443. Letter From the Director of the Office of Philippine and Southeast Asian Affairs (Young) to the Consul General in Singapore (Berry)1

Dear Dick: The situation in Singapore has certainly been deteriorating fast. We hope this is temporary but it does not look so from your reports and despatches.2 They certainly highlight the wisdom and accuracy of your predictions last March during that evening I spent with you and your colleagues.3

I have read Anderson’s despatches with great interest (570 and 5744). They are excellent. On this basis we are submitting a memorandum to Mr. Robertson requesting urgent consideration of what the United States might do in this situation before it gets totally out of hand.5 … The difficulty seems to us primarily diplomatic so far as we are concerned. How should we approach the British and can we? They are so extremely sensitive and on the other hand they seem to be numb. The loss of Malaya of course would have a profound effect directly or indirectly on Indonesia [and?] the Philippines as well as the rest of Southeast Asia, although this may be a long way off. I feel the time has come if not already over due to try to prepare for this contingency. I believe that higher levels in Washington are realizing the gravity of the situation and its serious implications.

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The appointment of Sir Robert Scott has just been announced.6 This will help our diplomatic problem immensely I am sure, as you will no doubt agree. He is well known to the Secretary and the Department, and held in high respect. His appointment is one bright note.

I do hope you are feeling better and that you will take good care of yourself. If you do feel at all under the weather, please let me know.

With warm regards,


Kenneth T. Young, Jr.
  1. Source: Department of State, SEA Files: Lot 58 D 207, Malayan Correspondence (1955). Secret; Official–Informal.
  2. The most recent report was a letter to Young, June 10, in which Consul William O. Anderson described Communist penetration of labor unions and schools in Singapore, and the failure of British colonial officials to counter it. He calculated that if Singapore was to be preserved from Communist control, “we haven’t much time to play with.” (Ibid.)
  3. Not further identified.
  4. Despatch 570 from Singapore, May 25, reported on the prospects for success of the Labour Front government of Chief Minister David Marshall in the face of the disruption of the colony by Communist agitators. (Department of State, Central Files, 746F.00/5–2555) In despatch 574 from Singapore, May 27, Anderson analyzed the riots which had taken place in the colony on May 12 and 13 and concluded that Singapore “cannot be considered firmly in the Free World camp.” (Ibid., 746F.00/5–2755)
  5. In a memorandum to Walter S. Robertson, June 16, Young recommended that the United States urge both the Marshall government to curb civil disorder in Singapore and the United Kingdom to set a firm date for the independence of Malaya. In conjunction with the proposed announcement to establish a date for independence, Young recommended that an intensive anti-Communist indoctrination program should be launched in Singapore and Malaya. In a handwritten note at the end of the memorandum, Young added that he felt that the situation was urgent. Robertson indicated that he concurred in the necessity for immediate discussions within the Department to develop a position on the problem. (Ibid.)
  6. Sir Robert Scott was appointed Commissioner-General for the United Kingdom in Southeast Asia. His headquarters were in Singapore.
  7. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.