Factfile: Origins of conflict

THE withdrawal of Japan at the end of the Second World War left the Malayan economy disrupted; problems included unemployment, low wages, and scarce and expensive food.

THE withdrawal of Japan at the end of the Second World War left the Malayan economy disrupted; problems included unemployment, low wages, and scarce and expensive food.

There was considerable unrest, and a large number of strikes occurred in 1946 through 1948.

At the time, the British administration was attempting to repair Malaya's war-damaged economy quickly, especially as income from Malaya's tin and rubber industries was important to Britain's own post-war recovery.

As a result, strikers were dealt with harshly, by measures including arrests and deportations. The strikers became increasingly militant, and violent incidents occurred.

On June 16, 1948, three European plantation managers were killed and the British brought into law emergency measures.

Under the measures, the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) and other leftist parties were outlawed, and the police were given the power to imprison, without trial, communists and those suspected of assisting communists.

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The MCP, led by Chin Peng, retreated to rural areas, and formed the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), also known as the Malayan Races Liberation Army (MRLA), or the Malayan People's Liberation Army (MPLA).

The MNLA began a guerrilla campaign, targeting mainly the colonial resource extraction industries, which in Malaya were the tin mines and rubber plantations.

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