Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: History We are what we are today because of what happened in the past

   
   
       
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,391

    History We are what we are today because of what happened in the past

    We are what we are today because of what happened in the past (part 1) (UPDATED with Chinese translation)

    THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

    Saturday, 25 May 2013 Super Admin

    This was a complication that the British did not need. More than 80% of the businesses, tin mines, estates, and so on, in Malaya belonged to the British and 30% of Britain’s economy -- which had been practically bankrupted by the war -- depended on Malaya. Hence the last thing the British wanted was another India-Pakistan type of conflict in Malaya.

    THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

    Raja Petra Kamarudin

    Since the 2008 general election, the favourite ‘war cry’ was: the Malays must wake up. They were referring to the Hindraf rally of November 2007, of course, and the Bersih (1.0) rally about two weeks before that -- which for the first time since the rise of the Reformasi movement in September 1998 a rally managed to attract a reasonable level of non-Malay support.

    This was followed by the most impressive March 2008 general election result a few months later (for the opposition, that is), which saw Penang, Perak and Selangor fall to the opposition, and which would not have been possible purely on Malay votes alone and unless the non-Malays too voted opposition.

    Actually, for a long time before 2007-2008, the Malays had been saying that the non-Malays must wake up. The Malays realised that kicking out Umno and Barisan Nasional would be impossible unless the non-Malays also joined the ‘resistance movement’. However, in the past, the non-Malays have always given many reasons as to why they could not join the Malays to kick out the ruling party.

    To understand Malaysian elections you need to analyse all the general elections since 1959 and the municipal elections four years before that in 1955 plus understand why and how Malaya was given independence or Merdeka in 1957.
    Without sounding as if I am repeating myself here, when the Japanese surrendered in 1945 and Britain ‘repossessed’ Malaya, the British tried to ‘restructure’ the country. Part of this restructuring exercise was to create the Malayan Union whereby the feudal system would be eroded somewhat and the Monarchs whom the Malays call ‘Raja-Raja Melayu’would lose some of their powers.

    Now, the normal ‘Malay-in-the-street’ or Malay layman did not have any strong opinions on the matter. However, the Malay elite plus the Malays from the intellectual community could not agree to this move. They felt that to erode the feudal system plus to reduce the powers of the Monarchy meant that the Malays would lose their status as the Tuans(Lords) of the land. Thus was born the concept of Ketuanan Melayu or Malays as the Lords of the Land.

    The Chinese and Indians were not too bothered about what was going on while the natives of East Malaysia were not involved since this was a Malayan issue and East Malaysia was not part of Malaya. The majority of the Chinese and Indians were not citizens anyway so it did not matter what the British wanted to do to Malaya since any system was not going to change the lot of the Chinese and Indians in any way.

    The Malays did not have a political movement in which to resist the British. They did have many associations, societies and movements but these were very specific to the group that they represented. What they needed was a national movement so that the hundreds of associations, societies and movements could be combined into one national organisation.

    And this was what triggered the birth of this national coalition called the United Malays National Organisation or Umno, a coalition of many groupings and sub-groupings. Hence Umno, in a way, was a coalition rather than a political party. In fact, Umno was not even called a political party, not with a name like United Malays National Organisation. Nevertheless, Umno was the new platform to unite the many smaller groupings so that the Malays could talk to the British as one voice.

    If you were to look at the old black-and-white photographs of the Umno demonstrations of 1946 you can see that the people in the demonstration were not fishermen and farmers. From their dressing it is clear that these people were from the elite community. Back in 1946, only those from the elite community dressed like that.

    In short, Umno was not a people’s movement as such but an elitist movement of Malays who were related or linked to the palace plus Malays who had gone to school and had received an education. And, more importantly, Umno was not set up as the platform to fight for independence or Merdeka but to resist the Malayan Union. Independence orMerdeka was never the endgame or in the minds of the Malays back in 1946 when Umno was born.

    Three months after that, the Malayan Indian Congress or MIC was formed followed by the Malayan Chinese Association or MCA three years later.

    MIC was called the Malayan Indian Congress because it was strongly influenced by the Indian National Congress or INC of India (or Congress party for short) that was formed about 60 years earlier. MIC, however, did not get much Indian support especially when its second President, Budh Singh, who was a Communist, opposed the Malayan Union. The Malayan Indians were more interested in matters back home in India than about matters in Malaya.

    And MCA, too, was more concerned about raising money to support the Kuomintang that was fighting the Communists in China than about Malayan politics. Hence both MIC and MCA did not really have any solidarity with Umno.

    It was not until some MCA leaders from Melaka travelled to London to raise the issue of independence with the British that Umno began to have similar thoughts. The Umno leaders also made a trip to London to meet the British to talk about Merdeka but only after the Chinese had first raised the issue. So now it looked like two different groups wanted to talk about Merdeka, which would have complicated matters.

    It must be noted that the British already had a very bad experience in India in 1947 when India was partitioned and which resulted in an estimated one million deaths. So are we going to also see Malaya partitioned into ‘Malay Malaya’ and ‘Chinese Malaya’? What will happen to the Indians then? Will they all be sent back to India?

    This was a complication that the British did not need. More than 80% of the businesses, tin mines, estates, and so on, in Malaya belonged to the British and 30% of Britain’s economy -- which had been practically bankrupted by the war -- depended on Malaya. Hence the last thing the British wanted was another India-Pakistan type of conflict in Malaya.
    TO BE CONTINUED
    *****************************************
    以前所發生的決定了現在的我們(一)

    這是一個英國不想看到的複雜難題。馬來亞80%的生意,礦場,田園等都是屬於英國的,而英國30%的經濟活動----他們當時的經濟幾乎快被戰爭給拖垮了----都是馬來亞在支撐的。故此,當時英國人最不想見到的是印度-巴基斯坦紛爭在馬來亞從現。
    原文:Raja Petra Kamarudin
    譯文:方宙

