Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 34 (2), pp 231-247 June 2003. Printed in the United Kingdom. ? 2003 The National University of Singapore DOI: S0022463403000225

The Terminology
Phillip Deery

of Terrorism:



Although Cold War propaganda is now the subject of close scholarly scrutiny, the main method by which itwas communicated - language - has been overlooked. TheMalayan Emergency illustrates how the British government grappled with the issue of political terminology within the broader context of anti-communist propaganda. This article will analyse the use of political language; the change from 'bandit' to communist terrorist'; and the problems of delineating the Malayan from the international audience. was a psychological war for the 'hearts and minds' of on and the used combatants both sides of the abroad, populations language by immense Those fighting on the front line of divide assumed ideological significance. attention to nomenclature Cold War propaganda devoted considerable believed to be the most appropriate, 'In political and ideological evocative or efficacious. struggles', Conor are not analytical tools. That has always Cruise O'Brien has observed, 'words weapons, at home
been so.'1

In so far as the Cold War

It is surprising, therefore, that the literature on the language of the Cold War is so numerous recent studies of America's None of the and offensives sparse. propaganda 'cultural cold war' against the Soviet Union, for example, has discussed the role of in the projection of Western values or the dissemination of anti political language Communist and spoken word.2 This omission repeats the propaganda through written pattern of earlier studies.3 Similarly, despite the Soviet claim that propaganda generally in particular and radio constituted 'the most of weapon important peacetime are of behind the 'Iron Curtain' absent.4 warfare', psychological analyses sociolinguistics
& International Studies, Victoria University,

in the Dept. is Associate Professor of Asian Phillip Deery contact Melbourne. His e-mail is phillip.deery@vu.edu.au. 1 Conor Cruise legitimacy,

'Terrorism under democratic The case of the IRA, in Terrorism, conditions: O'Brien, and power: The consequences ed. Martha Crenshaw CT: violence, (Middletown, of political Press, 1983), p. 93. Wesleyan University 2 Shawn The rhetorical presidency, and the Cold War, 1945-1955 J. Parry-Giles, propaganda, (Westport, CT: Praeger, ch. 4; Frances Stoner Saunders, Who paid the piper? The CIA and the cultural 2002), especially the Kremlin: America's Press, 2000); Gregory Mitrovich, Undermining strategy 1947-1956 war: Scott Lucas, Freedom's Press, 2000); (Ithaca: Cornell University the Soviet Union The American crusade against L. Press, (New York: New York University 1999); Walter the Curtain: 1945-1961 Hixson, culture, and the Cold War, (New York: St. Martin's Parting Propaganda, American Soviet lies and the Press, 1997); and Alvin A. Snyder, Warriors of disinformation: propaganda, to subvert Cold War (New York: New the Soviet Bloc,

winning of theCold War (New York:Arcade, 1995).
3 See, Harper words 4 for example, Thomas The word war: The story of American Sorenson, propaganda & Row, and Arthur Towards disarmament Larson, Propaganda: 1968); John Whitton Americas other voice: The story of Radio (New York: Oceania, 1964); and Sig Mickelson, Artemov, Information abused: Critical essays (Moscow: Progress Publishers, (New York: in the war of Free Europe p. 13. See

and Radio Liberty (New York: Praeger, 1983).
Vladimir 1981),

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and psychological (or operations insurgency It is almost entirely remains missing.5 'psyops') during the Vietnam War, this dimension in analyses of the Malayan this article is concerned, overlooked Emergency, with which or war of words'.6 In the most warfare 'the that have dealt with propaganda, psychological literature recent

in the vast

of US


the question of political language is during the Emergency, study of propaganda a rare analysis of the political uses of the one paragraph.7 in to Even than less relegated so limited and the the extrapolation the focus word is so narrow, 'terrorism', so 'the logomachy of that its tantalising title threadbare clothing historiographical terrorism' delivers less than it promises.8 The article therefore aims to fill a partial historiographical gap in studies of both the as a case I War the Emergency have chosen and the Cold Malayan Emergency generally. study since terminology

it clearly shows the British government grappling the broader context of anti-Communist within
Studies pt. in the East-West 1; Richard H. context, Schultz ed. David


this issue of political the propaganda.9 Whilst
and Maurice Active A. J. Tugwell measures in


A. Charters

and warfare and 1984); Brassey's, 3 (1987): 75-84. the Vietnam War, 1965-1973 Caroline (London: Page, U.S. official propaganda during is Jeffrey Race's Press, 1996). An exception study, semi-anthropological fascinating comes to Long An: Revolutionary of California in a Vietnamese War (Berkeley: University province conflict can be found in chs. 4-5. A very comprehensive Press, 1972), especially essay on US psyops bibliographic 1945-1960 research and psychological Communication Science warfare Simpson, Christopher of coercion. propaganda', Signal, 5 See, for example, Leicester University 42, Press, 1994), pp. : 123-32. (New York: Oxford University the title of Noel Barber, The war of the running dogs. How Malaya 6 This phrase was the chapter defeated but not semiotic warfare warfare Communist Collins, 1971), ch. 10. Psychological (London: guerrillas Greene is also discussed (London: Bodley Tracey, A variety of Sir Hugh of lives: A biography by Michael 1950-51. Other studies in Malaya, Services of Information Head, 1983), pp. 126-37; Greene was the Head a in retrospect: Organization include R. W. Komer, The Malayan counterinsurgency Emergency successful of The Malayan The CA: Rand Corp., section IX; Robert Jackson, 1972), Emergency. effort (Santa Monica, wars 1948-1966 Commonwealth's 109-18; Coates, John 1991), (London: pp. Suppressing Routledge, insurgency: An analysis of the Malayan Hearts and minds in guerrilla warfare: Press, Emergency The Malayan Stubbs, Westview, 1993), pp. 114-37; Richard 1948-1960 Oxford University (Singapore: Emergency success An intelligence in Malaya: story', in The 'Winning ed. Richard and special operations, intelligence, propaganda (Boulder:

1990), (London: Brassey's, Soviet (London: strategy

and Roy Godson, Beaumont, Roger

Dezinformatsia: 'Soviet psychological

180-4; Brian Stewart, 1989), pp. 155-64, in Asia, 1945-65: Western Cold War clandestine hearts

is Susan L. Carruthers, et al. (London: Frank Cass, 1999), pp. 267-83. The one notable exception counter 1944-1960 and colonial British the media and minds: governments, insurgency, Winning to the use of the term 'bandit' can be reference Leicester University Press, 1995), ch. 2. A passing (London: Its social and political in Malaya: in Lucian Communism found (Princeton: meaning Pye, Guerrilla Princeton Press, 1956), p. 88, n. 5. University in the Malayan and deed of word 'A matter 7 of confidence: Kumar Ramakrishna, Propaganda J.Aldrich of London, 1999), p. 152. Even (Ph.D. diss., Royal Holloway, University see Kumar from the published Ramakrishna, version; Emergency 1948-1958 hearts and minds The winning Curzon, 2002). (London: ofMalayan propaganda: uses of definition, and abuses On the political of terrorism: 'The logomachy 8 Victor T. LeVine, act (a of a terrorist Le Vine's forensic-like 45-59. dissection and Political Terrorism 7, 4 (1995): Violence, 'the lessons: broader of Islamic Jihad precludes member bus crash in July 1989) by a Palestinian deliberate needs no elaboration and definition transformative labels, characterisations, power of names including Emergency this fleeting 1958' June 1948-Dec. reference disappeared here' 9 Hack Asian (p. 49). There is now in his Studies, '"Iron 30, and and a vast claws literature on the Malayan The are referred to by Karl seminal studies The Emergency. of the Malayan Journal Emergency', of Southeast can be found in of the Emergency discussions Britain, of empire Malaya and 1941-1968 and Singapore (London: the making (Cambridge: of Malaya

on Malaya": 99-125. 1 (1999): decolonisation Timothy N.

