Nationalism

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By Timothy P. Daniels

This article comprises an exam of techniques of cultural citizenship in peninsular Malaysia.

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Extra info for Building Cultural Nationalism in Malaysia: Identity, Representation and Citizenship (East Asia History, Politics, Sociology, Culture)

Sample text

CONSTRUCTION OF MALAYSIAN NATIONALITY AND LEGAL AND CULTURAL CITIZENSHIP In this context, in which the three broad “races” of British Malayan colonial society were mobilized as nationalist and resistance organizations, the British returned after World War II with a plan to create two centralized colonies on the road to political independence. This plan would form Melaka and Penang, and the FMS and UMS into a Malayan Union, while Singapore would become a separate British colony. The British, as a signatory to the Atlantic Charter and as allies of post-war American champions of the principle of self-determination, were openly committed to a process of turning political power over to an independent Malayan nation.

The British, Malay rulers, and UMNO, carrying over the basic idea of a common citizenship, negotiated the plan for a Federation of Malaya which was acceptable to the Malay population. In the Federation, power was centralized in British administrative structures, but the sovereignty of the Sultans, individuality of the states, and Malay special privileges were upheld (Andaya and Andaya 1982:256). A much more restricted form of citizenship with narrower eligibility rules was applied in the Federation.

Before the inauguration of the Malayan Union scheme in 1946, delegates representing forty-one Malay associations from all over Malaya and Singapore convened in Kuala Lumpur to protest the Malayan Union plan and formed UMNO, the United Malays National Organization, to fight for Malay rights. UMNO issued statements condemning the Malayan Union plan and initiated a strategy to oppose and frustrate its implementation (ibid: 47). Although the Malayan Union plan was inaugurated on 1 April 1946, due to the strength and effectiveness of the opposition it was never brought into effect.

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