03. MPAJA TERROR | The May 13 Tragedy

Shortly before Singapore fell to the Japanese during the early pan of the Second World War Malayan Communist Party (MCP) guerillas, who had received a certain amount of British training, were placed in position on the mainland as a resistance force against the Japanese occupation. These guerillas later raised resistance units which they called "the independent regiments of the Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army" (MPAJA). This organisation was Chinese-dominated, and later on in the course of the Occupation, was swelled by other resistance groups. As guerillas, the MPAJA posed no serious threat to the Japanese.

Despite the outward show of co-operation with the allies, the MCP was making preparations for developing the MPAJA as a permanent armed force to seize power in Malaya after the Japanese defeat by the allies. After the Japanese surrender, the MCP and the MPAJA came into the open and assumed control of the country. When they emerged from the jungles in July. 1945. they mounted a large-scale persecution of the people, whom they accused of having committed "crimes against the people", in addition to collaborating with the Japanese regime.

The appearance of armed Chinese in the MPAJA uniform stirred certain sections of the Chinese community into taking, what the Malays felt, an arrogant


and offensive attitude. For virtually three months, between the Japanese surrender and effective British take-over, they held kangaroo courts, committed atrocities, executed many Malays and Chinese and terrorised the population wherever they held sway. During the brief period of the MPAJA ascendancy the torture and killing of large numbers of innocent Malays became an episode that indelibly imprinted in Malay minds the dangers of Chinese ascendancy. These events culminated in the outbreak of widespread and serious clashes when the Malays retaliated against the Chinese in rural areas.

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