Malaya Peninsula – 2

A PLURASLISTIC SOCIETY

The pluralistic nature of the Malaya society thus stood in the way of the growth of Nationalism and political unity. This means a society composed of two or more racial communities living side by side but to inter marrying to any extent, with differing standards of life, without a common culture. The alien elements especially the Chinese had been centuries coming down from China and had formed small communities in many centers where they would make a fortune and then return to China. This feeling of living in a foreign country often even among the Chinese born in Malaya. It is wonder that in a population so racially diverse and including so many transient elements, the development of a single national consciousness, if possible at all was bound to be painfully slow. Later, however some of the foreign elements came to regard British Malaya to be painfully slow. The Malayas regarded the Chinese as well as the Indians as alien and exploiter, and by World War 1, their resentments against them reached considerably intensity.

The Chinese provided more of the Labour for the Tin-mines, and also accounted greater number of retailers and artisans in the town and cities and the Indian provided an influential number of lawyers, businessman, dock workers and plantation labourers. The Malayas were mostly indebted to the Chinese and Indian money-lenders. But under British protection, the Malaya was secured in possession of their rice lands, the Prince retained their privileges under the treaties and from their aristocracy were appointed about sixth of the Malayan Civil Service (a small body totally about 240, of whom the remaining five-sixths were British officials). The economic inferiority of the Malayas hindered the growth of Malaya nationalism and thus diverted into ethnic rivalry between the Malayas and other ethnic groups and not only that the economic differences were also aggravated by religious differences.