WYNNE, Mervyn Llewelyn.
Triad and Tabut.
A survey of the origin and diffusion of Chinese and Mohamedan Secret Societies in the Malay Peninsula A. D. 1800-1935.
First and only edition of this fascinating and detailed history of Malay secret societies, published as “confidential for authorised issue only”. Although well represented institutionally (Copac locates 16 complete copies in British and Irish institutional libraries, OCLC around two dozen worldwide), it is uncommon commercially. The Foreword to Part I (dated 1957) is by the former colonial secretary for Singapore, W. L. Blythe, who writes “the author had hoped to continue his work by a more detailed analysis of the activities of particular societies in Malaya, but owing to the Japanese occupation of Malaya during which he died, this was never completed. Wynne wrote at a time when Chinese Secret Society activity was just about at its lowest ebb in Malaya. For years there had been few prosecutions of persons for comparative study and of members and officials of such societies who could be interrogated”. He then adds that “as the material contained in this book may be of interest and use to a wider group of research workers, permission has been given by the Governments of the Federation of Malaya and the Colony of Singapore for the issue of such copies as still remain, to libraries and centres of learning”; to which a pencilled marginal note adds: “partly true”. There are a number of pencilled marginal notes clearly by someone familiar with the subject. A publisher’s note at the end of the Foreword states that “throughout this work, references will be found to various Appendices, but these did not survive the Japanese occupation of Malaya. There are also references to ‘Part II’ and to chapters numbered from XXII onwards. These concern the projected second part of this work which was planned and partly written but was unfinished at the time of the Japanese occupation”. Part II, present here, is often absent. Mervyn Llewelyn Wynne (c.1891-1942) was a Dublin-born officer with the Malayan Police, who had been deputy inspector general Straits Settlements Police Force, after serving with the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own) 1914-1922; he died in internment at Sumatra. Triad and Tabut was issued at the height of what the British refer to as the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960) when Commonwealth armed forces fought a protracted guerilla war against the Malayan National Liberation Army; it is quoted extensively in Anoma Pieris, Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes: a penal history of Singapore’s plural society, 2009.
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2 parts bound as one, folio (340 x 215 mm). Contemporary green quarter calf, gilt lettered spine, green cloth sides. Light wear to spine. A very good copy.