296 Sir Shenton Thomas, Governor of the Straits Settlements, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram unnumbered SINGAPORE, 23 January 1942, 5.43 p.m.

My telegram 18th January. [1]

1. I am afraid that I must let you know that the decision to admit only fifty Chinese and fifty Eurasians in the first instance has caused acute bitterness and uneasiness here. Two Representatives of the Chinese Government, one of whom is Representative at the Allied War Council [2], have spoken of it in the strongest terms and so have local Chinese leaders who are giving us every assistance in civil defence and to whom I have promised and intend to give my full support.

In this city of 600,000, of whom 85% are Chinese, it is absolutely essential that we should have this assistance but we cannot expect much if we are unable to obtain even temporary asylum for wives and children of those who wish to send them away.

I emphasise the following points:-

(1) These people ask only for temporary refuge and desire to return here as soon as they can;

(2) everyone will be guaranteed as of good character and independent means, or (3) if not of independent means, will be maintained at the cost of the Malayan Government.

I ask most earnestly for early and favourable reply to my request to be allowed to send you up to 5,000 people of Chinese or Eurasian extraction at my discretion. [3]

1 AA: A3 195, 1942,1.2295. It asked the Commonwealth Govt to reconsider the decision set out in Document 275.

2 Lt Gen Kai-Min Cheng and Colonel Irving W. Dooh.

3 This cablegram was considered by War Cabinet on 25 January and referred to the Advisory War Council, which decided the following day to accept Thomas's recommendations. See AA: A2673, vol. 10, minutes 1759 and 1770 and AA:A2682, vol. 4, minute 711.

[AA:A3195, 1942, 1.2898]