The Road to Malaysia: Part 2 – Consultations

The Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee
The Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee

This article is a continuation from The Road to Malaysia: Part 1 – The Malaysia Concept.

During the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association of Asia (CPA) meeting in Singapore on the 23rd July 1961, a conference resolution to establish a Malaysia Consultative Committee led by North Borneo’s Donald Stephens and Sarawak United People’s Party’s Yeo Cheng Hoe. Both would become members of the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee and hasten the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.

We see today how some foreign plenipotentiaries act in contravention of Article 41(1) and (2) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 where the diplomat should not interfere with the internal affairs of the Receiving State and all businesses by the mission of the Sending State must be coordinated with the Foreign Ministry or any other relevant ministries of the Receiving State.  However, we see today various anti-government NGOs being courted by these foreign missions, even to the extent of having the number one diplomat attending and participating in the programs executed by these NGOs.

Things were not much different back in 1961 – especially for Singapore, although Singapore was still a Crown Colony with self-rule.  George Douglas Hamilton, the 10th Earl of Selkirk (Lord Selkirk) was often observed by Lee Kwan Yew to be making special efforts to court left-wing politicians especially PAP’s left-wing politician Lim Chin Siong, who are opposed to the Malaysia Concept.  This relationship grew stronger and especially after the Hong Lim by-election in April 1961 where an Independent thumped PAP’s candidate by a 4,927 majority, and later the Anson by-election in July 1961 where the Worker’s Party’s David Saul Marshall trounced PAP’s Mahmud Awang by a 546 majority.  Because of Lim Chin Siong’s ties with the communist-oriented Anti-British League, the PAP leadership began to be openly challenged by the pro-communist members of the PAP and were now prepared to assume leadership.  Tunku’s grouse with PAP is not that it is a pro-communist party, but that it is not anti-communist.

For the British, they did not mind if Singapore was governed by a pro-communist government as long as they are allowed to keep their base for use by the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO).  To the communist, it was a good rallying point for the British to continue keeping Singapore as a colony and a base in order to attract more anti-colonial supporters to Singapore and the Borneo territories, and intensive anti-merger campaign was undertaken by the communists in Singapore.  Lee Kwan Yew believed that the British authority in Singapore had encourage the communists in the PAP to revolt against the non-communist leadership in PAP.  Kuan Yew coud not take action by imprisoning the communists for fear that he would be branded a British stooge and that would exacerbate the revolt by the communist against the PAP leadership. Merger with the Federation of Malaya was now central in his struggle against the communists.

The mood for Malaysia in Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu) however was very good. When Ghazali Shafie arrived there, Sir William Almond Condrington Goode, the British Governor for North Borneo who was leaving for Sandakan told Ghazali to use his car to get around Jesselton for the Commonwealth Committee meeting.  As he got into Goode’s car, Ghazali noticed that the driver had not removed the state pennant from the car and asked the driver to do so, so he (Ghazali) could travel correctly in the car.  The driver turned around and replied that because of “Malaysia” he would drive Ghazali with the state pennant flying, and drove off with policemen saluting.

The Committee agreed that its aims and objectives should be to collect and collate views and opinions concerning the creation of Malaysia; to disseminate information on the question of Malaysia; to initiate and encourage discussions on Malaysia; and to foster activities that would promote and expedite the realisation of Malaysia. While Donald Stephens chaired the meeting, North Borneo was represented by Datu Mustapha, Singapore by S Rajaratnam, and Sarawak by Yeo Cheng Hoe.  All of them agreed with the grand plan.

William Goode was not happy with Donald Stephens’s statement on Malaysia, in particular the latter’s target date of 1963 for the formation.  Lord Selkirk had prior to this expressed that the people in British Borneo were not ready to govern themselves as they were still headhunters twenty years earlier.  Therefore, Selkirk opined that it would be better for the people of British Borneo to come under a Federation of North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak for five to ten years before they could decide whether or not to merge with Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia. Sir Alexander Waddle, H.C White and Sir William Goode, the Governors of Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo respectively made mention on how the idea of Malaysia is being received warmly by the people of the respective states; however they were worried that the Singapore Chinese especially, would swamp them.

On the 26th and 27th August 1961, Ghazali Shafie met with Kadazan leaders as well as leaders from the United Kadazan National Organisation (UKNO) to explain to them the Malaysia Concept, and after hearing about the special position accorded to the Malays in the Federation of Malaya Constitution, they all agreed that Malaysia would be the best solution to protect especially the interests of the Kadazans.

Later at night on the 27th August 1961, the British District Officer had invited Ghazali for drinks with British, European as well as Chinese leaders.  Ghazali had suspected that it was more of an exercise to intimidate him.  True enough some asked what was the advantage that the Federation of Malaya would get from Malaysia to which Ghazali replied saying that the question of advantage to Malaya would not arise as Malaya would simply cease to exist with the formation of Malaysia.  Another pointed his finger at Ghazali and poked him in the chest asking why is Malaya in a hurry to form Malaysia since the people of British Borneo were not yet ready and to let the states of Borneo form their own Federation first?  Ghazali pointed his finger back at the person and reminded him that the Tunku had merely made a mention about the Malaysia Concept once in Singapore and one or two more statements after that, and if the person felt that he was being pressured it was not because Malaya had pressured him but that he had been caught in a new political whirlpool within the Borneo territories and he had little knowledge of and was not keen on adjusting himself to the new order.

Back in Kuala Lumpur, Lee Kuan Yew was in absolute hurry for Singapore to be merged with Malaysia.  The threat of the communist was real.  In a discussion, he agreed with the Tunku that the rights of the Malays in Singapore would take precedence as the Malays in Malaya and Singapore, together with the “sons of the soil” in North Borneo and Sarawak, would form the single largest entity in the new Federation. The Tunku lamented to Kuan Yew that Malaya was very short of effective Chinese leaders. Tan Siew Sin of the MCA was a very sincere and clever man but could not speak any Chinese dialect to be really influential among the Chinese masses. It was no secret then that the Tunku would prefer to have Kuan Yew to assist him in managing the politics among the Chinese in the new Malaysia.