historiography recent Noteworthy in Southeast Asia: end The

idem., Defence Curzon, 2001)


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framework of linguistic or communications located within any conceptual a as it is not only that it accepts language has a political function; starting point theory, a is of political interests itself determinant institutions and but determined by political to depict the shift in used the and behaviour.10 By charting language perceptions new some to throw historical Communist light on insurgents inMalaya, this article seeks the use of political language during the early years of the Emergency. The focus here is not the domestic reaction to such language from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or the - on in any case, but on its formulation record is silent which the documentary jungle article is not and dissemination One of by the British government. for coordinating anti-Communist the agencies responsible propaganda was activities inMalaya the Information Research Department (IRD), a top secret semi autonomous unit created within the British Foreign Office in early 1948.11 Until this time were Relations Offices still largely and Commonwealth the Foreign, Colonial autonomous for British propaganda within the colonies lay with and the responsibility 1948 From this changed and of the Colonial Office. Committee Policy itwas the key Soon the IRD became the directing arm of anti-Communist propaganda. the Information instrument commenced, in Britain's clandestine In June 1948, the Cold War. an IRD base was residence of ideological offensive almost immediately established against the Soviet Union during after the Malayan Emergency in the compound of Phoenix Park, the

in Southeast Asia, for the UK Singapore Malcolm MacDonald, and by August the following year itwas fully operational.12 in Phoenix Park worked under of the the IRD Office the umbrella Officially, as wrote IRD in the first Information Office; Head, Ralph Murray, January Regional 1949: the Commissioner-General As you know we consumption
Cambridge reference

[Singapore]...which and putting

are proposing will take

care of

to set up a Regional our material: the various




it through

it for local re-writing media such as the press,

a In none of these analyses is there more than at most Press, 1998). University fleeting to the terminology used by the British. numerous 10 Mueller, Politics examinations of the are, of course, pp. 18-24. There of communication, uses of from the classic 'Politics and the English Orwell, essay by George political language ranging in The collected essays, journalism In front of your nose 1945-1950IV, and letters of George Orwell. language', to Philip M. Brace & World, ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (New York: Harcourt, 1968), pp. 127-40; history Press, of propaganda 1995), pp. the ancient from 1-16. Neither of these world deals to with era the present the Cold War

A Taylor, Munitions of the mind: Manchester (Manchester: University period. 11 Paul United IRD was London 1941-1991 and early 12 Public Lashmar


s secret propaganda war: The Britain and James Oliver, Foreign Office and the Cold War, one year its American IRD predated the Sutton, (London: 1998), ch. 4. The counterpart, by which funded At its peak in the early 1970s, the States Information the 'Voice of America'. Agency, a massive and with at River-walk on the South 400 staff based House in Bank operation, employing an annual in excess of ?1,000,000. Free hand: The unseen war See Brian Crozier, budget worked for the IRD throughout the 1960s Collins, (New York: Harper 1993), p. 104; Crozier 1970s.

Records Office, Kew, London in (henceforth PRO), FO 1110/143,'Anti-Communist propaganda Far East; opening in Singapore', 10 Dec. of information bureau 1948; PRO, FO 1110/277, report: 'Progress to 31st July, 1949', para. Information Research 1st January 19. According to Foreign Office Department this Singapore and widely-circulated office produced 'effective and Records historians, output'; Library and Commonwealth and establishment Office, Department, Foreign Origins of the Foreign Office Information Research Department, 1946-48 (London: HMSO, 1995), p. 15.

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etc. The






to the

project, which

has become
of at

even more
least most

necessary now that the Communists
of China.13

look like

the masters

Part of its brief was

to collect

and psychological propaganda numerous It also published included Communist The expansion East Asia}5

and disseminate canti-Communist material and such warfare items as have bearing on the Communist effort5.14 to and booklets of relevance these pamphlets Malaya;

principles and tactics in South-Last Asia, The danger and where it lies, East Asian empire and Communist propaganda Russia's attacks in South of

were run by the Secret Intelligence IRD operations Service (MI6), Unofficially, the station chief in Singapore. It was funded from the Oldfield, specifically Maurice 'Secret Vote', the same mechanism through which MI6 received its budget and which both bodies placed beyond parliamentary scrutiny. The links were personified by the second head of the IRD, John Rennie, who became head of MI6.16 InMalaya the IRD also with both the CIA, which had a relatively sizeable presence in Singapore, and the local MI5 office, Security Intelligence Far East (SIFE), but the latter was small and 'not much involved in the day-to-day of [Malayan] Emergency'.17 The importance collaborated was the broader context of intelligence activities propaganda within as on the indicated of the British Cabinet Committee stressed, position always by Colonial Information that 'we the in Office work Policy regard Foreign publicity foreign countries as very important in the "cold war"'.18 'Publicity work' was a euphemism for the arm of psyops. propaganda The IRD used both 'black' propaganda strategically placed lies and false rumours and 'grey' propaganda, whereby deliberately information was slanted, non-attributable
13 National of the Department of State, RG 59, 841.20246 Archives Records DC), General (Washington, sent by US Embassy, toWashington. Extract from letter, 6 Jan. 1949, from R. Murray, D/1-1049, Singapore, to thanks Prados for this John reference.) (My see also PRO, FO 1110/210, 14 PRO, FO 1110/277, 'Methods used in anti-Communist 'Progress Report'; propaganda reference elaborate. 15 PRO, FO to in foreign countries' (n.d.). Coates, p. insurgency, Suppressing 'the Psychological Warfare Section' of the Emergency Information It seems certain this section was the jointly-run MI6/IRD operation. 1110/277, confidential of Malaya'. to A. 8, 342 31 Dec. 1948. See also Paul Lashmar, in glory', New S. Halford, 'Covert Statesman and over whether 14. There is some debate the relationship between the two (3 Mar. 1995): was marked or rivalry. Jonathan Bloch and Patrick Fitzgerald, British by warmth intelligence East and Europe action: Africa, Middle since 1945 (Dingle, Ireland: Brandon, 1984) argue for 126, makes Services a but tantalising does not

covert anti-Communist

See Index

1110/1166, Federation

to the correspondence HMSO, 1980), p. 447; of the Foreign Office for the year 1950 (London: 'List of articles between and July 1949', Annexe FO 'c'; PRO, despatched April C. G. Costley-White, 15 Jan.1958, in the 'Use of IRD material correspondence,

16 ForMI6 involvement with the IRD see PRO, FO 110/184, correspondence fromMI6 officer (identity
withheld) Society,

organisations and covert

closeness Fourth Estate, 2000) (London: Stephen Dorril, MI6: Fifty years of special operations (p. 91), while that MI6 the IRD as 'amateurs' (p. 488). regarded alleges 17 The CIA connection in Dorril, MI6, in Richard is mentioned The J.Aldrich, p. 711. SIFE is discussed secret and Cold War 507. The hidden hand: Britain, America John (London: 2001), p. Murray, intelligence was Director of SIFE was who Hack contends influential because of his Jack Morton, primarily to high officials and commanders in Singapore; Karl Hack, 'British intelligence and counter accessibility insurgency in the era of decolonisation: 'Cabinet services The example of Malaya', Intelligence Policy the colonies', and national security, 14, 2 150, n. 47. (1999): 18 PRO, CAB 130/37, of publicity expansion

Committee in Commonwealth

on Colonial countries

Information and

Three-year C.I. 49(66),

plan for the 15 July 1949.

