Chapter 05 - The Interplay of Sino-Malay Relations: The Emergency to Merdeka | 13 May 1969


In May 1948, five months after the formation of the Federation of Malaya, the country was in the grip of a growing lawlessness instigated by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). Vast quantities of rubber were stolen, rubber estates were burnt down, and British rubber planters and tin miners were assassinated. It was clear by June that the government had a full-scale communist insurrection on its hands. A state of Emergency was declared on 18 June 1948, although the MCP and its subsidiary organizations were not officially banned until 23 July, and battle was joined between the Malayan People's Anti-British Army (MPABA) — the name was changed on 1 February 1949 to the Malayan Races Liberation Army (MRLA) — and the Malayan authorities, which was to last twelve years.

It is difficult to say whether the decision to raise the standard of revolt was an internal MCP matter or whether it was influenced by pressures exerted by international communism. But a number of observers at the time, including Malcolm MacDonald, British Commissioner-General for Southeast Asia, were of the opinion that it was due to the latter reason.

At a meeting of the Cominform in September 1947, communist parties throughout the world were exhorted to pursue a militant policy towards imperialism. This line was passed on to Southeast Asian communist parties and other front organizations at a meeting held in Calcutta in March 1948, and it is significant that a few months after this meeting communist uprisings started in Malaya, Burma, the Philippines and Hyderabad. Armed communist revolts had already broken out in Indonesia and Vietnam. The intention of the MCP in Malaya was to achieve a quick victory. The two basic industries of tin and rubber, which were the cornerstones of the Malayan economy, were to be destroyed, and then areas were to be occupied in the interior of Malaya which

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would be declared 'Liberated Areas', and finally, by joining up these 'Liberated Areas', a Democratic People's Republic of Malaya was to be established by August 1948.

As far as Sino-Malay relations were concerned, the problem was that the vast majority of the members and supporters of the MCP were Chinese whereas the bulk of the security forces were British and Commonwealth troops, in support of the Malayan Police, which was overwhelmingly Malay. The struggle therefore lent itself to interpretation in racial terms, although this was never countenanced officially, as being primarily between Chinese communist guerillas, supported by the armed Min Yuen (People's Movement), which in terms of membership was almost entirely Chinese, and the Malays, supported by the British. The Min Yuen was the 'fifth column' of the MRLA which provided money, medical supplies, food and other material required by them.

According to Malayan Police sources, the membership of the MCP at the time of the declaration of the Emergency was around 12,000 to 14,000, of whom ninety per cent were Chinese. Nevertheless, the MRLA probably never had many more than four to five thousand guerillas fighting in the jungle.

In areas where the Malays predominated there was, generally speaking, an absence of communist activity. However, the MCP was successful in raising a Malay regiment in Pahang, with a few Indians in it, and there were some Malay terrorists in other parts of Malaya. Even so, the MCP attempt to broaden its base by claiming to be a nationalist movement (this was the reason for changing its name from MPABA to MRLA), with support from the three main Malayan communities, that is, Malays and Indians, as well as Chinese, never really succeeded.

In addition to the Min Yuen, the MRLA relied on Chinese squatters for supplies and recruits. It became apparent that casualties inflicted on the MRLA by the security forces were quickly replaced by recruits from among the squatters. Most of the squatters, who have been referred to in Chapter Four above, were China-born Chinese who had moved out from towns and villages during the Second World War to avoid the attention of the Japanese. They lived very much as aliens, ran their own schools, and were resentful of interference by the authorities. By 1949, it was estimated that there were around half a million of them. As they lived on the jungle fringes outside effective British control, it was easy for the terrorists to prey upon them, and they

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came under communist domination, either voluntarily or involuntarily. The British authorities realized that something had to be done to cut off their contact with the MRLA.

In June 1950, Lieutenant-General Sir Harold Briggs, Director of Operations in Malaya, and formerly of the Indian Army, began to put into action his plan to resettle squatters in 'new villages'. Under this scheme, which was spread over four years, about half a million squatters (85 per cent of whom were Chinese and the remainder mostly Malays) were moved into resettlement camps, mainly in the west coast states.

