You are on page 1of 16

Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 2015

Vol. 16, No. 1, 9–23,

Revisiting Malaya: envisioning the nation, the history of ideas and

the idea of history


ABSTRACT Political and historical thoughts pertaining to “modern Malaya” and Malaysia are
phenomena of the emerging modern era characterized by the stirrings and the rise of nationalism in
Southeast Asia since the early twentieth century. One of the most compelling ideas in envisioning
the nation and fighting for independence then was Melayu Raya, articulated by a group of visionary
leaders of socio-political movements who professed to fight for the creation of a political entity, a new
independent “nation.” Using the history of ideas approach, this article argues that nations are envi-
sioned, and that we need to contextualize the discussion within what has been termed as “Malay
world,” the old kingdoms in the region, and the subsequent struggles against colonial powers and
the “nationalist” projects for independence. To help understand this background, the article uses
the concept of “culture zone” as used by Fernand Braudel in his study of civilizations. This article
examines the debate on the “Malay world” and Melayu Raya, and also the post-Second World War
envisioning of the nation and the approaches taken by various groups to fight against British coloni-
alism and for independence. Despite almost six decades of independence, some of these ideas keep
returning, resonating with some aspects of the present in today’s Malaysia. In the course of this
article, a brief reference to the history of ideas and the idea of history is made.

K EYWORDS : Cultural zone, nation, history of ideas, Melayu Raya

Introduction new “nation”—which was to be free and

independent from the yoke of colonialism
The foray into political and historical
and foreign domination.
thoughts of any nation or region—arguably
In the study of nations and nationalism,
an important and productive intellectual
there has been a debate on whether nations
exercise—requires us to delve into the
history of ideas to make sense of what tran- are “imagined” or are “conceptualized.”
spired in the historical past and how they Basing himself mainly on Western experi-
impacted upon subsequent developments. ence on the rise of nations and nationalism,
Political and historical thoughts pertaining Benedict Anderson in his celebrated classic,
to “modern Malaya”1 are phenomena of the Imagined Communities ([1983] 1991) argues
emerging modern era, that is, the era charac- that a nation is a socially constructed com-
terized by the stirrings and the rise of politics munity, imagined by the people who per-
as a discourse and practice in Malaya since ceive themselves as part of that group. An
the late nineteenth and the beginning of the “imagined community” is different from an
twentieth century. These thoughts and actual community because it is not (and, for
ideas were articulations by visionary practical reasons, cannot be) based on every-
leaders and thinkers who nurtured the idea day face-to-face interaction between its
of a bangsa (nation) as different from kerajaan members. Anderson argues that “Even the
(ancient regime) (Milner 1982), an idea that smallest nation will never know most of
subsequently translated into the struggle their fellow-members, meet them, or even
for the creation of a new political entity—a hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives

© 2015 Taylor & Francis

10 Abdul Rahman Embong

the image of their communion” (Anderson bangsa consciousness, the subsequent

[1983] 1991, 7). A common language and dis- struggles against colonial powers and the
course that had been made possible due to “nationalist” projects for independence. It
the rise of print capitalism is important to must be emphasized that official state
nurture such imagination. Nevertheless, borders of the present states in Southeast
Anderson cautions that while “nation-ness Asia were political rather than natural cul-
is the most universally legitimate value in tural borders, and were a creation or a
the political life of our time” (Anderson product of the colonial era, a “contested
[1983] 1991, 3), “Nation, nationality, national- construction” in the eyes of these thinkers
ism—all have proved notoriously difficult to and visionaries.
define, let alone analyse” (Anderson [1983] It is this argument that needs to be
1991, 7). underlined here as some of the key political
Referring specifically to Malayan history thoughts or ideas that emanated during the
and the rise of “bangsa” (nation) conscious- era of struggle against colonialism trans-
ness, Anthony Milner in his work The Inven- cended such newly created political bound-
tion of Politics in Colonial Malaya (1995) takes a aries. To help understand this complex
different view. Arguing that bangsa is “con- background, we need to rely on a key
ceptualized” rather than “imagined,” concept in social science, that is, the concept
Milner (1995, 89) asserts that the term “con- of “cultural zone” as used by Fernand
ceptualized” “conveys better the purpose Braudel in his study of civilizations, or its
and energy with which the Malay writers earlier variant, the concept of “culture-area”
engaged in the construction of a new form as used by anthropologist Clark Wissler
of community.” Milner further suggests (1927), to refer to a geographical region that
that “bangsa was certainly an intellectual has elements of a “common culture.”
rather than a natural construction,” an argu- Braudel (1993, 12) notes that: “A cultural
ment in keeping with his proposition of it zone, as defined by anthropologists, is an
being “conceptualized.” To him, the area within which one group of cultural
concept of “imagination” “tends to disguise characteristics is dominant.” While some cul-
the anxiety, the experimentation, the contest tural zones are small, others
and the sheer intellectual difficulty faced by
those who relinquished their loyalty to cover much larger areas, united by
older forms of community [meaning the ker- characteristics common to the group and
ajaan] and constructed a new form” (Milner differentiating them from other large
communities. … Naturally enough, fol-
1995, 89).
lowing the example of the anthropolo-
Whether nations are “imagined” or, on
gists, geographers and historians have
the contrary, “conceptualized” are different
taken to discussing cultural zones—this
ways of studying the same phenomenon
time with reference to advanced and
of nation and nationalism. Whatever the complex civilizations. They identify
case may be, in this article, we use the areas which in turn can be subdivided
term “envisioning the nation”—a concept into a series of districts. Such division …
which, in our view, contains both the applies essentially to large civilizations:
element of “imagination” as well as “con- these regularly resolve themselves into
ceptualization.”2 Bearing this in mind, it is smaller units. (Braudel 1993, 12)
argued here that studying Malay(sia)’s
history, especially of political and historical While the concept of “cultural zone” and
thoughts related to her evolution into a “culture-area” may appear homogenizing, it
modern state/nation requires us to both does not imply there were only one culture
historicize and contextualize the discussion and one people in the region. Indeed, it
within what has been termed as Alam does recognize the diversity or the myriad
Melayu or the “Malay world,” the old king- of constituent peoples, ethnicities and cul-
doms or kerajaan in the region, the rise of tures within it, but it emphasizes the shared
Revisiting Malaya 11

