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From the beginning of the Emergency until the appointment of Lieut. Gen. Sir Harold Briggs as Director of Operations propaganda and Emergency information generally had been one of the responsibilities of the Department of Public Relations. The arrival of General Briggs led to a decision to intensify both the psychological warfare campaign against the Communists and the use of propaganda for raising the morale of the public and inducing them to help the authorities with information. At the beginning of May 1950 Mr. Alex Josey was seconded from the Department of Broadcasting to the post of Staff Officer (Emergency Information). Later in the Summer HM Government were asked to provide an officer with experience of propaganda in war conditions and the BBC, at the request of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, agreed to second me for one year to the Federation of Malaya.
II. First Impressions
It was clear from a preliminary study that changes were needed both in the organisation of the propaganda machine and in the character of the output. Reliance had been placed to a great extent on leaflets and the possibilities of the direct spoken word, broadcasting and of films had for various reasons been comparatively neglected. Little use had been made in propaganda of surrendered bandits or of the detailed intelligence about the terrorists and their organisation available to the Police. There was too much general exhortation and not enough local detail, too much dwelling on bandit acts of terror (which was only calculated to help the other side) and not enough on the points where the enemy was weak. The physical problem of distribution, of getting the printed propaganda material both into the jungle and into the hands of the general public in the rural areas had not really been tackled. Communist leaflets and posters were a more common sight in the countryside than Government leaflets and posters in spite of the millions which were printed. Interrogation of bandits who surrendered in the Summer and Autumn of 1950 showed that very few of them had ever seen any Government propaganda material.
Mr. Alex Josey, working on his own and without even a secretary, had already before I arrived, done something to remedy some of the deficiencies mentioned above. It was clear however, that the propaganda machine could not continue to function as a "one man band". The title, Staff Officer (Emergency Information) seemed to be seriously misleading and on my suggestion it was changed to Head, Emergency Information Services. The Head, Emergency Information Services was empowered to direct and coordinate all propaganda media on behalf of the Director of Operations. The headquarters establishment quickly agreed to by the Director of Operations and the Federation Government was made up as follows:-
Head, Emergency Information Services, with Secretary
Deputy Head, Emergency Information Services, with Secretary
Press Officer, Emergency Information Services, with Secretary
For the Deputy post Mr. Eliot Watrous was seconded by the BBC at the end of December 1950 and Mr. S Brooke-Wavell arrived from the UK, at the same time to fill the post of Press Officer. The post of Chinese Assistant was filled by Mr. C C Too who was recruited in February 1951.
Since March 1951 Lam Swee, formerly Political Commissar of the 4th Regiment of the MRLA, who surrendered in 1950, has been working with Emergency Information Services. In September 1951 his detention order was recommended for suspension.
In March, 1951, Emergency Information Services moved into a new building which had been specially built for them in Bluff Road on a site conveniently near to Police Headquarters.
It was recognised that, in order to be effective and speedy, the bulk of propaganda output would have to be devised at State and District level. It was agreed that each State and Settlement should have its own Emergency Information Officer with a fulltime Chinese Assistant. Ideally the State/Settlement Emergency Information Officers should also have been fulltime officers – they would have had more than enough to do. But the demand for the right type of officers for all kinds of Emergency work generally made this impossible in practice. As time went on it became clear that in most States and Settlements the most logical and suitable officer to take charge of Emergency Information work was the Chinese Affairs officer. For this happy cooperation with the Department of Chinese Affairs it is impossible to express too much gratitude to the Secretary for Chinese Affairs, Mr. Bingham.
At the time of writing the SEIO posts are filled as follows:-
Johore – Mr. R G K Thompson, with Chinese Assistant
Malacca – Mr. J C Litton
Negri Sembilan – Mr. A W Lacey with Chinese Assistant (Mr. Lacey is about to be succeeded by Mr. Fournier D'Albo, who will be a fulltime member of the EIS.)
