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DISCUSS. The history of Malay politics in Malaysia have had many challenges. Many believe that the path it had taken evolved since the early Malay kingdoms in the Malayan Peninsular. It is also obvious that the architecture of the political administrations in the 15th century until the intervention of British were influenced by the Malay kingdoms in Indonesia. However, there are few historians that the Malay political development only begins after the end of the 2nd World War. Ibrahim Mahmood for example, in his book, Sejarah Perjuangan Bangsa Melayu mentioned that there was no politics in Malaya before the 2nd World War. 1 Before that, there were no political parties established and no elections have been carried out. It was believed that the British rulers at that time controlled the amalgamation of such groupings due to fear of resistance from the locals. However, Ibrahim stressed that the basis of movements that were to evolve to political movements were presents.2 This paper will discuss the factors that had contributed to the changes in the Malay politics in the early 20th century until 1940. The discussions start with comparing the traditional Malay politics before the 20th century and the political structures that were introduced by the British Administration. Then paper will then highlight the factors that had contributed to the transformation of Malays¶ approach to the British administration, that led to the birth of political movements that were initially state centric to movements nationwide. Towards the end, the paper will outline the new political state of affairs that were practiced in the Malay states after the transform of Malay attitudes.
1 Ibrahim Mahmood, Sejarah Perjuangan Bangsa Melayu, Kuala Lumpur; Penerbitan Pustaka Antara, 1981, pp. 17-18. 2 Ibid.
the centre of the Malacca kingdom moved to Johor. The administration was led by the Sultan as the ruler.MALAYAN EARLY POLITICAL STRUCTURES Traditional Political Structure Malayan traditional political administration structure evolved from the structure that was practiced in Malacca during the glorious era in the 15th century. the Sultan is the state ruler who was assisted by state officials in managing the state affairs. After the fall of Malacca to the Portuguese in 1511. which were highly influenced by the political structure of the Minangkabau in Sumatera. The structure then evolved under the influence of the preferences of the state administrations such as Negeri Sembilan. The structures of traditional political administration in the Malay States are generally reflected in Figure 1. Sultan Ulama/ State Officials District Officials Penghulu / Village Officials Normal Citizens Slaves Figure 1: The Traditional Political Structure of a Malay States. whilst the normal citizens and slaves befall under the group of the 2 . Within the structure. which then was supported by the elites who assisted the Sultans in governing the states.
1970. British Political Structure During the initial stage of the British occupation in Malaya. Gordon P Means. they were did not intervene in the states administration.one that were being ruled. 3. and the government accepted special responsibility for their welfare and the preservation of their rights as µthe subjects of the Sultan¶ in each state. The legal position of the Sultans was safeguarded. Under the administrative arrangements. p. Sejarah Perjuangan Bangsa Melayu. as laid down in the treaties. After the intervention. 3 .3 British marked the change of their policy towards the Malay states. Within the state administrative organisations though. 43. following Pangkor Treaty. They just annexed the Straits Settlements to be their base to conduct trades with the locals¶ Malayan people. it was obvious that the ruling elites were all Malays. 3 4 Ibrahim Mahmood. 7. Malaysian Politics. The Sultans have to allow British advisors. British introduced an administration system in the states. the British administration in the Straits Settlements changed their approach due to the pressures of getting constant supplies of raw materials and to deny other western power to annex Malaya. The government was preserved as the distinctly Malay government which antedated any of the treaty arrangements made by the British. The Malays were considered the indigenous people. known as the Residents. In 1874. London: University of London Press Ltd. The intervention then followed by the rest of the Federated Malay States before being further extended to the Unfederated Malay States. 2. after the incidents in Perak. p. However. the British policy followed the following principles:4 1.
142. Formal Members. p. Gordon P Means. Sejarah Malaysia. They have lost most of their power in the administration and have to obey the British representatives in all field of administration. 4 . Although the colonial government established State Legislative and Executive Councils.6 Pledged to the 5 6 Ruslan Zainuddin and Fuziah Shafie. Malay College. However. The Malays that were accepted to be in the administrative offices were trained in the schools that were developed such as the Penang Free School. but religious and cultural matter.5 Sultan British Resident Deputy Resident Council Members: 1. and these Councils were never given power to be more than advisory bodies to the government. the British administrations acknowledged the need to have the Malays in the administration offices.The introduction of the system resulted in dissatisfaction amongst the Malays. Towards the end of the 19th century. their membership was appointed rather than popularly elected. p. Figure 2: State Administration System after British Intervention. Malaysian Politics. due to the influx of the Chinese to meet the needs in the mining industries. a representative was also included. especially the elites. The structure of the administrative system is reflected in Figure 2. Shah Alam: Penerbitan Fajar Bakti. 43. 2001. Raffles College and Sultan Ibrahim Training College.