underlying thread such as language, certain “Malay world” and its contestations
ways of life and common historical experi-
History is replete with controversies and the
ences that bind the various parts together.
history of the region designated as “Malay
This concept of a “cultural zone” and/or
world” is no different. To begin with, was
“culture-area” is useful when discussing the
there a “Malay world” or a “kerajaan
shared cultural expressions and historical
world”? Was the “Malay world” concept a
experiences of the area which constitutes
myth, a figment of the imagination of
today’s Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the
fervent Malay nationalists such as Ibrahim
Philippines. A look at the array of ideas ema-
Yaacob, Mustapha Hussein, Ishak Hji
nating in the history of this region draws our
Muhamad, Burhanuddin Al-Helmy, and
attention to such notions as “Nusantara,”
Ahmad Boestamam from the Kesatuan
“Alam Melayu” (Malay world), “Melayu
Raya” “Indonesia Raya,” Malphilindo, Melayu Muda (Union of Malay Youth) who
“Melayu” (as a nationality), “Malaya” and wanted to create an enlarged and unified
subsequently “Malaysia,” and ideologies state encompassing Indonesia and Malaya?
such as marhaenism and Islam (Islam is a reli- Is their advocacy of the “Malay world” or
gion, but it can also be studied from the per- Melayu Raya and the agenda of making it a
spective of ideology of struggle). Underlying “nation-of-intent” in the fight for Malaya’s
these ideas is the vision of a nation-of-intent independence an example of “the indigen-
of their articulators, however elusive these ization of colonial knowledge” as proposed
“envisionings of the nation” may be, as by some scholars, and that their advocacy
they attempted to carve out peoples, bound- of this concept is “a strategy of survival in
aries, and territoriality. order to hold a legitimate position in the
Before proceeding further, a caveat is in Malay community” as some of them were
order. An objective discussion of such politi- “immigrants from various parts of the Archi-
cal thoughts and historical ideas undertaken pelago”? (Naoki 2008, 131–132)
in today’s Malaysia is fraught with difficul- Let us begin with the first controversy.
ties given the sharp political and ideological Scholars of history and culture seem to
divides and heated partisanships. Those differ on the historical origin of the Malays
championing the “Malay supremacy” and whether there was coherence/continuity
agenda seek to stake the claim over Malay between the “Malayu” [sic] of old, and the
identity and history of the region as an asser- community of people called Melayu
tion of “firstness,” to justify their exclusion- (Malays) in the later period. This can be
ary political machinations, while some seen in the works of two influential scholar-
others want to circumvent this idea of the historians which reflect their differing
historical “Malay world,” arguing that views. Leonard Andaya from the University
Malays too were “immigrants” of sorts of Hawaii, takes the position that the term
from other parts of the region to Malaysia. “Malayu” was already in existence for a
Throughout this discussion, it will be long time, and that it refers to a people
obvious that both positions are untenable with a maritime civilisation, built around
as they are not only ahistorical, but anti- what has been known as the “Sea of
history. This article hopes to steer clear of Malayu” (mainly the Straits of Melaka and
both positions, and seeks to delve into the the seas linking it with surrounding
history of ideas to uncover certain key regions/seas). Andaya (2008, 22) shows
concepts, ideas or paradigms as historical that, “The first reference to a ‘Sea of
facts, meaning that, they have existed sui Malayu’ is from an Arabic document dated
generis—independent of the individuals c. 1000, which noted that travellers ‘reaching
who may have generated and espoused the Sea of Malayu, were approaching the
them—and that these ideas have influenced area of China.’” He further argues that
or shaped the country’s history in some “Although the Arabic document is not
way or other. specific, the general reference to a Sea of
12 Abdul Rahman Embong

Malayu approaching the area of China is an Andaya. Milner also further argues that
accurate description of the extensive “the expression ‘Malay world’ is misleading
network viewed as one sea stretching from to refer to this period, and it might be more
India to Vietnam” (Andaya 2008, 22). The accurate to speak of a ‘kerajaan’ or ‘sultanate
Sea of Malayu referred to here is the “voya- world’” (Milner 2011, Chapter 4).
ging corridor” from the Indian subcontinent, In our view, Milner is right that what
the Southeast Asian isthmus and the north- existed in the region were a number of
ern Malay Peninsula, and the shores of the Malay kingdoms or sultanates headed by
South China Sea. It goes through the Straits their respective kings or raja, and that there
of Melaka which for “more than two thou- was no fixed territory or physical boundary
sand years … was the principal route for each sultanate. The existence and con-
through Southeast Asia, and communities tinuation of the sultanates—big and small—
located along its shores were the major bene- and the sustained asymmetrical relations
ficiaries of the steady flow of commercial between the ruler (raja) and his subjects
traffic” (Andaya 2008, 50). Andaya con- (rakyat), justifies the term “the kerajaan” or
cludes that “the sultanate world” as he calls them.
None of these empires or kingdoms was suc-
For the Malayu, who were shaped by cessful in unifying the region, under a centra-
their orientation to the sea and the river-
lized rule—perhaps with the exception to
ine environment in which they lived,
some extent of Sri Vijaya in Sumatra (AD
stretches of land were viewed as barriers
650–1377), Majapahit in Java (AD 1293–
that fortunately could be breached
1527), and Melaka (AD 1400–1511).3 But the
through short land passages. … In this
maritime world, rivers and seas formed
important point to note is each “kerajaan
unities, which land formed the link world” existed and flourished within a
between bodies of water. (Andaya bigger world, a cultural zone (in the Braude-
2008, 22) lian sense) mentioned above, that sub-
sequent writers including nationalists of the
Anthony Milner from the Australian twentieth century referred to as the “Malay
National University, however, takes a differ- world” or Alam Melayu. And that it is the
ent view. He acknowledges that these groups existence of these various kingdoms within
of people “who were later to be identified as the cultural zone that had shaped the
‘Malay’ (and other Austronesian-speaking history of the Malay world and has been
peoples)” had existed from the early centu- remembered as such.
ries AD, and “had engaged in cultural as Perhaps a short digression may be
well as … commercial and political relations necessary by drawing some parallels in
in numerous directions” (Milner 2011, 40). Chinese history. Before the rise of the Qin
However, he expresses caution regarding dynasty (221–206 BC) and the Han dynasty
the coherence of “Malay communities and (202 BC– AD 220), the land and peoples
historical heritage,” arguing that “Despite that were later called “China” and
the impression communicated by much of “Chinese” consisted of various kingdoms or
the work in ‘Malay studies,’ coherence is empires, and various ethnic and tribal
not in fact the hallmark of the ‘Malay’ com- groups. They lived in separate areas under
munities and historical heritage … ” different kings and were often at war with
(Milner 2011, 9), and that “The evidence of one another. It was Shi Huang-ti, the first
earlier centuries, … does not allow us to Qin emperor who succeeded in unifying
speak of ‘Malay’ with such confidence” China through ruthless wars and suppres-
(Milner 2011, 22). Based on a careful study sion, a move that was followed by the Han
of various sources, especially Malay manu- emperor, Liu Bang who overthrew the
scripts, Milner posits that the term Qins. It was these dynasties that laid the
“Melayu” (Malays) is a civilizational foundation of a unified China and estab-
concept, rather than ethnic as argued by lished a centralized empire, on the basis of
Revisiting Malaya 13