Pahang – Dr. G E D Lewis (assisted in spoken word propaganda by the Chinese Affairs Officer – Mr. MH Morgan) with Malay Assistant.
Perak – Capt. J D Matthewson.
Penang – Mr. T M Ainsworth
Kedah – Mr. M J Watts, with Chinese Assistant
Selanger – Mr. H R Howse (fulltime member of EIS) with Chinese Assistant
In August the post of Secretarial Assistant to SEIOs was approved by the Standing Committee on Finance. Such posts already existed in Negri Sembilan and Perak.
Also in August approval was given to the provision of SEP as special assistants to SEIOs in States and Settlements where suitable men can be found. In September Lee Chieu was chosen as SEP assistant to SEIO Selanger, Wong Ah Kee in Kedah and Ho Kei in Johore (temporarily stationed in Malacca). Their detention orders were recommended for suspension.
In Perlis, Kelantan and Trengganu which are only affected to a minor extent by the Emergency, the British Adviser and/or the Chief Police Officer keep an eye on local propaganda requirements. For a time there was a District Emergency Information Officer for Ulu Kelantan stationed in Gua Musang. This work is now done by the ADO, with the help of a Chinese Assistant who is a part time employee of Emergency Information Services.
The other Chinese Assistant posts are still vacant, a generous salary and extensive advertising having failed to produce enough suitable candidates. For a time there was a Chinese Assistant in Pahang, but he had to be dismissed and has not yet been replaced.
IV. The Propaganda Objectives
Reduced to its simplest terms the task of Emergency Information Services was, and is:-
1. To raise the morale of the civil population and to encourage confidence in Government and resistance to the Communists with a view to increasing the flow of information reaching the Police.
2. To attack the morale of members of the MRLA, the Min Yuen and their supporters and to drive a wedge between the leaders and the rank and file with a view to encouraging defection and undermining the determination of the Communists to continue the struggle.
3. To create an awareness of the values of the democratic way of life which is threatened by International Communism.
The fundamental problem has been, and is, how best to achieve these ends in a country where the majority of the population is illiterate, where four main languages are spoken and where the enemy (or rather the enemy armed units) is in the deep jungle.
The first two objectives described above are not distinct and often overlap. Methods used to achieve one end will, if effective, generally contribute to the other. Experience has shown that the two strongest propaganda weapons in our hands have been:-
1. Surrendered bandits.
V. The Use of Surrendered Bandits
Probably the most serious propaganda deficiency in the first two years and more of the Emergency was the failure to make adequate use of surrendered bandits. In any ideological war it is the convert and the deviationist who will have the most effect on both on his former comrades and on those who have been influenced to any degree by the ideology in question. This showed itself to some extent during the German war – but still more plainly since International Communism became the enemy. Wherever the free world has been engaged in any form of psychological warfare against Communism it is the convert and the deviationist who have been recognised in the Communist world as the most dangerous enemies, because these people understand the Communist mentality and methods as no-one else can. Malaya is no exception to this rule.
The use of surrendered bandits for propaganda purposes has considerably simplified the whole vexed question of surrender terms. For Government to announce that surrendered bandits will not in any circumstances be prosecuted would amount to an amnesty – and the psychological moment for an amnesty will not come until Government is so clearly on top that the public announcement of an amnesty might hasten the end by leading to mass desertions. At the same time surrender terms hedged in by reservations would probably repel rather than attract. The policy since the formation of Emergency Information Services has therefore been to let surrendered bandits through the written and spoken word explain what has happened to them in Government hands and what their comrades can therefore expect to happen to them if they surrender. There has been a strict avoidance of Government promises. SEIOs have been instructed that there must not be promises even by implication.
The most effective forms of surrender propaganda have been:
Intensive surrender propaganda of this type combined with attacks on the MCP leadership and the exploitation of grievances known to exist among the rank and file has had its effect. The following are comparative surrender figures for the last eight months of 1950 and the first eight months of 1951.
