THE controversial issues in Malaya which came to a head in 1946 were constitutional in character, bearing on the status of the Straits Settlements and the Malay States within the British Empire. But beneath the legal aspect of the question are complex political, economic and racial problems. They involve the relationship of Chinese and Indian immigrants to the native Malay population and the relation of all these to the white man, whose prestige, here as elsewhere in the east, was damaged considerably by the events of the Second World War.

The group of territories commonly called British Malaya comprised in 1941 the crown colony of the Straits Settlements and the British-protected Malay States. The Straits Settlements include the islands of Singapore and Penang, and Malacca and Province Wellesley on the mainland. These settlements are former British, Dutch and Portuguese trading posts which came under British rule in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As in all other crown colonies, the British Crown exercised full sovereignty. The chief administrative officer was the Governor of the Straits Settlements. A person born in the Straits Settlements (as in all other crown colonies) was de jure a British subject.

There were in 1941 four Federated Malay States and six Unfederated States.[i] They were not trading communities but producers of staple raw materials, notably rubber and tin ore, coconuts and palm oil. Formally, they were British protected states, not colonies. Their political relations with the British Empire date from the second half of the nineteenth century, when British intervention in the affairs of the almost wholly undeveloped Malayan mainland took place, generally in response to appeals by participants in local quarrels. The expeditions usually ended with the conclusion of a treaty with the local ruler. These treaties were the legal basis of the relation between Great Britain and the Malay States down to 1941.

With small variations the treaties provided that the local rulers would retain legal sovereignty, but would accept the "advice" of a British officer in all matters, foreign and domestic, except those relating to the Mohammedan religion or to Malay custom. Since nominal sovereignty belonged to the Sultan, he was immune from process in English courts; and persons born in these states were not British subjects, but only "British-protected" persons. The senior British officer (whose advice the Sultans were treaty-bound to accept) was the Resident in each Federated State and the Adviser in each Unfederated State. The chief civil officer for the territory as a whole was the High Commissioner; this post was held ex officio by the Governor of the Straits Settlements.

The decades following the conclusion of the treaties were a period of spectacular progress in the Malay States. Most of the treaties had been signed before a single rubber plantation was established in Malaya, but now the rubber and tin industries grew rapidly. This development was accompanied by a heavy influx of foreign capital (largely British and Chinese) and until 1930 by heavy Chinese and Indian immigration. Instead of Malay settlements along the rivers in the midst of uninhabited jungle, there appeared the thriving communities of western Malaya, with a cosmopolitan Chinese, Indian and Malay population.

The Chinese population appreciably exceeded the Malays by 1941 in British Malaya as a whole, as well as in the Federated Malay States and in Johore, the largest and most important of the Unfederated States. In the other Unfederated States the majority of the population was still Malay. In Malaya as a whole including the Straits Settlements, the Malays were about 41 percent of the total population of about 5,500,000, the Chinese about 43 percent and the Indians 14 percent. Industry and trade were largely in Chinese hands. Chinese capital and labor also played a pioneer part in tin mining and rubber planting. The industry, efficiency and toil of the Chinese capitalists and the workers were largely responsible for the economic development of the country. The Malays benefited materially from the general progress, but nonetheless were left far behind.

The economic growth of the country brought administrative centralization. The constituent states of the federation became shadowy entities, and political authority gradually shifted from the Residents to the Chief Secretary in Kuala Lumpur, the capital. Two schools of thought on the position of the Malays and on the duties of the British administration gradually appeared. According to one, Malaya (or at any rate the Malayan mainland) should still be viewed as a collection of states in which the Malays rightfully had a privileged position, where the Sultans were sovereigns and where, in other words, the Chinese and Indians were only tolerated guests in a country belonging to the Malays. This school favored political and administrative decentralization, and the broadening of existing Malay privileges such as a monopoly of land ownership in certain areas, a monopoly of posts in the Malay Administrative Service, special representation on the various federal and state councils, and so on. According to the rival school, the Malayan mainland was one country, created politically and economically during the half-century before 1930, and the Malays were only one of several nations or races composing it. The former was called the pro-Malay or devolutionist school; the latter was sometimes called the pan-Malayan school. There was much strenuous argument between them, in public and behind the scenes.

