Malaya and the Emergency (1950-53)

A Background to Malaya and the Emergency

In a history of nearly eight thousand years the Malayan Peninsula has seen, successively, the passing of nomadic tribes from Central Asia, the rise and fall of a Malay Buddhist Empire, the conquests of the Portuguese and the Dutch, and, later, the more peaceful acquisition of the British. At a time when the English Channel was a line of chalk hills, the ancestors of the Australian aborigines moved down the Peninsula on their way South from Siberia; four thousand years later came the forbears of the present Malays as they spread through Indo-China, Malaya, Sumatra and to the seas beyond.

In the first century, Indians from the Conomardel Coast came to barter their fabrics and iron implements for camphor and gold dust. Many of the Indians settled and inter-married with the aborigines. They founded several prosperous towns, of which Langkasuka (in N. Kedah) eventually became the capital of Sri Vijaya, an Indo-Malay kingdom whose colonies were spread over Malaya and Sumatra.

The second half of the fourteenth century saw the rise of the Malay kingdom of Malacca, whose influence grew rapidly until it controlled the whole of the Peninsula, bringing with it the religion of Islam, to which the Malays of Malacca had been converted by the early Indian settlers. In 1511 Alfonso D’Albuquerque captured Malacca for the Portuguese, who held it until 1641 when they were ousted by the Dutch. The Settlement eventually became British by treaty in 1824. The original ruler of Malacca, dispossessed by the Portuguese, fled South and founded the kingdom of Riau-Johore, which covered most of the East Coast. But Riau-Johore was short-lived and soon split into the independent States which are known to-day as Johore, Pahang and Trengganu.

From Celeres in the eighteenth century came the Bugis, a fierce and warlike tribe who quickly overran Johore and Selangor, but finally settled and married into the noble Malay families. In 1786 Francis Light took possession of Penang on behalf of the East India Company, who paid the Sultan of Kedah ten thousand dollars a year for the lease of Penang and Province Wellesley. Penang grew rapidly in size and importance; it became a flourishing part and attracted a large and varied population. But as a port it was doomed by its inferiority to Singapore, where in 1819 Thomas Stamford Raffles negotiated with the Sultan of Johore for trading concessions.

Malaya (1950-53)

The East India Company, who governed in the Straits until 1858, had not been prepared to invest capital in the development of the country, although its mining potentialities were already well known. But in the eighteen-seventies the British Government began to realise the necessity for a progressive policy in Malaya, as the threat of invasion by Siam and the increasing interest of other European nations made our position precarious. So, between 1874 and 1914 a series of treaties was concluded with the Malay States, by which they accepted British protection and agreed to the appointment of a British Officer to each State, whose advice they were bound to take, except in matters of custom and religion. The powers of the first British Residents were considerable, and at first the natives were violently opposed to the abolition of slavery and the withdrawal of the Rajas’ revenue collecting powers. This led to armed risings in the States of Perak and Pahang, but by the ability and foresight of such men as Sir Frank Swettenham and Sir Hugh Low the early problems were overcome and the people gradually became reconciled to British rule.

In 1895 the States of Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang became the Federated Malay States, an arrangement which existed, with certain modifications, until the Japanese invasion in 1941. After the Liberation in 1945 the country was temporarily governed by the Malayan Union until the formation in 1948 of the Federation of Malaya. This consisted of the nine Malay States with the Settlements of Penang and Malacca federated under British protection, and a High Commissioner appointed by the British Government to be the chief executive.

The declared object of the Federation was to help the country towards a state of self-government.

To read the following Chapters of this campaign simply click on the Chapter Image or Link below:

Chapter 2 - The Emergency

Chapter 3 - Arrival — Singapore

Chapter 4 - Kedah — Sungei Patani

Chapter 5 - Johore — Segamat

Chapter 6 - Johore — Kluang

Chapter 7 - Selangor — Klang

Chapter 8 - Penang

Chapter 9 - Perak—Ipoh

Chapter 10 - Conclusion

Chapter 11 - Roll of Honour

Chapter 12 - Honours and Awards

Chapter 13 - Record of Terrorist Kills

Chapter 14 - Officers who served

Sergeants who served in Malaya

Glossary of Terms