On 1 April 1946, the nine Malay states and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca officially formed the Malayan Union, while Singapore became a separate crown colony.
The formation of the Malayan Union was the outcome of British planning for the post-war reorganisation of Malaya in order to improve its administrative efficiency and security, as well as in preparation for its eventual self-government. Singapore was left out of the Malayan Union due to its economic and strategic importance as a free port and naval base. Moreover, given that all persons born or domiciled in Malaya were automatically eligible for Malayan Union citizenship, the British felt that the inclusion of Singapore, with its Chinese majority, would further complicate the task of securing Malay acceptance of the scheme.
The Malayan Union proposal spurred the formation of the Malayan Democratic Union (MDU), the first local political party to emerge after the war in Singapore. The MDU accepted the proposal on condition that Singapore was included as part of a future self-governing united Malaya within the British Commonwealth. On the mainland, the proposal provoked widespread Malay opposition that led to the formation of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) to spearhead the anti-Malayan Union campaign. The creation of the Malayan Union, which involved the surrender of Malay sovereignty over the Malay states and the extension of citizenship to immigrant communities, was perceived as detrimental to Malay political standing and prestige.
Malay protests culminated in a boycott of the Malayan Union inauguration ceremony on 1 April 1946. Faced with intense Malay resistance, the British entered into confidential consultations with UMNO leaders and the Malay rulers that eventually led to the replacement of the Malayan Union with the Federation of Malaya on 1 February 1948.
1. Chew, E., & Lee, E. (Eds.). (1991). A history of Singapore (p. 117). Singapore: Oxford University Press. Call no.: RSING 959.57 HIS.
2. Mohamed Noordin Sopiee. (2005). From Malayan Union to Singapore separation: Political unification in the Malaysia region, 1945–65 (pp. 16–17). Kuala Lumpur: University Malaya Press. Call no.: RSING 959.9 MOH.
3. Lau, A. (1991). The Malayan Union controversy 1942–1948 (p. 44). Singapore: Oxford University Press. Call no.: RSING 320.95951 LAU.
4. Yeo, K. W. (1973). Political development in Singapore, 1945–55 (pp. 12–14). Singapore: Singapore University Press. Call no.: RSING 320.95957 YEO.
5. Yeo, 1973, pp. 88–89.
6. Yeo, 1973, pp. 89–90.
7. Lau, 1991, p. 140.
8. Mohamed Noordin Sopiee, 2005, pp. 21–22.
9. Mohamed Noordin Sopiee, 2005, p. 33.
10. Stockwell, A. J. (1979). British policy and Malay politics during the Malayan Union experiment, 1945–1948 (pp. 87–94). Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Call no.: 959.51035 STO.
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.