Communist Party of Malaya
|“||Workers of the world, unite!||„|
|~ The slogan of CPM|
The Malayan Communist Party (MCP), officially known as the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), was a political party in the Federation of Malaya and Malaysia. It was founded in 1930 and laid down its arms in 1989. It is most known for its role in the Malayan Emergency.
1940: Manifesto calling for expulsion of British imperialism.
February 1943: Anti-Japanese Programme (nine points).
27 August 1945: Eight Point Manifesto. Generally moderate; the only demands objected to by the British were those for an elected assembly and a wide franchise. It "expressed the hope" (Cheah's words) that the British would consider granting self-government to Malaya.
7 November 1945: MCP put six proposals to the BMA. At least one of them went beyond 27 August points: a demand for self-government. This included asking that Malaya be allowed to control its own national defence and foreign relations. Other demands were for less government interference with freedom of speech, publication and assembly, increases of wages, and an end to restrictions on trade, travel and transportation.
Act of Villainy & Controversies
Amid a rising atmosphere of tension, the government outlawed the burgeoning trade union federations on 12 June 1948. Then on 16 June they declared a state of emergency after three European planters were murdered by Communists in Perak state. The police were given sweeping powers of arrest, and punishments including the death penalty could be administered without an ordinary trial.
In the two weeks following hundreds of MCP members were arrested, and the party was declared illegal on 23 July. Party militants regrouped in the jungle as the Malayan Peoples' Anti-British Army (MPABA), many ex-MPAJA personnel. The initial commander, Lau Yew, was killed in action on 16 July. Chin Peng narrowly escaped arrest and rejoined his comrades with difficulty.
During this period the MCP also engaged in intimidation, including assassination, of civilians with the aim of coercing material aid, information, and silence. This policy contributed to a loss in popular support and was repudiated by the CEC in September 1951.
On 1 February 1949 the MPABA changed its name to 'Malayan Peoples' Liberation Army' (MPLA) and The party began to campaign for a Peoples' Democratic Republic of Malaya, which included Singapore.
The MPLA had a General Headquarters controlled by a Central Military Committee which consisted of the politburo and some of the MPLA's regimental commanders and political officers. The most influential members of the politburo were Chin Peng, Yeung Kwo and Lau Lee. At this point the army had about 4000 soldiers, about 10% women. It was divided into ten Regiments, nine of which were predominantly Chinese and one of which was composed mostly of Malays and Indians. The latter was successfully eliminated by the British who wished to confine the insurgency to the Chinese community.
A civilian organisation called the Min Yuen supported the MPLA, collecting supplies and information.
The MPLA lived in jungle or forest camps similar to—or even the same as—to those which the MPAJA had used. By mid 1950 they, with the help of the Min Yuen, had acquired uniforms. These were of either khaki or jungle green British pattern." The MPAJA and MPLA usually wore three stars on their caps, signifying the three races of Malaya.
Road or rail ambushes were favoured by the guerrillas, averaging about 17 per month from September 1949 to February 1950, and 56 per month from then until September 1950, peaking at 100 in the latter month.
To prevent peasants, particularly squatters, from aiding the guerrillas, the British commenced relocation, which became a major component of British strategy under the Briggs' Plan of 1950. By the mid-1950s about 500,000 people (roughly 10% of Malaya's population) had been moved into compounds, termed 'New Villages', which were surrounded by high barbed wire fences and guarded by police. On mines and estates, employees did not face relocation but merely 'regroupment' into guarded compounds on site. About 650,000 people were regrouped in this manner.
In addition, in June 1951, a general food-control program called 'Operation Starvation' was instituted. In 'food restricted areas', eating was only permitted at home, not at cafes and restaurants or workplaces. Shop keepers had to keep strict account of all food sold, and canned goods had to be punctured at time of sale to necessitate their being used promptly. Widespread burning of villages suspected of Communist sympathies was also common in the early years.
