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Historical documents

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]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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