    自從08年大選后,‘馬來人必須睡醒了’成了最出名的‘戰爭口號’。此口號所參照的當然是07年的興權會大 集會和Bersih 1.0;Bersih 1.0是續1998年9月的烈火莫熄集會后第一個成功吸引大量非馬來支持者的集會。
    在那以後我們在08年大選見證了反對黨很出色的成績;檳城,雪蘭莪和霹靂都相續地落入了反對黨的手裏,而這 單靠馬來票是無法辦到的,非馬來票在此發揮了很大的作用。
    事實上,早在07-08年以前,馬來人就一直說非馬來人必須睡醒了。當時的馬來人察覺到單靠他們是無法把巫統踢出局的,他們還 需要非馬來人來參與他們的‘對抗活動’。無論如何,過去的非馬來人都給出種種理由來圓掉他們無法和馬來人合 作踢走巫統的決定。
    想要了解大馬選舉你就必須得先詳細地分析1955年的市政府選舉和自1959年以來的各屆馬來西亞大選。你 也必須得去摸清在1957年時馬來亞到底是如何取得獨立的。
    在1945年日本投降后英國人‘從新取囘’馬來亞。他們當時嘗試想要‘從新建造’馬來亞,而這個計劃的其中 一個部分是建立馬來亞聯邦來撤銷掉當時的封建君主制系統,進而削弱馬來君主的權力。
    當時的馬來平民其實對這件事沒有太大的知覺,但那些馬來精英和知識分子則對此大感不滿。他們覺得撤銷掉封建 君主制系統和削弱馬來君主權力會直接把馬拉人的‘土地主人’身份給去掉。 ‘Ketuanan Melayu’這個概念就是由此產生的。
    當時的華人和印度人都持著觀望的態度,而東馬的土著們則是事不關己(因爲當時東馬還沒和馬來亞合併)。當時 的華人和印度人都還不是國家公民,所以對他們來説英國人要在馬來亞做些什麽並不重要,因爲他們認爲這些都不 會給自己多大的影響。
    當時的馬來人並沒有任何政治運動來對抗英國人。他們確實是有很多社團,協會和運動,但這些都只是很特定地代 表他們自己的團員而已。他們當時需要的是一個全國性的團體來結合那上百個不同的馬來社團,協會和運動等來對 抗馬來亞聯邦。
    這就是巫統(United Malays National Organisation,Umno),一個很多不同的組合和小組合的聯盟,的來由。所以在某個層面上,巫 統像一個聯盟多過像一個政黨。事實上,就連巫統這個名字也不像是個政黨應有的名字。無論如何,巫統結合了很 多小團體組成單一的平臺來讓馬來人有辦法一致性地與英國人對話。
    如果你看囘1946年巫統示威的黑白照片的話,你會看到那些示威者都不是農民或漁民。從他們的穿著你很容易 能看出他們都是些精英分子;在1946年只有精英分子才會那樣打扮。
    簡短一點來講,巫統並不是什麽所謂的全民運動,它是那些跟皇室有關聯的馬來精英和上過大學的馬來知識分子的 運動。更重要的是,組織巫統的原本目的並不是爲了要為獨立尋找平臺而是爲了對抗馬來亞聯邦的成立。打從一開 始獨立這個念頭根本就沒有在馬來人的腦海裏出現過。
    在巫統成立的三個月后,馬來亞囯大黨(Malayan Indian Congress,MIC)成立,而馬來亞華人公會(Malayan Chinese Association or MCA) 也于三年后建立。
    囯大黨之所以被稱之爲Malayan Indian Congress是因爲它是受到印度的Indian National Congress(INC)很大的影響。無論如何,囯大黨並沒有得到很多印度人的支持,尤其是在他們的第二 任主席Budh Singh(他是個共產主義者)公開反對馬來亞聯邦后。當時的馬來亞印度人關心印度所發生的事情多過他們關 心馬來亞所發生的事情。
    另一方面,馬華也忙於為當時中國的國民黨募款來跟共產黨打戰而無暇顧及馬來亞所發生的事情。故此,囯大黨與 馬華在當時根本就和巫統談不及有什麽團結合作。
    直到後來又一組來自馬六甲的馬華代表去到倫敦和英國人談起獨立這件事,巫統才開始有這樣的想法。巫統領袖隨 後也組團到倫敦和英國人討論獨立這個課題。所以當時分別有兩組人馬要洽談獨立這囘事,而這也把事情搞複雜了 。
    你必須了解,英國在印度曾遇過一次很糟糕的經驗;1947年印度曾因面臨分裂而導致大約1百萬人爲此喪生。 所以現在我們會看到馬來亞被分裂為‘馬來人馬來亞’和‘華人馬來亞’嗎?印度人又要怎麽辦呢?是否應該把他 們全送囘印度呢?
    這是一個英國不想看到的複雜難題。馬來亞80%的生意,礦場,田園等都是屬於英國的,而英國30%的經濟活 動----他們當時的經濟幾乎快被戰爭給拖垮了----都是馬來亞在支撐的。故此,當時英國人最不想見到的是印度-巴基斯坦紛爭在馬來亞從現。
    py

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,391
    We are what we are today because of what happened in the past (part 2)

    THE CORRIDORS OF POWER



    Sunday, 26 May 2013 Super Admin

    The British ‘master plan’ was for the Malays to take over the administration of Malaya, for the Chinese to manage the finance and commerce of the country, and for the Indians to do the labour work in the plantations, railway and public works. And, to satisfy this master plan, from the mid-1800s to 1920 (when the policy ended), the Chinese and Indians from Southern China and Southern India/Ceylon respectively were brought into the country by the shiploads.

    THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

    Raja Petra Kamarudin

    The fallacy we have been fed all this while is that Umno was created to fight for independence or Merdeka from the British. This, of course, is not true. The majority of the Malays ‘loved’ their British colonial master. This is mainly because the Malays are extremely feudalistic in nature, as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has more than once pointed out (with great regret on top of that), and for a long time Hang Tuah was the hero while Hang Jebat the villain.

    For those who do not get the meaning to this, Hang Tuah was one of the five warriors of Melaka -- as legendary as Robin Hood of England -- who obeyed the Sultan even when the Sultan was cruel and unjust while Hang Jebat defied the Sultan and hence was considered a traitor. The only thing is Hang Jebat defied the Sultan because of the cruelty towards Hang Tuah -- just like Robin Hood opposed Prince John because the ‘acting-monarch’ was evil -- but Hang Jebat became the baddie while Hang Tuah is considered the goodie.

    Such is the feudalistic mind of the Malay. Hence, when the British implemented the Malayan Union, which would reduce the powers of the Raja-Raja Melayu (Monarchs of the Malays), the elitist and intellectual Malays rose up in protest.
    This probably startled the British -- who were still recovering from the aftershocks and affects of World War II and just did not need another ‘war’ on their hands -- because never before have the Malays resisted their ‘bosses’.

    The Malays were once Hindus (except those in Negeri Sembilan who were Buddhists). However, when their Ruler converted to Islam, the entire population followed suit without question. Considering that Melaka depended on the Arabs and the Muslims from India for trade, it made sense for the Malays to become Muslims, which would improve foreign relations and hence trade as well.

    Northern Malaya was ruled by Thailand and the Malays obediently sent the Bunga Emas tribute to Thailand every year. There was no resistance whatsoever. Southern Malaya was part of the Riau Empire and the Malays had no problem with this as well. In short, it was very easy to colonise the Malays. Hence when the Portuguese colonised Melaka followed by the Dutch and then the British, and for a short while the Japanese, the Malays loyally served all colonial masters and became what today we would probably call the running dogs of the colonial masters.

    The British knew they could win the loyalty of the Malays just as long as you did not ‘disturb’ their customs, traditions, language, religion (by that time Islam, of course) and the ‘symbol’ of their kedaulatan or sovereignty (the Raja-Raja Melayu). Touch any one of those and the Malays would melenting (leap up like a cat whose tail you stepped on).

    The British knew even back in 1900 that they needed to ‘gently’ educate the Malays to become more ‘modern’. Hence, for this purpose, they built schools modelled after the English public schools. And the Malay College Kuala Kangar (MCKK) was one such example. The objective was to ‘modernise’ the Malays while at the same time maintaining and ‘not disturbing’ the Malay customs and traditions plus their religion, Islam.

    It is probably cruel for me to say that the British wanted to turn the Malays into ‘brown Englishmen’ who played rugby and cricket and drank tea at four and sipped brandy after dinner. But that is basically what happened, whether by accident or by design. The plan to create these ‘brown Englishmen’ was so that they could groom ‘English-minded’ Malays to take over the country when the British decided to ‘wind down’ or leave Malaya some time in the future.

    The British ‘master plan’ was for the Malays to take over the administration of Malaya, for the Chinese to manage the finance and commerce of the country, and for the Indians to do the labour work in the plantations, railway and public works. And, to satisfy this master plan, from the mid-1800s to 1920 (when the policy ended), the Chinese and Indians from Southern China and Southern India/Ceylon respectively were brought into the country by the shiploads.

    But the Chinese and Indians had begun coming to Malaya more than 500 years before that. And many, since then (after 20 generations or so), were now more Malayan than Chinese or Indian. In fact, some Chinese, the Straits Chinese -- a.k.a. the Babas and Nyonas -- were more Malay than Chinese and some spoke Malay at home and no longer spoke a word of Chinese.

    And many Indians (in particular the Muslims) had since married Malays to the extent that in some places the majority of the ‘Malays’ were of mixed Indian blood (Mamaks) that outnumbered the ‘pure’ Malays’. For all intents and purposes, the definition of ‘pure’ Malay was now very blurred and to find a ‘pure’ Malay was as difficult as finding a ‘pure’ Englishman (something that also no longer exists).