and sparked a few revolutions. However. penghulu and village headman were of those who supported the British Administration. The situations cause the elites to dissatisfy with the new arrangement. Land can be owned by individuals but need to be registered to the government and can be leased or transfer of ownerships. remained in the previous arrangement.7 The above figure explain that the state¶s administration body. which further divided into parishes (mukim) and villages. as well as laws and tax collections. British policy left no room for substantial reforms leading to the eventual popular participation in democratic institutions. 7 Ibid. British divides the states into several districts. these revolutions have never spread nationwide and were more territorial and never spread beyond the states. the government has the right in the process and thus. 5 . The lower administrative bodies. the taxes imposed contributed to the government¶s income. where they introduced the ownership system. the chiefs. However.preservation of the existing autocratic Malay sultanates. the parishes and villages. to ease the administration over the vast areas within the states. The districts were governed by British appointed Magistrates. The introduction of the systems led to the loss of values in the feudal system where previously the citizens were free to venture the landmass and open up new areas and the appointed elites within the area by the Sultan gained their income from taxes that they imposed and toll collections in certain areas. However. The introduction is to east the economic exploitation within the Malay states. who were responsible for all administrative aspects within the districts. However. Land Administration System in another system that were introduced by the British Administrations.
CONTRIBUTING FACTORS There are numerous known factors that had contributed to the structural change in the Malay politics in early 20th century. These new elites then realized the differences in the field of education and economic status between the natives and the colonials and between ethnics. The new elites emerged from the groups that were either in the administrative offices or those that were successful outside the norms of their traditional lifestyles such as in the field of trades and business. That also led to the emergence of new Malay elites. 6 . started to realize the negative aspects of the administration in relation to their µsovereignty¶ over their motherland. this paper will divide them into two main groups. To ease in understanding the contributing factors. the education systems. the birth of plural society and the beginning of press printing in Malaya. INTERNAL FACTORS The internal factors that cause the atmosphere in the Malayan approach to politics were related to the administrative systems that have been introduced by the British. different than traditional Malay Elites. The associations sparked in isolations before expansion and become national movements. The Malays then demand a better standard of living and equality in the distribution of economic. internal and external. British Administration System Introduction of Malays in the administration system leads to the increase of Malay populations in the cities. The internal factors are the effects of the British administration systems. The Malays.
182-183. the unions were more of state orientated and it took a long time before becoming a nationwide movement. From Singapore. especially from Britain.8 Eunos was a middleclass man that was working for the Straits Settlements administration office in Singapore. To overcome the problem. the organization then had its branch in Malacca in 1937. The schools were initially aimed at training the Malays to become the staffs in the British administration offices. the educated Malays also being exposed to the real situations and open up their mindset. That was due to the leaders of the unions were traditional elites and they feared of losing their leadership once the unions become nationwide. Education system The introduction of British education system in Malaya also had contributed to the change of the Malay¶s approach to politics. 7 . which created problems to the lecturers to teach due to lack of Malay books for their references. they brought in books from Indonesia 8 9 Ruslan Zainuddin and Fuziah Shafie. He realized that the Malays were discriminated in the administration. The teachings at the college were in Malay. However. pp.The best example of this was the establishment of Kesatuan Melayu Singapura (KMS) or Singapore Malay Union that was established by Muhammad Eunos Abdullah in 1926. The movements started became nationwide towards the end of 1930s. 9 before being followed by Penang and other Malay states. Sejarah Malaysia. However. Ibid. They learned about movements from other countries through their readings and their exposures during their studies. KMS then became the organization that sparks other Malay Unions in other states. The institution that played an important role in spreading the movement was the Sultan Idris Training College (SITC) that was established in 1922. partly through the column Persaudaraan Sahabat Pena in Saudara newspaper.
whilst the traditional groups were very much focusing on issues within their districts or states. mainly demanding on better standard of living and better positions in the administration. p. even after they had left the college. The demands were also differed.due to similarities in the language. the outcome were the emergence of Malays who were united for their sovereignty over Malaya as well as the emergence of unions or parties that 10 11 Ibid. Ibrahim Haji Yaacob. was one of the examples. and influenced them to be leftists. The significance of this was the emergence of groups or parties that were different from the traditional groups that normally were led by traditional Malay elites. who was a student leader when he was studying at SITC. 8 . Plural Society The British administration in Malaya allowed the Indians and Chinese to migrate to Malaya. Sejarah Malaysia.178. The educated Malays and the students then formed groups or unions with their own agendas. as the new groups were demanding for the Malay rights throughout the nation. Due to the influx of foreigners. He was involved in the establishment of Ikatan Semenanjung-Borneo and Ikatan Pemuda Malaya. Ruslan Zainuddin and Fuziah Shafie.10 That led to the influence of the Indonesian movements against the Dutch administration to the students.11 Ikatan Pemuda Malaya was established to spread the nationalism spirit to the younger generations of Malays about the backwardness and weakness that they are facing under the British administration. The reasons for this were to compensate the demand in workhorse in the mining and plantation industries.
