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Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1947

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Decorations And Awards


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what rewards or decorations have been, presented to those Asiatics in British Malaya and Sarawak who helped our prisoners and internees during the Japanese occupation at the risk of their lives or where such persons were discovered and murdered by the Japanese, what rewards or decorations have been presented to their next-of-kin.

The decorations comprise r C.M.G., 5 O.B.E.' s, 15 M.B.E.' s and 46 British Empire Medals. In addition, many civilians who rendered valuable assistance to Allied Servicemen in Malaya and Borneo have received special recognition by way of awards, certificates of commendation, either by the military or civil authorities, mention in despatches and grants and other forms of assistance.

While thanking the Colonial Secretary for his reply and for what he has done in regard to the decorations, may I ask if he is aware that there is not complete satisfaction that everyone has been covered, and would he look into the matter further?

Yes, Sir. There is still a large number of awards for certain parts under consideration.

Mining Machinery (Imports)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the refusal to permit the export of mining machinery for the Malayan collieries is handicapping the output of tin from that Colony; and whether, in view of the importance of increasing our dollar income from tin exports at the earliest opportunity, he will arrange to permit the Malayan Government to import the necessary machinery from the U.S.A. during the continuance of the ban on the export of coal-mining machinery from Great Britain.

My hon. Friend is misinformed. Permission has been given for the export of mining machinery from this country for the Malayan collieries, and the execution of the orders has been approved. The second part of the Question does not, therefore, arise.

Can the Minister say when this permission was given, because in a letter dated 10th May I was told that an order for between £300,000 and £400,000 worth of machinery had not been sanctioned by the administration here?

We have co-operated with other Departments concerned in this matter, and I believe that it was probably a month ago that the National Coal Board were able to give an assurance that all objections had been withdrawn.

Colliery Managers


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the shortage of expert colliery managers in Malaya and that such a shortage is seriously handicapping the output of coal in that Colony; and what steps are being taken to facilitate the necessary experts to be encouraged in this country.

Yes, Sir. Malayan Collieries are trying hard to recruit expert staff, and the United Kingdom Government are doing all they can to help them.

If I send my right hon. Friend particulars of applications made by Malayan Collieries Limited will he look into the matter once more?

Yes, Sir, but as these are private companies it is not our job to staff them. We are, however, doing all we can to help them find the staff they want.



asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to obtain an increased allocation of rice in Malaya in view of the large stocks of surplus rice in Siam which have not yet been mobilised for world use.

The allocation of rice to Malaya, in common with all other rice-eating countries, is made by the International Emergency Food Council out of world availabilities. His Majesty's Government is a member of this Council and Colonial interests are carefully watched. My information is different from that of the hon. Member that there are large stocks of surplus rice in Siam. Unfortunately, the surplus stocks are not there and the Siam Government can barely find the exports that it requires to satisfy its engagements.

In view of the fact that His Majesty's Government were party to a contract for one and a half million tons of rice from Siam, based no doubt on finding out the facts, is it not curious that there should be a short fall of 600,000 tons today on that contract? What has happened?

I cannot tell what has happened to it, but from the point of view of exportable surplus it just is not there.

Is it not a fact that during the period of the Japanese occupation a lot of rice fields in Siam were put out of production and the Siamese Government based their original estimate on a full yield which they were quite unable to carry out?

In view of the fact that two hon. Members of this House, the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) and the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) visited Siam in February of this year and were both informed on good authority in Bangkok that there was a large amount of rice available for export will the Colonial Secretary have this matter looked into further because it seems certain that there is a great deal of rice?

I have supplied the House with the information which is in my possession. I will certainly make further inquiries, but I must say that all the information I have is quite contrary to the prevalent notion that the rice is there.

In view of the fact that the Controller of Rice from the Ministry of Food has just returned from Siam will the House be given a full report from him?


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reduction has been made in the official rice ration in Malaya in the last three months; and what price is being paid in the unofficial market in rice in Northern Malaya.

The rice ration in Malaya was reduced from 6 oz. per head per day to 4½ oz. from 18th May. When the rice ration was reduced the flour ration was increased by the same amount, namely, 1½ oz. The whole cereal ration remained at 8½ oz. per head per day. The unofficial market price for rice in Northern Malaya is, I understand, about 3¾d. per lb.

Is the Minister aware that the flour ration is not a substitute for the rice ration in a large number of cases, and will he press the urgency for a complete revision of the whole question of rice in Siam?

Federation (Singapore)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the inclusion of Singapore in the Malayan Federation is contemplated; and what steps are being taken by the Governor of Singapore, in view of the recommendation is of the Cheeseman Report, to apply for membership of the federation on behalf of Singapore thereby allaying the considerable political unrest of Chinese and other Asiatic residents on being excluded from the federation.

In Command Paper No. 6724 of January, 1946, it was stated that the close ties between Singapore and the mainland were recognised, and that it was no part of the policy of His Majesty's Government to preclude or prejudice in any way their fusion at a later date should such a course be considered desirable. This remains the view of His Majesty's Government, but I do not feel able to make any further statement at the present stage, when discussions regarding the constitutional arrangements in Malaya are not concluded.

Will the Minister realise that unless he grasps now the nettle of the inclusion of Singapore with the rest of Malaya its sting will be very much worse later?

I fully appreciate the difficulty of this problem but the present conversations about the constitution of Malaya must be concluded first.