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to influential and disseminated elites at home and abroad. The 'correct' success was to crucial the of such propaganda and the IRD worked political phraseology hard to ensure that its propagandists and broadcasters, speechwriters, journalists most in used the effective words and their articles and politicians phrases speeches. From the very outset of the Cold War, therefore, the Information Research Department produced was a Its recently declassified files provide language. at its genesis: words and phrases fascinating picture of the lexicography of the Cold War even intimate, are here to which the post-war became accustomed, generation being preoccupied with political

and decided upon. use of particular words or phrases to convey a meaning 'The persistent is an ... it in In the for battle world any organised publicity. step present elementary opinion is essential that we should recourse to this technique.'19 The expression 'communazi', which foreshadowed the widely used 'Red Fascism', was floated but not endorsed. In was over 'Red' because the latter 'imperialism', the adjective 'Russian' describing preferred had 'favourable the phrase to describe


associations' and could 'cause confusion with Socialist Parties'. The use of 'Soviet fear-belt' to describe Eastern Europe, and the revival of the term 'Czar' at this stage in late 1948, there was not a Stalin was recommended. However,


'Czar' tie[s] up quite well with the line of harping on 'barbaric'... but this sort ofthing may well become ludicrous if overdone ... I think there ismuch to be said for simple words like tyranny and tyrant, which people really understand. I am a little hesitant about too much Czar stuff, since the differences are so easy to point out, and then the
whole 'barbaric' always use case seems etc. These them to fall down ...make .... I have the not dealt bosses with madder 'backward', than any 'out-of-date', others. Let us phrases ....20 Soviet

'Kremlin', which people's minds'

that was adopted and thus entered the vocabulary of the Cold War was was 'the most useful single word for general audiences in order to fix in - a the character of Russian communism. Thus, 'Kremlin Imperialism' 'graphic and sinister term' was strongly endorsed.21 Such naming of the enemy was not, of course, confined to the role of the Soviet A term real or perceived,
'Memorandum on Labour

19 PR

in Europe.
the use


in publicity






704/G, Communist propaganda, Manchester). who worked The Healey, Communism', 20 PRO, FO Russia'. Other

Communists', International Labour History Party Department, The link between the British Labour Party and the IRD was personified by Denis Healey, for the first (in the International and collaborated with the second. See Denis Department) time of my life (London: M. Joseph, and world 1989), pp. 106-7, and idem., 'The Cominform International 1110/191, Affairs, emphasis issues 24, 3 (1948): FO added; are discussed 16 Dec. 339-49. 1110/2297, in memos 'Standard words for use 26 Nov. from R. Murray, and A. Watson, in propaganda about 1948; R. Fraser, 4 Sept. 1948. See also the series

of words


(Box: Anti and Archive Centre,

terminology and C. Mayhew, 1948; A. Watson of internal memos in late December broadcasts and by Boris commenting


summarising 21 PR 704/G, and

at the BBC; see PRO, FO 110/16.
'Memorandum and more Soviet compunction Germany Review,

31 Dec. 1948; J. Cloake to the criticisms 1948 relating of the language made used in the BBC's establish In January the Voice Of America. 1949 a memo Shub, who helped on his criticisms was prepared for but finally not sent to Sir Ian Jacob on the use of words'. and Thomas image of In the US, in contrast, 'red' was used with less G. Paterson, 'Red fascism: The merger of Nazi American Historical totalitarianism, 1930s-1950s',

freely; Les K. Adler Russia in the American 1046-64.

75, 4 (1970):

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communism in the Far East. With the onset of the Emergency, the IRD acquired a large measure of the responsibility for how the colonial insurgents - the Malayan Communist in this battle for should be labelled and depicted.22 The word chosen, Party (MCP) was was a new not 'bandit'. This Chinese Communists, political authority, appellation: 'bandits' by the Japanese during World War Two, by the Kai Shek's regime in Taiwan after 1949. According and had been used in both inter-war Palestine and was also used, more in the 1960s: 'In post-war Greece. This terminology surprisingly, in Malaya, which there is aggression similar to that which occurred Vietnam is being fomented by the Vietcong who are also Communist bandits'.23 In all instances the aim was to deny the legitimacy of the opponent. The term had been called before Kuomintang to Tim Jones, itwas 1949 and Chiang 'normal practice' if it sticks, can isolate is an epithet which invokes negative reactions and which, are or penetrate. to the guerrillas from the population influence trying they In the highly in which of the early Cold War, international atmosphere charged was regarded as both iniquitous and ubiquitous, the vocabulary communism employed InMalaya it became a critical part of counterinsurgency became all the more important. than a question of The act of labelling an opponent was, after all, more operations. 'bandit' and detach semantics; communist Chinese would informed a profoundly political could be stripped, insurgents and their nationalistic diminished, it was of the process. The political motivations the their widespread from support Malayan credentials maligned. The aura of patriotism In late 1948 the Colonial Office for example,


replaced by the stigma of illegitimacy. that the Defence Department that the criminal elements
to as 'bandits'. On no account

It has been decided
should be referred


in acts of violence
the term 'insurgents',


might suggest a genuine popular uprising, be used. I should be grateful bring this to the notice of your dept.24 The Colonial Office thus showed a keen awareness of how

if you could

language shaped meaning of politically motivated violence. The MCP was to public perceptions as a legitimate political movement and drawing operating within an as but instead isolated band of anti-colonialist from broader sentiments, inspiration was not altogether O. H. Yet the Colonial Office and criminals. disingenuous. thugs the present 'outrage' was Morris, one of its top officials, genuinely could not tell whether 'the work of gang robbers, or of gangsters employed by political groups'.25 In fact, the Malayan Races' Liberation Army (MRLA), the military wing of the MCP, movement was a guerrilla force. Itwas similar to, for example, the Communist in China and, consequently, not be projected in the Philippines the Huks 1928-45, during in Indochina from 1941. Although Vietminh from 1946 to the mid-1950s have readily and the the historians discerned

22 PRO, FO 953/1637, Top Secret, 'Thework of the Regional Information Office at Singapore' (1949). 23 National Archives of Australia (ACT) [henceforth NAA], A4940/1, C3380, 'Nuclear weapons for
Australian and No. 241. Tim 15 May 1962, Decision Jones, Postwar forces', Cabinet Minute counterinsurgency term A special Frank Cass, the SASy 1945-1952: 2001), (London: p. 82. The Hindu type of warfare to the insurgents in Burma in 1946-7. to an organised 'dacoits', referring gang of robbers, was applied to K. Blackburne, 12 Nov. inMalaya, Minute, 24 PRO, CO 534/4762, of bandits J.D. Higham 'Designation was to political classified this document attached 1948. Indicative of the importance 'Top terminology, Secret' 25 and was CO to be 'circulated PRO, 717/172/52849/9/1948, in original). (emphasis by hand at all stages to A. Creech O. H. Morris Jones, Minute, 21 June 1948.