The government tried to ensure that each squatter family was provided with a means of livelihood such as, for instance, a thirty-year lease to a small plot of land which could be farmed, and that new villages had benefits such as electric light, water, schools, and community halls. But resettlement was fundamentally a military operation, which had to be carried out as quickly as possible, and very often what happened in practice did not accord with theory. Some of the squatters, for instance, were not adequately compensated for livestock which could not be moved to the new location, and sometimes personal belongings and various household fittings and furniture which could not be taken along had to be abandoned without adequate compensation or with no compensation at all. Title to vacant land was vested in the Malay ruler of the state, and frequently he did not relish the idea of alienating it to Chinese. The new villages were armed camps, with defensive positions around the perimeter, surrounded by barbed-wire fences, and guarded day and night by police. No one was allowed out at night, and in the morning, workers going out to work were subjected to a thorough body search to ensure that they were not carrying any supplies which could be passed on to the terrorists. But to look at the matter from another perspective, the resettlement programme was a vast undertaking involving the uprooting of one tenth of the population of Malaya (and one in every four of the Federation's Chinese population of two million) and, in the long run, it undoubtedly dealt a severe blow to the MRLA by disrupting its sources of supply.

Nevertheless, in spite of the government's good intentions, resettlement left an underlying feeling among the Chinese that they had been singled out for unwelcome attention in this way (and reinforced their belief that the British administration was

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pro-Malay), and that they were being subjected to much more discomfort and hardship than the Malays. Many were bitter over what they regarded as forced resettlement in 'concentration camps'. Yet, on the other hand, the large expenditure on Chinese new villages was criticized by the Malays on the grounds that amenities in Malay kampungs were far inferior to what was provided in the new villages. They felt that 'a Chinese insurrection was bad enough without the additional insult of vast expenditure upon what they took to be an essentially alien community'. The Malay rulers made it clear, too, that they were opposed to the idea of such large-scale Chinese resettlement in their states, as it would upset the sensitive Sino-Malay political balance.

Meanwhile, developments were taking place in China which had a bearing on the struggle in Malaya. In the latter part of 1949, the Chinese communists drove the KMT out of China into exile in Taiwan, and the People's Republic of China was established. The British government was not long in recognizing the new regime. This had a marked effect on the Emergency in Malaya. The MCP was heartened by the turn of events, and felt that it was only a matter of time before the British would have to come to terms with them. The Chinese themselves were not certain who was going to win, especially in view of communist successes in other parts of Asia, and they became markedly less ready to cooperate with the government and more inclined to keep their options open. The MCP took full advantage of this fence-sitting and imposed a reign of terror on those Chinese who supported the government and many were murdered for providing information to the security forces or refusing to give assistance to the MCP. By 1951, for instance, there were only 1,500 Chinese in the Malayan Police which had an overall strength of 60,000, and the lack of assistance which the Chinese community gave the security forces and the government caused serious concern to the British authorities. A serious information gap had grown up between the Malayan government and the Chinese community, as the Secretariat for Chinese Affairs had been abolished, and there were so few European officers who spoke Chinese, and hardly any Malays at all. Some of the wealthy Chinese community leaders were not averse to betting on both sides by paying extortion money to the MCP even though their own economic interests would obviously be affected if the MCP succeeded in overthrowing the Malayan government.

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On the political front, the Chinese leaders made it clear that they objected to the 'special position' of the Malays and the restricted rights of citizenship given to the Chinese under the constitution of the Federation of Malaya. They feared that if the British went ahead and granted Malaya self-government, the Malays would be dominant politically, and their own economic position would be threatened.

Meanwhile, the government intensified its anti-terrorist operations and in November 1950 conscription for military or paramilitary service was introduced for Malayan youths between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. This caused an outcry among the Chinese community. The Chinese press was most outspoken against the proposals, and Tan Cheng Lock explained that Chinese traditionally owed loyalty first and foremost to their family rather than to the nation, and asked for exemption for eldest and only sons.

