Alternate History

Point of Divergence: 1951-1965 (Lee's Malaysia)

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(1st POD) 1951:Onn Jaafar, leader of the United Malays National Organization, manages to open up the party to non-Malay membership, winning popular support. Among his early supporters are Lee Kwan Yew and Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmy.

1961: The blueprint for the Federation of Malaysia, comprised of Malaya, Brunei, Singapore, Sarawak, and Sabah, is formulated and negotiations begin between the local elites and the British.

(2nd POD) 1962: A series of revolts breaks out in Brunei against the merger. The Sultan, deciding to show conviction, denounces the rebels as disobedient to Allah and announces his intention to continue according to plan. In response, the rebellions escalate, forcing the Sultan to declare a state of martial law.

1963: The revolts spill out of Brunei into Sarawak and Sabah, forcing the remaining sultans and Lee Kwan Yew into an emergency meeting on how to resolve the crisis. The attendees are split between sending their own troops to assist the Sultan of Brunei crush the rebellion, or simply cut their losses by ejecting Brunei. Lee Kwan Yew, fearing that this would set a dangerous precedent for Singapore, where ethnic and socioeconomic tensions threaten to erupt into race riots, argues passionately, and triumphantly, for a joint military crackdown against the rebels. Recognizing his superb organizational talents, Lee is tasked with the creation of a Malaysian special operations force and espionage system. Setting his headquarters in Singapore, Lee begins recruiting troops and ships for the crackdown. In the meantime, regular troops in Sarawak, Brunei, and Sabah manage to retain control over the major cities and ports, and Malaysian intelligence ops are smuggled into the Borneo territories, though the rebels control the countryside and rural areas.

1964: In early March, the Malaysian special forces are dispatched from Singapore for Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, and Bandar Seri Begawan and begin preparing for a full sweep of the hinterland. The rebels, fearing that their time is running out, launch an attack against the major cities, hoping to catch the special forces by surprise. Unfortunately, the Malaysian espionage network alerts the military and the attack is routed. Seizing the opportunity, the Malaysian special forces pursue the rebels into the hinterland and wipe out their major bases and killing or capturing the majority of their forces. By early August, their organization crippled, many flee to Kalimantan in Indonesia, hoping to continue the cause from afar. Unfortunately, the rebels are scattered due to the intensity of the counter-attack and the rough, mountainous terrain. Low on supplies and separated from their leaders and each other, the rebels turn to pillaging local villages, eventually falling into greater savagery, including rape and murder. The villagers turn to the Indonesian government for help, but despite assurances of incoming aid, corruption, partisan rivalry, and ethnocentrism delay a timely response.

1965: The villagers, mainly nomadic hunter-gatherers and swidden farmers, desperate for relief, try to accelerate the Indonesian government's response to their plight. On February 20th, they go directly to the local radio station to plead their case on live broadcast across the island and Indonesia. Surprisingly, their call for help was answered not by Sukarno, but by Lee. Recognizing the ethnic kinship between the afflicted villagers in Indonesia and their own Bornean minorities, and the threat of secession, Lee, working with certain members of the Indonesian military, organizes a surgical strike against the marauding rebels. The plan, calling for an air-strike from Malaysia combined with a land attack by the Indonesian military, is launded by August 17th. With accurate intelligence provided by the villagers, the attack is a resounding success and the rebels are crushed within weeks. Shortly, aid from Malaysia is set to arrive at the villages, when Sukarno, learning of the events in Borneo, decides to flex his dictatorial muscles.

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