    Hence, to look at the Malays, Chinese and Indians in the proper perspective, you need to break them down into sub-groups such as pure Malays, Malays of mixed blood, pre-1800s Indians, pre-1800s Chinese, and post 1850-1900 Malays, Chinese and Indians who migrated to Malaya to participate in the economic boom at that time but still had strong ties with their motherland.

    And these are probably whom Umno refers to as pendatang (immigrants). However, pendatang should not refer to just the Chinese and Indians. There are even more Malay pendatang than there are Chinese and Indian pendatang (those Malays who came to Malaya from the 1850s onwards).

    Anyway, if you wish to argue this matter further, what is the definition of Malay? To call Malays Malay would be like calling someone a European. There are hundreds of ‘Europeans’. Even the British can be broken down into so many sub-groups. Hence Malay is merely the label you use for a dark- or brown-skin native of South East Asia -- who lives or came from the region South of China, East of India, and North of Australia.

    And that is certainly a very large grouping indeed.

    Tian Chua, therefore, is NOT a pendatang since his family went to Melaka 500 years ago and long before the mid-1800s, while Dr Mahathir, whose father migrated to Malaya in the early 1900s, can be classified as a pendatang. Ironical, is it not? (I am of course using pre-1850 and post-1850 as my ‘yardstick’).

    In 1948, after the British abandoned the Malayan Union in favour of the Federation of Malaya or Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, Umno, the organisation created in 1946 to oppose the Malayan Union, began to become more political. Nevertheless, it still remained very pro-British. Umno just wanted to participate in the government. It did not want to take over the country or sought independence from Britain.

    In 1954, the first Umno-MCA delegation went to London to discuss this matter. By then Onn Jaafar had already left Umno because Umno refused to open its doors to the non-Malays and in 1951 he formed his Independence of Malaya Party or IMP. However, the IMP did not get much support (it got wiped out in the elections soon to come). The Malays, Chinese and Indians would rather be grouped into race-based parties such as Umno, MCA and MIC.

    Tunku Abdul Rahman, the new Umno leader, together with Tun Razak Hussein and Tan Cheng Lok’s nominee, T. H. Tan, arrived in London in May 1954 to engage the British in talks regarding the administration of Malaya. (Tan Cheng Lok did not like to fly so he sent T.H. Tan in his place). The talks, however, failed.

    The British did not want to layan (entertain) a loose grouping that did not represent the majority voice. Furthermore, Umno and MCA were not the only two players. On ‘the other side’ were the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM); the Malayan Democratic Union (MDU); the Malay Nationalist Party (PKMM); the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC); the Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions; the Clerical Unions of Penang, Malacca, Selangor and Perak; the Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce; the Selangor Women's Federation; the Malayan New Democratic Youth's League; the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Ex-Comrades Association; the Singapore Chinese Association; the Peasant's Union. etc., which made up the All-Malaya Council of Joint Action (AMCJA) and which had a wider support base than Umno and MCA.

    In short, the anti-British and the left wing (Socialists and Communists) group -- that also saw birth around the same time as Umno in 1946 -- was bigger and stronger. For the British to layan Umno and MCA, they must first show strength. So, in 1954, the Alliance Party was formed with MIC now also a member alongside Umno and MCA. And, in the first state elections held that same year, the Alliance swept 226 of the 268 seats and in the Federal Legislative Council election the following year (where 52 of the 100 seats were contested) Alliance swept all but one seat.

    This proved that the Alliance was the choice of the people so the British started talking to them regarding Merdeka. It must be noted that the British wanted to grant Merdeka to Malaya as much as the Malayans wanted Merdeka.

    However, it would be better to hand the government to a pro-British group like the Alliance rather than the Malay Nationalists ('extremists', to the British), Socialists or Communists take power whereby Britain’s 80% economic interest in the country, which contributes to 30% of Britain’s economy, would be at risk of being nationalised.

    And one more thing to note is, the Malays in the Alliance (meaning Umno) were mostly ‘brown Englishmen’ who had been groomed since 1900 to one day take over the country’s administration and at the same time protect British interests in Malaya. Hence it was what we would today call a win-win situation.

    And that was how the nation-state of Malaya was created in 1957 and why until today we still have the same government in power.
    py

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,391
    We are what we are today because of what happened in the past (part 3)

    he Malay radicals had been marginalised in the talks among Umno, the British, and the rulers. The MNP saw the Federation Agreement as a move to maintain colonial rule in Malaya. The AMCJA-Putera called for a hartal on 20 October 1947 to protest against the Federation of Malaya Agreement. Towards the end of 1947, the government banned the AMCJA and Putera and most of their leaders, except for Tan, were arrested or went into exile. In June 1951, Dato Onn declared at the Umno General Assembly that independence could only be achieved if there was unity with the other races. He therefore proposed opening Umno membership to non-Malays and the party renamed as the United Malayan National Organisation.
    THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

    By Lee Kam Hing, CPI (5 February 2010)

    Road to Independence (1): Birth of Umno and Malayan Union

    Inter-ethnic cooperation was a prerequisite set by the British for the transfer of power to Malayans. The colonial authorities believed that the races needed to work together to create the necessary conditions for a smooth political transition and that this could then counter the Malayan Communist Party’s claim of being the only movement representing the people’s struggle. Local leaders themselves also accepted that only when the various races began working together could a start be made to the nation-building process.

    Two forms of inter-ethnic cooperation were attempted in the pre-independence period. The first was a single multi-ethnic party, the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP) and the second was a coalition of ethnic-based parties, the Alliance Party. Not without some significance, the founders of the ethnic-based political parties of the United Malay National Organisation (Umno), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) were directly involved in setting up IMP.

    In the end it was the Alliance Party which prevailed over the multiethnic IMP. In 1955 the Alliance Party won resoundingly in the first federal elections and with this electoral success took the lead in negotiating for independence. Since then it has served as the dominant form of interracial cooperation.

    Negotiations for the new nation’s Constitution in 1956 and 1957 involved difficult issues of a communal nature requiring tough bargaining among the leaders. Throughout the negotiations, however, a spirit of friendship and goodwill prevailed as the early leaders struggled to arrive at compromises to safeguard the interests of the respective communities.
    Efforts were made to ensure that the Articles in the Constitution would be fair and balanced. This was not easy. The Constitution held inherent contradictions and tensions. Where it was possible in certain Articles, leaders chose to be silent on details because they feared that to do otherwise could provoke strong reaction from their respective communities and the resulting discord might jeopardise chances of early independence.

    Still, differences in interpreting some of these Articles surfaced soon after independence and they gave rise to major political disputes. It was management of communal discord that remains the main challenge to inter-ethnic relations.
    Inter-ethnic discourse took place within a changing political environment. There were the post-war ethnic disturbances in 1946 and the repercussions on race relations of the Emergency (1948-1960). At the same time, the British and the Malays realized that in the battle against the communists, the support of the Chinese was essential and that alienating the community from the mainstream of politics could undermine the political stability of the country. Increasingly, Chinese leaders were aware of their weaker bargaining position because sections of the Chinese community were implicated in the insurrection and also because after the 1955 federal elections, UMNO had a predominant share of seats won.

    All sides recognized the need to work with one another and to reach compromises even though these might not satisfy fully their own communities. Achieving independence was foremost in their minds and this united them.

    Rising communal consciousness: Seeking ethnic solidarity, 1945-1949

    Efforts to achieve inter-ethnic political cooperation in Malaya have been relatively recent. While Chinese business leaders and Malay rulers developed commercial collaboration in the past, the rest of the respective communities had generally lived in defined and separate economic sectors, mixing only in the market place in what J. Furnivall termed as a plural society.

