209 Massey to Burton

Dispatch 16/49 (extract) SINGAPORE, 10 May 1949



There is evidence that the troubles in Malaya are entering a new phase. Whether or not this phase will prove to be final is still very much a matter for conjecture; most probably the changing situation outside Malaya itself as much as the progress of military and political measures within the territory will influence the final outcome.

2. On the assumption that it is faced with an all-out attack by Communist-directed terrorist forces, the Administration is seized with the fact that the restoration of law and order is basically a police task, and not a military campaign, although all its military forces will admittedly be required to act in aid of the civil power. The Administration also stresses that the nature, both of the operations and the country, precludes any spectacular successes or rapid or sudden conclusion. The main difficulties facing it now are these:-

(a) lack of support from the Chinese population as a whole;

(b) the anarchic conditions in Southern Siam, which enable Chinese Communists to appear without molestation and infiltrate to Malaya;

and (c) theatre requirements outside the Federation for the military forces at present employed there.

[AA: A1838/278, 413/2/6/2, i]