As a military strategy, these restrictive measures were highly successful. By 1953 the MPLA was often short of food and its numbers declined. Faced with failure to establish any 'Liberated Areas', MCP renewed its work with trade unions and political parties. The MPLA, for its part, began to increasingly rely on Malaya's aboriginal population for support. Internment of Aborigines was abandoned after mass deaths, and the government instead adopted strategy of offering the aborigines' aid and building forts in aborigine territory.
In July 1955 Malaya's first general elections took place, with Tunku Abdul Rahman becoming Chief Minister. One of his first acts was to declare a partial amnesty. The amnesty remained in place until 8 February 1956 but resulted in only 73 surrenders.
On 24 September 1955 Chin Peng wrote to Rahman offering to negotiate peace. This was accepted and on 17 October two government representatives, Too Joon Hing, an Assistant Minister of Education, and I.S. Wylie, the Deputy Commissioner of the Federation police, met Chin Peng and another member of the MCP Central Executive Committee at Klian Intan. Two further meetings followed in November.
On 24 December the MCP released a new 'Eight Point Program' which called for an end to the Emergency Regulations, a cessation of hostilities, reform of Malaya's political system, democratic rights, support for world peace, and attention to other matters including education, health, welfare, and industrial production.
The negotiations culminated in the Baling meeting on 28 and 29 December 1955. Representing the Government were Tunku Abdul Rahman, David Marshall, Chief Minister of Singapore, and Sir Cheng Lock Tan, leader of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA). For the MCP were Chin Peng Chen Tian, and Abdul Rashid bin Maidin. Chin Peng wanted legal recognition of the MCP and a return to the pre-conflict situation. The Government demanded the dissolution of the MCP, and the talks broke down.
In 1956 Chin Peng wrote to Tunku Abdul Rahman offering to resume negotiations. This was rejected by Rahman in a broadcast on 2 April.
In April 1957, Hor Lung, a Politburo member in charge of the Southern operations of the MPLA since 1953, was bribed to surrender to the security forces.
By July 1957, about 30,000 square miles (approximately 78,000 km²) out of Malaya's total area of 50,850 square miles (approximately 130,000 km²) had been declared by the government as 'White Areas' – areas where the MPLA had essentially been eliminated and the Emergency Regulations withdrawn. In August 1957, Kuala Lumpur and district were declared 'White'. By mid 1958 the MPLA existed mainly in Perak and the Southern part of Johore. By early 1959 the MPLA was active only around the Thai border.
Meanwhile, on 31 August 1957, Malaya became independent from Britain. Tunku Abdul Rahman became Prime Minister. The Director of Operations against the insurrection, however, remained a British General, namely Lieutenant-General Archibald Cassels.
On 31 July 1960 the government formally declared that the 'Emergency' was over. However, Emergency restrictions remained in place in the area near the Thailand border.
In the mid 1960s the US State Department estimated the party membership to be approximately 2000.
The Communist guerrilla force, with a strength of about 500, continued to subsist on either side of the Thailand border. Meanwhile, Chin Peng and other cadre in China had limited contact with the jungle bases. From 1969 they launched a radio station in Hunan called "Suara Revolusi Malaya" (Voice of the Malayan Revolution), broadcasting to supporters in Malaysia and Singapore. This was shut down in 1981 at the request of Deng Xiaoping.
Also in 1969, in response to the intensification of the Vietnam War and Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution in China, the party stepped up armed struggle. In 1970, however, the bases in Thailand were convulsed by the trials and executions of supposed spies. Two breakaway factions formed which condemned the purge. Chin Peng subsequently denied involvement and rehabilitated his accused comrades.
In 1989, the CPM finally laid down its arms. On 2 December, at the town of Had Yai in Southern Thailand, Chin Peng, Rashid Maidin, and Abdullah C. D. met with representatives of the Malaysian and Thai governments. Separate peace agreements were signed between the CPM and both governments.