    This separateness was further underlined by a growing but divergent political consciousness among the various communities in the early 20th century. Whilst the Malay community came under the influence of Pan Islamism and Indonesian nationalism, the Chinese were attracted to the reformist and revolutionary politics of China, and the Indians had their political influence stemming from the anti-British independence movement in India.1

    This rising political consciousness instilled a sense of solidarity within each of the communities and a determination to protect the rights and interest of its members. Malay leaders in the pre-war years such as Dato Onn Jaafar and Zainal Abidin Ahmad (Za’ba) spoke out against government neglect of Malay welfare and expressed anxiety that the Malay population would be outnumbered by the continued inflow of Chinese migrants into the country, and they called on the colonial authorities to halt Chinese immigration.2

    Chinese and Indian leaders, meanwhile, were divided between concerns in Malaya and what some still regarded as their homeland in China and India. Increasingly they were critical of colonial neglect of the educational and employment needs of their communities especially in the Depression years when price of tin and rubber fell. There were fears of social and labour unrest and dissatisfaction with the lack of government efforts to provide social relief.

    Inter-ethnic relations deteriorated dangerously in the months after the Second World War. Japanese treatment of Chinese during the Occupation had been harsh while a policy to win over the Malays was practised.

    In the immediate post-war days, the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army, mainly Chinese, attacked those they considered collaborators. Many of the MPAJA victims were Malays and the retaliation from the community took on an ethnic dimension. Serious clashes occurred in Johor and in Perak. Significantly, one leader who played a major role in calming the situation was Dato Onn Jaafar, an emerging Malay leader from Johor. He brought community leaders together and organised relief operations in the affected areas.3

    Then in the early months of 1946, the Malays mobilised themselves to oppose British plans to set up the Malayan Union. The Malayan Union would have led to the liberalising of citizenship requirements for non-Malays and the loss by Malay rulers’ of their sovereignty. The plan was strongly resisted by the Malays. Dato Onn led the opposition against the Malayan Union.

    On 11 May 1946 Umno was formed with Dato Onn elected as its President. For the first time, the Malays in the country were united under one organisation. Faced with mass demonstrations and boycotts by the sultans, the British agreed to negotiate with Umno and the Malay rulers. The resulting 1948 Federation of Malaya agreement, which replaced the Malayan Union, included terms favourable to the Malays.4

    Soon afterwards, moves were made to form a party to unite and represent the Chinese. The MCA was formed during what were probably the most troubling time for the Chinese. The community was still recovering from the difficult, and at times dangerous, years of the Japanese Occupation. Now in 1948 they were caught between an armed rebellion that was communist-led but largely Chinese-supported and a colonial regime seen increasingly as pro-Malay.

    Nearly half a million people, mostly Chinese, were – as a consequence – resettled in the New Villages. Facing such a situation, many Chinese saw an urgent need to have a party to rally the community together and to represent them in the constitutional discussions that were expected.

    Sir Henry Gurney, High Commissioner of Malaya, was keen that anti-communist Chinese should help fight the MCP-led insurrection. In December 1948, Gurney met 16 Chinese members of the Federal Legislative Council and assured them that the British supported the forming of a Chinese organisation.5 For several weeks then, Chinese guilds and association all over the country held meetings to select delegates to the inaugural meeting.

    At a gathering on 27 February 1949 the MCA was formed and Tan Cheng Lock, a Straits Chinese leader, was elected president. In the subsequent months, the party was preoccupied with welfare work in the New Villages where a third of the Chinese population had been resettled.6

    Political consciousness and mobilisation among the Indians drew inspiration from events in India. Many Indians sympathised with the independence struggle in India and during the war a number joined the Indian Independence League and its armed wing, the Indian National Army.

    After the war, Jawaharlal Nehru, a leader of the Indian Congress Party, visited Malaya, and at his suggestion a conference was held on 29 August 1946 to encourage active involvement of Indians in Malayan affairs. In that meeting, the Malayan Indian Congress was formed.7

    Early efforts at inter-ethnic cooperation, 1946-1951

    Both Tan Cheng Lock and Dato Onn Jaafar, although founders of ethnic-based parties, were also conscious very early of the need to develop inter-ethnic cooperation.

    Tan was most aware of impending political change. He also had a keener sense than any other Chinese leader of what Malay aspirations were. There was recognition that in any political transition Chinese interest would be safeguarded only through cooperation with the British and to an extent with the Malays too.

    When the Malayan Union which liberalized citizenship requirements was announced, Tan saw the proposals as offering hope to the non-Malays. Tan was therefore very disappointed when the British abandoned the Malayan Union in the face of strong Malay opposition.

    He pointed out to the British the unique opportunity they had to weld together the different peoples in Malaya into one united nation. Tan called on British commitment to a democracy where there would be equality in rights and obligations for all. He strongly criticized the colonial authorities in October 1946 when they proceeded to discuss only with Umno and the Malay rulers on constitutional changes.8

    There was a sense of bitterness in Tan when the proposals of the Federation of Malaya Agreement were made public. He criticized what he described as a pro-Malay character of the Federation proposal.

    Tan thereupon took a more pronounced anti-colonial stance and sought out other political groups to oppose the Federation of Malaya Agreement proposals. On 7th December 1946 he together with leaders of the Malayan Democratic Union formed the Pan (later All) -Malayan Council for Joint Action. The MDU, multi-racial but mostly non-Malay led, modelled itself on the left-wing of the British Labour Party. The AMCJA in mid-1947 February linked up with several radical Malay organisations led by the Malay National Party.

    Among Malay leaders in the MNP were Musa Ahmad, Ahmad Boestamam, Aziz Ishak and Dr Burhannuddin Al-helmy. They joined other Malay dissidents to form Putera in February 1947.

    The Malay radicals had been marginalised in the talks among Umno, the British, and the rulers. The MNP saw the Federation Agreement as a move to maintain colonial rule in Malaya. The AMCJA-Putera called for a hartal on 20 October 1947 to protest against the Federation of Malaya Agreement. Towards the end of 1947, the government banned the AMCJA and Putera and most of their leaders, except for Tan, were arrested or went into exile.9

    For Dato Onn, the shift from a narrow communal stance to a more inclusive approach in Malayan politics came following the signing of the Federation of Malaya Agreement. In 1949 he called on the Malays “to obtain closer ties with the other people in this country.10 Now seeking self-government and eventual independence, he wanted greater accommodation with non-Malays who had settled in Malaya and he persuaded Umno to change the party slogan from ‘Hidup Melayu’ to ‘Merdeka’.

    Meanwhile Sir Malcolm MacDonald, the British Commissioner General for Southeast Asia, set up the Communities Liaison Committee (CLC) in 1949 to provide a platform to help resolve political differences among the various communities. There was inter-ethnic unease lingering from the immediate post-war months and this was heightened by the outbreak of a largely Chinese communist insurrection. Tan and Dato Onn, as leaders of the two major communities were brought into the CLC and both tried to work out a more enduring inter-ethnic understanding.

    At the CLC Tun Tan and Dato Onn developed a friendship and through this reached some broad agreement to resolve contentious issues affecting inter-ethnic relations. Citizenship based on jus soli for non-Malays and special rights for Malays were the two pressing issues. Dato Onn agreed to liberalise citizenship requirements for non-Malays while Tan supported the Malay special position. Both agreed that the future government of Malaya should be multiracial and as well as one that was inclusive.

    In June 1951, Dato Onn declared at the Umno General Assembly that independence could only be achieved if there was unity with the other races.11 He therefore proposed opening Umno membership to non-Malays and the party renamed as the United Malayan National Organisation. It has been suggested that Malcolm MacDonald encouraged Dato Onn to take the new position. But it could argued that Dato Onn himself recognized the political realities of the changing times and hence this accounted for his bold approach regarding working with the other races.

    However, while senior party officials were prepared to accept Dato Onn’s proposal, the general body within the party rejected moves to open Umno to other races. Unable to gain wide acceptance to his proposals, Dato Onn left Umno to set up the non-communal IMP on 16 September 1951. Tan supported Dato Onn and the IMP. He chaired the inaugural IMP meeting in Kuala Lumpur and headed the party’s Malacca branch. Tan was joined by several senior MCA leaders including Tan Siew Sin, Khoo Teik Ee and Yoong Shook Lin.

