INDEPENDENCE OF MALAYA AND THE FORMATION OF MALAYSIA

INTRODUCTION
The basis of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia is the Constitution of the Federation of Malaya. Following the Alliance’s landslide victory in the first Federal Election in 1955, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra was appointed Chief Minister. The drafting of the Constitution of the Federation of Malaya was the first step toward the formation of a new government after Britain agreed to concede independence to Malaya in 1956.For the task of drafting the Constitution, the British Government formed a Working Committee comprising representatives from their side, advisors from the Conference of Rulers and Malayan political leaders. In January 1956 the Tunku headed a delegation to London to discuss the Federal Constitution and negotiate the date for independence of Malaya. In March 1956 a Commission chaired by Lord Reid was set up to formulate a draft and refine the Constitution of the Federation of Malaya. The Commission sought the views of political parties, non-political organisations and individuals on the form of government and racial structure appropriate for this country. In the consultation process, a memorandum from the Alliance had gained precedence. The memorandum, an intercommunal conciliation aimed at mutual interests and strengthening the nation's democratic system of government, took into account five main factors namely the position of the Malay Rulers, Islam as the official religion of the Federation, position of the Malay language, the special rights of the Malays and equal citizenship. The draft drawn up by the Reid Commission was authorised by the Working Committee as the

states that Malaya is "a colonial creation with ethnic groups living side by side but never mixed". Since there were also Malays who were involved in the government sector as ordinary officers and clerks. Changes and Challenges book that published by INTAN. . RACIAL PROBLEMS Malaya consists of a ‘"plural society" which was formed by different races with various backgrounds and customs. Hence. 1957. The first can be traced back to the "divide and rule" policy during British colonization. they were perceived to be dominant in politics and the first group of people that the British negotiated with. worked as labourers in estates and plantations.Constitution of the Federation of Malaya commencing on the date of the nation’s independence on August 31. Most of the Chinese were involved in the commercial and mining sectors and were found mainly in urban areas. The Indians. The Malays were known to be farmers and fishermen and lived in the rural areas or kampung. Many factors have caused this situation. When Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya in 1963. these two races were perceived to be more dominant in the economics of the country. several provisions in the Constitution were amended and the country’s name was changed to Malaysia. This kind of administration greatly limited interaction and communication among the different ethnic groups and segregated them according to their economic functions. on the other hand. In The Malaysian Development Experience.

the British were forced to declare a state of Emergency throughout Malaya. lessons were conducted in its respective language. the Chinese were tortured and brutally mistreated. there existed barriers and gaps among the different races in Malaya. The same concept was practiced in Tamil schools. This led to the formation of the Malayan Peoples’ Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) to fight the Japanese. especially the Chinese and Malays. There was no such thing as a standardized education system back then. While the Malays and Indians felt that a minimal amount of literacy was sufficient. such as Malay.The education system. and thus. the Japanese instigated the anti-Chinese feeling by forming paramilitary units which consisted mainly of Malays. It was during this period that inter- . the Chinese were vying to strengthen their bond with China through education. as it was long before we know it today. While the Malays were given better treatment by the Japanese who were in need of their support. The Japanese occupation only widened the rift between the races. since most of the teachers and textbooks were imported from China. Due to the inconsistencies and differences in the education system. curriculum and methods of dissemination. further widened the gap among the two races. When the Communists began their violence in the 1948. also varied according to the different ethnic groups in terms of syllabus. Mandarin and Tamil. Since these vernacular schools comprised a single race. To ward off attacks from resistance groups which comprised mainly Chinese.

The committee also proposed that greater racial tolerance and understanding be fostered in the hope of achieving racial unity. Education.racial relations became worse since the British had formed forces. The committee.E. to enable leaders of various ethnic groups to find a solution to the existing racial problems. Agriculture. In 1951. Tan Cheng Lock. the British government formed the Member System. Forestry. All of these factors caused a great division in the Malayan society and much effort had to be taken to resolve the problem. E. comprising mostly Malays. Mines and Communication. Health. who were mainly Chinese. and Works and Housing. the Inter-Racial Relations Committee (Jawatankuasa Hubungan Antara Kaum) was formed. to fight the guerilla groups led by the Communists. The member system was similar to the Cabinet system as we know it today. Efforts Towards Racial Unity In 1949. .C Thuraisingham and 12 other members proposed that non-Malays be involved in local politics and more opportunities be given to the Malays in the business and industrial sectors. comprising Dato’ Onn bin Jaafar. with the hope of achieving racial unity. and enabled people from various ethnic groups to get involved in the administration of the government and hold portfolios in areas such as Home Affairs. Land.

