The Communist Struggle in Malaya

The Communist Struggle in Malaya

The Communist Struggle in Malaya

The Communist Struggle in Malaya

Excerpt

Before World War II, the Malayan Communist Party (M.C.P.) was nota major force in local politics. It was active underground, being illegal,especially in Chinese schools and through its agency, the "General Labour Union", and the youth bands calling themselves "Anti-Japanese-Backing-Up-Associations", but the Party did not constitute a real threat to the administration. The war, however, brought about a fundamental change. When Germany attacked Russia in June 1941, the M.C.P. was for some months in an anomalous position: on the one hand it had now to back Soviet Russia in its fight against Germany, and on the other hand it was still committed to fighting "imperialism" in the shape of Soviet Russia's ally, the British. But when Japan came into the waron December 8 and her troops landed in Malaya, the anomaly was removed and the M.C.P. declared its full support for the Allies. It was not, however, until late in December 1941 that the Malayan Governments, alarmed by the rapid advance of the Chinese, agreed to the inclusion of Communists among their resistance forces. A Chinese Mobilization Committee under the direction of a Singapore industrialist, Mr. Tan Kah-kee, had the approval both of the Knomintang in Malaya and of the M.C.P. and received also the blessings of the Governor, Sir Shenton Thomas. A contingent of Communists, a part of "Dalforce", though without firearms, fought in the mangrove swamps of Singapore with considerable bravery.

The Japanese regarded the Chinese of whatever political color, but especially the Communists, as their implacable enemies, and as soon as they had occupied Malaya they began mopping up operations. In Singapore,the Butai (military detachments) swung into action, parading the Chinesepopulation en masse and picking out Communists or alleged Communists by the hundreds with the aid of informers — men, women, and children — hooded like members of the Ku Klux Klan. The persons thus singled out were at once executed,the total member perishing in this way probably exceeding 5,000.

While the Japanese were still advancing, the British army had trained some squads of Chinese Communists for sabotage operations behind the enemy lines and these, under Colonel Spencer Chapman, were active in blowing up trains and bridges and interrupting Japanese communications. With the fall of Singapore, however, these operations were discontinued and the Communists, reinforced by those who had escaped from the clutches of the Butail, betook themselves to the jungle highlands to organize what became known as the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (M.P.A.J.A.). This was the military arm of the Communists and under M.C.P. control.

The M.C.P. was concerned more with its objective of establishing a Communist Republic in Malaya than in resisting the Japanese, but guerrillas (not more than 4,000 at the time) were nevertheless a big thorn in the side of the invader, harrassing his communications and forcing him to divert alarge number of troops to contain them. Then from May 1943 onwards areconaissance party of Force 136 arrived in the country by submarine or parachuted from planes. Contact was made with the Communist guerrillas in the highlands of Perak and eventually an agreement was signed between the M.P.A.J.A. and the Supreme Allied Commander, Lord Mountbatten, whereby the former, in return for arms, money, and supplies, undertook to accept the latter's orders in the intended invasion of Malaya. (Temporarily, at least, the Communists dropped the aim of a Malayan . . .

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