Presentation on theme: "“History is as much an art as a science.” (Ernest Renan) “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana) “The history."— Presentation transcript:
“History is as much an art as a science.” (Ernest Renan) “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana) “The history of the world is the history of the privileged few.” (Henry Miller) Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. (African Proverb) “History has to be rewritten in every generation, because although the past does not change, the present does; each generation asks new questions of the past, and finds new areas of sympathy as it re-lives different aspects of the experiences of its predecessors.” (Christopher Hill) “The justification of all historical study must ultimately be that it enhances our self-consciousness, enables us to see ourselves in perspective, and helps us towards that greater freedom which comes from self-knowledge.” (Keith Thomas).
Exploring the story of the people and place of present day Malaysia: 18 th century A.D. – May 13, 1969
Pre-colonial Malay social structure Class and patriarchal society Primarily agricultural, subsistence economy Feudal system with sultan ruling over territorial chiefs. The Sultans and elite class did have slaves and at times demanded labor from peasants Gomez, Tracing the Ethnic Divide: Race, Rights and Redistribution in Malaysia. (169)
Considering the role of women Due to subsistence society, gender equality was necessary in production (women participated in padi work, fish processing, weaving, trade) (Ng, 61-62); women had no access to political, military or religious leadership (70). Primarily male-dominated political authorities; females with no male heir could rule. Women in elite-class could own slaves or invest in mines (65); these women were primarily viewed as “sexual commodities confined to…reproduction” (72). Sexual exploitation of female slaves was common. (67).
British economic interests in Malaya Industrialization in Britain British began looking for new markets to sell its mass- produced goods Increased demand for tin with the invention of tin- canning (1810) Opening of Suez Canal shortened trading routes (1869) Malaya had many valuable resources Acquisition of port cities: Penang (1786), Malacca (1795)
Indirect rule Making deals with sultans Pangkor Treaty (20 Jan, 1874) British resident to advise sultan on all matters except religion and custom Fearing others would take control of prime resources (mineral and agricultural), Britain continued to use force to obtain land. By 1895, one British Resident controlled 9 states.
Resulting political structures Licenses and taxes required for fishing, building houses, cultivating land, collecting produce from the jungle. 1877: State Council formed in each state: Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang 1896: Formation of FMS: The 4 states together formed a federal body sharing a common purse. Federal Council in Kuala Lumpur with first British Resident-General Swettenham. 1909: Revision of constitution: Centralized power in hands of High Commissioner. Of the 15 members, the 6 Sultans became ordinary members. Also, proceedings were conducted in English. 1914: Johore brought under British rule.
Resulting social structures Reinforcement of patriarchal hierarchy, except now it is also centralized and institutionalized Malay Civil Service staffed almost exclusively by British men Malay Administrative Service staffed predominately by male English-educated Malay bureaucrats and functionaries Clerical service also consisted of English-educated male personnel (Ng, 74-75)
By 1914 Straits Settlement (Penang, Singapore, Melacca) Federated Malay States (Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Pahang) Unfederated Malay states (Perlis, Kedah, Trengganu, Johore)
Private Property & Gender 1880s: Torrens Land Law established certified ownership of land, abolishing the previous system based on usage. Many women peasants lost land inheritance due to the male-dominated system. All unused land became property of the state; this was in turn sold cheaply to primarily British capitalists. Peasant farmers often became tenant farmers for rich land owners, thus creating class differentiation. (Ng, 76-77, 79).
Economics: Demand for tin and rubber increases 1888: Market demand for rubber increases as motor companies need tires. Cheap wage laborers were imported and maintained by a policy of “divide and control”; ethnic groups were segregated geographically and occupationally Chinese labored in tin mines Indian laborers imported to clear jungles and build roads; work on rubber estates Malays remained in rural areas to grow food to feed laborers By 1912, tin revenue of $10.8 million (Strait dollars) was earned and sent to shareholders in Britain.
Economic role of Chinese The Chinese were present in the region two decades prior to the British: regional trade, agriculture, artisans, tin mining. From 1850-1900, a large immigration movement for labor in tin mines; predominantly urban settlements. Dominated tin industry until dredge technique favored the British companies.
