic Relations in Malaysia", Kajian Malaysia 6,1 (June 1987): 99-119. Diaries of MNLA Malays can be found in Rhodes House, Brewer Papers, box 1, file 4, "Interrogations, Johore, 1948-49".
77 AIR20/10377, DOO Report 1957, Appendix D. The small but heavily Chinese populated island of Penang, which was dominated by urban Georgetown, had 40 guerrillas. In fact, Johore and Perak also suffered two-thirds of the total "incidents" for 1951, see DEFEll/46, "Progress Report on the Emergency in Malaya", DOO, 15 Nov. 1951. There were roughly 444,000 Chinese in Perak and 738,000 in Johore, meaning that around half the total Chinese population of Malaya lived in just two states (ISEAS, Tan Cheng Lok Papers, D.H. Sinclair to Tan, 31 Sept. 1952).
78 See the television broadcast "Malaya: The Undeclared War" (BBC2, 19 June 1998), and its review in Straits Times, 18 June 1998.
79 For the figure, see AIR20/10377, "Review of the Malayan Emergency", DOO, Sept. 1957, para. 11.
80 This analysis stems partly from sources such as Wang Gungwu, Community and Nation: Essays on Southeast Asia and the Chinese (Singapore: Heinemann, 1981). However, UK officials also saw the Chinese community as fractured; see Gurney to Lloyd, 8 Oct. 1948, in Stockwell, Malaya, ii, pp. 73-77.
81 This point should not be taken too far, given that Chin Peng's father ran a bicycle repair shop. Were perhaps shop, workshop and moderate plantation owners those whom the MCP had in mind in wanting to court the "medium national bourgeoisie" from Oct. 1951? For Chin Peng, see John Coe, "The Rusa Merah: Reflections on a Revolutionary", in The Beagle, Records of the Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences 5,1 (1988): 163-73. Stubbs, "Counter-Insurgency", p. 51, also cites Tan Cheng Lok as saying most Chinese were overwhelmingly economically motivated. In a December 1946 memorandum, talking of the lack of interest in political developments among the majority of Chinese, Tan Cheng Lok stated that "it has been said that ... 'the Chinese in Malaya don't care a damn who owns Malaya so long as they get to milk the cow'" (ISEAS, Tan Cheng Lok Papers 1/3, Memorandum of Dec. 1946).
82 The Penang KMT's Blood News of 10 Oct. 1951 specifically instructed members to support MCA work (CO1022/198, extract from PMR10/1951). There were an estimated 40-50,000 KMT members in Malaya (ibid.).
83 ISEAS, Tan Cheng Lok Papers, 3.266.
84 Tan Cheng Lok to Thio Chan Bee, May 1949, in ISEAS, Tan Cheng Lok Papers, 3.145.
85 I am grateful to Leon Comber for his comments on this, and much else besides.
86 Short, Communist Insurrection, p. 266.
87 ISEAS, Tan Cheng Lok Papers, folio 11, (11b). By early 1952 the MCA was reorganizing as a more mass-based party and specifically planning to recruit a paid Secretary-General for Emergency matters, an Intelligence officer with CID experience and a corps of "intelligence men" country-wide.
88 ISEAS, Tan Cheng Lok Papers, folio 11, (7a), message from Police HQ (KL) to all Chief Police Officers, 10 Feb. 1951. Membership was to include three or four MCA and civil representatives. The relevant CID officer was to chair these meetings, and a Special Branch representative was to attend.
89 ISEAS, Tan Cheng Lok Papers, D.H. Sinclair to Tan Cheng Lok, 31 Sept. 1952. Of Perak's 444,000 Chinese (out of a total population of 953,000), 60,000 or 13.2 per cent were MCA members. Johore had 354,000 Chinese out of 738,000 inhabitants; 28,000 or 7.9 per cent of the Chinese were in the MCA. Among Selangor's 362,000 Chinese (out of a total 710,000 inhabitants), 8.5 per cent or 31,000 Chinese were MCA. Another salient point is that the period from the 1940s to early 1950 was, in Malaya as elsewhere in Southeast Asia, a time of pemuda (youth). Fortyseven per cent of the Federation of Malaya's population was under twenty, while MRLA fighters tended to be mostly around 20 to 30 years old.
90 See Wang Gungwu, Community and Nation, pp. 142-90, especially 188-90; and
Harper, "Colonial Inheritance", pp. 152-54, 199-203. See also Heng Pek Koon, Chinese Politics in Malaysia: A History of the Malaysian Chinese Association (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1988). Heng may be too uncritical in assuming MCA influence in New Villages; see Loh Kok Wah's review in the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 22,1 (1991): 200-201.
91 Pye, Guerrilla Communism, pp. 128-60, 225-47, 331-32. We should not exaggerate negative Chinese "hearts and minds" factors: just over 20 per cent surrendered (1948-60), 67 per cent were killed and most of the rest captured. For the MCP's recognition that damaging the populace's economic livelihood was undermining support, see, CO1022/187, High Commissioner of the Federation of Malaya to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, 31 Dec. 1952 [from J.P. Morton], sheets 63-67, containing the October 1951 Resolutions' comments on "The Party's Main Achievements and Their Significance".
