Malaya Emergency

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Malayan Emergency

The Malayan emergency was the conflict that occurred shortly after the end of the second world war in British Malaya from June 1948 till July 1960 between the British and her allies against Chinese Malay communists. this conflict is considered one of the most effective anti-communist campaigns, modern guerilla warfare campaigns but, most importantly the first contemporary use of the 'hearts and minds' strategy. The origins of this war can be seen with British colonial actions prior to World War Two and the Japanese occupation. The tactics and type of warfare would set the 'tone' for jungle warfare with Communists have there own organised plan followed up by a and phycological warfare in the asian region for the next half century and is also compared to Vietnam but, as a more successful attempt in counter-insurgency tacts. The Malayan Emergency would leave a lasting legacy in South East Asia.

The origins of the emergency has many different factors, firstly the withdrawal of the Japanese from WWII and the unrest that it left, the trained communist soldiers who had fought them, the divided ethnic groups of Malaya, creation of a post-war government and of course, the three murders of europeans that caused the state of emergency. With the withdrawal of Japanese troops from the regions towards the end of the second World War. The Japanese occupation had left the Malayan economy disrupted. Problems included unemployment, low wages, and high levels of food inflation, well above the healthy rate of 2-3% to a rate of 9-10%. There was considerable labour unrest and a large number of strikes occurred between 1946 and 1948. During this time, the British administration was attempting to repair Malaya's economy (which was mainly tin and rubber) which were also exceedingly important to post war recovery in Britain itself(which had suffered heavily form the Germans bombing raid and would not fully recover until well into the 1960s). With the high unemployment, many malay-chinese workers, (whom where imported as cheap labour for the tin mining and rubber planting) began protesting in response to less available work. Protesters were dealt with harshly, by measures including arrests and deportations. In turn, “protesters became increasingly 'militant' and even more, anti-colonial”[1]. A key factor to the origin of the conflict, can be seen by the melting pot and ethnically diverse population of what was post-war Malaya. There were four main ethnic groups; The first group was the indigenous Muslim Malays. They made up a large proportion of the population and generally accepted British rule but their loyalty was first and foremost to their Sultans. The Malay Federation was made up of 9 states each ruled by a Sultan, Johore, Pahang, Negri, Sembilan, Selangor, Perak, Kedah, Perlis, Trengganu and Kelantan.  The Sultans had limited powers but “retained the trappings of power and the wealthy lifestyle.”[2] The second ethnic group was the Aborigines. This group refused to recognise the power of the sultans and lived an isolated existence following a traditional way of life deep within the Malayan jungles. The third were The British, who were also a large ethnic group in Malaya and certainly the most powerful with political power far beyond the size of their population numbering only 12,000 being mostly Civil Service, Police, rubber planters, Doctors and businessmen. They of course were the 'ruling' class for Malaya had been a british colony since 1812. the fourth and most prevalent in the physical part of the conflict were the Chinese. Their population was strong with around two million Chinese living in Malaya in 1948. Many were second generation that is born in Malaya but their loyalty was generally to China with whom they identified culturally. Their population had increased drastically with the Japanese occupation of China during World War Two and although many generated income for Malaya there was also over half a...
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