which Sun Yat-sen who led the Chinese of the Melaka era with the early Malayu
democratic revolution, established the [sic] and the pre-Melaka kingdoms (Milner
modern Republic of China in 1912, thus 2011). However, the fact remains that
putting an end to the 2000years of imperial modern Malay consciousness emerging in
rule. We should note that neither during the early twentieth century takes these as
the Qin nor the Han period was the name given, arguing the existence of a “cultural
“China” used to refer to the territory; zone” of the Malay world and civilization
neither was the term “Chinese” used to in Southeast Asia, and that Malay kingdoms
refer to her people at that time. The name had been built within such a zone. During
“China,” presumably based on the word different periods of the long history of these
“Qin,” entered popular parlance after con- kingdoms, there had been attempts by
tacts with the West; and the term “Han” is some of the more visionary leaders, the
the name of the largest of the 55 nationalities empire builders, who sought to unify parts
that make up modern China today. of the Malay world into one big empire, but
As shown above, imperial China was with limited success due to geography, and
not known by that name, rather by the more significantly the onslaught of Western
name of the respective dynasties. In the colonial wars and conquests (Abdul
same way, we can perhaps argue that Rahman 2006, 46–47). The Anglo-Dutch
although the name “Melayu” (Malays) was Treaty of 1824, an agreement that carved
not yet used to refer to the region and the out spheres of influence between the then
people during the early empires such as Sri two most powerful colonial powers, the
Vijaya, the fact remains that these kingdoms British and the Dutch, effectively sealed the
or empires were part of a world that later fate of the region from the potentials of
came to be called the “Malay world” or being unified. It was this agreement that
Alam Melayu, and the people “Malays.” cemented what later became permanent pol-
There have been many cases in history in itical borders between Indonesia and Malay-
which facts and practices occurred prior to sia—setting them on their separate trajectory
the invention of terms or concepts to describe to become two different sovereign countries
or explain them. This is not peculiar to Malay after the Second World War.
history or Southeast Asian history alone. Our proposition thus far can be summed
This phenomenon may be called “knowl- up as follows: the Malay world was a histori-
edge lag” or “conceptual lag,” a cognitive cal reality and Melayu Raya as an idea had
and intellectual dissonance between reality evolved as part of the Malay historical con-
and the idea to reflect it. sciousness, an idea that underpins the envi-
What matters for our purpose here is not sioning of the Malay nation-of-intent
so much the different viewpoints when mainly to reconnect the two territories—
drawing inferences from the facts of Malay Malaya and Indonesia—that had been separ-
history by the scholars (e.g., “Malay world” ated by the British and the Dutch through the
versus “sultanate world” debate), but more 1824 Anglo-Dutch Treaty. Based on this his-
importantly, the historical consciousness torical perspective, migratory moves within
emerging from that history. The modern the territories of the Malay world before the
Malay historical consciousness as expressed drawing up of modern state boundaries
by the advocates of Melayu Raya takes the were normal or natural movements of
history of the kingdoms of Srivijaya (AD peoples within the same cultural zone, and
650–1377), Majapahit (AD 1293–1527), and that the migrants were not perceived as
Melaka (AD 1400–1511) as its source of refer- “foreigners.” It would, therefore, be ahistori-
ence and inspiration (Ibrahim Yaakob 1957, cal if one were to argue—as some scholars do
Burhanuddin Al-Helmy [1946] 2000). Admit- —that the advocates of Melayu Raya
tedly there are still many gaps in Malay/ advanced this concept in order to give legiti-
Malaya’s historiography, including the ques- macy to their “immigrant” status among
tion of the connectivity between the Malays Peninsular Malays. Indeed, such a view of
14 Abdul Rahman Embong

the region’s history and its key actors is to the stand of the Allied Forces who
rather parochial and short-termist, contrary wanted various forces to rally behind a
to the longue duree perspective required for Western-led anti-fascist international united
a comprehensive understanding of the front. The collapse of the European colonial
region’s historical evolution. powers in Southeast Asia at the beginning
of the Second World War and the opportu-
nity provided by an initially triumphant
Post-Second World War and envisioning
Japan became the impetus for Ibrahim
the nation
Yaakob and his comrades to work towards
It has been said that the two world wars that the establishment of an independent
erupted in the twentieth century have been Malaya together with Indonesia under the
instrumental in ending an old era, and usher- Melayu Raya/Indonesia Raya framework.
ing in a new one. In many ways, this is true. The outcome, however, is already too well
The First World War (1914-1918)—whose known. The plan failed to materialize due
centenary was commemorated in 2014— to the sudden fall of Japan because of the
saw the collapse of the Ottoman empire, US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
the Habsburg empire, and tsarist Russia, as leaving Indonesia to declare independence
well as the economic ruins of Europe on the on its own on August 17, 1945, and the
one hand, and the rise of the United States British re-occupying Malaya two weeks
to eventually become the most powerful later. Ibrahim Yaakob and some of his com-
nation on earth, ushering in the American rades escaped to Indonesia to continue the
century. It also saw the birth of the first struggle from there.
socialist republic, the Soviet Union, the Nevertheless, the anti-colonial and
birth and/or expansion of communist nationalist tide could not be reversed.
parties in some countries, the stirrings of Malaya then was a country in motion and
nationalism and the emergence of indepen- on the cusp of change. The political land-
dence struggles in the colonies, as well as scape had been transformed tremendously
the emergence of several new nation states and the spirit of anti-colonialism and for
such as modern Turkey. independence was thick in the air.
For Southeast Asia, however, the pivotal However, there were different articulations
change was the Second World War or rather and envisioning of the nation by different
the Pacific War (1941–1945). The British igno- segments and forces in society, and also by
minious defeat in Malaya at the hands of the the British colonial masters in Malaya and
Japanese fascists in February 1942, together in London.
with the defeat of the Dutch in Indonesia Some of the urgent questions that had to
and the French in Indochina, shattered the be resolved after the war in the struggle for
centuries-old myth of European invincibility independence relate to the form of the new
and “White Man’s superiority.” It also gave state and citizenship. Would the state be a
the confidence that Asians could rise up Union or a Federation? A monarchy or a
and take the destiny in their own hands. It republic? Would it be a democracy, and if
was this inspiration and strategic thinking so, what type of democracy? What about
that led to nationalists in Indonesia such as the question of citizenship of the emerging
Soekarno and Hatta, and those in Malaya independent state? On the Peninsula, with
such as Ibrahim Yaakob, Mustapha Hussein the existence of nine Malay kingdoms with
and Burhanuddin Al-Helmy (who had their own rulers, and extant state parochial-
earlier set up the radical union Kesatuan ism, the Malayan Union concept engineered
Melayu Muda in 1937) to seize the opportu- by the British immediately after the war
nity in advancing the independence struggle whereby the Malay states and the Straits
by tactically aligning themselves with Japan Settlements would become a union directly
to fight the Dutch and the British for national under the British Crown in London would
independence.4 Their position was contrary be doomed to failure—as it did—due to
Revisiting Malaya 15

