Monday 1 October 2018


We are now in Malaysia Baru, and the stench of the "odious and odorous" (Shakespeare's words) Malayan Union is beginning to waft in through the windows of our days.  Besides the puerile  attempts at marginalising the National Language (Bahasa  Kebangsaan, aka Bahasa Malaysia  aka Bahasa Melayu)  there are whispers and  self-righteous bleatings about questioning and controlling the validity of the Monarchy in Malaysia under the guise of transparency and combating corruption.

This we can see recently in ..........

The Cynthia and Steven Show

Uber Liberal Government Minister demanding a 'transparent' Monarchy.

For comparison, no BBC (British-born Chinese), even if  (and especially if) he is a Government Minister, would dare pronounce that the British Monarchy should be more transparent.

No ABC (Australian born Chinese) or New Zealand born Chinese would dare suggest that their Head of State, the Queen of England, be subjected to scrutiny and assessments of their persons, their Royal Purse and Royal expenses.

As for Cynthia and Steven, if they were holding British, or Australian, or New Zealand or even Canadian Passports they wouldn't even have the guts  to show the top of their heads over the parapet and yell "the Royal Family should be subjected to scrutiny by the forces against corruption and cronyism"!!!

Our Disroyal Minister of Yoof more or less, with pointing finger, told our rulers "This was the direction taken by the country" and you have no choice.  When and who decided that this would be the Country's Direction?  Was this in the Manifesto of Pakatan Baru?  Was this part of the 100-days' promise?

Well let's put across a couple of straight facts to the questioner in that Forum, the YAB Yoof Minister and Cynthia Gabriel, from the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) and others of their ilk.

C4's crusader, Cynthia Gabriel.

The latter sounded out her crusade-
From "Raja-Raja Melayu Open to Criticism Says Pakatan Harapan" - Malaysia Today, 25 Sept 2018.

Here are several aspects of the Malay Sultanate system that our Anak/Bangsa Malaysia may not be aware of.

There is no room in the Semenanjung  for Republican heroes (and agitators) like Dr Sun Yat-sen, founder and father of the Republic of China who took up cudgels against the Qing Dynasty in  1912.

For those among the Anak/Bangsa Malaysia who aspire to take on the robes and ideas of Dr Sun Yat-sen, they should be aware that as a Chinese Nationalist, Dr Sun was bringing down not only an Emperor but even more,  a non-Chinese Dynasty and a "Tartar barbarian" who had ruled over the Han Chinese for 268 years.  

Dr Sun's drive for financial support  from the Overseas Chinese in the Semenanjung and Penang and Singapore at the turn of the 20th Century was pretty successful.  He was very much revered in our part of the world. 

From Wikipedia.

As the above is not clear enough, I have re-written this below.

"In George Town, Penang, Malaysia, the Penang Philomatic Union had its premises at 120 Armenian Street in 1910 during the time when Sun spent more than four months in Penang, convened the historic "Penang Conference" to launch the fundraising campaign for the Huanghuagang Uprising and founded the Kwong Wah Yit Poh, this house, which has been preserved as the Sun Yat-sen Museum (formerly called the Sun Yat Sen Penang Base), was visited by President designate Hu Jintao in 2002.  The Penang Philomatic Union subsequently moved to a bungalow at 65 Macalister Road which has been preserved as the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Centre Penang.

As dedication, the 1966 Chinese Cultural Renaissance was launched on Sun's birthday on 12 November.

The Nanyang Wan Qing Yuan  in Singapore have since been preserved and renamed as the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall.  A Sun Yat Sen  heritage  trail was also launched on 20 November 2010 in Penang."

Coming back to the Semenanjung: any desire, suggestion and/or policy for a replication of Dr Sun's successful overthrow  of the Monarchy in China or even to fiddle and muck about - and treat with contempt  a Malay Institution and Heritage will be met with appropriate  opposition. Malay Sultans are not descendants from any line outside of the Gugusan Kepulauan Melayu (Malay Archipelago) .......

 ......  or from any 'XYZ  barbarian'  (like the Dynasty overthrown by Sun Yat-sen) - at least not in the eyes of the Orang Melayu.

