Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 23. September 24, 1969
To understand the most complex present situation of the Malaysian Students Association (M.S.A.) and the Malaysian Singapore Students Association (M.S.S.A.) one must return to the very beginnings and with some fear of oversimplifying the facts I put pen to paper.
Before 1963 there were two associations concerned with the old Federation of Malaya, namely the Malayan Students Association and the Borneo Students Association, both of which were ostensibly socially and culturally orientated.
Almost immediately after the formation of Malaysia in 1964 the two associations dissolved by agreement at their respective A.G.M.'s and a new organisation was formed—the Malaysian Students' Association; Singapore then being an integral part of Malaysia was part of the association.
The next year, 1965, saw the separation of Singapore from Malaysia into a separate identity and be resolution of the next AGM of the MSA in 1966 the association changed its name to become the Malaysian Singapore Students Association (M.S.S.A.).
At this stage only minor opposition was voiced to the formation of the M.S.S.A. The feeling of the majority of the students was that the Singaporeans should continue to play their part in the social and cultural activities of students in Wellington.
The M.S.S.A. continued to function over the next few years until 1968 when another move was made to change the status of the M.S.S.A. The dissident voices held that the Malay students wanted an association of their own and that the M.S.S.A. had been unable to get the Malay's to join in the activities, not to mention the administration problems involved of the upkeep of the clubrooms for which the Malaysian Government were supplying funds.
The students involved moved that the association should revert to the original title (the Malaysian Students Association) with the understanding that Singaporean students could continue as associate members.
At an extraordinary general meeting the motion was lost by the small margin of 36-23, only some 60 members turning up. The status quo was thus maintained by due democratic process.
The group of dissident voices then banded together and formed hte Malaysian Students Association in direct opposition to the M.S.S.A. and received official support and recognition from the Malaysian Government as the only official body in Wellington for all the Malaysian students and gave them the exclusive use of its clubrooms. It was thought that the new association would attract the Malaysian students and bring about the eventual dissolution of the M.S.S.A.
The result was that the majority of the Malay students joined the M.S.A. and the majority of the Chinese students joined the M.S.S.A.
Accusation and counter accusation of sabotage was made and personality clashed with personality with the result that a number of Malaysian students refused to belong to either group and those that remained involved became more entrenched and politically astute.
This move has now been countered with a move by the M.S.A. to get the Singaporean students to form their own association which, if successful, would make the M.S.S.A. a sham and force its eventual dissolution.
So were do we go from here? Only time will tell.
The M.S.A., having the official support of the Malaysian Government gets its new members from the Colombo Plan students as well on those on Federal or state scholarships, some of which, when they arrive and find the situation, change their allegiance.
Behind all this is the supposition that their alliance with one or the other organisation will affect the status of their scholarships and/or their position when they return home.
Private students fear pressure from their government to have their visas not renewed as well as repcussions when they return home.
It seems unlikely that the M.S.A. will dissolve because of the official backing it receives and if the Singaporean students separate from the M.S.S.A. that organisation may dissolve.
We have, then, the ridiculous position of having two organisations both of which contend for the same people for support for exactly the same aims, namely the social and cultural development of the Malaysian and Singaporean students in Wellington.