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Major Effects Of The Japanese Occupation

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Published: Wed, 03 May 2017

Japanese Army sneaked Malaya through Kota Bahru on December 8, 1941. Japanese had win the airspace over Malaya and Singapore with less than two and a half month. The Japanese Occupation in Malaya began on February 15, 1942 and during the Japanese occupation for three and a half years, various policies have been implemented to strengthen their position. All policies have made an impact on social, political and economic life of Malaya. The Japanese government policy makes a hard life of Malaya residence.

Social effect of Japanese occupation in Malaya led to distant relationship the races. Different treatment was given by Japanese among the races where the Malays and Indians were treated well by Japanese but the Chinese was treated badly. Malays was appointed as “Kempeitai” assigned to catch the Chinese. This increased the hatred between Malays and Chinese resulted in very bad inter ethnic hostility between the Malays and Chinese. Chinese sought shelter in the woods to avoid treat from Japanese.

The culture in the local community especially Malays has adopted by Japan. Japan has expanded the use of their language in Malaya then it becomes the medium of instructions in schools from English to Japanese language. Those who are mastered in Japanese language will be offered promotions and salary increments in area of administrations. To achieve the objective, Japan has introduced short courses. The adoption of Japanese was affecting the whole community. The public holiday followed Japanese calendar and their government has declared it.

They also banned Chinese language and Chinese schools in Malaya.

In schools, pupils are require to sing Japanese national anthem, Kamigayo, every morning to respect the flag of Japanese. This is to make sure that Malaya pupil respects and to be honor to the emperor of Japan.

Malaya pupils have a serious effect of health. Diseases such as Malaria, Beriberi, and Cholera spread widely. Foods have been limited resources and lack of nutritious food such as sweet potatoes and cassavas have worsened the situations of Malaya pupils. Death rates increased among the pupils. Japanese seized the food suppliers and medicines to be used by soldiers. The supply was not send to the local clinics either. Doctor and nurse are sent to the camp prisoners.

Economics Effect

During the occupation, Malayan economies were in danger. Rubber plantations and tin mines were destructed in terms of economy. Before leaving Malaya, British army destroys rubber plantations and tin mines under the policy of “scorched earth”. The workers leave plantations and mines to save themselves. Transport and communication systems were destroyed. Japanese military did not restore the damages made by the British and these were even worsening Malaya economy.

Inflation has occurred in Malaya whereby lack of food in market. The Japanese issues printed “Bananas Trees” money without control and this led of decreasing of currency. For example, the price of rice (500 grams) in 1941, has soared to $ 120.00 in August 1945. Due to Japanese has introduced the restrictions of international trade, rice is also hard to import from Burma and Thailand. Japanese has bring pupils into corruption, hoarding and black market good among pupils since the implementation of local controlled economy.

The occupation has created various new emerging industries in Malaya to cater the shortage of goods. For example, the fuel consumption of the latex, the creation of the tire without a tube of solid rubber, thread and paper from pineapple leaves of bamboo, rubber leaves and weeds. In addition, traditional enterprises have expanded rapidly as oil from coconut, palm sugar and tobacco leaves.

Political Effect

The effect on the economy at that time has created political awareness among the people especially the Malays to heighten the patriotism spirit amongst the Malays in achieving independence from the Japanese and British. Malays were aspired to rule the country based on the experience in the administrative work during Japanese rule in Malaya. Furthermore, tendency of anti-colonial was growing among the Malays as well as the conflict between Malay and Chinese at that time.

The conflict was propagandized by the Japanese when they instilled Nationalism spirit amongst the Malays and as a result, the Chinese and Indians did the same as well amongst them. Thus, this has widened the gap between Malays, Chinese and Indians and created racial tension which further complicated the process of national unity.


The Japanese occupation in Malaya has left a profound effect on social, political and economic life of the people of Malaya. Japanese occupation in the country ended when Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945.

Question 2

Elaborate on the factors favoring the formation of Malaysia and the consequent challenges.

Tunku Abdul Rahman in a speech given before the Society of Foreign Press at a hotel in Singapore on 27 May 1961 suggested a plan to form Malaysia which will consist of the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Brunei, Sarawak and Sabah. The speech was made at Adelphi Hotel in Singapore during lunch in front foreign journalist.

Among other things, it is intended to impede the spread of communism, as well as to balance the ratio of populations, improve the country’s economy, and hasten independence for Singapore, Brunei, Sarawak and Sabah.

Singapore received the suggestion well, while Brunei declined the offer.

