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During the Second World War, Japanese Army takes charge of Malaya. The Japanese occupation caused uncertainty and chaos for the local residents. During the Japanese occupation in Malaya for 3 ½ years, all the local people were controlled by Japanese and they had suffer a lot at that time as the policies brings social, economic and political impact to the life of Malaya. At that time the people were suffering and depressed by the Japanese government policy.
The social impact of the Japanese occupation of Malaya lead to a more distant relationship between local races. The Malays, Indians and Chinese have been treated unfairly. The Malays have been appointed as Japanese secret police especially “ Kempeitai”. While the Chinese have been killed and tortured by the Japanese and Indian people were used as labour and are force to work as construction workers. Food shortages causes disease resulting many deaths, until the railway is known as the “Death Railway”. During that time, they are lack of food, especially rice, this have been the cause of various diseases. Among the many deadly diseases are malaria and beriberi. This problem becomes more serious as they are lack of medication especially went the drugs were seized by the Japanese’s for their need in Malaya.
The Japan has appointed Malays as Police and Army force. The reason of the Malay police and army is because the Japanese uses them to resist giving it the appearance consistently of the Chinese people. The Japanese wanted to add more anger to the Chinese.
As a result after the Japanese occupation, racial classes occurred between the Malays and Chinese. Other than that, when the Goods from the juice of pineapple leaves, coconut sugar, industrious occupation of Japan between the Malays and the spirit of self-reliance, Japan’s occupation realizes the importance of teaching the Malays, raise awareness. Japan has adopted its culture in the local community, especially the Malays. In this regard Japan has expanded the Japanese language in Malaya. The Medium of instruction in school was changed from English to Japanese language. To promote the language, government has taken initiative to organized short courses for Japanese language for the locals. The adoption of the Japanese culture has been carried out the whole community like public holiday on the festival season in Japan were declared. Japans government also banned to use Chinese language in Chinese school which are in Malaya. Japan are also involved in the Malaya school system which they fully implemented to require singing the Japan national anthem (Kamigayo) every morning and respecting the Japanese flag so the people of Malaya will honor the emperor of Japan.
The Malaya economic is also badly affected during the Japanese occupation. The Malayan economy mainly dependents on the rubber exports but eventually all the rubber had reduced production due to the war and also because of the policy of “Scorched Earth” as implemented by the British. British are damaging all the rubber trees, factories, Mines and mining machinery before they left Malaya. The reason of the British is they don’t want to keep it from falling into Japanese hands. If the British didn’t destroy the trees, the Japanese will import the productions to to their country. During the Japanese occupation, Malaya has consumer goods especially food. Malaya only produces 40% of the population of rice. Several measures have been carried out on the order of the Japanese to increase rice production in Malaya. Resulting the Malaya people to rely on other crops, such as corn, bananas, cassava, and others. Malaya banknotes is up to $ 40 million, $ 2 million for the Japanese occupational distribution of banknotes. By the deterioration of the Japanese economy Malaya communications systems and other infrastructure damage are irreparable. Although Japan has implemented a range of industries, such as shoe making factories, tires, and others, but it is not a success.
After mastering the Malay, Japanese administrative restructure the organization as puts Malaya under military management called Malaya military government (MMA) in accordance with the state of war at that time. MMA’s main goal is to restore public order, to take advantage of the resources necessary to sustain the war economy and the needs of the troops in Malaya, to ensure the sufficiency. The MMA Management help the Japanese secret police and intelligence agencies called the Japanese Kempeitai. Under the direct control of the Strait (NNS) they are directly managed by the Japanese Governor and the systems in other states also continued. However, the real power is in the hands of the Japanese. In order to get the support of the the Malays, Japan maintains Sultan institutions as administrator along with the Japanese. In the early stages of the Japanese occupation of Malaya, Sumatra combined under one administration based in Singapore (Shonan). However, this combination failed and were separated from NNM Sumatra terms of administration in 1944.