proposed that Chinese medium schools be maintained. Although the committee did not achieve much. Led by Dr W. The result was the Fenn-Wu report. but at the same time. produced the Barnes Report. that the syllabus of all primary schools be standardized and taught in English and Malay. Wu. However.T. Another committee which was established one year later.Although the more important portfolios in areas of finance and defense were still dominated by the British.Fenn and Dr Y. the British formed yet another committee to study the status of Chinese vernacular education in Malaya to incorporate it into a unified education system. Education also played an important role in paving the way towards racial unity in Malaya. which recommended in 1952. In 1949. which agreed to a national education system. it was a clear indication that the British were indeed making an effort to unify the multiracial society through education with one medium of instruction. the involvement of leaders of various ethnic groups enabled cooperation among the different races. the committee failed to achieve its goal and its proposal that English be made the sole medium of education in schools in the Holgate Report was vehemently opposed by the Federal Legislative Council.P. the Central Advisory Committee took form with the main purpose of unifying the local education system and implementing it. while secondary schools retain English as their mode of instruction. .

Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) MCA was formed by Leong Yew Koh and Lee Hau-Shik on 27th Feb. 1949. the long-awaited decision on the national education system was only seen in the Razak Report after much deliberation and ethnic bargaining.Finally. the Education Ordinance based on the Barnes Report was approved. POLITICAL PARTIES IN MALAYSIA United Malays National Organization (UMNO) UMNO was formed on 11th May 1946 and led by its first President. In his belief that an inter-racial nation was essential to achieve proper independence. The report was subsequently approved by the Federal Legislative Council on 16th May. a conflict of interest occurred between Dato’ Onn and his party members. Its sole purposes were. in 1952. Dato’ Onn resigned and was replaced by Tunku Abdul Rahman. 1956. at that time. The Chinese and Indians were not in the least bit happy and resisted the new ruling. . Its first president was Tan Cheng Lock. Dato’ Onn bin Jaafar. However. Dato’ Onn had proposed that non-Malays be allowed to join the party. to protect the interests of the Malays and to gain independence from the British. who later became the first Prime Minister of Malaya. to unite the Malays and lead the opposition against the Malayan Union. Due to this conflict. Several years later.

both parties decided to take their efforts a step further – the general elections in 1955. while most of the Indians in Malaya at that time. THE FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE The elections In 1952. formed the UMNO-MCA Alliance. The party received much respect from the rest of society due to their efforts against communism. Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) MIC was formed in August 1946 by John Thivy. and to co-operate with the government and oppose Communism during the Emergency years. the MIC joined forces as well. and took part in the local government and town council elections. UMNO and MCA combined forces. In the earlier years of its formation. The results were overwhelming. The MIC received full support from the Indian people of Malaya only when the Tamils took over the party in 1954. to propose more liberal citizenship. which involved the recruitment of the Chinese into the police and armed forces. and . They had won 9 out of the 12 seats contested. the party did not receive much support from local Indians since it was dominated by Indians from the upper class. who sought to protect the rights of the Indian community in Malaya and voice their opinions to the government. Realizing their potential as a joint coalition. were labourers who hailed from the lower class of society. however. and the resettlement of the local community into "new villages". This time.The objectives of MCA were to unite the Chinese and protect their interests.

Malaya still hadn’t been granted full independence. the draft of the constitution submitted by the Reid . Hence. After much hard work. The majority of the Legislative Council was Alliance’s members. Tunku Abdul Rahman wasted no time and flew to London on his "Merdeka Mission" in January 1955 to coax the British to grant independence to Malaya. Known as the Reid Commission. the committee was given the task of preparing a constitution that would serve a united and democratic Malaya with a firm government foundation. while 10 members from the Alliance were elected ministers. The Reid Commission Before independence could be attained however.31st August 1957. bearing in mind that the Sultans and the Malays were to retain their rights and special privileges.together the Alliance became a representative of the three main ethnic groups in Malaya. Tunku Abdul Rahman was elected the first Chief Minister. The British agreed and subsequently fixed the date for independence . the British government appointed Lord Reid to head the Commonwealth Constitutional Commission to chart a new constitution for Malaya. but the Executive Council was still dominated by British officials. the most important being a new constitution for an independent Malaya. some details needed to be taken care of. However. Simultaneously. Another major victory was won in the 1955 elections when the Alliance bagged 51 out of the 52 seats contested. 131 memorandums were received from individuals and various organizations in Malaya. As it was. the High Commissioner held ultimate authority over any bill.

Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni almarhum Tuanku Muhammad was proclaimed the first sultan of independent Malaya. Singapore’s population comprised mainly Chinese and Malaya feared that this would affect its racial . The MIC and MCA agreed to give special rights to the Malays and maintain Malay as the national language. took place at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. the proposals on religion and citizenship. on the other hand. in particular. in which the Alliance won 74 seats out of the 104 seats contested. After much discussion. The Sultan of Negeri Sembilan. This proposal. was rejected by Malaya. and later in 1959. THE FEDERATION OF MALAYSIA Sometime in 1955. The famous Merdeka proclamation by Tunku Abdul Rahman. Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! Malaya did achieve its independence as agreed upon on 31st August 1957. At the time. Singapore had suggested that it be merged with Malaya. agreed to allow Chinese and Indian participation in politics and be awarded citizenship. The final amendment involved ethnic bargains. The first general election of Malaya was held in 1959. led again by Tunku Abdul Rahman to clarify certain matters and amend the draft of the constitution.Commission was not to the liking of the Alliance. however. the constitution was finally agreed upon and became known as the Merdeka Constitution. who became the first Prime Minister of Malaya. Another delegation went to London. UMNO.

on the other hand. natural gas and timber. rubber and much more. when he made a speech stating his proposal to merge Malaya. Four years after Malaya’s independence. Tunku Abdul Rahman was also seeking to liberate these colonies from colonization. which was predominantly Malay. The Borneo territories. Singapore and the Borneo territories of Sabah. Malaya had already achieved its independence four years earlier. Sarawak and Brunei. however. boasted of richness in natural resources such as oil. Malayan Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman took the region by surprise on 27th May 1961. Sabah and Sarawak were still very much under British control. . a self-governing policy. Singapore had a large number of industrial firms and a large population. whose activities were still rampant in Singapore.composition. which complemented its position as one of the more important trading ports in this region. might influence Malaya and impede its struggle to be rid of the threat of Communism. His sudden change of mind was influenced by the state of politics and economy in Singapore and the other territories. While Singapore practiced to a large extent. and fertile agricultural grounds that produced pepper. There was also the fear that the Communists. Tunku Abdul Rahman believed that a merger with these colonies would be of much value to Malaya. The Factors Leading to the Proposal of a Merger One of the reasons Tunku Abdul Rahman was keen on a merger with Singapore was for economic purposes.

As time passed. Singapore was then led by Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore comprised a large Chinese population. were dispelled when they were convinced that ethnic . Communism was also thriving in Sarawak. students and farmers.In Brunei. which exerted its influence on workers’ associations. Tunku Abdul Rahman felt that a merger with Singapore would make it easier to deal with the Communists. frustrated with the constant disputes and strikes in the mid-1950s. where the communists formed an underground association. There also existed cultural similarities between these territories. Another factor was the stronghold of Communism over Singapore. Tunku Abdul Rahman felt that a merger of these colonies with Malaya would speed up independence from the British. while Malaya had a mixed array of Malays. Apart from Singapore. However. known as the Barisan Socialis. The initial fears expressed by some UMNO members about the Malays being outnumbered by the Chinese. who. Fearing that Malaya would be in grave danger should the Communists decide to support their allies in Malaya from across the straits. the Communists were adamant about continuing their activities and eventually formed their own party. Chinese and Indians. the Sultan maintained his autocratic powers but was compelled to receive advise from a British Resident. hoping to find favour with them and eventually soften their blows. their activities did not cease. after they were forced to resign from the government. decided to woo some of the Communists into his government.