    These early efforts by leaders of different communities to work together were tentative and temporary. The promoters of the experiment such as the AMPAJA-Putera collaboration and the CLC had to reconcile almost irreconcilable positions involving communal issues. But these attempts laid the groundwork for future inter-ethnic partnership that were more sustained.

    TO BE CONTINUED

    ************************************************** *****
    Footnotes:

    [1] William Roff, Origins of Malay Nationalism, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967, pp. 56-90; Yen Ching Hwang,The Overseas Chinese and the 1911 Revolution, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1976, pp. 36-145
    [2] Abdullah Hussain dan Khalid M.Hussein, Pendeta Za’ba dalam Kenangan, Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 2000. pp.188-233; Adnan Hj. Nawang, Za’ba dan Melayu, Kuala Lumpur: Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd 1998, pp. 160-219; Adnan Hj. Nawang, Memoir Za’ba, Tanjong Malim: Univesiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, 2005, pp.50-73
    [3] Cheah Boon Kheng, The Making of a Nation, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002, pp. 1-48;Ramlah Adam, Dato Onn Ja’afar: Pengasas Kemerdekaan, Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1992, pp.58-80
    [4] Gordon P.Means, Malaysian Politics, London: University of London Press,1970, pp. 99-102
    [5] Richard Stubbs, Hearts and Minds of Guerrilla Warfare: The Malayan Emergency 1948-1960, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1989, pp.202-203
    [6] Heng Pek Koon, Cheng Lock’s Vision and Mission, The Star, 9 July 2007; Fujio Hara, Malayan Chinese and China: Conversion in Identity Consciousness, 1945-1957, Tokyo: Institute of Developing Economies, 1997, pp. 53-77
    [7] S.Arasaratnam, S., Indians in Malaysia and Singapore, London: Institute of Race Relations, 1967,pp. 112-113
    [8] Tjoa Hock Guan, The Social and Political Ideas of Tun Datuk Sir Tan Cheng Lock, in Kernial Singh Sandhu and Paul Wheatley (eds), Melaka: The Transformation of a Malay Capital, 1400-1980 Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies/Oxford University Press, 1983, pp. 299-323.
    [9] K.G. Tregonning, ‘Tan Cheng Lock: A Malayan Nationalist, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol.X No.1, March 1979, pp.25-76
    [10] Joseph Fernando, “The Rebel in Onn Jaafar, The Star, 18 June 2007
    [11] Ibid
    py

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,391
    We are what we are today because of what happened in the past (part 4)


    THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

    Wednesday, 29 May 2013 Super Admin




    The Umno-MCA alliance could have turned out to be no more than a temporary arrangement of convenience. Given that the first real electoral contest took place in Kuala Lumpur which was largely Chinese-majority, Umno found it necessary to work with MCA to defeat its rival, the IMP. Had elections been held elsewhere where Chinese votes were insignificant, there might not have been a reason for Umno to seek a Chinese electoral partner. Nevertheless in 1952 it was more than just electoral battles that led Umno and MCA to work together. They now had to forge a common front to negotiate with the British on constitutional change.

    THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

    By Lee Kam Hing, CPI (6 February 2010)

    Road to Independence (2): MCA’s missed opportunity

    Local elections: The demise of the IMP and the emergence of the Alliance Party, 1952

    In late 1951, local elections were introduced in Malaya to prepare the country for self-government. The first election was in Penang in December 1951. But it was in Kuala Lumpur, the federal capital and where IMP was contesting for the first time, that the elections in February 1952, attracted wide interest.

    The Independence of Malaya Party (IMP) which fielded candidates in all 12 wards seemed formidable, having on its side Onn Jaafar, founder-leader of Umno, and Tan Cheng Lock, founder-leader of the MCA. Several other senior MCA leaders including Tan Siew Sin, Khoo Teik Ee and Yong Shook Lin were with the IMP too. The IMP was also supported by the MIC.

    Selangor MCA, then headed by H.S. Lee, reached an agreement with Dato Yahya Razak, chairman of KL Umno’s election committee to field a single slate of candidates. Lee’s election manifesto which was released on 3 January stated that “the MCA Selangor Branch are also of the opinion that the interests of members of other communities should also be represented."

    This had attracted Yahya’s attention. He thereupon contacted a former school-mate Ong Yoke Lin, another MCA leader, who then fixed a meeting of representatives from Umno and MCA. On 7 January both sides agreed to fight jointly in the elections. The alliance fielded 5 Malays, 6 Chinese, and 1 Indian.12

    The KL electoral pact was an entirely local initiative but the alliance drew strong criticisms not only from IMP but also from some MCA and Umno national leaders. Yahya Razak’s own division head Datin Putih Mariah resigned on 10 February just days before elections in protest at the pact. There were objections from other branches and Yahya was accused of selling out the Malays by working with a Chinese party.

    On the MCA side, two senior leaders Tan Siew Sin and Khoo Teik Ee declared during the elections campaign that the party’s central working committee had not approved the Umno-MCA merger and both instead called for support of the IMP.

    For MCA this was its first experience in participating in elections while for Umno it needed to improve on its Penang performance where it won only one seat. Both Lee and Yahya saw the elections initially as a battle for control of the KL Municipal and focused on local issues. But the elections turned out to be a test of strength between Onn Jaafar’s multi-racial IMP and the communally-based Umno and MCA, and soon questions of self-government and larger political concerns were raised.13

    To the surprise of some observers, the Umno-MCA alliance defeated the IMP by winning 9 of the 12 seats at the KL elections.

    Contemporary commentaries while suggesting that the “MCA-Umno victory is superficially proof that the Malays and the Chinese can work together for political ends noted that voting was along ethnic lines for both parties."14 Although the electorate numbered only about 11,000 and turnout was 75%, the result was a major boost to the new alliance and it marked the beginning of IMP’s demise.

    The new alliance of Umno-MCA maintained its winning momentum and swept municipal elections held in the rest of the country later that year.


    Formalising inter-ethnic cooperation in the Alliance, 1952-53

    As observed, inter-ethnic cooperation in Malaya could have taken either the multi-racial IMP form or in the form of a coalition of communal-based parties. Tan Cheng Lock, on his part, remained cautious about an Umno-MCA alliance. He believed that several important issues had to be resolved before he was agreeable to formalising Umno-MCA collaboration.

    He wanted to find out whether Tunku Abdul Rahman, the new leader of Umno, accepted jus soli in relation to the citizenship issue and the concept of a Malaya for Malayans. Writing to H.S. Lee on 29 February Tan explained that “there must be communal equality in the Federation involving equality of opportunity and treatment and in shouldering the duties and in sharing the rights of Malaya Citizenship among all the domicile communities making up the population of Malaya.15

    Tan and other mainly Western-educated MCA leaders had initially embraced Onn’s non-racial IMP and saw it as moderate compared to Umno. In particular Tan appreciated Onn’s willingness to stake his position as Umno president by insisting on liberalising citizenship requirements and opening the party to non-Malays.

    It would appear that in 1952, the IMP with its multiracial platform as well as the quiet backing by the British was the preferred party to work with for some of the senior leaders of MCA. The IMP too was supported by the MIC. Many MCA leaders were unsure of the untested Tunku who had taken over Umno in August 1951.

    Then why did Tan break off with Onn? Some studies criticized Tan for letting Onn down. If Tan and the MCA had sided with IMP instead of Umno, could the whole political scenario for the country have changed? Could we have a situation of a dominant or competing multi-racial parties instead of a coalition of ethnic parties leading the independence movement?

