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A Successful Counterinsurgency, By Cynthia Hoffman and Anna Robert

Australian soldiers in Malaysia during the "Malay Emergency," 1956.
Australian soldiers in Malaysia during the "Malay Emergency," 1956.

April 10, 2017

In the days following the end of World War II, the Malayan Communist Party staged an uprising to free Malaysia from colonial rule. The subsequent conflict, known as the Malayan Emergency, ended with a decisive British victory. This is one of the only examples of a successful counterinsurgency in the 20th century, a success which was due to several factors, including racial divisions in Malaysia, superior British resources and military strategy, and mounting pressure from the West to suppress the Communists as the Cold War developed. The legacy of Britain’s retaliation manifests today in the form of harsh discrimination against multiple ethnic groups in Malaysia, which began with the British dividing different ethnic groups and pitting them against each other during this period of insurgency.

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Article featured in:

Jackson School Journal – Spring 2016

Volume 6, Number 2. Spring 2016