For a variety of reasons most of the British administrators belonged to the pro-Malay school. They considered that their primary duty was to the Malays, whose ancestors (even if not the original settlers of the country) had been in Malaya well before the masses of the Chinese and Indian immigrants. The majority of the British in the east have a decided preference for Malay manners and customs against those of the Chinese and Indians. This reinforced the natural sympathy for the weakest race; moreover, there were many undesirable elements and downright criminals among the immigrants, especially among the Chinese. There was also a conscious or unconscious economic basis for the pro-Malay attitude. The Malays, unlike the Chinese, were not economic competitors of the British in Malaya. Adequate Chinese substitutes could have been found without too much difficulty for many of the lucrative posts held by British businessmen or administrators in the east, and they would have done the work at half the price of the Europeans. The business community was divided on this issue, however, since the advantages of centralized administration told in favor of the pan-Malayan school.

When nationalist sentiment in China and India grew stronger in the 1920's and Kuomintang flags were flying from Chinese houses in Malaya and Congress flags from most Indian dwellings, the British administrators were especially reluctant to abandon the policy of strengthening the Malays through the grant of special privileges. The principal loyalty of the Chinese and Indians lay outside Malaya, they pointed out. It was true; but it was equally true that until the discrimination against the Chinese and the Indians was abandoned, these races could not be expected to consider Malaya their home. There was clearly no easy way out of this vicious circle.

After about 1925, the pro-Malay or devolutionist school made rapid headway. The right of the Malays to a privileged position was forcefully stated in two important government reports, one in 1928 by Mr. Ormsby Gore (now Lord Harlech), then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies,[ii] and the other in 1932 by Sir Samuel Wilson, then Permanent Under-Secretary of State in the Colonial Office.[iii]

At the same time a number of important pro-Malay speeches were also made by the leading Malayan administrators, notably by Sir Cecil Clementi, who was Governor and High Commissioner from 1930 to 1934. A number of pro-Malay and devolutionist measures followed swiftly. The most important of these were designed to assimilate the Federated Malay States to the Unfederated States, and to strengthen the Malay rule in each state by means of decentralization.


When the Japanese attacked Malaya in 1941 the British pledge to protect the Malay States was put to the test for the first time. It could not be honored, largely owing to insufficient resources and to heavy commitments elsewhere. More competent leadership might have retarded the swift Japanese progress on the mainland, but it is unlikely that the outcome could have been reversed with the resources available. The military defeat, and the unsatisfactory behavior of many members of the European population in Malaya, naturally resulted in a severe loss of prestige which has not yet been made good. While some of the sensational stories of the conduct of Europeans in Malaya were unfounded (as was obvious at the time) the element of truth in others was sufficient to engender much bitterness among the Asiatic population.

So far as is known, no official inquiry has yet been held into this matter, but it would appear to be true, for instance, that the great majority of the European population of Penang, officials and unofficials alike, were covertly evacuated before the fall of the island, while the Asiatics were not warned of its impending surrender, though for political and personal reasons many were very anxious to get away. This appears to have been only one instance among several of the kind. There were outstanding instances of Europeans who felt that their duty was to share the fate of the population entrusted to their care, and who stayed at their posts; but there were enough incidents of a contrary sort to make the loss of prestige even greater than it need have been if there had been only a severe military reverse.

The Japanese received comparatively little assistance from the Asiatic population in their advance, though there were some Malay fifth columnists. During the Japanese occupation, resistance groups were formed in various parts of the Malayan mainland, very largely by Chinese. The most important of these was the Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Association (M.P.A.J.A.), which received some kind of recognition from the allied military authorities and was supplied with arms by parachute. The control of this organization was largely in the hands of Chinese Communists. Its actual military operations were of no consequence, but its members did some good work in looking after the remnants of British forces who escaped capture, and in transmitting some military information to the Allies. The main activities of the organization, however, were directed to terrorizing the rural population, particularly the Malays. While the M.P.A.J.A. managed to kill an occasional Japanese, the arms were chiefly used to extort money and goods from the villagers or else were kept in store for postwar use.

The unexpectedly sudden collapse of the Japanese in August 1945 left the country without effective administration for several months. The M.P.A.J.A. and other Communist-sponsored organizations established an unbridled reign of terror, massacring their personal and political enemies and holding the population to heavy ransom. Their ranks were reinforced by thousands who had not even been nominal resisters during the Japanese occupation. The activities of these Communist groups were directed partly against wealthy Asiatics of all races and against Malays in general. They also conducted bitter anti-British and anti-American propaganda along established Communist lines.

