§ 3.8 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE rose to call attention to the situation in Malaya; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have put this Motion on the Order Paper for to-day in order to ascertain the intentions of the Government and their plans with reference to Malaya. We have read recently in the proceedings in another place the directive that the Secretary of State for the Colonies has given to General Templer, and, so far as we can see, this directive is exemplary: it is full of pious exhortations, and there is nothing one could add to or subtract from it. But in the instructions to General Templer there is not much indication how these exhortations are to be brought into effect and how they are to be carried out. There have been various voices lately by no means so exemplary as that of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. There was his original voice, which was a little confused and seemed to imply that this was a military problem and not a political one. That voice was hastily changed—or the subject matter of it was—when he got to Malaya. Then there was the voice of the Prime Minister, which struck what is here thought was a rather jeering note; and my right honourable friend Mr. Attlee had to get up and remind him of the great importance of what he was then saying to the people in Malaya and the Far East.
§ Now we see that the Conservative Press is running a kind of vendetta against the unfortunate Mr. MacDonald, the Commissioner-General, in direct opposition to the official policy of Her Majesty's Government. As your Lordships know, Her Majesty's Government have recently extended Mr. MacDonald's tour of duty for one year from next May. 300 We have also seen in the papers the announcement of the resignation of the Chief Secretary for Malaya, Mr. del Tufo, and that news also has a disturbing note. Not long ago, there was the resignation—I do not know what he called himself, but he was in fact the head of the C.I.D., and quite lately we have had the resignation of the head of the police, Mr. Gray. General Briggs, whose plan we shall be considering in a moment, has also resigned, and we are wondering what this spate of resignations imports, what the intentions of the Government are, and whether these resignations follow some new course proposed or about to be put into practice by Her Majesty's Government.
§ We want it established that this is not only a military problem—as, of course, it is—but also a problem that has very important political, social and economic aspects. We on this side should like to send our good wishes to General Templer: we hope that he has every success in his arduous duties. I may say that I knew him many years ago, when we were both captains, and I have every respect for him as a soldier. He was a captain on the staff of the 53rd Division when I was a captain in the 6th Battalion of the Welch Regiment. Between us we carried out a manœuvre—I may say on entirely bloodless lines—which struck a good deal of dismay and confusion into the ranks-of our enemies of the day. He is a man of undoubted ability, and he is full of the strategy needed in this kind of campaign. I have always thought that in campaigns of this sort we tended to be rather too orthodox in our military methods. But whether General Templer will be equally successful on the political side, time alone will show, because I do not think he has had a great deal of experience of political matters—certainly nothing like the experience he has had in military matters.
§ A large number of plans have been suggested by onlookers, mainly people who have taken a quick trip to Malaya, and an equally hurried trip back, and have spent a very short time indeed in the country. There is only one common denominator in the various plans that have been suggested by these onlookers. Their plans are rather like those curious puzzles which we sometimes try to solve for the benefit of our younger 301 relatives: everything seems to go right and well until we find at the end that we have over two or three pieces which do not seem to fit in anywhere. That is the trouble which I see with most of the plans suggested by onlookers. They are all right except that two or three factors have invariably been left out. In my view—and I speak with great hesitation, because this is a most complicated problem, and obviously the answer not at all easy or it would have been found long ago—there are two aspects to this problem which must be considered. The first aspect is Malaya against the background of the Far East and South-East Asia. The other is Malaya in the light of its domestic circumstances and its domestic discords.
§ If we look at Malaya against a larger background we find, as your Lordships well know, that Malaya, and indeed South-East Asia generally, has been for centuries past a bridge between the cultures of India and China, and that whatever has happened in either India or China has made a great impression upon Malaya. One must always realise that matters happening in these vast territories will affect Malayan opinion to a very large extent. The introduction of Western influence over a hundred years ago had a great impact upon South-East Asia. In many cases it froze conditions from the economic and military aspects. With the decline of Western influence, such as we have seen in the last eight or ten years, undoubtedly the freeze is being liquidated, and we are no longer in the situation we once were. All sorts of forces are striving for mastery in that vast theatre, no longer kept down or held in check by the influence of Western European countries. I personally do not, think that the situation in Malaya will ever be completely set right, or the problem entirely solved, until the larger issue of Communism in China and South-East Asia has been resolved, believe that Communism is as dangerous to these nationalist movements, if not more dangerous, as it is to the Colonial Powers, as we have seen in Burma and Indonesia. At all events, we must view these events against the vast panorama of the East, where changes of tremendous significance are taking place; where the people are rousing and shaking themselves as if after a long slumber, and where there is in progress a kind of renaissance in which 302 perhaps even nationalism and Communism are but phases, and the outcome of which no man can properly foresee. I will say no more on that aspect of the problem, because it has been dealt with in this House in debates on Foreign Affairs and the like, and your Lordships are well aware of it. But the onlookers are not always aware of it, and they do not always give it the full regard that it should have.
§ Now may we turn to the other aspect of the problem, the domestic scene in Malaya? I think it would be helpful if I were to give a few of the bare bones of the problem, which again are too little regarded by those who criticise the Government, whatever Government are in power, for their actions or lack of actions in Malaya. As your Lordships are aware, the country is the size of England without Wales. It is a peninsula, with a range of mountains running down the middle of it so to speak, and with the mass of the population between the Western slopes of the mountains and the sea. The climate is an enervating one. I do not think that Europeans can long remain in it without feeling the effects of their stay. The population in the Federation is now pretty well balanced between Chinese and Malays—about 40 per cent. each—while the Crown Colony of Singapore is almost entirely Chinese. In economics, before the war, and to a large extent still, its eggs are, so to speak, in two baskets, the one tin, and the other rubber. Very fortunate it is for this country that those baskets are there, because they have very largely supported the standard of living of the people of this country and the sterling area ever since the war ended; what we should do without Malaya, and its earnings in tin and rubber, I do not know.
§ The constitution, prior to the war, was that of a Crown Colony, with three Settle-merits of Penang, Malacca, and Singapore, and nine independent States on the mainland. The Crown Colony of the Straits Settlements had a great history in the past, and when I first went to live in Penang the messengers in the Supreme Court wore East India Company livery and the Government were called "The Company" by the Malays. In fact, the Crown Counsel Was called "Company Liar"—with no insinuation as to his 303 character, but deriving from the way the Malays pronounced "lawyer." There were no politics at all before the war; that is one of the curious features we have to remember. I remember the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Malaya, about twenty years ago, an old-fashioned general—not one of the modern kind who know all about psychology and the London School of Economics—saying to me, "My boy, there are no politics in this country, and the first man who starts introducing politics here should be hanged out of hand." As I say, he was an old-fashioned type, who would probably not get through the Staff College now.
§ Then we come to the Malayan Union. Before the end of the war the Coalition Government had suggested that when the war ended there should be a concentration of responsibility in the Central Government and that the State Governments should to a very large extent take a back seat, as it were, and have very little power. They proposed that Sir Harold MacMichael should proceed to Malaya for the purpose of obtaining the consent of the rulers, with whom we are in treaty relationship, for these are protected States, not Colonies. Sir Harold MacMichael was to proceed to Malaya to obtain the consent of the rulers to this proposal. Something went wrong. I need not refer to what happened, but the Malays felt very badly about it. My noble friend Lord Hall, who became the first Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Labour Government asked Mr. Gammans, who now assists the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, in the classical shades of St. Martin's-le-Grand, and myself to go to Sarawak and also to Malaya to see what we could do towards getting a better understanding. We met the rulers and several of the leaders and came to a rough agreement with them; and eventually, under a new agreement, Lord Hall was able to bring into being the Federation, with the full consent of the rulers and the Malays in the Nationalist organisation.
§ During this time the Chinese element had not been inactive. During the war Force 136—entirely controlled and largely staffed and manned by Chinese—had received vast quantities of ammunition and of weapons, and had received training in 304 jungle tactics. They were the people who operated behind the Japanese lines. For the first two years after the war there was a bitter struggle between the authorities, some trade unionists and the Communists, for control of the Malayan trade unions. In February, 1948, following the Calcutta Conference, the Communists, having lost control of the trade unions, resorted to open warfare in the jungle. It has never been called war because there was some insurance factor entering into it; but it was, in fact, a declaration of war, though not so called.
§ Hostilities commenced in June, 1948, and since then there have been three strings to the Communist bow: the jungle fighters, the Party supporters and the Party membership. It is interesting to note—and we shall no doubt hear from the noble Earl who will speak later the figures of those who have been killed and wounded—that a very large proportion of those who have been killed on both sides is Chinese. This is a significant fact. One mistake undoubtedly was made in 1945 when the Chinese Protectorate was abolished. In the old days the Chinese Protectorate was a Department of the Government which looked after the interests of the Chinese. But this was felt to be a reactionary concern and it was thought that now that there was a new kind of Government it was no longer necessary; accordingly it was abolished. Now, as a large proportion of the Chinese do not speak English or Malay, but speak one or other dialect of Chinese, there were very few people who could explain what was happening and to whom the Chinese could turn when things went wrong; and of course they turned naturally to the Communists or to the Nationalist consuls set up by the Kuomintang Government in the big towns.
§ During the war large numbers of Chinese had fled from the towns and become squatters in the jungle, maintaining a bare subsistence on market garden produce which they grew in little jungle clearances. General Briggs' plan was to bring these squatters from the jungle fringes—as it were from the borders of Scotland down to the Isle of Wight: that was the kind of distance—and bring the squatters under control in villages and townships, give them police and district officer services and build schools and hospitals, et cetera. This is one of the 305 biggest administration projects ever tackled by any country—and it had to be tackled by an Administration many of whose personnel had been prisoners in Japanese hands. Those hands were brutal hands. I believe that nowadays it is not considered proper to make any reference to the Japanese which is not polite, but the fact remains that they were brutal gaolers and no one can deny that. These men had endured a heavy strain in the war and they had to tackle these enormous administrative problems. They had to try to learn Chinese or else to find someone who could speak to the Chinese; the language difficulty was one of the major ones.
§ I think it is true to say that three political organisations have grown up since the war. There is the United Malay Nationalist Organisation (U.M.N.O.) which was led by Dato Onn and is now led by Tungku Abdul Rahman; there is the Malayan Independence Party now led by Dato Onn and Dato Tan Cheng Lock; and there is the Malayan Chinese Association, led by a comparatively young business man from Kuala Lumpur. The Independence Party hope to attract all the other communities. The elections were held in Kuala Lumpur a week or so ago, and then the Independence Party found against them a sort of unholy alliance of the two communal organisations. That is an extraordinary facet to this problem, and no one would have imagined that this sort of situation would have resulted. None of the "onlookers" would have thought so.
§ One of the greatest difficulties, of course, is the difference in temperament, outlook, and religion between the Malays and the Chinese. The Malays are a rural people. They are Mohammedans—not strictly so, but they are devoted to their religion. They are easy-going. They appeal very much to Englishmen; I remember that at one time it was difficult to get a European magistrate to punish a Malay. They are fond of sport, and perhaps not over-fond of work. The Chinese is a bustling fellow, one of the best business men in the world. He is generally an urban dweller, making his money out of commerce and the like. He does not get on so well, perhaps, with the European as the Malay does, but he is a man who can best be described I think in the words of Sun Yat Sen, who once said that the Chinese were like the sands 306 on the seashore, each one individual and hard but together making a strong and firm floor (as it were) of resistance to any foreign or outside foot.
§ There seem to me two courses open. We can either rule ruthlessly and try to stamp out the terrorism by military means alone; or we can try and obtain the wholehearted support of the bulk of the population. We cannot rule ruthlessly; in fact, it is not our way; it is not our method of dealing with other peoples or even of dealing with our own. Even if we did so, in my opinion, we should not succeed in our objective. We must, therefore, try to pursue the second course; that is, to appeal both to the Malays and to the Chinese. This, as I see it, is basically a problem of living together, a problem far unresolved in a number of countries in the world. It was unresolved in Ireland; it was unresolved in India; it was unresolved in Palestine. To-day, in East Africa and other places where people with different backgrounds and outlooks are living together, there are difficulties in establishing amity and in pulling together in economic and political ways. It is necessary, of course, for the Chinese to have more political power and the Malays to have more economic power. Up to now, the British have been the cement which has bound these people together. What happens if the cement is chipped away? I believe that, given time, Malaya could evolve as Ceylon has evolved; but have we the time?
§ Now I realise, and I have no doubt the noble Marquess who, I understand, is going to reply to me will point out, that it is easy enough to make these statements from this Box, but it is very difficult to turn them into facts. I quite agree that that is so. It is very hard, for instance, for Malays to enter business. It is a hard task for a Malay to enter business in a country which is controlled by the most acute and astute business men in the world. It is very hard, too, for the Chinese really to take a great interest in and to feel a strong loyalty for Malaya. What we used to call the Straits-born Chinese, those whose parents and grandparents have lived for perhaps a hundred years in Malaya, feel a considerable loyalty towards Malaya, but even in their case there is always some sort of tie—sentimental maybe, practical maybe—with China. In the case of 307 immigrants, they have, in fact, little interest in the country beyond making money in it and returning to China. It would be interesting to know, if the noble Marquess has it—I do not ask for it because I did not give him warning—the total of the remittances sent from Malaya to China and India since the war. It would be seen that it is a staggering figure, if it could be discovered—and they have it in the office if your Lordships would like to know it.
