Malayan Union

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Malayan Union

ملايان اونياون
1946–1948
Flag of the Federated Malay States (1895 - 1946).svg
Federation of Malaya.PNG
Status British colony
CapitalKuala Lumpur
Common languages Malay
English
Religion
Malaysian folk religion
Buddhism
Hinduism
Protestantism
Islam
Animistic religion
Governor 
Historical era Decolonisation
 Established
1 April 1946
 Disestablished
31 January 1948
Area
1948132,364 km2 (51,106 sq mi)
CurrencyMalayan dollar
ISO 3166 code MY
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg British Military Administration (Malaya)
Federation of Malaya Flag of Malaya.svg
Today part ofFlag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia
Part of a series on the
History of Malaysia
Malaysian History.png
Flag of Malaysia.svg Malaysiaportal

The Malayan Union was a union of the Malay states and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca. It was the successor to British Malaya and was conceived to unify the Malay Peninsula under a single government to simplify administration. Following opposition by the ethnic Malays, the union was reorganized as the Federation of Malaya in 1948.

Straits Settlements former group of British territories located in Southeast Asia

The Straits Settlements were a group of British territories located in Southeast Asia. Originally established in 1826 as part of the territories controlled by the British East India Company, the Straits Settlements came under direct British control as a Crown colony on 1 April 1867. The colony was dissolved in 1946 as part of the British reorganisation of its Southeast Asian dependencies following the end of the Second World War.

Penang State of Malaysia

Penang is a Malaysian state located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, by the Malacca Strait. It has two parts: Penang Island, where the capital city, George Town, is located, and Seberang Perai on the Malay Peninsula. The second smallest Malaysian state by land mass, Penang is bordered by Kedah to the north and the east, and Perak to the south. Penang Island is connected to the rest of the state by Malaysia's two longest road bridges, the Penang Bridge and the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge; the latter is also as of May 2019 the longest oversea bridge in Southeast Asia.

Malacca State of Malaysia

Malacca dubbed "The Historic State", is a state in Malaysia located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, next to the Strait of Malacca.

Contents

Formation of the Malayan Union

Prior to World War II, British Malaya consisted of three groups of polities: the protectorate of the Federated Malay States, five protected Unfederated Malay States and the crown colony of the Strait Settlements.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

A protectorate, in its inception adopted by modern international law, is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy and some independence while still retaining the suzerainty of a greater sovereign state. In exchange for this, the protectorate usually accepts specified obligations, which may vary greatly, depending on the real nature of their relationship. Therefore, a protectorate remains an autonomous part of a sovereign state. They are different from colonies as they have local rulers and people ruling over the territory and experience rare cases of immigration of settlers from the country it has suzerainty of. However, a state which remains under the protection of another state but still retains independence is known as a protected state and is different from protectorates.

Federated Malay States

The Federated Malay States (FMS) was a federation of four protected states in the Malay Peninsula—Selangor, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang—established by the British government in 1895, which lasted until 1946, when they, together with two of the former Straits Settlements and the Unfederated Malay States, formed the Malayan Union. Two years later, the Union became the Federation of Malaya and finally Malaysia in 1963 with the inclusion of North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore.

On 1 April 1946, the Malayan Union officially came into existence with Sir Edward Gent as its governor, combining the Federated Malay States, Unfederated Malay States and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca under one administration. The capital of the Union was Kuala Lumpur. The former Straits Settlement of Singapore was administered as a separate crown colony.

Edward Gent Malaysian politician

Sir Gerard Edward James Gent was the first appointed Governor of the Malayan Union in 1946.

Kuala Lumpur Capital of Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, officially the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur or commonly known as KL, is the national capital and largest city in Malaysia. As the global city of Malaysia, it covers an area of 243 km2 (94 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 1.73 million as of 2016. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.25 million people as of 2017. It is among the fastest growing metropolitan regions in Southeast Asia, in both population and economic development.

Colony of Singapore Postwar Singapore as a British crown colony

The colony of Singapore was a British Crown colony that existed from 1946 until 1963, when Singapore became part of Malaysia. When the Empire of Japan surrendered to the Allies at the end of World War II, the island was handed back to the British in 1945. In 1946, the Straits Settlements were dissolved and Singapore together with the Cocos-Keeling and Christmas islands became a separate Crown colony. The colony was governed by the British Empire until it gained partial internal self-governance in 1955.

The idea of the Union was first expressed by the British on October 1945 (plans had been presented to the War Cabinet as early as May 1944) [1] in the aftermath of the Second World War by the British Military Administration. Sir Harold MacMichael was assigned the task of gathering the Malay state rulers' approval for the Malayan Union in the same month. In a short period of time, he managed to obtain all the Malay rulers’ approval. The reasons for their agreement, despite the loss of political power that it entailed for the Malay rulers, has been much debated; the consensus appears to be that the main reasons were that as the Malay rulers were of course resident during the Japanese occupation, they were open to the accusation of collaboration, and that they were threatened with dethronement. [2] Hence the approval was given, though it was with utmost reluctance.

