Almost 40 years have passed since The Emergency in
The country did not demolish as expected by the Communist. Sabotages that had been started by the Communist is in intention to destroy
The insurgency had slowed down
Along with the Communist Insurgency, there’s question regarding on why PKM started its armed revolution and what caused the revolt? Why PKM changed their policy of United Front to a policy of militant and revolt?. There’s analysis’s that said that the revolution are the result of the Russian’s order that PKM get through the Calcutta Conference in February 1948.
In my opinion, external factors are not why PKM starts its revolution towards the British. In other words, the armed revolt of PKM was caused by internal factors and nothing to do with Soviet Russia order for revolt against the Colonialists in
The Theory of External Influence
For those who believed that external/ outside influence that leads to the 1948 Communist revolution/Insurgency, They supported the Theory based on the 2 Communist Conferences in
1) Youth Conference in
These 2 Conferences were regarded by external theorists as the starting point of Communist revolutions in
“Experts in Communist affairs consider that from this Conference stemmed the general strikes, agitation and strifes that broke out afterwards in
We have to look at the conference’s implication based on international view.
McVey (1958) also noted that the new Soviet policy was first announced in
“In spite of these differences, the Conference remained safely in Communist hand .” (page 9)
In short, the theory believed that revolutions occurred in the
The theory of Internal Factors
Although the Conference was backed by the Communists, the Theory that said that it is the
1) The Conference are participated by representatives from different ideologies.
2) It is not a confidential and secret Conference. It is impossible that the Indian government cannot detect if there’s any such order given during the Conference to the representatives.
After studying this theory, there’s exist unanswered fact in the theory. The theory did not give a clear proof that the order of Revolution came during the Conference in
In addition, there’s no proof that the order came from
When relate the theory to PKM , there were no documents that shown that the party received order to revolt against the British in
This perhaps was translated and understood by the representatives as an encouragement to be more vocals and militant against the Imperialists and Colonialists. But this does not mean that it is an order to revolt given by Communist Soviet. Researcher Tanigawa Yoshihito ( cited in Nagai Y. & Akira Ireye ed. 1977) wrote :
Although the doctrine of 2 camps (Imperialist and Anti-Fascist) is true, it is not an order to start a revolution. However, it is admitted that the conference in
“ At the very least, the
Other writer (McLane 1966) felt that Indian Communist Party Conference which was held shortly after the Calcutta Conference is more important. This is because the ICP Conference was attended only by Communist professionals and not other representatives from different ideologies as what had happened in the Calcutta Conference.
Another point is that PKM sent only Lee Song (McLane 1966) as its sole representative in the
The Committee have approved 3 resolutions in the Plenary meeting :
1) Based on the present political situation, the only way of achieving independence is through people’s revolutionary was and PKM must lead the way.
2) The policy of surrendarism must be changed and PKM must be more militant.
3) The discipline among PKM members must be upgraded.
This shows that the revolution by PKM is not by the order of
Post-World War II
It is important to note that PKM is the only party that remained active during the War. After the Japanese surrender to the British, Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) went out from their bases in the jungle and claimed the government administration left by the Japanese. They established their power before the return of British Army. The MPAJA also gained the support from the masses, especially the Chinese.
The period after the World War II was considered as the prime time for the PKM/MPAJA because its popularity as at high. The party are not only accepted by the people, but also recognized by the British Military Administration (BMA) as a legal political party. Stenson (1977) wrote:
“ MCP policy between August 1945 and early 1948 was that a peaceful United Front with the object of achieving a more or less constitutional takeover of power . The policy was predicted upon British acceptance of open politic, Trade Union and similar activities which would be considered legal in
However, it was also the period where PKM have made a wrong step; the mistake that cost their objective in the future. Their objective of founding Communist Republic of Malaya was almost achieved as the party has large numbers of active members as well as supports from the public. They made the mistake during their co-operation with the British. This maybe because in accordance to the Communist International (Cominform) Order of United Front. There’s also possibility that the policy were set by Lai Teck, the Secretary General of PKM. He has been mentioned by some people as a British agent (McLane 1966) . Another question is that is it because the British helped them with finance and arms which leads to PKM co-operation with the British?
Actually, PKM co-operated with the British based on its objective and intention to get
“ While there was a surplus of almost 700 riffles and over 1000 shotguns , representing weapons which the guerrillas had acquired for themselves, there were deficits varying from 300 to over 400 in each categories of stens, carbines and pistols.” (page 36)
This is interesting as the action was questionable and perhaps a tactic by PKM to use those weapons in the future. In addition, they formed MPAJA Ex-Service Comrades Association to maintain close relationship with other MPAJA members.
The Emergency 1948-1949
A proper perspective of the events which caused the declaration of a state of emergency in June 1948 can only be obtained from a survey of the tactics followed by Communists since the liberation in their efforts to gain effective control of labor in
The policy pursued by the Communists was to secure key positions in Trade Unions for their own adherents and to concentrate their strength on the formation of larger Unions or Associations of Unions which would enable them to organize agitation and strike action involving the largest numbers possible while at the same time creating the widest gap between the laborers and their Union executive to ensure ignorant but unquestioning obedience. By securing the key posts in such wide Associations they hoped to stultify the genuine and local efforts of labor leaders in its component parts.
