Communist Insurgency War - The Security and Development Program (KESBAN)

The Security and Development Program (KESBAN)

From the Briggs Plan, the Malaysian Government understood the importance of security and development and how it could be used against the MCP insurgency. The Malaysian Government, then, introduced a new strategy of fighting the MCP. It was known as Security and Development, or KESBAN, the local acronym (Program Keselamatan dan Pembangunan), and focused on civil military affairs. KESBAN constituted the sum total of all measures undertaken by the Malaysian Armed Forces and other (government) agencies to strengthen and protect society from subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency which effectively broke the resistance. Undoubtedly the Malaysian authorities found that security and development were the most prudent approaches to combating the Communist insurgency and terrorism.

The KESBAN programs succeeded in developing Malaysia into a more stable and secure society. Malaysia basically had institutionalized the concept of KESBAN, with the establishment of coordinated bodies from the village, district, and state to the federal levels. All the relevant agencies were represented and this enabled problems to be discussed and resolved through joint consulation. The government made large efforts to develop rural areas with the implementation of massive development programs such as building roads, schools, hospitals, medical clinics, and public utilities like electricity and water supply.

The government also instituted other security measures in order to meet the MCP menace, including strict press censorship, increasing the size of the police force, resettling squatters and relocating villages in "insecure" rural areas. By mid 1975, when the MCP militant activities were at a peak, the government promulgated a set of Essential Regulations, without declaring a state of emergency. The Essential Regulations provided for the establishment of a scheme called a "Rukun Tetangga", Rela (People’s Volunteer Group). The concept of Rukun Tetangga (Neighborhood Watch) had made the Malays, Chinese, and Indians become closer together, and more tolerant of each other.

The Malaysian Government made the right decision by not declaring a state of emergency during the second insurgency. The reason was a desire to avoid aggravating the fears of the populace (leading to increase in ethnic antipathy) and to avoid scaring away needed foreign investment. The economic prosperity achieved in the 1970s enabled the administration of Tun Abdul Razak and later Tun Hussein Onn who took over on the death of Tun Razak in 1976, to make considerable progress towards the Malaysian economy. When Dr. Mahathir Mohammad took over as the Malaysian Prime Minister from Dato Hussein Onn in 1980, he succeeded in making Malaysia one of the fastest developing nations in Asia. The annual growth of the Malaysian economy rose up to 8 percent.

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