Roles of Chinese women Early Chinese immigrants were primarily accompanying wives, prostitutes or domestic slaves. Those who sold their labour or sexuality were subordinated both by their gender and class. During the 1930s, the Depression and politics in China pushed thousands of Chinese women to immigrate to the Malay Peninsula.
Economic role of Indians Initially recruited to work in sugar and coffee plantations in Penang. With increased demand for labor on rubber plantations, the British brought in Tamils from Southern India. A minor percentage worked in urban mercantile trade, moneylending and lower civil service occupations.
Female Indian labourers Female workers were not brought in until the late 1920s. Discriminatory practices included a smaller wage. Women also had a lower literacy rate and therefore more frequently worked in plantations. When positions were cut, women were the first to go. (Ng, 81)
Economic role of Malay peasants As peasant farmers lost their land or had no money to purchase land, they began to work for wealth land owners. Rice was needed to feed Chinese and Indian laborers. Malay farmers saw the economic opportunity to raise rubber trees instead, but the British resisted 1917 – Rice Lands Enactment forced food production through times of WWI as funds were taken out of Malaya by the British to fund war efforts. 1918 – Food Production enactment Lack of education about new agricultural technologies
Effect of capitalism on women The new economy emphasized money. Men worked to grow cash crops while women maintained subsistence activities at home. This system privileged men’s work and devalued the work left for women. Women were not allowed to tap rubber because it required traveling some distance and working in isolation. Women who had participated in the local weaving industry were put out of work due to the introduction of manufactured goods. Ng, 78-79
Hard Labour and Tough Times Immigrant workers suffered awful living conditions resulting in health issues: malaria, dysentry, beri-beri. In 1911, 7162 Indian labourers died. Economic Depression (1922-28) Surplus of rubber production resulted in lower prices and the Stevenson Restriction Scheme. Thousands of tin mine workers and rubber state laborers out of a job; some repatriated to China and India. Chinese were denied right to buy land; Britain’s political policy is that only Malay could own land and grow rice. Musimgrafik, 78-84
Education of the elite 1905: Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) established for sons of aristocrats and chiefs. 1910: Graduates of this system filled newly formed Malay Administrative Service (MAS) 3 effects: Developed and maintained the colonial class structure Ensured racial disunity by failing to create a national education system available for all Maintained gender inequality (Ng, 82)
Education opportunities for women 1817: first girls’ school established Most were run by missionaries or private individuals and taught Europeans or urban elite. 1884: first vernacular (Malay) school for girls in Telok Blanga, Johore. Girls were taught needlework, lace-making, cooking and weaving. Parents were reluctant to send daughters as they felt females could learn adequate domestic knowledge in the home. There was also a fear of Christianization at English schools. Class structure: those with access to English education had opportunities for secondary or tertiary education, academic or vocational. 1942: Female equivalent of MCKK was established.
Vernacular Schools Traditional Malay education focused the Qur’an; boys learned at mosques, girls were taught in the home. 1905: Colonial-sponsored Tamil schools opened, offering four years of vocational training. Most girls stayed home to help with siblings. Chinese schools were sponsored by Chinese capitalists or middle class citizens. Many of the subjects focused on China rather than the local context. The colonial state was highly suspicious of the schools and offered little aid. (Ng, 83,86)
Global Influences of the early 20 th century Political, ethnic and religious movements inspired people in the Malay Peninsula: Islamic reform in the Middle East China’s anti-Mauchu movement Indian independence efforts through civil disobedience Indonesia’s attempt for independence
Malay Reformist Movement Urban Malays saw education as means of economic and political progress; some sent sons to Middle East to study; these were influenced by Islamic reformist movement. Their impact: First Malayan newspaper (1906-08). More liberal system of religious education: include Arabic, English and modern subjects; freedom for women in education and social affairs. By 1920-30s, most Malays believed key to progress was education.
Social Activism Political parties: First Malay political party: Kesatuan Melayu Singapura (SMU) (1926) Communist Party of Malaya (1930) Central Indian Association of Malaya (1936) First Malay left-wing party: KMM Union of Malayan Youths (1937) Associations Unions and strikes: Caxton Press workers (1927), Rubber estate workers (march 1941)
Japanese Occupation 8 th Dec. 1941, Japanese invade Malaya. 1 st Jan. 1942, CPM founded the MPAJA – Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army. Involved all 3 ethnicities Grew to 10,000 members 15 th Feb. 1942, British surrender. Aug. 1945, Japanese surrender after dropping of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For 4-5 weeks, CPM/MPAJA governed until British reoccupation.
