20 AUGUST 1948, Page 2

More Troops for Malaya

The news that a brigade of Guards is to be sent to Malaya comes as a reminder that the situation there is still serious, and likely to deteriorate, as a result of the disturbances across the border in Burma. The tactical difficulties facing the Malayan authorities in their efforts to restore order have much in common with those of the Burmese Government, though the political causes of the present fighting in Malaya are not so profound. Whereas in Burma political rivalries have degenerated into civil war, in Malaya the challenge comes from a comparatively small number of conspirators, almost all Chinese, and almost all, through their connections with China, playing a genuinely Communist game. (Russia's solicitude about the enslavement of the " Malayans " is characteristically wide of the mark ; the insurgents are not Malayans.) It may be true that, as Mr. MacDonald declared in his broadcast on August 3rd, the original plans of the Chinese Communists for a coup d'eua have been frustrated, but it looks as though the picture he painted of them "licking their wounds in the jungle" was too optimistic. The despatch of the Guards brigade at this stage of the fighting is bound to suggest the unfortunate parallel of Palestine, -where a small minority of terrorists was allowed to tie up a large part of our army in a fruitless attempt to re-establish order. But, even if military reinforcements are late arriving in Malaya as in Palestine, there is a good chance that they will this time be put to a better use once they have arrived. But the present course of the fighting shows that the reinforcements, when they do eventually arrive in Malaya, will have the hard and thankless job of policing as well as more active forms of campaigning.