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Hwa, Albert Lau Khoong (1986) The Politics of Union and Citizenship: The Evolution of British Constitutional Policy Towards Malaya and Singapore 1942-1948. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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World War II, by unleashing new forces, had precipitated a reappraisal of British policy towards Malaya; it also afforded British planners an opportunity to rationalise the pre-war structures which had kept Malaya constitutionally disunited and racially divided. Isolated in their offices in Whitehall, Colonial Office officials devised the Malayan Union policy, embracing in a "union" all the Malay States and including, from the Straits Settlements, Penang and Malacca but excluding Singapore, which developed as a separate constitutional entity although the possibility of a future "fusion" with the proposed Malayan Union was not discounted; the new arrangements envisaged also the creation of a form of "common citizenship" that would confer political rights to Malaya's non-Malay population. When the war ended, the British proceeded, as planned, to implement the Malayan Union scheme in April 1946 only to replace it with the Federation of Malaya in February 1948; the provisions for citizenship were also significantly "tightened" by 1948 to include only a smaller number of non-Malays. The decision to scrap the Malayan Union, however, was taken by early July 1946, barely three months after its inception. This study traces the origins of the Colonial Office's plans for "union" and "citizenship", examines the assumptions which had guided British planners and how these had been overturned by post-war developments, and discusses the interaction of historical forces which led eventually to the demise of the Malayan Union and the creation of the Federation in 1948. It analyses also the separate political development of Singapore and the attempts to unite the Island with the Mainland, a process which succeeded, in retrospect, only briefly in 1963 and only then to result in separation again in 1965.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:21

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