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strategies of guerrilla in these rural-based rebellions and insurgents have often identified themselves as guerrillas, itwas rarely a term used by authorities at the time. Guerrillas are proud to be called guerrillas, but to call them 'bandits' is to link them with criminality. A is not a bandit; as Eric Hobsbawm points out, 'banditry has next to no ... [It] or to modern is and social movements organization totally inadaptable ideology, ... [and] is was in every way and is inefficient of effective incapable guerrilla organization'.26 This obviously was not the case with the MRLA. - a one - for employing There was a further reason this vocabulary, non-ideological an 'Anti-Bandit Campaign' for calling the British counterinsurgency and, indeed, for labelling what was in essence a colonial war an 'emergency'. It was not, as Frank Furedi guerrilla reason was economic: the alleges, merely for 'public relations' purposes.27 The overriding on were cover estates terms London for insurance whose Malayan dependent companies in an only covered losses of stocks and equipment through 'riot and civil commotion' were a terms in state of war, described that implied emergency. If the conflict inMalaya
or actions committed by 'rebels', 'insurgents' or worse an 'enemy', then the insurance

Attlee event, a cash-strapped companies repudiate policies. administration that had barely survived the 'dollar gap crisis' of 1947 would be obliged to bear the burden. As one British MP stated: 'If that international insurance ceased, it would have a very bad effect on the commercial interests of this country inMalaya.'28 The could their In this semantic dissembling. for a mixture Such dissembling of political and pecuniary created three purposes sets of problems. The first and least important problem - except to those British soldiers - was 'bandits' on the ground raised in early 1949 by military in authorities fighting as to feared that whilst the be classified ccontinue[d] Malaya. They insurgency nothing more than an outbreak of banditry', the awarding of campaign medals would be alternative as 'the "enemy"'. The that the MRLA be designated 'prejudiced', and they recommended Joint Intelligence Committee rejected this recommendation.29 The second problem concerned the disjunction between and actual description circumstance. Until 1950, the Colonial Office did not see the MCP as a significant threat and 'bandit' rather than 'insurgent', of other considerations, seemed a irrespective
Primitive rebels. Studies in archaic forms in the 19th and 20th of social movement Manchester see, for Press, (Manchester: 1963), pp. 5, 26. On Asian movements University Benedict The Huk rebellion. A study of peasant revolt in the Philippines J. Kerkvliet, example, (Berkeley: of California rebellion and Communist revolution in Asia, ed. John W. Press, 1977) and Peasant University Lewis (Stanford, Stanford University of the original Press, 1974). For the semantics Spanish word gu?rillero see Coates, this attention to etymology, Coates elsewhere and p. 355, n. 32. Despite Suppressing insurgency, within the space of two pages the terms 'bandits', 'terrorists' (pp. 148-9) uses interchangeably 'guerrillas', and 'insurgents'. J. Hobsbawm, centuries a of colonial space: The political management Journal 'Creating breathing emergencies', 94. Furedi, and Commonwealth is one of the few writers to 21, 2 (1993): however, History, even if in psychological the role of language and the differences warfare between the recognise, fleetingly, and Foreign Offices Colonial the more to the forced when appropriate euphemisms regarding referring see his Colonial wars of Chinese and the politics nationalism repatriation Malayans; of Third World LB. Tauris, (London: 1994), pp. 218-19. 27 Frank Furedi, of Imperial of Commons), vol. 473, 6 Apr. debates of the 1950, col. 1380. For an overview (House see PRO, FO 371/84478, R. H. Scott, 'Brief for the Minister of State for 3rd meeting of the 18 May and Barber, War of the running dogs, p.10. Committee, 1950', FZ1017/11G; Malaya 29 PRO, CO 534/4762, Minute 3,4 Jan. 1949; No reason was given, presumably JIC (48), 112th meeting, was then consistent the JIC decision because with government policy. Parliamentary insurance issue, 28 26 Eric

to this was

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In a memorandum written suitable description. just three weeks before the Emergency was declared, a senior Colonial Office official, did not believe that 'any Williams, J. in Malaya'. He argued that 'a real threat to Malayan internal serious trouble is brewing to arise unless the Communists succeed in gaining control of security seems unlikely even this potential 'immediate threat is the but that then, China', slight'. Notwithstanding assessment of the the Williams' international dimension, exemplified downgrading a to 1948-9. According Colonial Office article, conflict by the Colonial Office throughout ... [whose] violence were 'a small and mostly is alien minority the Malayan Communists extortion and murder'.30 This inability of amost morbid kind consisting of intimidation, or unwillingness to take seriously the communist the threat caused frustration within IRD for with the IRD in The officer liaison the Office and responsible particular. Foreign Colonial Office, John Cloake, recalled: 'One exercise I do remember was trying to wake inMalaya, but the Colonial Office up, who were aware that there were some communists ... on was that'.31 at that time it hard to get them to concentrate contrasted with the reality. In 1949, the MRLA killed 229 members The vocabulary leaders had been captured, of the security forces and 344 civilians. None of its military 1950 (which sought to mobilise Malays of March the 'Anti-Bandit Month' against the was a had and British failure Chinese MCP) operations counterinsurgency mainly an and their lack of external various internal their stalled.32 Despite assistance, problems, were slide into armed struggle, the MCP able, by insurgents ill-prepared and half-cocked sections of the Chinese rural from non-Kuomintang residual support a to As the US to which from conduct base operations. guerrilla develop population, British at 1948: with 'In the of the end State noted of up Malaya, ruefully acting Secretary to 50,000 troops under arms have been able to eliminate only about 500 guerrillas, this drawing of an eight months campaign'.33 The inability to 'eliminate' the guerrilla force deeply troubled sections of the Attlee Emanuel In March 1950 the Secretary of State for Defence, administration. Shinwell, was in he how 'very disturbed' informed his Prime Minister by the 'grave' situation chaired by In May 1950 the newly established Cabinet Malaya Committee, Malaya. time ... a rapid recrudescence of Shinwell, was told to expect 'for a very considerable and of prematurely terrorist activity' and of 'the danger of relaxing security precautions was informed that the 1950 the Defence Committee troops'. In October withdrawing situation inMalaya should be viewed with 'grave anxiety'.34 Indeed, anxiety became more and assassinated British High later after the insurgents ambushed intense twelve months a which had the highest in month October Sir Henry Gurney Commissioner 1951, security


in the course




1949. That



saw 504 killed

along with
in Malaya


to be adopted 'Attitude PRO, CO 537/6089, 'Use of Dec. 1949. See also PRO, FO 1110/1166, comment 31 86. 32 PRO, CO Lovett CAB 104/263, to US Minutes of Malaya (Moscow), 1A, Shinwell Malaya

in publicity IRD material

and China',

in the Federation influence and Oliver, 1950.

is in PRO, CO 537/3755, Memorandum,'Communist 10 Dec. Interview with 1997, cited in Lashmar J.Cloake, Committee, 30 Dec. to Atlee, Committee, 1950 1948.

of Malaya', n.d.; Williams' 28 May 1948. in Malaya, secret propaganda war, p.