The Sultan and Sultanate system were well established long before the coming of Francis Light in Penang and  Stamford Raffles in Singapore.  As for the Malacca Sultanate, it was a strong commercial and political entity in the Archipelago before it was smashed (by sheer firepower and a bit of treachery in Melaka) by Catholic Portugal.  The Melaka Sultanate (before the invasion from Europeans) was an acknowledged centre of Malay commercial and political power and relations with China were relations of mutual respect.

In Malaysia, one cannot say that the Sultans and the Sultanate system is peculiar only to the Malays However, in this multi-racial country, there are some who feel that the Monarchy in Malaysia is as alien to them as the Qing Dynasty to the Han Chinese.  There are also some others who feel more culturally attuned to British Royalty like during the period before 1957.

But, for these disroyal Malaysians, Kings and Emperors and Maharajahs have been embedded in their culture, heritage and history for centuries  Here are some of them ......

In the history of  Malaya, Francis Light and Stamford Raffles did not simply arrive and 'founded' Penang and Singapore - they had to seek permission from the Sultan of Kedah and the Sultan of Singapore respectively.  To be more realistic the two Sultans were tricked, threatened and persuaded to sign the dotted line.  In this context, I hope our Anak/Bangsa Malaysia will recognise the place of the Sultan and the Sultanate system in the history of Malaya/Malaysia.  They are as relevant and valid as Queen Elizabeth II and all her ancestors from when we were still part of the British Empire!

With the acquisition of Melaka and especially Penang and Singapore the British  supervised and encouraged massive immigration from China, India and Ceylon to 'develop' their three imperial entities which were later integrated into the Straits Settlements.

But planting and trading in gambier and pepper and other exotic jungle products were not enough to feed the appetite and fill the coffers of the the British Empire and the coloniser-settlers.  I have earlier written about how the discovery of oil became a curse in the Middle East when it became a battle ground for competing western interests in the exploitation and control of oil.  Similarly, the occurrence of rich deposits of cassiterite (tin) in the Malay states of the Semenanjung - especially Perak and Selangor -  turned into a scourge for the Malays.

Before British "intervention", every state in the Semenanjung had a ruler (or sometimes two competing rulers) - a Malay-Muslim Sultan with all the trappings of a bona fide state - a free (in terms of security from control and conquest) and independent entity.  It may have lacked the niceties of  a 'civilised' western state because of practices like "slavery" (still legal in Britain when Raffles arrived) and with much to be desired in terms of law and order (as in contemporary Britain) - but still a state with a Sultan that had to be reckoned with in any attempts to cross their territory.  If the Malays had not have this 'backup' we might have found ourselves like this at the hands of the British and the settlers: (See image below)

A tragic treatment of Australian Aborigines by white Australian colonial-settlers.  This could have been the fate of the Malays if the Malay States in the Peninsula were leader-less with no established system of authority to represent them.

The Pangkor Treaty of 1874 marked a watershed in the history of the Melayu and the Semenanjung - when the British legitimised their domination of the affairs of the Malay states.  In other words, British Imperialism and all its perfidious ways and purposes now held sway over much of the Malay Peninsula and its resources.  The Malay Peninsula was now wide open  for greater 'development' and exploitation by the British and  the businessmen (both European and Chinese) from Penang and Singapore.

One could say the supplication exhibited in this Petition by Chinese traders and merchants was the Pandora's Box that opened the door for unremitting commercialization of what was basically a subsistence peasant economy.

Note the homage to the Monarch - Empress Victoria - "our Most Gracious Majesty the Queen".  This petition was submitted in 1873 and despite protestations of reluctance by the British, the Pangkor Treaty was delivered the following year.  Eradicating piracy and "the lawless and turbulent" have always been the most popular reasons for subjugating a people, for Imperialism and the Empire.

