§ Mr. Brockway
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the arrests of 107 members of the Barisan Sosialis party and trade unionists in Singapore on the authority of the Internal Security Council in which the United Kingdom is represented.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
In the early hours of Saturday a number of persons known to be implicated in subversive activity against the security of Singapore were detained under the Singapore Preservation of Public Security Ordinance.
This action was taken on the authority of the Singapore Internal Security Council, composed of representatives of the Governments of Singapore, Malaya and Britain.
The need for this action is explained in a statement issued by the Council, a copy of which I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Mr. Brockway
While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that statement, may I ask whether it is not the case that the statements of the Prime Minister 36 of Singapore and of the Tunku of Malaya indicate quite clearly that these persons have been arrested not because they are alleged Communists, but because they have sympathy with the people of Brunei in the opposition to the proposed Malaysian Federation?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all the elected members of the Parliament in Brunei are opposed to this Federation, and if so, will he take a lesson from the humiliating failure of his Government in the Central African Federation not to impose federation against the will of the people concerned?
§ Mr. Sandys
I think that the hon. Member knows that the recent referendum in Singapore showed that a great majority—
§ Mr. Sandys
This Question is about what has just happened in Singapore. That is what I am talking about. That is what the Private Notice Question is about.
The recent referendum showed that the great majority of the people of Singapore were in favour of the enlarged Federation of Malaysia. It is quite natural that the Communists should wish to torpedo Malaysia because they rightly recognise that it will increase greatly the political stability and progress of the whole of this area.
§ Mr. Healey
While welcoming the fact that the population of Singapore and Malaya seem to be overwhelmingly in favour of the Federation, may I ask whether the Secretary of State would not agree that there are indications of serious popular opposition at least in Brunei and that his predecessor agreed, when this was presented to the House in July, that the refusal of Brunei to accede to federation would not in itself torpedo the project? Would he, therefore, maintain the position that Her Majesty's Government will support this Federation in so far as it has popular support in the territories concerned?
§ Mr. Warbey
The Secretary of State said that the people who have been arrested were all known Communists, engaged in subversive activities. Can we take it, then, that all of them will be immediately put on trial?
§ Mr. Brockway
The right hon. Gentleman sad that he is not responsible for the decision in Brunei. Is not his Department responsible for a Legislature which has a majority of unelected members, and when all the elected members are opposed to the imposition of the Federation ought he not take account of the will of the elected representatives?
§ Mr. Sandys
I thought that I made it quite clear, in answer to Questions on other days, that we are not trying to press Brunei into the Federation.
Following is the statement:
The Singapore Internal Security Council on which are represented the Governments of the United Kingdom, Singapore and the Federation of Malaya, met on 1st February, 1963, in Kuala Lumpur to consider the internal security situation in Singapore in the context of the threat to the Territories of the proposed Federation of Malaysia following the outbreak of violence in Brunei.
Since the formation of the Barisan Sosialis in July, 1961, it has been increasingly evident that the party and associated United Front organisations are under the control of the Communists. These Communists and their supporters in Singapore, working through the Barisan Sosialis and associated United Front organisations, have done their utmost to sabotage the formation of Malaysia. They have continued these subversive activities even after the referendum in September in defiance of the wishes of a decisive majority of the people of Singapore. They have professed to be working constitutionally for democratic ends. But their open support for armed revolt in Brunei and their close connections with leaders of the revolt show that they are ready when the opportunity occurs to depart from constitutional methods and to jeopardise national defence and Singapore's security by joining with groups resorting to violence and bloodshed as in the Borneo territories.
The Government of the Federation has consistently in recent years taken action against Communist and subversive elements in the Federation, and recently this action has been intensified. The Government of Sarawak have also taken preventive security action recently. All members of the council agreed that action must be taken to safeguard the defence and security of Singapore and of the territories of the proposed Federation of Malaysia. This action must be taken
immediately and cannot be left until after 31st August, 1963. The Internal Security Council has therefore decided that certain persons in Singapore known to the Security Authorities of the three Governments represented on the Council to be deeply implicated in the United Front working for Communists or in some cases for other subversive ends must be arrested. The Council also decided that certain Communist United Front publications must be banned. These measures, following upon the internal security actions in the Federation of Malaya and Sarawak, will safeguard against any attempt by the Communists to mount violence or disorder in the closing stages of the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia and will ensure that Singapore enters Malaysia on the 31st August, 1963, in a more secure and sound state.
The persons detained are being held under the provisions of the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance. All those of Federation origin are to be sent back to the Federation of Malaya.
A memorandum is attached giving an account of the Communist conspiracy. [This will be placed in the Library.]
There were present at the meeting of the Council Lord Selkirk (Chairman), Major General E. A. W. Williams, G.O.C. Singapore base district, Mr. P. B. C. Moore, Deputy U.K. Commissioner, Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew (Prime Minister of Singapore), Dr. Goh Keng Swee (Minister for Finance, Singapore), Mr. Ong Pang Boon (Minister Foreign Affairs, Singapore) and Dato Dr. Ismail bin Dato Abdul Rahman P.M.N. (Minister for Internal Security, Federation of Malaya). The joint Secretaries were Mr. R. E. Radford and Mr. Wong Chooi Sen.