Back in North Borneo, trouble was brewing. The British Government had sent Donald Stephens to the UK to attend the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting, while colonial officials in North Borneo worked on to split the Kadazan by saying that Donald Stephens was not a real Kadazan.  As a result, UKNO was split into three factions: one following Donald Stephens, another following Abdul Ghani Gilong, while the other following Orang Kaya-Kaya GS Sundang. Datu Mustapha himself was offered two million Ringgit by a wealthy Chinese to form a political party that would espouse the Malaysia Concept but at its own pace, prefering to hang on to the colonial administration. On hearing this, Ghazali advised Mustapha to form a firm relationship with Donald Stephens in order to bring together the natives of North Borneo. Once a strong base was established, the Chinese would have no choice but to capitulate.

It was not an easy task.  Donald Stephens was from the Kadazandusun community.  The Kadazans and Dusuns were naturally biased towards the colonial officials and the white rulers who served the North Borneo Company before them.  These white rulers’ laws protected them from pirates and coastal marauders who plundered their homes and treated them with no respect – the Suluks.  Since Mustapha was a Suluk, the Kadazans and Dusuns treated him with fear and distrust though not without awe and respect.  That was how the British applied the divide et impera policy to keep them apart.

On the 27th September 1961, the British High Commissioner to Malaya, Sir Geofroy William Tory, called upon Ghazali Shafie to inform the latter that the Governors of North Borneo and Sarawak reported that the people of North Borneo were thinking along the thoughts of the Governors – that is to form a North Borneo Federation instead. When pressed for further explanation, Tory admitted that the Governors were talking in terms of what the Chinese businessmen said.

On the 9th October 1961, Donald Stephens, Mustapha and with about thirty people in the North Borneo delegation arrived in Kuala Lumpur at the invitation of the Tunku who spoke to them both about the need to forget past quarrels and work together for the people of North Borneo. The Tunku also spoke to them about the Chinese community in North Borneo who very much supported the colonial administration there but told them to not be hostile towards the Chinese.

After dinner that night, Mustapha spoke to the attendees about how he and Donald Stephens had decided to form a political movement that would devote itself towards the independence of North Borneo through the Malaysia Concept.  He also confessed to have regarded Donald Stephens as a rival for the leadership of the natives, but must now be brothers for the sake of North Borneo and encouraged the other community leaders in the delegation to do the same to one another.

Donald Stephens was more emotional. Tears were rolling down his cheeks when he admitted he had not trusted Mustapha before and asked for the latter’s forgiveness.  There was a thunderous applause and both Mustapha and Donald Stephens embraced each other and announced to those present that they were now blood brothers and pledged to work together for the well-being of the people through the Malaysia Concept.

A North Borneo Chinese by the name of Chan also spoke in support of the Malaysia Concept and thought the Chinese should also form a political party.  He, Donald Stephens and Mustapha then held hands together with everyone else and shouted Merdeka Malaysia ten times in keeping with the feng shui of the double ten – it was already the 10th October 1961, and this happened inside the Federal Hotel on Jalan Bukit Bintang.

After much deliberation at the second Malaysian Solidarity Consultative Committee meeting in Kuching, as well as some political maneuvering to get the support of Kalong Ningkan and his Sarawak National Party (SNAP) as well as to neutralise the opposition to the PAP within UMNO led by Aziz Ishak, it was decided that an Enquiry Commission, as envisaged by the Tunku and Harold MacMillan, to be appointed to gauge the desirability of the Malaysia Concept among the people of North Borneo and Sarawak.


In Part Three, we shall look into the Cobbold Commission’s work and findings, and reaction by our neighbours.

The Road To Malaysia: Part 1 – The Malaysia Concept

Google map data 2016 of Malaysia
Google map data 2016 of Malaysia
“Najib Abdul Razak has done more for Sarawak than all the previous Prime Ministers, including the one who served for 22 years,” said Sarawak Chief Minister, Adenan Satem to a crowd of about 3,000 people at the State Gawai Dayak Dinner in 2015 (Malaysiakini: 4 June 2015). That was what crossed my mind when thinking about sacrifices on the morning of the first day of Aidil Adha.  Najib Razak broke previous Prime Ministers’ record for being the PM who has visited Sarawak the most and has brought about promising developments in both Sabah and Sarawak including the toll-free Pan Borneo Highway.  What is most important is the capacity building for Bumiputera contractors through the 30 percent participation of Bumiputera contractors in this project.

All this had its beginnings more than 50 years ago when both Sabah and Sarawak were the British Colonies of North Borneo and Sarawak.

Prior to 1948, there was no country called Malaya but a territory of nine sultanates as British Protectorates and three Straits Settlements as Crown Colonies. Only the Crown Colonies were under direct British rule via the Colonial Office (Seademon Says: The Road to Merdeka – British Malaya, 12th September 2011). The British almost succeeded in implementing a Federation albeit through the shortlived Malayan Union, but that was later replaced with the Federation of Malaya on 1st February 1948.

Back then, Malaya was just a place for the Chinese migrants to work for money that would be sent home to China – the country the British had encouraged them to remember as their home during the interwar years.  Tun Ghazali Shafie, then the Deputy Assistant District Officer of Kuala Lipis.  He recalled how, when asked if the Chinese would support the Malays in an endeavour to dislodge all British Advisors from all the states of Malaya, the Justice of Peace for Kuala Lipis Mr Ong Siong Teck replied, “We Chinese had always been independent. Of course, but we must be given a place.”