It is not claimed that propaganda alone is responsible for surrender. The task of propaganda is to persuade a man that he can safely do what he already secretly wants to do because of disillusionment, grievances or hatred of life in the jungle and to play on these feelings. The figures in themselves are not perhaps very striking. The encouraging thing, as noted, for instance, in a recent Johore Police report, is that practically every bandit who has surrendered in the last few months has been directly or indirectly influenced by propaganda (the opposite used to be the case). This would seem to indicate that the physical problem of getting Government propaganda into the hands of the MRLA and the Min Yuen has to some extent been solved and that the cumulative effect may one day be very great.
The strongest card in this branch of propaganda has been Lam Swee, the former Political Commissar of the 4th Regiment of the MRLA in Johore. He was guilty of insubordination before his surrender and the constant references to him in captured documents show that he is regarded as a very dangerous deviationist by the enemy. He has been sentenced to death by the MCP.
Apart from their effectiveness as a psychological warfare weapon against the enemy, surrendered bandits have also proved our best helpers in turning the population against the Communists and encouraging the flow of information. Being of the same race and having the same background as the people they address they can understand their mentality better than anyone else can. Their success is attested by captured documents with their frequent complaints of Min Yuen work being made more difficult as a result of the propaganda activities of such "traitors and running dogs".
The use of surrendered bandits for propaganda purposes and the surrender campaign generally would have been nullified if it had been decided, as at one time appeared likely, to proceed with the immediate prosecution of SEP with "blood on their hands". Fortunately the decision was taken that no SEP should be prosecuted at present.
In the conditions which existed, and still exist, in many parts of the country the only human emotion which can be expected to be stronger than fear among a terrorised population with very little civic consciousness is greed. It was with this idea in mind that I asked for and obtained approval towards the end of last year for big increases in the scale of rewards offered for information leading to the capture or killing of terrorists. The rewards ranged from $60,000 for the Secretary General of the Malayan Communist Party down to $2,000 for the rank and file. Surrendered bandits were made eligible for half this scale of rewards. Later rewards were also offered for the recovery of arms and ammunition and a 30% increase was introduced for the bringing in of terrorists alive. It is generally agreed that rewards have played their part in stimulating the flow of information and, though to a minor extent in causing surrenders.
VII. Methods and Machinery
Leaflets remain and, owing to local conditions, always must remain the main psychological warfare weapon against the bandits in the jungle. As stated above Government propaganda is now by a combination of all possible distribution methods penetrating the jungle to a fairly satisfactory extent. The most effective leaflets in securing surrenders and affecting bandit morale have been:
(a) Statements by know leaders, e.g. Lam Swee and Tan Guat. Only Lam Swee has had an echo throughout the Federation; others on State or more often District level.
(b) Letters written by groups of surrendered bandits or by individual SEP about their experiences since surrender, distributed in the areas where the units to which they belong are operating. Such leaflets have been most effective when illustrated by photographs. Photographs of groups of SEP, particularly when including individuals who surrendered at different times since the beginning of the Emergency, have been more effective than single photographs. This last type of leaflet counters the propaganda line into which the enemy has been driven that even if bandits who surrender are treated well at first they will be killed off when no longer useful to Government.
(c) Photographs of killed bandits with their names and units. These have a news as well as a shock value. Some surrendered bandits have stated that such leaflets arouse a desire for revenge. But the balance of evidence is that once the worm is in the apple they have more of a weakening than a strengthening effect on morale. SEIOs have been instructed to use this type of leaflet with discretion and not in areas where bandit morale is still high, except when it is desirable to exploit the "news value" of an important leader being killed.
(d) Leaflets addresses to individual bandit units including intelligence material about the behaviour of leaders, etc., and playing on existing strains and stresses. Such leaflets are given a strictly local distribution.
(e) Local "newspapers" aimed at giving members of the MRLA and Min Yuen on a State or District level news of surrenders and killings, as well as spicy items about the morale of their leaders, etc. Such "newspapers" have been produced periodically in Johore, Negri Sembilan and Selanger.
