© 2019

Counterinsurgency Intelligence and the Emergency in Malaya


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxvii
  2. Roger C. Arditti
    Pages 1-15
  3. Roger C. Arditti
    Pages 17-40
  4. Roger C. Arditti
    Pages 65-86
  5. Roger C. Arditti
    Pages 115-146
  6. Roger C. Arditti
    Pages 147-174
  7. Roger C. Arditti
    Pages 175-205
  8. Roger C. Arditti
    Pages 207-233
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 235-254

About this book


This book examines the full range of counterinsurgency intelligence during the Malayan Emergency. It explores the involvement of the Security Service, the Joint Intelligence Committee (Far East), the Malayan Security Service, Special Branch and wider police service, and military intelligence, to examine how British and Malayan authorities tackled the insurgent challenge posed by the Malayan Communist Party. This study assesses the nature of the intelligence apparatus prior to the declaration of emergency in 1948 and considers how officials attempted to reconstruct the intelligence structures in the Far East after the surrender of the Japanese in 1945. These plans were largely based upon the legacy of the Second World War but quickly ran into difficultly because of ill-defined remits and personality clashes. Nevertheless, officials did provide prescient warning of the existential threat posed by the Malayan Communist Party from the earliest days of British reoccupation of Malaya. Once a state of emergency had been declared, officials struggled to find the right combination of methods, strategy and management structures to eliminate the threat posed by the Communist insurgents. This book argues that the development of an effective counterinsurgency intelligence strategy involved many more organisations than just Special Branch. It was a multifaceted, dynamic effort that took far longer and was more problematic than previous accounts suggest. The Emergency remains central to counterinsurgency theory and thus this wide-ranging analysis sheds crucial light not only on the period, but on contemporary doctrine and security practices today.


Security Service Malaysia British Empire Local intelligence Human intelligence Malayan Communist Party British authorities Special Branch Terrorism Policy Security

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ScholarWraysburyUK

About the authors

Roger C. Arditti is a full-time police officer in London and an associate researcher at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. He previously studied at Brunel University London and Royal Holloway College, UK, and his primary research interests focus upon Britain’s post-war counter-insurgency campaigns and the role of intelligence.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Counterinsurgency Intelligence and the Emergency in Malaya
  • Authors Roger C. Arditti
  • Series Title Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World
  • Series Abbreviated Title Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-16694-6
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-16697-7
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-16695-3
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXVII, 254
  • Number of Illustrations 1 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Modern History
    History of Southeast Asia
    History of Military
    Imperialism and Colonialism
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“This sophisticated book skilfully weaves the personal and the political to provide an impressively holistic account of intelligence during the Malayan Emergency. It successfully unravels the complex array of factors driving intelligence and demonstrates the lengthy, chaotic, process of reform.’’ (Rory Cormac, University of Nottingham, UK)