Pax Britannica would let loose the hounds of Capitalism and Mercantilism into this bountiful land.  The Malays, hit by this onrush of 'diligence and entrepreneurship' from forces led by the omnipotent  Orang Putih, remained in a state of semi-torpor as the jungles were slashed away, as the valleys were scraped and flooded for tin mining, as the rivers were polluted with the entrails of dredging and palong mining, and as towns and roads and rail began to criss-cross the land.  We have this quote from L.A.Mills (British Malaya 1824-1867, JMBRAS 1960), pg 251)

After tin, along came rubber and other forms of commercial and plantation cropping.  The wheels of a lop-sided and inequitable progress rolled on and on. "Progress" under the Union Jack; aided by the hardworking and enterprising immigrants ........

became, in the words of E.E. Cummings a "comfortable disease".  Today this "advance" festers in the Malay psyche as a malady, an ailment caused by too much comfort and ease.  They have been seduced and corrupted by the propitious "bread and circus", by this palliative drug which keeps them quiet - but which also turns them into avid consumers of goods they do not need and cannot afford and worse of all, of excessive 'exotic' food that consumes their health.

This is all you need to know about the Malays (and other Malayans), according to a Colonialist in 1911.

Again and again Malays have been castigated as lazy, unreliable and indolent.  We cannot expect anything different from our non-Malay fellow-rakyat and their mentors like the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew from Singapore. When said often enough especially by our own brethren, we begin to believe and even live it as it becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy.  They are the same abuses and brickbats that are thrown at dispossessed people like the Maoris in New Zealand, native Indians of North and South America, the American Blacks in the USA and the Australian Aborigines.

When some time ago, Tun Dr Mahathir described Malaysia as a "pariah state",  it needs to be remembered that it did not just happen to occur during the early decades of the 21st century.  It had its beginnings with the Pangkor Treaty in 1874.    But we must also remember to differentiate between the "pariah-er" .....  and the "pariah-rised".

After 1874, the British wasted no time extending their clutches.    Twenty-one years later, in 1895, the Malay Sultans were rounded up into the Federated Malay States (FMS).

Note the absence of the business moghuls and entrepreneurs.  They must be  too busy setting and moving the wheels of progress under the patronage and protective umbrella of  the British 'Raj'.

In 1909 the Sultanates of Kelantan, Trengganu, Perlis and Kedah were ceded to the British by Siam.

In 1914, the Sultan of Johore 'accepted' a British adviser.

In 1946, all the above territories, except Singapore,  were 'united' in the infamous Malayan Union.

This was the formal imposition of British colonial power over all of the Malay Peninsula, including Penang according to their template which sought to protect their chosen compradores.  The British gathered all the Malay rulers to "get their approval" .  Under pain of dethronement and accusations of being collaborators during the Japanese Occupation, the Malay Rulers caved in.  ONLY the Malays protested and took to demonstrations to denounce the theft of their rights in their country, their sovereignty and the abolition of their Monarchs. 

For once, and at last, (and sadly, maybe for the last time,) the Malay Worm decided to turn.  The rest is history.  Alas, history has a habit of repeating itself !!

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.    George Santayana 1863-1952.

But here is something more sinister from George Orwell.

He who controls the past controls the future.  He who controls the present controls the past.


Malaysia is composed of various races.  They are diverse - and as different as chalk and cheese.   Let's not deceive ourselves into thinking that stark racial and economic differences do not exist and do not matter, that we can over-ride this by inventing such a misnomer as Bangsa Malaysia.

Those who take pride in being rakyat Malaysia have to learn and relearn how to respect and not merely tolerate one another.  Manufacturing new wine and pouring that into new bottles is not the solution.  "How do you prove your loyalty to Singapore?"  asked a Singapore Minister.  The willingness to die for your country is one yardstick.  It does not imply the blind faith of "my country right or wrong"   But at the very least one should be able to declare a statement of loyalty: that .......

Dimana bumi dipijak, disitu langit ku junjung.  

Inscribed into that saying is the element of respect.

 The composition and mix of Malaysia's population is hardly of the Malays' making, maybe with the  exception of independent Johore, which was spared the imposition of a British Resident until 1914.  The imbalances, the disparities, the almost institutionalised income gap in the Semenanjung between the Malays and the non-Malays, between the urban and rural inhabitants and even between states on the east coast and the west coast have been long-standing  and quite unacceptable. Admittedly some advances have been made ....