The first number of a monthly newspaper edited by Lam Swee and CC Too under the title of "The New Path News" was produced at the end of Auguust 1951. 50,000 copies were printed. The paper describes its aims as follows: "This paper is the people's paper: it expresses what the people desire to express, and welcomes any criticism from the people, together with any questions they like to ask." Reactions to the first number were very favourable.
Leaflets also continue to be used for reward announcements, to explain Government measures and to encourage public cooperation with Government and resistance to the bandits. There is no doubt however that for the largely illiterate public in the rural areas word of mouth propaganda can achieve more than leaflets.
The Department of Information (formerly known as Public Relations) has continued to act as the organisation which arranges for the printing and despatch of leaflets and this has been done most efficiently.
The method of distribution in the States and Settlements has been reviewed and in most cases considerably revised. The principle is now to send small numbers of leaflets for further distribution to several hundred different recipients in each State/Settlement rather than as previously, very large numbers of leaflets to a small number of recipients who seldom had time to deal with them properly and too often used them as scrap paper. This has meant considerably more work for the Department of Information despatch section but it has been very willingly tackled.
2. Word of Mouth Propaganda
This calls for considerably more organisation and takes more time than the production of leaflets. It is probably in this important field that Government Propaganda has suffered most through the unavoidable absence of fulltime State/Settlement Emergency Information Officers. All the same it has proved possible to step up this branch of propaganda considerably. For many months now surrendered bandits have regularly been used either individually or in teams for word of mouth propaganda in Johore, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Selanger, Pahang and Perak. Kedah has been able to come into line since August as a result of an increase in local surrenders and a Malay SEP team has toured Southern Trengganu. The most ambitious effort of this sort so far has been the six weeks tour of Johore and parts of Negri Sembilan and Malacca made by Lam Swee and other ex-bandits in June and July 1951 under the leadership of Mr. H R Howse, SEIO Selanger who is himself a fluent Mandarin and Cantonese speaker. Over 100 different areas were visited and about 55,000 people were addresses. Bandit propaganda reactions were immediate – and weak.
In order to intensify this type of propaganda I proposed to the War Council in November 1950 that the number of mobile units in the Federation equipped with public address systems and cinema projectors should be increased from twenty-three to fifty-three. This would provide one mobile unit per district in the States and Settlements most affected by the Emergency, and, roughly, one for every two districts in the other States and Settlements, together with a small reserve for special operations. The approval of the Standing Committee on Finance was obtained at the end of November 1950. Deliveries took longer than originally anticipated and the first complete units ordered under this scheme did not become available until July and August 1951. As a first step the priority areas Johore, Malacca and Negri Sembilan were brought up to their full establishment of one unit per district. It has proved very difficult to obtain Chinese field officers for these units owing to the low salary offered, which was even due for reduction under the Benham scales. Means were found to avoid this reduction and extra allowances were approved in August 1951 which will, it is hoped, be sufficient to attract the right type of young Chinese. Otherwise direction will be necessary. River units for Pahang, Perak, Kolantan and Trengganu and jeep units are also on order and Pahang is being provided with a railway unit which will move up and down the line between Jerantut and Kemayan.
With this reinforcement Government and SEP propaganda should be brought more frequently to the rural population and to more areas during the coming months.
A big expansion of the Malayan Film Unit was proposed last November to go hand in hand with the increase in the number of mobile units. There can be no doubt that the most effective way of presenting the positive achievements of Government to the largely illiterate rural population is through the medium of the film. The evil deeds of the Communists can also be vividly shown in films. The Standing Committee on Finance at the end of November 1950 approved expenditure for expanding very considerably the equipment and both the European and Asian staff of the Malayan Film Unit with a view to a big increase both in its own production and the dubbing of specially chosen films.
This extra equipment and staff has been arriving during this year and the output of the Malayan Film Unit has been steadily increasing.
Since the beginning of January 1951 the Malayan Film Unit has finished or begun shooting the following films which are wholly or in part concerned with the Emergency.
