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An Article From Vicinity Perak - Perakeans Pioneering The Malay Nationalism - Volume 2 Issue 12, September 2006
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The advent of British influence in Perak started when Dindings was taken by the British in 1874. With the Pangkor Treaty being signed in the same year, the British achieved political authority in Perak and the Malay states. The Malay rulers in these states were eventually relinquished of their powers and together with, the murder of the British resident caused huge resentment. When the British was defeated in their attack at Pasir Salak by the Malays led by Dato’ Maharaja Lela, they realised that their defeat was the awakening of Malay nationalism The British retaliated by sending more troops to defeat their opponents and succeeded in March 1876.
Those who were involved in the assassination of J W W Birch were either hanged or exiled to Seychelles. This ended the Malay resistance to the British rule. However, an underground rebellion led by Raja Chulan was supported by the Chinese and Malay. When they were banned by the British, the Perak sultan decreed amnesty for the Malay whilst the Chinese joined under the leadership of Communist Party of Malaya.
The Malay nationalist movement gain momentum with the emergence of educated Malay elites and formation of state associations. Some of these associations discovered that they had to fight against state parochialism and this was overcome by promoting national consciousness through the Malay language. They produced graduates who shared political inclinations. At the dawn of the 20th century, the need to link the Malay aristocrats and integrate them into colonial administration brought about the Malay College of Kuala Kangsar and this was successful by 1957.
Sultan Idris Training College was a fertile ground for radical nationalism as political leaders and the educated Malays campaigned against British influence in Malaya. One of its prominent students, Za’Ba was chairman of the Organising Committee of the Malay Congress which established UMNO. Aminuddin Baki was also another Malay figure who opposed colonial indifference and initiated a nationwide federation of Malay students’ organisations. Aminuddin also laid the basis for the nation’s education system and making Malay the national language.
With the emergence of the Malay press in the 1930s, Pan-Malayan Malay awareness was fostered and Perak became the centre of such initiatives. Most of these papers were founded by scholars from Sultan Idris Training College. Personalities like Ahmad Noor Abdul Shukor and Ahmad Boestamam were among those who ignited the Malay Nationalism through publications. The Perak Malay League was formed to unite all Malay organisations in Perak at a meeting in Kuala Kangsar in 1946. Perak eventually became the powerhouse for UMNO which was determined to continue efforts to oppose the Malayan Union, a structure set up to give equal rights to all British subjects regardless of race.
Many of the founding officials of UMNO were Perak politicians. Perakean Malays continued their fervent opposition against Malayan Union. The Perak Malays, who were among the best organised during the Anti