Order had not yet been restored in large parts of the country when Sir Harold MacMichael, a former High Commissioner for Palestine, arrived in Malaya as special emissary of the Colonial Office to conclude a series of treaties with the Malay rulers to supersede the existing treaties between Great Britain and the several Malay States. He spent 82 days in Malaya, and arranged 10 treaties with the rulers of the 10 Malay States. In these the rulers abandoned their nominal sovereignty and agreed that the British Crown "shall have full power and jurisdiction" in their several states. In effect, they consented to direct rule by the British Crown. In legal terms, the Malay States ceased to be protected states and became colonial protectorates; the British Crown now exercises full sovereignty and the chief civil officer is the governor, not the high commissioner. In administrative matters there is no difference between a colonial protectorate and a crown colony, though a person born in a colonial protectorate is not a British subject.

The circumstances which led to the signing of these treaties are somewhat obscure, but it is very widely believed that the rulers acted under duress. Some of them have said this explicitly; and indeed, the MacMichael report itself contains a broad hint that duress was used in the State of Kedah. When it is remembered that most of the rulers had been on their thrones during the Japanese régime, and that their recognition by Great Britain was by no means a foregone conclusion, it will readily be realized that there was an opportunity for exercising pressure. Even if duress was not used, the legal validity of two of the treaties is doubtful, since the States of Johore and Trengganu were constitutional monarchies, and the monarch had no power to surrender any part of the nominal sovereignty.

The MacMichael report does not explain why new treaties had to replace the old ones. It states that the former treaties did not concede direct rights of jurisdiction in the Malay States to the British Government, but only the right to tender advice. "The resultant state of affairs," the report declares, ". . . rendered the processes of administration somewhat cumbrous and complex and His Majesty's Government had become convinced that some measure of simplification was required. . . . Moreover, it was clear that, although the special position of the indigenous Malays needed to be safeguarded, reforms were overdue in the system of representation in order to permit the claims of other races, Chinese and Indian for the most part, who even in the Peninsula and apart from Singapore, had come to form at least half the total population, to receive reasonable satisfaction."[iv]


Implementing the avowed aim of the MacMichael report -- to lead the Peninsula as a united country toward self-government -- an official British White Paper of 1946[v] proposed the supersession of the Straits Settlements and of the Malay States by two separate colonies, or rather by a crown colony and a colonial protectorate -- Singapore and the Malayan Union. It confirmed the loss of the nominal sovereignty of the Sultans and envisaged complete administrative centralization within the Malayan Union. The Union itself was to comprise the Malay States of the mainland and the former settlements of Penang, Malacca and Province Wellesley. It also visualized the creation of a Malayan Union citizenship, to be extended to all persons born in the Malayan Union or Singapore or who had resided there for ten years out of the 15 years preceding the establishment of the new citizenship; and in the future, Malayan Union citizenship would be acquired on five years' residence.

The MacMichael treaties, with the White Paper, represented of course a complete volte face of the pro-Malay policy, and aroused a storm of protest among the Malays. A United Malay National Organization (U.M.N.O.) was formed to agitate for a revision of these arrangements. In the northern Unfederated States the sentiment against the proposed policies was strengthened by the memories of the comparatively recent semi-independence of these territories under the nominal Siamese rule. In Johore, at the other end of the Peninsula, the feeling was fanned by the acute communal tension which had grown up, apparently as a result of the activities of the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Association and the Communist terror of the autumn of 1945. The general revulsion of feeling engendered by the activities of the Chinese Communists has actually proved a great boon to the U.M.N.O. and to the Malay sympathizers generally, even though only a small fraction of the Chinese were active participants. The fact that under the new citizenship proposals it might no longer be possible to deport undesirable elements among the Chinese has influenced many to oppose them.

Although the U.M.N.O. is a nationwide movement and apparently well organized, it could not have made much headway had its leaders not had the astuteness to enlist the active support, as advisers, of several leading representatives of the former pro-Malay school. In particular, they succeeded in obtaining the assistance of Mr. Roland Braddell, a leading Singapore constitutional lawyer, and perhaps even more important, the help of Sir Theodore Adams, a former high officer of the Malayan Civil Service, who had had lifelong experience in Malaya and was well known both for his forceful personality and for his strong pro-Malay views. The British supporters of the U.M.N.O., and particularly Adams and Braddell, greatly enhanced its effectiveness.

Intense agitation against the MacMichael treaties and the White Paper proposals continued throughout the spring and summer of 1946, and by the middle of the year it was clear that the policy would have to be altered. In August a constitutional conference was called in Kuala Lumpur. The Malays were represented by the leaders of U.M.N.O. and their chief European advisers, and the leading officers of the Malayan Union administration represented the Government.