massive Malay opposition. The concept was customs, there were sharp fundamental
too drastic as it would remove whatever differences. While in the British-UMNO
little power the sultans may still have. The initiated Federation of Malaya Proposals,
struggle against the “Malayan Union” gave Singapore was left out of the Federation, in
birth to the United Malays National Organis- the People’s Constitutional Proposals Singa-
ation (UMNO) in May 1946, with the rallying pore was included as an integral and indivi-
cry—not for “Merdeka”—but “Hidup Melayu” sible part of the Federation of Malaya.5
(Long Live the Malays!) as the Malayan Why did the British deliberately leave
Union was seen as a threat to the Malays. Singapore out of the Federation in their pro-
At the same time, a “republic” as posal? The oft-quoted reason was the
initially envisaged by the Communist Party increase in Chinese demography that
of Malaya at its founding on April 30, 1930 would upset the Malays. While this was
was too alien and would be impossible. A true, there were other strategic consider-
centralized federation of the Malay states ations on the part of the British with regard
together with the Straits Settlements—Feder- to Singapore’s role in protecting their inter-
ated Malay States (FMS), Unfederated Malay ests in the region. According to Wade
States (UFMS) and the Straits Settlements (2009, 10), as the British were planning to
(SS)—and the establishment of a consti- withdraw from India and Burma, they were
tutional monarchy and parliamentary not willing to give up their economic and
democracy along the lines of the Westmin- security interests in Southeast Asia. Their
ster model would seem plausible. But what strategic plan was to retain Singapore
kind of federation should it be to replace directly under the British crown so it would
the Malayan Union? There was intense serve as “the main centre of British interests
debate and mass participation on this and influence” in Southeast Asia. Thus,
subject between the elite-driven UMNO here again, we see it was the strategic inter-
and the British on the one hand, versus the ests of the Western colonial powers that led
mass-based coalition of Pusat Tenaga to the dismembering of the country that his-
Rakyat (Centre of People’s Forces) and the torically used to be one, something that was
All-Malaya Council of Joint Action opposed by the PUTERA-AMCJA.
(PUTERA-AMCJA) on the other. The Federa- The question of citizenship too was not
tion of Malaya constitutional proposals that only critical but complex. Besides the
became the basis for the Federation of history of the region as discussed above, we
Malaya Agreement in 1948 and later 1957, have to take note of the kerajaan world in
was formulated during the British–Malay which the rakyat (people) were subjects of
Conference of UMNO and representatives the Malay rulers.6 On the question of citizen-
of Malay rulers between June and December ship, there was something novel in the
1946. The Federation of Malaya Agreement People’s Constitutional Proposals. In
came into effect on February 1, 1948, estab- Section 2, it states that “This citizenship
lishing a Malayan Federation without shall be a nationality, to be termed ‘Melayu,’
Singapore. and shall carry with it the duty of allegiance
But there was another vision of the to the Federation of Malaya,” but it assures
nation and state, that is, the “People’s Consti- that “the term ‘Melayu’ shall have no reli-
tutional Proposals” formulated by PUTERA- gious implications whatever.”7 Commenting
AMCJA in December 1946 and early 1947 as on this issue, Milner and Ting (2014, 34)
an alternative to the British-UMNO consti- point put that “The term ‘Melayu’ had been
tutional proposals. Although there were given a very broad definition—in fact, an
some points of convergence between the assurance was given that no religious or
Federation of Malaya Proposals and the assimilative implications would be attached
People’s Constitutional Proposals namely to the ‘Melayu’ nationality, except for the
with regard to the position of the Malay effort to learn simple conversational
rulers, Malay language, religion and Malay.” To them, the term “Melayu” has
16 Abdul Rahman Embong