Mean Monthly Gross Household Income by Ethnicity and Strata.

.....  but the gap and the rate of growth is not very inspiring.

One factor not included in the above table is the growing gap between rich and poor Malaysians across the board, notwithstanding their ethnicity.  We glorify our rich, their takings and lifestyle and their influence but we do so at our peril if we ignore Anuar, Ah Heng , James (from East Malaysia) and Maniam who live from day to day and from hand to mouth and struggle to make ends meet in this land of plenty.

The British and many of us too, regaled the legacy of the Empire in terms of the practice of democracy, the roads and railways and schools and the Civil Service.   But these were not done out of altruism - but to serve and service the wants and needs of the Empire.  They left more or less the same legacy in Uganda and South Africa but we know too well what took place as soon as the Union Jack was lowered.  Idi Amin kicked out the Indians and because of their passport the British had to reluctantly take them in, instead of an India that didn't want them, and which they didn't want.  In South Africa, apartheid and the gross inequality between the White settlers and the native Blacks almost tore the country apart.

Malaya was more fortunate but what the British left behind became ingredients for the sustenance of systemised inequalities which eventually culminated in the racial riots of May 13th 1969, twelve years after Merdeka.  It is to the credit of the leaders and the people of Malaysia that they eventually made good despite the critical imbalance of demography, economics and politics.

Here, the role and contributions of the Monarchy need to be recognised.  Although the then Sultans (who were the only symbols of authority for the Malays) had been stripped of most of their power by the British (except for religion), they kept their cool and dignity by refraining from interfering in the workings of the elected government - they took no part in menangguk di ayer yang keroh during the dark days following May 13 and they reached out to all their rakyat in their own states.

The denigration accorded to the Monarchy by our wannabe Republicans is often linked with feudalism and its excesses from the 19th to the  20th century.   However, feudalism is still rampant today -a feudalism based on wealth; a sort of  Secular-Corporate Feudal System.   It also has its Kings; as in the Raja beras, Raja minyak masak, Raja kapal terbang, Raja media, Raja gula, Raja resort pelancung, Raja talipon, Raja kreta mewah, Raja 'bread and butter' kreta,  Raja hartanah, Raja tabung duit, Raja kelapa sawit, Raja kayu balak, Raja minyak petrol and many other shades and shapes of Raja, Maharaja, Emperors and Sultans in our corporate-feudal world.

As for the "serfs", they are now better educated and relatively better off than they were during the old serfdom but they still carry on with the same bowing  and scraping and the age-old baksheesh, the same old nudge, nudge, wink wink in business, and the kamcheng  ideology is as strong and potent as ever.  Now that the old regime of feudal lords are showing signs  of decrepitude and slowly losing their bite to the new lords of the universe in Malaysia, it has become a good time to put the nail in their coffins.  But first we have to remove all their teeth.  Viva the Revolution for a Malayan Union Baru, Malaysia Baru, Rakyat Baru, Bahasa Kebangsaan (tambahan ) Baru. and a Malaysian Malaysia Baru.

The last item is a re-incarnation of the mantra flung about during the  5 week campaign period before the General Election of 8 March 1969.  This was followed soon after by the Race Riots in May.  The dam walls had been breached, the camel's back had been broken.

A Banner floating around Kuala Lumpur in February/March 1969.  This mantra in KL was a keynote agenda of the  Singapore PAP when it was still a member state in Malaysia.  Singapore was ejected in 1965.  But its message was handed over to the DAP, a creation and clone of the PAP.

History, according to some of the millenials and generation X, should be re-scripted, especially that of the Communist Party of Malaya and the Insurrection.  If that is the one focus of  history that matters to them, it's a dreadful comment on their understanding of  history and its analysis. Whatever the approach they wish to emphasise, they must know that theirs is not the only and valid perception.  If  they are so committed to elevating  LCP to a Freedom fighter and the Malayan (Chinese) Communist party as a harbinger of independence in the Peninsula, then I suggest they firstly have to remove their Che Guevara berets and review the history of that period with that of Kuomintang China, the Sino-Japanese War of 1937, the Marxist-Leninist revolution in Russia, North Korea and China (CCP), the beginning of The Cold War in the western world, the development of Malay nationalism after 1946 and the call for independence in all the colonised nations in Southeast Asia and India.  Then, after that, place LCP and the MCP in the middle of that scenario.  How short-sighted and myopic their view of their own country - and of the whole gamut of the history of a country ridden with conflicts of race, religion, and economic inequality, and still laden with the baggage of having been part of the British Empire for well over a hundred years.

May I, as an "Orang Melayu" (whose father was a Civilian Instructor in the RAMC during the Emergency/Insurrection by the MCP),  add another aspect of history to be re-assessed - that leading up to the Treaty of Pangkor and the repercussions of that Treaty?  This will require a drastic overhaul  of the script written by Western and local academics - from today and over a century ago.

An understanding of the Semenanjung's and Malaysian history does not depend entirely on the books available. The cultural background of the observer /reader also comes into play.  This also determines and hinges on where they decide to situate their reference point.  For some the Pangkor Treaty was the keynote:

"When the British flag is seen over Perak and Larut, every Chinaman will go down on his knees and bless God."  quote by Headman of a Kongsi in Perak. (in Mills, 1960)

 But the history of Malaya/Malaysia did not begin with the Pangkor Treaty, or with the wider sweep of the British Empire.

The pre-colonial history of the Malay Peninsula before the arrival of Christian Britain and Europeans has precedence and greater relevance especially for the Native Malay.  For that was also the history of the rise and fall and power struggles of the riverine and coastal chieftains and Sultans, of sultanates and their allies and enemies, the history of their administration and trade and commerce, the history of their religion and culture from the time of Hindu Srivijaya and especially the history of their Rakyat.  All these strands of history define the distinct identity of the Selangor Malay, the Perak Malay, the Kedah Malay, the Pahang Malay and so on ....  and these same strands of history also assert the fact that these are a people who are Serumpun. 

The Malays, like the Europeans, British, Chinese and Indians have a history built around their Monarchs and their landscape.  No one, but no one has the right to demonstrate contempt or to evict them either by force or by law.  They are the monarchs of the Malay Peninsula and represent the heritage and defender of the rights of the Malay people and will remain so unless they act against the will of their Malay Rakyat.   But it is not simply the person or the Sultan per se that the Malay people are protecting.  Rather it is the institution that they want to uphold and maintain - and they will not condone any etching or chipping away of this precious Malay Institution.

By analogy, I remember one of my School Principals in Singapore.  I had had enough of him.   He was an ambitious user of people and a hypocrite to boot. As a bigot he won first prize.  But he represented the institution of the headmaster, the leader of the school and all the teachers and students in it.  So I did the job as ascertained by him even though I despised him, the person.  More crucial than his despicable person, my students and colleagues took precedence over him.  It would have turned out well if he had been replaced.  But the institution of the School Principal and the Headmaster had to remain intact.

I am aware that Cynthia and Steven will protest that they are not choosing to get rid of the Monarchy. They would be bonkers to attempt to do that.  But the constant bitching, velvet-glove threats and the smug, self-righteous snipes in the name of "transparency" and "freedom" would eventually scrape and weaken the edifice of  a Malay Institution and eventually reach the stage where it becomes Retak menanti Belah.

My working class mates in Leicester had a colourful way of asserting their heritage and history, warts and all. "They may be bastards.  But they are OUR bastards. So, lay off, mate!"

That is why no BBC or British Asian will dare to challenge  and demean the British Monarchy.

Shall I summarise this  in the words of the Penang boatman (in the article above by Mills)? 

"Empress good: coolie get money - keep it."

There are various permutations to this quip :

"Empress good.Coolie get and keep money?" or 

"Empress good. Coolie keep Empress and money?"  or 

"Coolie keep Empress when coolie and not Empress get money." or

"Now coolie get many money.  Empress now no good and must go."