Government and Nationalism in Southeast Asia

By Rupert Emerson; Lennox A. Mills et al. | Go to book overview

III. BURMA

The government of Burma is in a state of transition from direct rule to Dominion status. A little over twenty years ago the country was a typical Indian province with British control of administration, legislation and finance. The Legislature had wide powers of debate but was neither expected nor intended to control the executive. The theory and practice of government was based on the prevalent belief that democracy was unworkable East of Suez. As a result of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms Burma received the same type of government as the other provinces of India. The majority of the members of the Legislature were popularly elected, and they were given substantial powers of legislation and partial control over finance and the executive. The next stage of Indian constitutional advance, the Government of India Act of 1935, was accompanied by a very important change in the position of Burma. The only reason for its inclusion in the Indian Empire was that it had been conquered by India during the 19th century; and a strong demand had arisen that Burma should be restored to its historic position as a separate country. In the Government of India Act of 1935, Burma was removed from the control of the Governor General and became a separate dependency under the control of the Imperial Government. The general form of the new constitution resembles that of an Indian province; but there is the important difference that the government unites in itself all the powers which in India are divided between the provincial and the proposed federal administrations.

The Burmese form about two-thirds of the population, and according to the census of 1931 they numbered 9,862,694 out of the total of approximately 15,000,000. The Indians numbered 1,017,825, the majority of whom eventually returned to India although several hundred thousand were permanently settled in Burma. They were laborers, traders and moneylenders, and were strongly disliked by the Burmese because their greater industry and astuteness had given them a dominant position in the economic field. There were 193,549 Chinese, most of

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Government and Nationalism in Southeast Asia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Institute of Pacific Relations iv
  • Title Page v
  • Foreward vii
  • Editorial Note xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Part I - Introduction 1
  • Part II - The Governments of Southeast Asia 37
  • Author's Note 38
  • 1. Introduction 39
  • Ii. the Philippines 53
  • Iii. Burma 70
  • Iv. British Malaya 78
  • V. Hongkong 92
  • Vi. the Netherlands Indies 97
  • Vii. French Indo-China 107
  • Viii. Taiwan 113
  • Ix. Thailand 118
  • Part III - Nationalism and Nationalist Movements in Southeast Asia 125
  • I. Introduction: Comparative Nationalisms 127
  • Ii. the Philippines 145
  • Iii. Burma 159
  • Iv. British Malaya 169
  • V. the Netherlands Indies 182
  • Vi. French Indo-China 198
  • Vii. Thailand 211
  • Index 223
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