Ten years after giving up power from its biggest colony on the Indian sub-continent, Britain was getting tired of administering the last few remaining colonies in its far-flung empire in the Far East. The lost of the 'Jewel In The Crown' was a wake-up call for Britain to return what rightfully didn't belong to them.It's time for decolonisation.It was time to pack up and go. The last few remaining colonies of the British Empire in Asia and Africa literally have had independence thrown on their laps.It was a peaceful and smooth transition of power transfer from colonial masters to colonial subjects without the horrific bloodshed that some less fortunate colonies have to endure to get independence from their colonial masters.
We might have shed some sweat and tears but otherwise it was the most civilised manner Britain had conducted itself when it gave independence to this nation. There were no real heroes of independence that one can really talk about but there were champions.
In January 1946 the British published proposals for a Malayan Union to unite the whole of the peninsula under a strong central government.These proposals were resisted by the Malays, who quickly formed a political party known as United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).
The Malayan Union concept was abandoned and in its place the 'Federation of Malaya Agreement' was signed on 21 January 1948 and came into effect on 1 February same year.A common citizenship was created for all who acknowledged Malaya as their permanent home and gave their undivided royalty. Citizenship were also to be given to the Chinese and Indians as one of the conditions stipulated by the British.At that time the Federation did not include Penang and Malacca which remained British territory and Singapore remained a separate colony.
After the fall of Malaya and Singapore to the Japanese during World War II the communists mounted a campaign of active resistance against the Japanese and hope to gain control of the country in September 1945 but the attempt was thwarted by the arrival of the British military administration. The communists insurrections continued until after the end of World War II and after Malaya gained independence on 31 August 1957.
Those who depicts Chin Peng as liberator and hero of independence were trying to rewrite the history book and should have their head examined. Chin Peng was nothing else but a communist insurgent and a criminal.The Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) continued its arm struggle in trying to overthrow the legitimate government well into the late eighties.
Chin Peng renewed the insurgency in 1967 which went on until 1989. How could Chin Peng be termed a hero, a liberator and freedom fighter when he wanted independence from an already independent nation and a government elected by the people.
For those Gavin Menzies wannabes who didn't have the fantastic skill of rewriting history as Menzies had (Menzies wrote the books '1421' and '1434' that changed the history of navigation and discoveries, giving all credits to China as the pioneers,discoverers, inventors, including the discovery of America, which he refuted was Columbus. Highly recommended for those who loves history) , forget it, Chin Peng was a communist, an armed insurgent and a rebel without a cause and he should stay in the history book as such.
Though hardly credible, the story have some resonance with certain group of people in the country.Raja Petra Kamaruddin in one of his articles, played the ball, with this ridiculous idea.
After the independence of Malaya, the last remaining colonies of the British Empire in the Far East were Singapore on the southern tip of Malaya, British North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak on the island of Borneo.Both states would be sitting ducks if given independence on their own unless Britain was prepared to continue giving both states security and defence in the event of external aggression from its neighbours.
The British biggest fear was for the security of Sabah, Sarawak and its protectorate Brunei.To give independence to these states on individual basis would be endangering them of being taken over by bigger, better equipped, more aggressive and expansionist neighbours.The fear was Indonesia and the Philippines but more Indonesia. This fear was proven true when the formation of Malaysia was announced, Indonesia's Sukarno immediately launched a confrontation against Malaysia with its 'Ganyang Malaysia'(Crush Malaysia) slogan and Sukarno promising that he would take over Malaysia before the cock crows on 1st August 1963.Although, it has an outstanding claim over Sabah the Philippines being militarily weak could only cut off diplomatic relations with Malaysia.
There were many military incursions by Indonesia along the Borneon borders between Sabah/Sarawak and Indonesian Kalimantan.There were also military and guerrillas landings on the shores of Peninsula Malaysia.The one that almost saw the light at the end of the tunnel was the Indonesian backed rebellion by the North Kalimantan National Army (TNKU) against the Sultan of Brunei led by leaders of Parti Rakyat Brunei Dr.Azhari and Ahmad Zaidi.The British army was able to suppress the rebellion and Azhari and Ahmad Zaidi fled to Indonesia.
Kota Kinabalu was not spared from Sukarno's psychological war. As a young boy then, I still remember the drone of an approaching aircraft that later flew very low over our house in the early hours of the morning just before dawn, few months before the formation of Malaysia.That instantly reminded me of Sukarno's promise of "Sebelum ayam bercokok" (before the cock crows) and think quietly to myself, that's it, they are here to take us.
By 1965, the height of the confrontation, there were 14,000 British and Commonwealth forces in Borneo.There were also British, Australian and New Zealand SAS Regiments that pursued the attackers over the border into Kalimantan in secrets.This was only revealed many years after the incidents.
Before the formation of Malaysia the British government set up a fact-finding commission to find out the views of the people of Sabah and Sarawak.The Cobbald Commision was set up to collect information regarding the concept of Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Singapore joining the Federation of Malaya to form a new nation to be named Malaysia.Brunei eventually decided not to join.Joining Malaysia would mean the Sultan would lose his status as absolute monarch and his position reduced to ceremonial status like other sultans in the Federation of Malaya.The Sultan of Brunei was very rich even then.
I take the findings of the Cobbold Commission with a pinch of salt.There were no referendum held in Sabah and Sarawak on the popular wishes of the people.What the commission did was to gather a few selected tribal leaders and selected leaders from other communities who were beholden and sycophantic to the British and sought their views, which the British already knew would be in the affirmative.Some of these leaders have little claim to be regarded as representative leaders.There were objections mainly from the natives of Sabah and Sarawak but these objections were drown by the Commission by putting forth those selected leaders as the mouthpieces of the people of the two states.
Priorities had already been established in London and Kuala Lumpur, irrespective of the outcome of the findings of the Commission, the formation of Malaysia was imminent.
The findings of the Cobbold Commission was a farce.
Members of the Cobbold Commission were:
Lord Cobbold, former Governor of Bank of England, the Chairman.
Dato Wong Pow Nee, Chief Minister of Penang.
Mohammad Ghazali Shafie,Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Sir Anthony Abell, former Governor of Sarawak.
Sir David Watherson, former Chief Secretary of Malaya.
As can be seen above not even one representative from Sabah and Sarawak sat as member of the Commission.The British already had the answer even before they deploy the Commission on the fact finding mission.Although, I have no evidence to back it, I believe the idea of the formation of Malaysia was not originally Tungku Abdul Rahman's idea, it was fed to him by the British.
Due to the confrontation by Indonesia the formation of Malaysia which was supposed to be on 31st August was delayed to 15th Sept 1963.
To be continued:
Part II: British Foreign Office/CIA/ MI6 and 'The Fall Of Sukarno'.
Part III:Malaysia:First Class Infrastructure,Third World Mentality.