§ I want to give the noble Marquess as much time as possible and I do not propose to say much more, but I would, very tentatively and hesitatingly, offer some suggestions to him, if I may. I offer them, as I say, hesitatingly, because I know the complexity of the problem and the difficulties of carrying out what one suggests or advises in the conditions as they are at present in Malaya. The first I think we would all agree to, and that is to prosecute the military and police action in Malaya as rigorously as is proper. That is bromide; no one could dissent from it. The only difficulty is to do it in the circumstances of the jungle and the town.
§ Then I would suggest to Her Majesty's Government that they should concentrate on rural development. We very rarely hear about this, because a good deal of work has been done and prices have been high; but I warn Her Majesty's Government that if the rural areas fall into a desperate plight, as they did at one time before the war, then conditions in Malaya will become very bad indeed. It is necessary for those rural areas to grow more food. I ask Her Majesty's Government not to listen too much to the chairmen of rubber companies or even the chairmen of tin companies in the City who, while declaring dividends of 50 per cent. and 100 per cent., make extraordinary allegations against the ineptitude (as they call it) of the late Government. I am quite certain in a year or two they will be making the same allegations against the present one, if the present one is then in existence. It is absolutely essential to grow more food in Malaya.
§ The noble Lord, Lord Killearn, did a great job in South-East Asia just after the war, when he organised rice growing and rice distribution in South-East Asia. 308 Millions would have starved to death if that service had not been brought into being. That is a service for which in the world at large we have had no credit, neither Lord Killearn personally nor the Government or the country as a whole. I have never seen it mentioned at the United Nations or elsewhere. I was out there and, as he will remember, met him at the time. We discussed these problems in the early part of 1946, and I know that his organisation did a great job. I am sure he will agree with me—I am glad to see he is going to speak to-day—that the growing of more rice is essential. I am sure also that it is essential to diversify the economy of rural Malaya, to go in more for mixed farming, for internal fish farms—not merely sea fisheries—to grow more and diverse cash crops, such as cocoa, palm oil and the rest. We must get away from this utter reliance on tin and rubber, because we are too much in the hands of other people and we have seen the difficulties caused by the United States' staying out of the market and what it has meant to the price of tin and rubber.
§ Then I should like to see more rural schools and clinics developed. In other words, I beg Her Majesty's Government and the noble Marquess in particular not to play the Communist game. They want us to spend all our efforts against them in the jungle. We must not play their game; we must realise that this is an economic, political and social problem as well as a military one. I would ask Her Majesty's Government to satisfy the population of our intentions towards establishing self-government there. I believe the Government's intentions are honourable in this respect, but there have been diverse voices speaking. It is important that we should make it quite clear that we intend carrying on with our traditional practice so far as that matter is concerned. There has been a suggestion that we are going to postpone the elections. I think that that would be a mistake. The Federal and State elections should be held, and on a territorial basis so far as possible, to break down this communal stress, so that we can show them we mean what we say.
§ Finally I would try and obtain the consent of the rulers and the other authorities in Malaya, the heads of the political Parties and the like, to proceed along the road of logical development to- 309 wards the Federal idea. The present system, as we know, is unwieldy. There are nine States with nine rulers and there are the two Settlements of Penang and Malacca, all of those in the Federation, all with considerable local powers. There is the Crown Colony of Singapore with a different set-up altogether. There is no one head; in the Federation alone, apart from Singapore, there are nine heads and two Settlement heads—that is eleven, plus the High Commissioner. No body can operate with twelve heads. Therefore, I would suggest that we talk over with these authorities quite plainly and in an harmonious manner, the question of further development. There are difficulties now over citizenship. If a Chinese wants to become a citizen of the country, to whom does he swear allegiance? He swears to the local ruler, who may be the Raja of Perlis, which is a very small State. He is a most charming and delightful ruler, but the Chinese may not want to lie there very long; he may have interests in other parts of the Federation. In other words, he does not want to take nine oaths of loyalty. It is a very difficult situation.
§ I suggest that we try to get the rulers to form an electoral college to elect one of their number the ruler of the Federation for life, and then have a genuine Government responsible to a Legislative Assembly, an Assembly elected by the people. I think we might take the first steps—again with their consent; I would not do this without the consent of the people; we do not want the Malayan trouble over again—towards a closer association of Singapore and Malaya by making the High Commissioner, when there is a change of Governor in Singapore, the Governor of Singapore; and gradually begin to get the Administration together. I think the Malays would accept that first step. It was always done before the war; the Governor was always High Commissioner, and vice versa. That is all I have to say on this subject. I welcome the statement we are to have from the noble Marquess. I am sure we shall hear from him the intentions of the Government. In these circumstances, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.42 p.m
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, I intervene for only a short time before the noble Marquess replies. 310 My only excuse for speaking is the fact that last month I was spending some time in Malaya and Singapore. I therefore stand in some danger of falling under the very natural strictures passed by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, on those who pay a hurried visit to a place and come away with a complete scheme for the solution of its problems. I am well aware of that danger. It is true that during my short visit. I saw a large number of different people, both military and civilian, both officially and unofficially, both Europeans and Chinese, and the predominating impression left with me when I came: away was the extraordinary complexity and difficulty of the whole problem. I certainly should be quite incapable of producing any scheme which might he of any constructive value.
But the difficulties seem to me to be not always fully realised in this country. There is the military difficulty. Here again I see wonder expressed in some of our newspapers as to why the campaign is not carried through more vigorously and successfully. I am sure that those who pass this criticism have never seen the jungle. Those who have seen the jungle will realise something of the extreme difficulty of fighting in it. Imagine a country as large as England (for that is the size of Malaya), covered almost completely with jungle, except for a few mountains rising here and there, with very few roads except those on one side of the coast; a jungle with only a few rough tracks in it, and in that jungle are some 4,000 or 5,000 men, moving rapidly from place to place. The difficulties of tracking them down in the jungle are immense. Visibility in the jungle is such that it is rarely possible to see more than twenty yards. The temperature of the jungle is that of a Turkish bath. In addition, there are in the jungle the leeches and mosquitoes, and all kinds of horrors. The difficulty of fighting in those conditions is almost impossible to express, and I think it is remarkable that so much already has been done in tracking down so many of these terrorists.
Closely connected with this problem there is the political problem. The terrorists in the jungle are dependent for supplies, not on Russia or China—for there is no reason to believe that any 311 such supplies have come from those two countries—but on some 10,000 sympathisers in the villages and towns adjacent to the jungle, and on a large number of people whom they intimidate, who are living in the villages or who are spotters. It is said that papers which have been captured from the bandits show that 5 per cent. of the money and the supplies they receive consists of voluntary gifts, and that the other 95 per cent. is obtained by extortion. The difficulty is to gain information as to where these bandits go in their rapid moves from place to place, and also to discover their sources of supplies. It is difficult to obtain any information from the great mass of the Chinese. It is not that the majority of them are in sympathy with these terrorists—only a small minority are in active sympathy with them. But, to put it quite plainly, the great majority of the Chinese are at the moment "sitting on the fence." They are not certain what is going to happen. They are afraid that there may be a repetition of the history of some years ago, when we were unable to defend them against the Japanese. This fear is very real. They are afraid that the Communists may win, that we may have to withdraw owing to a global war, and that they would then be left at the mercy of the victorious Communists. This fear came out again and again in various conversations which I had with people, and the more we can do to reassure the Chinese that we are there standing with them to the end, the more likely it is that they will feel they ought to give us the information and the support that we require.
But that, of course, is not the only reason for the attitude of the Chinese. There is the other reason on which the noble Lord has touched—namely, that a large number of them feel that they have no real share in the management and government of the country. There is among the Chinese a very real desire for self-government. I know how easy it is to say that this demand for self-government, or for a larger share of government of the country, ought to be granted; but then you at once come up against the Malays. Since the Japanese invasion, there has been a very remarkable renaissance among the great mass of the Malays. I was talking to some- 312 one who has lived for a long time in the country, and he said that, while before the war the Malays were perfectly content with their own rice-pots and their fishing and so on, they are now taking an active interest in politics, and are afraid of the position which the Chinese have gained for themselves, both in the political and in the economic affairs of the country. Until they are given further representation or some further share in the management of the country, the Malays are not likely to throw themselves wholeheartedly on the side of the forces of law and order. The real problem, as the noble Lord has pointed out, is how to get the Malays and the Chinese, to say nothing of the Indians, to work together. To do that requires not only military force and the "strong man"; it requires the very highest degree of statesmanship.
There is one other matter to which I wish to refer. I want to ask Her Majesty's Government to see that the people of this country are kept fully aware of all that is at stake and of what is actually happening in Malaya at the present time. I know that it is commonly said that anyone who broadcasts shortly afterwards receives what is called a "fan mail." My only score is a "fan mail" of three or four letters asking for autographs, and about a hundred letters saying everything that I have said has been false and mischievous. The other day I made a very harmless, but factual broadcast on Malaya, and I received so-called "fan mail." One of the letters was addressed, "To Anti-Christ in Lawn Sleeves." What struck me about most of the letters, more than the actual abuse contained in them, was the quite appalling ignorance of those who were writing about the most elementary facts of what is happening. A great number of these letters came from Communists; some of them came from those whose guiding principle in life is that their country is always wrong in all circumstances, and a few of the letters came from those sentimentalists whose hearts are very much larger than their heads.
But taken altogether, the letters show two grave misrepresentations, which are evidently being repeated in a kind of whispering campaign. The first misrepresentation is that we are trying to suppress a number of people who are heroically 313 fighting for the freedom of their country. That came out again and again, in these letters. From other people I have heard the same thing: the claim that this campaign of horrible, cruel and relentless terrorism is a tight for freedom. The answer to that is that the great majority of the terrorists are not Malays, to whom the county belongs, but Chinese. I believe that out of the ten terrorist regiments only one is in any way a kind of Malay regiment; and rarely are any Malays captured. The great majority of the police fighting against the terrorists are Malays.
This is a campaign carried on by a minority of convinced Communists, supported by a large number of younger men who would be likely to join gangs anywhere and also, I am told, by a certain number of men who have been intimidated into joining these gangs. They are trying to force an oppressive Government on the great mass of the people, and their terrorism is designed to reduce the country to chaos, out of which there may come a Communist dictatorship. The great mass of the people, the Chinese, who are neutral in this matter, would be strongly and definitely opposed to this terrorist attempt to govern the country. This is not an army of liberation; it is not a struggle for freedom, but a struggle for Communism and anarchy. Those who speak in romantic terms about these men fighting in the jungle should hear something of the appalling atrocities which, month by month, they commit on the planters and on those who are working in the tin mines. These atrocities are committed not only on men but on women and children, numbers of whom, from time to time, are brutally killed.
The other misrepresentation is a very clever one, and has deceived a large number of people who normally would have no sympathy at all with Communists. They believe that these resettlement camps are concentration camps, and they speak of them as if they were comparable to the detestable concentration camps of Germany, or some of the camps which are found in Russia. They point to the fact that these camps are surrounded with barbed wire and iron bars. It never seems to occur to them that barbed wire is used to keep people out, as well as to keep people in. These great re-settlement areas are 314 nothing at all in the nature of concentration camps. It is true that a large number of the people in them did not wish to go into them at first—they were living in the country, where they squatted, and for reasons of security they had to be brought in. But I was told by some of those in charge of the camps that there are now many people who are asking admission.
From these camps, day by day, men are taken out in lorries to work on the plantations or in the towns, whichever they choose, and in a number of the camps there are large plots of ground, comprising one, two or three acres, which are handed over to those who are living there so that they may work them. I am told that it has been agreed in principle that the title to the land of the people actually in the settlement and outside should be given to those people. That agreement has not yet been implemented, however. For some reason or other, the administrative machine is there working slowly. I was able to visit one of these camps which eventually will hold 15,000 people. Some of the houses were extremely well-built. The people in the camp had their own livestock; there was a cinema, and even a beauty parlour. There were none of the signs of an internment camp, or of a camp for people who are imprisoned. The most significant thing of all is that these camps are now forming their own Chinese Home Guard, and at night weapons are distributed to them so that they may defend their camps from attack. Once they have fired on the terrorists they have committed themselves completely to the side of law and order.
There is only one other observation that I should like to make. Many of those out there feel that the people in England do not understand the difficulties of the struggle. I feel that it was very valuable indeed that Mr. Oliver Lyttelton should have gone out there and shown personal interest in the matter. His visit brought great encouragement. We ought also to pay a tribute of honour to the planters and their wives, who are sticking it out under conditions of daily and nightly terror; and to that much-criticised body, the police, who are in great danger. As is generally recognised, their numbers have been increased far beyond the training that has been given to them, but in 315 large numbers they are showing themselves worthy of the trust that has been put in them. Then I think it is impossible to speak too highly of our soldiers. I had the opportunity of visiting some of them in the jungle. Their officers spoke of the men in the very highest terms. I was struck with the health and vigour of the men, but I have no doubt that if I had asked them what they thought about it all, and had not my clerical collar generally intimidated them, they would have given the answer in two short and simple words. But these soldiers find humour in any conditions, and when an emergency arises they rise with it. Most of them men drawn from our big towns, they are showing wonderful cheerfulness, initiative and courage in conditions which are totally different from their past lives. My Lords, this is not a mere sideshow; it is far more than that. We must not let them think that they are engaged in a kind of sideshow. This is really a battle for civilisation. The men out there are holding a vital sector in that long rampart which extends from Korea to Hamburg, and if their section is broken through. Burma and India are at once in danger. To the men who are holding that section we should pay a tribute of honour.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am sure no one in any part of this House will complain that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, should have tabled a Motion on the situation in Malaya. Indeed, I feel that we owe him a debt of gratitude. After all, one of the main functions of Parliament is to discuss burning topics on which the public mind is exercised, and this is, most certainly, one. Indeed, I hope the debate will also prove to be helpful in expounding the truth to those in this country who, as the most reverend Primate has pointed out, are still, unhappily, so sadly ignorant of the facts—and there, are, I am afraid, a great many of them.
