HC Deb 09 March 1955 vol 538 cc431-5
20. Mr. G. Longden

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the Malayan Communist Party is attempting to indoctrinate students in schools in the Federation of Malaya with Communist ideas; and what action he is taking to combat this.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Yes, Sir. The Government of the Federation are warning the managers and teachers of the schools, and the parents of students of the nature of the Malayan Communist Party's activities. As it is rather long I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement on these activities.

Mr. Longden

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that one of the tactics of the Communist Party is to accuse the Federation Government of seeking to suppress the teaching of Chinese culture in Chinese schools? Is there any truth in that accusation?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am aware of that charge. There is no truth whatever in it. While we are desirous of building up a united Malayan nation, we have no wish to break the cultural links that unite Chinese all over the world.

Mr. Awbery

What effective steps have been taken to prove to the Malayan people that our democratic system is far better than the Communist system? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that what we do in Malaya will have a far greater effect upon the people than what we say?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am quite aware of that, although I also know the disadvantages that sometimes follow from what is said about Malaya. I should have thought, having regard to the good will of the Malayan people, and as showing the sincerity of our democratic approaches, the forthcoming elections in Malaya and Singapore should be sufficient evidence.

Mr. Hale

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Tory Party in Oldham is attempting to indoctrinate the youth of Oldham in Tory principles by circulating a pamphlet entitled "Britain Strong and Free"? Will he consult his noble Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to see what can be done about it?

Following is the statement:

Communist parties in all countries give priority to the indoctrination of youth. In the Federation of Malaya the Malayan Communist Party's special interest in schools arises from a decision in 1951 to resume development of the underground movement, which lost most of its workers in 1948 when they took to the jungle, where they are forced to remain because of fear of detection. The M.C.P. is, therefore, attempting to recruit and train a new cadre of party underground workers, and in this attempt has turned to the schools because of the susceptibility of youth and in the hope that it may find available a sufficient number of fellow traveller school teachers to assist in organisation and infiltration.

This policy of infiltration into schools has recently been intensified, and the methods to be employed were clearly set out in a document issued by the Malayan Communist Party's South Malaya Bureau in March, 1954. A translated extract from the document reads: Regarding the students and children, they are generally the potential force of our revolutionary power whom we cannot afford to ignore. They are pure in heart and can easily accept the teaching of the Party. For the sake of improving the work concerning the students and children, we should first of all make a thorough investigation on the number of students in schools at various places, especially those who are studying in junior, middle and higher primary, second year grades and the children who have no chance of schooling.

Evidence of intensified effort in the indoctrination of youth is provided by documents captured in August, 1954. These documents were recovered from the body of a member of the South Johore Regional Committee who had been killed in the Pontian area, and revealed the existence of an underground party branch in Pontian Town. The documents include progress reports of the branch for 1953 and the first half of 1954. These reports indicated that the organisation had expanded rapidly and proved quite clearly that it was centred in a Pontian school and had well-established connections in several other Chinese schools in the general area. As a result of a study of the documents and subsequent investigations, the police were able to disrupt this organisation.

Amongst the documents found were directives issued by the local district committee of the Pontian branch. The following extracts from these instructions are of particular significance, demonstrating clearly the Malayan Communist Party's plan to exploit the innocent activities of schoolchildren and to undermine discipline. At present, the branch should concentrate all its attention on improving the student organisation. To achieve this we are to set up lawful public organisations which are acceptable to the masses, such as Old Boys' Associations, Basketball teams, a theatrical club, a singing club and a literary society. All these are to be outside the ordinary school organisation. We should encourage students to voice their demands; for example, if they are not pleased with the school administration or with the conduct of a teacher, we are to seize the opportunity to urge them to oppose the school authority or the teacher.

The Government of the Federation recognises their responsibility to protect schoolchildren from exploitation of this nature, and believes that parents, school-teachers, school managers and community leaders all wish to assist in preventing children from being duped and led astray by subversive organisations. Further means are being considered to bring to the notice of parents and school authorities the extent and urgency of the danger, and to enlist their active help in combating it.

The Government of the Federation have always encouraged, and will continue to encourage, schoolchildren to be happily interested in those activities which are properly associated with education—their lessons, their games, their hobbies, their own social occasions and their own school societies—and are determined to ensure that these activities and any valuable youth organisations are not to be abused by evilly-disposed persons as a cover under which young minds may be corrupted and boys and girls subjected to such subversive influences as will prevent them from developing into useful and responsible citizens of Malaya.

42. Mr. G. Longden

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Malayan Communist Party is attempting to organise students in Singapore to serve its own purposes; and what steps are being taken to deal with these activities.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Yes, Sir. As the answer is rather long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Longden

Does my right hon. Friend know how many of those students are believed to be Communists?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

No. They are a relatively small proportion, and the remainder of them are being led along the garden path.

Following is the answer:

The Singapore Government have on several recent occasions drawn the attention of the public to the danger to the body politic of Singapore inherent in the way in which a student movement is developing. There is no room for doubt that there is close connection between the Malayan Communist Party and this development.

The Malayan Communist Party has made no secret of its intention to penetrate schools and to use the students for its own ends. Documents in the Singapore Government's possession reveal the careful plans and preparations made by the party, including explicit and detailed instructions on the methods to be employed to stir up students against the Singapore Government. It has never been the Singapore Government's contention that all these misguided students are Communists. The vast majority are potentially just as good citizens as any others, but there are undoubtedly small cells of individual Communists inside the student bodies.

The methods of the Malayan Communist Party have already been described in some detail in various Singapore Government statements. One indication of the general intention of the party to infiltrate into the schools is that since 13th May, 1954, eight students have been detained under Emergency Regulations, five of whom have admitted having had M.C.P. connections, and one has been convicted in court of the possession of terrorist documents and sentenced to three years' imprisonment.

The leader of the M.C.P. organisation in Singapore was found on his detention last year to have been a student of the Chinese High School who had been expelled for undesirable activities in 1950. He had admitted that as long ago as 1950 it was the practice of the M.C.P. to organise subversion in Chinese middle schools, and he himself was the leader of his school's party organisation at the time of his expulsion.

It is quite clear from the course of events that the so-called "Student Movement" in Singapore is attempting to develop along the classic lines followed by Communist-instigated movements in other countries. These movements invariably select motives and aims that are, on the face of them, plausible and praiseworthy, but the underlying intention is subversive. It should also be emphasised that the actual instruments chosen for carrying out this policy are more often than not unaware of the true ulterior motives of the prime instigators.

It recently came to the notice of. the Singapore Government that a body of persons calling themselves the "Fifty-five Man Students Exemption from National Service Registration Delegation" proposed to organise a "Tea Party."It was announced that this tea party would last some five hours, and it was to have been one more in a series of such gatherings organised over the past months on various pretexts.

In order to protect those students who are being duped and not infrequently intimidated into participation in the "Student Movement," the Singapore Government have decided that they can no longer tolerate such assemblies or mass meetings of students, whether they are under the guise of "Tea Parties" or not, and instructions have been given to prevent them from gathering or to disperse them if they succeed in doing so.

I am confident that the Singapore Government will have the support of the public in this stand, and that responsible leaders, parents and teachers will use their influence to prevent their children becoming further involved in these mischievous activities.