As the government was not prepared to give in to pressure and to modify its national service law, there was a mass exodus of Chinese youths to Singapore, Hong Kong and mainland China, and some went underground to join the MRLA.

During the next four years or so, the exodus to China of young Chinese whose aim was to serve the 'New China' and avoid military call-up in Malaya continued at a steady rate. After the communist successes in Indo-China in the first part of 1954, it was estimated that departures rose to an average of about one thousand per month.

The Malay press was vociferous in passing stricture on the behaviour of the Chinese, and these events only served to reinforce Malay doubts and misgivings about the Chinese in Malaya, in spite of the repeated protests of Chinese leaders such as Tan Cheng Lock that the Chinese in Malaya thought of Malaya as their home and the sole focus of their allegiance.

It was against the backdrop of the Emergency, and the ebb and flow of military operations which culminated in the defeat of the terrorists and the lifting of the Emergency on 31 July 1960, when the remnants of the communist insurgents retreated into southern Thailand, that other important political developments affecting Sino-Malay relations began to take shape, which we shall now have to examine.

At the beginning of the Emergency in 1948, UMNO was already well-established, and it had built up a considerable

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following among the Malays, especially as a result of its determined stand against the short-lived Malayan Union. The Indian community in Malaya had established, too, the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC). It was only the Chinese who did not have a similar political grouping.

Sir Henry Gurney, High Commissioner of the Federation of Malaya, was anxious to encourage the formation of an organization among the Chinese which would be to all intents and purposes the equivalent of UMNO, and to develop a sense of involvement and belonging among the Chinese. Although there are several versions of the genesis of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA), which was the party eventually formed by the Chinese, it is likely that the initiative was taken by Gurney in approaching Tan Cheng Lock.

The MCA came into existence in February 1949, with Tan Cheng Lock as president. Membership was restricted to Chinese who intended to settle permanently in Malaya, and had either been born there or lived there for at least five years. Later it opened its membership to non-Chinese but this did not have much practical effect, and from the beginning it was clearly a Chinese communal party. Firstly, it was a 'welfare' body to raise funds to help with the resettlement of Chinese squatters in the new villages. Secondly, it hoped to vie with the MCP for the support of the poorer Chinese and, thirdly, to act as a mouthpiece for the Malayan Chinese community in asserting 'the indisputable claim of those of us who intend to settle down here permanently and make this country the object of their loyalty, to share fully and equally with the others the rights and privileges and the duties and responsibilities of Malayan citizenship.

In general, MCA policy was conciliatory toward the Malays and cooperative with the British authorities.

Both UMNO and MCA were communal parties, but their top leadership had common ground in that it was composed of English-educated Malay and Chinese elitists, representing the conservative elements of both communities, which did not rule out cooperation at this level.

However, racial harmony and cooperation at ground level were still a long way off. One of the ways to bring about integration in a multiracial society is through education. After the Second World War the government policy was to reorganize the pre-war education system of having separate vernacular schools for

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Malays, Chinese and Indians. It was recognized that the pre-war system only fostered a centrifugal tendency. In fact, only the approximate twenty per cent of the total student population in Malaya who attended English-medium schools came into contact with each other. A unified system of education was recommended by the Barnes Committee, which was set up to look into the system of Malay vernacular education, and the committee recommended that children of all races should attend national schools. The most important feature of the national primary schools was that they would be bilingual and all pupils would be taught English and Malay. The best students would then proceed to English-medium secondary schools. It was hoped that in this way a common nationality and outlook would be built up, especially as the syllabi would have a local Malayan slant.

In 1951, Sir Henry Gurney appointed a committee, which was headed by Dr. W.P. Fenn and Dr. Wu Teh-yao, to investigate Chinese education in Malaya. The recommendations of this committee were quite different from those of the Barnes Report. While it was acknowledged that education should have a Malayan orientation, it was felt that a system of belonging could be inculcated by maintaining the different cultures and separate school systems of the main ethnic groups in Malaya.

