Creating "Greater Malaysia": Decolonization and the Politics of Merger
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008 - 224 pages
This book offers an in-depth and detailed analysis of the political processes that led to formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. It argues that the Malaysia that came into being following the amalgamation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo was a political creation whose only rationale was that it served a convergence of political and economic expediency for the departing colonial power, the Malayan leadership and the ruling party of self-governing Singapore. 'Greater Malaysia' was thus an artificial political entity, the outcome of a concatenation of interests and motives of a number of political actors in London and Southeast Asia from the 1950s to the early 1960s.The book contrasts the complicated negotiations and hard bargaining between Singapore and Malaya on the critical issues of citizenship, control of finances and the development of a common market during the lead-up to merger with the relative ease with which the North Borneo Territories were incorporated in the Federation. The haste and testing conditions in which negotiations were conducted between 1961 and 1963, often with the British facilitating the process as an 'honest broker', led to a number of unresolved compromises between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. These compromises, however, did not obviate the possibility of future difficulties, and the seeds of dissension sown by the disagreements between the two governments were to sprout into major crises during Singapore's brief history in the Federation of Malaysia.
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