I should not disagree with, I think, practically all that has been said by the two preceding speakers in their most interesting and valuable speeches. As they indicated—I believe that Lord Ogmore made a particular point of it—it is, of course, possible to look at this Malayan question from varying points of view. 316 One can regard it, first, as purely a problem of Colonial administration, of assisting the many and diverse peoples of one of the richest and most important areas in South-East Asia to weld themselves into a single nation and to advance in a new-found unity ever more rapidly along the road to complete self-government. One can look at it that way, or one can regard it—as I think Lord Ogmore himself does—as one of the most important facets in a world-wide conflict between the free world and Communism. Finally, and I submit rightly (and I am sure that both the noble Lord and the most reverend Primate will agree with me here), one can regard it as a combination of the two. And that, I can assure Lord Ogmore, in view of something which he said at the beginning of his speech, has throughout been the view of the present Secretary of State for the Colonies.
These two aspects—the aspect of constitutional progress and the aspect of conflict against Communism—are indeed, as I see it, inextricably interwoven. So long as Malaya remains divided into detached and mutually distrustful communities, so long will it remain a fruitful field for Communist agitation. The suppression of terrorism and constitutional advance must go hand in hand. With regard to this main aim of policy, I imagine that there will be no difference of view in any part of this House. I take it that what Lord Ogmore and other noble Lords sitting on the Benches opposite, and, I imagine, the House as a whole want me to do to-day is to give a broad account of the situation in Malaya, as Her Majesty's Government see it to-day, and a general description of the measures which we are adopting to meet that situation. In doing that I do not propose to delve too deep into the past. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has already given your Lordships much information on recent history, and, fortunately, in this House I am speaking to an extremely well-informed audience, all of whom know the course of events which has led up to the present position.
As we all know, what has come to be known as the emergency—by which we mean (at least I hope we do) not merely sporadic attacks by bandits, as is sometimes suggested, but a well-organised Communist rebellion—has been in existence now for upwards of three-and-a-half years. The tragic toll of casualties, 317 both military and civilian, to which this emergency has led, goes on steadily, week by week and month by month, with periodic ups and downs. So far as we know, the numbers of what are known as the Communist-terrorists have not risen during that period. On the other hand, they have not materially fallen; they remain fairly constant, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 3,000 men. Of course, as has been stressed this afternoon, that is not the whole story. For one thing, as the most reverend Primate has told us, these 3,000 or more live in an almost impenetrable jungle which covers a very large part of the country. Moreover, they are supported and supplied by many thousands of active members of the Min Yuen, the civilian Communist organisation on which they rely for supplies, information and recruits. And behind these members of the Min Yuen, there are yet thousands more collaborators who, either willingly or through fear, give help, in one way or another, to the Communist movement. This whole complex organisation of supporters, willing or unwilling, is very much larger than the force of actual combatants in the jungle.
Such is the problem that the Administration in Malaya has to face. It is no good pretending that it is an easy one, as some of our critics seem to think. I would wish, like Lord Ogmore and the most reverend Primate, to take this opportunity of paying a most heartfelt tribute to the members of the defence forces and the Administration, and, equally, to the planters and business men and their families who carry on so gallantly in conditions of constant danger. No doubt the terrorists, too, have their troubles. They are suffering, as we know, substantial casualties. They are short of arms and ammunition; they are short of medical facilities and food. But by means of severe discipline, and, in the case of the hard core of the movement, of a spirit of strong, if misdirected, idealism, they have managed to carry on their activities. It may fairly be said, I think, in justice to the security forces, that the main Communist attack has been contained. But it has not, as yet, proved possible to prevent individual terrorist attacks, of which we have such deplorable evidence practically every time we open our newspapers. For that, it will clearly 318 be necessary, first, to break the contacts between the actual combatant forces and the Min Yuen behind them: and that, in turn, involves far greater collaboration than exists at present between the Malayan and Chinese communities.
There is certainly no ground for complacency in the present situation. At one moment, during the course of last summer, there were, as your Lordships know, definite signs that the firm action which had been taken by Sir Henry Gurney and General Briggs was getting terrorism under some sort of control. No one can overestimate the debt we owe to those two men and those who supported them during those difficult times. The fact that they did not entirely succeed, should not make us underrate in any way the value of their work. They took over a country which had been under the heel of the enemy for nearly four long years. That, in itself, gave them a problem of unusual difficulty. The Malayan police force had inevitably fallen into complete decay. It had to be entirely reconstituted, and not only reconstituted but widely expanded to meet the new menace. I do not pretend—I do not suppose that any of us would—that the results have been perfect or that no improvement is possible. But, at any rate, the police, in conjunction with the military, did succeed in frustrating the Communist efforts to seize power. That was no mean achievement.
Unhappily, last autumn, the situation began to sag back again In October, we had the tragic murder of Sir Henry Gurney, to whom the improvement had been so largely due, and that was followed by intensified attacks on the economic prosperity of the country. There were strikes in the rubber plantations and those were exploited by the Communists, emphasising yet further the vulnerability of the rubber industry, which is so important not only to Malaya but to the whole Allied cause. Indeed, all through 1951, both the rubber industry and the equally vital tin industry worked under increasing difficulties. Rubber production alone, according to the latest estimates we have received, fell from the 1950 level of 694,000 tons to something like 605,000 tons—a fall of nearly 90,000 tons.
That was the position when the present Government came into office four months 319 ago. As the House knows, my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary, so soon as he became aware of the full facts, decided himself to pay an immediate visit to Malaya—and I am sure it will be agreed that he was perfectly right to do so. He left within a month of taking over his Department, or very little more, and he made a full examination of the position on the spot. Immediately on his return he laid comprehensive proposals of action before the Cabinet. I ought to say at once that these proposals do not involve any fundamental change from the broad aims of the policy on Malaya which has been pursued by previous Governments. He recommended to the Government a continuation of the unremitting pursuit of the two closely linked aims—the crushing of terrorism and the promotion of political progress and constitutional advance. But he formed the definite conclusion that a good deal could still be done in reshaping and applying this policy, to make it more effective and to bring about more rapid results.
My right honourable friend defined his ideas, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, will no doubt know, in six main points, in a speech which he made at Singapore just before he returned to this country. First of all, there was to be a unification of command to strengthen the overall direction of efforts, both civil and military, against the enemy. For that purpose, he tried to find a man who by past experience was fully fitted to carry out this dual aim. Her Majesty's Government believe that they have found exactly that man in General Sir Gerald Templer, who has already arrived in Malaya to take up his post as High Commissioner and Director of Operations for the Federation of Malaya. I am very glad to hear that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who knows Sir Gerald personally, agrees with that view. The noble Lord did, indeed, express certain doubts as to whether General Templer had the political experience which was necessary, but I would remind him and your Lordships that he has had recent experience of just that particular kind in Western Germany. And I believe that that experience will stand him in very good stead.
The nature of the functions which are to be carried out by Sir Gerald were made clear in a directive issued to him 320 on February 4, to which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, referred. In spite of what the noble Lord said, I believe that the import of that directive was perfectly clear. It stated in no uncertain terms the object of Government policy. It is that Malaya should in due coursebecome a fully self-governing nation on the basis of a common form of citizenship for all who regard Malaya as their home and the object of their loyalty.That may be described as the long-term policy. The directive equally stressed that the essential prerequisite for the achievement of this aim must be the crushing of terrorism. The primary duty, therefore, of the High Commissioner at the present moment is the restoration of law and order. For this purpose, he is given complete operational command over all the armed forces that have been assigned to operations within the Federation. He is empowered to issue operational orders without reference to the Commanders-in-Chief in the Far East, although it is made clear that he should establish the closest consultation with them on matters of common concern. This directive which he has received, and these powers which he has been given, should, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, enable him and the Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. MacGillivray, to take a firm grip of the situation.
§ LORD OGMORE
I did not say that the directive was not clear: it is perfectly clear. What I said was that naturally it did not point out to Sir Gerald Templer how he was to carry out these objectives. I hoped that the noble Marquess would tell us to-day.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That is surely a matter primarily to be left to Sir Gerald Templer. I do not think that we, sitting here, should give definite directions. We have a good man out there, and we have a good deputy, and he ought to draw up the exact means he intends to use.
I understood that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, suggested that Sir Gerald Templer ought also to be given command of Singapore. Perhaps I misunderstood him, and what he had in mind was that, at some future time, the two should be brought together. Of course I entirely agree with him that the future of the 321 Malayan Federation and Singapore are inevitably linked; but what is equally true is that the conditions in the two areas are at the moment widely different and require considerably different treatment. While, therefore, I agree with the noble Lord in hoping that they will come together in due course, what seems to be necessary here and now, if terrorism is to be stamped out, is that the authorities in both these areas should work closely together, and steps are being taken to ensure this. I hope that this co-operation will be an accomplished fact.
So much for the position and functions of the new High Commissioner. I come next to the Secretary of State's second point, which is closely allied to it. It is that the police forces must be reorganised and re-trained. We shall all agree that that is vital, for the police forces play an essential part in co-operating with the military in suppressing terrorism. To ensure that this is done, the Government have called in, as the House knows, the assistance of Colonel Young, the Police Commissioner for the City of London. No man has a wider experience of police work than he. He, too, has already arrived in Malaya.
And now I would turn to the fourth and fifth points made by the Colonial Secretary, which have also special reference to the immediate emergency; therefore, it will be as well if I mention them now. In his fourth point, my right honourable friend stressed the urgent need for the organisation of a really effective Home Guard, including a substantial Chinese element. Already about one-third of the Home Guard is Chinese. That, I suggest, is not only important in itself from the point of view of security, but it is by far the best method of associating the Chinese masses with the protection of their own property and the maintenance of law and order. Fifthly, my right honourable friend emphasised the need to achieve a far higher measure of protection in the re-settlement areas—that is, in the camps to which the most reverend Primate has referred. Clearly, unless there are properly protected, they are liable to do more harm than good, and efforts are being made now to see that conditions in them are improved. If I may say so in passing, I hope that what the most reverend Primate said about these settlements this afternoon will get 322 the widest publicity. It is quite true that nowadays anything in the nature of a camp is compared by people, with perhaps a bias, to the concentration camps which existed in Germany before the war. But, of course, in this case, there is no comparison whatever between the two.
My right honourable friend, in the Singapore speech, mentioned two further aims of a more long-term character. If Malaya is to advance as rapidly as we should all wish on the road to self-government, he feels that it is vital that there should be an expanded programme of educational development; and he drew especial attention to that fact in his speech. He felt, and still feels, it equally important that there should be a review of the terms and conditions of the Malayan Civil Service to ensure that the standard in that Civil Service is maintained. After all, it is they, in conjunction with the local rulers of the people, who have to help all these communities through the difficult times ahead. I can only say this afternoon that means for giving effect to these two needs are at present being actively examined. There was also a short reference in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, to the position of the Commissioner-General, Mr. MacDonald. I hope the noble Lord will understand that if I do not deal with that this afternoon it is because I am leaving it to my noble friend Lord Munster, who is to speak later in the debate.
I have tried, I am afraid briefly, but I hope not inadequately, to describe the main aims of Government policy and the means which we are adopting to give effect to those aims. But there is one proviso which I would make and which I think has already been made by previous speakers. All these efforts, however excellent in themselves will prove effective only if the great bulk of the Chinese people play their full part, both in combating Communism and in assisting constitutional advance. It is, unhappily, true that the miss of the Chinese community still maintains an aloofness from political issues; to use the most reverend Primate's words, they are still "sitting on the fence." No doubt this is partly due to fear; and the cure for fear is proper protection and the maintenance of law and order. But I am 323 afraid the cause of the aloofness lies rather deeper than that. The Chinese, or, at any rate, a great many of them, are not yet true members of the Malayan community. This, of course, brings up the whole question of citizenship, to which Lord Ogmore referred in the closing sentences of his speech. The Chinese can hardly be expected to play a full part in the political life of the Federation until more have been admitted to federal citizenship. The importance of this common form of citizenship is underlined, as I have already said, in the directive to General Templer. It is for the Chinese in Malaya to make the wording of that directive apply in fact to them; and our aim must be to achieve this by friendly agreement between them and the Malayans.
I do not pretend, any more than does the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that this is likely to be an easy task. It is an easy thing to say here in your Lordships' House, but it is a much more difficult thing to make a reality. It is, as your Lordships know, just because of this difficulty in achieving agreement between the divers elements in Malaya that the negotiations for the new citizenship law have been so long drawn out. But it would be a mistake for those without real knowledge and understanding of all the complicated problems involved to assume that no progress has been made. Nearly one-third of the Chinese in Malaya are in fact already federal citizens; and the new Bill, which I mentioned just now, will, when it becomes law, add another 250,000 non-Malays to this number. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said—if I may say so, quite rightly—that if the Chinese would play more part in the political life of the country and the Malayans would play more part in its economic life, then a harmonious balance would be achieved between the two communities and the main problems of the country would be in a fair way to solution. That is perfectly true. But, alas! it is not something that can be brought out by Government action alone. What the Government can and will do is to help—for instance, through the Rural and Industrial Development Authority, to which Lord Ogmore referred, and in many other ways. Here I would say, in passing, that I entirely agree with the noble Lord about the 324 desirability of increasing the production of food.
