Courtesy Reuters

The Troubled Birth of Malaysia

The Federation of Malaysia is scheduled to come into existence on August 31 of this year by the merger of the existing Federation of Malaya with Singapore, the British colonies of Sarawak and North Borneo and the British- protected Sultanate of Brunei, thus forming a crescent well over a thousand miles long from the borders of Thailand almost to within eyesight of the southernmost Philippine islands. Although many difficulties stand in the way, the British and Malayan Governments say categorically that they will not be deterred from pushing the plan through. Some of the difficulties are historical and local, for the new Federation will be a rather arbitrary assemblage of widely separated territories with mixed populations at different stages of development. More important are the objections raised by Indonesia and the Philippines.

President Sukarno of Indonesia condemns Malaysia as a colonialist project because it will have a British defense guarantee; he sees no inconsistency, however, in criticizing it in the same breath as so weak that it will open the way for the southward march of Communist China. The Philippines began by taking the same position; but because its history gives it a different outlook on the relations of independent states with former colonial powers, it decided on second thought not to stress the criticism of Malaysia as a device to prolong colonialism. However, it joins Indonesia in claiming that China will find easier pickings in a Malaysian federation than it would if the component territories remained separate bits of real estate with an uncertain future. What they would like that future to be is not much of a secret. An agitation is being carried on in Indonesia, without official hindrance, for self-determination of the British territories as a halfway house toward their inclusion in Indonesia; and the Philippine Government has put forward a claim to residual sovereignty in a part of North Borneo, based on a complicated chain of inheritances from the last Sultan of Sulu.

This controversy has brought new

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