The conflicting views of the above two committees were studied by yet a third committee in 1951 and it was determined that the major point at issue, especially as far as the Chinese were concerned, was the formation of the national schools and the use of Malay and English as media of instruction.

As a result, the Education Ordinance promulgated in 1952, which covered the above features, was in a sense a compromise. Although insisting that national schools should be the pattern to be followed, it accepted that Chinese and Tamil could be taught as a third language. But Chinese and Indian schools were to remain outside the national system.

In any event, the plan came to nothing because the federal treasury pointed out that there was not sufficient funds available to proceed on this basis. The position was summed up at the time in the following words:

'Though we unanimously affirm our belief, Fust that multiracial schools are essential for the education of the future citizens of a united Malayan nation; second, that there are two official languages, English and Malay, and both must be taught; and third, that there must be a

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single system of education and common content in the teaching in all schools, the country with its present level of expenditure, is not in a position to balance its annual budget'.

This was not the end of the saga. Dato Abdul Razak bin Hussein, then Minister of Education, and later to become prime minister of Malaysia after the resignation of Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1970, headed a committee of experts in September 1955 to enquire into the state of education in the Federation, and prepared a report, many of the recommendations of which were enshrined in the 1957 Education Ordinance. Subsequently yet another committee was appointed under Abdul Rahman bin Talib, who succeeded Razak as Minister of Education, to examine the working of the Razak Report in the light of experience. The pivotal point of the new policy was contained in section 3 of the 1957 Education Ordinance, which reads as follows:

'The educational policy of the Federation is to enshrine a national system of education acceptable to the people as a whole which will satisfy their needs and promote their cultural, social, economic and political development as a nation, with the intention of making the Malay language the national language of the country whilst preserving and sustaining the growth of the language and culture of peoples other than Malays living in the country.'

The question was how the new policy was to be translated into action, and the Talib Report (1960) dealt with this under the following headings: (1) the provision of primary education at government expense in each of the four main languages of Malaya, viz., Malay, English, Chinese and Tamil; (2) the bringing together of all the language streams at secondary level in fully assisted, national-type secondary schools using mainly either Malay or English as the medium of instruction; (3) the use of these two 'official' languages for both instruction and examination purposes; and (4) the establishment of common syllabi and timetables for all schools.

It should be borne in mind that by the time (we are rather anticipating our account) Malay had become the national language, English was permitted to be used until 1967 as an alternate official language. In other words, it was clear that after 1967 Malay would be the sole official language and the main medium of instruction in  all fully assisted national-type secondary schools.

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The Chinese reacted vigorously to this policy by demanding that Chinese should be recognized as an official language in the same way as Malay and English, and that public examinations should be held in Chinese. The cry that the government was killing the Chinese language was raised. The government replied by pointing out that under the new educational policy, Chinese (as a subject) could be learnt 'from the lowest to the highest rungs' of the educational ladder. Furthermore, it was stressed that primary education would be free for the first time in the history of Malaya, and a Chinese child could obtain six years of primary education wholly in the Chinese medium without paying fees. 'If we do not accept this education system,' the prime minister said, 'thousands of children passing out each year from the Chinese schools will not have the same opportunity as those who graduate from other schools, such as English schools. If they cannot get jobs because of their unacceptable qualifications, they will grow up hating the Government.'

All Chinese schools were required to decide by the end of 1961 whether they would be either fully assisted (national-type secondary schools) using Malay or English as the main medium of instruction, or independent, in which case they could continue to use Chinese as the main medium of instruction, but would not receive any financial aid whatsoever from the government.

Some prominence has been given to the educational problems which have bedevilled Malaya because education was (and still is) a sensitive issue, and the discussions which they occasioned penetrated to the very heart of Sino-Malay friction, and highlighted the opposition by the Chinese to a policy which they interpreted as an attempt 'to deny their children the right to their own language and culture and turn them into pseudo-Malays ....'

In the meantime, in early 1949, another attempt was made to bridge the gap between the Malays and the Chinese, and to bring about interracial harmony prior to the granting of self-government, as many people were concerned lest Malaya be destroyed by communal warfare such as that which had split India and Pakistan at the time of independence.

