HC Deb 10 October 1945 vol 414 cc254-6W
Mr. G. Brown

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can make a statement on future Malayan policy.

Mr. George Hall

Yes, Sir. His Majesty's Government have given careful consideration to the future of Malaya and the need to promote the sense of unity and common citizenship which will develop the country's strength and capacity in due course for self-government within the British Commonwealth. Our policy will call for a constitutional union of Malaya and for the institution of a Malayan citizenship which will give equal citizenship rights to those who can claim Malaya to be their homeland. For these purposes fresh agreements will need to be arranged with the Malay State Rulers, and fresh constitutional measures for the Straits Settlements. I should make it clear that the British character and British citizenship attaching to all the present Settlements will not be affected by the constitutional measures we have in mind.

The Malayan Union will consist of the nine States in the Malay Peninsula and of the two British Settlements of Penang and Malacca. The Settlement of Singapore at this stage requires separate constitutional treatment and in view of its special economic and other interests provision will be made for it to be constituted as a separate Colony. His Majesty's Government are, however, well aware of the many ties between Singapore and the mainland, and that these ties may well work towards ultimate union. This will be a matter for the Governments of the Malayan Union and Singapore to consider in due course.

The peoples of the Settlement of Penang (with Province Wellesley) and Malacca will lose none of their rights as British citizens, and it is as British Settlements, with their own appropriate institutions of local government no less than those in the States, that Penang and Malacca will form part of the Malayan Union. His Majesty's Government have carefully considered the new constitutional measures necessary for the political, economic and social advancement of Malaya, and have decided that fresh Agreements with the several Malay Rulers need first to be arranged which will enable His Majesty to possess and exercise full jurisdiction in the Malay States. Sir Harold MacMichael has accordingly been appointed to visit Malaya as a Special Representative of His Majesty's Government to arrange Agreements with the Rulers for this purpose. When His Majesty possesses jurisdiction, it is intended by Order in Council to constitute the Malayan Union.

There will also be created a Malayan Union citizenship, for which the qualifications will be birth in Malaya or a suitable period of residence. They will be citizens of Malaya, with all the rights and obligations which that term implies. No one must rely upon past privilege, or regard Malaya simply as a source of material wealth. While it is to the advantage of all the world and not only Malaya that the production of her mineral and agricultural resources should be restored and developed by industry and research, it is right that the Malayan people should be assured of their full share in the rewards of their industry and should be able to feel the country's wealth reflected in their own standard of life.