Tim Hardy: Special Branch, Sarawak, December 1961-March 1968
Porritt, Vernon L., Borneo Research Bulletin
Part of Tim Hardy's unpublished memoirs give a fascinating insight into their author and into Sarawak's Special Branch from 1961 to 1968, revealing snippets of information now hidden away in inaccessible archives. (1) All un-attributed quotations are from his memoirs, which are quoted from extensively to retain the memoirs' original flavor. For clarity, in those quotations the term "O" used by Tim Hardy and the Sarawak communists is replaced by SCO (Sarawak Communist Organisation), the term initially used by the Sarawak Government. The views, opinions, and versions of events given by Tim Hardy in his memoirs and hence in this paper are given without demur or necessarily acquiescence. This foreword, the introduction, and the endnote are, it should be noted, not taken from and are independent of Tim Hardy's memoirs.
The Special Branch (SB) in Sarawak, a section of the Constabulary, was formed in June 1949 to collect intelligence on secret societies and subversive activities. (2) At that time there was a vocal anti-cession movement within the Malay community seeking to overturn the cession of Sarawak to Britain by Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke on 1 July 1946. But this movement quickly faded into irrelevancy after 3 December 1949, when a secret group within the anti-cession movement assassinated Duncan Stewart, Sarawak's second British Governor. (3) Also at that time communist ideology was being propagated openly and the impact of communism principally among the Chinese community was to occupy much of the resources of the Special Branch for the next fifty years. Attempting to curb the spread of communist propaganda, in January 1951 the Special Branch raided the office of the Chung Hua Kung Pao, a Chinese newspaper that promoted communism, leading to its closure. On 5 August 1952 a raid from Indonesian Kalimantan by a group purporting to be the Sarawak Peoples Army raised concerns of communist militancy. By the end of 1961, a proposed anti-communist federation of the states of Malaya, with Singapore, Sarawak and British North Borneo as states with special rights, was moving forward rapidly against growing opposition from all left-wing forces in those countries, supported vociferously by Indonesia.
Tim Hardy arrived in Sarawak at this time as the Deputy Head of the Special Branch, becoming the Acting Head two weeks after arrival. (4) He was born on 18th June 1922 in Nottingham, England, joined the British Territorial Army on 31 August 1939, and was mobilized three days later immediately after war was declared on Germany. On 5 June 1944 he was parachuted into Normandy with the 6th Airborne Division, one of the advance parties in the liberation of Europe. He also took part in aborted Operation Zipper to liberate Malaya on 9 September 1945. After the end of World War Two, he returned to civil life in England, joining the Malayan Police in Malaya as a cadet in 1950. There he served as an Intelligence Officer from 1951 to late 1956, followed by service in Tanganyika (1957-1961) in a similar role, before taking up his appointment in Sarawak.
Settling in as Deputy Head of the Special Branch
On a series of familiarization tours, meeting officials, community leaders, and members of the general public throughout Sarawak, Tim Hardy found a general consensus that the Constabulary's 1,465 personnel was adequate for peace-keeping. The Constabulary included a 271-personnel paramilitary Field Force to deal with civil disturbances and any internal militancy. (5) But underlying the tranquility Tim Hardy quickly learned that elements of the Malay community, principally the BMP (Barisan Pemuda Sarawak--Sarawak Youth Front) and the SCO (Sarawak Communist Organisation) had a common cause: resistance to Sarawak joining the proposed Federation of Malaysia. With the situation further complicated by Indonesian President Bung Sukarno's threats to crush Malaysia, Tim Hardy writes that "Early 1962 wasn't, therefore, the best of times to walk into the office of Sarawak's security intelligence chief. …