204 Burton to Massey

Memorandum CANBERRA, 25 August 1948

In order to provide for continuity of reporting from your post, as well as to give a coherent picture of events and conditions in the colony of Singapore and the Federation of Malaya, it is considered that a fortnightly telegram summarising events of importance should be sent from Singapore. This telegram should arrive in the Department each alternate Monday, commencing on Monday, 13th September, 1948. The material contained in the telegram could then be used in the fortnightly 'Political Intelligence Summary' and so supplement the rather meagre information given in the Summary at present.

2. We had contemplated the institution of this fortnightly telegram before the Political Secretary's letter No. 1895 to the Head of the Pacific Division had been received. We fully agree with the general object of reporting as stated in this letter, namely to report on matters of current interest such as the present emergency and on routine items such as important legislative and administrative measures which may have a bearing on Australia.

3. By means of these fortnightly telegrams, as well as despatches, memoranda and the telegrams which you already send it should be possible to present a more adequate picture of conditions and events in Malaya.

4. It may also be possible for you to send in your fortnightly telegrams a summary of the situation in Burma. We are asking the Consul-General in Bangkok to send us summaries of the situation in French Indo-China, but we should be grateful for your opinion as to whether you are in a better position to gain information regarding French Indo-China than our representative in Siam.

5. These fortnightly telegrams will, of course, continue to be supplemented by regular despatches. As well as covering the major political, economic, social, legislative and administrative events by telegram and despatch, it would be appreciated if you would report also on such items as:-

Number of Australians in Malaya.

Number of Planters.

Percentage of foreign owned to native owned Estates Personalities of Malaya, and General Reports on each of the States, etc.

6. We should also be glad to receive such information as you may be able to obtain of North Borneo, Brunei, Sarawak, Christmas Island and the Cocos and Keeling Island.

Such information would, of course, be forwarded mainly in despatches and memoranda.

7. It has been the practice to distribute your despatches to other Departments, organizations and persons in accordance with their subject-matter. For instance, Despatch No. 43 is being distributed to Defence and the A.C.T.U. [1] Despatch No. 41 was distributed to Defence and C.I.S. [2], Despatch No. 36 to the National University, Commonwealth Office of Education and Sir Frederic Eggleston, Despatch No. 35 to Defence, Treasury and P.W.R. [3], Despatch NO 34 to Defence, Commerce & Agriculture, Trade &

Customs, Treasury and Immigration. Copies of most despatches are also sent to the New Zealand Government through the Australian-New Zealand Secretariat.

1 Australian Council of Trade Unions.

2 Commonwealth Investigation service.

3 Department of Post-war Reconstruction.

[AA: A1838/283,381/1/1, ii]