    H.S. Lee favoured expanding the Umno-MCA alliance. In the weeks after the KL elections, Lee was in regular contact with the Tunku. The Tunku was the first to congratulate Lee on the KL election results. On 22 February Lee informed Tan that the Tunku favoured enlarging the alliance into a nation-wide organisation and that the Umno leader would be asking party heads to contact the various local MCA branches.16

    H.S. Lee’s role in events affecting Umno-MCA alliance was crucial. He was worried about the continued association of Tan Cheng Lock with the IMP. On 22 March 1952 he wrote to Tan that senior MCA state leaders had expressed to him their deep concern about Tan calling an inaugural IMP Malacca meeting, and there was a possibility that he would be made state chairman while still leader of the MCA. More importantly, Lee wrote, “They feel that if you accept the Presidency of the IMP in Malacca, it might not be conducive for frank discussions with the Umno in the future."17

    Unwilling to abandon Onn and the IMP, Tan proposed giving MCA branches the right to work with either IMP or Umno. Speaking to the press on 18 February 1952, Tan declared, “I support the principle of IMP-MCA-Umno cooperation."18To Lee on 22 February he explained, “You are materially aware that influential members of the MCA want cooperation with IMP. So probably the MCA is divided on this question."19

    Umno, which regarded IMP as its main rival, would certainly not have accepted Tan’s proposition. And neither did Lee and the more politically conservative Chinese. Writing to Tan on 1 March 1952 Lee revealed that the Tunku indicated to him privately that he accepted jus soli although there was a minority within Umno strongly opposed to such a concession.

    It might have been, as some writers had argued, that Lee preferred an Umno-MCA alliance because he and Onn were not on good personal terms. But correspondence at the end of 1951 showed that there was cordiality between the two leaders and even after IMP’s inaugural meeting Onn again invited Lee to join IMP.20

    Rather, Lee did not believe that the multi-racial IMP could get popular support. On 18 February 1952, Lee wrote that “...it seems unlikely that the IMP will be able to achieve any success elsewhere. Indeed they have obtained the two seats [in Kuala Lumpur] by a very small margin (50 odd votes)..." 21

    Lee’s stand was more likely influenced by his association with groups in the MCA which were worried about the future of Chinese education, language, and citizenship. These groups believed that the Chinese were politically weak and divided, and a distinctly Chinese party was therefore needed to safeguard the community’s interest especially at a time when British policies were interpreted as anti-Chinese. They therefore believed that MCA’s future could best be pursued by retaining its identity, and therefore an alliance with another communal party like Umno was a more suitable and workable option.22

    Lee managed to eventually bring Tan to his viewpoint. On 5 March, Lee alerted Tan to the Select Committee’s Report on the Immigration Ordinance of 1950. Onn was a signatory to the Majority Report with recommendations unfavourable to the Chinese and this was opposed by Chinese members of the Legislative Council. Lee therefore raised doubts in the mind of Tan about Onn’s commitment to multi-racial fairness.23

    Eventually, Tunku and Tan Cheng Lock met on 18 March. After several more rounds of talks involving other MCA leaders, a nation-wide Umno-MCA alliance was institutionalised.

    Consolidating inter-ethnic coalition, 1953-55

    The Umno-MCA alliance could have turned out to be no more than a temporary arrangement of convenience. Given that the first real electoral contest took place in Kuala Lumpur which was largely Chinese-majority, Umno found it necessary to work with MCA to defeat its rival, the IMP.

    Had elections been held elsewhere where Chinese votes were insignificant, there might not have been a reason for Umno to seek a Chinese electoral partner. Nevertheless in 1952 it was more than just electoral battles that led Umno and MCA to work together. They now had to forge a common front to negotiate with the British on constitutional change.24

    In March 1953 the coalition declared that its aim was to achieve self-government and eventual independence in Malaya. As a first step, the Alliance called for elections to the Federal Legislative Council and for at least 60 per cent of seats be elected directly by the people. Up until then, Council’s members had all been nominated

    The Alliance leaders encountered resistance from the British over their demands for political reforms. The British still favoured the non-communal IMP and disregarded the political strength of the Alliance as revealed in the elections. Furthermore, some colonial administrations were not convinced that Malaya was ready for independence and they anticipated a long period of British mandated rule.

    On 1 February 1954 the committee set up by the colonial administration to look into federal elections recommended that only 44 of the 92 members of the Federal Legislative Council, or less than half, would be elected. Significantly too, the committee did not recommend early elections.

    On further discussions, the number of elected seats was raised to 52 out of 98 seats. But Alliance leaders rejected the proposal and sent a delegation to raise the matter with the Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs, Oliver Lyttelton. The Secretary of State turned down the request for 60 per cent of elected members.

    In reaction, the Alliance called for an independent commission to consider constitutional reforms, failing which they would carry out a boycott of the government and withdraw all its representatives from the legislature, municipal, and town councils. This request was rejected and the Alliance members went ahead with the boycott. They organised a nation-wide demonstration and also met the Malay rulers to get support.

    The boycott forced the British to come to a compromise. The Colonial Office proposed that five seats that would have been nominated by the High Commissioner should now be decided by the majority party in the Council. These five seats could then ensure an elected majority at the Federal Legislative Council.25

    In July 1955 the first federal elections were held. Dato Onn had disbanded the IMP and formed Parti Negara to contest the elections. The inter-ethnic Alliance coalition fielded candidates in all seats and in its manifesto promised that it would seek early independence. Now joined by the MIC, the Alliance won 51 of the 52 seats. It formed the first locally-elected government with Tunku Abdul Rahman as the first Chief Minister.

    After the elections, the Alliance called on the British Secretary of State, Alan Lennox-Boyd, to set up an independent commission to draw up a Constitution as a step towards independence for Malaya. Lennox-Boyd soon afterwards invited the Alliance to send a delegation for discussions in London.

    Alliance leaders gained national support and prominence from the 1955 elections and won the right to negotiate for independence. They had enhanced their political position by taking a strong stand together against the colonial administration over the issue of federal elections. They were willing to risk detention by their boycott of the representative bodies.

    In the end they succeeded because of the evolving inter-ethnic solidarity and by showing that they could act together. The experience created a bond of friendship and this enabled them to resolve contentious matters during negotiations for a new constitution and independence.
    ************************************************** ******
    Dr Lee Kam Hing’s essay is originally titled ‘Forging Inter-ethnic Cooperation: The Political and Constitutional Process towards Independence, 1951-1957’ and published in the book Multiethnic Malaysia — Past Present and Future(2009).
    CPI with permission from the author is reproducing his essay in three parts for online reading in our website. Today’s Part 2 is as above.

    Dr Lee is research director at Star Publications. He was visiting Harvard-Yenching research scholar at Harvard University, and visiting scholar at Wofson College, Cambridge University. He was previously history professor of Universiti Malaya.

    TO BE CONTINUED
    ************************************************** ******
    Footnotes:
    [12] Malay Mail. 15 February 1952
    [13] Straits Times, 20 January 1952
    [14] Singapore Standard, 19 February 1952
    [15] Tan Cheng Lock to Col. H.S.Lee, 29 February 1952, Malacca, in unpublished H.S.Lee private papers, Kuala Lumpur
    [16] H.S.Lee to Dato Sir Cheng Lock Tan, 5 March 1952; H.S.Lee to Tengku Abdul Rahman, 7 March1952, both letters in unpublished H.S.Lee private papers, Kuala Lumpur.
    [17] H.S.Lee to Dato Sir Cheng Lock Tan, 3 March 1952, Kuala Lumpur, unpublished HS.Lee private papers, Kuala Lumpur
    [18] Straits Times, 19 February 1952
    [19] Tan Cheng Lock to Col H.S.Lee, 22 February 1952, Singapore, in unpublished H.S.Lee private papers, Kuala Lumpur
    [20] Dato Onn Jaafar to Col H.S.Lee, 4 September 1951, Kuala Lumpur, Unpublished H.S.Lee private papers, Kuala Lumpur.
    [21] H.S.Lee to Dato Sir Cheng Lock Tan, 18 February 1952, in unpublished H.S. Lee private papers, Kuala Lumpur
    [22] Straits Times, 20 January 1952
    [23] H.S.Lee to Dato Sir Cheng Lock Tan, 5 March 1952, Kuala Lumpur, in unpublished H.S.private papers, Kuala Lumpur
    [24] Heng Pek Koon, Chinese Politics in Malaysia: A History of the Malaysian Chinese Association, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp.179-220
    [25] Joseph M.Fernando, The Making of the Malayan Constitution, Kuala Lumpur: Monograph No 31 of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 2002, pp 35-63
    py

