The Malayan Union is the federation of the nine protectorates of the Malay Peninsula under supervision and protection the United Kingdom and Imperial Commonwealth Federation (ICF). It shares part of the Peninsula with the Straits Settlements. To the North, the Malayan Union shares a land and maritime border with Thailand.
It was formed in 1934 on the union of the Federated Malay States and Unfederated Malay States. The British Malaya previously had a loose administration that was finally consolidated with the formation of the Malayan Union. The stated purpose of creating a single government was to simplify administration and Malays could be equipped "to take their proper place in the administrative and commercial life of these States". Rubber and tin production are its most important economic activities.
Organization of the Malayan Union
The Malayan Union keep many of the political institutions of the former Federated Malay States. A well-ordered system of public administration is established, the Malayan Civil Service. Public services (Police and Hospitals) and public works are extended.
These are at federal level:
- the Governor-General, the vice-regal representative of a monarch of the ICF and paramount chief. He is appointed by the Monarch of the ICF on the advice of the British Government. He is instructed by the Colonial Secretary on the exercise of some of his functions and duties. the Governor-General names the Chief Secretary, chiefs of departments, state residents, and other important post of the federal administration. the Governor-General can veto decisions of the Federal Council and State Councils, and is the Commander inf Chief of the armed forces;
- a Federal Council administers the Union. It is headed by the Governor-General, assisted by the Chief Secretary, the Sultans (or their representatives), the four state Residents and four nominated unofficial members;
- a Council of Rulers, it comprises the Governor-General, who acts as President, the nine rulers, and the Chief Secretary, Attorney-General and Financial Secretary as ex officio members. The sole functions of the Council are to consider legislation related to Islam (a function carried out by a subcommittee of the Council, comprising only the Muslim members) and to advise the Governor-General or the ruler of any state as necessary.
- the Supreme Court, that exercises civil and criminal jurisdiction. Is in charge of administrating and supervising all civil, criminal and native courts. The Supreme Court also arbitrates differences between states and federal government,
Each state has a:
- State Ruler (Sultan, Raja or Yamtuan Besar) of each state,
- the British State Resident, named by the Governor-General, in charge of the administration and advisors; and
- a State Council for the purpose of administering the State and advising the State Ruler. The State Council compromises the State Resident, who chairs the Council, native chiefs and representatives of the Chinese community nominated by the Sultan. The council discussed matters of interest for each respective state such as legislative and administrative issues as well as revision of all sentence of capital punishment. The Resident and his staff (mostly consisting of Europeans and Malays, with a quota of Chinese in some states) carried out all administrative work.
Members of the Malayan Union
The politics of the Malayan Union is organised along regional and ethnic groups. The main parties are the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO; Malay: Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu), Parti Negara, all represent ethnic Malay interests, Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) and Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) and Young Malays Union (Kesatuan Melayu Muda, KMM) and Pan-Malayan Labour Party (PMFP).
Malaya is an exporter of natural and agricultural resources, the most valuable exported resource being tin. It is the largest producer of tin and rubber. It is still a major producer of spices.
In the 17th century, porcelain and spices were found in several Malay states and were actively traded. Large deposits of tin were found in several Malay states. Later, as the British started to take over as administrators of Malaya, rubber and palm oil trees were introduced for commercial purposes. Instead of relying on the local Malays as a source of labour, the British brought in Chinese and Indians to work in the mines and plantations and provide professional expertise.
In terms of agriculture, Malaya is one of the top exporters of natural rubber and palm oil, which together with sawn logs and sawn timber, cocoa, pepper, pineapple and tobacco dominate the growth of the sector. Palm oil is also a major generator of foreign exchange. In forest resources, fast-growing timber species such as meranti tembaga, merawan and sesenduk are also planted. At the same time, the cultivation of high-value trees like teak and other trees for pulp and paper are being encouraged.
Tin and petroleum are the two main mineral resources that are of major significance in the Malayan economy. Other minerals of some importance or significance include copper, bauxite, iron-ore and coal together with industrial minerals like clay, kaolin, silica, limestone, barite, phosphates and dimension stones such as granite as well as marble blocks and slabs.
The Straits Dollar (Malay, Dolar Selat), issued by a Board of Commissioners of Currency since 1898, is not only the currency of Malaya but also of the Straits Settlements, Sarawak, Brunei and British North Borneo.
The Malaya Command is a command of British and ICF forces formed for the coordination of the defenses of Malaya, Straits Settlements, Brunei, Sarawak and British North Borneo. Its main garrison and Headquarters are at Singapore. Its services are
- British Army (Kuala Lumpur)
- British Army (Singapore)
- Royal Navy at Singapore
- Indian Army (Kuala Lumpur)
- Malay States Volunteer Rifles
- Malaya Volunteer Air Force
- Straits Settlements Volunteer Force (SSVF)
- Straits Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve (SSNVR)
- Straits Settlements Volunteer Air Force (SSVAF)