The agreed recommendations of the constitutional conference were made public in Malaya toward the end of December 1946; at the time of writing, summaries only are available in London, and the proposals have not yet been incorporated in a White Paper or in a Government statement to the House of Commons. The proposals are much in accordance with expectations. The Malayan Union is to be replaced by a federation of the various Malay States and of the Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Province Wellesley. The Sultans are to remain rulers of their States and their nominal sovereignty will be restored, but they will have to accept the advice of the High Commissioner of the Federation on all matters except those touching on Mohammedan religion or Malay custom. It would appear from these proposals that the MacMichael treaties will be abrogated; and, of course, the Malayan Union White Paper will be withdrawn. The citizenship requirements are to be tightened up very considerably. The proposed qualifications include: 15 years' residence out of the previous 25 years; ability to speak English or Malay; a declaration of permanent settlement, as well as evidence of good character. There are also provisions for legislative and executive councils. While the retention of their nominal sovereignty by the Sultans is probably of considerable sentimental value and thus of political importance, the changes in the requirements for citizenship are probably of greater significance in substance.

These stricter conditions seem eminently reasonable. It is noted, however, that the proposals envisage the retention of dual citizenship; thus a British or a Chinese subject may acquire Malayan citizenship without renunciation of British or Chinese nationality. This seems, on the face of it, an important concession by the Malays and their advisers, and is a provision which may eventually prove troublesome. It should be noted that these are the proposals of the British-Malay constitutional committee only and will still have to be considered by the other communities before they can be accepted by the British Government.


Whatever the final outcome of the constitutional discussions, the fundamental, economic, political and racial problems will not be greatly affected by such changes as the substitution of "union" for "federation," by changes in the requirements for citizenship, or changes in the degree of administrative centralization. It may not even matter very much whether the Malay States remain Protected States or become a Colonial Protectorate. The outstanding problem is and will remain that of finding a basis for a reasonable measure of unity and common sentiment in Malaya, and of ensuring for this community the loyalty of the Chinese population, its most active and vigorous section.

Malaya may be caught between two nationalisms: a Malay nationalism, centering in Indonesia, and a rival Chinese nationalism turning toward China. This is, of course, a threat to which multi-community countries are often exposed. Recent developments have enhanced this danger in Malaya. The growth of nationalism throughout Asia, the consolidation of various Chinese factions into the Kuomintang and the Communist groups; the Indonesian revolt, the strife engendered by the activities of the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Association, the fillip to Malay nationalism by the MacMichael procedure and proposals and the loss of European prestige following the temporary Japanese occupation of Malaya have all accentuated racial tension in Malaya and may continue to do so.

The activities of the Communists partly reinforce the communal tension and partly cut across the communal division. The Communist movement in Malaya is very largely Chinese, with some Indian participation. The Communists are intensely disliked by the Malays; but they are also disliked by the Kuomintang supporters among the Chinese, and these are still more numerous than the Communists among the Chinese in Malaya. As in so many other countries, it is difficult to gauge the strength of the Communists in Malaya. The offices of the Communist Party and of its numerous subsidiary organizations can be found in very many places in Malaya and often in quite small villages. Many of these organizations are of mushroom growth and are, indeed, often of the nature of a stage army. Yet it is difficult to accept the view widely held by Malayan administrators that when rice and consumer goods become more freely available the Communist movement will be reduced to insignificance, or even disappear altogether. The Communists had some following among Chinese workers in Singapore in 1939-40, and it is certain that this influence has increased. Communists strength is, however, still insufficient to render them an important factor in the political life of the country during the next few years, and the opposition of the tens of thousands of small capitalists, traders and artisans among the Chinese (especially the Hokkien Chinese), as well as the hostility of the Malays, is likely to restrict their growth. But they may remain a disturbing factor in the economic life of the country and enhance the difficulties of the rubber estates, the tin companies, and the Malayan administrators.