14 Apr.

33 Foreign Relations of the United States [henceforth FRUS], 761.00/12-1748,
of State 34 PRO, Embassy no. 21/2510, 27 March which 1950 met

1948(6), p. 615, Acting Sec.
Shinwell successfully 1950. PRO, CAB


pushed 92,

for the creation situation

of a Cabinet in Malaya',



21/1681, MAL C (50) 23, Appendix, para. 28, 24May 1950 ('recrudescence'). PRO, CAB 21/1682, DO (50)
'Present 24 Oct. ('grave anxiety').

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after the end of the Emergency was therefore quite civilians. An internal report written accurate when it stated that 'there is no doubt that in the first two years of its activities [the MRLA] was a very real threat to the security and economic recovery of Malaya after
the war'.35

Confronted particularly seriousness

by inescapable Office the Colonial

evidence viewed




the Malayan

threat', Whitehall with much Emergency


and more

than previously. had impeded this process and, Euphemistic terminology to As situation the the itself. second of the top contributed meeting worsening arguably, was informed, the IRD Regional level Malaya Committee Information Officer inMalaya has been in his work by the ban on describing the real consistently hampered nature MCP the and its solidarity with and of international organisation communism. This ban ... has had the effect of preventing public opinion both inside and outside Malaya from obtaining a clear picture of the seriousness of the MCP threat, and this may account for the deterioration
recent MCP successes.36

of public confidence

as a result of


Critical opinions now articulated.

is an extremely high degree of political training and organisation and to refer to them as bandits is to misunderstand the whole problem which they present.'37 His colleague R. H. Scott was concerned that when calling the MRLA 'ruffians', 'it seems to be forgotten that this is only a propaganda convention'. Significantly, he pointed to the of this confusing policy: 'If anti-bandit implications policies are based even to a slight on are the belief that terrorists and ruffians, they cannot be [the MCP] degree only to expected produce lasting results.'38 James Griffiths, who made a Similarly, the new Secretary of State for the Colonies, ministerial visit toMalaya inMay 1950 with the Secretary of State forWar, wrote: as 'war' but
not take

largely nonsense ruffians" ...There

about the veracity and efficacy of painting insurgents as bandits A. E. Franklin from the Foreign Office declared, 'it seems to me as "bandits, pure and simple, amotley band of to refer to the Guerrillas

Before I left for Malaya
as 'the emergency', and

I had been advised not to refer to the operations
to the Malayan Liberation Army as 'bandits'.

It did

John [Strachey] and me trained, highly disciplined More

long to find out that the so-called and skilfully led force.39

bandits were

a well


Lieutenant-General Sir Operations, tellingly, the new Director of Anti-Bandit a on soon in 17 held conference after his press Briggs, Singapore April 1950, arrival. Instead of 'bandits' he spoke of 'Communists'; instead of 'the emergency' he referred to a 'War Cabinet'. This last phrase, especially, according to a Cabinet official, was 35 NAA A452/2, 1968/4248, 'Review of the Emergency inMalaya from June 1948 to August 1957 by the
Malaya are from statistics (Secret), p. 7. Casualty Department a The emergency. With events chronology of important of 2nd meeting A. E. Franklin of of Information, Lumpur: (Kuala

Director Communist

of Operations,

in Malaya. banditry of Public Relations, 1951). Dept. 36 PRO, FO 371/84478, Minutes 37 PRO, 371/84478, Minute, 7 May 1950. Committee, FO 371/84478, R. H. FO

24 Apr. 1950. the Malaya Committee, to Malaya of 3rd meeting minutes Committee, for Malaya 1969), Committee p. 97. 28 Apr.



Malaya 38 PRO, 39



'Top Secret', J.M.



James Griffiths, Pages from memory (London: Dent,

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'unfortunate as it dignifies the status of the terrorists into belligerents, a kind of civil war in Malaya'. In particularly remarks, revealing continued that Briggs' identification of the insurgents as communists

or at least implies the same official

runs counter to our hitherto accepted publicity line about the campaign inMalaya. Perhaps in the past we have leaned too far the other way, in describing the terrorists as thugs and blood stained ruffians and so forth. The truth is that there is a hard core of disciplined
wartime anxious

activities the Communist


a long record of activity
for aspect, policy general as so by doing we

we apt are

have not that


resistance to stress

... but



to create

in South East Asia will help the Communists.40 the criticism that greeted Briggs' comments in London - 'he would be well Despite for some time to come'41 advised to avoid publicity his and other Foreign Office assessments from those Griffiths and the IRD Regional Information Franklin, (including to Whitehall re-examine its The between Officer) obliged policy. propaganda gulf image fear of communism which was modified and reality was too wide. Accordingly, nomenclature and inMay 1952 the in and inaccurate, misleading 'bandit', was abandoned counterproductive designation, favour of'Communist Terrorist' or, simply, 'CT'. third problem concerned the depiction of the MPLA vis-?-vis international Once again, the problem would its source, semantic be resolved when was dealt with. As we have seen, officially the insurgents were dissembling, simply a of and blood isolated band stained 'bandits', ruffians', and there were small, 'thugs at least for local them in this light 'sound domestic reasons' for portraying a communist to the from prevent consumption insurgents pulling specifically, The communism. 'bandwagon' to reconcile onto which Malayan Chinese might believe it 'wise to climb'.42 An attempt over the differences between the Colonial Office and Foreign Office was a more with undertaken but it than paper, 'publicity policy' jointly prepared exposed that each embodied: smoothed the contradictory positions opinion it is desirable to represent the struggle inMalaya as Party, and not as operations by being directed against the Malayan Communist Government against mere banditry. In Malaya, however, publicity should avoid or emphasising the role which the Malayan international communism, writing-up For the sake of world
Communist Party is playing in a world-wide movement.43

This reconciled
40 that 41 PRO,

contradiction with


a conundrum. of Malayan



the official

the portrayal


at the behest

be appellation of the Kremlin,

FO 371/84478,

'however, Ibid.; see


18 Apr. Memo in Malaya', by R. H. Scott, 'Publicity not worth while has been done and it is perhaps the damage Cabinet minutes of 1st meeting, also PRO, CAB 104/263, remarks about Briggs' press conference. critical

on to observe 1950; Scott went to take him up on this point'. Malaya Committee, p. 5 for

42 PRO, FO 371/84478, Minutes of 2nd meeting 371/84478, Brief by Scott, 28 Apr. 1950.
43 PRO, CO 537/6089, sharp focus by the Attlee shows: movement Communist inMalaya 'The Chinese in Malaya, Government... and the relations 'Attitude to be adopted

of the Malaya Committee,

24 Apr. 1950; PRO, FO

was into in publicity'. The contradictory policy brought as of the this of document China, People's Republic government's recognition must Government be distinguished from the Communist terrorist Communist and it should not be It is desirable of His Majesty's that the latter receives any aid from the Chinese suggested to keep separate the issues of Communist subversive activities to the Communist of China.' Government Government