As a result of the initiative of Malcolm MacDonald, the Commissioner-General for Southeast Asia, a Communities Liaison Committee (CLC) was established with Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian and European community leaders on it. The CLC's aim was to find a way to eliminate interracial friction so as to create a

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united Malayan nation. The CLC proposed that all government and govemment-aided primary schools should teach Malay and English. It suggested that elections to local and federal councils should be introduced as soon as possible, and the citizenship requirements liberalized, to make it easier for non-Malays to acquire citizenship. The Chinese were called upon to be sympathetic towards and to help with the economic advancement of the Malays. In many ways, MacDonald, who was the committee's liaison officer, and Dato Onn and Tan Cheng Lock, who were the members of the CLC representing the Malay and Chinese communities, were idealists and ahead of their time, and the two community leaders found it difficult to carry their respective parties with them in their support of the CLC's proposals, which represented a non-communal approach in contrast to UMNO's and MCA's communal policies. UMNO and MCA were communal parties.

In fact, when Dato Onn attempted to persuade UMNO to accept some of the CLC's proposals, he encountered stiff opposition from chauvinist Malay elements, or 'ultras', who supported the 'Malaya for the Malays' policy. The situation became even more strained when he recommended that the name of UMNO should be changed to United Malayan National Organization, which indicated that he was thinking along non-communal lines, and not long afterward, in mid-1951, he resigned from UMNO, and Tunku Abdul Rahman was elected President.

Within a few weeks, Dato Onn had founded a new non-communal political party called the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP). Sir Henry Gurney, Malcolm MacDonald, and Tan Cheng Lock gave their encouragement and blessing to the new party, which fitted in with their concept of an interracial party. IMP announced a platform of economic and political equality, a common citizenship for all, the opening of the Malayan Civil Service (MCS) to Chinese and Indians, with the goal of independence within ten years.

But the tacit support and encouragement of the British may have been the kiss of death as many Malay nationalists regarded IMP as a British creation, and would not have anything to do with it.

Dato Onn had hoped that UMNO would cooperate with IMP but the fear of the Malays that his policy towards the Chinese was too lenient, and that Malay 'special rights' would be eroded, held

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them back. They were concerned, too, that independence within a decade would not allow them sufficient time to redress the economic balance between themselves and the Chinese. Malay chauvinists within UMNO regarded Dato Onn as a traitor to the Malay cause.

The Federation of Malaya Agreement had included a promise of elections in due course, but due to the outbreak of the Emergency, the first municipal elections in Kuala Lumpur were not held until February 1952. It was thought that IMP had a good chance of winning a majority, but its hopes were shattered by the unexpected formation of an electoral alliance between the Selangor branches of the MCA and UMNO to contest the elections. The UMNO-MCA Alliance won nine of the twelve seats contested and inflicted a rousing defeat on IMP.

This successful ad hoc experiment, which had not been approved by the respective party national headquarters, was repeated at other municipal elections held in 1951 and 1952. In August 1953, it was decided to form a national Alliance, and in October 1954, the MIC joined, so that the Alliance came to represent a coalition of the major political parties of the three main racial groups in Malaya. UMNO-MCA-MIC still remained completely independent of each other, with their own organizations and structures, but at least it was possible for their national leaders to work out by discussion and compromise a common approach which enabled the Alliance to present a united front on most issues. Controversial matters were, as far as possible, not given a public airing. Tan Cheng Lock was shrewd enough to realize that the way to working out a modus vivendi with the Malays lay through UMNO, with whose leaders he could hope to trade economic advantages for political power.

The first general elections were held in Malaya in 1955, and the Alliance swept to victory winning 51 out of 52 seats, although UMNO and the MCA were unable to reach accord on the question of citizenship and nationality rights for non-Malays. Tan Cheng Lock's stand was that the principle of jus soli should be adopted whereby citizenship would be automatically conferred on all persons born in Malaya, while the Malays jealously guarded their citizenship rights and wanted to retain the more restrictive citizenship provisions contained in the Federation of Malaya Agreement.

