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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

After 50 years of Independence - Politics & Conflicts in Malaya Part 1.

A Short History of the making of Malaya.

Malaya was unique in many aspects, not just in terms of its ethnic composition but more so in terms of its history. For the purpose of this discussion we are going to limit ourselves to the period of just prior to her independence from a political perspective. During the WW2 the (CPM) Communist Party of Malaya were fighting the (Japs) Japanese with arms supplied by the British. The Chinese, formed the bulk of the CPM, they had to fight the Japs, they had no choice, the Japs was their sworn nemesis and mortal enemy for many generations.

The CPM fought the Japs under the banner of MPAJA, Malayan People Anti Japanese Army. It was through this war probably the Chinese developed the sense of feeling that Malaya was theirs and they took the credit for defeating the Japs, though that was not the whole truth. After the WW2 ended the CPM managed to rule Malaya for some 10 days, it was a nightmare to many. There was a power vacuum, due to the time required by the British Army and Bureaucrats to return to Malaya. By the time the British arrived, the CPM already turned Maoist and heavily influenced by the successes of Mao in China, were asking for independence. So were the Islamists and the Nationalists whom the Japanese had promised Independence just within days after their surrender, after without the slightest mercy and devoid of any humanist values, the American, nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki casing considerable civilian death and sufferings, obliterated probably all kind of living things there. History recorded that the Americans were the first and only Nation to ever used a nuclear bomb.

The British had no choice, due to the popularity of the Independence movement. The British had to pick out their own choice of leaders and Malaya was given independence by her colonial masters on 31st August 1957, ironically when the war with the CPM was still on, known in our history as the period of "emergency". With the participation and assistance of the British and soldiers from other Commonwealth countries, the CPM was then losing ground and they were fighting according to the classic Mao Tze Tung guerrilla theory, "from the jungles we circled the cities and take it one by one." Thus, even though it was an internal security matters, more Malaysian soldiers, especially from the Malay ethnic group answered the call for the defense of the motherland, were recruited and beef up those from the Commonwealth countries to fight a guerrilla war. Our soldiers and the army from many Commonwealth countries were used against an internal threat and not an external aggression.

Malaya and Education.

Some 50 years earlier, prior to the Japs occupation, the British together with the lower ranking expatriates were running Malaya. These expatriates were mostly make up of Ceylonese and those from the Indian subcontinent. They were known as the "Government Servant". It seems that the British had encounter difficulties in getting the Malays to fill up their offices. So too were, in their industries and businesses. While the laborers for their estates mainly came from the lower caste in India, the mining industry and the industrialist and merchants classes were hugely from China. Ironically though these countries do have sizable numbers of Muslims, more than Malaya itself. The Muslims were not included in these imported laborers, industrialists and merchants. Thus, these action created some problems in assimilations. Education, the problem of a National language and a common identity too become a sore point and is still an ongoing debate.

During this period, the British had opened many schools, both missionary and government funded schools in major towns, these schools were flooded by the children of these new immigrants who settled in the major towns by large numbers. The Sultans of 4 states, out of concerned, do not wish to leave the reins of this country, being managed by these imported "government servants". Thus the Sultans had a Royal Conference - and come up with the establishment of the well known school The Malay College, in 1905, located in the Royal Town of Perak, Kuala Kangsar. Initially it was meant for the upper echelon of the society and was design or suppose to produce Civil or Public servants. As a twist in history, with the emphasis in Science since the late 60's, this school ends up producing more Scientists, Doctors, Engineers and Technologists.

Defeating Communism in Malaya.

During the "emergency" the Malayans rallied around the forces promoting Nationalism. Tengku Abdul Rahman (Tengku), who later became the first Prime Minister, a western educated liberal and archenemy of communism, managed to turn the table against the CPM. When the CPM refused to lay down their rifles and did not wish work for independence through peaceful means. The CPM as a stated goal wanted independence by the used of force and to oust the British out of Malaya through the barrel of the gun. Using this attitude of the CPM the Government propagandist then, Mr. C.C. Too, had managed to turn the 'winner take all' conflict' in favor of Tengku. He garnered huge gains and tremendous support for Tengku, by making the CPM as the bad guy in the Baling talks. There were no further talks after that and the CPM was banned as an political and social organization.

In his efforts to pursue independence, Tengku flew to London. In London then, their house of common make two interesting points. Firstly, the British is the first Imperial Power to defeat Communism and they did it in Malaya. Secondly, the British had two enemies in Malaya - one from the jungles (reads CPM) and two from the Gunung (read Gunung Semanggol, PMIP(PAS) started there). PAS was resilient, PAS stayed on participating in every election until today. Later in Sept 1963, Sabah, Sarawak joined Malaya. Singapore did too but only to leave later.

Tengku bring back wealth, money that were taken out of Malaya by the British Colonial masters were utilized for infrastructure and social development. Tun Razak further opened new agriculture land, Oil was then found, an the general theme of economic development became an election promise – time and again. Until the citizens started to question the obvious poor delivery system which lead to poor distribution.

Siege Mentality

Until today those who offer their services to the government prefer to refer themselves as "government servants". I am of the opinion that that this term was cooked up by our colonial masters. It is a sort of a psychology to give the "under siege" mentality. To add salt to the wound, we are also a Commonwealth countries and as an individual we are a British Subject. It is sort of a polite way of saying that we belong to the same body politic and are under the power and authority of the British. Do we have to choose a government to the British liking or approval?

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