This policy was embodied in the Pan-Malayan Federation of Trade Unions which was under direct Communist domination. By early 1948, the struggle was reaching its climax and the Communists were testing their strength by promotion of numerous strikes and labor unrest on trivial pretexts all over the country. Nevertheless there were not wanting signs that many of the Unions were dissatisfied with P.M.F.T.U. domination and the Communists resorted to methods of violence, intimidation and extortion in the attempt to restore their waning position. The coup de grace to their hopes was administered when legislation was passed through all its stages on the 31st. May to provide for the restriction of office-bearers of trade unions to persons who had minimum of three years’ experience in the industry concerned; the prevention of persons convicted of extortion , intimidation and other similar crimes from holding such office and finally the prohibition of the federation of trade unions otherwise than on an industrial or occupational basis. This directly nullified the Communists tactics and neither P.M.F.T.U. nor its satellite State federations made any attempt to adapt their system to the new requirements. Their labor infiltration tactics had failed and they turned to their weapon - violence. This change of tactics was undoubtedly also hastened by the increasing use which the Government had begun to make of its powers of banishment and which made it necessary for the known Communist leaders to go underground. The pattern of the bandits’ strategy was becoming clearer. Attacks were being concentrated largely on estates and mines and it was of paramount importance to put them in a state of defense.
Details of the Communist Insurgency
If we look into details, it is a fact that PKM had already planned its revolution since 1945; long before the Conference in
Even if there existed connection between the Calcutta Conference and the decision of PKM to revolt, we also must see the PKM’s failure in gaining the power through its main organization. It is a fact that PKM had made its plans to use force against British since 1945. It can be clearly seen in their actions of hiding their weapons from the British and the establishment of MPAJA Ex-Comrades Association. As Stenson (1977) wrote in his book :
“ Although the MCP had some preparations for the possibility of armed revolt in the late 1945 (in the form of secret arms dump and the MPAJA Ex-Comrades Association), it made every attempt to gain its political objectives prior to 1948 by relatively peaceful , non-revolutionary methods.” (page 28)
Stenson also mentioned that , as early as December 1947, Chin Peng and Lau Yew had been reported to encourage MPAJA Ex-Comrades Association to reorganize all its organizations and prepare with adequate funds in considering a revolution.What is interesting is that Constitutional Campaign Fighting Fund AMCJA-PUTERA have been referred as People’s Fighting Fund and Struggle Fund on January 1948. This showed that PKM has its own plan to revolt and waiting for suitable time to do so as the central Committee realized that the party’s policy of United Front has failed.
The failure of AMCJA-PUTERA in requesting its right in Constitution is a big defeat to PKM .The formation of the AMCJA-PUTERA has represented a last attempt to reverse tide of political change. It’s failure to embody a sufficient United Front meant the removal of an essential precaution for the effective pursuit of a peaceful United Front policy. Stenson (1977) explained :
“..... The moderation which the MCP’s two main ‘front’ organizations opposed as part of its attempt to achieve its end by more or less constitutional means was exploited by government and employers to exclude them from substantial influences upon Malayan politics and society .” (page 11)
This failure should be seen in a wider perspective, in political context of
The formation of Federation of Malaya marked the end of AMCJA-PUTERA from taking further action as in the new Constitution, the Communist ideology is not recognize by the Federation government and considered illegal (Cheah Boon Kheng 1977).The added failure to PMFTU to control labor unions had shattered PKM’s chance of achieving its objective ; the Communist Republic of Malaya through United Front policy.The failures left PKM only 2 choices :
1) Accept the defeat and abandon its main organization.
2) Starts revolution and armed rebellion against the Federation government.
The first choice was suitable in long-term plan as it would give adequate time to PKM to reorganize its organizations and wait for suitable time to act. For the short-term period, it was rejected by PKM members as the first choice means that they surrender and admit defeat to the power of Imperialist British.
For that reason, the resolution in the 4th Plenary Meeting and the 5th. Plenary Meeting of PKM’s Executive Committee had ordered its members to be more militant. Yet, the order came without clear explanation to its members for revolt. The members of PKM absorbed it as an order of revolutions and armed rebellion which resulted and started murders, sabotages and other violence in order to gain the power from British and form Communist government in
The fact is that the Communist was insurgency caused by the failure of United Front policy. There are also other factors that lead to PKM revolution. One factor is the leadership changes in PKM (Hajost 1967). The originator of United Front, Lai Teck; who was also the Secretary General of PKM, lost his post. He and his rightist group left the party (Ongkili, 1973 ). He was replaced by Chin Peng from the leftist group . Chin Peng immediately changed the policy and introduced aggressive policy which has influenced members of PKM (Hanrahan 1954).
Another factor is the PKM-British relationship. PKM thought that after the World War II, British would gave more power and autonomy to PKM for their co-operation during the war .The dream shattered after the war ended as the British not only did not give the autonomy to PKM but also try to weaken the party’s power and influence. This caused dissatisfaction and anger from PKM. Along with the change of leaders and feel cheated by the British, they reacted through armed rebellion to get its autonomy and power.
In conclusion, it can be said that the PKM’s revolution that leads to The Emergency 1948-1960 was caused by 4 internal factors:
1) The failure of PKM’s United Front policy.
2) British failure in giving PKM more autonomy and power.
3) Changes in PKM leadership.
4) The establishment of Federation of
For those reasons, it leads to PKM starts its armed rebellion in order to achieve its objective of forming Communist Republic of Malaya. What is rejected here is that the theory that the revolution in