Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 7. 1964.
Malaysia Support Not Proven
Malaysia Support Not Proven
The U.N. survey team had insufficient information to determine whether the people of British North Borneo wanted to merge with Malaya and Singapore, Professor S. Milne, Professor of Political Science at the University of Singapore, told a recent meeting of the V.U.W. Political Science Society.
Prof. Milne criticised the British for not having held a full referendum in Sarawak and British North Borneo. Public opinion in the Borneo territories was almost non-existent and the basis for most of the U.N. survey team's research had been the elections held early in 1963.
But these elections had very little connection with the pros and cons of federation. It was not until several months after the elections, when Britain was trying to produce evidence of public support for the conception of federation, that pro-federation interpretations were read into the election results.
- The threat of an extreme-left government in Singapore gaining full independence and turning Singapore into a South-east Asian Cuba.
- The need to incorporate the large non-Chinese population of the Borneo territories in order to offset the large Chinese population of Singapore. (If the new federation had consisted only of Malaya and Singapore the Chinese would have been the dominant race.)
- Britain's realisation that the era of colonialism in Asia is over, and her consequent anxiety to get rid of the Borneo territories.
Prof. Milne felt that many Chinese in Malaysia favoured the formation of Malaysia because they regarded it as the lesser of two evils. Although the federation was aimed at preventing the Chinese from gaining too much political power, Maphilindo appeared to be much more of an anti-Chinese organisation.
Speaking on the Malaysian elections. Prof. Milne predicted a slight rise in popularity for Tunku Abdul Rahman's Alliance party. He said the elections were being held about three months early. One possible reason for this was that most of the opposition parties were supporting the Tunku's stand against Indonesia's confrontation policy. With little effective opposition, fewer votes were likely to go to opposition parties.
The Tunku was considered to be above communal differences, and Prof. Milne regarded him as the real unifying force in the multicommunal Alliance party.
"Talk of communal conflict and violence in Malaysia is exaggerated." said Prof. Milne. "Most of the violence in Malaysia is intra-racial, for example, one Chines knifing another, or two British soldiers having a fight."
Prof. Milne believed the motives behind the Philippine's claim to Sabah could be ascribed to President Macapagal's personal interest in the territory, and to an attempt to build up Filipino nationalism. (This involved the Asian concept that one of the requisites for true nationalism was to have a territorial claim.)
When asked for his views on the feasibility of Maphilindo, Prof. Milne said he considered it to have rather obscure aims, and was generally impracticable. One of his objections was the confederation's name: "It sounds too much like a successor to the Bossa Nova."