been “elastic, like how the Thais under (Milner and Ting 2014, 34). The emphasis
Phibun had been defined … The idea of a here is, of course, the question of openness
‘Melayu’ incorporating Chinese was even and inclusivity—i.e., a culture of pluralist
more ambitious—especially in light of the acceptance of the other.8
Malay-Chinese contest in the Malayan
Union period, and not surprisingly aroused
Competing models of consultation and
strong opposition” (Milner and Ting 2014,
engagement: British-UMNO
Constitutional Working Committee
The Federation of Malaya constitution
versus PUTERA-AMCJA united front
guarantees the rights and special position of
the Malays as well as rights, powers and The different envisionings of the nation in the
sovereignty of the Malay rulers in their post-Second World War period as explained
respective states. But how was “Melayu” or above were advanced via competing models
Malays defined? It is here the fundamental of consultations and engagement. One, the
difference lies. The concept of “Melayu” in British top-down approach began with the
the People’s Constitutional Proposals was Malayan Union Order in Council, April
fundamentally different from the concept of 1946, which was roundly opposed and
“Melayu” (Malay) as envisaged in the Fed- rejected. Following its rejection and withdra-
eration of Malaya Agreement and eventually wal, the British announced the setting up of a
in the Federation of Malaya Constitution. In 12-member Constitutional Working Com-
Article 160 of the Federation of Malaya Con- mittee composed of six representatives of
stitution, “Malay” (Melayu) is defined as the Malayan Union Government, four repre-
someone who (1) professes to be a Muslim, sentatives of the Malay rulers, and two
habitually speaks the Malay language and UMNO representatives (Wade 2009, 9) to
adheres to Malay customs, and (2) (a) is dom- draw up a new set of Constitutional Propo-
iciled in the Federation or Singapore on sals for Malaya to replace the Malayan
Merdeka Day, (b) born in the Federation or Union. The Constitutional Working Commit-
Singapore before Merdeka Day, or (c) born tee sat for several months from June 1946,
before Merdeka Day of parents one of and published its constitutional proposals
whom was born in the Federation or Singa- on December 24 that year. As can be seen,
pore, (collectively, the “Merdeka Day popu- representatives from the Malay Nationalist
lation”) or is a descendent of a member of Party (MNP) (or Parti Kebangsaan Melayu
the Merdeka Day population. While the Malaya—PKMM in Malay) (see below),
concept “Melayu” (Malays) in the Federation which had pulled out of UMNO in June
of Malaya constitution emphasizes religion, 1946, and other organizations were not
language and culture as markers of identity, included in the Committee.
the People’s Constitutional Proposals were When the Working Committee’s propo-
more open and inclusive by defining sals were criticized as there were no public
“Melayu” in terms of allegiance to and accep- inputs outside the 12-member Committee
tance of the land, Malaya, which was their and their deliberations were behind closed
object of loyalty. In short there would be doors, the British responded by setting up a
equal treatment to all citizens of Malaya Consultative Committee headed by R.H.
because the term “Melayu” was a political Cheeseman, the Director of Education, to
concept, an open and inclusive one, and did collect views from “interested individuals,
not carry any ethnic or religious connota- communities and groups in Malaya on the
tions. As some scholars put it, “the fact that Constitutional Proposals.” This criterion
such an inclusive ‘Melayu’ proposal was was criticized further by PUTERA-AMCJA
made at all is a reminder that the term who argued that “Interested individuals,
carries a history of openness, and one that communities and groups” was a different
may just possibly be relevant again in principle compared with the more stringent
future societal planning in Malaysia” criterion advocated by PUTERA-AMCJA,
Revisiting Malaya 17

that is, “representatives of those and only organizations in AMCJA were the Malayan
those, who regard Malaya as their real Democratic Union (which served as Sec-
home and as the object of their loyalty” retary to AMCJA), the Malayan Indian Con-
(PUTERA-AMCJA [1947] 2005, 8). gress (MIC), the Malayan New Democratic
The PUTERA-AMCJA approach of con- Youth League, the 12 Women’s Federations
sultation and engagement was more bottom in Malaya, the Malayan People’s Anti-Japa-
up, which consisted of attempts at forging nese Ex-Service Comrades Association, and
unity of various ethnic and religious the 300,000 strong Pan-Malayan Federation
groups, between gender, and very impor- of Trade Unions (PMFTU). The total
tantly between various classes namely pea- number of members of all organizations
sants and workers who constituted the under the umbrella of the AMCJA, according
backbone of the pre-Merdeka Malayan to their own account, was about 400,000,
society. This was something unprecedented with Mr. Tan Cheng Lock as its chairman
in the country’s history. The coalition of (PUTERA-AMCJA [1947] 2005, 4–5).9
these anti-colonial forces was a clear The PUTERA-AMCJA coalition, which
example of such broad-based cooperation came into force in February 1947, had a
and unity. Prior to its formation, Parti mass strength of about 600,000, a large
Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM [Malay number in a small population of about 4.9
Nationalist Party]) was set up in October million then. Their alternative proposals to
1945, as a nationalist party which partially the Working Committee’s constitutional pro-
inherited the mantle of the pre-war KMM, posals were formulated based on broad-
to fight for Malaya’s independence, while based consultations. As history has shown,
still upholding the idea of Melayu Raya. A PUTERA-AMCJA was able to mobilize
number of patriotic Malay organizations massive rallies throughout the length and
representing the youth, women, peasants, breadth of the country including in Singa-
Muslim religious groups, and others also pore against British colonialism and advan-
came to be formed, and were subsequently cing the independence struggle. It also
affiliated directly or indirectly with PKMM. staged a successful nation-wide Hartal
As part of the campaign to oppose the (otherwise known as All Malaya Hartal) on
British-initiated Constitutional Proposals October 20, 1947 to coincide with the
and to further struggle for independence, opening of the British Parliament where the
Pusat Tenaga Rakyat (PUTERA [Centre for Revised Constitutional Proposals were due
People’s Forces]) was formed on February to be debated (PUTERA-AMCJA [1947]
22, 1947. PUTERA was chaired by Dr. Burha- 2005; Khoong 2003).
nuddin Al-Helmy and consisted of PKMM, Based on the short analysis above, we
the youth movement Angkatan Pemuda can synthesize the historic significance of
Insaf (API), peasant movement Barisan Tani the PUTERA-AMCJA coalition and model
Malaya, women’s movement Angkatan of consultation thus:
Wanita Sedar (AWAS), and 80 other
smaller organizations. Based on its own (a) the inter-ethnic coalition was unprece-
reporting, it claimed a total membership of dented in the country’s history,
about 150,000 (PUTERA-AMCJA [1947] showing the formula for future inter-
2005, 5). ethnic unity and cooperation;
PUTERA’s partner, the All-Malaya (b) it was also an inclusive multi-stake
Council of Joint Action (AMCJA) was inau- holder coalition with various social
gurated on December 22, 1946, two days forces included—workers, peasants,
before the public announcement of the Con- women, youth, intellectuals, business-
stitutional Proposals by the Working Com- men, etc. throughout the country;
mittee. AMCJA was a federation of political (c) it was a coalition of organizations that
parties, trade unions, women’s associations came together on the basis of shared
and youth organizations. The main principles and democratic consultations,
18 Abdul Rahman Embong