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,391
    We are what we are today because of what happened in the past (part 5)

    THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

    Thursday, 30 May 2013 Super Admin








    Umno leaders also realized that the British required inter-ethnic cooperation before a further political transition would take place. The Chinese on their part were forced to be restrained in their demands because the Emergency, which was seen as supported largely by Chinese, had placed the community under a political cloud. And after the 1955 elections when they had less seats than Umno, they realized that their bargaining position was weaker. There must be appreciation that the Constitution was drawn up in a context of compromise and consensus so as to forge a united front in the fight for independence. Today there is an urgency to retrieve and regain that spirit of mutual respect and understanding to build a cohesive Malaysia that can thrive in an increasingly globalising and competitive world.

    THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

    By Lee Kam Hing, CPI (7 February 2010)

    Road to Independence (3): Inherent tension in the Constitution

    Drafting the Malayan Constitution: Compromises and Consensus, 1956-57

    The sequence of political events leading to independence, according to Donald Horowitz, was a factor in consolidating a coalition of ethnic-based parties that proved to be enduring. At the pre-independence stage components members of the Alliance were forced to arrive at compromises in order to present a common stand in independence discussions. And they were more willing to make concessions to one another to maintain the inter-ethnic coalition, a condition stipulated by the British before any transfer of power could take place.

    There were several stages in the negotiations for a new constitution. Of these the most important were the preparation of the Alliance Memorandum (April-September 1956), the Reid Commission (19 June 1956-21 February 1957), and the tripartite Working Party (22 February-27 April 1957). The Alliance Memorandum was one of several from different organisations that were submitted but it was the one which the Reid Commission paid most attention to since this came from the majority party in the Federal Legislative Council. The Alliance Memorandum was finalised after crucial concessions were obtained from all sides within the coalition.

    The Reid Commission was entrusted with drafting the Constitution after taking into account the views of different groups. The tripartite Working Party, which included representatives from the Alliance, the Malay rulers and the British, met between 22 February and 27 April 1957 to go through each item in the draft constitution. This was to ensure that the new constitution would be acceptable to the major communities. Some significant amendments were made at this final stage although the general structure of the draft constitution was retained.

    Articles in the Constitution on citizenship, Malay special position, language, and religion were the most sensitive and were closely scrutinised and debated. Throughout these discussions, Umno and the non-Malay Alliance leaders had to contend with very communal demands from radical sections of their communities. Over the years since then, these Articles in the Constitution have continued to be major sources of disagreement and a bone of contention in inter-ethnic relations.

    Jus soli

    Members of the Alliance agreed on the application of jus soli for citizenship so that those born in the Federation after independence became citizens and non-residents could qualify by fulfilling residence, language and oath of loyalty requirements. This liberal citizenship requirement was a major concession from the Malays because with this agreement, large number of non-Malays became citizens.

    The Alliance, which insisted on a single nationality, also eventually accepted the Reid Commission’s inclusion of modified dual-citizenship especially for those from the Straits Settlements who were British subjects.26

    In exchange for liberalising citizenship requirements, non-Malay leaders in the Alliance accepted the special position of the Malays. Umno wanted to continue with Malay privileges as provided under the Federation of Malaya Agreement through provisions for Malay reservation land, operation of quotas within the public services, quotas for licenses and permits for certain businesses, and quotas for public scholarship and education grants.

    Malay special position

    There was the intention both in the Alliance and the Reid Commission that the provision in Article 157 (becoming Article 153 in the final version of the Constitution) on Malay special position should be transitional.

    In the earlier drafts of the Alliance memorandum it was stated that the special position provision in the Constitution would be reviewed 15 years after independence. However, this was omitted in the final version to avoid criticisms from Malay organisations although it was conveyed orally to the Reid Commission. The majority of members in the Reid Commission was uncomfortable with the provision in the Alliance Memorandum as they considered it incompatible with democracy and fundamental rights
    Amendments were made to Article 157 at the tripartite talks in April 1957. As a result of strong UMNO representation, it was decided that the special position of the Malays be reviewed from time to time instead of a stated fixed period. The Agong would have the responsibility for safeguarding the “special position of the Malays and the legitimate interests of the other communities."27

    Furthermore, Article 157 was also transferred from the transitional provisions of the Constitution to the permanent section at the final meeting of the Working Party on 27 April 1957. It was also decided that the government should have the flexibility to extend the areas classified as Malay reservations.28

    MCA was unhappy with the amendment made to Article 157. Its representatives to the talks had failed to realize the implications particularly that future amendments to Articles in the permanent section of the Constitution required a two-thirds majority of total number of members of each House of Parliament.

    Nevertheless, this transfer was made on an understanding that the White Paper to be tabled at the Federal Legislative meeting should include a statement that “it is considered in the interests of the country and in the interests of the Malays themselves that the provisions of Article 157 should be reviewed from time to time."29

    Furthermore, following MCA’s expression of concern that Article 157 provision should be carefully worded, it was agreed that a protective clause be included which stated that “Nothing in this article shall empower Parliament to restrict or control any trade or business just for the sake of creating quotas for Malays."30

    Islam

    It was at the tripartite negotiations that an Article making Islam the official religion of the Federation was introduced. The majority in the Reid Commission had favoured retaining religion as a state matter. They feared that providing an official religion, as proposed earlier in the Alliance memorandum, was a contradiction to the status of a secular state.

    Tunku Abdul Rahman, under pressure from Umno, argued that the inclusion of Article 3 was important psychologically to the Malays. However in recognising the objections of the rulers and the concerns of non-Malays, two provisos were included in the Article. The Article, accordingly, would not affect the position of the rulers in their respective states as head of Islam and the practice and propagation of other religions in the Federation would be assured.31

    Although there were strong objections from non-Muslim organisations to the Article, the MCA and the MIC were assured by Umno that Islam was intended to have only symbolic significance and for ceremonial purposes only, and that the rights of the non-Muslims would not be affected. Article 11 guaranteed the right of the citizens to “profess, practise and propagate their religion. The Federation would be a secular state."32

    Language

    There was also a compromise on language. The Alliance agreed to Umno’s proposal that Malay be the official language but that there would be no objections to the use of Chinese and Tamil for unofficial purposes. The Tunku also assured Chinese educationalists that Chinese schools, language and culture would be preserved. The tripartite Working Party agreed to a proviso in Article 140 on language allowing the teaching and learning of Chinese and Tamil.

    English was to be retained as official language for ten years after independence and thereafter until Parliament otherwise provided.

    Finally, the Malay rulers were to be constitutional monarchs and they would act on the advice of the Cabinet. In the tripartite meeting it was agreed that the rulers would be consulted on matters affecting their positions, territorial changes, changes affecting the special position of the Malays and the legitimate interests of the other communities, and in the appointment of important commissions such as the Election Commission and the Public Service commission.

    Conclusion

    Consensus was reached among the leaders at the constitutional talks on what were undoubtedly sensitive and difficult issues. Efforts were made to ensure that the core interests of all the communities were safeguarded. Though the constitutional provisions did not satisfy everyone there were key compromises made which enabled the members of the Alliance to work together towards independence.

    The Constitution which the founding leaders of Malaysia helped bring to fruition has since the provided the parameters of all subsequent discourses on inter-ethnic relations.

    But over the years, the inherent tension in a number of Articles of the Constitution have surfaced.