Azahari. the leader of the opposition party. The only opposition came from the Communist-dominated party. Azahari had an ulterior motive – to merge all the North Borneo territories and place them under the reins of Brunei. merged with Malaya. in which he was defeated. revenue and labour while the central government would be operating in Kuala Lumpur. which comprised most Malays and indigenous groups. His efforts paid off and a referendum held on 1 September 1962 indicated that 71. . Parti Rakyat. strongly opposed the merger and led a revolt against the government of Brunei. Barisan Socialis.1% of the population of Singapore supported the merger. Response from Singapore.M. Like Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew actively campaigned to support the merger. however. Brunei changed its mind after the Sultan realized that he wouldn’t be given special rights above the other Sultans in Malaya and would have only limited oil reserves if Brunei merged with Malaya. Despite this. eager to merge with Malaya when Tunku Abdul Rahman made the proposal in 1961. Singapore was promised autonomy in education. Brunei was equally keen on the merger. the Borneo Territories and Brunei Singapore still retained its initial interest in Malaya and was therefore. since its ruler. A. Its free entreport status would also be maintained. Eventually.balance would be restored once the Borneo Territories. Sultan Ali Saifuddin was hoping to gain protection from a larger country like Malaya.

Sabah and Sarawak became one nation. hoping to join Malaya only after they achieved their independence. Two months later. Only one third of the population rejected the merger.The response from Sabah and Sarawak was not on par with that from Singapore and the initial response from Brunei. to investigate the reaction of the people in Sabah and Sarawak towards the merger. The other two thirds either supported the merger wholeheartedly or supported it on the grounds that their rights be maintained. the British formed the Cobbold Commission led by Lord Cobbold. a conclusion was reached. it was approved by the British. the British were very much in favour of it. the non-Malays feared that the Malays in Sabah and Sarawak would be even more dominant should the merger take place. Since the merger won the favour of the majority. after receiving thousands of letters. The Cobbold Commission When Tunku Abdul Rahman flew to London to discuss the formation Malaysia with the British government in November 1961. Hence. Singapore. conducting thousands of interviews with the people of Sabah and Sarawak and countless public meetings. Malaya. Apart from this. but stipulated that the Borneo territories should agree with the merger. known . On 16th September 1963. To allay their fears. since both territories feared losing authority in the administration of their governments. Tunku Abdul Rahman went to these territories in June 1961 and set up the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee (MSCC) to inform the people of the benefits of the merger.

however. the Philippines did not acknowledge Malaysia as an independent country or the official declaration that took place on16th September 1963. It was only sometime in June 1966. Protest from neighbouring countries When Malaysia was formed. an official proclamation was made by Tunku Abdul Rahman at the Merdeka Stadium. As such. Singapore broke away from Malaysia and formed its own government. The Philippines claimed ownership of Sabah. Sukarno. that the Philippines gave due recognition to Malaysia and acknowledged it as an independent country. Macapagal had severed diplomatic ties with Malaysia. was hoping to merge with Malaya to form "Indonesia Raya" and at the same time. The president of the Philippines. establish an independent North Borneo Federation comprising Sabah. Indonesia. Sarawak and Brunei. . on the other hand. The Indonesian president at the time. During this period. was heavily influenced by the Communist party in Indonesia and subsequently declared a Confrontation policy of on Malaysia from January 1963 to August 1966 to voice his objection of the formations of Malaysia. Once again. Indonesia and the Philippines disapproved of the new establishment due to their own ulterior motives. Indonesia put a halt to all diplomatic relations with Malaysia and launched an attack.as Malaysia. Two years later. stating that Sabah came under the Sulu Sultanate which belonged to the Philippines. on 9th August 1965.

plays a very important role in moulding Malaysia to be a politically stable country. Labis. Muar and Kota Tinggi. Consequently. Agents were sent to overthrow the Malaysian government and at the same time. co-operate and co-exist in harmony to build a strong and developed country. Sabah and Sarawak. they are able to live. create misunderstanding among Malays and Chinese. Malaysia today comprises Peninsular Malaysia. The confrontation came to an eventual end when Sukarno was replaced by Suharto as the president of Indonesia. Malaysia has now been enjoying independence for 46 years and is known to the world as a sovereign country. CONCLUSION Singapore decided to withdraw from Malaysia on 9th August 1965 to form her own Republic due to some disagreements. We are able to achieve economic. political and social stability and move rapidly towards a developed country. which creates unity in the country. . Hence. Although Malaysia is a plural society that consists of various races. particularly about special rights of the natives. a peace treaty was signed between both countries in Jun 1966. The understanding among the races.The first stops the Indonesians made were at Pontian.

mmu.gov.doc .References Internet Webpages: http://www.my/~husni/chap3.my/EN/Main/MsianGov/GovConstitution/HistoryConstitution/ Pages/HistoryofConstitution.edu.malaysia.aspx http://www1.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful