Honouring our veterans who served in Malaya and Borneo

Tuesday, August 31 2021

The Hon Andrew Gee MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

Today is Malaya and Borneo Veterans’ Day, when we pause to recognise and remember the 10,500 Australians who served in the Malayan Emergency and the Indonesian Confrontation.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee said he encourages Australians to acknowledge the service and dedication of those who fought in these post-Second World War conflicts in the Malaya and Borneo regions.

“Only a few short years following the end of the Second World War, the Malayan Emergency began in 1948, lasting until 1960,” Minister Gee said.

“The Malayan Emergency was declared following the murder of three European estate managers who were killed as part of the Malayan Communist Party’s insurgency against the British colonial government. Australia’s military involvement commenced in 1950 and continued with anti- insurgency operations in Malaya until 1963.”

One key success of the conflict was a coordinated operation in July 1954 in Perak state. In an operation code named Termite, five RAAF Lincoln bombers and another six Lincolns from 148 RAF Squadron made simultaneous attacks on two communist camps. This was followed by drops of British paratroops, a ground attack, and a further bombing run ten days later. The mission destroyed a large number of guerrilla camps.

Australia Army soldiers standing in a circle and drinking either tea or coffee in the jungle north of Baling, Malaya, 1960. There is a tent and trees behind them.

During 13 years in Malaya, personnel from the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force played an important role in bringing the long-running communist insurgency in the region to an end.

The Indonesian Confrontation or Konfrontasi started in 1962, ending in 1966. This conflict was a small undeclared war fought between Indonesia and the newly federated state of Malaysia.

“The Confrontation was a dispute over whether the former British colonies of Sabah and Sarawak which bordered Indonesian provinces on Borneo, would become part of Indonesia or of the newly federated Malaysia,” Minister Gee said.

“In 1964 Australian, New Zealand and British troops first became involved in the conflict.

“On 11 August 1966 Indonesia signed a peace treaty with Malaysia. The treaty recognised that the North Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak would continue to be part of the Malaysian Federation.

“This year marks 55 years since the end of the Confrontation and I urge all Australians to pause and remember the service and sacrifice of those who fought for our nation.

“Tragically, we lost 39 Australians during the Malayan Emergency, and 23 military personnel during the Indonesian Confrontation. Australia will never forget them and all who served in those conflicts. They made a vitally important contribution to restoring peace and security to our region.”

You can learn more about the Malayan Emergency and Indonesian Confrontation on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Anzac Portal.

Australian Army soldiers walking up to board a Belvedere helicopter in Sarawak, British North Borneo in 1965. There are tropical trees and sky in the background.

Media contacts

Minister Gee’s office: 0456 921 330
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466
Office of the Hon. Andrew Gee, Canberra ACT.

Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au