HC Deb 26 October 1949 vol 468 cc1309-11
16. Air-Commodore Harvey

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now make a statement on the situation with regard to guerilla fighting in Malaya.

Mr. Creech Jones

Bandit gangs and murder squads continue to take a toll of life and property and the elimination of these evil doers is not easy. In the operations, some 870 bandits have been killed since the beginning of the emergency and as a result of various administrative measures a great deal has been done to deprive the hard core of the bandits of their sources of supply. Constant pressure by the security forces has broken up many of the larger gangs and most of the attacks are now made by fewer than ten bandits. Agreement has been reached with the Government of Siam for co-operation between the police forces of the two countries so that bandits may no longer escape by crossing from one country into the other. It has been made known to the bandits that if they surrender with their arms, and are not guilt of murder or acts of terrorism, they will not suffer the death penalty and there has already been a modest response to this offer. Intensified policy and military operations have led in recent weeks to increased contact with the bandits. The Malayan authorities and Services continue to press those operations with vigour. Progress is now being made with the task of bringing the Chinese rural population in remote areas under administrative control. Sixty-seven new police stations have been provided since the beginning of the year to give protection, and more are being built. The re-establishment of confidence and security in these squatter areas by administrative measures is necessarily slow, but is being pressed forward in conjunction with the operations of the security forces.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a fairly general impression in this country that the people are not being kept informed of the situation in Malaya, and is it not a fact that the situation there since the end of July has deteriorated?

Mr. Creech Jones

No, the situation has not deteriorated. In some months the difficulties are greater than in other months. I think that the authorities are pursuing the problem and pressing their operations with full vigour. I shall be glad at any time to give Members of the House any information regarding these operations.

Mr. Walter Fletcher

Has any difficulty arisen now that Amoy and Swatow are no longer ports to which bandits can be deported in getting rid of the bandits who are due for deportation?

Mr. Creech Jones

We have to some extent been obliged to abandon the policy which we were pursuing but, on the other hand, alternative measures have been taken in respect of the squatters who have been detained.

Mr. Platts-Mills

Is it correct, as the "Observer" correspondent has reported, that there are now 100,000 of these so-called security forces, coloured and European, police and soldiers, operating against the Malayan people?

Mr. Creech Jones

The forces are not operating against the Malayan people; they are operating against the bandits.

Mr. Gammans

The right hon. Gentleman said that there were 870 bandits killed. Will he say how many of the security forces have been killed and how many European planters and tin miners have been killed; and whether he is really satisfied that in view of the fact that there are about 60,000 security forces fighting about 3,000 bandits, the present methods are entirely satisfactory? Will he give the figures?

Mr. Creech Jones

Obviously I cannot give the figures without notice. In my answer to the next Question, I have some figures which are relevant.

Mr. McGovern

Will the Minister state how the forces in Malaya who are dealing with this general situation compare both in their action and numbers with the forces in Czechoslovakia and other countries behind the iron curtain?

Mr. Gallacher

May I ask the Minister as one who, I understand, has had some standing in Socialism, if he is aware that a police state in Malaya can never be a substitute for independence in Malaya?

Back to
Forward to