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This Playground is Presented to the Children of Taiping

The Playground

Yes, that’s the title. I saw it written on the plaque when I brought my son to the playground in Taiping. I got curious and decided to research more about it. Here’s the quote in full:

THIS PLAY GROUND IS PRESENTED TO THE CHILDREN OF TAIPING BY THE 2ND BATTALION NEW ZEALAND REGIMENT 1961.

The 2nd Battalion, New Zealand Regiment was an infantry battalion of the New Zealand Army. It was formed in 1947 and served in Malaya from 1950 to 1965. The battalion was part of the British Commonwealth forces that were fighting the Malayan Emergency, which lasted from 1948 to 1960.

The playground was a gesture of goodwill from the 2nd Battalion to the people of Taiping. It was a way for the unit to show its appreciation for the support that the people of Taiping had given to the soldiers during their time in Malaya.

Located in Taiping Lake Gardens, the playground quickly became a popular spot for children to play. It had slides and a large open area where children could run around and play games.

The playground is still in use today, providing a place for children to play and have fun. It is a lasting legacy of the 2nd Battalion in Malaya. The playground is also a reminder of the friendship between the people of New Zealand and Malaysia. For more information on New Zealand’s involvement in Malaya, please read the brief history below.

The Malayan Emergency

The Malayan Emergency was a period of conflict in Malaya from 1948 to 1960. It was fought between the British colonial government and the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). The MCP, which had been formed during the Second World War, launched a guerrilla campaign against the British in 1948. The conflict lasted for 12 years and ended with the defeat of the MCP.

The Emergency had its roots in the post-war economic and political dislocation in Malaya. The country was divided along ethnic lines, with the Malays, Chinese, and Indians each vying for their own share of power. The MCP saw the Emergency as an opportunity to overthrow British rule and establish a communist state in Malaya.

The MCP guerrilla campaign was initially successful. The rebels were able to establish bases in the jungle and launch attacks on British troops and civilians. However, the British were able to gradually turn the tide of the war with the help of the local population, who were opposed to the MCP’s communist ideology.

The Emergency ended in 1960 with the defeat of the MCP. The rebels were forced to surrender and their leaders were imprisoned. The Emergency had a significant impact on Malaya. It helped to unite the country and it also led to the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

New Zealand’s involvement

New Zealand’s involvement in the Malayan Emergency was part of the Western effort to contain communism in Southeast Asia. The United States, Australia, and other Western powers also provided military support to the British forces in Malaya, as did the Malayan government.

New Zealand’s involvement in the Malayan Emergency began with the deployment of a small number of military personnel in 1948. The New Zealand government initially sent a detachment of engineers to assist with the construction of infrastructure such as roads and bridges. However, as the conflict escalated, New Zealand increased its military commitment to Malaya.

In 1955, New Zealand deployed a battalion of infantry to Malaya. The battalion was part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve and was stationed in Singapore. In 1957, the battalion was deployed to Malaya, taking part in counter-insurgency operations against communist insurgents.

Confrontation

In 1963, Indonesia declared a policy of confrontation (in Indonesian, Konfrontasi) against the Federation of Malaysia, which was formed in the same year. This stemmed from Indonesian President Sukarno’s opposition to the formation of Malaysia, which he saw as a British neo-colony. He also believed that Malaysia was a threat to Indonesia’s territorial integrity, as it included the former British Borneo territories of Sarawak, Sabah, and Brunei.

In 1963, Indonesian forces began to infiltrate and attack targets in Sarawak and Sabah. The 1st New Zealand Special Air Service (SAS) Squadron was deployed to Sarawak in 1963, and the 2nd New Zealand Infantry Battalion was deployed to Sabah in 1964. They fought alongside Malaysian and Commonwealth forces in the Indonesia–Malaysia Confrontation, which lasted from 1963 to 1966.

The 41st Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force was also deployed to Borneo in 1965. These forces engaged in limited operations, including some into Indonesian territory, in 1965–66. There were no New Zealand fatalities in this conflict, which ended in 1966 following a military coup in Indonesia.

Conclusion

From 1948 to 1960, 15 New Zealand soldiers lost their lives while serving in Malaya. Three of them were killed by enemy action, while the other 12 died in accidents or from illness. The New Zealand Roll of Honour commemorates the sacrifice of 20 New Zealanders who died while on duty in Malaya, Borneo, and Singapore between 1948 and 1966.


References:

History Of New Zealand’s Involvement In Malaya/Malaysia. (n.d.). https://www.malayavets.co.nz/history-of-new-zealands-involvement-in-malaya-malaysia/

Commemorating New Zealand’s military operations in Malaya and Malaysia | Ministry for Culture and Heritage. (n.d.). https://mch.govt.nz/commemorating-new-zealand%E2%80%99s-military-operations-malaya-and-malaysia

Ceremony to reflect on New Zealand’s military operations in Malaya and Malaysia | Ministry for Culture and Heritage. (n.d.). https://mch.govt.nz/ceremony-reflect-new-zealand%E2%80%99s-military-operations-malaya-and-malaysia

NZ and the Malayan Emergency. (n.d.-b). Malayan Emergency | NZHistory, New Zealand History Online. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/the-malayan-emergency

Find an object | Imperial War Museums. (n.d.). Imperial War Museums. https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=malayan%20emergency

History Of New Zealand’s Involvement In Malaya/Malaysia. (n.d.-b). https://www.malayavets.co.nz/history-of-new-zealands-involvement-in-malaya-malaysia/

McGibbon, I. (n.d.). Shift of focus to South-East Asia. https://teara.govt.nz/en/asian-conflicts/page-4

Malayan Emergency | Australian War Memorial. (2021, June 3). https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/atwar/malayan-emergency

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