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In addition to the elected members of the Federal Legislative Council, there were 32 appointed members, but the Alliance was confident of counting on the support of 19 of them which gave it a majority of 70 in the Council of 98. Tunku Abdul Rahman became the first chief minister of the new government.

UMNO was the leading partner in the UMNO-MCA-MIC Alliance as it carried more electoral weight than the non-Malay parties. 84 per cent of the 2,800,000 registered voters for the election were Malays, 11 per cent Chinese and approximately 5 per cent Indians. It has been estimated that there were about 600,000 Chinese eligible to vote but only 143,000 went to the polls. The Chinese were evidently still not very enthusiastic about becoming involved in public affairs.

Tunku Abdul Rahman had said during the election campaign that if the Alliance were elected it would aim for self-government within two years and the establishment of an 'independent commission' to draw up a constitution for the attainment of independence within four. But the Tunku was pressed by the UMNO youth section to accelerate this time scale and work for independence within two years only.

Consequently, a Constitutional Conference was convened in London early in 1956, and attended by representatives of the Alliance, the Malay rulers and the British government.

The British government made it clear from the beginning that it was prepared to concede independence without a struggle, and the negotiations proceeded smoothly. It was agreed that independence within the British Commonwealth would be granted by 31 August 1957, if possible, which was the target date set by the Tunku, and that a Constitutional Commission, headed by Lord Reid, should be set up to draft a constitution. Its terms of reference included 'a common nationality for the whole of the Federation' and 'the safe-guarding of the special position of the Malays and the legitimate interests of other communities'.

The commission met in Malaya from June to October 1956, and the most important views it considered were those presented to it by the Alliance Party, especially as the Alliance Party had such an overwhelming majority at both federal and state levels.

The leaders of the three communal parties making up the national Alliance agreed to speak with one voice to the commiss on and any differences which they might have had were resolved before their representations were put up to the commission. This

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is the origin of the 'bargain' or 'pact' between the UMNO and the MCA leaders whereby as a quid pro quo the MCA conceded that the 'special rights' of the Malays should be protected, in return for UMNO conceding that Chinese and other non-Malays should be granted 'easier' citizenship rights based on the principle of jus soli, as well as allowing the Chinese a free hand to pursue their business interests.

However, the bargaining behind the scenes was intense at times and threatened to split the Alliance apart. Once again, the sensitive issue of citizenship rights, national language, education policy and the Malay special rights came up. While Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tan Cheng Lock were able to come to terms with each other because they were both western-educated liberals (the Tunku being a prince of the royal house of Kedah, who had been educated at Cambridge and had lived for many years in Britain, and Tan Cheng Lock a wealthy baba from Malacca, speaking English as his mother tongue, and knowing no Chinese, who was completely sincere in owning allegiance to no other country but Malaya), they had to contend with the extremists in both their parties. Neither the 'ultras' in UMNO nor the more chauvinistic Chinese-educated group in the MCA were willing to make concessions, and both factions at branch level began to pass resolutions demanding that the Merdeka (Independence) Constitution should contain provisions beneficial to their community.

Nevertheless, the Alliance leaders stood firm about not allowing any of the three communal parties to make separate submissions to the Reid Commission, and the day was saved.

When the Reid Commission's draft proposals were published in 1957, objections were raised by both Malays and Chinese. The commission had accepted most of the points recommended by the Alliance but it had introduced certain ideas of its own, and it had accepted suggestions made by the Malay rulers and other interested parties. In general, the Malays were disappointed that their special rights had not been provided for, and the Chinese were dissatisfied with sections of the report relating to citizenship and the special status of the Chinese language which they felt did not go far enough.

The draft proposals were then reviewed and amended by a working committee in Malaya, and representatives of the Alliance, the Malay rulers, and the British government at a meeting in London. The new Merdeka Constitution for an in-

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dependent Malaya emerged from these deliberations.

