Malaya: A Political and Economic Appraisal

Malaya: A Political and Economic Appraisal

Malaya: A Political and Economic Appraisal

Malaya: A Political and Economic Appraisal

Excerpt

Postwar Malaya has in general been typical of Southeast Asia politically and economically. Among the resemblances have been hostility to colonial rule, a widespread demand for expansion of social services, and the usual difficulty in finding adequate revenue to pay for them. Malaya also shares with, for example, Indonesia and Burma the risk that political independence may be imperiled by inability to satisfy the popular desire for better living conditions. Owing to its multiracial character, however, the development in Malaya has been somewhat different from that of the neighboring countries. There was the usual growth of nationalism and demand for self-government among the politically conscious minority, but contrary to the general rule nationalism was a divisive and not a unifying force, since there was not one Malayan people but three. Communal antagonism was aggravated by the appearance of three nationalisms, Malay, Chinese, and Indian. This made it much more difficult to carry out the standard British policy of acclimatizing parliamentary democracy as quickly as possible. There was not only the normal problem of how quickly power could be safely transferred to inexperienced hands, but also the necessity of creating a Malayan people who could exercise it. "The citizen of Malaya is still a synthetic dream of puzzled politicians, and only the slow chemistry of goodwill and self interest can produce him."

Unification of the three races was all the harder since the Chinese were the largest single element in the population, and after the war . . .

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