guided by the spirit of mutual respect were banned, thus putting an end to the
and compromise, and acceptance was mass-based multi-stakeholder coalition, and
the key to the success of negotiations to some extent the ideas associated with it.
and cooperation; and Many of its leaders and members were
(d) it was a coalition with an imagined arrested, but many also escaped to the
nation which they also conceptualized jungle to join the CPM-led guerrilla
in some detail through the People’s struggle. Not a few national leaders, such
Constitutional Proposals—an envision- as Burhanuddin, and many local leaders
ing of the nation “from below” that left for Singapore to continue the struggle
had to compete with the top-down there.
envisioning that was proposed However, some who were not arrested
through the British-initiated Consti- such as Tan Cheng Lock, formed the
tutional Working Committee Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) in
proposals. 1949 to mobilize local Chinese. In 1949, the
Communities Liaison Committee (CLC)
Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, was formed at the initiative of Sir Malcolm
there were important questions that could MacDonald, the British Commissioner
be raised and important lessons that could General for Southeast Asia, to find solutions
be derived from this historical experience. to existing racial problems. The committee,
For example: was the PUTERA-AMCJA comprising Dato’ Onn bin Jaafar (leader of
coalition deeply grounded? Was there an UMNO), Tan Cheng Lock, E.E.C Thuraising-
element of triumphalism and over-esti- ham and 12 other members proposed that
mation on the part of the PUTERA-AMCJA non-Malays be involved in local politics
of its own strength and underestimation of and more opportunities be given to the
the British would-be response when these Malays in the business and industrial
two different models and proposals came to sectors. In addition, issues of citizenship
a head on collision? What about the ideas were discussed, namely citizenship based
in the People’s Constitutional Proposals vis- on jus soli for non-Malays and special rights
à-vis the Working Committee’s Proposals? for Malays. This was the post-Emergency
Did the PUTERA-AMCJA under-estimate situation of inter-ethnic bargaining facili-
the divisive potency of the “ethnic para- tated by the British. The rest is history.
digm” and place too much hope and confi-
dence in the viability of the “class
paradigm”?10 These and other questions are
By way of conclusion
for further reflection and will not be dealt
with in this article. What we want to high- This article is a modest attempt at re-examin-
light is the British response, which changed ing some critical issues of Malayan history
the entire historical landscape of Malaya. that had shaped the basic character of the
The British responded by using a compre- nation, namely the political and historical
hensive two-pronged strategy: first, it insti- thoughts and the competing ideas in the
tuted the British-Malay Rulers-UMNO envisioning of the nation, their evolution as
envisioning of the new nation through their well as their fate prior to Malaya’s indepen-
constitutional proposals and the institution dence. The ideas that triumphed were those
of the Federation of Malaya Agreement on that were supported and enforced by
February 1, 1948; second, they used force power, while ideas that perished or sidelined
by declaring the state of Emergency in June were those opposed and suppressed includ-
that year accompanied by mass arrests and ing by force. However, some ideas do not
the launch of a full-scale war against the simply die, but rather recede or fade away.
anti-colonial forces under the guise of the Hence, despite almost six decades of inde-
“Emergency.” The PUTER-AMCJA united pendence, some of these ideas from the
front and the organizations in the coalition misty past keep coming back, resonating
Revisiting Malaya 19

with some aspects of the present envisioning makers of history, by grasping and re-living
of Malaysia’s future. While we should the thoughts of the makers of history (Col-
acknowledge that ideas are historically con- lingwood 1946, 305).
tingent as cautioned by Skinner (1969),11 a
good grasp of the pre-independence debate,
contest of ideas and praxis, not only can Notes
throw some light on contemporary develop-
1. The question of political and historical thoughts
ments, but also raise pertinent points for con- was the theme of the “Revisiting Malaya: Inter-
sideration and reflection in today’s nation- national Conference on Political and Historical
building and engagement with globalization Thoughts” organized by the Inter-Asia School-
in the twenty-first century. Modern Asian Thought Project (Singapore &
It is true that “history is very much a pol- Malaysia Office), and co-organized by the
itical battleground” (Hong 1996, 51) as it is a Center for Chinese Malaysian Studies and the
KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala
construction, written and institutionalised
Lumpur, August 2–3, 2014.
especially by those with power or sanctioned 2. The concept of ‘envisioning the nation’ was
by power. The dominant history has been earlier used by Cheah Boon Kheng (2007) in a
written by the victors about their leaders, volume edited by Abdul Rahman Embong (2007).
ideas, actions and glories, while history of 3. History shows that Sri Vijaya which centred in
the losers has either been maligned, dis- Palembang for a few centuries since the seventh
torted, buried or forgotten. However, with century had its rule extending beyond Sumatra
into the Malay Peninsula. The Melaka sultanate
the rising awareness regarding the signifi-
in the fifteenth century also extended its rule
cance of alternative histories including over a large part of the Malay Peninsula and
people’s history, it is necessary to re- parts of Sumatra.
examine or revisit certain historical periods 4. In India, the Indian National Army (INA) led by
and questions that have been pivotal in Subhas Chandra Bose also took the same position.
shaping the course of a people or nation. The position against Western colonial powers
In this article, we have adopted the taken during the Second World War mentioned
above was not surprising as many in Indonesia
history of ideas approach by examining and Malaya supported the Ottoman Empire
some of the key ideas and practices that against Britain and her allies in the First World
had been advanced during various periods War.
under study. The history of ideas approach 5. For a brief comparison of the two proposals, see
requires what some scholars suggest a kind Appendices 1, 2 and 3.
of “hermeneutic retrieval” (Milner, Abdul 6. For a discussion of the transformation of the
concept of rakyat (people) from the old paradigm
Rahman, and Tham et al. 2014, 14), especially
of the kerajaan to that of modern citizens, please
when examining those ideas that have been see Abdul Rahman (2014) and Milner (1982) on
maligned or suppressed, and have been rele- the kerajaan. Also see Ariffin (1993), which dis-
gated as “irrelevant narratives” in conven- cusses the question of rakyat from another
tional history or political texts. This perspective.
methodology is useful to bring to the fore 7. The PUTERA-AMCJA document explains that
or to re-surface those ideas that had been the term “Melayu” was “unanimously accepted
… in preference of the term ‘Malay’ in view of
debated in history, and to critically re-
the fact that the historic name of the indigenous
examine them in a fresh light. While examin- people is ‘Melayu’ and not ‘Malay’ which is
ing the history of ideas, it is also very crucial merely the anglicized version of the term
to undertake an examination of the role of ‘Melayu’” (PUTERA-AMCJA [1947] 2005, 30–31).
agency especially on the part of the forces 8. I have argued elsewhere that this culture of public
fighting against colonialism and for indepen- acceptance of others by Malays was “ancient, pre-
dence and those forces they were up against dating colonialism” and that “many Southeast
Asian coastal and riverine societies (e.g. the
during that period. This is in keeping with Melaka Sultanate of the fifteenth century) that
what Collingwood suggests, that to know became plural in character during the colonial
history, we need to emphasize “the internals period, or saw the degree of pluralism increase,
of history”—the thoughts of the human did so with little social trauma or opposition. …
20 Abdul Rahman Embong

