In retrospect of the Emergency times, what comes to our mind is a story of sorrow and agony suffered by the people of Malaya during the rampant launch of attacks by the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) to take control of Malaya by force. Failure to move as a political party caused the CPM to change its strategy to armed struggle, forcing people to live in anxiety and fear. Murder, torture and sabotage were the CPM norms in seeking to destroy the economy and cripple the communication system in Malaya.
The violence reached its pinnacle with the murder of three Kuomintang leaders in Johore on 12 June 1948, and the killing of three European rubber plantation managers including an estate assistant in Sungai Siput, Perak on 16 June 1948. As a result, a state of Emergency was declared in Perak and Johore on 17 June 1948. On 12 July 1948, Sir Alexander Theodore Newboult, the Government Administrator, declared the extension of the Emergency Law to the whole of Malaya. This declaration was gazetted in the Government Gazette dated 13 July 1948. CPM was officially banned on 23 July 1948. The extension of the law gave more power to the police and military to arrest and detain persons suspected of subversive activities.
In the efforts to curb and to weaken the communist activities, the government introduced a number of programmes under the Emergency Law. Among these plans included the use of identity cards for the people of Malaya aged 12 years and above. It was successful in detecting and limiting the movement of the communist terrorists. In 1950, General Sir Harold Briggs introduced the Briggs Plan. The Squatter resettlement schemes were instituted with the intention to cut off the population from the influence and threats imposed by the communists. This tactic succeeded in restricting supply of food and severing the communications, information, medicines and new recruitments to the CPM. This squatter resettlement scheme involved 572, 917 people who moved to 480 new villages (June 1950 to December 1952).
To curb the communist insurgency and improve national security, the security forces were enhanced by increasing the strength of the police force and the military. Among the forces established during the Emergency were the Special Constable, Auxiliary Police, Special Branch Police and the Home Guard. Armies from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and East Africa were also brought to Malaya to assist in combating the communist terrorist
The highlight of the government's efforts in overcoming the communist armed rebellion was to have peace talks with the communists. These talks were held in four sessions at the Government School (now the Sekolah Kebangsaan Tunku Putra), Baling, Kedah on 28 to 29 December 1955. Intended to end the emergency, the talks were an extension of the mass amnesty offer given by the government to members of the CPM on 9 September 1951. In this negotiation, the government was represented by the Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra; the Chief Minister of Singapore, Mr David Marshall, and Dato' Sir Tan Cheng Lock.CPM was led by its Secretary General, Chin Peng, and two other members, Chen Tian and Abdul Rashid Maidin.However, the negotiations ended without any mutual agreement from the communists as they intended to seek political freedom in achieving their ambitions.
His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Alam Shah Hishamuddin Alaeidin Ibni Almarhum Sultan Sulaiman Shah declared the end of emergency on 31 July 1960. However, not all of the CPM members had been successfully eliminated. The remnants of these communist insurgents retreated to the Malaysia - Thailand border. They gathered strength to launch an armed resurrection with the original goal, namely to overthrow the government and establish a Communist Republic in Malaya. This second armed rebellion forced a second state of Emergency in Malaysia from 1968 to 1978.The policy issued by CPM in June 1968, clarified the stand of CPM, who wanted to continue a violent armed struggle. Among the strategies used by the CPM involved infiltration of their assault units to Peninsula Malaysia to regain control of their traditional strongholds and then induce rebellion.
This armed rebellion of CPM was initiated with a number of attacks on several targets aimed at the security forces. These attacks aimed to demonstrate the extent of seriousness of CPM towards their armed struggle. Among the attacks by the communist terrorists included an ambush on a convoy of security forces on 17 June 1968. In the attack, a convoy of the First Battalion, the Police Jungle Squad or Pasukan Polis Hutan (PPH) Ulu Kinta, Perak was ambushed near the border of Kroh (Perak) and Betong (Thailand). In the incident, three police vehicles were damaged, 16 Police Field Force personnel were killed and 17 others were injured.
Not only did the CPM intensified its military activities in the jungle, but it had also infiltrated the city and committed various acts of sabotage and destruction. Among the main targets of the communist terrorists was the 85-kilometer East-West Highway construction connecting Gerik, Perak and Pasir Puteh, Kelantan. The government lost millions of dollars when many construction machinery and equipment were blown up and destroyed.
On 26 August 1975, the capital city of Kuala Lumpur was caught by surprise with the bombing of the National Monument followed by an attack on the Police Field Force Camp at Jalan Pekeliling, Kuala Lumpur. The attack killed two and injured 41 PPH personnel.
The communist terrorists also became even more aggressive and violent by committing a series of killings against members of the security forces. Among the violent acts were the murders of officers and members of the Special Branch, the assassination of the nation's Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim on 6 June 1974 and the Chief of Perak Contingent Police Force, Tan Sri Khoo Chong Kong on 13 November 1975 in Ipoh, Perak.
The guerilla warfare triggered by CPM in 1968 dragged on for 21 years. However, the culmination to the uprising was stamped in 1989 when the CPM welcomed a peace call made by the Government of Thailand in collaboration with the Government of Malaysia. As a result of ongoing discussions carried out for almost a year, on 2 December 1989, a Peace Accord was signed between the CPM with the Government of Malaysia, and the CPM with the Thai government. Based on this agreement, CPM agreed to finally bring an end to their armed struggle, destroy their weapons and disband their forces. In addition, CPM also provided assurance to the Government of Malaysia and the Government of Thailand to respect the laws of both countries.
In the Peace Accord signing ceremony held at the Lee Gardens Hotel, Haadyai, Thailand, the CPM was represented by its Chairman, Abdullah C.D., Chin Peng and a central council member, Abdul Rashid Maidin. The Government of Malaysia was represented by the Secretary General of Home Affairs, Datuk Wan Sidek Wan Abdul Rahman; the Inspector-General of Police Force Tan Sri Mohd. Haniff Omar and the Commander of Armed Forces, General Tan Sri Hashim Mohd. Ali. The Thai government was represented by the Deputy Director of Domestic Operations, General Tan Sri Vhabalit Yongchaiyudh; Director of Domestic Security Operations for Region Four, Lieutenant General Yoodhana Yampundhu; the Director General of Royal Thai Police, Police General Saweang Therasawat and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr Anek Sithip Rasasana. The Peace Accord and Dissolution of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) became a symbol of success for the government and the security forces in containing the CPM insurgency.
Indeed, this success contributed to national stability, peace and prosperity. Therefore, the blessings of independence, peace and harmony enjoyed now deserve some appreciation. However, let us not forget and be complacent thinking that such threat no longer exists at the present or future times. "Failure to look ahead may trap us into a difficult situation". Such is a quote from the former Commander of Armed Forces, General Dato' Seri Md. Hashim Hussein on 23 July 1999 (quoted from the book Tentera Darat Menentang Insurgensi Komunis 1968-1989).