My Lords, our policy in Malaya is to work towards self-government, and we confidently hope that the Malayan nation will be within the British Commonwealth. That is clearly stated in General Templer's directive. But the directive also makes it clear that General Templer's first and most necessary task must be the restoration of law and order, without which "there can be no freedom from fear, which is the first human liberty." It reaffirms the determination of Her Majesty's Government not to lay aside their responsibilities in Malaya until they are satisfied that Communist terrorism has been defeated and that the partnership of all the communities, which alone can lead to true and stable self-government, has been firmly established. And it assures the Malayan peoples of all communities that they can count on the powerful and continuing assistance of Her Majesty's Government, not only in the immediate task of defeating the terrorists but in the longer-term objective of forging a united Malayan nation.
In conclusion, I should like to say a few words about Malaya's place in the world. The basic political problem of Malaya, as I see it, is that of welding divers elements of the population into a united nation. No doubt, the fact that nearly half the population of Malaya is of the Chinese race, and therefore has many links of culture and kinship with a country in which a Communist Government has now been established, presents us with new and formidable problems. But we remain confident, not only that we shall overcome the immediate menace of militant Communism, but that in the united Malaya of the future the Chinese there will play a worthy part. We believe, too, most profoundly, that the progress of our policy in Malaya towards this ultimate goal will help to mould and shape the destinies of the whole of South-East Asia. Make no mistake, my Lords: as the most reverend Primate said this afternoon, this long struggle against Communism in Malaya—and here I am sure I speak not only for the Government but for noble Lords opposite as well—is no mere local affair. It is of vital moment to the whole free world. This conflict in which we are engaged, and which costs us so dear, is not our own alone. It is 325 the battle of all free men. From that battle we shall not turn back till victory be achieved.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in rising to make a small contribution to this debate I should like to say that any criticism which I may seem to offer will be made only with the idea of clarifying the issue or of rectifying the perspective. It has already been said this afternoon that we all have much in common in regard to this Malayan question. But much depends upon the way in which we apply known facts, and upon our attitude towards what we think ought to be done. The situation is admittedly desperately serious and at long last its gravity is generally recognised, but I venture to think that there is much public misapprehension about the nature of the danger. However, there still remains a great interest, as well as much misapprehension, about the situation in Malaya.
I wish to try to make clear the situation as I see it and to offer a few constructive suggestions. May I say that I want to deal with policies, and not persons? We all appreciate the magnitude of the task which General Templer has assumed, and would never at any time willingly add to his difficulties by indiscreet words in this country. We want him and the civil and military services to have unstinted support. I suggest, however, that a particular part of the support which we can give is to examine the powers they are given in relation to the conditions under which they are asked to work. I do not know how many of your Lordships have read the four articles which have recently appeared in the Daily Telegraph, entitled The Last Chance in Malaya. Factually, they are scrupulously correct, and they constitute, in my humble opinion, a brilliant analysis of the situation. I think the Daily Telegraph has rendered a national service in sending Mr. Malcolm Muggeridge to Malaya to make this report on the situation as he saw it. I sincerely hope that not only every Member of both Houses of Parliament, but every citizen of this country who takes an interest in the Empire, will read those articles. I should like to think that some people could be made to learn them by heart.
326 Incidentally, during recent times there has been a strange ascendency of Left Wing opinion in the Press of Malaya, as well as in the Government-controlled Radio Malaya. Even the British Press here has been largely fed on the generalisations of Utopian theorists. Mr. Muggeridge's articles, on the contrary, are, in my view, a breath of sane, fresh air. They take a cool, objective view of facts and of human possibilities, for what happens in Malaya in the early future, and the way the situation there is handled, is going to affect the lives and the welfare, not only of the people of Malaya but of every one of us in this country. Indeed, it may well be the turning point in our national fortunes. As one who has known Malaya very well and who has endeavoured to keep up to date with the modern position there, may I say that I agree with the articles and the conclusions to which I have just been referring? In this debate we have also the advantage of two learned articles which appeared recently in The Times, giving an exposition of the Communist organisation in Malaya. It is so impossible in a brief speech to cover all the ground that I hope I may be forgiven for assuming that your Lordships are familiar with those articles, too.
The noble Lord who opened this debate has sketched the position in Malaya, a country rather bigger than England without Wales, three quarters of which is jungle and swamp. It has a population of 5,800,000. Over the whole Peninsula the population percentages are: Malays 43 per cent.; Chinese 4.4 per cent.; Indians 10 per cent.; and Europeans three-tenths of one per cent. If you take the Malay States without Singapore, the proportion is 49 per cent. Malays and 38 per cent. Chinese. Singapore itself, as the noble Lord said, is largely a Chinese city, where 77 per cent. of the population of just under 1,000,000 are Chinese. Culturally, the three races, Malays, Chinese and Indians, are poles apart. At least 40 per cent. of the Chinese are China-born immigrants. They Owe and they own no loyalty to Malaya. As your Lordships know, the Federation of Malaya comprises the whole Peninsula, not including the island of Singapore, which is a small island twenty-seven miles by fourteen miles and which remains a separate Colony. In other words, the Federation 327 consists of the nine Malay States and the two former Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca.
It was somewhere about June, 1948, that an open insurrection was begun in the Federation by the Chinese Communist Party of Malaya. This comprises about 5,000 active rebels, in jungle bands scattered throughout the country, recruited, backed, supported and led by Min Yuen, a subversive Chinese secret society of unknown numbers whose ramifications spread throughout the civil life of the country. One must remember that secret societies, with activities varying from mutual welfare and insurance to co-operative organisation for the promotion of intimidation, blackmail, murder and extortion, have been a feature of Chinese life from time immemorial. They flourish especially under weak Governments. In relation to Malaya, almost a hundred years ago—in 1854–4,000 Chinese were killed in ten days in Singapore in a clash between different secret societies. A realistic approach to that trouble very rapidly brought it to an end. The Chinese are essentially realists, and they appreciate—none better—the power of superior forces.
As the noble Lord said, in the last fifty years there has always been a close connection between China and Malaya, where the political troubles of China are apt to be reflected. Post-war conditions and the existence of powerful and aggressive Communist Governments in Russia and China have naturally intensified the Malayan problem. In any case, the bulk of Malayan Chinese, whether Communist sympathisers or supporters of the Kuomintang, the late Government of China, all equally tend to look towards China, and they owe their ultimate loyalty to China. Malayan patriotism is a sentiment possessed only by a very small minority. It is yet only an embryo growth, even among Malays, whose first loyalty is to their State. Chinese enterprise and industry, we all know, have had a great share in making the prosperity of modern Malaya, and the bulk of the Chinese are certainly there to stay. Time may produce a workable Malayan nation, but it makes dangerous nonsense to overlook the divergencies in religion, custom, education, social aptitude and history between Malays, Chinese and Indians, and to think that these divergencies can be 328 covered by a few smooth phrases in this generation. Nor is the cause helped by such things in this country as a certain B.B.C. broadcast, wherein one speaker lamented the absence of any Chinese element in the flag of Malaya and sneered at its star and crescent, the accepted symbol of Mohammedan States throughout the world.
The difficulties are immense. I stress them only to plead that time is essential. Political concessions to the law-abiding Chinese are not the immediate necessity. What every man and woman in Malaya, of whatever race—except a few thousand Chinese Communist aliens—want, first and foremost, is security; and security spells now, as it has always spelt, a determined and capable Government able to command obedience and protect its friends. It needs no knowledge of Malayan conditions to recognise that Communism is a downright creed that hates democracy and its institutions as a damnable heresy. Not one Communist rebel would desert if every Chinese in Malaya were given a vote to-morrow Not one would desert if Malaya were independent under a Chinese President tomorrow. And how long would the ageing Sir Tan Cheng Lock, with his Malayan antecedents and pro-British sympathies, survive such a situation—or indeed Dato Onn, the ambitious opportunist who has quarrelled with our staunch friends, the rulers, and is rapidly losing his Malay adherents now that they see him as a champion of the cause of the Chinese whom they fear? How could an oligarchy of Asians with a Western education hope to succeed where we had failed in holding the balance between Malayan races?
The crying need of Malaya is not self-government to-morrow, but government now. The insurrection has been dragging on for four years, and suppression seems no nearer. The bulk of the Chinese population are sitting on the fence, determined to be on the winning side and still uncertain which that is to be. It is true to say that we cannot hope for any final success until we have the active support of the Chinese population. It is equally true to say that we shall not get that support until it is obvious that we are winning. We have the almost unqualified support of the Malays. That is the dilemma; and fair words about self-government will not settle it. Indeed, the 329 latter course at any time in the early future would finally plunge the country into the chaos which is so ardently desired by the Communists. Talk of democracy and freedom and self-government, used like incantations and not the counters of clear thought, have lost their magic power. These ideals have to be part of the thought and life of the people. At present they are not. The bulk of the Chinese look to China; the Malays look despondently to their rulers and to the British Government; and the Indians have been told by Mr. Nehru that they will have to choose between loyalty to Malaya and loyalty to India, and most of them tend to prefer the latter alternative.
May I glance for a moment at the administrative set-up? In days gone by—before the War—-the administration, cumbrous though it was, with its six or seven Governments, worked—partly because of the prosperity of the country and its just administration by the British (the Government had the usual virtues of a bureaucracy—efficiency, integrity, and impartiality) but largely because it had a head and a common final authority to guide it. The Governor of the Straits Settlements of Singapore, Penang, and Malacca, was also High Commissioner for the Federated Malay States of Perak, Selanger Negri Sembilan, and Pahang He was also High Commissioner for the Unfederated States of Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Treagganu, and Perlis, and also British Agent for North Borneo and Sarawak and High Commissioner for Brunei. Now the Federation of Malaya, the Colonies of Singapore, North Borneo and Sarawak have no common head. It has been cut off. The new way of making government efficient is apparently to cut off its head. Instead, we have the Commissioner-General, a purely advisory office half Foreign Office and half Colonial Office, with duties of co-ordination, and no executive authority or responsibility.
This strange creation (and I am dealing with the office and not with the occupant of it) is an ambassador-at-large, a Governor-General in suspended animation, a personification of power without responsibility. To my mind the amorphous growth of this advice factory is not in the public interest. We are told that cancer is an originally healthy cell which, owing to the mad multiplication of its activities, becomes malignant and finally 330 ruins the health of the whole body. I think the analogy is a fair one and, speaking as an administrator, I can appreciate the paralysing effect of such a growth. The Commissioner-General ranges over South-East Asia with Malaya as his centre. The present incumbent of the post has great assets. He likes and is liked by Asians and is an accomplished and persuasive speaker; but at a time when deeds not words are desperately needed, I do not think that peddling nebulous platitudes about democracy and self-government is doing more than "oiling the wheels of chaos", to use the phrase quoted by Mr. Muggeridge. It is indeed fiddling while Rome is burning. In my humble view, which I advance with due deference, whoever may be the occupant of that post, it is an anomaly to-day and should be abolished. Incidentally the most urgent job of co-ordination needed throughout Malaya, not excluding Singapore or Borneo, is that of the C.I.D. and the police under one highly efficient head.
It seems to me too, my Lords, that desperate diseases need desperate remedies. Instead of a Commissioner-General there should surely be a Resident Minister of Cabinet rank, a projection of the Cabinet in Malaya, a trusted colleague of the Prime Minister, an experienced administrator and a man who has held high office and has a reputation for ability in high places—in short, the local embodiment of the British Government. There is nothing new about the idea of a Resident Minister. It was a system which had great success in many places during the war, and there is no question of permanence about it, because the measure of a Resident Minister's success is the speed with which he makes his job unnecessary. I am confident that the presence of such a person with such power would considerably strengthen the hand of General Templer.
In this troubled world it is surely clear to all who know Malaya that Malaya could hardly ever hope to stand alone; it must be allied to some stronger group. I am aware that Dato Onn has declined to commit himself to association with the British Commonwealth. There are three choices, each with its advocates in Malaya. The first is for the country to remain under British guidance, working out as fast as prudence permits the 331 problems of racial co-operation and ultimate self-government on terms of racial equality as a unit of the British Commonwealth. The second choice is for Malaya to throw in her lot with China, with the inevitable result of complete Chinese domination and the subordination of other races to them. And the third choice is to work for federal union with the Republic of Indonesia, with the probable result of absorption as an Indonesian province, if what we have seen happen in that area following the signature of the peace treaties is any criterion. I have studied with some care the directive given to General Templer, and I suggest with due deference that it contains everything that any race—European, Malay, Chinese or Indian—could reasonably wish; and it is also a realistic statement of essential priorities in unexceptionable language. That it covers a task, or rather a series of tasks, of immense difficulty goes without saying. The ideal of a united Malayan nation may be considered by some to be impossible in any future. I would only comment that it must be made to succeed, because the alternative is chaos and civil war, though certainly it cannot possibly succeed at speed. I urge that this matter should be considered, and that those in this country who talk of early self-government should put their theories back on the shelf and look facts in the face.
It would be quite easy to say, as Dato Onn says, that self-government must be given within ten years. If we were dealing with one homogeneous race, if we were dealing with the Malays alone, Chinese alone or Indians alone, it could be done. It might be indiscreet, but it would not be an impossibility. But to say that within a period of years like that it is possible to create a Malayan nation fit to undertake self-government, is about as true as it would be to say that a glass of water and a glass of oil could be mixed thoroughly together in a short time. It is asking an impossibility. The core of the problem is education, and obviously the minimum period in which a real Malayan consciousness could be created is a generation; and the ideal of equal rights and equal opportunities in all spheres being made acceptable and effective for all races acquiring citizen- 332 ship can be achieved only by slow and natural growth. Modern experience, I know, shows that the demand for speed is likely to become more impatient as time goes on, and one can only hope that the slender ties of racial co-operation, at present mere symptons in certain leaders, will not be broken by premature withdrawal of the guiding hand. But all that lies in the future. The overriding immediate necessity is to defeat the Communists and to destroy the Min Yuen organisation. One can but hope that General Templer, enjoying the full support and confidence of Her Majesty's Government, will be given an overriding power of unimpeded decision and action to match the need.
