450. Memorandum From the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant for Intelligence (Armstrong) to the Secretary of State 1

SUBJECT

  • NIE 64–56: The Political Outlook in Malaya Through 19602

On January 24, 1956, the Intelligence Advisory Committee approved an estimate of the political outlook in Malaya through 1960. The principal conclusions of this estimate were:

1.
Progress toward self-government is complicated in Singapore by a serious Communist problem within the dominant Chinese community and in the Federation both by Communist activities including guerrilla warfare and by the divergent interests of the Chinese and Malays.
2.
The British apparently intend to provide increasing autonomy to both the Federation and Singapore, hoping thereby to prevent the capture of the nationalist movement by the Communists, and to preserve the important UK and Commonwealth economic and strategic interests in Malaya. If these interests are seriously threatened by extremist forces, the UK will make every effort to preserve its position.
3.
In the Federation, for at least the next year or two, the prospects appear good for continued rule by the moderate multi-racial Alliance Party. Although Communist armed strength has recently declined, the Communists are now emphasizing peaceful penetration and it is likely that overall Communist influence will gradually increase. Assuming a continuation of moderate responsible domestic leadership and no substantial Communist expansion in Southeast Asia, the Federation probably will be granted some form of independence within the Commonwealth by 1960.
4.
In Singapore, where the new Labour Front government of Chief Minister Marshall is attempting to steer an orderly path towards independence, the Communist subversive threat has become serious. The Communists and associated extremist elements will almost certainly make further gains and harass any moderate government as they expand their mass base of Communist-influenced student, labor and political organizations. Although Marshall may resign or be forced out of office at any time, non-Communist elements probably will continue to control the Singapore government for the next year or two. Even if the political position of the moderate forces were strengthened, the British probably would not consider the situation sufficiently stable to grant independence by 1960. Moreover if present trends continue, extremist elements will increase significantly and will eventually attempt to take over the local government by political maneuvers or violent action.

This estimate will not be released to any foreign government.

[Page 761]

A similar memorandum has been addressed to the Under Secretary.

PA
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.97/2–756. Secret.
  2. Dated January 24, not printed. (Ibid., INRNIE Files)