The acceptance of the Other, who came as traders, Comparative Perspective. Kajang, Malaysia:
travellers, religious preachers, and so on, from Malaysian Social Science Association.
Arabia, Indian, China, and other parts of the Abdul Rahman, Embong. 2014. “Knowledge
Malay archipelago … became something rather Construction, the Rakyat Paradigm and
natural, as part and parcel of the public culture Malaysia’s Social Cohesion.” In Transforming
of the indigenous people, reflecting the fact that Malaysia: Dominant and Competing Paradigms,
the Malay society then was … relatively open edited by Anthony C. Milner, Abdul Rahman
and accommodative, not exclusivist” (Abdul Embong and Tham Siew Yean, 59–81.
Rahman 2002, 40), and that this culture prevailed Singapore: ISEAS; Bangi: IKMAS.
in the PUTERA-AMCJA negotiations and Andaya, Leonard Y. 2008. Leaves of the Same Tree:
cooperation. Trade and Ethnicity in the Straits of Melaka.
9. The Communist Party of Malaya, while support- Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.
ing the principles of PUTERA-AMCJA, was not Anderson, Benedict. [1983] 1991. Imagined
part of the coalition. Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread
10. On this issue, see Milner, Abdul Rahman, and of Nationalism. London and New York: Verso.
Tham (2014). Ariffin, Omar. 1993. Bangsa Melayu: Malay Concepts of
11. Skinner (1969) cautions about supposedly “time- Democracy and Community 1945-1950. Kuala
less questions” as there is the element of contin- Lumpur: Oxford University Press.
gency in ideas. “A knowledge of the history of Braudel, Fernand. 1993. A History of Civilizations.
such ideas can then serve to show the extent to Translated by Richard Maine. New York:
which those features of our own arrangements Penguin Books.
which we may be disposed to accept as traditional Burhanuddin Al-helmy. [1946] 2000. “Our struggle.”
or even ‘timeless’ truths may in fact be the merest [Perjuangan Kita.] In Dr. Burhanuddin Al Helmy:
contingencies of our peculiar history and social his thinking and struggle [Dr. Burhanuddin Al
structure. To discover from the history of Helmy: Pemikiran dan Perjuangan] by
thought that there is in fact no such timeless con- Kamaruddin Jaffar. Kuala Lumpur: IKDAS Sdn
cepts, but only the various different concepts that Bhd.
have gone with various different societies, is to Cheah, Boon Kheng. 2007. “Malaysia: Envisioning the
discover a general truth not merely about the Nation at the Time of Independence.” In
past but about ourselves as well. Furthermore, it Rethinking Ethnicity and Nation-building:
is a commonplace—we are all Marxists to this Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Fiji in Comparative
extent—that our own society places unrecognized Perspective, edited by Abdul Rahman Embong.
constraints upon our imaginations” (Skinner Kajang, Malaysia: Malaysian Social Science
1969, 53). “To demand from the history of Association.
thought a solution to our immediate problems is Collingwood, R. G. 1946. The Idea of History.
thus to commit not merely a methodological New York: Oxford University Press.
fallacy, but something like a moral error. But to Hong, Lysa. 1996. “History.” In An Introduction to
learn from the past—and we cannot Southeast Asian Studies, edited by Mohammed
otherwise learn it at all—the distinction between Khalib and Tim Huxley, 46–69. Singapore:
what is necessary and what is the product Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
merely of our own contingent arrangements, is Ibrahim Yaacob. 1957. Around Malaya’s Independence
to learn the key to self-awareness itself” [Sekitar Malaya Merdeka]. Jakarta: Kesatuan
(Skinner 1969, 53). Malaya Merdeka.
Khoong, Kim Hoong. 2003. Merdeka: British Rule and
the Struggle for Independence in Malaya 1945-
1957. Petaling Jaya: Strategic Information &
Research Development Centre (SIRD).
Milner, Anthony C. 1982. Kerajaan: Malay Political
Abdul Rahman, Embong. 2002. “Malaysia as a Culture on the Eve of Colonial Rule. Arizona: The
Multicivilizational Society.” Macalester University of Arizona Press.
International 12 (autumn): 37–58. Milner, Anthony C. 1995. The Invention of Politics in
Abdul Rahman, Embong. 2006. Nation-state: Processes Colonial Malaya. Cambridge UK: Cambridge
and Debates [Negara-bangsa: Proses dan University Press.
Perbahasan]. 2nd ed. Bangi: Penerbit Universiti Milner, Anthony C. 2011. The Malays. Chichester, West
Kebangsaan Malaysia. Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
Abdul Rahman, Embong, ed. 2007. Rethinking Ethnicity Milner, Anthony, Abdul Rahman Embong, and Tham
and Nation-building: Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Fiji in Siew Yean, eds. 2014. Transforming Malaysia:
Revisiting Malaya 21

