Malaya Peninsula – 3


The British pursue their policy of divide and rule in Malaya. The British backed the Malaysia as the weakest element in the society. The British made a policy that only the British and the Malayas were eligible for the post of civil service. The British held the highest position and the Malay aristocracy provided the officialdom. As a representative government that give political power to the numerically large and economically and culturally superior Chinese community. The Britain were looked as their protector against the thread of Chinese dominion by the Malayas. Thus the Chinese and the Indians furnished an embryonic, dynamic political force as the Malayas remain indifferent to politics.


The first modern political activities in Malaya began among the Chinese. The Chinese living in Malaya maintain close relation with China and both Kuomintang and Chinese Communist party had their followings in the country. But the Malayas did not show much interest in politics and thus the growth of nationalist spirit was very slow among them up to the Second World War. There was a negative state of fear and resentment of Chinese economic pressure which provided a favorable soil in which national feelings could germinate.  The beginning of the twentieth century the increasing prosperity of the Malay aristocracy under British rule had enabled them to send their sons to Cairo, Beirut, or Mecca for education and they came under the influence of Pan-Islamism and when they came back home they stated to propagate their new ideas to their fellow Malays and formed literary association and debating societies which, however did not grow into political parties.

In 1930, the Kuomintang was not registered as a society by the Malaya government and was therefore declared illegal. The Malaya government was reluctant to remove the ban, but the British foreign office urged that the Nationalist (KMT) government had been recognized by Britain it was no longer logical or reasonable to refuse recognition of the party in Malaya. Discussion between the Chinese government and the British government and finally came to the conclusion that the Malaya governments were to take steps to amend the local legislation, making it clear that the Kuomintang was not an illegal in the society in Malaya and there was no objection to any Chinese in Malaya being a member of the KMT in China.

Thus the slow rate of development of Malay Nationalism was the feudal structure of the society. The British policy of respecting Malay customs and culture and of preserving traditional leadership help in ossifying the social order, The Malay nationalism in the pre-second world war was more of an attempt of feudal society to adapt itself to the new world order of democracy and socialism than to bring about a national upheaval for the political emancipation of the country. The Malaya Nationalist struggle was still in the beginning stage when Japan suddenly struck in 1941-42.