328. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Greater Malaysia


  • Dato Ong Yoke Lim, Ambassador of the Federation of Malaya
  • The President
  • Mr. Duke, Chief of Protocol
  • Mr. Bell, Director, Office of Southwest Pacific Affairs
[Page 709]

The President inquired as to the relations between Malaya and Singapore and as to the communal problem in Malaya. The Ambassador replied that in recent years there had been no racial trouble in Malaya and he believed things were proceeding satisfactorily in this respect.

The Ambassador then recounted recent steps looking toward the formation of a greater Malaysia. He said that a recent commission which had investigated attitudes in Sarawak and North Borneo had concluded that 80 percent of the people favored joining the Federation of Malaya to form a confederation of greater Malaysia. [2 line of source text not declassified] The Ambassador went on to explain that the major problem was the Communist element in Singapore. He said representatives of the Singapore left wing were arriving tomorrow in New York to present their case to the Committee of 17. Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, is already in New York and has presented the Government’s case to the Afro-Asian group on the Committee. According to the Ambassador (United States information confirms), Lee Kuan Yew was well received and made a good case. Ambassador Ong said that they had no worries about the position of the Western powers on the Committee. With regard to the Communist opposition in Singapore, the Ambassador said that they did not oppose greater Malaysia in principle, but were fighting the only method by which it could be brought about according to the views of his Government.

The President inquired as to the degree of Communist influence in Singapore. The Ambassador said Singapore was about 80 percent Chinese and that the Communists exercised a good deal of influence through lies and deceit.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Malaya and Singapore, 11/61–11/62. Confidential. Drafted by Bell and approved in the White House on August 2. The time of the meeting is taken from the President’s Appointment Book. (Ibid.) Ambassador Dato Ong Yoke Lim was presenting his credentials to the President. A separate memorandum of this conversation records discussion of the problem of the falling price of tin due to congressional discussion of sale of the U.S. tin stockpile that was equal to three times the annual world production. Kennedy replied he was aware of the problem, and that it was U.S. policy to avoid a substantial depression of tin prices. The President asked Bell to study the matter. (Ibid., National Security Files, Countries Series, Malaya and Singapore, 11/61–11/62)