National Geographic : 1953 Feb
186 Barbed Wire, Steel-plated Car, and Armed Guards Protect a British Planter Malaya's Red raiders strike at rubber estates, road and rail traffic, tin mines, and isolated villages. Security forces slowly gain the upper hand, but lonely planters like Harold Aitken-Quack (above) still live and work in constant danger. British understatement terms this grim hide-and-seek war the "Emergency." At Tuan Mee's barbed-wire enclosure a special constable presented arms. Jim spoke in Malay, and we proceeded past neat lawns and exotic shrubs to a spacious bungalow. Out bounded a colt-size great Dane, followed by its master. "I'm Harold Aitken-Quack," said the planter. "Been waiting for you. Expected you sooner and was getting worried. Can't be sure one's guests will arrive these days." "Glad to see you chaps," he said as we chatted later. "It's a bit lonely here. My wife and son are in England, but in a few months I'll join them on leave. After that we'll return here." Police Escort on Every Trip After lunch, Harold described a planter's life during the Emergency. "It's quite different now," he said. "I used to spend most of my time outdoors, over seeing the planting or clearing of land. Now, because of the terrorists, I can't go anywhere without a constable escort. Can't remain anywhere more than 15 or 20 minutes, nor do anything today at the same time as yes terday. Too easy to plan an ambush." "Have you had much trouble?" Joe asked. "Not much, really. Been lucky. I've had quite a few trees slashed, but my biggest headache is lorries-trucks, you'd call them. Lost four last year. It hampers the collection of latex. "I know the bad hats around here-a gang of Indians led by a Chinese. Appear at odd times in the fields, demand food and money from our tappers. They don't get much-it's a serious offense for workers to carry either; so they burn my lorries. "Usually one can't tell a Communist from anyone else, which makes the whole business rather awkward. A few years ago I had a houseboy, seemed a decent sort, who turned out to be one. Gave information that led to a nasty ambush." "Speaking of ambushes," Jim asked, "how has your luck been on that score?" "Not bad," Harold answered. "There were eight on this road last year, and several buses burned. I've had only two narrow escapes got caught in a skirmish between terrorists and security forces once. Most embarrassing. "But I get around," he continued. "I've neighbors four miles away in either direction.