In addition the unit has produced or begun work on a number of instructional and interest films about the rubber industry, the Tanjong Karang land development plan, PO Savings, the Pineapple Industry, Elections, Federal Bonds, etc.
It is realised that too much propaganda or information cannot be absorbed at one time and entertainment is required as ‘jam' to coat the pill. Arrangements have been made with MGM, for the purchase of the rights for three years in 53 feature films mainly Tarzan, Wild West and Knockabout Comedy. Coloured cartoon films have been brought from the United Kingdom.
It can reasonably be claimed that so far as the use of broadcasting for Emergency information and propaganda is concerned the situation has been completely transformed since a year ago.
In the Autumn of 1950 there was practically no regular Emergency broadcasting on Radio Malaya apart from the Daily Communiqué given in the News Bulletins and some of Mr. Alex Josey's "Malayan Affairs" talks. The "This is Communism" series was written by a member of the staff of the Department who lacked specialised knowledge of the subject and never related his talks to events in Malaya or China.
On November 3rd, 1950 the Director of Broadcasting presented a paper on Community Listening to the Joint Information and Propaganda Committee which bore no relation whatever to the Emergency and in the case of the Chinese programmes specifically stated that "direct anti-bandit propaganda is undesirable in the early months of the service to this audience." The Committee rejected the paper on the grounds that the main objective of the Community Listening Programmes, which would provide access to quite a new audience, must be to help to end the Emergency. I was asked by the Committee to draw up a new directive. This was presented at the next meeting of the JIPC, on November 17th and defined the objectives of Community Listening as follows:- "The immediate objective of all Community Listening programmes whether in Malay, Chinese or Tamil is to help to end the Emergency. Their overriding purpose is to keep the audience informed of the progress of the Emergency and of Government measures and to raise their morale so that the flow of information to Government is increased and aid to the bandits decreased. The long-term educational aspect must not be lost sight of but, in present circumstances, must inevitably take second place."
After a meeting at King's House on November 28th their Excellencies the Governor of Singapore and the Officer Administering the Government in the Federation issued a directive making me responsible for all broadcast programmes concerned with the Emergency and the fight against World Communism. Mr. Alex Josey was appointed Controller of Emergency Broadcasting and in January 1951 the Standing Committee on Finance approved the necessary funds for the staff and equipment of the Community Listening organisation. Staff was recruited as quickly as possible and the first Community Listening Programmes went on the air in Malay, Tamil and four Chinese dialects (even if in a somewhat rudimentary form) in February. The installation of Community Listening sets by GEC, began in the same month.
At the same time the regular inclusion of features and talks on the Emergency in the normal programmes of Radio Malaya was started up. The first broadcast in the weekly series "Spotlight on the Emergency" took place on January 6th 1951. In January too Mr. Eliot Watrous took over the writing and broadcasting of the series "This is Communism". Since then this series has, whenever possible, related events in the Communist world to what is going on in Malaya so as to make them more comprehensible and striking to local listeners. Internal events in China such as the purges, collectivisation of agriculture, conscription, forced labour, the spread of Soviet influence, etc., have been dealt with as vigorously as existing directives permit.
In the Summer of 1951 Broadcasting Department resumed direct responsibility for the Community Listening programmes and progress under the guidance of Mr. Lloyd Williams and Mr. David Lyttle has been rapid. Every aspect of the Emergency is now given the fullest coverage. This was particularly intense in the case of the manpower regulations and the food control measures. All forms of broadcast programmes have been used to put across these and other Government measures in Malay, Tamil and four Chinese dialects: talks documentary features, radio plays, interviews, etc. Particularly popular at the time of writing are a Chinese story-teller who intersperses anti-Communist remarks and jokes in his stories and a Tamil commentator who under the pseudonym of "Truth teller" deals with topical themes in a simple manner calculated to appeal to the ordinary Tamil estate worker. Surrendered bandits broadcast every week. Apart from items dealing with the Emergency the programmes also include a great deal of entertainment and general educational material.