British Military Administration (Malaya) Postwar administration of Malaya before its independence

The British Military Administration (BMA) was the interim administrator of British Malaya from August 1945, the end of World War II, to the establishment of the Malayan Union in April 1946. The BMA was under the direct command of the Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, Lord Louis Mountbatten. The administration had the dual function of maintaining basic subsistence during the period of reoccupation, and also of imposing the state structure upon which post-war imperial power would rest.

Harold MacMichael British colonial administrator

Sir Harold Alfred MacMichael was a British colonial administrator.

When it was unveiled, the Malayan Union gave equal rights to people who wished to apply for citizenship. It was automatically granted to people who were born in any state in British Malaya or Singapore and were living there before 15 February 1942, born outside British Malaya or the Straits Settlements only if their fathers were citizens of the Malayan Union and those who reached 18 years old and who had lived in British Malaya or Singapore "10 out of 15 years before 15 February 1942". The group of people eligible for application of citizenship had to live in Singapore or British Malaya "for 5 out of 8 years preceding the application", had to be of good character, understand and speak the English or Malay language and "had to take an oath of allegiance to the Malayan Union". However, the citizenship proposal was never actually implemented. Due to opposition to the citizenship proposal, it was postponed then modified, which made it harder for many Chinese and Indian residents to obtain Malayan citizenship. [3]

Malay language Austronesian language

Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family spoken in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as parts of Thailand. A language of the Malays, it is spoken by 290 million people across the Strait of Malacca, including the coasts of the Malay Peninsula of Malaysia and the eastern coast of Sumatra in Indonesia and has been established as a native language of part of western coastal Sarawak and West Kalimantan in Borneo. It is also used as a trading language in the southern Philippines, including the southern parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula, the Sulu Archipelago and the southern predominantly Muslim-inhabited municipalities of Bataraza and Balabac in Palawan.

The Sultans, the traditional rulers of the Malay states, conceded all their powers to the British Crown except in religious matters. The Malayan Union was placed under the jurisdiction of a British Governor, signalling the formal inauguration of British colonial rule in the Malay peninsula. Moreover, while the State Councils were still kept functioning in the former Federated Malay States, they lost the limited autonomy that they enjoyed, left to administer only some less important local aspects of government, and became an extended hand of the Federal government in Kuala Lumpur. Also, British Residents replacing the Sultans as the head of the State Councils meant that the political status of the Sultans was greatly reduced. [4]

A Supreme Court was established in 1946 of which Harold Curwen Willan was the only Chief Justice. [5]

Opposition, dissolution of the Malayan Union and the creation of the Federation of Malaya

Protest against the Malayan Union by the Malays. Malayan Union protest.png
Protest against the Malayan Union by the Malays.

The Malays generally opposed the creation of the Union. The opposition was due to the methods Sir Harold MacMichael used to acquire the Sultans' approval, the reduction of the Sultans' powers, and easy granting of citizenship to immigrants. The United Malays National Organisation or UMNO, a Malay political association formed by Dato' Onn bin Ja'afar on 1 March 1946, led the opposition against the Malayan Union. Malays also wore white bands around their heads, signifying their mourning for the loss of the Sultans' political rights.

After the inauguration of the Malayan Union, the Malays, under UMNO continued opposing the Malayan Union. They utilised civil disobedience as a means of protest by refusing to attend the installation ceremonies of the British governors. They had also refused to participate in the meetings of the Advisory Councils, hence Malay participation in the government bureaucracy and the political process had totally stopped. The British had recognised this problem and took measures to consider the opinions of the major races in Malaya before making amendments to the constitution. The Malayan Union was dissolved and replaced by the Federation of Malaya on 1 February 1948.

Evolution towards Malaysia

Evolution of Malaysia Malaysia tree diagram.svg
Evolution of Malaysia

See also

Notes

  1. CAB 66/50 'Policy in Regard to Malaya and Borneo'
  2. Ariffin Omar, Bangsa Melayu: Malay Concepts of Democracy and Community, 1945–1950 (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 46. Cited in Ken'ichi Goto, Tensions of Empire: Japan and Southeast Asia in the Colonial and Postcolonial World (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003), p. 222
  3. Carnell, Malayan Citizenship Legislation, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 1952
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 May 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. Ming Ho, Tak. Generations: The Story of Batu Gajah. p. 165.

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References

Coordinates: 3°08′N101°42′E / 3.133°N 101.700°E / 3.133; 101.700