Malaya economic impact, especially Malaya political are conscious to improve the patriotic spirit of the Malaya independence from Japan and British. Propaganda is spread by the Japanese, when they inculcate the spirit of nationalism for the Malaya, Chinese and Indians then have conflict between them. Therefore, the gap between Malays, Chinese and Indians, the ethnic tensions further complicates the process, national unity. The suffering and Japanese propaganda “Asia for Asia” has raised awareness of the local population to fight for freedom and independence politics. Japan hopes to get the Indians support as the Japanese plans to dominate India. They encourage the Indians to cooperate with Japan, the liberation of India from British. The Indian National Army (MIA) was established by the Japanese in Malaya. Japanese policy towards the Indians was a problem in an effort to create a national consciousness among Indians in Malaya. They were expelled, the treatment of prisoners by the Japanese and another British dignity decline. The British failed to remind them that they cannot rely on the British defence of Malaya. This scenario awareness of local people, they are on their own to defend for their rights and interests, as well as their homeland.
During the Japanese occupation, the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) began to get widespread support, especially from Chinese, is regarded as Japan’s oppression of their protector. They join the Malayan Anti-Japanese Union (GROW), which is established by the British. The MCP People’s Anti-Japanese Army established the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA). MPAJA get help, weapons, food, medicine, and training of the Allies, in particular, is a team of 136. During the Japanese occupation, MCP has become a powerful and well-organized political party. Recalling MCP services to help the British against the Japanese, people think this is a legitimate political party since 1945. Failed to achieve by the Constitution, prompting the MCP armed rebellion since June 16, 1948 in furtherance of their goals capture of Malaya and then set up the Malayan Communist Republic. The Japanese occupation, led to the emergence of political consciousness of assembly and association between the Malayan People after the Japanese occupation. Between political parties that exist is UMNO, MCA, MIC, API, CAUTION, PKMM, Hizbul Muslims and others. Those parties are also available as a separate idea, because of the Japanese occupation. It was promised to grant independence to Malaya under the ambit of “Indonesia Raya”. To this end, the people of Indonesia Peninsula (KRIS) Union were established in July 1945. The leaders of the two countries, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim Burhannudin and Indonesian leader Sukarno and Hatta, held the talk in order to achieve the mutual independent.
As a conclusion of The Japanese Occupation of Malaysia, following an incendiary act, destroyed many Japanese cities, the Allies prepared for expensive Japanese invasion. At the end of the war in Europe, Nazi Germany signed the Instrument of Surrender. Together with the United Kingdom and the Republic of the United States as the Japanese surrender, “the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945, the threat to Japan,” a rapid and total destruction. The Japanese government ignored this ultimatu, the United States deployed two nuclear weapons developed by the Manhattan Project. The little boy of American pilots dropped city of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945, the fat man in Nagasaki on August 9. There is a serious affect in the first two to four months of the bombings, the death of 90,000-166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000-80,000 in Nagasaki, about half of the deaths occur in the first day of each city.
The Malayan Union proposal
The British had revealed that Malayan Union Plan in a White Paper in late January 1946 after having an obtained this treaties from Malay Sultans by Sir Mac Michael. According this contention, the main issues which are included in this proposal are:
Malayan Union proposal tries to change the status of Malay States from status under protection of British government during the past World War Two into one of the British Colony. This means that the British have the authority and power over the administration of the states in Malaya. This can be achieved by the surrendered of Malay Sultans power to the British government and be able the External Power Act can be implemented in Malaya to protect the British interest in this government.
To create the unitary states comprising of the Federated Malay States (FMS), Unfederated Malay States (UMS), Penang and Malacca with the central government, a governor and legislative under Executive Council. The Governor at the central government will coordinate all the administration of these states.
To maintain Singapore as a separate colony because of the fears that Malay Opposition to Singapore would prevent acceptance of the Union. It will be administer by one British Governor that is located at Singapore. The other reason to separated Singapore is because it have a lot of Chinese population, so if Singapore Chinese been combined with Malaya Chinese, it will causes the Chinese population to be more than the Malays.