92 Philippine insurgency was vulnerable to surrenders when concerns about the 'moral economy' (land, justice, fair elections) were addressed but would recover when these problems resurfaced (Edward Lansdale, In the Midst of Wars ... [London, 1972], p. 51.) Ideological-nationalist motives, by contrast, may have led peasants to support the Viet Minh when rational self-interest did not, Hy V. Luong, Revolution in the Village: Tradition and Transformation in North Vietnam (Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 1992), p. 167. For Loh, Beyond the Tin Mines, p. 90, the squatters' mobilization was socio-economic. The MRLA also suffered leadership problems: in Sept. 1942 a key meeting was ambushed near Batu Caves, and more leaders were arrested by the British by July 1948. As early as Oct. 1949 one SEP admitted he did not think the MCP would win, because of its lack of experienced leaders. For SEP doubts, Rhodes House, Walker-Taylor Papers, "Statements" of SEP, pp. 29-32. Coates, Suppressing Insurgency, pp. 49-76, is excellent on MNLA weaknesses. See also, Stubbs, Hearts and Minds, pp. 248-49.
93 For radical politics dividing along communal lines, see Muhammed Said, "Ethnic Perspectives of the Left", in Fragmented Vision: Culture and Politics in Contemporary Malaysia, ed. Joel Kahn and Francis Loh Kok Wah (Sydney: ASAA and Allen & Unwin, 1992), pp. 254-81, especially 275. Frank Furedi, "Britain's Colonial Wars: Playing the Ethnic Card", Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 28,1 (Mar. 1990): 70-89, argues, by contrast, that Britain precipitated "emergencies" in Kenya, Malaya and British Guiana in order to control radical nationalism.
94 At one point in 1949 Gurney told the Colonial Office "the bandits" had orders not to kill Malays, and to fire only three rounds at police posts (DEFE11/32 (242), 22 Jan. 1949).
95 AIR20/10377, DOO Report 1957, p. 7, para. 21. Stubbs, "Counter-Insurgency", p. 45 suggests 650,000 were regrouped.
96 Even the moderate, English-speaking teacher Chin Kee Onn (later a government information officer) saw the wartime MPAJA as heroes, an unseen force causing Japanese soldiers to temper brutality lest revenge be taken. See his Malaya Upside Down (Kuala Lumpur: Kuala Lumpur Federal Publishers, 1976, first published 1946). Early insurgent propaganda and diaries made use of the idea that the British were like, or worse than, the hated Japanese, see Rhodes House, Oxford, Brewer Papers, box 1, File 4, Insurgent Diary, entry for Nov. 6, "The British are operating in the same way as Japanese - torturing the people ...", and p. 39, documents recovered on 17 Nov. 1948, on police searches: 'Their tactics were worse than the Japanese'.
97 Kings College London Archives, Stockwell Papers, Stockwell 7/1-7, 1953 propaganda leaflets (in Chinese and Tamil). Leaflet 1534 mentioned consequences including deportation, arrest, being shot by security forces or communist liquidation as a suspected traitor. It concluded: "So any action in helping the bandits will lead to only one end - death". This message - betrayal means life and possibly rewards, while loyalty means death - was reinforced by using deportation or the death penalty for insurgents who remained loyal. For only a one-month period, see Straits Times, 16, 23, 24, 30 Aug. 1951.
98 See above and Han Suyin, My House Has Two Doors, pp. 77-79, 81, 232-33: Loh Kok Wah, Beyond the Tin Mines, Ch. 3-4; and Observer, 4 Jan. 1953, for a Johore Resettlement Officer thinking 75 per cent of New Villagers were "choking with animosity against us", as quoted in Susan L. Carruthers, Winning Hearts and Minds: British Governments, the Media, and Colonial Counter-Insurgency, 1944-1960 (London, New York: Leicester University Press, 1995), p. 121.
99 More work is still needed in a number of areas, including: Malay-language sources and especially the Jawi script newspaper Utusan Melayu; Chinese-language newspapers; and oral and documentary work on communist organizations, members and sympathizers.
100 T.N. Harper's thesis ("Colonial Inheritance") attempted to relate the Emergency to politics and the post-colonial security state. In revised form, it is forthcoming as The End of Empire and the Making of Malaya from Cambridge University Press. See also Zakaria Haji Ahmad and K.S. Sandhu, "The Malayan Emergency: Event Writ Large", in Melaka: the Transformation of a Malay Capital, c. 1400-1980, ed. Kernial Singh Sandhu and Paul Wheatley (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1983), vol. 1. The effect of the post-colonial Malayan "security state" on its history-writing is hinted at in Cheah Boon Kheng, "Writing Indigenous History in Malaya: A Survey on Approaches and Problems", Crossroads 10,2 (1996): 49-52.
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|Publication:||Journal of Southeast Asian Studies|
|Date:||Mar 1, 1999|
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