Mr. Alex Josey's series "Malayan Affairs" was a most valuable contribution to the positive side of anti-Communist propaganda.
Up to now some five hundred Community Listening sets out of 740 have been installed. Funds have also been approved for the purchase of 700 cheap dry battery receivers which will be presented by Government to Community Centres and individuals mainly in Chinese resettlement areas. Since more and more sets have also been installed on estates, the audiences in rural areas to the broadcasts of Radio Malaya have increased very considerably in the past year and will increase still more in the next few months.
VIII. News Policy
The presentation of news about the Emergency has a big effect on public morale. It seemed to me on my arrival that the need for security had been allowed to interfere more than was strictly necessary with the giving of news to the public. In particular there were constant complaints from planters that, as a result of the location of incidents being given only by States and Settlements in the daily communiqués, they had no idea about the extent of bandit activity in their immediate vicinity. After a preliminary survey of the security and publicity aspects of the questions by the Joint Intelligence Advisory Committee, the War Council agreed at the end of November 1950 that there should be a compromise between the policy at the beginning of the Emergency of releasing full information about the exact location of incidents and the then current policy of giving only names of States and the very briefest details. In future, it was agreed, the names of Districts in which incidents occurred would be mentioned and all possible details given so far as security permitted. It was also agreed that the daily communiqués should continue to refer impartially to the "security forces" and that the names of individual units should only be mentioned in subsequent releases.
The fuller communiqués which have been issued since this decision was reached have been welcomed by the Press and apparently by the public. There have, so far as I am aware, been no further complaints from planters about the sparseness of the news given to them.
Every effort has also been made to release to the press interesting Communist documents and stories of life in the jungle based on information given by surrendered bandits. A recent example has been the full account of the deviation and execution of the former bandit leader in Malacca, Siew Lau, which is undoubtedly one of the most important events inside the MCP since the beginning of the Emergency.
IX. "Black" propaganda
No account of "black" propaganda operations is given in this report.
X. Enemy Reactions
During the Summer of 1951 the Security Forces captured a number of documents which give a clearer picture than was available before of what the Communists think of Government propaganda and what counter measures they are contemplating. A letter written by Ah Fatt, a member of the Selanger State Committee to another State Committee member, Leng Ping, and dated August 12th, 1951 was captured during the same month in the Rawang area. The whole letter, two closely written pages, is devoted to Government propaganda and begins as follows:-
"The present situation is most worthy of our attention. The enemy is using the art of psychological warfare and deceiving propaganda to a great degree. If we don't become more alert and thoroughly smash the enemy's dark propaganda plot, if we don't point out that the traitors who have fallen into the enemy's propaganda network can't repent now (a mouse in the mouth of a cat lives or dies at the cat's will), if we don't increasingly raise the political consciousness of our comrades, if we don't promote the comrades' regard for their own glorious history during the past three years then comrades whose will is weak and who are vague and confused will be injured by the enemy's propaganda network and the result will be tragic."
The writer goes on to state why in his opinion, bandits are surrendering and he gives the following reasons:-
"1. Under difficult circumstances, thoughts are shaken when the will is weak and the political consciousness vague.
"2. The result of the poisonous harm of the enemy's deceiving propaganda. They (i.e. potential defectors) don't think that the anti-revolutionary British robbers will use them to the death."
The writer then outlines counter measures as follows:-
"1. Use all types and forms of propaganda to expose the enemy's propaganda network and its deception.
"2. Increase political education using good political material to fit in with present life.
"3. Be careful in taking in new recruits."
The writer then goes on to say in detail how this should be carried out among the bandit troops. He suggests the frequent holding of "sit down and talk meetings" and of "anti-traitor sit down and talk meetings" and gives an outline of the propaganda material to be used in an attempt to prevent the "appearance of traitors". At the end of his letter he once more emphasises that "this question is very important".