According to Malayan Union, the Malay Sultans were to retain their positions but their sovereignty must be transferred to the British Crown. The British have rights to interfere in the Muslim religious affairs and other Malays ceremonial activities. The British government had form up the Malays Adviser Body whereby the Sultans is members of that body while the British Governor will be the chairman.
The Malayan Union treaty also agreed that the states meeting will be remained, but it will be the administrative of the central government to control and to handle all the aspects of local government. Every state in Malayan Union will have one High Commissioner whereby they will be selected as the Chief Administration at the state level and the man whom is answerable to the central government.
All citizen of the new Malayan Union would have equal rights including the admission into the administrative Civil Service. The concept of `Jus Soli” have been implemented and with this concept, all foreigners when they are born in Malaya or Singapore and those who are aging between 18 years and above stayed more than 10 to 15 years before 15 Feb 1942 are qualified to had a citizenship of Malaya. This concept was extended to all the races without discrimination.
The opposition of the people
With the revealed of the main issues in The Malayan Union Proposal 1946, there are two different reactions from major races in Malaya. The reaction from the non-Malays, they were keep quiet about this issues because the White paper inside the Malayan Union treaties gave an advantages to them and at that time they don’t have a strong leaders in presenting them to face the British. On the other hand, the Malays had shown a clear opposition towards this White Paper and the reasons why they are not agreed with the main issues in this proposal is because:
The Malays had accused the British had used the force and manipulation prior to the agreement which have been made with the Malay Sultans. The British had threaten the Sultans, if the Sultans not accepted the Malayan Union Agreement, they will accused of involvement with Japan in World War Two. They will overthrow from their present positions and replace with somebody who agreed with the agreement, which have been proposed.
The Sultans and the Malay Rulers have been given a short notice to think and discuss about the implication of the implementation Malayan Union. It was so important to the States and it future because if the detailed discussion was not made, possibility it will jeopardized the status of Malays in the future. So, by doing this the British has forced the Malay Rulers to accept this agreement without give a chance to analyst the consequences after the implementation.
The afraid of the Sultans and Malay Rulers lost their power and sovereignty of the States according to the letter in Malayan Union, which is stated that the status was change from the states under protection of British to the states which is one of the British Colony. That why the Sultans have to transferred their sovereignty to the British Crown and they will only retain their titles and positions without have a rights to administer their own states. They only can manage the aspect related to the religious matters only.
The worried of Malays status in their own country. This threat was came from the Chinese who exploit in the economics sectors and their associations will be so strong when the Malayan Union was implemented. With the implementation of Malayan Union, all the right will be equal to everybody, so the Chinese will get support from the British. If the Chinese get the same rights as the Malays, for sure they will become the main threat to the Malays especially during the period of 1931, whereby the total population of non-Malays in this country are more than Malays itself. Other than that, the cold relation between the Chinese and Malays during that period has adds some threat to the Malays.
The invalid treaties which obtained by British to declare the Malayan Union, because according to the Malay States Rules, the Sultans or the Malay Rulers must discuss with the Heads of the other Malays before agreed and sign the agreement with the foreigners. The Sultans are not allowed to give any area or district of even half of the states to the foreigners. These types of Rules were stated clearly in the Johor Legislative Rules.
Malayan Union was a policy before the war. So, after the war, the nationalism spirit was develop in the Malays individuals especially when they saw the victory of Japan over the America and the British. The failure of the British to defence the Malaya have bring a new lesson learnt to the Malay leaders that they cannot hope from the British to defence their country in the future. So, for those ambitions they must fights for independent from the British government.
Based on the factors stated above, that why the contention of the Malayan Union proposal in 1946 was not accepted by the Malays. Because of this reason also, the inauguration of Malayan Union on 1 Apr 1946 was not received a declaration from the Malays, but in the other hands, they used this as a platform to fight for their rights and independence states. Because of this opposition also, the British government have to think back on those proposal and discuss with the Malays representative in find a solution.
