The Malaysian Solidarity Convention was a gathering of six political parties at Sri Temasek on 9 May 1965 in an attempt to staunch the spread of communalism in the Federation of Malaysia. The participating parties were the People’s Action Party (PAP) from Singapore; the United Democratic Party and the People’s Progressive Party from Peninsula Malaysia; and the Sarawak United People’s Party and the Machinda Party from Sarawak. The PAP delegation was represented by the party’s chairman Toh Chin Chye, Minister of Law E. W. Baker, Minister of Social Affairs Othman Wok, Minister of Education Ong Pang Boon and political secretary to the prime minister, K. C. Lee.
To carry out its objective, the solidarity convention aimed to subscribe to the concept of a “Malaysian Malaysia”. According to the joint declaration issued by the political parties, a “Malaysian Malaysia” meant that all citizens of Malaysia were equal and that the nation and state was “not defined with the supremacy, well-being and the interests of any one particular community or race”. In broader terms, the concept was “the antithesis of a Malay Malaysia, a Chinese Malaysia, a Dyak Malaysia, an Indian Malaysia, or Kadazan Malaysia, and so on”. The convenors explained that there was a need to endorse this concept because “communal fears and prejudices still influence[d] political thinking” in Malaysia that could affect the unity of the country.
The solidarity convention drew a strong response from the Federal government in Kuala Lumpur. When Lee Kuan Yew, then prime minister of Singapore, stressed the need to think in terms of a “Malaysian Malaysia” concept in the Federal parliament when it opened on 25 May 1965, he was rebutted by the moderate Alliance leaders who reminded him that they had been following this concept albeit a different approach even before the Federation of Malaysia was formed. The extremists, on the other hand, questioned Lee’s motive after painting the PAP as a party of Chinese chauvinists.
Despite the reaction from the Federal government, the solidarity convention went ahead and held a rally at the National Theatre on 6 June 1965 to elaborate how the convention intended to work towards the “Malaysian Malaysia” concept. The rally was attended by the leaders of the six political parties of the convention, including Lee who emphasised that the concept would be carried out in a movement through peaceful and constitutional means. Singapore’s association with the solidarity convention, however, ended shortly after it was separated from Malaysia on 9 August 1965.
1. ‘Grand’ opposition discuss ‘grave trends…’. (1965, May 10). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. The Straits Times, 10 May 1965, p. 1.
3. The Straits Times, 10 May 1965, p. 1.
4. Malaysian Solidarity Convention. (1982). Declaration by the convenors of the Malaysian Solidarity Convention [Microform]. Singapore: National University of Singapore Library. Call no.: RCLOS 320.9595 MAL.
5. Malaysian Solidarity Convention, 1982.
6. Malaysian Solidarity Convention, 1982.
7. Lau, A. (2003). A moment of anguish: Singapore in Malaysia and the politics of disengagement (pp. 246-252). Singapore: Eastern Universities Press. Call no.: RSING 959.5705 LAU.
8. The 'grand opposition' to hold a mass rally. (1965, May 21). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Rally starts Malaysia crusade. (1965, June 7). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Abisheganaden, F. (1965, August 10). Singapore is out. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.