Sarawak and Sabah declined at first but later agreed to join after given the assurance to be able to rule independently.

To give freedom and justice for all sides, on 17 January 1962 a commission was announced to observe the views of the people and was known as the Cobbold Commission. The commission consisted of 5 members, and was chaired by Lord Cobbold and joined by two British Government representatives, Sir Anthony Abell and Sir David Watherston, while the two representatives from the Federal of Malaya were Datuk Wong Pow Nee and Encik Mohamed Ghazali Shafie and Mr. H. Haris acted as the Secretary.

Throughout February-April 1962, the Commission have gathered 4000 people and received 2200 memorandum from various parties which were made of political parties, members of government and guest assembly, religious leaders, workers union and the public for their opinions. On the whole, more than 80 percent of the assembly agreed with the idea and on 21 June 1962, the report was sent to the British government.

A unified decision was reached between the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman with Harold Macmillian, the Prime Minister of Britain to have a negotiation in London. The negotiation was held for two weeks. On 9 July 1963, an important agreement was signed at the Commonwealth Relation Office at Malborough House, London. The agreement for the formation of Federation of Malaya was signed by representatives of the British government, Federal of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. The British was represented by Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Macmillian, Mr. Ducan Sandys and Lord Landsdowne.

The Federal of Malaya government was represented by Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak, Encik Tan Siew Sin, Datuk V.T. Sambathan, Datuk Ong Yoke Lin and Dr. Lim Swee Aun. Sabah was represented by Datuk Mustapha bin Datuk Harun, Mr. Donald A. Stephen, Mr. W.K.H. Jones, Encik Khoo Siak Chiew, Mr. W.S. Holley and Encik G.D. Sundang. Representatives from Sarawak were Encik P.E.H. Pike, Temenggung Jugah, Datuk Bandar Abang Haji Mustapha, Encik Ling Beng Siew and Datuk Abang Haji Openg. Whereas Singapore was represented by Encik Lee Kuan Yew and Encik Goh Keng Swee. Both countries agreed to return the sovereignty of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore to the Malaysian government and Malaysia will be formed on 31 August 1963.

During the discussions of Malaysia’s formation was to become a reality, Philippines and Indonesia gave great oppositions to such an idea. Philippines claimed that Sabah is a part of its territory while Indonesia had plans to include it in the formation of Indonesia Raya, and tried to hinder it through force by proclaiming a confrontation on 20 January 1963 with the ‘Ganyang Malaysia’ slogan. Indonesian army was dispatched to Malaysia’s borders in Sabah, Sarawak and Johor.

This great challenge faced by the citizens of Federal of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak does not hamper their spirits in seeing a country unified. The plan for the declaration to be made on 31 August 1963 was forced to be postponed. Lawrence Michelmore of the United Nations once again carried out a gathering of opinions from the people of North Borneo and Sarawak. On 14 September 1963, reports were released and confirmed a majority of the people supported to join the Federal of Malaya. Thus, on 16 September 1963, the idea of a unified country became a reality with the birth of nation called Malaysia.

The proclamation was made at Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. The proclamation of Malaysia’s formation was read in front of the Yang Di Pertuan Agong, the Council of Rulers, and Governors of Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Sabah. Leaders from three new states were also present, En. Lee Kuan Yew, Mr. Donald Stephens and Mr. Stephen Kalong Ningkan. However, Singapore’s ties lasted only for two years before it had to separate in 1965.

The factors affecting the formation of Malaysia

The threat and influence of the communists

Granting independence to Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Singapore.

The sharing of economics benefits

Defending the native communities in Sabah and Sarawak

Preserving the right of bumiputra in all the regions involved

Reactions towards the idea


Most interested. Lee Kuan Yew faced opposition from United People’s Party (UPP), which was a breakaway group from PAP. 2 by-election defeats in 1961 (April, July)


Large section agreed, but many preferred autonomy. Ahmad M. Azahari (Brunei People’s Party) wanted to unite North Borneo and Sarawak under the name of North Kalimantan. Led to armed rebellion, but stopped by the British

Sabah and Sarawak

People wanted freedom from British imperialism, and safeguarding against Communist threat.

But were worried about ‘Malayan domination’. Fear that status and religion and language would be threatened. Chinese afraid of competition from Singapore


Generally accepted, but there were those who disagreed

Report by Senu Abdul Rahman stated that indigenous ppl of North Borneo (who were of Malay stock) voiced support


Accepted that the countries merge and set up a new nation

Wanted to protect British interests

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