446. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy)1


  • Subversion in Singapore and the Federation of Malaya

Various reports have been received by the Department over the past months describing the state of subversion in Singapore and the Federation of Malaya. We have now received an excellent comprehensive analysis of the problem of subversion in Malaya written by Consul General Eric Kocher upon the recent completion of his tour of duty there.2 Because I believe a current statement of the situation will be of interest to you, and because we plan to use Kocher’s despatch as a basis for interdepartmental planning, your attention is invited to the following summary of his report:

The presence of subversion among the schools, political parties, and trade unions of Singapore and the Federation are well known, but there are significant variations of degree between the two areas. Although the infiltration of Chinese middle schools constitutes one of the greatest threats in each area, the Federation schools are still by and large under the control of non-Communist management committees in contrast to the rigid Communist control prevailing in the Singapore schools. Trade unions and the political arena constitute other spheres of danger in the Colony; in the Federation the threat to these sectors remains potential even if omnipresent.

The gravity of the threat to both areas should not necessarily be cause for despair and inaction. Because subversion in Singapore appears to have reached its most mature development, police power and coercion must always be ready to meet any threat to stability [Page 742] that may be posed; in contrast, the Federation, with subversion in schools, trade unions, and political life still in the early stages, can place primary reliance on remedial measures calculated to diminish the attraction of Communism. In both areas an over-all anti-subversion plan—more comprehensive than anything now apparently being considered by the British and elected Asian Governments—should be drawn up. If such a plan is made and the appropriate measures taken, the Federation—and perhaps Singapore as well—have a reasonable chance of emerging into self-government and subsequent independence on the side of the Free World.

  1. Source: Department of State, FE Files: Lot 56 D 679, Malaya. Confidential. Drafted by Rufus Z. Smith.
  2. Despatch 176 from Singapore, October 14, not printed. (Ibid., Central Files, 746F.00/10–1455) A note on the source text of this memorandum in an unidentified hand indicates that despatch 176 was sent to Murphy as an attachment to this memorandum.