207 Massey to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 556 SINGAPORE, 24 September 1948, 6.41 p.m.


Guerilla activities here are conducted largely by:

(1) War time 'Malayan Peoples anti-Japanese Army' and (2) Small mobile groups of professional gunmen (see part two (c) of my report enclosed with Ministerial despatch Number 3, July 15th), aided by some Chinese and a few Malayans who are (1) operative consequently on fear of ([1] reprisal) and (2) for purpose of possible gain.

2. Development of initiative as follows:-

During Malayan campaign of 1941-1942 the only Asian elements to rally effectively to the defence, very early against the Japanese were the Chinese Communists here organised in [2] [Dal]force under Colonel Dalley. [3] Later during the occupation they formed MPAJA and carried on spasmodic guerilla resistance, by which time K.M.T.

Chinese here had also a resistance force in action on a smaller scale. Both groups were contacted, armed to some extent trained and led by British Officers of Force 136. It must be admitted that the resistance value of all these guerillas has been exaggerated since the war and that they were frequently interested in mere banditry and in addition spent considerable energy in fighting against each other.

3. On re-occupation both groups were dissolved and 'surrendered their arms'. Though large quantities of these were buried and both groups continued to develop skeleton forces in remote areas, demobilisation took place fairly smoothly and in the case of MPAJA Old Comrades Association, recognition of the services of all those active in guerilla resistance was given in the form of commendation and a monetary bonus. Although few were satisfied with this, most were re-absorbed into civilian life without undue difficulty. Thanks to the action of Lord Mountbatten the guerilla community received adequate and in some opinions excessive recompense for services rendered.

4. I can find no evidence that post-war treatment of these forces was the subject of any diplomatic representation by the Chinese Government and it seems unlikely that the latter would be interested in advancing the interests of a sworn anti-K.M.T. body like MPAJA. Equally, although MPAJA Old Comrades Association opposed to federation constitution as part of AMCJA PUTERA [4] front (because like all Chinese groups it thought constitution unduly pro-Malay) its decision to take up arms this year was influenced only to very slight extent by this consideration.

You will see there can be no question of the Chinese Government calling off hands which not only reject its authority but are fighting determinedly against it in what is partly an extension here of civil war in China. You might note in Malaya more K.M.T.

Chinese have been murdered by guerillas than Europeans.

5. There are no grievances peculiar to some MPAJA forces of which Communists could take advantage. You will have formed your own opinion of evidence in my report that insurrection here was deliberately inspired by Malayan Communist Party for political purposes and was possibly allied in this respect to current insurrection against Burmese and Indonesian Governments. Whatever its origin, it found support here in normal grievance of a labouring population and in addition, Chinese susceptibility to intimidation.

6. My reports have given real explanation of the present insurrection. I agree however that, K.M.T. or Communist Chinese are tirelessly expansionist, and both groups maintained private armies here prior to the present outbreak-see my telegram [286 of April 27th] [6] for [7]-of K.M.T. force in Perak. I believe Chinese loyalty is basically to the Chinese race (see my despatch 2 October 20th 1947) and real Significance for f[ut]ure [8] of present outbreak is its Chinese expansionist aspect.

7. There is no foundation for statement concerning guerilla bands in vicinity of Singapore.

8. Further comprehensive report will be forwarded [9] together with copy of the Awbery Dalley Report [10] which is very comprehensive.

1 A sign here indicates 'corrupt groups' 2 A sign here indicates 'corrupt groups'.

3 Lieutenant Colonel John Dalley.

4 All-Malayan Council of Joint Action and People's United Front.

5 A sign here indicates 'indecipherable groups'.

6 Words in square brackets inserted from correcting cablegram 563, dispatched 29 September 1948.

7 A sign here indicates 'indecipherable groups'.

8 Matter in square brackets inserted from correcting cablegram 560, dispatched 27 September 1948 9 Massey reported to Chifley in Dispatch 6/48, dated 4 October 1948.

10 Report by S.S. Awbery and F.W. Dalley, Labour and the Trade Union Organization in Federation of Malaya and Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, 1948

[AA: A6537, SEATS 3A]