On the 27th July 1955, the Alliance Party had won all but one seat in the Federal Legislative Council elections, and on Sunday, 31st July 1955, the Tunku handed the British High Commissioner his list of cabinet members (six Malays, three Chinese and two Indians) that would still have to be passed to the Rulers for their formal concurrence. This was when the Federation of Malaya gained self rule, a big step towards independence. At this time, there was a planned hegemony over the mainland including Malaya and Singapore, leaving the islands to Sukarno’s Indonesia (Seademon Says: The Road to Merdeka – Persekutuan Tanah China, 6th September 2011). Communism was rearing its ugly head at Malaya, Singapore and Borneo.

By June 1959, Singapore had its General Elections and Lee Kwan Yew’s People’s Action Party (PAP) was swept into power. The communist group in Singapore, including those in the PAP, had to lie low for the time being as Kuan Yew had promised the British that he would not allow any subversive elements to conduct their activities.  Singapore was keen for a merger with Malaya as that would grant them independence and assure them that the Federal government of Malaya would never allow the communists to exist.

By the end of April 1961, the situation in the South East Asia had changed drastically with the Pathet Lao guerrillas had come quite close to Luang Prabang in northern Laos, with the help of the Soviet Union and China. It was then that Ghazali Shafie pressed the Tunku to hasten the “Malaysia Concept” to create a Federation of Malaya, Singapore and the British North Borneo that included the Sultanate of Brunei.

On the 27th May 1961, the Tunku signalled the birth of the “Malaysia Concept” in a speech in Singapore to the Foreign Correspondents Association (Ghazali Shafie’s Memoir on the Formation of Malaysia, 1998 pg.26):

“…sooner or later Malaya should have an understanding Ong Siong Teck Britain and the peoples of Singapore, North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak. It is premature for me to say now how this closer understanding can be brought about, but it is inevitable that we should look ahead to this objective and think of a plan whereby these territories can be brought closer together in political and economic cooperation…”

“In North Borneo, there were already signs that Manila was going to make a cartographic claim based on some vague historical background,” wrote Ghazali Shafie, “(and) the Communist Clandestine Organisation (CCO) in Sarawak with assistance from abroad had begun to show its fangs and claws.  Whitehall would never do nything very positive for the people and that colonial territory could not be defended by armed means in the post-World War II period of anti-colonialism.”

The British then planned for a federation for North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak, and some British officials in Brunei even encouraged the locals to hate Malayan expatriates there.  In fact, a Malayan forest officer, Yakin, was assaulted by Bruneians. These Malayans were there at the request of Sultan Sir Omar Ali Saifuddin III to replace British officials in key posts, making the Bruneians think that the Malayans were stealing their jobs and subtly colonising them.

The Yang DiPertuan Agong, the Tunku and Malaysian officials visiting Brunei were subjected to insults and had the word CONGO shouted at them. The truth is no Brunei high officials had ever bothered explaining to the people of Brunei the reason they were there, including Haji Marsal Maun, the Menteri Besar of Brunei.

Before ending the visit, the Tunku made a radio broadcast to the people of Brunei telling them that the presence of Malayan officials in Brunei was at the request of His Highness the Sultan of Brunei and it was never Malaya’s intention to colonise.

While the Yang DiPertuan Agong left Brunei for Kuala Lumpur, the Tunku continued his tour to Sibu on board the KD Mutiara. She was the first ship that was specifically built for the Royal Malayan Navy.  She was also the first RMN vessel to be given the “Kapal DiRaja” title and was the first RMN vessel to be built locally. Their destination was Sarawak, a state that was once a realm of Brunei until 1841 when James Brooke was granted the areas around Kuching and Bau, from Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II, and was later given the title Rajah of the territories. The White Rajahs ruled Sarawak until 1946 when after the war Charles Vyner Brooke, the 4th Rajah of Sarawak ceded his interest in Sarawak to the Colonial Office for a sizeable pension for him and his three daughters.  Unsure of the legality of the cession, the British Government quickly passed a Bill of Annexation, effectively ending the rule by the White Rajahs.

In Sibu the Tunku met with Temenggung Jugah, Aini Dobi (whose brother Rosly Dobi was hanged for the assassination of Governor Duncan George Stewart in 1949), Tuanku Bujang, Abang Louis Barieng and Ahmad Zaidi Adruce.  An Iban in the administrative service in Sibu approached Ghazali Shafie asking the latter to explain more about the “Malaysia Concept.” Ghazali Shafie told the former in general what it was all about and the intentions of uplifting the indigenous people using the same special position of the Malays in the Malayan Federal Constitution.  Bennet agreed that Sarawak could achieve independence through the “Malaysia Concept” but his worry was having the Chinese from Singapore flooding Sarawak.  Ghazali suggested that Sarawak could ask for special powers to control immigration to which Bennet touched Ghazali’s hand saying, “Please help us.

The Ibans were in a dire strait.  Sibu was a town that was very Chinese – 95 percent of its 29,630 inhabitants in 1961 were Chinese.   In comparison, Sibu had 162,676 inhabitants in 2010 and 65 percent were Chinese. A school that the Tunku had visited just outside of Sibu only had a Primary Two class and was not able to find a teacher compared to a Chinese school nearby.  The British were not interested in developing the locals and if the situation was to continue for long, the rate of development for the Iban would be slow compared to the Chinese who had very good schools.  Even Temenggung Jugah was illiterate.  He had a signatured tattoed to his left arm and would put his left arm on a piece of paper so he could copy that to sign documents!

As they left Sibu and the KD Mutiara sailed down the Rajang, it was obvious that Sarawak as a colony would not be left alone by Communist China.  Ships from China sailing the Rajang had revolutionary songs blaring over their tannoy system, even in the town of Binatang (now Bintangor).  It was obvious that the Chinese were using revolutionary propaganda to stir up anti-colonial feelings amongst Sarawak’s masses, and that the “Malaysia Concept” would be the best way to save Sarawak especially from China.

