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1951: Murder on Malay rubber estate

Anti-government rebels have ambushed and killed 11 people in an attack on a rubber plantation in Malaya.

The dead include a London director visiting the area, the manager of the estate and nine special constables on a foot inspection.

The attack is the latest in a long campaign by Communist forces opposed to British control of the Federation of Malaya.

It began with the murder of three British rubber planters in June 1948 - which led to the British declaring a state of emergency.

Campaign of intimidation

There have been more terror attacks in the Malay peninsula in the past few weeks than at any time since 1948.

On average, about 100 police officers have been killed every month this year.

The guerrillas' latest tactics include threatening to nail rubber tappers to the trees unless they go on strike.

Work on over 50,000 acres (202 square kilometres) of estates has now stopped - representing a daily loss of about 60,000 lbs (27,216 kg) of rubber.

Most of the estates affected are in the south-western states of Negri Sembilan and Malacca.

British plan failed

Workers on four other estates have defied the Communists and returned to work after they were given increased protection from security forces.

Intimidation by the rebels has led to problems recruiting labour to work on the plantations, even for higher wages in areas prone to attack.

This latest surge in guerrilla activity suggests the British government's expensive Briggs plan has failed.

The scheme - which has also proved very unpopular with locals - involved moving many of them from their jungle homes to new villages in areas more easily protected from the rebels.

It seems clear many local people are still afraid to co-operate with the security forces for fear of reprisals from the guerrillas.

In Context
The Rubber Producers' Council admitted later the Communists were stealing 20% of rubber tapped on Malayan plantations and using the proceeds to finance their terrorist activities.

The British changed their tactics to win more local support and began addressing political and economic problems with the distant promise of independence.

A government amnesty was offered to terrorists in 1955 and from then on the guerrilla campaign began to peter out. It was finally defeated in 1960.

Independence was granted in August 1957 and the state of emergency lifted in July 1960.


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