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Scorpio On The Dragons Trail

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Subject :Scorpio on the Dragons Trail
Published By : Published by Rocky Mountain Press, Colorado. Author, Datuk Dr Leong Chee Woh ISBN 0-9763618-9-2 
Location : Malaya / Malaysia
Estimated Year : 2000
Media Type : Book
Source : Datuk Dr Leong Chee Woh / Kinta Properties Group
Remark :

Malaysian history might well have been very different if any of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) leadership had studied military history. Had they done so they would have learned that a guerrilla war can only hope to succeed if it is strongly supported by an outside power. In the first Malayan Emergency of 1948-1960 the CPM leadership based their strategy on the absurdly inappropriate example of China in the 1930's and 1940's, and was soundly defeated. In the Second Emergency in the 1970's, still without the strong support of arms, equipment and trained military manpower, and without the ally that they needed, they tried and failed again. But this time they adopted tactics which, though they could not succeed, were certainly more realistic. The defeat of this second attempt is the main theme of this book.

In outline the CPM plan was threefold. Some 12,000 young sympathisers from Peninsula Malaysia were put through a training course combining military training and indoctrination in the Thailand bases and then returned to Malaysia to form a reserve and supply organisation to support Malayan Races Liberation Army (MRLA) units when they, in turn, returned to Malaysia. When this happened the MRLA guerrilla war would be supplemented by two other forces. The CPM leadership believed that the Special Branch (SB) was the most dangerous and effective part of the Malaysian security forces. It would be crippled and intimidated by the systematic murder of its officers and detectives. This would be done by highly trained three man mobile units living in and near Malaysian towns. It would be necessary to shake the confidence of the Malaysian government and its security forces and show the people that the CPM could strike at the very heart of the country by spectacular attacks and demonstrations in the Federal Capital. This task was given to the Communist underground - members and supporters who had not been called out in the 1st Emergency but remained under cover awaiting orders.

The infiltration of MRLA units was not a success. Harassed by the security forces and destroyed by some brilliant SB directed operation (in which Scorpio -the author - played the leading part) their attempts to operate in Kedah, Perak and Pahang were all destroyed or left only a few remnants subsisting as best they could in deep jungle and quite incapable of offensive action. The underground operations which began with the spectacular bombing of the National Monument in Kuala Lumpur and involved some remarkably effective attacks on security forces and propaganda displays shook the confidence of the government as intended and the assassination of SB personnel did have a serious effect on morale and determination. Finally the assassination of the Inspector General of Police while being driven to his office in broad daylight produced a furious order from government to the newly appointed Inspector General of Police that "Something Must Be Done". Tun Mohammed Hanif assessing the problem with the Director Special Branch decided that the main problem was the weakness of the Federal Special Branch Contingent and that it needed an outstanding officer to reorganise, galvanise and lead that branch. They selected Scorpio as the best candidate.

Scorpio applied his usual methods - a careful study of what the problem actually was and how best to solve it followed by systematic planning and execution of the task. He began with a simple order forbidding his staff to wear ties and arranging, not without difficulty, for the protection of staff known to be under threat of being killed. The SB offices and compound were moved to a location where its activities could not be observed. Reorganisation of the branch into districts and sectors whose personnel would concentrate on their own particular area was followed by a detailed survey of buildings, their occupants and their activities. Snap identity checks at any hour of day and night throughout the city proved and effective deterrent to underground activity. Places where propaganda notices were likely to be displayed were kept under observation and ambushed for a period of ten days around likely communist anniversaries. The enemy were deterred but by no means eliminated. Then, using operations too complex and elaborate to be described in a short review the final breakthrough was made and a key personality in the underground identified and arrested. One success led to another until, over a course of years, the entire underground and the mobile units operating in and near the capital were eliminated.

This book can only be described as fascinating. When describing the planning and execution of all his operations in the jungle, estate areas or the streets and alleyways of a big city, Scorpio is an absorbing author. As a historian he is unduly sparing with dates and never quotes his sources for verbatim speeches and decisions by communist leaders. But these are minor imperfections in an absorbing book which records a period of history of which many of us are vaguely aware.

This is the third book of a series which currently numbers four.

To read about the fourth book in this series, click here.

Filename : 20100926-003