When the KD Mutiara sailed past Binatang, a town of a few brick houses and a dirt road, the people had come out to the jetty shouting for the Tunku to stop. The Tunku requested for Lt Ismail, the CO of KD Mutiara to anchor so he could go ashore.  The Tunku was met by hundreds of people who gave him a very warm welcome, and the Tunku gave them some words of encouragement. Ghazali was met by two young people, an Iban police inspector and a Malay customs officer.  Ghazali noted that both were critical of the colonial administration which had never brought any development to the local people.  These two officers later resigned from their respective jobs and spent full time promoting the “Malaysia Concept.”

In the next part we shall talk about the consutations with North Borneo, Singapore and how the British tried to stall the formation of Malaysia.

Allah Nak Letak Di Mana?

Sebelum saya meneruskan penulisan saya ini saya ingin mengajak anda menonton klip video ini:

Ahli Parlimen DAP dari Kuching enggan berucap dalam Bahasa Malaysia
Ahli Parlimen tersebut telah membaca Artikel 161(1) Perlembagaan Persekutuan yang berbunyi:

Tiada Akta Parlimen yang menamatkan atau menyekat penggunaan bahasa Inggeris bagi apa-apa maksid yang disebut dalam Fasal (2) hingga (5) Artikel 152 boleh mula berkuatkuasa berkenaan dengan penggunaan bahasa Inggeris dalam Fasal (2) Perkara ini sehingga sepuluh tahun selepas Hari Malaysia.

Malangnya, dalam video yang kita saksikan sebentar tadi, Ahli Parlimen DAP tersebut tidak menyebut mengenai had sepuluh tahun selepas Hari Malaysia, iaitu pada 16 haribulan September 1973. Sebaliknya, bekiau berkeras menyatakan bahawa ianya menjadi hak beliau sebagai orang Sarawak untuk terus menggunakan bahasa Inggeris di dalam sidang Parlimen.

Setelah Hari Malaysia 1973, iaitu tamatnya perlindungan hak sepuluh tahun berbahasa Inggeris, Akta Bahasa Kebangsaan 1963/67 (semakan 1971) secara automatik berkuatkuasa di seluruh Persekutuan Malaysia. Ini bermakna bahasa penghantar rasmi bagi Sabah dan Sarawak juga adalah Bahasa Malaysia. Walau bagaimanapun, Seksyen 5 Akta tersebut memberi kelonggaran untuk seseorang Ahli Parlimen mahupun Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri dari Sabah dan Sarawak untuk berucap dalam bahasa Inggeris di dalam majlis Parlimen tetapi dengan izin Speaker Dewan. Ianya bukan lagi suatu hak mutlak. Sekiranya tidak diizinkan oleh Speaker Dewan maka setiap Ahli Parlimen mahupun Dewan Undangan Negeri hendaklah menggunakan Bahasa Kebangsaan. Malah Akta tersebut dipinda semula pada tahun 1983 dan diperluaskan lagi.

Saya berasa hairan akan kedegilan pihak DAP yang terus menggunakan bahasa Inggeris sedangkan tidak berapa lama dahulu mereka memperjuangkan penggunaan Bahasa Kebangsaan dalam Kitab Injil malah tetap dengan pendirian mereka bahawa penggunaan kalimah Allah dalam kitab Injil adalah sebahagian dari ajaran Kristian yang tidak boleh diabaikan.

Oleh kerana mereka kini berkeras ingin gunakan bahasa Inggeris di dalam Parlimen, adakah ini juga bermaksud kalimah Allah tiada lagi kepentingan dalam perjuangan DAP?

  

Ini bukan kali pertama Ahli Parlimen Kuching daripada parti DAP ini mempersenda dan mempertikai apa yang termaktub dalam perlembagaan dan bersuara bagai menanam kebencian terhadap Malaysia.

Pada 17 September tahun lalu, Chong menganggap lagu kebangsaan Negaraku sebagai memalukan dan mengarut sebelum meminta maaf.

  

The Gent Factor

Sir William Jervois (seated) with JWW Brich stading to his left, and Frank A Swettenham right most by the staircase
Sir William Jervois (seated) with JWW Birch standing to his left, and Frank A Swettenham right most by the staircase

Delegation of Authority

141 years ago Perak became the first sovereign state in the Malay peninsula to come into a treaty with the British for the latter to provide the former with protection, while the former has the “right” to interfere in the internal administration of the state – by the appointment of a Resident or Adviser to the Sultan, on the payroll of the Sultan, and whose “advice” must be asked and “acted upon” in all matters other than the ones affecting the Malay religion and custom (C.D Cowan, 1961; Emily Sadka, 1968; Eunice Thio, 1969).  Between 1874 and 1930, similar but not identical treaties were signed with the other Sultans and Head of States. The treaties notwithstanding, the Sultans and Head of States remain the sovereign ruler of their respective sovereign state. De facto however, the British assumed the unstated “right” to administer the states as well with the exception of Kelantan through the Kelantan Treaty of 1910 (signed in Kota Bharu on 22 October 1910) when the government of King George V undertook not to interfere in the “internal administration” of the state or to curtail the “administrative authority” of the Ruler.

Sovereignty of the Rulers

Although the Rulers had divested much of their independence, both they and their state remained sovereign.  Independence is not equal to sovereignty.  As a principle of international law, sovereignty denotes, in its purest form, the concept of a ‘supreme authority’ be it an individual or a collective unit and implied power to exercise independence both internationally and domestically. Paradoxically, inherent in this conception of sovereignty is the possibility that the sovereign state could also impose limits on its own independence without suffering a diminution of its inherent sovereignty (L Oppenheim, 1928 pp 135 and 250; Albert Lau, 1991).  In other words, the Anglo-Malay treaties in no way compromised the de jure sovereignty of the Malay Rulers.

There were three test cases to determine the sovereignty of the Rulers and the State they ruled:

  1. The infamous Mighell v Albert Baker a.k.a Mighell v The Sultan of Johore (1894) which I have also covered in a previous article when the issue of the Ruler’s immunity as a sovereign was raised in an English court, it was ruled that, although the Sultan by treaty had bound himself not to exercise some of the rights of a sovereign ruler, this did not deprive him of his character as an independent sovereign.
  2. In Duff Development Company Limited v The Government of Kelantan (1924), the House of Lords similarly upheld the sovereignty of Kelantan and its Ruler was not intended to be qualified by the terms of the treaty.
  3. In Pahang Consolidated Company Limited v State of Pahang (1933), the Privy Council summarised the constitutional position in Pahang as follows: subject to the limitations which the Sultan had from time to time imposed upon himself, he remained ‘an absolute ruler in whom resides all legislative and executive power.’ (See, 1894; Q.B 1924; A.C and M.L.J)

The above implied that Britain could do nothing in these states contrary to the terms of the existing treaties.  W. Ormsby-Gore, the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies put it in 1928:

“Our (Britain’s) position in every State rests solemnly on treaty obligations….We neither have the right nor the desire to vary this system of government or to alter the type of constitution or administration that now obtains.” (W Ormsby-Gore report, 1928).

This was later echoed by Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister, the 1st Earl of Swinton and a prominent British Conservative politician,  on 14 July 1933:

“There is no question at all of altering in any degree, even by a comma, the Treaties which bind us…and which are charters of the agreements with the Rulers both of the Federated and Unfederated Malay States.”

Interesting, however, is that the Colonial Office came close to discussing the deposition of two Sultans namely the Sultan of Johore (1906) and the Sultan of Terengganu (1919).  In the case of the Sultan of Johore, the Colonial Office was told that unless Sultan Ibrahim of Johore complied with His Majesty’s Government’s wishes, he must “retire from the business altogether.”  In 1914, Sultan Ibrahim was brought to task again for allowing conditions in Johore to deteriorate “to that which called for decided action in 1906” and warned that, unless the administration improved, “the only alternative is his removal from the State.”  In 1919, Malayan officials, increasingly piqued by the obstructive nature of Sultan Muhammed of Terengganu, similarly recommended that “sufficient pressure” should be put on him to “compel his resignation.” (Minute by Lucas, 30 March 1906 CO 273/324 no. 10619; Young to Harcourt, 19 March 1914, CO 273/406 no. 13282; and report by J. Humphreys, 3 December 1919, CO 537/797 no. 5002).

Having said that, it frustrated the British that they had no jurisdiction whatsoever by virtue of the treaties signed, and a movement was initiated by Edward Gent, to change all that.

Willan’s Mission and the Malayan Union

Among the thorny problems of pre-WW2 Malay States is the question of the Chinese immigrants brought in by the British. In the Strait Settlements of Penang, Melaka and Singapore, they could be given the status of British Protected Persons. In both the Federated Malay States (FMS) and the Unfederated Malay States (UMS) the British have no jurisdiction to apply the same rule to them, nor are they citizens of their respective host state.  As far as the Malay Rulers were concerned, only the Muslim Malays are their subjects, not those who are alien, non-native and are non-Muslims.  The British tried to convince the Rulers and also by asking the Chinese to pledge loyalty to the Rulers.  However, the Chinese were disinclined to accept the Malay Rulers as theirs.

The problem arose when in 1929 the Chinese government passed the Chinese Nationality Law stating that all persons of the Chinese race, wherever born, were considered as subjects of China.  As such, the Chinese government could intervene in cases where the Chinese are not being fairly treated.

In 1911, the Malays made up 53% of the population. By 1931, they were already outnumbered and in 1941 formed only 41% of the population.  The Chinese community was at 43%, displacing the Malays as the dominant racial group. The Malays were in a disadvantageous position and this proved explosive in 1946 during the Bekor tragedy.  The Malays remained as the minority until 1970.

The only solution out of this is for the Chinese in the Malay states to be declared as British Protected Persons, but such move is against the treaties.  To put this into effect, Malaya has to come under a federation or a union where power is central, and the Anglo-Malay Treaties be reviewed and replaced by a new one.

Following the Fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, the British saw that it was no longer possible to return to the pre-war system as they had failed to provide the Malay states the protection from the Japanese.  Edward Gent saw this as an opportunity to streamline all the Malay States and the Strait Settlements excluding Singapore under one administration to be based in Kuala Lumpur.  A month after the Fall of Singapore, he set up a team to quickly work out a solution and framework even though it was still not known then how the war would end.

When the war ended, this plan was quickly put in place. Between 8 to 29 September 1945, the Deputy Chief Civil Affairs Officer of Malaya, HC Willan, accompanied by the Senior Civil Affairs Officer for Johor, Colonel MC Hay, made his way to the Pasir Pelangi palace and interviewed the Sultan Ibrahim. Having studied files and found proof of Sultan Ibrahim collaborating with the Japanese, his task was to assess the Sultan’s reception of the British.  Not once, noted Willan, did Sultan Ibrahim hinted that the British had let him down by losing Johor.  More remarkably, Sultan Ibrahim wrote to Colonel Hay the very next day intimated his willingness to “serve under the British Military Administration.”  Willan opined that Johor would sign the new treaty.

Of all the Malay Rulers, only the Sultan of Perak proved difficult. Willan proposed that Johor, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang should be approached in that order to sign the revised treaty. Once the rest have signed, there would not be any reason for Perak not to sign. When Harold MacMichael arrived in Johor, Sultan Ibrahim offered no resistance although he produced a memorandum containing points relating to the Sultan’s personal prestige and the status of Johor reproduced as Annex I in MacMichael’s report – Albert Lau, 1991). This is the “1946 agreement” made in conjunction with the signing of the Malayan Union agreement between the government of Johor and the British Military Administration that has been played up in the social media of late as the Federated Malay States agreement of 1948 had yet to be formulated. Johor was the first state to submit to being colonised by the British.

As expected, Sultan Abdul Aziz of Perak became the stumbling block.  For Sultan Abdul Aziz, the central issue was still sovereignty.  He wrote:

“It is true that under the Treaties I was bound to accept the advice of the British Resident, but nevertheless I was a Sovereign in my State having power to assent or withhold assent to legislation. I am now invited to sit as a member at an Advisory Council with the Governor assuming the function which rightly belongs to me. Being a member of the Advisory Council with authority over the other States is a doubtful honour. I neither desire to have any influence over the other States nor welcome any other Ruler to have influence within my State.”

The Sultan was also further incensed that under the new agreement the Malays in Perak would no longer swear allegiance to him but to the Malayan Union, thus in effect reducing him to the position of a Sultan without subjects:

“All these facts tend to show that my sovereign rights are in real danger. You can well imagine my feelings. I have no status, no State and no subjects.”(Sultan Abdul Aziz to Alexander Newboult, 20 February 1946, CO 537/1548 no. 50823/34 Pt.1)

By the latter half of February 1946, there was more cohesiveness amongst the Rulers in going against the Malayan Union.  The Rulers had tactically rallied behind an informal united front presided by the Sultans of Perak and Kedah.  In a concerted display of solidarity, the Rulers of Perak, Kedah, Pahang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan jointly petitioned to defer the implementation of the new Malayan Union constitution until an independent commission had first visited the country and consulted local opinion. (Newboult to Hall, 22 February 1946, CO 537/1548 no. 50823/34 Pt.1).

The movement against the Malayan Union was born and so was UMNO. The discussions on the formation of the Federation of Malaya began with the British, the Rulers and UMNO taking part in the discussions.

 

Proposals for the Federation of Malaya Agreement
Proposals for the Federation of Malaya Agreement

Epilogue

The Anglo-Malay treaties were left relatively intact with more power given to the people to effect some degree of self-governance, the Rulers continued with their ceremonial roles and duties.  The Federation of Malaya came into effect on 1 February 1948, replacing the Malayan Union.

On 31 August 1957, the Federation of Malaya became independent, not from colonisation, but from feudalism.  Executive powers that were given to the British have been given to the people of Malaysia to determine how they are to be governed and by whom. All agreements and treaties made between the Rulers and the British since 1874 became void. Professor Datuk Dr Ramlah Adam said all agreements inked during the British colonial period are considered void automatically after Aug 31, 1957.

“These issues are over. The powers of the Malay royalty are now included in the Federal Constitution.”

There is no more “state citizenship” but only “federation citizenship,” which makes Malaysians who they are irrespective of where they were born.  The Federal Constitution too does not provide for any state to secede from the Federation. This was further enhanced in Sabah where the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 specifically says the state cannot secede.

Unsolicited remarks should not be made and the spirit of history has to be understood in order to understand why are we where we are, and why are we who we are.  Such talks only put the sacrifices of our predecessors in vain.

Malaysia: Unite The Diverse

My wife and friends celebrating the nation
My wife and friends celebrating the nation

52 years it has been since the time when four parts of this region joined together to form the Federation of Malaysia (although two years later Singapore was expelled). We have seen the nation go through some ups and downs, but we always pull through together. Lately, we only see the constant superfluous jeremiad coming from all sorts of people and I wonder if we have all become a bunch of whiners who prefer to do nothing but expect everything in return?

Up until the early 1980s there were still areas especially in the Peninsular that either did not have running water and electricity, or had electricity for only 12 hours in a day.  Those days no one complained about having to fetch a pail or two of water to be used for cooking or to wash clothes.  Then came the supply of treated water and life became much easier.  Then when there is a disruption on supply, they blame the government for not providing them with water.

We whine about everything – especially about other races.  The Malays would blame the Chinese for their woes; the Chinese blame the Malays for the privileges that the latter get; the Indians would blame everyone else for their misfortunes.  I don’t remember us being this divided even five years after the 13th May tragedy.

I went to a Christian missionary primary school, now a National  school (Sekolah Kebangsaan).  In my class then we had almost the same number of Malay and Chinese students, and several from the Indian diaspora.  We learned together, ate together, played together, got punished together.  What is more important is that we grew up together.

Now, we have National schools that are predominantly Malay, while the Chinese and Indians prefer to send their kids to vernacular schools.  When kids don’t grow up together, they don’t learn about each other. When they don’t learn about each other, that is when they grow up not understanding each other. Then we will always have the Yellow shirts and the Red shirts doing rallies, opposing each other.

This is why I am for the abolishing of vernacular schools. Some were quick to jump on me saying that I am against diversity.

Far from it!

I said, schools. And it is not about diversity, but division!

All schools should be National-type schools. Where children regardless of race and religion grow up together and learn things together.  These schools should start at 8am daily and finish at 6pm.  They study together from 8am until lunch at 1pm. Then they attend vernacular classes or religious classes in the afternoon until 6pm.  They should not grow up separately.

That is all I wish for, unity in diversity, as far as education is concerned.  The beneficiaries of such a change would be my grandchildren and yours.  Only then could we truly be Malaysian.

As long as we are not willing to let our children grow up together, we will continue to remain divided.

 

Melayu Mudah Lupa

Once upon a time, two renowned bloggers were summoned by a Prime Minister for the articles they had written on a former Deputy Prime Minister. As a parting shot, the Prime Minister said to the two bloggers:

Tone down a bit la!”

The flurry of attacks on Najib Razak, his family and 1MDB by former Prime Minister Mahathir has shown that the former PM is going at all costs to have the former removed from office. A series of meetings with UMNO incumbents were held to convince them to not support Najib and to press for his resignation.

When that did not work, the former Prime Minister then used foreign press to do the job for him. My diplomat friend said,

Mahathir is now not just attacking Najib as a person, he has taken on the government of Malaysia and has tarnished Malaysia’s image on an international scale, something he chided Anwar Ibrahim for doing. I have never had foreign counterparts asking me if it is safe to invest in Malaysia with Mahathir trying to destabilize it.


Lest we forget those instances when Anwar went around badmouthing the country and everyone labeled him a traitor, especially by Mahathir. Here are several classic examples of Melayu Mudah Lupa:

Here’s what Tun said about the western media, their tactics, their henchmen and assassination by defamation. Today, he is doing all that he once condemned.

His speeches are public record and the full text are linked here.

TUN M ON MALAYSIAN JOURNALISTS WORKING FOR FOREIGN MEDIA

Speech at  majlis penyampaian hadiah kewartawanan malaysia on 12/12/1983
http://www.pmo.gov.my/ucapan/?m=p&p=mahathir&id=86

12. Inilah jenis laporan yang dibuat oleh pemberita dan akhbar terkemuka di Amerika. Sudah tentu apabila mereka melaporkan tentang negara kita, fitnah mereka tidak ada had sama sekali. Tidak ada yang terlalu buruk untuk dilapor tentang kita. Sebaliknya sebarang kebaikan tidak ada tempat dalam halaman akhbar mereka.

14. Sikap dan tanggungjawab akhbar tempatan tidak menyenangkan beberapa wartawan Malaysia who are in the pay of the foreign press. Orang-orang ini, terutama yang berasa kecewa kerana tidak mendapat sesuatu bagi diri sendiri di masa berkhidmat dalam negara, tidak jemu dengan memutar-belitkan berita negara sendiri, supaya they are given a pat on the back by their foreign masters. We watch the antics of these pet poodles with utter contempt and derision.

TUN M ON LOCAL JOURNALISTS BEING HENCHMEN FOR THE FOREIGN PRESS

Speech at Majlis penyampaian hadiah kewartawanan anjuran institut akhbar Malaysia on 9/11/1984
http://www.pmo.gov.my/ucapan/?m=p&p=mahathir&id=387

6. Aliran ini sudah sampai ke Malaysia. Berita yang benar kerap kali tidak dihiraukan. Jika ada mesyuarat atau lawatan atau pameran atau apa-apa jua peristiwa, yang diberi perhatian bukan peristiwa itu tetapi soal-soal lain yang menjadi minat akhbar. Soalan dibuat dalam berbagai bentuk dan bertalu-talu untuk menjadikan sesuatu perkara itu sebagai isu yang hangat. Selepas menyoal seseorang, maka disoal pula orang-orang lain yang diketahui mempunyai pandangan yang bertentangan — untuk memberi pandangan terhadap pendapat sasaran pertama. Maka dengan itu akan terjadilah satu kontroversi — yang dipuja dan dihembus oleh akhbar sehingga panas berapi.

7. Bahawa akibatnya ialah ketegangan dan kegelisahan dalam masyarakat sehingga terjejas ekonomi, kestabilan politik dan perpaduan, tidak sama sekali dipedulikan. Yang penting ialah akhbar yang kononnya ingin melapor yang benar.

Tuan-tuan dan Puan-puan, 

8. Satu lagi perkara yang ingin saya sebutkan ialah tentang pemberita kita yang tidak segan-segan menjadi TALI BARUT kepada akhbar-akhbar di luar negeri. Mereka ini apabila menulis dalam akhbar tempatan lain bunyinya. Tetapi untuk akhbar luar negeri, mereka mencerca dan menghina negara sendiri, mencaci pemimpin dan Raja-Raja dan sanggup menjatuhkan maruah negara mereka sendiri. Nama mereka sendiri tidak disiarkan tetapi mereka tentulah dipuji oleh wartawan asing. Sebenarnya mereka sudah menjadi alat kepada bangsa-bangsa yang tidak senang melihat kejayaan Malaysia. Saya amat kesal adanya manusia jenis ini di kalangan pemberita kita.

9. Saya memberanikan diri untuk membuat teguran ini walaupun imej saya boleh dirosakkan oleh akhbar. Malaysia belum menjadi negara yang maju dan kuat, yang kebal dan yang tidak boleh dihancurkan. Kita masih lemah. Biarlah amalan masyarakat yang kukuh dan kuat di negara barat tinggal di barat. Kita perlu berhati-hati. Jika tidak, mungkin kita akan kekal dengan kelemahan kita tanpa sedikitpun mengecap kejayaan. Dan kita akan terus diperhamba dan dihinakan.


TUN M ON ASSASSINATION BY DEFAMATION

Speech at majlis makan malam anjuran kelab kebangsaan wartawan-wartawan Malaysia on 1/3/1986

http://www.pmo.gov.my/ucapan/?m=p&p=mahathir&id=214

9. Perhaps in a democracy fear from bodily harm has been more or less removed. But there are other fears. Assassination need not be by knife or bullets only. A person can be assassinated by defamation. And in a democratic society it is so easy to defame and destroy and get away with it. The target here is limited. It must be someone for whom a bad image can do harm – a public figure for example. And if the public figure depends on popularity, he may just lose it if defamed. For all practical purposes he will have been assassinated.

13. I have lived in Malaysia all my life, except for the visits abroad which are so interesting to some people. Malaysians are quite unique. We are masochists who enjoy excoriating ourselves. We can see nothing right about our country but the most minute wrong is plainly visible to our naked eye as the Malay saying goes, ‘from across the river’. And so we read daily that this or that economic or political crisis is about to destroy us. We moan loudly and frighten off foreigners from visiting or investing in our country.

14. The fact that we are still around and that we have not disintegrated disappoints us – because our predictions are wrong. We go on to report another crisis. We do not seem to realise that what we think is a unique occurrence in Malaysia is really a common event in other countries. They do not get unduly excited. Life goes on. Everybody’s still around and the event is soon forgotten. Growth and progress takes place as usual.
16. Perhaps our country does not deserve our help. I beg to differ. I think it does. None of us will gain by running down our own country and making our dire predictions come true. The truth is that other countries are worse, including the developed countries. I am glad that some newspapers now do publish about poverty in Europe and America. But what has been written is the tip of the iceberg. Actually some of these countries are rotten to the core when it comes to the very things they are so fond of criticising developing countries about. Extensive poverty in the midst of plenty is just one of them. Racial and colour discrimination is blatant. Crime is rampant. The streets and parks are wild jungles. Old ladies get coshed and drunks rolled. The prisons are not only overcrowded but all kinds of crimes are committed there, frequently with the connivance of prison authorities.

17. Filth abound in the cities. The streets are badly paved. The cleaners don’t clean. Staff everywhere is rude and unhelpful unless bribed with tips. These and many more are common to the developed countries. But they don’t write as often about these shameful things as we do about our failures.

18. Distaste for a person or a group should not make us take it out of our own country. However, we are a free people. If anyone wishes to denigrate his own country, it is his right. I am glad that Malaysian journalists, by and large, are free from these traits.

TUN M ON MONICA LEWINSKY

Speech  at the opening of the commonwealth press union biennial conference on 26/10/1998

 http://www.pmo.gov.my/ucapan/?m=p&p=mahathir&id=1506

15. Unfortunately the media itself is often tempted to misuse power. I am not a fan of President Bill Clinton but I do sympathise with him. He only hugged Monica Lewinsky once, at least in public. He may have hugged her more times in private, that we don`t have any pictures of. But that one hug has prefaced every report on President Clinton whether the subject matter had anything to do with his single instance of discretion or not. If the CNN is to be believed Bill Clinton has hugged Monica a thousand times, twelve times a day ever since CNN resurrected that particular episode among the file pictures. With the passage of time the hug has improved in terms of clarity and vividness. There is no mistaking the look of adoration in Monica`s eyes and the body language of the President of the United States. The viewers, Americans and others must assume that the President must really know Monica intimately and all those stories about the phone- calls to the Senators even while he dallied with Monica must be the truth, the absolute truth and nothing but the truth.

16. As I said I am not a fan of President Clinton but I do feel that that kind of presentation via television is not quite fair to the President. There is no one in the United States who has not seen it and been influenced by it. How can anyone sit in judgement over him without being biased, without preconception? How can the impeachment of the President be fair and just?
 

TUN ON RIGHT TO KNOW

Speech at MA JLIS MALAM WARTAWAN MALAYSIA 1988 ANJURAN INSTITUT AKHBAR MALAYSIA on 19/11/1998

http://www.pmo.gov.my/ucapan/?m=p&p=mahathir&id=282

14. Bagi negara kita, perkara yang utama ialah kestabilan politik atau lebih tepat lagi persepsi rakyat serta orang asing terhadap kestabilan ini. Sebenarnya semenjak negara kita merdeka, selain daripada peristiwa 13 Mei 1969, keadaan politik negara adalah stabil. Sudah tentu ia lebih stabil daripada kebanyakan negara-negara membangun. Adanya usaha merebut jawatan dan kempen-kempen adalah perkara biasa dalam sesebuah demokrasi. 

15. Tetapi kegiatan-kegiatan ini boleh mencemar gambaran stabiliti kerana tekanan laporan dan bahasa yang digunakan. Seseorang yang membuat kritikan biasa boleh menimbulkan kemarahan yang lebih oleh pihak sasaran jika pengkritik dilaporkan sebagai telah membuat `tamparan hebat` terhadap seseorang. Kadangkala keadaan tenang boleh menjadi ribut hanya dengan bertanya kepada satu pihak dan kemudian menyampaikan jawapannya kepada pihak yang menentang untuk mendapatkan reaksi. 
16. Pihak akhbar mencipta berbagai jenis hak di bawah kebebasan media dalam demokrasi. Sekarang ini ada yang bercakap berkenaan dengan hak mengetahui atau `the right to know`. Dalam pengurusan sesuatu organisasi, rahsia diperlukan. Umpamanya semasa rundingan, semua pihak perlu menyembunyikan apakah yang boleh dipersetujui oleh mereka, supaya dapat konsesi yang lebih menguntungkan. Sama ada perundingan ini adalah antara syarikat atau pertubuhan atau negara, masing-masing akan cuba mendapatkan sesuatu keputusan yang lebih menguntungkan. 

22. Musuh kita yang besar sekali ialah diri kita sendiri. Terdapat sikap yang negatif di kalangan kita yang menyebabkan kita selalu memandang rendah terhadap kebolehan kita dan membesar-besarkan kebolehan orang lain. Jika ada sahaja sesuatu usaha, kita terus meramalkan ianya tetap tidak akan berjaya. Jika akhirnya berjaya juga usaha itu, kita akan memperkecilkan kejayaan usaha itu atau mencari kesalahan titik-bengek. Dengan ini maka sukar bagi rakyat Malaysia mempunyai keyakinan terhadap apa juga yang diusahakan. 

23. Mengikut aliran baru apa yang dipanggil sebagai `investigative reporting`, sesuatu yang dicipta di Barat, segala usaha dijalankan bagi mencari yang salah untuk didedahkan. Memang benar ada kalanya kita perlu mendedahkan sesuatu supaya pembetulan boleh dibuat. Tetapi yang baik dan betul pun perlu didedahkan supaya kita tidak mempunyai inferiority complex.

When Tony Pua raised the 1MDB issue a few years ago, did anyone raise an eyebrow? Why now believe a white woman who writes for a foreign tabloid?

Perhaps the anti-colonialist has all but disappeared.

Now, the perpetrator who leaked false 1MDB documents has been apprehended, documents used by the white woman whom Mahathir was reported to have met in London. False documents that he and other detractors used in their attacks despite calls to  them asking to wait for the outcome of the investigations initiated.

Nevertheless damage has been done to both the economy and image of Malaysia.

Mahathir should remember what he had said to the two bloggers above.

Or is he now a Melayu Mudah Lupa?