In the future, communal tension in Malaya may also be exacerbated by economic difficulties. The prosperity of the country was an important reason for the comparative absence of communal tension before 1941. During the next few years the Malayan economy may have to contend with some unfavorable developments. The entrepot trade of Singapore and Penang would suffer as a result of a world-wide tendency toward regimentation and self-sufficiency, and it is likely to be adversely affected by the political disturbances in the Netherlands East Indies and in French Indo-China. The present shortage of supplies, besides curtailing the current consumption of all classes, also retards the rehabilitation of the tin industry and inflates the cost of production of both rubber and tin by leading to demands for higher money wages. But much the most important adverse changes from prewar days are likely to occur in the rubber industry. The production of synthetic rubber in the United States will set a lower ceiling to prices and profits than in the past, though it is not likely to oust the natural product. A graver threat to the Malayan rubber industry is implied in the dramatic rise of low-cost producers of natural rubber, among whom the native producers in Sumatra and Borneo are the most important. According to the latest official Dutch figures, the native rubber smallholdings in Sumatra and Borneo totalled 3,200,000 acres in 1940, equal to the total area under rubber in Malaya, estates and smallholdings together. Henceforth it will not be easy to suppress competition from these producers by restriction schemes operated by, and largely in the interests of, European-owned estates. The Malayan rubber industry may also have to face low-cost competition from Siam, Sarawak and French Indo-China. Even if restriction is reimposed, which is doubtful, its terms will be less favorable to Malaya, and especially to the Malayan estates, than they were before 1941.

In these conditions the administrators are faced with an extremely difficult task in trying to establish a common Malayan loyalty and sentiment among the three main races of Malaya. Reasonable access for Chinese to responsible positions in both the administrative and technical grades of the public service is probably the most important requirement of a wise approach to this overriding objective. Until Chinese are admitted to posts of responsibility and dignity in the public service, it will be hard to break down the almost general assumption of the Chinese in Malaya that financial success is the only test of ability. Here again, the present administrators may be confronted with a vicious circle, but it is one which must be broken and the Chinese should be given access to senior positions in the public service even at the risk of some failures. Free and adequate education for the children of all races, and not of Malay children only, is an important prerequisite. This has been a contentious issue in the past, but it is a reform which is overdue and to which the Malays would probably not object.

Questions of land tenure will raise difficult but not insoluble issues. The extensive Malay reservations should probably be retained, but otherwise the land should be alienated freely to Chinese and Indians already settled in Malaya. The transformation of a proportion of the landless Chinese and Indian workers in Malaya into peasant proprietors, especially into owners of rubber-growing smallholdings, would make an important contribution to the social and political stability of the country, again without damaging Malay interests.

This last point raises the whole question of the restrictionist rubber policies pursued in Malaya for the last 25 years. Since the introduction of the Stevenson scheme in 1922, a strong bias in favor of restriction manifested itself in statutory restriction of exports, output and planting, and in severe curtailment of the issue of land titles for rubber cultivation. Some of these policies were unilateral on the part of Malaya, and contributed largely to the spectacular rise of the low-cost producing territories which may come very near to squeezing Malaya out as a producer of natural rubber in a few years' time. The restrictionist policies impaired the competitive strength of the Malayan rubber industry; they also had important adverse effects on the social stability of the country by preventing the expansion of the smallholdings and favoring cultivation by large estates -- high-cost producers operated with large alien labor forces.

The restrictionist bias of the rubber policy adopted in Malaya is again manifest today, as some key provisions of the defunct international rubber regulation scheme, notably the prohibition of new planting, are still in force unilaterally in Malaya. As this territory has now less than one-third of the world acreage under rubber, unilateral restriction is certain to be highly disadvantageous, and might even be disastrous. Its adoption is an eloquent tribute to the political power of the high-cost producers (the European-owned estates) in Malaya. A reversal of this policy is essential for the economic future of the country.

A policy of admission of Chinese into higher positions in the public service and of alienation of land for rubber growing by Chinese and Indian workers, while beneficial for the country as a whole, would infringe on European preserves. It would reduce the number of lucrative posts reserved for British administrators and, more important still, would adversely affect the capital value of the European rubber estates. But the issues at stake are too great to permit such considerations to exercise an undue influence.

It would also seem important that the authorities, as well as private employers, should exercise somewhat greater care than before in the selection of recruits, both for the public service and for private employment. Malaya has had many great public servants devoted to the country and to its people, for whom they felt a genuine affection which was often sincerely reciprocated. But the standard was not uniformly high, and in the years before the recent war there were officers in high position in the service who were mediocrities or worse. An official inquiry in 1939-40 uncovered widespread corruption among senior European officers of the Mines Department. Nor was the unofficial European community of the 1930's of a kind likely to inspire the respect or the confidence of the Asiatic population. In view of the loss of European prestige since 1941 and of the many difficulties to be faced over the next few years, it is most important that high standards of tact, competence, understanding and integrity should be demanded in the recruitment of European officials, commercial employees and planters. There are few signs that this is yet appreciated fully in Malaya. In fact the quality of some officers appointed in 1946 after service with the British Military Administration is disappointing, and it is evident that some of these recruits accepted posts in Malaya only because they (rightly) considered their chances of good employment in Britain to be definitely poor.


