Social context of Malaysian history
1. " Introduced in 1946 over fervent Malay objections, the Malayan Union led indirectly through monarchies headed by sultans, with the settlements of Penang and Malacca - which Britain administered directly, along with Singapore - turning the Malay Peninsula into a single colony. It stripped the sultans of their traditional powers and transferred jurisdiction to the King of England. Without consultation, the British withdrew their near-century-old recognition of the "special position" of the Malays, which meant to protect their heritage and birthright." (pg. 9)
2. The deep sense of betrayal felt by the Malays was matched only by their fear of the future. After all, it was the British sponsorship of large-scale immigration to peninsular Malaya in the nineteenth century - Chinese to work in the tin mines, Indians to labour on the rubber estates - that had turned the Malays into a minority in their own land. More enterprising and sophisticated in business, the newcomers spread to the kampungs, where they became shopkeepers and moneylenders. In time, they gained a monopoly in the industrial and commercial sectors and lived mostly in urban centres, while the Malays remained in coastal and rural settlements engaged in traditional subsistence agriculture and fishing. Having created what may have been the world's most complex society - three communities divided by religion, language, culture, value systems, place of residence, occupation and income - the British had made no attempt to integrate the immigrants, originally regarding them as guest workers. Now that they and other foreigners had control of the economy, Britain was intending to grant them citizenship" (page, 9)
3. " But while the British conceded Malay political primacy among the various races, they insisted that UMNO work out a basis for inter-racial cooperation, unity and harmony. It took the form of an Alliance linking UMNO and political parties representing the Chinese and Indians. The three parties negotiated what came into focus later as an unwritten 'social contract', which most Malays hoped to gain political influence. " (page 9)
Reference: Wain, Barry (2009) Malaysian Maverick. Palgrave Macmillan,UK.