My Lords, I have resisted the temptation to dwell on the past. Above all things to-day we need unity, and for Malayan policy to become a Party issue would indeed be calamitous. During the past four years the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, and I have advanced pleas which are still valid to-day. I will leave them embalmed—and ignored—in Hansard. One quotation only I should like to be allowed to make. As long ago as November, 1948, I said on the same subject as we are discussing to-day—(OFFICIAL REPORT, Lords; Vol. 159, Col. 362):Surely, times of peace are the times when the liberty of the subject and the rights of labour are properly attended to. We have our own experience that in time of war, even in England, we readily give up those liberties for the sake of dealing with the emergency. I do suggest that, until the emergency has been cleared up in Malaya, it is no time to talk of liberty of the subject, rights of labour or any of the other rights to which we attach so much importance … that we should concentrate, first of all, on crushing the Communist and stopping immigration; that we should give the right sort of education to the Malays; and last, and most important of all, we should create the confidence that there is a determined Government in that country. I do suggest that the Government have not, at the moment, the confidence of the country. That confidence has to be built up. The bulk of the Chinese are by nature loyal and law-abiding. They will respond as quickly as any other people to strong and purposeful government. If we wish to win the best of the Chinese, and if we wish to keep the loyalty of the Malays, we must provide that strong government which is so badly needed.That was said in 1948 and I suggest that the words still remain worthy of attention to-day.
I have said a good deal about the crucial issue of racial harmony, but I do 333 not want to obscure the fact that there is a good deal more to the problem than that. During the post-war years, not only have we seemed to have no clearly defined political policy but there has been no economic policy. Take, for instance, rubber. We have moved there from one blunder to another, and there has been no inherent policy during the whole post-war period. In the matter of price regulation, replanting and the general welfare of that industry, which is vital to the present and future of Malaya, and vital to all our Malayan plans, there has been a marked absence of constructive thinking. I suggest that a shake-up is needed, not only in the administrative services in Malaya but also of the authorities in Whitehall who deal with that kind of subject. Let us not forget that there is another way of dealing with some of these economic questions than by doing merely what America would like us to do.
Let us not forget, too, in the fog of political theories and the clash of ideologies in Malaya, that the prize in this contest is the richest country, for its size and population, in the world. The rubber and tin, the coal and iron ore (incidentally, before the war no less than one-third of the Japanese imports of iron ore came from the iron ore deposits in Treagganu and Johore in Malaya), all the tropical produce of Malaya, from palm oil to pineapples—to say nothing of the oil of Brunei and Sarawak—make it indeed a prize worth all the efforts of Communist aggression. I was recently reading an Indian paper which ignored all other aspects and openly referred to the struggle in Malaya as a struggle between two imperialisms, the Communists and the British, for the greatest material prize in South-East Asia. The Secretary of State's directive to General Templer gives the clear lead in policy which was asked for, and I am hopeful that no impediment to speedy decision and immediate action, whether constitutional, personal or political, will be permitted to hamper him in the execution of his task. Strength, character and resolution combined with a clear and just mind are what pay and always have paid in Asia.
In conclusion, there is one thing which I think needs saying, and perhaps I am the person to say it. It concerns the Malayan Civil Service, of which I am proud to have been a member. At no 334 time during the past seven fateful years have the key positions been held by men trained in Malaya. It may be true that some of the senior officers have not measured up to the needs of the time, but equally is it true that they cannot justly be blamed, either for mistakes of policy or for absence of any coherent policy. They have been working:eyeless in Gaza at the mill with the slaves of theory.The present fashion of decrying that service as a whole is, I suggest, something less than fair. Not the least of the tasks confronting General Templer is to restore the morale of the Government service. I am glad that he is to be left free to give them the leadership which will do so, and which he is so well qualified by temperament and training to give.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, in the course of this debate several references have been made to the directive given by the Secretary of State to General Templer. I should like to acid my few words of welcome to that directive and warm approval for the terms in which it was couched. I think it was a great misfortune that we should have been so occupied with sad events in this country at the time the directive was issued that it received little or no publicity. It was not, I think, published completely in any English newspaper, and it appeared in very few newspapers in Malaya. I welcome that directive because, at long last, it gives some firm standard for the people of Malaya to steer by. At last it gives some definite target, after six and a half years of order, counter-order and disorder.
With the best will in the world, his late Majesty's Administration succeeded in infuriating the Malays, the Chinese and the British. What is required more than anything now, immediately, is a restoration of faith in government—faith in Her Majesty's Government in this country and their determination to see this thing through, and faith in the Administration in Malaya and its ability to carry out that task. I, too, welcome the appointment of General Templer, but I wish it could actually have been made a little earlier. It was not in his interest or in Malaya's that so many names should have been bandied about before he was actually appointed—names, some of them practicable, some of them possible and 335 one, quite frankly, completely impossible. I think it was a pity, too, that Mr. MacGillivray's appointment should have come just after an acrimonious debate in Kuala Lumpur. If he is the best man for the job, then it is ridiculous to put forward the argument that an Englishman should not have the job but that it should go to an Asian. The job should have gone, as I am sure it has gone, to the best man with the best administrative experience available for that job.
Here, I should like to sound a small note of warning. These new men—Templer, MacGillivray and Young, the policeman, are all able men. But a year ago there were also able men in Malaya—Sir Henry Gurney, General Briggs and Mr. del Tufo, who has just resigned. They were all—I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, will bear me out—very able men. Therefore, we should not be looking now for immediate results merely because we have new men. Let us hope that they will be given every chance to carry out their task. Let us hope that there will be a little less of what Malaya has suffered from in the last three years—noisy back-seat driving. I wish that one sentence could have been put into General Templer's directive— "You shall make as few public speeches as possible." Every speech that General Templer makes will annoy somebody. Every speech that Sir Henry Gurney made annoyed somebody. The fewer speeches, therefore, that General Templer can make, the more chance he will have of getting on with his job without interference from those who, after about six and a half years' hard experience, have become permanent critics.
But it is not new men who are required in Malaya at the moment so much as new machinery. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has pointed out quite clearly the faults in the machinery, wherein lie the inadequacies of the Malayan Civil Service and the Malayan administrative system. To criticise it is in no way to criticise those honest and competent civil servants who have done their level best to make an impossible machine work. The machine is totally unsuited to the task which is being put upon it. It could not be a more inadequate, rusty or run-down machine for the task which is now required of it. Those of us who 336 know how it came about realise the reason for the difficulties, but to a stranger the constitution of the Administration of Malaya looks as if it had been designed by Heath Robinson and W. S. Gilbert after a good dinner at the Savage Club. It is totally unsuited, and I hope that General Templer has in his hands the power to mend that machine and, if need be, to suspend the Constitution if he really thinks that that is necessary for the efficient carrying out of the orders contained in his directive
The proof of the inefficiency of the present system in Malaya's relationship to Singapore was touched upon by one or two speakers. Singapore must one day be joined with the Peninsula of Malaya, although at the moment it appears to me that the two are not getting nearer but are in their preferences moving farther apart. It is, however, absolutely essential that the operational control of the police and the C.I.D. should be kept as closely together as possible. People talk about Singapore being free of bandits. It is my opinion that Singapore is one of the biggest hide-outs and centres of banditry in the country. One day, of course, we shall have to recast the whole Constitution, but this is no time for Constitution making. Perhaps the time will come after Mr. Malcolm MacDonald's term of office, which is to be extended after May this year, runs out.
My noble friend Lord Milverton and other speakers in your Lordships' House have mentioned Mr. Malcolm MacDonald. Mr. Muggeridge's brilliant series of articles in the Daily Telegraph have called forth interesting correspondence, including yesterday a letter from Sir George Maxwell containing a most savage attack on Mr. Malcolm MacDonald—a personal attack upon a man who is not in a position to hit back personally. To attack the job is one thing; to attack the man is a different thing. I know that Mr. Malcolm MacDonald has made one or two foolishly optimistic speeches. I know he has an easy way of life. The casual way in which he dresses and conducts his affairs is not popular with some of the older school, but in many respects he has done a good job of work—in some respects a very good job of work. It is the job that is wrong, not the man. It is an impossible job upon which I 337 need not elaborate, because Lord Milverton has done it so ably. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has raised some doubts as to the desirability of keeping Mr. Malcolm MacDonald in office, and upon the constancy of opinion on this side of the House. I am very grateful indeed that Her Majesty's Government have seen fit to continue Mr. Malcolm MacDonald's appointment, for one reason, and one reason only—namely, that had he been withdrawn it would have struck dismay into the whole of the Chinese population of Malaya, who would immediately have criticised the good intentions of Her Majesty's Government and doubted our words on the subject of self-government. Therefore I say that it is not necessarily new men who are needed in Malaya at the moment, but new machinery.
More important still, what is needed, in my opinion, is a change of heart, first of all on the part of the Malays, who must realise that a partnership between themselves and the Chinese on some working basis is inevitable, and that they must work for it, perhaps at the expense of a little national pride and a little political sovereignty; and secondly, a change of heart on the part of the Chinese. "Sitting on the fence" is an expression that has been bandied about fairly frequently to-day. Of course, the Chinese are sitting on the fence. They have been sitting on the fence one way and another for 4,000 years. As long as the Chinese sit on the fence we shall find ourselves in this paradoxical situation. At the moment we cannot possibly win the war in Malaya without Chinese help. The Chinese will not help until we are winning the war. How is this vicious circle to be broken? I would agree with my noble friend Lord Milverton that not one bandit would be lost and not one foot of ground would be gained in the campaign if we granted self-government to Malaya to-morrow. But I think we might gain some Chinese confidence if we were to make up our minds whether we think the Chinese are fit to become citizens of the country for which we are asking them to fight. We keep on learning the story of the donkey and the carrot. The Chinese say, "If you hold out to us the carrot of higher citizenship, we, the donkey, will do the work you want us to do." I am not certain that that is wholly desirable as an argument. 338 I do not think we should barter Chinese help for the reward of Chinese citizenship. What I think we should say, is, "If you want greater responsibilities in the future you must accept your present responsibilities now."
My Lords, I do see a ray of hope here. It appears to me that the Communist influence of Mao Tse-tung may be an ill wind that will blow us some good. I bitterly regretted that His late Majesty's Administration accepted and encouraged that Government. I thought it would bring trouble in Malaya, and it has. But it has performed this service: that many thousands of Chinese, whose thoughts and sentiments, whose savings and eventually whose ashes went back to China, are now realising that China holds little for them in the future, and are turning more to Malaya as their natural home. At the moment, therefore, there are some hopeful signs. The creation of a Chinese Home Guard is a first-class opportunity to encourage the Chinese leaders to realise how much rests upon them at the moment to break this vicious circle. How powerful these Chinese leaders are some people had not suspected until we saw the effect of their clanship and their secret societies combining to beat Dato Onn in the recent elections in Kuala Lumpur. I believe that, properly led and encouraged and given the chance to believe in the firmness of the Administration in Malaya in the future, the ordinary Chinese folk will realise that upon them rests the responsibility for playing their full part and therefore helping to win the war. Without them we cannot possible win it. I realise, of course, that a change of heart on the part of the ordinary Chinese, who are not Communisits or anti-Communists but are merely frightened, is a very difficult thing to bring about. For some Chinese shopkeeper in a modest village to declare himself openly anti-Communist is to court the serious risk that his severed right-hand will be thrown into his wife's shop the next morning. That is what is actually happening. Therefore, I think not too much censure should be levelled against the Chinese for sitting on a fence which few of us would leave very hurriedly if we were in the same position. Now the position is changing, and this should help to induce a change of heart in the Chinese.
My Lords, we noted also a change of heart in the British. I am not in any 339 way criticising the British in the smaller places and the smaller jobs in Malaya. The planters and the tin miners have already been well and rightly praised this afternoon for the extremely gallant way in which they are tackling their arduous tasks, for the brave way in which they are facing up to every hardship, not the least of which is that of listening to each others bandit stories. The junior civil servants, in the face of considerable difficulties, bad pay, poor prospects, a dim future and dreadful housing, have done an exceptionally fine job. I do not want to make a sweeping generalisation, but I do level a little criticism against some of the big men in big positions in Malaya—I do not mean in the Services, but in the big commercial positions, such as the "No. l's" in the banks and some of the big businesses. I think that some of these people have not the sense of mission that they should have. They live in the country. They are responsible people in the country. There they earn their living—and a very good living some of it is, too. Yet they wash their hands all too often of the future of that country. They dismiss the future of the country as mere politics. I know that sometimes it is the fault of the employers, who will not allow their important leading men to take an active part in the country's affairs. But many prominent men, lawyers, bankers and business men, have done so, and many more should. Many of the prominent Englishmen in Malaya should, in my opinion, be taking a much more active part in helping Malaya on her way.