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on a Southeast Asian battleground? had Such a conundrum 'would for British of American level the for support Washington policy: implications or as fighting a dirty perceive London as waging a valiant struggle against communism to hang on to sterling balances and the remants of colonial colonial war designed the Cold War the Emergency support could only be ensured by portraying pretensions?'44 American not as an outgrowth of indigenous banditry but as integral to the Cold War machinations - a communism of international point seen starkly by a senior IRD official: It seems to us very dangerous to pretend that the troubles inMalaya are not caused but only by a kind of local banditry. As we saw in the case of by Communism were for long anxious to describe the the Greek Government Greece, where ... as in States the United Communists international bandits, public opinion only is inclined to take the line that when wholesale military operations are required to suppress mere internal unrest, it is in some way due to bad government. This is especially so in a colony; and instead of receiving sympathy and support from American public opinion in our praiseworthy struggle to combat the well-known we shall merely be regarded as a bad colonial international Communist menace,
power coping with rebellions.45

posed by the Cold War was the advanced for both the origins of the insurgency and the British explanation predominant to it. It is defeat important to establish this since it differed so sharply from the campaign for operations within Malaya. That itwas a counterinsurgency 'publicity policy' adopted not correct - interpretation is evident in held retrospect, necessarily though, genuinely and it was expressed: classified reports, secret memoranda from the sources in which The external threat of international communism An official 'Secret' and written report, marked by meetings. H. R. in Lieutenant summarised General Director of Operations Bowen, Malaya, main elements of this view: closed committee The Malayan Communist Party campaign is part of a wider Soviet-inspired drive to obtain control of what is strategically and economically one of the most important
areas of South-East Asia ... In June 1948, on the instructions of the Cominform

the the

issued at two conferences
campaign and develop of murder, into armed sabotage

in Calcutta

four months

earlier, the MCP
to paralyse

started a


the Government


MCP initiation of Soviet inspiration, Cold War expansionism, - were as instructions echoed in the conduit for Cominform and, significantly, Calcutta Both the Colonial Office and the Cabinet various forms by the Attlee administration. for regarding the Malayan Committee 'substantial the Malaya emphasised grounds outbreak as stimulated by Moscow' and the existence of a 'Communist plot' to overthrow These assertions
Hidden hand, p. 513. to O. H. Morris, 1 Dec. 1949; Watson PRO, FO 371/76005, correspondence, 'Top Secret', J.H. Watson were was Britain's inWashington. Lessons for the Malayan liaison officer learnt and psywar experience as in War Britain its involvement the Civil Great in earlier Greek well (as Burma); applied through by Aldrich, 45 93-6. and the SAS, pp. 88-90, Jones, Postwar counterinsurgency was made 46 NAA A452/2,1968/4248, inMalaya', 'Review of the Emergency available p. 3. This document to the Australian Prime Minister's in July 1967 for a meeting Department by the British High Commission in the South Pacific. and security defence arrangements concerning 44


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the Malayan government by armed force.47 A lengthy and detailed article prepared for Cabinet by the Permanent Under-Secretary of State warned of dangers that 'will affect the whole of Asia' from 'a Communist South-East Fifth Column, security powerful was within'. The Soviet from role stressed the Russia Committee: 'the Soviet corroding by was at to centre be the of Soviet activity in the whole Legation Bangkok clearly designed en route for the Far of South East Asia and Soviet couriers passing through Singapore East or Australia were a constant source of danger'.48 The link between the inaugural conference of the Cominform, which postulated the 'two camp' thesis,49 the Calcutta meetings, and 'the marked increase in Communist afterwards', was also articulated by the South activity in South-East Asia immediately and by the Chiefs of Staff Committee.50 A to the Cabinet Defence Committee by the in a wider Minister of Defence and the Secretary of State forWar located the Emergency is a vital step context, arguing that strong armed action 'against the guerrilla inMalaya in the "cold war" against communism in the Far East. The Malayan is not campaign in relation to the Far East theatre as awhole.'51 The Chief isolated and must be considered East Asia Department of the Foreign Office submitted 'Top Secret' joint memorandum context to Intelligence Officer inMalaya, Major Harry Fisher, stretched the geographical a in Kuala Lumpur, William include Europe. In private conversation with the US Consul one phase of a war which that the terrorist campaign 'was merely Blue, he suggested 47 PRO, CO 537/2638; PRO, PREM 8/1406/2, MAL C(50) 12. It should be noted, however, that in regard
to China's persuade Chinese role, the the Colonial Foreign Office Office that sharply disagreed the aim of the Chinese with the Colonial Office: 'We endeavoured to the this Communist to persuade Party was probably Office remained unconvinced of

to support The Colonial in Malaya the M.C.P. community as late as Feb. this year [1950], believing that the M.C.P. was not an important to support if; PRO, FO 371/84478, Brief, 'Top Secret', R. H. Scott to Minister 1950. However, as Colonial considerably Secretary complicated Griffiths matters; noted, PRO, the Attlee CAB

1950 January 1950. Apr. 48 PRO, Column'

government's 134/497, Minutes

force for the C.C.P. enough 28 Apr. of State, FZ1017/8, of China in recognition of Malaya Committee, 19

14 Oct. 1948 ('Top Secret'). FO 1110/33, Minutes Russia The 'Fifth of Meeting, Committee, in South-East is in PRO, CAB 'The United Asia and the Far East', 27 remark 129/37/1, Kingdom Lt. General 1949. Similarly that 'the roots lie outside Oct. believed [of the uprising] may well Briggs statement 20 Apr. 1950. Briggs in Russia in particular'; 104/263, PRO, CAB by Sir Harold Malaya, Briggs, was in Malaya inMarch in Kuala Lumpur 'Director of anti-Bandit 1950; he arrived Operations' appointed on 49 3 April. to the inaugural to Andrei of This referred Zhdanov's distributed conference keynote speech widely in September in Szklarska 1947. The most Poland famous thesis of his the Cominform, held Poremba, a peace-loving, into 'two camps': camp led by the Soviet report was that the world was divided progressive discussion of States. For an illuminating and a war-mongering, Union, camp led by the United imperialist of the Cominform, the beginnings Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev 16 Nov. see Vladislav (Cambridge, Zubok MA: and Constantine Harvard University Pleshakov, Press, Inside 1996), the Kremlin's ch. 4.

50 PRO, CAB 21/1682, COS (50) 468, 'Anappreciation of themilitary and political situation inMalaya,
PR 2887/11/913, of 'Outline is from PRO, FO 1110/189, the 'marked increase' quotation 1949. For comprehensive discussions of the 1948 Calcutta 15 Aug. in South-East Asia, strategy see Ruth T. McVey, Asian The Calcutta and the Southeast conferences (Ithaca, NY: uprisings Conference R. Stenson, The 1948 Communist revolt inMalaya: Cornell Modern Indonesia 1958) and Michael Project, 1950; Communist A on historical sources and interpretation Asian It Institute of Southeast Studies, 1971). (Singapore: some historians in fact two Calcutta conferences. to be appreciated, which do not, that there were Union of Federation of Democratic Youth and the International The first, organised by the World an MCP the second, the Congress of the Indian attended Students (19-25 Feb.), was by delegate; was not. Communist (28 Feb.-6 March), Party note needs

