Templer: The Tiger of Malaya

Templer: The Tiger of Malaya

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Templer’s reputation as ‘Tiger of Malaya’, rests on a relatively brief term (1952-54) as High Commissioner and Director of Operations during the Communist Emergency (1948-60). Cloake devoted one third of the 500-page biography to these two years. Templer was appointed at a particularly bleak period following the assassination of the previous High Commissioner, Sir Henry Gurney. He was by no means the government’s first choice. Churchill and his secretary of state at first preferred Sir Hubert Rance (the last governor of Burma) but, when they eventually settled on Templer, they ensured, by appointing him both high commissioner and director of military operations, that he would wield and enjoy greater power than any of his predecessors.

Templer cracked on with counter-insurgency operations. Whether by ‘winning hearts and minds’ or by ‘screwing down the people’, the results were spectacular. In approximate figures the recorded number of incidents involving communist and security forces dropped from 6,000 in 1951 (the year before Templer’s appointment) to 1,000 in 1954 (the year when he left Malaya). Over the same period, annual casualties declined: security forces from about 1,200 to 240 and civilian deaths from around 1,000 to 185. The strength of the Malayan National Liberation Army diminished from an estimated high of over 7,000 to 3,400. As security improved, so emergency regulations were relaxed and plans for police reform, land settlement, and elections advanced with a view to eventual independence.

Nevertheless, Templer’s methods were frequently high-handed and counter-productive (notably collective punishment). They exacerbated communal antagonism and provoked fury in liberal circles in Britain.

Used in good condition. Dustwrapper provided. Hardback

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