British Reoccupy, Sept. 1945 British dismantled MPAJA in Dec. 1945 Forced Sultans to sign over power; Jan ’46 – Sir Edward Gent appointed High Commissioner. Britain had incurred a huge debt from WWII efforts; it sought revenue from the tin and rubber industry in Malaya A new militant mood existed among labourers, making them difficult to manage; many strikes, shut- outs and work-ins became violent (especially May- June ‘48).
Malays organize Myth of ‘white supremacy’ was shattered: Peasant associations, youth associations, women’s associations, religious groups, etc. MNP (Sept. ‘45) Youth (API) Women (AWAS) – 1946 Strong anti-colonial and nationalist stance; recruited among Malay rural gentry and peasantry. Height of its membership exceeded 2000 Colonial repression resulted in banning of the group in 1948. MDU (Dec. ‘45)
Britain’s post-war strategy: United Malayan Plan Opposition because “independence” was left out. March ’46, UMNO formed. March congress; (UMNO) aristocrats and bureaucrats made a deal with the British. AMCJA/PUTERA people’s constitutional proposal Nation-wide hartal 20 th Oct ’47. Great participation, but British ignored proposal. 1 st Feb. ’48, Federation of Malaya replaced United Malayan plan; British preferred to work with the pro- British UMNO.
Political Parties UMNO (1946) Women’s wing: Kaum Ibu MIC (1945) MCA (1949) CPM (1951) Alliance (1953)
Emergency (18 th June 1948-1960) Emergency Regulations Build up of military and use of force to “stamp out the Malayan people’s resistance to imperialism and domestic reaction” (222). ID cards for everyone 12 years and older Curfews and food rationing Police checks, searches and detentions Thousands were killed; 34,000 imprisoned without trial; 26,000 Chinese deported Arrested political and militant activists Banned MCP, MPAJA, and New Democratic Youth League “New Villages” 600 concentration camps set up (1950-60) to contain rural population in the attempt to find communists By 1951, Britain realized the expense of current efforts and instead relied more on intelligence, propaganda and attrition Caldwell, 221-224
Toward reform Reform: 1951 “Member System” British High Commissioner appointed local politicians to head four government departments: Home Affairs, Education, Agriculture and Health. First federal election: 1955 Alliance won all but one seat. Other “ideologically oriented…multi-racial political organizations found it difficult to displace the ruling coalition of ethnically based parties” due to lack of funding; MCA had access to much money. (Gomez, 176) Baling Talk 28 th Dec. ’55 – CPM and Alliance leaders met; ends in deadlock.
Toward Merkeka Tunku Abdul Rahman led delegation that met in London. Gave British protection of economic and military interests, as well as proved anti-communist sentiments. Malaysia remains part of the Commonwealth. Assigned date for Merdeka was 31 st August 1957.
Economic Tensions Result of agreement with British for independence: British investments would not be nationalized; Alliance viewed these investments as crucial for economic development. Rural infrastructure development was needed. Bulk of UMNO’s political support was from Malay-dominated rural areas. High rates of poverty necessitated government involvement. By late ‘60s, most political power was in the hands of Malay aristocrats and economic power was with Chinese; a decade after independence, little change in this power structure. Malays were critical of this and demanded change. Government’s response: MARA, establish and manager new industrial enterprises, training institutions, financial assistance, FAMA, etc. Some Chinese were nervous that such assistance may encroach upon their economic sectors.
Political Tension Feud between UMNO and Singapore; one issue was official language and creation of a “Malaysian Malaysia” identity as opposed to predominantly “Malay Malaysia”. UMNO lost much of its non-Malay support.
1969 General Election Results Alliance support had declined – about half (48.5%) of Malay population and 1/3 of non-Malay vote. MCA sustained heaviest defeat. UMNO also declined; some feared losing political hegemony. Opposition parties were weakened only because of internal ethnic division. Communal tensions were high.
May 13, 1969 Election ‘victory’ processions by opposition parties incited racial taunts; eventual riot in KL and spread to other major cities.
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