A letter written by a District Committee member in Selanger contains the following references. "From my area the two comrades who surrendered to the enemy are Wan Choy and Yeong Look. They were betrayed through the persuasions of the shameless renegade Lee Chieu, (Lee Chieu is one of the most active SEP propagandists in Selanger). Moreover these two persons and Lee Chieu came to make propaganda in Salak town and disseminate pamphlets which contained the photographs of the two surrendered persons and other propaganda." Later on in the letter the writer says "Lee Chieu comes often to spread Government propaganda and thus we find it quite difficult to carry on with our work. Care should be taken not to allow any of our demoralised members of the forces to sneak over to the enemy as a result of this propaganda. I have two such characters in my place and I have been keeping a close watch on them."
Other enemy reactions to Government propaganda occur in the minutes of a meeting of the Johore/Malacca Border Committee which refer to a "stiffening of the Government verbal and written propaganda". Mention in made in particular of leaflets written by surrendered bandits, the writings of Lam Swee, propaganda on the Siew Lau incident, rewards announcements, verbal propaganda by SEP and film shows.
In Pahang a District Committee's summary of a month's events referring probably to February, describes manifestos signed by Lam Swee and distribution of rewards leaflets as the main political developments in the period under review.
The diary of a Branch Committee Secretary in Pahang refers to the harm caused by Siew Phang's and Lam Swee's calls to the comrades to surrender and to the people to oppose the MCP. Siew Phang is a Pahang SEP who has been extensively used for propaganda.
There have in fact been reactions to Lam Swee's writings from almost every part of the Federation. A copy of the Communist publication "Battle News" recovered near Kroh in North Perak includes an article headed "British Imperialists' propaganda offensive". The British Imperialists, says the article, had made a false calculation that the distribution of propaganda material in connection with the "deserter and shameless dog" Lam Swee could affect the ranks of the MRLA in whose eyes Lam Swee was nothing but a spineless traitor. Had he not been forced by circumstances arising out of the proclamation of the Emergency into joining the MRLA Lam Swee would never have done so at all. It was therefore not strange that such a worm should finally show his true colours. The article concludes with the statement that his elimination has been ordered.
Bandit reactions to the tour of Johore by Lam Swee and other ex-bandits referred to in VII. 1, above were unusually rapid and violent. Security forces operating near Muar in Johore on June 20th, just after Lam Swee and his party had been in the area, captured a document originating from the propaganda section of the Joint Labour Union, West Segamat, dated 9th June, 1951. This document is a remarkably quick reaction to a press conference given by Lam Swee in Kuala Lumpur on May 26th and his tour which only began in the Segamat area on June 1st.
The document which is headed "Be more cautious and smash up the evil plots of the British Imperialists" reads:-
"The red-haired devils are very good at the game of plots. They, for the sake of attacking the people and the revolution, have turned this game into an accustomed art. For instance, the mean and shameless way by which they disguised themselves as members of the Liberation Army and as ‘surrendered rebels' is a common fact. As from this month, the red-haired devils are again playing an old tune of theirs. This old tune is that on the 26th of this month, they utilised he rebel Lam Swee to hold a so-called interview with Press reporters in Kuala Lumpur. First they made a big noise in the newspapers about this. Then they scattered everywhere pamphlets calling for surrender. They propagated on a large scale. Then they disguised themselves as surrendered rebels in Yong Peng and Segamat and other places. Thus they raised a hue and cry and made the whole thing seem so real. If you looked at this matter with a prejudiced eye then the whole thing would seem to be reasonable. However, the Malayan people (especially so the peasant masses), who have been under the leadership of the Malayan Communists for three years and who have been training under revolutionary struggle and have seen things clearly with their own eyes, will not be taken in by these evil plots of the red-haired devils."
"We strongly believe that from now onwards the red-haired devils will continue to fabricate more lies and plan more plots against the people and the revolution: so much so that we must have a greater unity between the people and the Army for then only can we smash up their evil designs thoroughly and in time."
These reactions provide useful guidance about the most effective propaganda lines.
