1. Question: Decolonization in Malaysia
  2. Introduction (Define | Origin | Data)
  3. Conclusion (Summary)
  4. Afterthoughts

Question: Decolonization in Malaysia

Q4. What problems were germane to the decolonization process of Malay Peninsula. (150 words, 10m, GSM1-2017)

  • Word MeaningGermane: applicable, having relevance with.
  • Hindi version of the Question: मलय प्रायद्वीप में उपनिवेशन उन्मूलन प्रकम में सन्निहित क्या क्या समस्याए थीं?
  • This question was asked under the UPSC Mains civil services 2017 exam in General Studies Paper-1, under the syllabus topic “World History: Decolonization.”

Introduction (Define | Origin | Data)

Better we start by defining the term ‘Decolonization’, and then giving its ‘origin’ in Malay.

  • (Define) In the aftermath of Second World War, the imperial nations began transferring power to the indigenous people in their respective colonies. This process is termed as “Decolonization”. [Grammar Rule: Capitalize the names of holidays, historical events, and periods.]
  • Politically, the peninsula comprises the far southeastern Myanmar (Burma), the southwestern Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
  • (Origin) While Thailand was never formally placed under colonial rule, the British Malaya (i.e. Malaysia and Singapore) achieved self-rule in the late 1950s#. However, the process of building the nation-state of Malaysia &Singapore continued till mid-60 & 80s, because of the following reasons:
World History- Decolonization problems in Malay Peninsula

Despite so many problems, these Pokemons have developed because they adopted Washington consensus model and practiced democracy only for namesake. Only India is such Pikachu that is not evolving into Raichu :-( said Economic Survey 2016-17.

Body#1: Economic challenges germane to Decolonization

  • Malaysia’s roads and infrastructure were greatly damaged by Second World War, they had to be rebuilt.
  • International commodity prices and exchange rates were in a constant state of flux due to the Post-WW2 reorganizations across the world.
  • 1/3rd of Malaysian jobs and majority of its foreign exchange earning came from rubber plantations but with the invention of synthetic rubber, the owners were gradually cutting down wages and workforce. The resultant unemployment was a breeding ground for communist insurgency and political unrest.

Therefore, government of Malaysia lacked the fiscal resources to carry out developmental activities.

IF you don’t have sufficient content to fill up 150 words, then you could explain above issues in more verbose manner like “how plantation owners were suffering losses, hence Government did not earn enough tax revenue, therefore developmental agendas and election promises could not be carried out in letter and spirits etc. etc.”

Body#2 Racial Harmony & Communist insurgency

  • Malaysia’s racial composition was: Indigenous Malay people > Chinese > Indians.
  • Given the large population of the indigenous Malay, the post-independent Malaysia kept Islam and Malay as national religion and national languages respectively. Govt also provided reservation quotas in favour of indigenous Malay.
  • But the Chinese were ahead of the other two races in terms of education and economic opportunities. They formed an opposition party and won second general election, which resulted into racial riots and a state of emergency.
  • The disenchanted Chinese ethnic groups were folded into the ranks of communist insurgents. The ongoing Cold war and Vietnam war further aggravated the matters with involvement of foreign players. Consequently, the insurgency continued to disturb Malaysian peace efforts and nation building till the late 80s.
  • As stated earlier, While Thailand had escaped colonization and therefore didnot experience “decolonization” as such but this insurgency, Cold war and Vietnam war had indirect repercussion on their own nation-building.

Malay Communist insurgency had started before independence, but then they offered ceasefire, retreted in Thailand, again rearmed blah blah blah…but given the word limit, I can’t do ball by ball commentary, besides we’re not preparing for Malaysia’s MPSC or Thailand’s TPSC, so no point in digging their history any deeper.

Body#3: Federation and its collapse

  • Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew had proposed an idea to form a Federation of Malaya composed of British Malay, N.Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore.
  • But this proposal couldn’t materialize till mid-60s due to opposition of Indonesia, Philippines and Brunei. (1963)
  • Singapore left the federation within two years due to political and economic disputes, and declared itself a republic. (1965).
  • The economies and politics of Malay peninsula countries remained in a fragile state by these events and uncertainties.

Conclusion (Summary)

Since this is a 150 words question, (and we don’t have much content to build the body), so it’s not possible to frame a thought provoking conclusion. We can simply conclude by summarizing the points we discussed in the body.
To conclude, poverty removal, economic development, racial integration, communist insurgency and merger of Singapore were the prominent challenges germane with the decolonization of Malay peninsula.


World History lectures for UPSC IAS exam

  • It’s difficult to come up with even 1-2 decent points in the actual exam due to the randomness of this topic. “Malay Peninsula” has a wide definition, but given the word and timelimit, it’s difficult to link the events happening in the respective countries (Besides Thailand and Burma are not entirely part of this peninsula). Hence better to centre the body-points around Malaysia only.
  • Some overenthusiastic newbies might also embark on a mission to prepare the ‘decolonization of all colonies”, but if you look at the trend of World History questions in last five years, it’d seem that cost:benefit is poor.
  • Yes, some arm-chair experts would opine in their “Post-Mains-2017 analysis” that since so and so current affairs had occurred so आपको सपना आ जाना चाहिए था की ये Malay Decolonization का प्रश्न पुछा जाने वाला है.. But given the vastness of GSM-syllabus, I would term that line of analysis as “कहेता भी दीवाना और सुनता भी दीवाना”.