10 NOVEMBER 1950, Page 2

Malaya—War and Welfare

• The war in Malaya is not going well. The best that can be said about it is that it is not going as badly as France's war in Indo- China ; there is at least no fear of the Malayan bandits suddenly emerging from their jungles as a well equipped mobile army. But the Briggs plan, on which the Government has pinned its hopes, has not, as the Colonial Secretary admitted in the Commons last week, begun to show the dividends that were hoped from it. The plan is ambitious and elaborate, aiming at resettling the Chinese squatters and thus taking away from the bandits the local resources on which they batten. Such an enterprise is not to be finally judged In the course of a few months, but there is no getting away from ' the uncomfortable fact that violent incidents have tended to increase since the plan was put into operation, and observers on the spot are not consoled by the suggestion that this represents the last fling ' of cornered desperadoes. The possibility must be faced that in Malaya, as in Indo-China and Korea, the Communists will receive in increasing measure material as well as moral support from the Chinese. Meanwhile the Government of Malaya is making strenuous efforts to turn Malaya into a Welfare State, believing, rightly or wrongly, that this is the only answer to the dual problem of creating a sense of nationality among the disparate racial ele- ments in the country and at the same time heading their nationalism 'away from Communism. This is bound to be an even more pro- longed and costly enterprise than the present military campaign. It is based on a number of unproved assumptions ; the first being • that social welfare, as understood in the West, is the political goal of the inarticulate masses in the East. It also assumes resources of men and money which the Government of -Malaya cannot yet command, though it is going some way towards securing the latter by the high duty on rubber which is to come into effect next year. On their present earnings the companies can well afford to pay.