The provisions of the Merdeka Constitution are worthy of analysis as they provide the framework of the Malaysia Constitution (1963) which was brought about by amending the Merdeka Constitution rather than redrafting a completely new constitution, and they contain provisions covering the special rights and privileges of the Malays, national language, religion, and several other issues, which were (and still are) matters of contention between the Malays and Chinese.

It was agreed to grant Malayan citizenship on the principle of jus soli to any person born in the Federation after 31st August 1957, as well as to make it easier for non-Malays to become citizens by registration and naturalization. This was an extremely controversial issue as the Malays were concerned lest it would eventually lead to their political primacy being challenged by the Chinese. It undoubtedly represented a major concession on the part of the Malays as it would increase the voting strength of the Chinese, and UMNO only agreed to it in exchange for the Chinese not objecting to other sections of the constitution which protected Malay special rights.

The Reid proposals had provided for the continuation of the special rights and privileges for Malays, and these were covered by the constitution. They were in four main areas: Malay land reservations; the reserving of a quota of licences for certain businesses; the operation of a quota in the Malayan Civil Service whereby appointments would be in the ratio of one non-Malay to every four Malays; and special quotas for scholarships and educational grants.

In fact, this policy was a continuation of the policy enunciated by General Sir Gerald Templer (High Commissioner 1951 —1954) in a speech to the Legislative Council in November 1952. 'Members of the Council,' he said, 'will, however, I feel sure agree that it is very necessary that the special position of the Malays should be retained in the Civil Service and imposed in the whole economic field. To this .end, certain safeguards are necessary. I therefore propose that, as one of the safeguards, the number of non-Malay Federal citizens who are admitted into the Malayan Civil Service shall be limited to one for every four Malays admitted into that Service in the future. Other safeguards to secure and improve the position of the Malays are under consideration.' In regard to commerce and industry, Templer thought it

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necessary that 'the Malays should be encouraged and assisted to play a full part in the economic life of the country so that the present uneven economic balance should be redressed'.

The Reid Report proposed that the special position of the Malays should be reviewed after fifteen years with a view to their eventual withdrawal, but this suggestion was strongly opposed by UMNO, and not included in the constitution, which set no time limit.

However, Malay privileges were augmented in the constitution in several ways. The states were allowed to retain or increase Malay land reservations until the area represented fifty per cent of the total area available for general private land use. Also, Penang and Malacca, not being Malay states, were given the right to institute Malay land reservations on the same terms as the nine Malay states making up the Federation. Under the constitution, land policy relating to Malay reservations was made more difficult to amend than the constitution itself. The constitution could only be amended by a two-thirds vote in the wholly-elected House of Representatives and the appointed Senate.

Bearing in mind the paramount political position of the Malays and the comparative strengths of the Malay and Chinese electorates consisting of federal citizens, the possibility of the constitution being amended to the detriment of the Malay community was very remote.

Under the constitution, Islam became the state religion although every person was allowed the right to practise his own religion. The sultans were the head of the Muslim religion in their own states and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the Paramount Ruler, a single, constitutional monarch elected for a term of five years by the Conference of Rulers) was responsible for the Muslim religion in Penang and Malacca.

Malay was made the national language but English was permitted to be used in parliament, the state legislatures and courts of law for a period of at least ten years from Merdeka Day (31 August 1957), until otherwise provided by parliament. No other language could be used in legislative proceedings, but federal and state governments had the right 'to preserve and sustain the use and study of the language of any community'.

The consent of the Rulers Conference was required on matters dealing with the 'special position of the Malays or the legitimate interests of other communities', as well as the approval of the

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state governments and the federal government.

An important part of the 'pact' between UMNO and the MCA which was not explicitly referred to in the constitution was that the Chinese were allowed to continue to play a dominant role in the economic life of the country.

After the ratification of the Merdeka Constitution, Malaya's independence was proclaimed, and at the stroke of midnight on 30 August 1957, the Union Jack was lowered at an impressive ceremony on the Selangor Club Padang in Kuala Lumpur, and the flag of the new independent Federation of Malaya hoisted in its place.

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