Bangi: Penerbitan Pelangi Sdn. and Malayan Union. Bhd. the demands from the Chinese and Indians increased and the Malays then start expressing their demands on the Malayan sovereignty. 13 12 9 . The column created qualms to the British. The publications. Saudara. and they reacted by closely observe the column and the contributors. 14 Ruslan Zainuddin and Fuziah Shafie.were established by the Chinese and Indians in expressing their demands. This column allows the member of Persaudaraan Sahabat Pena Malaya (Malayan Association of Pen Pals) to exchange opinions. The racial sovereignty demands over Malaya though. 129. newspapers and magazines. Sejarah STPM. were not so obvious initially. 2005. decentralizations. Ong Loo Chen.. a weekly newspaper that hosted a column µSahabat Pena¶.173.13 The printing that initiate the united unions in the Malayan peninsular were Saudara. The printed matters were distributed locally to the members of the organization in certain areas. An example was Al-Imam that was produced in Singapore by Kaum Muda organisation. Warta Malaya and Majlis. After the 1930s. The papers debated about the establishments of Malay organizations.173. the means of printing were through publications such as books. p. Sejarah Malaysia. During that period.12 Introduction of Printing Materials The modernization of the means of media also contributed to the development of modern politics in Malaya. p.14 Ruslan Zainuddin and Fuziah Shafie. Other publications that were discussion on the Malay¶s political movements were Idaran Zaman. Sejarah Malaysia. p. That leads to what is currently known racial orientated parties such as MCA and MIC. especially newspapers and magazines were not distributed throughout Malaya at the beginnings.
they motivated the Malay¶s awareness to abandon their cultural practice.15 Middle East Factors In late 19th century. 10 .EXTERNAL FACTORS There were also some external factors that had contributed to the change in the atmosphere in the Malayan approach to politics. not the western liberal ideology. Malaysian Politics. the students brought back the ideas and share them through Al-Imam. superstitious and practices that were against the Islamic teachings. He had written many books and articles in expressing his thoughts. Turkey and the Dutch East Indies. p. The movement was conveyed to Malaya by the Malayan Student that studied there. that was the first time ever an Asian nation 15 16 Gordon P Means. The reformation was due to what have been done by the western nations to the Islamic Ottoman Empire in Turkey. After their studies. British annexation of Egypt in 1882 sparked the Islah Movement that was led by Syed Muhammad Abduh. the Japanese defeated the Russians in Russo-Japanese war. 44. Sejarah Malaysia. The presence of the westerners in Turkey rooted the Pan-Islamic movements that unify all Muslims to overthrow western colonization there and reinstate the faith of the Muslims to Islam. The situation in Egypt also contributed to the awareness of the Malays in Malaya. partially as a result of reactions to events in Egypt. even they become politically motivated. p.163. Through the newspaper. a movement of Islamic Reformation emerged in the Middle East. Ruslan Zainuddin and Fuziah Shafie.16 Russo-Japanese War In 1905. What was significant with the Japanese victory was. Means stressed that µwhile early Malay political activists were more concerned with developments in Malaya.
17 In Philippines. and in this case the Malayan people to fight against the British administration. his idea and the movement he initiated continued and struggled against the Spanish and then the Americans. CONCLUSIONS The movements of unifying the Malays and the emergence of the new political scenario in Malaya can be considered as chain reactions. Even though the µreal¶ political parties 17 Ibid. the colonial situations that the nations are facing and similarities in the cultural aspects. Those are just some of the external factors that sparked the movements in Malaya to start the nationalism movement. That motivates that Asian Nations.managed to defeat a European super power. Indonesian Nationalist Party that was led by Soekarno fought for independent from the Dutch colonization. The factors that emerged one after another led to the realization of the Malays the importance of education. The opposition left deep impact to the movements in Malaya because of the close proximity of the nation. Even though the occurrences seemed like sparked the nationalist movement amongst the Malays. Even though he was arrested and sentenced to death. 11 . similar occurrence happened where Jose Rizal revolt against the Spaniards. they however. economical status disparities and their sovereignty in the Malay states. He founded the Philippines League to demand the colonials to give better treatments to the people of Philippines. also contribute to the new style of movements. that are the nucleus of the political movement that come into sight at a later date. Regional Factors In Indonesia.
have not emerged yet then. The factors that were outlined above actually sparked nationalism spirit amongst the Malays. It was the era of transition in the Malayan political culture. they also became the starting points of the new political system in early 20th century. 12 . from traditional political administration that were practiced in the traditional Malay states to the new political structure that also start to shape the structure that is practiced today which is µconstitutional monarchy¶. the Malays realized the importance of being united to outcast the British administration from Malaya.
³The Origins of British Colonialization of Malaya in Relation to its Tin´. Bhd. Shah Alam: Penerbitan Fajar Bakti. 2005 . Malaysian Politics. 5. 13 . Ibrahim Mahmood. 1981. Sejarah Perjuangan Bangsa Melayu. Kuala Lumpur.. The Developing Economies. Gordon P Means. Sejarah STPM. Vol. 2. 1970. Hideo Yamada. 4. 3. Penerbitan Pustaka Antara. Sejarah Malaysia. Bangi: Penerbitan Pelangi Sdn. 2001. 9. Ruslan Zainuddin and Fuziah Shafie. Ong Loo Chen. Pt. September 1971. London: University of London Press Ltd. 3.Bibliography 1.
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