During the month of June each year members of the National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association of Australia (NMBVAA), travel to Ipoh to take part in services commemorating  those who fell during the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960) and the Indonesian Confrontation (1963-1966), and indeed all wars.

The men and women who come had spent over two years serving in the Australian Armed Forces. They lived in Malaysia in places like Malacca, Ipoh, Singapore and Penang during the 1950s and 60s as part of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation's plan to keep the Malayan people safe from the tyranny of Communism, espoused at the time by rebel leaders such as Chin Peng and Lau Yew.

During World War Two the Japanese enforced the relocation of around one million Malayan Chinese to the jungle fringes as squatters to grow food for their occupation forces. Some of these people provided a logistic and recruit base for the communists, so when the Japanese surrendered in 1945, it merely signalled a new phase of war for the communists in Malaya, one for which they had long been training and recruiting in the jungles from Kedah to Johor.

The killing of planters in 1948 (using arms hidden in caches during WW2), brought the communist plan out into the open along with the hit-and-run raids on rubber plantations and the smashing of associated equipment. On Saturday, June 16, 1948 shortly before 8am, three young communist terrorists burst into the office of a large Malayan rubber plantation, and shot the manager, Arthur Walker at point blank range. Half an hour later and ten miles away, John Allison, manager of the Sungei Siput Estate and his 21-year-old assistant, Ian Christian, were tied up and murdered by 12 armed men.

On the day of the murders the British High Commissioner, Sir Edward Gent, proclaimed a State of Emergency in Perak and Johor, and expanded it to the whole peninsula the following day.

During the 12-year war 6710 communist terrorists were killed and 2815 were wounded. The security forces suffered 1865 killed, and 2560 wounded. Of the civilian population, 2473 were killed, 1385 wounded, and over 800 went missing.

On April 19, 1960 declaring the imminent end to the Malayan Emergency on July 31, 1960, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong said:

“The debt which the people of this country owe to the Security Forces, both Malayan and Commonwealth, for their sustained and courageous effort over the 12 years of the Emergency cannot be overemphasised.”

Ken McNeill