202 Massey to Chifley

Cablegram 477 SINGAPORE, 17 August 1948, 2.31 p.m.


I have seen several reports recently in Australian papers reaching Singapore which seek to connect Australian Communist Party with the outbreak of violence here and particularly to allege that Lawrence Sharkey 'prompted it' during his visit to Singapore. You may already have the following information from Security source in Australia but I have ascertained that it represents everything known to date here.

2. (A) Sharkey spent the period March 9th to March 20th in Singapore. During this time he was in close and constant consultation with the Malayan Communist Party particularly with Cheng Swee Kim and Chan Ming Cheng the latter a nominal Secretary of Singapore Branch, and he spent considerable time at Party's Headquarters here. Somewhere between March 17th and March 21st according to documents which have since fallen into the hands of the police, Central Committee of the party decided upon present course of armed resistance. There is no evidence that Sharkey attended this meeting;

(B) A Communist recently captured in Perak and interrogated has stated 'I know of no definite instruction from outside except that I heard that the L.I.F.A. in charge of the political section of the State Secretariat say that the Head of the Australian Communist Party had passed through Singapore and criticised the Malayan Communist party for losing a good opportunity after the liberation and said that the MPAJA [1] should never have been demobilized. He said that another change would come when economic crisis in the United States came to a head. Position of Britain would be very serious and strong oppression and changing of the Colonies would be resorted to. That would be the time for the Communists to strike.' 3. In the circumstances it is highly probable that Sharkey may have urged a more militant attitude by the Communist Party here generally and even that he was consulted to plan for the campaign but I cannot find any confirmation of press suggestions that he played an executive part in these plans.

1 Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army.

[AA: A3195,1948, 1.13320]