1930: Formation of Communist Party of
1930s: CPM inspires labour unrest. In March
1937, miners declare “independence” and
take over the Batu Arang coal mine in Selangor
for 24 hours.
December 1941: World War II reaches Malaya.
The British accept the CPM’s offer to cooperate
to fight the Japanese invaders. The CPM
forms the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese
Aug 16, 1945: The Japanese surrender. In the
five weeks before the British resume control
of Malaya, the MPAJA emerges as the de facto
authority in the country.
December 1945: MPAJA is disbanded after
the CPM is directed by its secretary-general,
Lai Tek (who was also a double agent for the
British), to accept the return of British colonial
rule and adopt a moderate “open and legal”
struggle for its ideological goals.
Jan 6, 1946: The British give various CPM leaders,
including Chin Peng, medals for fighting
1945–1948: The CPM infiltrates some trade
unions and help organise strikes to demand
better pay and working conditions. The British
respond by tightening laws.
March 1947: Lai Tek absconds with several
million straits dollars of CPM funds. Chin
Peng, 26, is appointed CPM secretary-general.
March 1948: The CPM’s Fourth Plenum (meeting)
formally abandons Lai Tek’s “moderate
strategy” in favour of a “people’s revolutionary
June 16, 1948: Three European planters are
killed in Sungai Siput, Perak. A State of Emergency
is declared within nearby parts of Perak,
spreading to the whole country by June 23.
Emergency regulations include the mandatory
carrying of identity cards and the death penalty
for unlicensed possession of guns.
June–December 1948: Large scale CPM attacks
in Kulai (Johor), Jerantut (Pahang) and
Batu Arang fail to establish Mao Zedong-style
April 1949: Communist fi ghters retreat into
deep jungle camps for retraining. By year’s
end, there are increased guerrilla attacks
on rubber estates, tin mines, transportation
routes and government offi cials.
December 1949: A Scots Guards patrol shoots
dead 25 Chinese farmers in Batang Kali,
Selangor. It was hailed as “the biggest success”
of the Emergency but in later years was
described as a massacre of innocents.
Feb 23, 1950: Twenty-fi ve people die defending
the police station in Bukit Kepong, Johor,
against the communists.
March 22, 1950: Lt Gen Sir Harold Briggs
becomes the Director of Operations in Malaya. He formulates the Briggs Plan to (forcibly)
resettle 500,000 Chinese farmers into “new
villages” surrounded by barbed wire and
government soldiers to deny the communists
food and other support.
September 1950: As part of the government’s
anti-communist strategy to improve the socio-
economic status of rural people, the Rural
and Industrial Development Authority (Rida)
is set up. Later, it becomes Majlis Amanah
Rakyat, or Mara.
1951: Communist strength reaches over 7,000
fi ghters from about 2,300 fi ghters in 1948.
June 1951: Briggs launches Operation Starvation.
Movement of food throughout the country
is controlled to force the communists out
of the jungle to forage for food, thus allowing
them to be ambushed and killed.
Oct 6, 1951: British High Commissioner Sir Henry Gurney is ambushed and killed by the
communists while en route to Fraser’s Hill.
Feb 7, 1952: General Sir Gerald Templer
becomes the new High Commissioner and
Director of Operations. All intelligence and
spying operations are integrated into the
Special Branch of the police.
March–April 1952: A 22-hour curfew is imposed
on Tanjung Malim, Perak, after a communist
attack. Such collective punishments
induce people to inform on the communists.
1952: Discouraged by waning public support,
a result of the Briggs plan, the CPM
stops activities that may cause loss of life or
inconvenience to the public, such as attacks
May 1, 1952: The Government offers
$250,000 for the capture of Chin Peng.
September 1952: Citizenship given to all,
regardless of race, who are born in Malaya;
this removed one of the reasons for the war
waged by the CPM.
1953: The Briggs Plan and military attacks
bite. Chin Peng and his headquarters staff
retreat from the jungles near Bentong,
Pahang, via Cameron Highlands, to Betong in
1953: As part of Templer’s “winning hearts
and minds” strategy, local elections are held
for town and city councils. Areas free from
communists are declared “white areas” and
various restrictions there are lifted.
June 1954: Templer leaves. The tide has
turned against the communists. In the latter
half of the 1950s, the killing, capture and
betrayal of some communist leaders lead to
even more “white areas”.
July 31, 1955: The Alliance Party scores a
huge victory in the country’s fi rst federal
election and Tunku Abdul Rahman becomes
Chief Minister. Its manifesto includes granting
amnesty to the communists to reduce
the loss of lives.
Sept 1955: Chin Peng offers to negotiate
Dec 28-29, 1955: The talks in Baling, Kedah,
are deadlocked. Chin Peng asks that the
CPM be legalised and allowed to contest
elections but Tunku cannot agree and wants
the CPM to surrender.
Aug 31, 1957: Independence for Malaya – and
the communists lose one reason for their “war
of colonial liberation”.
Sept 9, 1957: Merdeka Amnesty announced.
Up to 500 communist fi ghters surrender in
the next 12 months.
July 31, 1960: The Malayan Government
declares the end of the State of Emergency.
1967-1989: Despite severe setbacks, Chin
Peng begins the “Communist Insurgency
War”, unoffi cially known as the second
Emergency, urged on by China’s Communist
Party and the growing success of communist
insurgencies in the region.
1969: Infi ghting among CPM members living
in Thailand lead to major splits.
June 7, 1974: Inspector-General of Police Tan
Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim is assassinated on
Chin Peng’s orders – a last gasp effort that
does nothing to help the CPM’s cause.
Dec 2, 1989: The Malaysian Government and
the CPM sign the Peace Accord in Hatyai,
Thailand, and the CPM lays down its arms.
Sources: ‘The Malayan Emergency Revisited:
1948–1960’ by Lt Col (R) Mohd Azzam and
History in the making
From letter to treaty
He left it too late
Inside the CPM hideout
At peace in their village
Red star over Malaya