51 PRO, CAB 21/1682, DO
Defence Committee).

(50) 92, 'Present situation inMalaya', 24 Oct. 1950 (Top Secret brief for

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in Europe over the Berlin situation. Similarly, the Chief Secretary to the US Consul whom he briefed, Newboult, according a the 'rather held that Moscow is belief in East now the expressed widely making push in Europe'.52 The Secretary of State for the that she seemed to be stopped temporarily Colonies, Arthur Creech Jones, was another who subscribed to this belief: once the path of Malaya, Sir Alexander of the Communists was blocked

soon break out

in Europe', he wrote, 'there would be a very concerted effort in the East'. Thus, British success inMalaya was regarded as 'avital step in the "Cold in the Far East'.53 War" against communism We can see, then, that the broader framework of the Cold War was critical to and that of, and response to, the Malayan contemporaries' understanding Emergency, was how the government to wished audiences outside Malaya perceive the struggle. As was an important indicated to whom audience earlier, the Truman Administration its Cold War keen to demonstrate credentials. the persistent Despite of Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, however, the United States was initially to be drawn into the region. Until the outbreak of the Korean War in June unwilling back from commitment 1950, the US State Department any significant stepped or military to those parts of the Southeast Asian region whether political, economic it regarded as British and French spheres of influence.54 The British capacity to which the Americans, and others, of the importance of its frontline role against persuade - in in Communist the to Far East convince the world that Malaya short, expansionism - was was a Cold War theatre the to mere undercut by insurgency being relegated was not as cocooned the IRD in liaison officer 'banditry'. Propaganda by geography: are out Adam in read all around Watson, wrote, 'communiqu?s put Washington, Malaya the world and may do considerable harm'.55 Shinwell the inherent highlighted 'our policy that the contradiction, [is] to emphasise though this was not his intention: troubles were due to bandits, rather than to any Communist this Malayan rising; being for the Malayan so, it was illogical to try to ascribe to Russia responsibility troubles'.56 This self-imposed conundrum remained unresolved until terminology was changed. A captured MCP document was a crucial catalyst for this change. The document, London exhortations
52 National and Records Archives W. Blue to D. Administration, RG59, 846E.00/10-2448, Washington, 24 Oct. 1948 (conversation with 23 June 1948, 'Enclosure Acheson, Memorandum, Fisher); Confidential 1 to Despatch No. 10 dated No. with Newboult). June 28, 1948' (conversation 53 PRO, PREM 8/1406, Part 2, DO(50)92, Memorandum of Defence from Minister and Secretary of State 24 Oct. are in PRO, CO 717/172/52849/9/1948, for War, 1950. Creech no. 15,22 June 1948. Jones' remarks 54 FRUS, 890.00/9-1349, of discussions of Far Eastern affairs in preparation 1949(7), pp. 1204-8,'Report for conversations [Southeast Asia] obvious reluctance 18 Oct. its interest Richie with can 13 Sept. 1949. The Foreign Office believed that 'the full development of Bevin', about with United States assistance, but at present there is an only be brought on the part of the Americans to risk a further loss after their experience in China'; PRO, Mr. Ovendale freedom was administration it was 'wary' because to peace, its lack of imperialistic ambition, and progress'. He also refers to American at this 'naivety and selfishness' the United and the Cold War in South-East States, Asia, 1949-1950', suggests unconvinced that the American its devotion of to his 'vitally for the


CAB 129/37/1, CP (49)207,Memorandum, E. Bevin, 'TheUnited Kingdom in Southeast Asia and the Far
East', and time; 1949. Richie in Asian 'conscious that much of Asia was

'Britain, a reference 58, 3 (1982): 447, 462-3. On Bevin's see, for example, Affairs, urgings with US State of in which was the former that Acheson, meeting Secretary emphasised Malaya for South East Asia'; PRO, FO 371/84478, 'Brief for the important Parliamentary Under-Secretary 10th Meeting of the Malaya 16 Oct. 1950. Committee', International 55 56 PRO, PRO, FO 371/76005, CAB 104/263, correspondence, 'Press conference to O. H. Morris, 'Top Secret', J.H. Watson Sir Harold given by Lt.-Gen Briggs'. 1Dec. 1949.


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translated Malaya

as 'Present day situation


Strachey, who of what had long been document provided tangible confirmation and not amere insurrection forces were 'faced by [a] Communist a means was towards a political end: tactical Indeed, banditry only was nothing less than the seizure of the full power of the State words, British insurgency problem. Shinwell perceptions altered; a local, albeit of the intentions serious, of the MCP disturbance

and duties', was extensively discussed by the Cabinet to Secretary of State for War 1950. According J. throughout May a to it of sufficient the deemed compose response, importance five-page suspected: the security outbreak of banditry'. 'the enemy's objective in Malaya'.57 In other

the character of its a major Cold War had become and

a step further, into the realm of policy assessment carried Strachey's now come our into has 'As this evidence hands, he [Shinwell] suggested that we making: and refer should publish the fact that the troubles inMalaya were Communist-inspired, to our opponents rather than bandits.' The British government's there as "Communists" domestic perceptions, and international constituted combined with less concerns reputation, the rationale behind this recommendation: about American

in itself unfortunate, since itmight be represented to the United Kingdom to have to use such large forces as we were in fact employing against a 'handful of bandits'. The captured document gave us ... the chance of label to them ...We must think of the attaching the Communist in general, where a in this country and in the world effect on public opinion
considerable number of people tended to criticise our actions in Malaya.58

The use of the word as very discreditable

'bandits' was

it was - Britain's and seen for what the Malayan Emergency was described then certain benefits would flow. Counterinsurgency Asian Cold War operations would resources the and non-military and the immense military be regarded more positively, more was the be into could the justified government campaign sinking easily. Moreover, Once tension between confronted obviating propaganda It was used ('bandits', 'ruffians' and 'thugs') and the threat the vocabulary and almost wholly political revolt'59) would be eliminated, ('a well organised for Malaya directives and the the propaganda between the inconsistency line for the external world. then, that the surprising,

'publicity policy', as it was termed, was merely An version of the 1949 paper, 'Attitude to be adopted updated adjusted, in Malaya the and China', was circulated in publicity toward Communism throughout MRLA of the in motivations the Whitehall. relevant departments Although ideological not overhauled. could now be officially

with Communism connections and its international recognised to incur So continued stuck. label the the 'bandit' government explicitly acknowledged, use of the term the that the Minister its 'Does for agree terminology: opprobrium of a comic opera show, and is not applicable to an enemy is rather reminiscent on of High Commissioner Sir Henry the assassination scale?'60 this Certainly organised 57 PRO, PREM 8/1406/2, MAL C (50) 12, Note by J. Strachey, 12 May 1950. Malaya Committee discussions are in PRO, CAB 21/1681; CAB 104/263, CAB 134/497, DO (50) 42, 1 June 1950. "bandits"
58 PRO, CAB 104/263, 'Summary of Malayan Communist Party publication'. reply to Col. of is a matter

59 PRO, PREM 8/1406/2, Note by J.Strachey.
60 Parliamentary Gomme-Duncan opinion.' debates (House from A. Crawley, See PRO, FO 371/84482, of Commons), vol. the Under-Secretary FZ10110/30G 10 May 1950, col. 369. The 475, 'That of State for Air, was cryptic: of the paper. for the circulation

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to earlier, would illusion about the have shattered any lingering no to in the relevant of There be record the appears perpetrators. apolitical complexion of and Foreign Office files for 1951 of further discussion declassified Cabinet, Colonial an this issue.61 Thus for the protracted use, then sudden discarding, of the explanation to assume, however, 'bandit' remains elusive. It seems plausible obviously inappropriate to abandon this epithet was triggered by the arrival of the highly that the decision alluded authoritative