Though all members of Emergency Information Services have made a very high contribution, I feel that I should include in this report some mention of individuals who have done particularly good work during the past year.
Mr. Eliot Watrous has been a most active and efficient Deputy,
Mr. A W D James in Negri Sembilan,
Mr. H R Howse in Selanger, and
Mr. R G K Thompson in Johore.
have been the outstanding State Emergency Information Officers. All of them have been fruitful of ideas and have shown real understanding of the principles of propaganda.
I am very glad that Mr. James is to become Head of Emergency Information Services after the departure of Mr. Watrous at the end of December.
Mr. C C Too has done excellent work as an assessor of documents, translator, and writer of original material. He is an exceptionally quick worker.
Mrs. Dorothea Heaton has been much more than a Secretary and has been largely responsible, with her knowledge of the workings of Government, for the smooth running of the new organisation.
Among the more junior and recent SEIOs the following have done excellent work:
Mr. J C Litton in Malacca,
Mr. M J Watts in Kedah, and
Mr. R N Jackson in Negri Sembilan.
It is interesting to note that all the SEIOs mentioned are Chinese speaking officers. There would seem to be some mysterious connection between skill in Chinese Affairs and skill in propaganda, even when it is not directed to a Chinese audience. The Federation of Malaya now has a nucleus of experienced propagandists. This might be particularly valuable if international developments should ever call for propaganda from Malaya directed to China.
Such successes as have been achieved by propaganda in raising public morale, increasing the flow of information, lowering bandit morale and encouraging surrenders have been due to the close cooperation established between Emergency Information Services and Police at all levels, the Army and the Civil authorities. Propaganda is essentially an auxiliary weapon and cannot function in a vacuum.
A year ago this cooperation did not exist and it was possible to sense in many quarters a certain distrust of propaganda and propagandists. One example of this is that the surrender of Lam Swee which took place in June 1950 was, despite its immense propaganda importance, not reported by the Police to those responsible for propaganda until three months later at the end of September. Such a thing would not, and owing to the access which Emergency Information Services now have to intelligence documents and interrogations, could not happen today. This lack of confidence was, in my opinion, one of the main reasons for the deficiencies of the propaganda effort in the first two years and more of the Emergency.
The atmosphere today is very different. Emergency Information Services have been brought in from the beginning in the planning of military and police operations. Cordial relations exist at Federal Police Headquarters with the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Intelligence. Since early this year I have had a regular weekly meeting with the Director of Intelligence and this has led to a really useful exchange of information and ideas. Cooperation with all members of the Police Intelligence Bureau at Federal Police Headquarters is now excellent and a representative of the Federal Police Intelligence Bureau attends the weekly meetings of Emergency Information Services.
Since my first few weeks in Malaya I have frequently had an opportunity to attend meetings of State and District War Executive Committees to talk about the aims and methods of propaganda. Mr. Watrous has done the same since his arrival. This, together with more informal contacts while on tour, has helped to spread understanding of the ways in which propaganda can be helpful. In most of the States and Settlements the State Emergency Information Officers are now in regular attendance at War Executive Committee meetings.
At State and Settlement level relations between the State Emergency Information Officers and the Chief Police Officer, the Contingent Intelligence Officer and the OC, Troops are now, in almost all cases, very close. This spreads down to District Officers and the Police and Army at circle and district level. There is a continual flow of ideas and requests from District Officers, Resettlement Officers and the Police and Army on the ground both for operational propaganda against the bandits and for material to influence the general public. This is as it should be, because local specialisation, speed and a sense of urgency are among the essentials for successful propaganda.
I have described what the Emergency Information Services organisation has already done. Experience of propaganda in other wars suggest that its great chance is yet to come. Once Government clearly has the upper hand and enemy morale really begins to break, propaganda can become the main weapon for hastening the end. The machine to exploit that chance now exists.
September 14th, 1951
Signed H. Carleton Greene,
Source: British National Archives, ref. KV 4/408