At that time, their opposition to the Malayan Union led to the birth of the United Malays National Organisation or UMNO – which was inaugurated on May 11, 1946 in Johor Baru – and the emergence of Datuk Onn Jaafar as its first president.
UMNO obtained support from all strata of the Malay society in opposing the Malayan Union – the aristocrats, the radical Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (Malay Nationalist Party or MNP), Islamic groups, civil servants, rural leaders like the penghulus (village heads), and even the police and ex-service personnel.
UMNO opposed the Malayan Union because it restricted the Malay rulers” powers and Malay special privileges, granted citizenship and equal rights to the non-Malays who are qualified on birth, residential and other terms.
UMNO demanded a return to the pre-war political structures, which is set up in the Malay states according to treaties signed with the Malay rulers under which the British “protected” the Malay states and advised the rulers in all matters except Islam and Malay customs.
The protests and demonstrations against the Malayan Union saw Malay women breaking tradition by joining marches and carrying placards. Many Malays wrapped white cloth around their songkok (cap) as a symbol of mourning. UMNO urged Malay civil servants to boycott the Malayan Union government by refusing to carry out any work. Also at UMNO’s urging, the Malay rulers boycotted Sir Edward Gent’s inauguration as Malayan Union governor.
Non-Malays were also prompted to fight for their rights, and organised political parties such as the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) and the Malayan Democratic Union, which came under an umbrella organisation – the All-Malaya Council of Joint Action (AMCJA) headed by prominent Chinese leader Tan Cheng Lock.
Several trade unions and women’s groups aligned with the then semi-legal Communist Party of Malaya also joined the AMCJA.
For the first time, politics during the Malayan Union led to the formation of a multi-racial alliance between the non-Malay AMCJA and the Malay-based Pusat Tenaga Rakyat (PUTERA), a coalition under the MNP’s leadership that comprised its youth and women wings, and Malay cultural bodies.
Dr Burhanuddin Al-Helmy became Putera-AMCJA president, with Tan as deputy president.
This followed the MNP’s departure from UMNO over differences regarding UMNO’s flag. The MNP decided to team up with the AMCJA to fight for an independent United Malaya with equal citizenship for all, and an elected Parliament in which the Malay rulers would become constitutional monarchs.
The coalition’s parties also agreed that Malay would be the national language, and all citizens would be known as “Melayu” nationals.
The proposed “Melayu” nationality was controversial, but it was quite different from bangsa Melayu and was not a racial but a national identity. The Malays opposed the term “Malayan” because it was associated with the Malayan Union, so Putera’s non-Malay partners agreed not to use it. At the same time, the term “Malaysian” did not yet exist.
The AMCJA-Putera “People’s Constitution” which incorporated these points was a blueprint for Malaya’s future.
Many observers were surprised that Chinese and pro-communist groups were willing to make such major concessions to accommodate the MNP’s Malay nationalism, and equally surprised that the MNP was willing to accept non-Malays as equal citizens if they demonstrated their loyalty to Malaya.
However, the British government rejected the AMCJA-Putera proposals, and decided to concede instead to the demands of UMNO and the Malay rulers. The British were not yet ready to grant self-government and independence and attempted to negotiate a deal that would not endanger its political, economic and military interests.
UMNO and the Malay rulers had taken up their grievances with the Colonial Office in London by writing petitions to British members of Parliament and waging a public relations campaign.
They received support from prominent former British government officers like Sir Richard Winstedt and Sir Frank Swettenham.
The British finally agreed to the Malay demands for the return of sovereignty to the Malay rulers, and a tightening of citizenship laws for Chinese, Indians and others. In return, UMNO and the Malay rulers agreed to the British proposal to set up the Federation of Malaya as a mutually acceptable frame of government to replace the Malayan Union.
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