The first two post war British High Commissioners of the Federation of Malaya had fatal bad luck. Sir Edward Gent was flying back to London – to be sacked – when his aircraft collided with a Swedish passenger plane near RAF Northolt. His successor Sir Henry Gurney was assassinated approaching Fraser’s Hill in Malaya. This is a draft of my account of this incident – comments, additions etc very welcome. In early October, 1951 High Commissioner Gurney reflected on the ‘Chinese problem’. He lamented that the new settlements and trade union organisations were under communist attack: the rural Chinese, the peasants, who are the real targets must first be protected… If [the communists] are allowed to [continue penetrating] unopposed by any Chinese initiate whatever, the whole of the Chinese rural population will soon come under communist domination. These people are looking for leaders to help them resist…’ Gurney then listed all the many ways that the Chinese obstructed government efforts. ‘They can spend $4 million on celebrations in Singapore but can spare nothing for the MCA anti-communist efforts.’ Many Chinese, he complained, lived in luxury, and expended a great deal of energy criticising the police and security forces. They did nothing […]
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