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This article mentions that transgender women served in the courts of the rajahs of old Malacca and that they wielded considerable power, being able to kris Malay commoners at their "slightest whim", the same privilege held by the rajahs themselves.

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The Straits Times

Singapore, Saturday, Dec. 28, 1946.

Malays On The March

History struck a plangent note at Malacca this week, when, on that historic ground where the Portuguses overthrew the last Sultan of Malacca in 1511 and founded the first European settlement In Malaysia, a Malay political leader uttered these words:

"Malay nationalism is on the march after 450 years of domination and exploitation." The Malays of old Malacca, who were liable to be krissed at the slightest whim of a rajah or a rajah’s catamite, would probably hare difficulty in finding evidence of exploitation or even of domination in the peaceful Malacca countryside of today; but there is no doubt that Malay nationalism is on the march, on this side of the Malacca Straits as well as on the other, and the Malay Nationalst Party was no doubt inspired by a sense of historical fitness in choosing Malacca as the scene of its annual congress this week.

(the following section will be corrected later)

This congress nas oeett an event of considerable inures; to th? non-Malay public Nobody yet knows 'he exact numerical strength of the Malay Nationalist Par. ’ or of U M N O.. and nobody can know until elections are held, a; which time the existence of | two opposed Malay parlies will spilt the Malay vote In a manner

  • Uiat may be disastrous for the Malay race in the n w ckmocracv. If ever tncre was a time when racial unity \nd solidarity were needed among the Malays of the

I Peninsula, it is now. but cun* nt trends point in Uie opposite direction . In the m* an time, it is necessary to listen to all views and study the many cross-currents of these strange* new times. The | M N P congress at Malacca w as of special Interest for this purpose because It followed rlo*elj

  • on publication of the plan for a Federation of Malaya As was expected, ttat plan was the main concern of the congress, and a resolution was adopted opposing the plan as !: vandx at present, but without spec trying the modifications that are desired. What s ne ded now. alter the new consll-tut tonal proposals have been debated at this gathering of delegates from all parts of the country, is that the MNP should issue a statement for the Engllsh-sp Aking public explaining precisely and in derail what Its objections are In order to aasin in clarification, the Straits Time* propoaes to put aw direct q*.»c*:ions to the MNP. not in any spirit of hostility but merely to give some Indication of the perplexith* that are in non-Malay minds.

First, the MNP *hould staH precisely where it stands with restart to royalty in the Miuay Scales. Does It want the abolition of U>c*e historic sultanates, or does It want royalty to continue on stric'ly con tut Iona I prin-clpl s .similar to troop in force in England, where the Hung mus! act on the advice of his government? It Is Important to recognise that opposition to royalty and arlaUxrary Is probably the most potent political slogan of the MNP. The Rulers arc going to count for very much less In the new Malays than they did la Uv past. The old feudal Malay society which was preserved under the British protectorate system of pre-war days received its death -blow during the occupation, and the saying that new wine cannot be poured into old bottles is very relevant for any constitution-making body in Malaya today. But the Malays themselves would be the first to resent, and very fiercely resent, any lack of courtesy and dignity in dealing with their Rulers. So the practical question befdxe the M.N.P. at the moment is this: IX they do not approve of the manner in which "MacMlchaelism" has been rectified, and of the part assigned to the Rulers in the now constitutional proposals, what do they themselves propose Instead?

Next the non-Malay public would welcome a clear statement from the M.N.P. as to whether it opposes a federal structure for Malaya, with the Individual States and Settlements co-ordinated under a strong central govern-' ment? Or does It want the Malay 8tates obliterated, as they would inevitably have txen under the Malayan Union plan? Again, do the M N P. object to the proposed allocation of seats In the central legislature of the Federation, or to the constitution of the councils of the individual States! and Settlements? If sc. what art those objections; and what are the alternatives that are desired? If. as is likely, the main objection to tfv? Federation plan is that It does not contain provision for immediate elections, but does contain declarations that it is the Intention to introduce elections for both the centra! and State legislatures, rhe M N P. may fairly bo , raked to explain what harm there i can b- in postponing elections for wW/. or three years Surely it is better to let tlic new administrative and -or.stltuUoral machinery settle down before tackling this iro6t complex probl m o: working out a jO'-’no lector* 1 system for he Per.lr.suia.

The non-Malay public knows whot that section of Malay opinion represented by U M N O is prepared to accept; and U remembers that the MAiay people o' every class from the poorest p a.van**/ upwards supported UMN.O in m revolt against MacMirhaelUxa which led to the new co *a*itu,Jon'\I prop>sais. The non-Malay public also knows that U .M N O has in its ranks many Malays whose practical admlmv tratlve experience and tfandln*! ti their own community render1 them indispensable to the Malay, nationalist movement, irrespective I of party labels. At present the portion is that U.M K.O.i vKwi are fully set out in the repor. >f; the Kuala Lumpur working committee. while the vi?ws of the op-1 posing party have not yet been clearly stated for the Engluft* spcak:ng public. The MNP must be credited with sufficient patriotism end responsibility not to treat the Federation plan as « matter of party politics and oppose it simply because U.M N O. has endorsed it. Manifestly, if this plan is, in general, in the In- j forests of the Malay race, any Malay party would feel In duty bound to support it. Vet the j M N P. is net supporting It. and there is need for a detailed statement which will make the M NP. position clear to the non-Malay | public.

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This article was written by Roy Tan.

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