I am delighted to see in the directive the statements expressed concerning self-government. I am delighted to see that Her Majesty's present Government state their intentions in absolutely firm language. Therefore, there can be no doubt thrown upon the sincerity and integrity of Her Majesty's Government when they say that they are aiming at self-government in Malaya. It is no good some of the English in Malaya refusing to face these facts, refusing to face the inevitable tide of Asian nationalism. It is no good the leading British in Malaya pointing out all the difficulties—and Heaven knows, there are enough!—pointing out the incompetence of this or that Asian to become Prime Minister to-morrow, and yet doing nothing to help 340 the country towards the goal to which we and His late Majesty's Administration are equally firmly determined the country must move.
I agree with Lord Milverton, of course, that these "airy-fairy" talks of self-government to-morrow are ridiculous. I deplore particularly the article by Mr. John Strachey, the late Secretary of State for War, who should know better. He wrote that:The pace of the advance towards self-government should be the pace of the advice given by Dato Onn Bin Ja'afar and Dato Tan Cheng Lock.The advice given by Dato Onn ! Dato Onn aspires to be the first Prime Minister of Malaya. Dato Onn is getting no younger. That is the pace which Dato Onn requires. The right pace is the pace at which political education advances. Education, as Lord Milverton said, is the key, and the pace is the pace at which we can persuade the people of Malaya, and help the people of Malaya, to train themselves for self-government. It must be a long time. In a country like Malaya you can throw up half a dozen Prime Ministers to-morrow. What we want there are twenty or thirty first-class county councilors—men of that character. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will give very careful attention to the training in the art of government, be it by means of staff colleges or administrative courses in this country or elsewhere, of men who are prepared to play their part in the full development of Malayan self-government. Let us also hear no more words like: "After the British leave Malaya." The British must never leave Malaya. The Malayan peoples do not wish the British to leave. It is a partnership which should go on. It is a partnership for the mutual benefit of both. It has been an immensely happy partnership in the past, and, providing we can and do carry out the tremendous task which comes before all, the task of restoring peace to the country, it should be an exceptionally happy partnership once more.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ LORD KILLEARN
My Lords, not a member of this House does not wish General Templer well in his task. Not a member of this House, or indeed of the general public outside, would wish, by word or deed, to make his task more difficult. And, clearly, it is far too early 341 to attempt to judge how far he is going to be successful. We hope that he will be—and quickly. At the same time, surely it would be idle to deny that the present state of disruption and chaos in Malaya has continued too long, or to disguise a sense of grave public disappointment that more progress has not been made. In this connection, one cannot help recalling the forecasts of the Briggs plan at the time it was launched. It was quoted as an antidote to the troubles in Malaya. I remember that it was so quoted to me when I made certain observations. On the inception of the plan, I was told that it would solve our difficulties. That was, I think, at least two years ago. It is, therefore, in the light of that somewhat, if I may say so, legitimate disappointment that one inevitably approaches this new setup. For myself, I cannot help wondering whether it may not once more be a case of two bites at the cherry and, if that fear should, most unfortunately, prove well-founded, whether, in fact, there will remain any of the cherry (at best a sour one) for any second bite. In short, my personal view remains unaltered: that since the outbreak of the Malayan troubles we have, if I may use the phrase, fallen into the pitfall of half-measures and of tinkering with the problem.
At the risk of tedious repetition, I would say that my view remains unshaken, namely, that what is wanted is one Supreme Commander over the whole area—and I underline the word "area"—to whom the fullest authority, political, military and economic, should be accorded. The guerrillas are tough customers, as we know to our cost: to cope with them, tough methods, in my view, are called for. And adequately tough and effective measures can hardly be adopted short of having the whole area controlled and dealt with by one supreme authority, vested in one individual. We cannot, we must not, lose Malaya. Yet if we delay much longer, assuredly we shall gravely risk doing so. I think that is putting it mildly. This is not merely a question of rubber and tin. It is our whole position in the Far East and South-East Asia which is at stake. Whilst, therefore, wishing the Government full and prompt success in their new approach, I do trust that un- 342 less it shows, and shows reasonably soon, definite signs of achieving the suppression of the guerillas, the Government will not hesitate to take further and fuller steps and will consider afresh, amongst other measures, the feasibility of appointing what I call a "Supremo" to cope with the emergency.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am sure we are all extremely grateful to the noble Marquess the Leader of the House for his very valuable and reassuring speech. If I may say so, I think its special value was that it will be a message bringing renewed hope and comfort to people in all walks of life in Malaya who look to the wholehearted support of the Government in this country to sustain them in their present difficulties. I should like to make just two brief comments on the noble Marquess's speech. First, I wish to ask for clarification—which perhaps the noble Earl who is to speak shortly may be able to give—about one important remark which the noble Marquess made. The noble Marquess said that new steps would be taken to ensure co-operation between the Federation and Singapore in the campaign against the terrorists. May we be told what this new machinery is? Otherwise, it is difficult to judge how useful or adequate it will be for the purpose. Hitherto, of course, all differences between the two Governments have had to be settled by agreement. Does this mean that, in certain matters, the Government of the Federation will be able to override the Government of Singapore? I think this is an extremely useful and important step, and for that very reason I should like to know exactly what it implies?
In the second place, I have a minor criticism to make, if the noble Marquess will forgive me. I rather regretted that he used the word "camps" in describing the village settlements to which the squatters have been moved. I regret it because the use by any authoritative person of the word "camps" encourages the other side to call these places "concentration camps." Further, a camp is essentially a temporary shelter, not a permanent home; and these settlements are permanent homes. They are places where these people will live, and from which they will go out to work on the 343 land every day of their lives. I hope that the noble Marquess will forgive me—
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I willingly accept the correction of the noble Earl. I think I am right in saying that the most reverend Primate used the word "camp," and it was because he used it that I used the same expression. But if the noble Lord prefers "settlement," which has, indeed, a much more permanent meaning, I willingly accept it.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I am very much obliged to the noble Marquess for relieving me of my embarrassment in making a criticism, if only a minor one, applied to himself and the most reverend Primate. I think the speeches we have listened to this afternoon from both sides of the House have confirmed the impression that has been made in recent months, ever since the General Election, about the continuity of British policy towards Malaya. It may have been thought that a change of Government in this country meant a change of policy in Malaya. The present Government have now had sufficient time to review the policy of the late Government, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies has himself visited Malaya and Singapore.
May I say, in parenthesis, that I am sure the Secretary of State's visit has done immense good. I say this with special conviction because I was in Malaya just after the visit of the former Secretary of State, and I know from what people said then what they must be saying now. Nevertheless, in spite of this review of policy and the personal visit of the Secretary of State, the only alterations that have been made are changes in personnel and method, while the broad lines of policy laid down since 1948—that is to say, since the emergency, as it is called, started—have been continued. I am sure this is a good thing. It has shown people in Malaya that chances of Party politics in this country will not change our attitude towards our responsibilities there. It has given them absolute confidence about our determination to see them through their present difficulties and has convinced them of the willingness of all Parties to help them towards self-government.
344 The appointment as High Commissioner of a soldier armed with far greater powers than his predecessor may have caused misgivings at first in some quarters, but it was quickly apparent that General Sir Gerald Templer, to whom, of course, we all wish success, did not intend to put political and social advance into cold storage while going ahead with the campaign against the Communists. Indeed, he made it clear immediately after he arrived that he regarded political and social weapons as being potentially far more effective in subduing the Communists than operations in the jungle. His political directive, to which reference has been made by several speakers, has given more satisfaction in Malaya than any earlier statement of policy, because it not only reiterated the aim of self-government, but added the hope that when self-government was attained Malaya would remain in the Commonwealth. This new formula seemed to imply that a future Malayan Government had the right to choose whether to stay in or go out of the Commonwealth. It was an acknowledgment that Malaya has an equal right with ourselves and other self-governing countries in the Commonwealth to decide, when the time comes, what her relationship will be with the rest of the family. The immediate reaction of Dato Onn, the leader of the new Malayan Independence Party, was to declare for the first time in all his political utterances that an independent Malaya would want to stay in the Commonwealth. I think I might say that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, was not quite up to date in his study of the pronouncements of Dato Onn.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, I think I am right in saying that Dato Onn made that announcement only in his private capacity. He was expressing a personal opinion only.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
That may be so, but, whether it was personal or official, it is the first time that this opinion has been publicly expressed, and I think, therefore, coming from the leader of this Party, it must have carried a great deal of weight in Malaya among people who respect and follow Dato Onn. It is certainly encouraging for us to feel that he has come out openly in this way in favour of the Commonwealth relationship.
345 It is not by accident that the uniformed Communists call themselves the Malayan Races Liberation Army. They realise the psychological appeal of freedom from foreign rule and its usefulness in their propaganda. There is no reason at all why we should not steal their thunder. The Malayan leaders fully believe that we are preparing for the freedom of their country it the way we prepared for the freedom of their neighbours in India. Pakistan and Ceylon. They realise that we are sacrificing the lives of our fellow-countrymen to prevent a Communist dictatorship in Malaya. But, unfortunately, these simple truths are not yet grasped by the ordinary people of the Peninsula, and we can convince them that our soldiers and officials are their liberators only if they hear it from the mouths of their own leaders. The belief of the political leaders that we mean business about self-government will be shaken if we should appear in time to come to falter in the preliminary stages of constitutional progress. Elections have already been held in Malaya at local government level and elections have been promised in due course at State and Federal levels. Representative Legislatures are widely regarded as the next step towards responsible government. For politically-conscious Malays, Chinese and Indians, it is an indignity not to have a single Legislature that is even partly elected anywhere in the Federation.
The present happy political atmosphere will soon change if we give the impression that elections to these legislative bodies have been indefinitely postponed. I should like to emphasise this point, already made admirably by my noble friend Lord Ogmore. Everyone realises the great difficulty of holding elections while the emergency lasts and with a narrow franchise which does not give equal representation to all races. But I am very much afraid that these arguments do not suffice to convince the politically-conscious elements in Malaya that elections are impracticable or should be abandoned until a broader franchise has been achieved or law and order is restored I hope that we shall hear something encouraging about the preparations for an election to legislative bodies in Malaya. It may not be impracticable to hold elections for the Federal Legislature within the not far-distant future.
346 I think what is causing a great deal of anxiety to everyone, and certainly to every speaker in the debate this afternoon, is that, even if we have clone our best and if our policy has been the right policy, we have manifestly failed so far to stop the Communists. After three-and-a-half years we are still just containing them and they have not been driven out of a single Malay State. We cannot afford to let this stalemate continue, because time is on the side of the rebels. Even if they do not score any military or political successes, they can wreck the economy of Malaya. The unfortunate lack of balance in the development of Malaya's natural resources has made the country dependent on rubber and tin for the maintenance of employment. The Communists want to bring about a revolutionary situation by crippling these key industries. There is no doubt that both industries are running clown at the present time and that they face an extremely hazardous and difficult future. Existing deposits of tin are being quickly used up and, owing to Communist activities in lie jungle and on the jungle fringe, no new areas are being prospected for future working. It has been estimated that known deposits will last for another ten or twelve years, but unless prospecting can be resumed over a large area in the meantime, tin mining will cease abruptly at the end of that period.
The rubber position is no less alarming. As the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, pointed out, the output of rubber in Malaya fell by nearly 100,000 tons in 1951, compared with the previous year. This was largely due to the direct and indirect effects of Communist sabotage. A large number of young rubber trees have been slashed, and labour has been intimidated for long periods on the estate. The shortage of managerial and technical staff is getting worse, owing to the lack of replacements from this country, and ageing planters are, not unnaturally, retiring earlier. This shortage of skilled personnel, which already exists, and is already serious, will be aggravated by the declining profitability of the industry. Many planters and managers have relied on bonuses or commissions on profits to give them an incentive to stay on under extremely difficult conditions. Even more ominous for the future, I am afraid, has 347 been the failure, on estates and smallholdings alike, to replant on a sufficient scale to maintain productive capacity. As the useful lifetime of a rubber tree is no more than twenty years, replanting must go on continuously if productivity is to be maintained. But the present unsettled conditions, and the great uncertainty about the future, have induced many producers to sacrifice capital investment, which would have been possible had the price of rubber remained high, for quick profits. We ought to envisage every possibility, and I think it will be agreed that a fall in the cost of manufacturing synthetic rubber in the United States of America, added to the present insecurity of the producers of natural rubber, would, in fact, knock most of the estates and smallholdings in Malaya permanently out of business.
Things may not turn out as badly as this, but I hope we are preparing for harder times in Malaya. Hunger, as we know, is the best ally of Communism in every part of the world. Therefore, I think it is no academic question if I ask the Government what the Administration of Malaya are now doing to enable the Malayan peasants to grow more food for themselves, and to improve, or at least to preserve, their extremely low standard of living. The Federation does not at present produce enough rice to feed even half its expanding population. The balance has to be imported, and, of course, is paid for mainly by the sale of tin and rubber. This terrifying dependence on commodities for which world demand is constantly fluctuating will continue until the country produces more food for its own population and achieves a more varied economy. I should like to know what steps the Administration are taking to improve the output of padi, by irrigation and other means, on existing padi farms, and how much land they propose to reclaim for the cultivation of rice. I know that the Department of Agriculture in the Federation consider that a very large area of jungle could be reclaimed if the capital were available. It is disappointing to hear that the Rural Industrial Development Authority, to which the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and my noble friend Lord Ogmore, attached great importance, spent only about a quarter of the funds allocated to them last year for 348 economic development in rural Malaya. It would be interesting to know what outstanding difficulties have impeded their work, and how it is proposed to overcome these difficulties for the future.
