Starting Palaca, Political Party and Power, by Kobkua Suwannathat-Pian, nearly two years after I bought it.

I should get it signed...
If you’re interested in the Fukuyama’s book thread, it’s here:
A bit of summary, published in 2010
Table of content, slightly more than 400 pages
The book has thick genealogy section tracing the (Malaysian) Malay royal houses
Chapter 1 is a survey of monarchial system of govt, explaining divine rights of king quite a bit
The decline of monarchy in Europe is linked to the scientific/industrial revolution that challenged the reasoning behind the divine rights.

The birth of an educated middle class didn’t help
In Asia, western colonialism and the rise of nationalism in the 19th/20th century challenged various monarchies
In the Malay world, the 1699 killing of Sultan Mahmud weakened the whole idea of monarchy as those not from the Srivijaya-Malacca line become rulers
Summary for chapter 1: Malay rulers were transformed from divinely-blessed up to 1699 to the ones that could be challenged on the even of British colonialism
Chapter 2: the title pretty much sums it up
The British’s indirect rule in the FMS was “anything but an indirect British rule.”
British’s rule strengthened the sultan’s position relative his noblemen, but weakened the whole kerajaan leadership
The man who perfected the resident system (in Perak and later the FMS) was Hugh Low. He came after Birch, and used the approach Brooke used in Sarawak
As time went by, the FMS became centralized, and less a federation. The sultans were unhappy
Admin of FMS was centralized so much that even the individual residents lost influence, nevermind the sultan. Decision was made in Singapore.

The sultan’s stamp wasn’t even needed anymore
20 years after Pangkor, the roles of the sultan and the resident were completely reversed.

The sultan was the advisor
The resident was the ruler
Singapore understood the Pangkor very differently from the Colonial Office in London.

Singapore: It gave us the right to rule the Malay states

Colonial Office: It gave us the avenue to advise the Malay states
In Selangor, the resident was so influential that he decided the next sultan, in violation of the Pangkor Treaty
The British made Malay rulers powerless, but rich
By the 1920s, colonial authority believed they had made a mistake with the FMS and decided to decentralize powers about the 4 states

(I recall reading somewhere the decentralization was to attract UMS into the FMS)
Northern UMS avoided having the resident system because they were using the Siamese system and that preserved local power
FMS sultans gave out awards/titles to impress the Malay masses, at a time when ordinary folks didn’t know sultans by then no longer had power.

Colonial authority encouraged this
In other words, it was a PR exercise
Kedah had a financial crisis in 1905, because of a... wedding

Wedding cost: $2.6m
State annual income: $0.6m
Before the war, most Malays were clueless about the drastic erosion of power their rulers had and were suffering
Chapter 3!
Japanese occupation quickened the maturity of SEA nationalism
This reminds me of another similar line of argument from Rachel’s Taming Babel. Malay language was revolutionized under Japanese rule
Also Nicholas Tarling’s Sudden Rampage for regional analysis of Japanese occupation
Was the Malays pro-Japanese during the war?

An alternative interpretation
Nevertheless, the Japanese was less harsh to the Malays and other Malayans, relative to the Chinese
Just like the British, Japanese occupiers also interfered with succession process. Here are examples from Selangor and Perlis
Japan ultimately wanted to abolish the position of the sultans (Malayan Union did so)
Things started to improve for the sultans after Japanese PM Tojo visited Malaya in 1943 (and as Japan was beginning to lose the war)
The sultans lost under power during British rule.

But it was during Japanese rule that the sultans lost their prestige among the Malays.

And that was part of the reason the Malays dared defy/insult the sultans during the Malayan Union crisis
So much so that Jaafar Onn wrote this (from Ariffin Omar’s Bangsa Melayu)
Japanese training caused the British post-war troubles
Despite Imperial Japan’s pro-Malay war policy, some Malays resisted. The Wataniah group that Tun Razak joined worked with communist and British forces
I see a recurring popular debate wrt Japanese occupation of Malaya revolved around who supported whom:

Malays supported Japan, Chinese opposed Japan.

Less talked about was the position of Indians in Malaya
To understand that, we need to comprehend pre-war context
The context has changed now, except maybe for the editorial at the Star...
Anti-thesis to Cheah Boon Kheng’s Red Star
She blames the British, and less the Japanese
Chapter 4!
Onn Jaafar criticizing the monarchy
Sultan Ali of Terengganu refused to submit to the whole Malayan Union business. Soon, he was deposed. (Contrast: Johor)
While the British had trouble in Terengganu upon return, Kelantan was easy
Johor was... too easy
It’s suggested here the reason Johor sultan was overly enthusiastic about giving the state away was that the sultan’s son was in trouble (the crown prince was suspected to be pro-Japan)
In Selangor, the royal house had been thoroughly manipulated since the 1930s, that the British could do whatever they wanted WRT toward achieving Malayan Union
Negeri Sembilan gave little protest.

Perak was difficult, but the British was prepared to manipulate Perak’s complex succession system
Colonial authority misread the sultan of Kedah (and Perlis) and faced protest
But whatever it was, when MacMichael finally arrived in Malaya, the road toward Malayan Union had been paved. Took him 3-4 months to get all the signatures (Oct 45 to jan 46)
Such a damning statement.
After WWII, colonial office was unhappy with the Malays because they assumed the Malays were pro-Japan during the occupation period
Back to Kedah, MacMichael threatened Sultan Badlishah with democracy if the latter rejected Malayan Union.

But in Kedah then, democracy would probably go against MacMicheal instead of the Sultan
Immediately after signing the MacMicheal Treaty, Kedah sultan sent a telegram to London, to say the treaty is null and void
Perak sultan was the most prepared when meeting MacMichael, and counter-proposed a federation instead of a unitary state
This would be relevant for the Federation of Malaya negotiation later, as highlighted by Ariffin Omar in his book
MacMichael wasnt popular in Malaya, and in the House of Commons
That’s new. Onn Jaafar was about to depose the sultan, but was stopped/persuaded not to in the last minute
Ah Mr Gent, you’re in for a surprise
Onn had complete monopoly on defining Malayness, and the sultans were scared.
Before there was yellow, there was black
Never forget
Umno was born in 1946 out of Rulers’ failure
The Rulers and Umno agreed to have a joint delegation to London...

but the Rulers betrayed Umno because they thought the party was too radical
Umno got back to the table thanks to Malcolm MacDonald
After Umno gained massive influence, Johor sultan turned over a new leaf and used his London network to aid anti-Malayan Union lobby
The lobby was so successful that Sultan Ibrahim’s London network embarrassed the British govt in the House of Commons.
Meta-thread: ramai sockpuppets hari ini tak puas hati dengan tweet di bawah.
Gent changed his mins upon arriving in Malaya.

Made recommendation to the Colonial Office.

CO didn’t trust Gent, and sent Malcolm MacDonald
Soon after he arrived in Malaya, MacDonald concurred with Gent’s proposal: abolish Malayan Union and create a federation instead
Chapter 5! By mid-1946, ties between the Rulers and Umno/the Malays were improving.

That didn’t last very long
3 distinct pre-1957 period wrt Umno-Rulers relationship:
Colonial authority agreed to abolish Malayan Union and creation the Federation of Malaya quickly before they feared having their influence in this part of the world diminished.

+ communism was a rising threat
In negotiating for the federation:

1 Umno/Onn & British authority preferred strong central govt

2 Rulers prefered strong state govt vs central govt
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