    Members of the various communities have claimed that the interests of their constituencies as provided in the Constitution had not been protected or advanced and these concerns have been taken up by opposition parties and even component members of the ruling coalition. There have also been calls for review of some of the provisions in the Constitution.

    At the same time, some Malays have argued that the community was not receiving the full benefits of their special position in exchange for granting citizenship to non-Malays. While non-Malays were granted immediate citizenship, the Malay community was still lagging behind economically and Malay was not as widely used as the official language.

    Many non-Malays, on their part, perceive that the Constitution has favoured the Malays and want to redress the bias so as to ensure fairer access to educational and employment opportunities in the government sector as well for to bring about the wider use of other languages and the development of vernacular-language schools.

    So long as the founding leaders were still around and the mystique of the Alliance as the party of independence remained, it was possible to contain the deep unhappiness of all communities. The hope of the early leaders was that with economic growth and equitable distribution, a maturing democracy, and continued inter-ethnic cooperation, the contentious issues would gradually fade away.

    Inter-ethnic cooperation was forged during a period of political transition in the pre-independence years. Donald Horowitz contends that the sequence of events was decisive in the formation of the Alliance and in the willingness of leaders of the component parties to reach agreement during constitutional talks.

    Prior to the Alliance, there had been efforts at inter-ethnic cooperation and thus when Umno and MCA formalised their partnership it was not an entirely new or uncharted experience. Horowitrz suggested that the Alliance could be looked upon as a creation of chance “a curious and irreplicable combination of circumstances".

    There was the Emergency and British colonial policy which pushed Umno and MCA together; that elections were held first for town councils where voters were mainly Chinese, and that there were no strong competing communal parties. In these circumstances, Umno as the leading Malay party was willing to reach across ethnic lines to work with the MCA in order to defeat the IMP, its main threat.

    Umno leaders also realized that the British required inter-ethnic cooperation before a further political transition would take place. The Chinese on their part were forced to be restrained in their demands because the Emergency, which was seen as supported largely by Chinese, had placed the community under a political cloud. And after the 1955 elections when they had less seats than Umno, they realized that their bargaining position was weaker.33

    Horowitz also argued that leaders of the Alliance had time to develop a close relationship even before they needed to face ‘divisive’ issues. The electoral battles they fought together and the difficulties they encountered with the colonial authorities bonded them in friendship. They were willing to make compromises in a spirit of give and take in order to maintain a united front when negotiating with the colonial authorities for independence.

    Fifty years after independence there is a need to renew our understanding of how leaders of the various ethnic groups came together to create a political coalition, to relearn of the different stages in the drafting of the Constitution, and to be aware of what the founding leaders agreed on with regard to citizenship, Malay special position, the place of Islam in this country, education and language, and the role of the Malay rulers.

    There must be appreciation that the Constitution was drawn up in a context of compromise and consensus so as to forge a united front in the fight for independence. Today there is an urgency to retrieve and regain that spirit of mutual respect and understanding to build a cohesive Malaysia that can thrive in an increasingly globalising and competitive world.
    ************************************************** ******
    Dr Lee Kam Hing’s essay is originally titled ‘Forging Inter-ethnic Cooperation: The Political and Constitutional Process towards Independence, 1951-1957’ and published in the book Multiethnic Malaysia — Past Present and Future (2009).

    CPI with permission from the author is reproducing his essay in three parts for online reading in our website. Today’s Part 3 is as above.

    Dr Lee is research director at Star Publications. He was visiting Harvard-Yenching research scholar at Harvard University, and visiting scholar at Wofson College, Cambridge University. He was previously history professor of Universiti Malaya.

    TO BE CONTINUED
    ************************************************** ******
    Footnotes:

    26 Those who held an additional nationality were given a year to decide if they wanted federation nationality while the introduction of a Commonwealth citizenship status allowed Commonwealth countries to grant certain privileges to citizens from other countries. Joseph Fernando, The Making of the Malayan Constitution, pp. 124-126, pp.160-161.

    27 Ibid, p.164

    28 Gordon P. Means, Malaysian Politics, pp.177-179

    29 Joseph Fernando, The Making of the Malaysian Constitution, p.164

    30 Ibid

    31 Tun Mohd Suffian bin Hashim, An Introduction to the Constitution of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Government Printer, 1976, pp.245-249; H.P.Lee, Constitutional Conflicts in Contemporary Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995, pp.4-21

    32 K.J.Ratnam, Communalism and the Political Process in Malaya, Singapore: University of Malaya Press, 1965, pp.117-126

    33 Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985 pp.396-440
    ************************************************** ******
    Bibliography

    Adnan Hj Mohd Nawang, Za’ba (Zainal Abidin bin Ahmad) dan Melayu, Kuala Lumpur: Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd, 1998

    Ampalavanar, R., The Indian Minority and Political Change in Malaya, 1945-1957, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1981

    Arasaratnam, S., Indians in Malaysia and Singapore, London: Institute of Race Relations, 1967

    Ariffin Omar, Bangsa Melayu: Malay Concepts of Democracy and Community, 1945-1950, Oxford University Press, 1993

    Cheah Boon Kheng, The Making of a Nation, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002

    Cloake, J. Templer: Tiger of Malaya, London: Harrap, 1985

    Clutterbuck, R., Riot and Revolution in Singapore and Malaya, London: Faber and Faber, 1973

    Emerson, Rupert, E., Malaysia: A Study of Direct and Indirect Rule, Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1964

    Fernando, J.M., The Making of the Malayan Constitution, Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society Monograph No 31, 2002

    Firdaus Abdullah, Radical Malay Politics, Petaling Jaya: Pelanduk, 1985

    Funston, J., Malay Politics in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Heinemann, 1980

    Furnivall, J.S., Netherlands India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1939

    Goh Cheng Teik, The May Thirteenth Incident and Democracy in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1971

    Heng Pek Khoon, Chinese Politics in Malaysia, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1988

    Heussler, Robert, Completing a Stewardship, London: Greenwood Press, 1983

    Hickling, R.H., An Introduction to the Federal Constitution, Kuala Lumpur: Government Printer, 1960

    Horowitz, D.L., Ethnic Groups in Conflict, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985

    Loh Kok Wah, Francis, Beyond the Tin Mines, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1988

    Husin Mutalib, Islam and Ethnicity in Malay Politics, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1990

    Means, G.P. Malaysian Politics, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1976

    Mohamed Noordin Sopiee, From Malayan Union to Singapore Separation, Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1974
    Mohamed Suffian Hashim, An Introduction to the Constitution of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Government Printer, 1972

    Mohamed Suffian Hashim, Lee, H.P. and Trindale, F.A. (eds), The Constitution of Malaysia: Its Development 1957-1977, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1978

    Ramlah Adam, Dato’ Onn Ja’afar: Pengasas Kemerdekaan, Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustakaa, 1993

    Ratnam, K.J., Communalism and the Political Process in Malaya, Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1965

    Roff, W.R., The Origins of Malaya Nationalism, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967

    Sheridan, L.A. and Groves, H.E., The Constitution of Malaysia, Singapore: Malayan Law Journal
    Stockwell, Anthony J., Malaya, London: HMSO, 1995

    Stubbs, Richard, Hearts and Minds in Guerrilla Warfare: The Malayan Emergency, 1948-1960, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1989

    Tan Liok Ee, The Rhetoric of Bangsa and Minzu: Community and Nations in Tension, the Malay Peninsula, 1900-1955, Clayton, Australia: Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University, 1988
    py

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    13,391
    Excellent analysis that explain's UMNO's historical evolution.

    http://www.tindakmalaysia.com/showth...6369#post16369
    py

  7. #7
    Excellent analysis..................................I appreciate it.....

Visitors found this page by searching for:

modern hiring service prop malim

all that we are today is because ofnour past

Goh Cheng Teik 1971. The May 13 Incidents and Democracy in Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Oxford University Press.

SEO Blog

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •