Natives were secluded in order to protect and preserve them from the immigrants.
In the fifth installment of the Road to Merdeka series,blogger John F Seademon wrote how the British ruled and divided and how they were swayed by the profit they were earning from the Malay States, so much that they forgot the promise to the Sultans which was to protect the interest and welfare of the Malays.
The blogger wrote : "The British were cunning when it comes to acquiring territories. As in the case of Australia, in order to avoid any problems with the native people, they would declare the land as terra nullius (no-man’s land), and this, to a certain extent was applied to the Malay Peninsula. Although in the Federated Malay States the British were employed by the respective Sultans, it is difficult to ignore the fact that the British were here to reap the benefits of this land without wanting to give much back to the native people, but with a degree of subtlety."
In order to keep the Malays from creating trouble for the British, land reservations were introduced. Native Malay population were transformed into permanent agriculture peasants.
The seclusion of the natives were done on the basis of protecting and preserving them from the immigrants who were brought in as the country was in dire need of workforce.
The Indians were made to work in the estates while the Chinese were brought in to work the tin mines.
Most Malays lived in rural areas having very minimal contact with the other races, while the Chinese were basically in towns and tin mines and the Indians were in rubber plantations.
This resulted in the Malays who were given lands to cultivate but forced by economic disadvantages to charge or created a lien (collateral) over their land to the Chettiars. The Malays, already in a disadvantaged position, cried foul and started the “Malaya for Malays” movement in the late 1800s.
This led to EW Birch, the 8th British Resident of Perak proposing a policy of preserving the Malay land which later became the Malay Reservation Land Act which spirit is preserved in the Malaysian Federal Constitution.
“In The Road To Merdeka – Persekutuan Tanah China I explained at length how the non-Malay Malayan Democratic Union and the Java-leaning Persatuan Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya, supporting the formation of the Malayan Union, had sought for immediate citizenship for the immigrants and a rule other than by the Malay Rulers respectively. It was at this juncture that the British had first offered Malaya its independence, but was rejected by UMNO fearing that the Malays, being minority in his own country, lacking education and economic backbone, might not survive against the other races soon after independence. The Singapore Institute of Management Malay Cultural and Muslim Society noted that the Malay man was an immigrant in his own country; confronted in his own world which he had little control,” Seademon wrote.
He also explained the formation of Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) by the more broadminded Chinese associations together with Umno, setting aside their differences to work together in the Kuala Lumpur Municipal Elections in 1952. It was also in 1952 that the British gave Malayans their term: we can only discuss independence if the people of Malaya are united.
The Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) was previously formed to support the fight for the independence of India from the British, joined the Alliance in 1954.
Under the Alliance, these parties won the first General Elections in 1955, winning all but one seat.
"This solid mandate by the people of Malaya, comprising of the Malayan Malays, immigrant Chinese and Indians, paved the way for the road to Merdeka.”
In 1956 the Reid Commission was formed and its duty was to draft a proposal of the Constitution of Malaya that would incorporate the concepts of Federalism and Constitutional Monarchy, special position for the Malays, Islam as the religion of the Federation, and Bahasa Melayu as its official language. The Chinese and Indians had their right to vernacular schools protected.
“The Reid Commission was not, as portrayed by some quarters, a party to the discussions between the British and Malayan governments, and the Malay Rulers. Their duty was to draft and make recommendations to the Constitution of Malaya. These recommendations were accepted or rejected in agreement by the Constitution Conference – namely the British Government, the four Malay Rulers, and the Government of Malaya that had the mandate of 98 percent of the Malayan people.”
“The Malayan (subsequently Malaysian) Federal Constitution became the foundation of this nation, agreed upon by our forefathers who were united in their resolve to build a nation where all three races respect the historical background, rights, and nature of the other races, and to live as one.”
Read more of the above article here
(The Mole will be publishing the Road to Merdeka series as a build up for the Merdeka Day.)