British Administrative System in Malaya

5 May 2016

During occupation of British in British Malaya, British government placed all the states under 3 different administrative system, which is Straits Settlement, the Federated Malay States and Un-federated Malay States. Strait Settlement been founded in 1826 when after British secured Singapore from Dutch through a treaty called “Anglo-Dutch Treaty 1824”. British unified Singapore, Penang and Melaka under this administrative and Penang became the First administrative centre, however, it been moved to Singapore in 1832.

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This Strait Settlement headed by the Governor and every state headed by a Resident Consular. From formation of Strait Statement till 1867, position Governor was appointed by British East India Company. On 1 April 1867, the administration of Strait Settlement was officially put under the control of the Colonial Office in London. State council and legislators been set up to assist the Governor.

In 1 July 1896, British formed the Federal Malay States (FMS) to unite Perak, Selangor, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan. Federal Malay State headed by a Resident General and report to FMS Governor whereas the FMS Governor report to British High Commission. The four Residents are remained and direct report to Residents Governor. The first Resident General was Frank Swettenham. FMS split administrative power to Federal Administration and State Administration. British responsible for Federal Administrative such like foreign affair and defence, whereas States responsible for their domestic policies with advise from Resident General.

There have few factor to cause the foundation of FMS. First, the opposition of local leader at Pahang. To deal with this resistance, British need financial assistant from richer state like Perak and Selangor for military weapon and food supplies. With this unification, a regular guideline for state policy (example: Tax Collection and Mining Issue) been promoted to this 4 states, indirectly it help to control the power of Residents.

Under FMS, Sultan had to get advice from Resident at the state level and deal with Resident General at Federal state, it weakening power of sultan and minister. During Durbar meeting, Sultan Idris (Perak) raise up their dissatisfaction and request British Government restore their power and authority in State Government.

On 1909, a Federal Council been formed to administer FMS. The member of this council was High Commissioner (Head and station in Singapore), Resident General (in Kuala Lumpur), fours Sultans, and fours Residents and fours unofficial members. According to “Bangkok Agreement”, Siam sign off that four state: Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu from it protection and hand over to British. British unified this four states with Johor to form Unfederated Malay States (UFMS). British advisor were placed in every states.

Compare with Federated Malay States, UFMS enjoyed greater autonomy and Malay Sultan in UFMS had more authority compare Sultan in FMS.

At 1946, Straits Settlement been dissolved, Penang and Malacca integrated with Federated Malay State and Unfederated Malay State to form the Malayan Union. Malayan Union been reconstituted as Federation of Malaya on 1948. Nine states of the New Federation of Malaya continue protected by British and Penang and Malacca remained as British colonies. At 1957, the Federation of Malaya gained full independence from British.

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