I hope that this extremely potentially useful public authority will help the fishing industry, as well as the padi farmers. This industry is, of course, the main source of protein for the malnourished kampong Malays, and the fishermen live in dire poverty because the marketing and financial sides of their business are in the hands of Chinese middlemen. What they need is a cooperative marketing organisation which would provide the capital, the technical advice and the trained co-operative organisers that they cannot supply for themselves. I very much hope that we shall hear something about what is being done to stimulate co-operation, not merely in the fishing industry, but generally throughout the Federation. This long-overdue development of the resources of rural Malaya for the benefit of the local inhabitants has considerable political as well as economic significance. For the people who will gain most from this development will be mainly, though not by any means exclusively, the Malays. If the Chinese expect the Malays to share with them their political power, it is not unreasonable for them to be willing to share their economic power with the Malays: indeed, I felt that one of the most forceful arguments of the noble Marquess was that in this racial partnership in Malaya it is essential for the Chinese to share their economic position and the Malays to share their political power each with the other principal race.
But the fact that the Communist rising is almost entirely Chinese, and that the bulk of the Chinese population in Malaya is still neutral, suggests that we should do much more than we have done hitherto to win the support of the Malayan Chinese—indeed, this point has been made by several speakers in the course of the debate this afternoon. For my part, I think we have failed in two respects. We have not provided a sufficiently powerful psychological incentive; and we have failed to give the Chinese adequate protection against intimidation by the terrorists. Let me deal first with the question of incentive. As several speakers have already said this afternoon, it seems hardly reasonable to 349 expect people to defend a country of which they are denied full citizenship. Such, at present, is the plight of most of the Chinese who have made Malaya their home. They are still foreigners, Chinese subjects, even if they and their parents were born in Malaya and they have lived there all their lives. Fair-minded people in every community recognise that existing qualifications for federal citizenship must be widened so as to admit non-Malays with just claims, but, of course, without undermining the security of the Malays. Concessions will have to be made on both sides if agreement on this vital question of citizenship is to be reached. But it is difficult to see how we can win the co-operation of the Chinese population, so essential to this battle in Malaya—or how, indeed, Malaya is to grow into a united nation, as we all hope she will do—unless more Malayan-born Chinese become eligible for citizenship in the near future. I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government—perhaps the noble Earl may be able to answer me—whether legislation to amend the Federal Agreement is likely to be passed by the Federal and State Councils. I believe that this legislative process is in train at the moment, and I should like to know what stage it has reached. If the answer to this question is in the negative, what effect, if any, will this have on the holding of elections?
The other aspect of incentive is perhaps even mere important, because it affects the Chinese squatters, whose support, if we could get it, would finish the war by depriving the Communist of food and money. These 500,000 squatters, with their families, have now been moved into village settlements where they are within the range of administrative control. Nevertheless, they are still helping the Communists. We have therefore failed to achieve the most important object of the whole policy of squatter resettlement. There are, I think, two reasons for our failure. The first is that the promise to give them a legal title to their land, permanent or long-term, has not yet been implemented. This point was made by the most reverend Primate in his speech. He pointed out that the promise had been made but had not yet received the necessary legal sanction. Nothing would do more to win these people over than the security afforded by a legal title to their holdings and a guarantee that they will 350 no longer be liable to eviction. If this redistribution of the laud could be carried out, squatter resettlement would grow from an emergency measure—which, of course, is its main purpose at the moment—into a great social and agrarian reform and an important step towards reconciliation between the principal races in Malaya. The land-hungry Chinese peasants would no longer feel their old grievance against the Malays. They would feel that Malaya had become for the first time a real home for them and their families; they would feel a sense of security, as well as having the schools and doctors, and many other advantages of communal life which they lacked so long as they were squatters in the jungle.
The other reason why so many Chinese in these settlements are helping the Communists is that they do not believe that we can protect them if they fail to comply with the Communist demands. This fear of torture and death will continue so long as their only armed protectors are Malay police. The Chinese will not entrust their security to the Malays, however unjustifiable the fear may be. Hence the enormous importance of local recruitment to form a Chinese Home Guard—about which I was delighted to hear from the noble Marquess this evening—to supplement the police on duty in the village settlements. When we were in Malaya in 1950, we met detachments of the Malay Home Guard outside the villages, and we were very properly stopped by them on several occasions. I am delighted to think that if we were to go back there now we should be stopped by the Chinese members of the Home Guard. I very much hope that recruitment may be general throughout all these dominantly Chinese village settlements.
Much as I should like to think that this is the whole answer, I am afraid that probably it is not. I am inclined to think that a trained Chinese constabulary is probably the only force which will inspire absolute confidence. I should like, therefore, to ask the noble Earl who will reply to the debate what progress has been made in the recruitment of Chinese to the police force in the Federation of Malaya. Until recently they have employed Chinese detectives, but they were not used in the rank and file of the police. I hope that recruitment is making good progress, because I am sure that this 351 is one of the most essential things from the point of view of the security of the Chinese peasant. As has already been said, I am sure that these Chinese peasants support the Communists from fear, and not from sympathy. If only we can stop this reign of terror, if only we can give them protection and security, we shall get all the co-operation we want in rural Malaya against terrorists and much valuable information which will enable us to track them down.
I hope that consideration may be given to yet another method of securing the active support of the Chinese community. When I was in Malaya in 1950, I discussed with General Harding, who at that time was Commander-in-Chief of the Far East Land Forces, the possibility of including Chinese elements in the local defence force. Since then, I have not heard anything more of the matter. As your Lordships know, the composition of the Malay Regiment is entirely British and Malay. I think it is undoubtedly worth considering whether the local Chinese, who would make excellent soldiers, could not be embodied in companies of Malay battalions or as separate battalions in a Malayan defence force. This widening of recruitment would have long-term political advantages, as well as immediate advantages in the war against the Communists. Those of your Lordships who remember the old Indian Army will call to mind the complete absence of communal feeling between Moslems and Hindus of all ranks. Comradeship in arms seems to remove communal mistrust and misunderstanding. It would, therefore. I feel quite certain, be an extremely fine thing to see Chinese and Malays serving side by side in a Malayan army. Moreover, one of the obvious prerequisites of a Malayan nation is a defence force containing members of the two main races.
I should like to say one last word about Mr. Malcolm MacDonald—and I should like to deal with the occupant of the post, rather than the post. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, said about the probable desirability of terminating the post at some time in the future, but I am quite certain that it could not be done away with at the moment. I notice that Mr. MacDonald is already being attacked by the Press which, of course, has a habit, of which we are 352 all aware, whenever things seem to go wrong, of trying to pin the blame on the authorities. In fact, as those of us who know his work would all agree, no British official in South-East Asia has given better or more useful service to Malaya than Mr. MacDonald. Personally, my anxiety is that he may leave his post too soon. I should like to give this reason for my anxiety. It is a different reason from that expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, although I think his reason is also valid. In the last eight months, all the highest officials in the peninsula, save Mr. MacDonald, have relinquished their appointments. For one reason or another, General Briggs, the Governor of Singapore, the High Commissioner for Malaya and his Chief Secretary have all gone. I am sure that their successors will need Mr. MacDonald's experienced advice for quite a time before they get into the saddle.
Moreover, I cannot help thinking it unlikely that his successor will be able to inspire the confidence and friendship which he has succeeded in inspiring in the leaders of all the communities in Malaya. He has a rare gift for inspiring confidence and friendship, a gift which I think few people possess. We have to thank him for the wonderful way in which he has succeeded in creating a better understanding, not only between the races in Malaya but between us and them. Mr. MacDonald's term of office has been renewed this year, but I do not think the public know—nobody knows; I am not sure whether even the Government know—for how long this renewal will run. I hope that the Government will press Mr. MacDonald to stay on for at least another six months to a year. For him, I know, it would be a personal sacrifice, but I am inclined to think that he might regard it as a public duty. In any event, the noble Marquess said that the noble Earl might be able to say something about Mr. MacDonald's position, and I should be greatly obliged if I could be reassured that there is no likelihood that he will be leaving Malaya in the immediate future.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF MUNSTER)
My Lords, this, as I think has already been said in the course 353 of our debate, is the first occasion upon which a discussion has taken place on Malaya since the return of my right honourable friend from that country. Every noble Lord who has spoken, including the most reverend Primate, has considerable personal knowledge of Malaya. It was not in the least surprising that information was sought on a number of actions which it is now intended to take as a result of the Secretary of State's visit. At the same time, I was impressed with the observations of all noble Lords, which expressed quite clearly the gravity of the position in that country. Noble Lords seem to be fully aware of the general seriousness of the situation and the urgent need to restore peace and tranquility at the earliest possible moment. I do not think there is any necessity for me to expand the observations of my noble friend the Leader of the House, who dealt fully with the political situation in Malaya, except to say in reply to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that he should not read into my noble friend's remarks anything about one Government overriding another. What will be done will be to improve the machinery of consultation between them, and if any shortcomings exist, these will be rectified so far as possible.
I think my best course will be merely to try to reply to the numerous questions which noble Lords have addressed to me. We have heard much this afternoon about the economic importance of Malaya to the sterling group and to these Islands in particular; and I should be the last to criticise those observations. But, of course, there is another side which it is important not to forget, and that is the strategic importance of Malaya to the whole of our Commonwealth and Empire. The defence of Malaya is primarily a responsibility of Her Majesty's Government, but it is also part of a defence problem in which Australia and New Zealand have their own paramount interests. And the stamping out of terrorism in all forms concerns not only us and the Dominions but is of vital significance to every free country in the world.
Taking that into account, it is interesting to note—and I should not like to miss the opportunity of briefly reminding noble Lords of this—that Commonwealth and-Colonial territories have made their 354 contributions in men and material to this problem. From Australia and New Zealand, from Southern Rhodesia, from Nyasaland and Kenya, from Fiji and from Borneo, men have come—men of all creeds and colours—to serve the Empire and Commonwealth. Here, I think, is expressed the spirit of brotherhood and community of interest which is of such value to us. At the same time, it would be wrong to under-estimate the contribution which we ourselves and the Malays have made; and I should like, following the example of the most reverend Primate, to pay my contribution to the British troops out there to-day. It cannot be too often pointed out that Her Majesty's Government are not prepared to surrender any of their responsibilities until all forms of terrorism have been wiped out and a partnership of the communities has been firmly established—a partnership in which Chinese as well as Malays will play their common part.
The road to stable self-government may be hard and long; but if it is sincerely believed that we, as a nation, have a part, and possibly a major part, to play in the future, I must own that I think it is lamentable that some, perhaps only a few, disgruntled British people living in Malaya should be heard to speak in the terms which were described by my noble friend Lord Mancroft. Such observations are not helpful to the common good, and the people who make them are not exercising any degree of political wisdom. Surely, their duty is to assist in bringing the communities together into one strong partnership. My noble friend also made mention of articles which have been appearing in local papers in Malaya. I am not in a position to comment on them because I have not seen them, but I trust that no one will publish articles which are likely to bring about any deterioration, or further deterioration, in an already difficult and delicate situation.
The noble Marquess the Leader of the House gave your Lordships full details of the chain of command and explained the absolute responsibility of Her Majesty's Government. I believe that in General Templer and in Mr. MacGillivray we have men who have won distinction in their respective spheres and in whom we can place full trust and reliance. I feel sure that it will be some strength to him in his difficult task to know that every 355 noble Lord who has spoken this afternoon has praised the appointment of General Sir Gerald Templer, who, as has been pointed out, has a task of great magnitude. The new Commissioner of Police, Colonel Young, has been released from the City of London for a period of twelve months. On his shoulders rests the heavy burden of the reorganisation of the police force. Colonel Young has succeeded Colonel Gray, who was himself a very gallant officer and who, with great public spirit, placed his services at the disposal of my right honourable friend and tendered his resignation.
In the course of this discussion, the most reverend Primate, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, raised questions about the Briggs Plan for the settlement of Chinese squatters. I should like to deal for a few moments with this matter and to give the latest information we have. About 400,000 out of 450,000 squatters have now been resettled. It is worth while pointing that this operation has been accomplished in less than the allotted time of two years. The physical resettlement, though in itself an administrative achievement, brings us only half way towards the attainment of the final goal, which is to help the Chinese squatters to develop a sense of civic responsibility and genuine Malayan loyalty. We are now in the process of consolidating that position. The Government, with the assistance of the Malayan Chinese Association, are now concentrating their efforts on the provision of social amenities such as schools and medical services. I believe this question was raised by Lord Ogmore.
Home Guard units are being formed in all resettlement areas, and strenuous efforts are being made to provide adequate protection against attack. There is, undoubtedly—we have evidence of it—Communist terrorism against these resettlement areas. But I hope, for reasons which I need not go into today, that it may well be possible finally to stop the infiltration of Communism within the resettlement areas. The noble Earl opposite might like to know that most of the State Governments have now agreed that permanent titles should be given in appropriate cases to the inhabitants of resettlement areas.
356 Noble Lords raised the question of citizenship. This is a very complicated story, but I think I can briefly describe it. The background of the whole tale is that there is now in draft legislation which is quite clearly a compromise reached after extensive negotiations between the main communities. Provision for citizenship included in the Malayan Union proposals were unacceptable to the Malayans. The provisions of the Federation agreement of 1948 had the effect of restricting the admission of Chinese to citizenship. After that agreement came into force the Chinese, in their turn, pressed for the legislation to be amended in their favour, and in an effort to reconcile the conflicting views of the two main communities the Communities' Liaison Committee considered this matter and, after much debate, the present proposals were thought out. Although these proposals do not go the whole way to suit the Chinese, they are none the less a very substantial advance, and the Government's policy is naturally to do everything possible to secure the maximum amount of agreement between the main communities. I understand that legislation is now before a Select Committee of the Federal Legislative Council, where I hope any outstanding difficulties will be ironed out.