There is reason to fear, then, that before very long Malaya may have to face great economic, political and social difficulties. Present conditions in Malaya are, however, in remarkable contrast to those in the Netherlands East Indies, or in French Indo-China, and some explanation of this contrast seems to be called for. Why is it that while large sections of the populations of those other areas are fighting desperately to prevent a return of the Dutch and the French, the inhabitants of Malaya have generally welcomed the British and have shown no signs of hostility, with the exception of the Communists and their affiliates?

According to a widespread Dutch opinion, the explanation lies solely in differences in power: while the British arrived in Malaya with large and well-armed forces at the time of the Japanese surrender, no ships could be found (possibly through half-intentional malice by the British) to take substantial Dutch forces to Java and Sumatra where, moreover, the Japanese distributed large quantities of arms to terrorist elements among the population. This explanation is quite inadequate. Not only did large sections of the Indonesian population in the Netherlands East Indies offer determined resistance even after the arrival of substantial forces, but the whole atmosphere in the country and the spirit with which the people received the Dutch were very different from that in Malaya. When one talks frankly and privately to the Asiatics in Malaya they sometimes criticize the British administration freely, and emphasize the social, political and economic discrimination against non-Europeans. But even in this criticism there is often a friendly undertone, and there is certainly a notable absence of the bitterness and hatred which is so often felt against the Dutch by the Indonesians, and which is a driving force behind the Indonesian resistance. This seems paradoxical, since in the Netherlands East Indies Eurasians and Asiatics have occasionally risen to high and responsible positions from which they were barred in Malaya. Again, unlike the British, the Dutch in the Netherlands East Indies identified themselves with the country whose fate they were prepared to share, as was shown in 1942 when with a few exceptions of handpicked key-men, they stayed at their posts, or at least in the country when it was overrun.

But this is not the whole picture. While individual natives and Eurasians had better prospects for advancement in the Netherlands East Indies than in Malaya, the general run of the inhabitants were treated far worse, and indeed often with a brutality which was most unusual in Malaya. This difference in the treatment of the masses of the people may have flowed from differences in the national temperament or in the upbringing of the British and the Dutch; or it may have reflected the comparative scarcity of population in Malaya against the overpopulation of Java, which rendered Indonesian life and labor cheap. But whatever the underlying cause, there was a notable difference in the treatment of the people by the British and the Dutch, and the attitude of the latter to the native population was certainly at least partly responsible for the reception accorded to the Dutch in Java and Sumatra. Somewhat similar considerations probably apply to French Indo-China; there, too, individual members of the local population could rise to higher posts than in Malaya, but the people generally were treated more harshly than the population under British rule. Again, parts of Indo-China (where the present fighting is taking place) are very densely populated.

The composite population of British Malaya, and the large proportion of comparatively recent immigrants, may also have been partly responsible for the absence of such a violent reaction as has been displayed by the more homogeneous autochthonous populations of the Netherlands East Indies and of French Indo-China. The great majority of the Chinese in Malaya have no deep, sentimental roots in the country and could certainly not be expected to fight for its independence. The majority of the Malays rarely adopt a pan-Malayan attitude and would think more in terms of their own small states than of Malaya as a whole. Moreover, the Malays are genuinely fond of the British and would very much prefer to see the country administered by them than by the Chinese. Communal differences caused tension and trouble over the last 18 months and may raise acute problems in the future. But they may have been partly responsible for the absence of such violent clashes between the local population and the returning authorities as have occurred elsewhere.

[i] The four Federated States were Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang; the six Unfederated were Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Trengganu, Perlis and Brunei -- the last named, however, actually in Borneo.

[ii] "Report by the Rt. Hon. W. G. A. Ormsby Gore, M.P., on his Visit to Malaya, Ceylon and Java during the year 1928." Cmd. 3235 of 1928, p. 17-18.

[iii] "Report of Sir Samuel Wilson on his Visit to Malaya in 1932." Cmd. 4276 of 1933, p. 12.

[iv] Sir Harold MacMichael, "Report on a Mission to Malaya." Colonial No. 194. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, February 1946.

[v] "Malayan Union and Singapore." Cmd. 6724.

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now
  • P. T. BAUER, lecturer in economics at the London School of Economics, and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University.
  • More By P. T. Bauer