federated Malay States were never colonised by the British?

I was very lucky to be picked to attend a conference yesterday on improving the civil service. Lucky enough to be picked and even luckier actually able to attend the one day conference. A few of my colleagues were lucky to be picked but had to drop out at the last moment due to work commitments. To us it is part of the “symp” (Saya yang menurut perintah) processes. Incidentally, according Khoo Kay Kim, in the old days civil servants would sign off their letter as “your loyal obedient servant”. More about this later.
The conference was officiated by the honourable Tan Sri KSN himself and had a few distinguished speakers, one of them was Prof Emiritus Tan Sri Dr. Khoo Kay Kim. He was speaking on the over half century old history of the civil service in this blessed country of ours. He lamented on how politicians had chopped and changed the history of the country to suit their political needs and he was upset that academicians like him did not come forward to correct the history or rather did not given the prominence by the authorities to air the correct version of Malaysian history. He made a few interesting comments that probably not many of us knew. Here are a few.
a) The non straits settlement states in the Semenanjung (states other than Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Dindings!!!) never surrendered their sovereignty to the British. Looking at it from another point of view, the Malay Kingdom ( he specifically stressed the word KINGDOM) were never colonised by the British. In spite of the Perjanjian Pangkor agreement, the British never ever officially obtained power in place of the sultans.
b) Dindings (a district in Perak, now comprises Sitiawan, Lumut and Manjung, Teluk Intan, I think) is a part of the Straits Settlements.
c) By virtue of this, Chin Peng is not a Malaysian as he was born in Sitiawan and he never applied for Malaysian citizenship. So the Government is right in denying him the right to return to this country – he was not born in the Malay kingdom, he is a British subject as he was born in the Straits Settlements and he never applied for Malayan citizenship.
c) Malaysia is the only country in the world that has nine kings in one country and live harmoniously! The nine kings agreed to surrender the absolute power to the country and become constitutional kings headed by one Ydp Agong during the formation of the Federated Malay States, after the citizens rejected the Malayan Union. An amazing feat never found in any other part of the world.
c) British never officially applied the divide and rule policy. It is us who decide to stay divided as we are more comfortable to live as such. This is a very important and touchy point I think that would probably got many politicians all riled up. I had my reservation about this. But then everyone is entitled to his /her own opinion. I am no historian to argue.
d) The British were not the one responsible bringing in the Chinese by the droves to this country. It the chieftains and the towkays who brought them in. Wow…
e) They were many malayan civil servants par excellence in the past but for some reasons or another were hardly portrayed in any of the official malaysian history books. He cited names like Syed Safi, Raja Musa, Panglima Bukit Gantang etc.
f) Civil servants of yore sign off their letters with the term ” your loyal obedient servant” as a sign that they were serving the rakyat and this was later badly translated to “saya yang menurut perintah” which conveyed a totally different meaning to the civil service putting the rakyat first as it was intended in the olden days. So the concept of “rakyat didahulukan” was not totally new to the civil service actually. It was there right from the beginning but somehow got lost in the translation.
Of course, history is written by the victors and more often than not the vanquished would never got the light of the day or portrayed in a very bad light. I am still waiting for the truly Malaysian history to be written by this 73-year old man. I do not think he has that much time. He must stop blaming others for not portraying our history correctly, unless he put an effort to put the correct one himself in writing to be published. Writing bits and pieces to Dewan Bahasa Pustaka as a response to certain issues is rather reactive and disjointed and would not help in putting things in broader contexts. Come on Prof we are waiting!


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