Sir Gerald Templer, in February British High 1952. Commissioner, ... one to situation 'immediate of the contemporary grasp report, Templer's According a to restore to It which had fallen low ebb'. would be quickly began public confidence, consistent with what is known of Templer's character and modus operandi that he discerned how the inconsistently promptly applied propaganda policy contributed this 'low ebb' and, armed with new wide-ranging powers, recommended change.62 The other catalyst for the change in terminology may have been the capture known as the October 1951 Directives Singapore's Special Branch of MCP documents early 1952. One to

by in

of the crucial directives, in the War', 'Struggle for Greater Victories as to movement the the world Communist and forecast a painted insurgency integral a of British economic crisis. This, patently, was not weakening imperialism by capitalist the posturing of 'bandits'. Indeed, it has been argued that the Directives echoed geo the Communist of China (CCP) political changes across Southeast Asia whereby Party was its authority. Although Karl Hack concludes that a central strand of the asserting intention to increase 'political work and subversion', October Directives was the MCP's reflected 'the need to prepare for the long haul, if not the influence of the CCP notes that the evidence on whether he the Foreign Office or Colonial Office saw the line', as a product of the CCP line and international Directives is 'mixed' and developments


between MCP and policy change inWhitehall. What is clear, and ironic, as Susan Carruthers points out, is that at the very time that the terminology was changed from 'bandit' to 'terrorist' in May had in fact relinquished terrorist 1952, the MCP as arson such train and 'activities would assassinations, derailments, ambushes; activity now concentrate on sabotage of hard targets, subversion, infiltration of trade unions and so on'.64Whatever May 1952: was the final precipitating factor, the new policy was enunciated on 20

It is thus extremely in the jungle operations


to establish

a link -

if one



the minutes of the Joint Information and Propaganda which met times Committee, thirty-eight see PRO, FO 1110/499. to the change are silent on this question; of policy, In line with prevailing as 'a gang of armed bandits'; assassins were still described PRO, FO 371/93118, policy, however, Gurney's of condolence the assassination of British High Commissioner inMalaya, Sir Henry 'Expression following of the Malayan National Liberation 1951'. Gurney, by members Army, prior



62 The quotation is from PRO, FO 371/116939, 'Brief for SirAnthony Eden's visit to the Far East: The Emergency inMalaya' (1955). Studies of Templer include John Cloake, Templer: Tiger of Malaya (London:
1985) Harrap, M?ller, 1975). 63 Karl Hack, and Anthony 'British Short, The Communist insurrection inMalaya 1948-1960 (London: Frederick

Intelligence Malaya', p. 134. Regarding revolutionary 64 Carruthers,

intelligence and National the CCP

and Security,

perspective, Winning

influence, 1951', Journal of Southeast hearts and minds, p. 85.

in the era of decolonisation: The example of counter-insurgency on ismentioned 137, 144; the 'Struggle' directive 14, 2 (1999): Hack cites Ralph B. Smith, and Southeast Asia: The 'China Asian Studies, 19, 1 (1988): 97-110.

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that a single designation should be adopted to be employed in all official references to [the guerrilla] forces. It is accordingly proposed in future that the term 'Communist terrorist' will be the general designation for all members context of these organisations [MRLA and Min Yuen], and in the particular 'Communist Terrorist Army' for the words 'Malayan Races Liberation Army', for the 'Min Yuen. The designation 'Communist Terrorist Organisation 'bandit' will in future in official reports and Press releases emanating from the

It has for some time been considered

not be used

two objectives. The hybrid term 'Communist terrorist' accomplished 'Terrorist', like as A. J. to MCP the while 'bandit', sought 'Communist', deny political legitimacy use term in 'located the the Cold War'.66 The of the Stockwell noted, emergency firmly the MCP. Terrorists' lack of legitimacy 'terrorist' was, of course, intended to demonise the political their incapacity to effect change. Due to the disparity between means are to at resort of their violence and the their forced to aspirations disposal, they so out actions MLNA of the of the 'terrorists' weakness, operate clandestinely, sabotage, - were the tactics of the weak against the strong. From a position intimidation, murder resources was economical: is cheap, of weakness, their use of available insurgency more was accurate and appropriate costly. In this sense, 'terrorism' counterinsurgency before Palestinian plane hijackings, Irish Republican than 'banditry'. Even in the 1950s or assassinations before Italian Red '9/11', which (and Brigade certainly bombings was one a flood of inconsistent -'terrorist' of the most unleashed etymological analyses) stems from in the words misleading one not is there elusive; remarked that although common denominator, narco-terrorism This article has accepted definitions were and are English language. Universally a terrorisms. of Walter but terrorism, Laqueur recently variety the search for definitions will continue, 'any attempt to find a a formula as suitable for Irish 19th century terrorism as for bin Laden, is bound of to fail'.67

the Malayan historiography is of terminology. Such neglect now is of the subject propaganda it was communicated words has been overlooked. The Cold War was, to a large extent, a battle for moral superiority, and in this battle words replaced bullets. The article has revealed the importance attached at the time to choosing the 'right' words and the consequences, during the early years of the Malayan
65 PRO, CO Communist

or al Qaeda and Osama to the crowded contributed on the aspect neglected Emergency by focusing of a larger historical lacuna. Cold War symptomatic close scholarly scrutiny but the main means by which in Columbia


of choosing

the 'wrong' words.
the Minister 15/17/52.


slippery nature

of political
of the 'masses

Memorandum 1022/48, Committee forces', Executive

Paper No.

for Defence, 'Official designation Yuen refers to the underground Min

organisation which provided the link between the rural population and themilitary wing (MRLA). The
Min 66 The 80. 67 Walter recent, Middle Laqueur, 'We can't attempts define "terrorism", to define the word but we can fight 15 July 2002. For it',Wall Street Journal, see V. Keeley, to define terrorism', 'Trying Yuen consisted the masses Anthony origins for intelligence, direction of and branch of a district political organisation responsible to sustain and the and obtaining money insurgency. supplies in Malaya"? '"Awidespread and long-concocted J. Stockwell, government plot to overthrow 79 and Commonwealth of the Malayan 21, 3 (1993): Journal of Imperial History, Emergency',

contrasting East Policy,


Science Monitor, on Middle Report

Christian 'Terrorism's 33-40; Michael J. Jordan, definition, 9,1 (March 2002): slippery 4 Feb. 2002; John V. Whitbeck, The Washington '"Terrorism": The word itself is dangerous', 'Word play', New Republic, East Affairs, 226, 21,2 (March 2002): 52-3; and Peter Beinart,

15 (22Apr. 2002): 6.

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official in 1948. 'The dividing line between the language was implied by one Whitehall terrorist and the fighter for freedom', he wrote, 'is not always so clear in the minds of the outside world or the people of the terrorists' own country as it seems to us.'68 But the - the sanctimonious - had British themselves 'us' blurred that line by transforming, ten years, the MCP from a heroic resistance movement within inWorld War Two to a warfare terrorist organisation. Semiotic gang of bandits to an insidious Communist are viewed and therefore creates a perceptual prism through which combatants or ideological to conflict and applies especially judged. This applies to either military as are those campaigns, such the Malayan Emergency, that both. troublesome





T Lloyd to F. Gimson and A. Newboult, 537/3758, correspondence, the overused that 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom aphorism

23 August fighter'.



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