I think it was my noble friend behind me who raised the question: Why cannot Malaya and Singapore be amalgamated forthwith? I think the House will agree that such amalgamation could take place only with the willing consent of the people of the two territories. I am informed (not having had the advantage of noble Lords who have been out there) that in neither territory is public opinion ready for such a major political operation. I do not think Singapore has any substantial terrorist problem of its own, and the predominantly Chinese population would, as the noble Earl knows full well, resent any attempt to compel the Colony to join with the Federation of Malaya. On the other hand, the Malays of the Federation would have the strongest objection to the inclusion of a further 900,000 Chinese within the Federation. Nevertheless, there is, I suppose, hope that one day this amalgamation may well take place.
My noble friend Lord Killearn raised the question, on which he will forgive me 357 if I say I am not in agreement or sympathy with him, that there should be appointed forthwith a Supremo who should reign from Singapore, be a Viceroy over all British Territories in South Eastern Asia and undertake diplomatic responsibilities as well. I think at the present time the most immediate thing is the restoration of law and order in Malaya, and if that is to be accomplished honestly do not think that a Supremo with those immense responsibilities, living in Singapore instead of Kuala Lumpur, would really be capable—
§ LORD KILLEARN
My Lords, I did not suggest he should live anywhere in particular; he would choose where he lived. He would be appointed mainly to suppress the present rebellion or whatever you like to call it; that is the point. I do not wish to define exactly what his domain should be, but I think it would be better that control of this anti-bandit, anti-guerrilla campaign should be in the hands or one supreme authority who has authority not only over Malaya but over Singapore, for example, and other areas as requisite. I am not worrying about his being called a Viceroy or anything like that.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
No, but I was endeavouring to find out what his responsibilities would be, and, of course, the new High Commissioner does have the particular responsibilities which my noble friend has outlined, though they are only for Malaya itself.
§ LORD KILLEARN
Exactly. I do not know if it is true or not—the noble Earl has sources of information that I have not—but it has been suggested that a great deal of this campaign is organised from the city of Singapore. If General Templer is attempting to cope with this thing and has not adequate powers himself to cope with a situation of that sort in Singapore, that is an illustration of the point I am trying to make.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
Does the noble Lord mean that the individual who would be called the Supremo would be Supremo only over the Federation of Malaya and Singapore?
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
But my noble friend said this individual would have a vast range of territories under his control.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
But as I understand it now, the noble Lord really required him to have authority only over Singapore and the Federation.
§ LORD KILLEARN
Over any area which will help him to suppress the rebellion or the uprising—call it what you like.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
My Lords, my right honourable friend went into this matter in the greatest detail and I strongly support the proposals which he makes to-day. It would be most unfortunate if we should proceed to appoint some individual with these gigantic responsibilities who would not be able to give permanent and adequate time to the one thing above all else which matters, and that is the immediate restoration of law and order.
§ LORD KILLEARN
But again the noble Earl entirely misunderstands me. I think that should be his main task; that is the task for which he should be appointed.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
A person appointed for that particular task could not have the other vast responsibilities which the noble Lord wishes to devolve upon him. May I leave it at that? The noble Lord is going out to the Far East to-morrow and he will probably have other opportunities of examining this particular question. I should like to say in passing that it is well to remember that the High Commissioner is by no means out of direct contact with the Colony of Singapore, and in a few moments, when 359 I deal with the organisation of the police force and the C.I.D., your Lordships will see that they do fit well together. At the same time the new High Commissioner attends the meeting of the Commanders-in-Chief whenever a meeting affecting the Federation is held, and he also has the right to ask for a meeting of the Commanders-in-Chief to take place.
Perhaps I may turn now to deal with the story of the Home Guard. The strength of that organisation to-day is about 175,000. It is a part-time organisation and only partly armed. Nevertheless, in some districts it has played a full and active part. We all, I think, attach considerable importance to the reorganisation of that Force and its future generally, so that it may rapidly become a strong coherent and active force under the control of the High Commissioner. In this Force there are some 60,000 Chinese, but unfortunately nearly all of them are untrained. However, in certain cases they have performed a useful and invaluable service. It is clear, as I think was said by the noble Earl opposite and by Lord Ogmore, that every effort should be made to assist this Force (including the Chinese element) to become an important part of the Security Forces throughout the whole country. As was rightly pointed out, there is much they can do to defend the lives and the homes of themselves and their countrymen, and indeed they can render very great assistance in helping us to win the battle in Malaya. Preliminary action has already been taken towards the reorganisation and the retraining of this Force, and it is hoped shortly to appoint an Inspector-General of the Home Guard.
I think it is universally realised that the emergency is in essence a police rather than a military task. For that reason the police force has been very substantially enlarged. There are now 23,000 regular police and 38,000 special constables. Clearly, this represents a very great increase, but at the same time it has resulted in inadequate organisation and a general lack of training. Quite apart from looking after the special constables, the regular force have also been dealing with the training of the Home Guard, and that at a time when most of their own fundamental necessities for the setting up of an efficient force have been lacking. For this reason it has now 360 been decided that the Home Guard are to be separated entirely from the police force and are to be administered in future by district officers. The Chinese element in the Force is, as the noble Earl said, very small indeed, and there are only 1,860 special constables.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
Chinese special constables. All those particular matters are now receiving the very urgent attention of the new Commissioner of Police, and I hope that in due course we may have some further information on that subject. There are however, as the noble Earl said, some 1,500 Chinese police in the C.I.D. That is an occupation for which they are indeed very well fitted. I should also like to remind the House, in passing, that the C.I.D. and the police in Singapore and in Malaya work very closely together, but it may well be found by the new Commissioner of Police on reorganisation that even more intimate degrees of contact can be established between the two territories.
The noble Earl, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, too, referred to the Federation Development Plan. As noble Lords will know, the policy is to carry through its six-year programme of social and economic development as fast as circumstances permit. The programme is flexible and necessarily continually changing. Many items that did not appear in the original programme are now put in, and others have been taken out. But the Government will continue to provide the finance which is annually provided for carrying through the development programme to the extent that can be reasonably expected to be achieved in existing circumstances.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
If I may interrupt for a moment, can the noble Earl say whether the financial allocation for the six-year programme has been reduced? I should rather expect that, in view of circumstances in Malaya.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
No. At the moment I have not the figures with me, unfortunately. Then I think the noble Earl, and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, also, raised the question about the Rural and Industrial and Development Authority. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that everything 361 possible must be done to encourage the inhabitants of Malaya, as elsewhere throughout the whole world, to grow more food for human consumption than before the war. This Rural and Industrial and Development Authority, which was established in 1950, is now giving active assistance in promoting rural development policy. At the end of 1951, the Authority had improved about a hundred undertakings, covering such things as the processing of primary products, the improvement of village industries and amenities, and fishing services. In future, the Authority will be concerned with widening the scope of its activities to enable the primary producer to enjoy a larger share of the proceeds of his industry, and with the promotion of economic and social betterment in the rural areas.
The noble Earl raised the question of elections to the State and Federal Councils. I understand here that, ever since the Federal Agreement has been in operation, it has always been understood that municipal elections should precede the State elections. The first three municipal elections have already taken place—in Malacca. Penang and Kuala Lumpur. I understand from the High Commissioner that plans for elections to local bodies in other major towns are well advanced. The High Commissioner feels that the extension of the franchise in the field of local government is really a necessary foundation for future State and Federal elections. He has done all he can in the short space of time he has been there to emphasise the need for the early development of responsible local governments at the small community level. I myself feel certain that that is the correct way to proceed, and it would be fatal if we departed from the understanding of the position since the time that the Federal Agreement was made. The noble Earl will see at once that electoral rolls are therefore being continually revised.
I now turn to the last subject—namely, education. That matter was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. The Federal Government have accepted in principle the establishment of national primary schools for all races, and also the teaching of English as a compulsory subject in the schools. A special committee has been sitting to frame draft legislation to give effect to these and 362 other proposals contained in the recent Report on Education in Malaya. As the two noble Lords will already know, my right honourable friend attaches considerable importance to education within the territory.
Finally—I have kept the House much too long already—I must deal with the appointment of Mr. MacDonald. I agree with what was said by many noble Lords this afternoon, that it is particularly unfortunate that savage and bitter attacks should appear in the Press against a public man who is not in a position to reply. I am somewhat surprised at the nature of the periodical that launched that attack. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, gave your Lordships a full and correct explanation of Mr. MacDonald's position. He has not, and never has had, any direct responsibility for the conduct of the operations in Malaya, and it is unfair, I think, to heap masses of criticism upon the shoulders of the Commissioner-General who has, in fact, no executive responsibility whatever. So far as I am concerned—and, I believe, my right honourable; friend as well—we believe that Mr. MacDonald has undoubtedly done a good job of work.
I should like, however, if I may, to read a Written Reply made by my right honourable friend in another place this afternoon when he was asked to state the purpose and duties of the Commissioner-General for South-East Asia. I think it will sum up the position in far shorter language than I should otherwise employ. Mr. Lyttelton replied:The Commissoner-General is Her Majesty's Principal Representative in the Colonial and Protected territories in South-East Asia. He does not exercise any executive or administrative functions within these territories, but it is his duty to promote co-ordination of policy and administration between their Governments. For this purpose he may convene Conferences of the Governors and High Commissioners. He is required to advise the Secretary of State from time to time on the question of closer political co-operation between these territories. He represents the civil and political interests of the territories (as well as of Hong Kong) on the British Defence Co-ordination Committee, of which he is Chairman. In the sphere of defence—that is to say, the external defence of South-East Asia as a whole, he thus has special responsibilities.In the field of foreign affairs the Commissioner-General holds the personal rank of Ambassador, and in consultation with Her Majesty's representatives in the foreign countries of South-East Asia, is responsible for 363 advising Her Majesty's Government on general problems of foreign policy in the area.That is the reply which my right honourable friend has given to-day in another place. Surely it shows only too clearly that Mr. MacDonald has no direct responsibility whatever for the conduct of operations in Malaya. I have endeavoured, I am afraid very inadequately, because there are certain questions to which I have not replied—
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
Before the noble Earl leaves the subject of Mr. MacDonald, can he say for how long the latest renewal of the Commissioner-General's term of office will run?
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
No; I regret that I am not in a position to-day to give the noble Earl information on that point. As I was saying, I have endeavoured to reply to some, though not all, of the questions which were addressed to me this afternoon, and at the same time I have endeavoured to give the House some of the stern and stark facts which we found facing us in Malaya. I have not in any way minimised the gravity of the situation—in Sir Gerald Templer's words:It may well get worse before it gets better.But if we can implement, effectively and efficiently, the policy which my noble friend the Leader of the House and I have endeavoured to outline and describe to the House, we shall, I think, be able to hope for a better future, when all the atrocities of to-day are things of the past, and when men of divers races can live together in harmony with one another. My Lords, this task cannot be accomplished overnight, and we may have a very hard and uphill fight before we can report to your Lordships and to the country that we are getting the better of this menace. It should always be remembered, too, that words are not always sufficient. Acts and deeds count, and until peace and tranquillity are restored we shall continue to pursue, with vigour, the duty which undoubtedly rests upon our shoulders of helping Malaya and destroying the wicked menace in its midst.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I feel certain that the speeches of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House and the noble Earl who has just spoken will 364 afford very great satisfaction indeed to the people in Malaya and, I think, to reasonable opinion in this country. Not only the contents but the tone of the speeches have been excellent, and we are fully satisfied that the Government are going to carry on in a way which we hope will bring a solution to this grave problem in Malaya.
I should like to take up just one or two points in the various speeches that have been made. I am grateful to all those who have supported me in this Motion, and I would, in particular, point out to the most reverend Primate that I had not him in mind at all when I made some rather caustic comments about onlookers. If all onlookers were as objective as he is, then I should have had no complaint to make. I, too, should like to add my tribute and that of those who sit on this side of the House, to the tributes paid by the noble Marquess and the most reverend Primate to all those—in the Civil Service, in the military field, the police, the planters, the tin miners and others—who have borne the heat and burden of the day. We do realise the debt that we in this country owe to them, and I hope that from your Lordships' House there will go out the words of the noble Marquess, who spoke so feelingly on this point.
I would ask the noble Marquess, as a member of the Cabinet, and the noble Earl, as representing the Colonial Secretary here, to consider my suggestion—I do not ask for any reply to-day—as to the possibility of further progress with the federal ideal. I regard that as a very important factor in the future of Malaya. In my view, it is vital that we should have, as it were, one head and one Government in Malaya, strong enough to take the necessary action in whatever field it may be.
I thank the noble Earl for his very helpful speech. He tried to cover the large number of questions that we had asked, and he gave us more information than we expected to receive. I fully agree with him as to the elections. I personally have always been very keen on encouraging local government first, before getting on to central government. I believe that in the past we made a mistake in West Africa, for example, in not encouraging local government before we tried to push central organisations on the people. Sometimes the results of that 365 procedure are not too happy. I would repeat, that time is of the essence in Malaya, and I hope that it will not be felt by the people of Malaya that we are doing otherwise than the correct thing in starting with local government elections. I hope the position will be explained to them. I do not think it is always realised in this country how difficult it is, because of the language question, to get things over in Malaya. So many of the people do not speak the language of the country, and of course, they do not speak English. It will be necessary to get over to the Chinese, in whatever dialect they speak, this particular policy of the Government, which I think is quite right so long as it is not made into too lengthy a process. There remains nothing more for me to do but to ask your Lordships' permission to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.