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Title: Rethinking the rise and fall of the Malayan security service, 1946-48
Authors: Arditti, R
Davies, PHJ
Keywords: The Malayan experience;Malayan Security Service
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Citation: The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 43(2): pp. 292 - 316, (2015)
Abstract: An item of conventional wisdom in our understanding of the Malayan First Emergency is that the original security organisation, the Malayan Security Service (MSS), was a comprehensive failure, prompting its dissolution and replacement with the Malayan Special Branch. This article challenges that orthodoxy, arguing first that MSS actually produced accurate assessments of Malayan Communist capabilities and intentions prior to 1948 although the actual outbreak of violence did come as a tactical surprise. Second, recently released documents show that the abolition of the MSS arose instead from a protracted turf war over the control of intelligence in Malaya with the Security Service (MI5), particularly in the person of the latter’s director general, Sir Percy Sillitoe . An outsider to the intelligence and defence communities, Sillitoe was disinclined to manage inter-agency disputes in the joint fashion that had developed during the Second World War, and instead marshalled opposition to the MSS in Whitehall that resulted it being dismantled. This in turn led to a breakdown in security intelligence activity, at the very start of the Emergency, that would not be fully resolved until the Malayan Special Branch became fully operational nearly four years later.
ISSN: 1743-9329
Appears in Collections:Dept of Politics, History and Law Research Papers

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