Dominant and Competing Paradigms. Singapore: Malaysia, 43600 UKM Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia.
ISEAS; Bangi: IKMAS. Email:
Milner, Anthony C., and Helen Ting. 2014. “Race and
Its Competing Paradigms: A Historical Review.”
In Transforming Malaysia: Dominant and Appendix 1: Recommendations by the
Competing Paradigms, edited by Anthony C. Constitutional Working Committee
Milner, Abdul Rahman Embong and Tham (Announced on December 24, 1946).
Siew Yean, 18–58. Singapore: ISEAS; Bangi:
IKMAS. 1. A Federation of Malaya to replace the
Naoki, Soda. 2008. “Indigenizing Colonial Malayan Union. To comprise nine Penin-
Knowledge: The Formation of Pan-Malay sular Malay states together with Penang
Identity in British Malaya.” Thesis Submitted and Malacca.
for the Degree of Doctor of Area Studies, 2. A central government comprising a High
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Commissioner, a Federal Executive
Studies, Kyoto University.
PUTERA-AMCJA. [1947] 2005. The People’s
Council and a Federal Legislative
Constitutional Proposals for Malaya 1947. Re- Council.
printed and published by Ban Ah Kam Pusat 3. In each Malay state the Government shall
Kajian Sejarah Bahan Sejarah Kontemporari comprise the ruler assisted by a State
Tempatan [Centre for the Study of Executive Council and a Council of State
Contemporary History based on Local with legislative powers. In each of the
Materials] based in Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia.
Straits Settlements, there will be a Settle-
Skinner, Quentin. 1969. “Meaning and Understanding
in the History of Ideas.” History and Theory 8 (1):
ment Council with legislative powers.
3–53. 4. There will be a Conference of Rulers to
Wade, Geoff. 2009. “The Origin and Evolutions of consult with each other and with the
Ethnocracy in Malaysia.” ARI Working Paper No. High Commissioner on state and
112. Singapore: Asia Research Institute, federal issues.
National University of Singapore. 5. Defence and external matters will be
Wikipedia contributors. 2014. “All-Malaya Council of
under British control.
Joint Action.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Accessed July 28. 6. Rulers would undertake to accept the
wiki/All-Malaya_Council_of_Joint_Action advice of the High Commissioner in all
Wissler, Clark. 1927. “The Culture-Area Concept in matters relating to government, but
Social Anthropology.” The American Journal of would exclude matters relating to Islam
Sociology XXXII (6): 881–891. and Malay customs.
7. Proposed that the Legislative Council
Author’s biography comprise the High Commissioner, three
Abdul Rahman Embong, PhD, a development sociol- ex-officio members, 11 official members,
ogist, is emeritus professor and principal research 34 unofficial members including heads
fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International of government in the nine states and
Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. two settlements and 23 seats for repre-
His research focus is on development, middle class,
nation-state and globalization. He has written many
sentatives of industries, etc.
books, including State-led Modernization and the New 8. UMNO and Sultans would agree to this
Middle Class in Malaysia (2002); The Nation-state: only following the scrapping of the Mac-
Processes and Debates (in Malay) (2006); Globalisation, Michael treaties.
Culture and Inequalities: In Honour of the Late A key element of the proposals was
Ishak Shari (ed. 2004), and Transforming Malaysia: that relating to citizenship. A new
Dominant and Competing Paradigms (ed. with
Malayan citizenship—which was not to
Anthony Milner and Tham Siew Yean, 2014). He
was President of the Malaysian Social Science Associ-
be a nationality—was proposed in the
ation (2000–2010), and is currently the Association’s Federation plan. This was an addition
Advisor. to nationality and the committee
explained it as a possible qualification
Contact address: Institute of Malaysian and Inter- for electoral rights, membership of
national Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Council, or other privileges and
22 Abdul Rahman Embong

obligations. Federal citizenship would be constitutional rulers, accepting the

acquired by: (1) any subject of the ruler of advice, not of British “adviser’ but of
any state. This included all Malays and the people through democratic
excluded all non-Malays; (2) British sub- institutions.
jects born locally; (3) children of fathers 5. Matters of the Muslim religion and
who were federal citizens. (Source: Malay customs to be under the sole
Wade 2009, 9) control of the Malays.
6. Special attention to be paid to the
advancement of the Malays.
Appendix 2: Summary of PUTERA-
7. Malay should be the official language of
AMCJA Constitutional Proposals
the country.
8. Foreign Affairs and Defence of the
country should be the joint responsibil-
Presented as an alternative to the proposals
ity of the government of Malaya and
by the Constitutional Working Committee
His Majesty’s Government.
(source: PUTERA-AMCJA [1947] 2005, 4-5).
9. The term “Melayu” should be the title
1. A United Malaya, inclusive of of any citizenship or national status in
Singapore. Malaya.
2. A fully-elected central legislature for 10. The national flag of the country should
the whole of Malaya. incorporate the Malay national colours.
3. Equal political rights for all who regard
Malaya as their real home and the
object of their loyalty. Appendix 3: Summary of People’s
4. The Malay Sultans to assume the pos- Constitutional Proposals and Revised
ition of fully sovereign and Constitutional Proposals

People’s Constitutional Proposals Revised Constitutional Proposals

A united Malaya including Singapore A federation of the Malay states and the
former Straits Settlements excluding
A popularly elected Central Government and An appointed Executive Council headed by a
popularly elected State councils British High Commissioner in Malaya and
an appointed Federal Legislative Council
of 50 unofficial members, 14 official
members and 11 free members (the
Menteri Besar of the nine Malay states and
one representative each from Penang and
A citizenship granting equal rights to all who Birth qualifications, language test, and long
made Malaya their permanent home and residential terms imposed, effectively
the object of their undivided loyalty restricting the access to citizenship of
domiciled non-Malays
Malay Rulers to have real sovereign power Malay Rulers recognized as sovereign
responsible to the people through monarchs with inherent prerogatives,
popularly elected Councils powers and privileges
Malay customs and religion to be fully Malay customs and religion placed within
controlled by the Malay people through the sole jurisdiction of the Malay Rulers
special councils

Revisiting Malaya 23

Appendix 3. Continued
Special provisions for the advancement of the Special provisions for the advancement of the
Malays politically, economically and Malays politically, economically and
educationally educationally
Malay to be the official language Malay recognized as an official language
together with English
A national flag and anthem A national flag was adopted with no
provisions for a national anthem
Melayu to be the title of any proposed No provisions for a Malayan nationality was
citizenship and nationality in Malaya adopted
Foreign affairs and defence to be the joint All portfolios remained within the
responsibility of the government of Malaya prerogative of the British High
and the government of Great Britain Commissioner and the government of
Great Britain
A Council of Races to be set up to block any No such provisions were provided for
discriminatory legislation that is based on
ethnicity or religion
Anglo-Malay sovereignty entrenched with A Conference of Rulers was formalized.
the provision of a Conference of Rulers Ethnic representation in the Federal
consisting of the Malay rulers presided Legislative Council was set with no
over by the British High Commissioner, provisions for an elected legislature
and a 55% reservation of Malay
representation in the Federal legislature for
the first 3 terms

(Source: Wikipedia contributors 2014.)

Copyright of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies is the property of Routledge and its content may not
be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's
express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

Related Interests