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Communist Uprising in Malaysia

After World War II, Malaysia began a new federalization program which included laws that stated that non-Malays could only qualify as citizens if they had lived in the country for 15 of the past 25 years and had to prove proficiency in either Malay or English. The new laws did not sit well with Malaysia's significant Chinese minority, as the new laws would have essentially made them second-class citizens. They then began to turn to the Malaysian Communist Party who began establish guerrilla cells in the jungles of the Malay Peninsula and beginning in 1948, they began sporadic attacks, mainly bombings against rubber estates and elsewhere. The following campaign of terror came to be known as "The Emergency." The British, who were the colonial holders of Malaysia at the time, tried to put down the insurrection by military means. Another means the British attempted, called the Briggs Plan (1950) which proved to be wildly unpopular, included forcibly moving ethnic rural Chinese into tightly controlled government villages. The terrorists began to increase their campaign in 1951, destroying rubber trees, intimidating plantation workers, and assassinated the British high commissioner. The British finally began to have some success against the uprising when they began to address the political and economic grievances of the Chinese minority, isolating the rebels as extremists. The British began to negotiate with various political and ethnic leaders, promising independence from the British Empire. Once the Malay Federation became an independent state in 1957 the terrorist movement began to subside, and many terrorists surrendered following government offers of amnesty. While there was continued limited resistance, The Emergency was declared to be over in 1960.

The Emergency prompted the Malaysian government to adopt the Internal Security Act to defeat the remnants of the communist opposition. Unlike the temporary emergency procedures enacted by the British government in response to the insurrection, the ISA was passed into law and still exists today. It has received harsh criticism for its violation of human rights standards.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:28:38 ZULU