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Malay States, British

MALAY STATES, BRITISH [1910] The native states of the Malay Peninsula under British protection are divided into two groups: (i) federated, and (2) non-federated.

I. FEDERATED STATES The federated states, under the protection of Great Britain, but not British possessions, are Perak, Selangor and the confederation of small states known as the Negri Sembilan (i.e. Nine States) on the west coast, and the state of Pahang on the east coast. Each state is under the rule of a sultan, who is assisted in his legislative duties by a state council, upon which the resident, and in some cases the secretary to the resident, has a seat, and which is composed of native chiefs and one or more Chinese members nominated by the sultan with the advice and consent of the resident. The council, in addition to legislative and other duties, revises all sentences of capital punishment. The administrative work of each state is carried on by the resident and his staff of European officials, whose ranks are recruited by successful candidates in the competitive examinations held annually by the Civil Service commissioners. The sultan of each state is bound by treaty with the British government to accept the advice of the resident, who is thus practically paramount; but great deference is paid to the opinions and wishes of the sultans and their chiefs, and the British officials are pledged not to interfere with the religious affairs of the Mahommedan community. In the actual administration of the Malay population great use is made of the native aristocratic system, the peasants being governed largely by their own chiefs, headmen and village elders, under the close supervision of British district officers. The result is a benevolent autocracy admirably adapted to local conditions and to the character and traditions of the people. A recognition of the fact that the welfare of the Malays, who are the people of the land and whose sultans have never ceded their territories to the British, must be regarded as the first consideration has been the guiding principle of the administration of the Malay States, and this has resulted in an extraordinary amelioration of the condition of the natives, which has proceeded concurrently with a notable development of the country and its resources, mineral and agricultural. To the work of development, however, the Malays have themselves contributed little, sound administration having been secured by the British officials, enterprise and capital having been supplied mainly by the Chinese, and the labour employed being almost entirely Chinese or Tamil. Meanwhile the Malays have improved their ancestral holdings, have enjoyed a peace and a security to which their past history furnishes no parallel, have obtained easy access to new and important markets for their agricultural produce, and for the rest have been suffered to lead the lives best suited to their characters and their desires. Each principal department of the administration has its federal head, and all the residents correspond with and are controlled by the resident-general, who, in his turn, is responsible to the high commissioner, the governor of the Straits Settlements for the time being.

The estimated aggregate area of the Federated Malay States is 28,000 sq. m., and the estimated population in 1905 was 860,000, as against 678,595 in 1901. Of these only about 230,000 are Malays. The revenue of the federation in 1905 was $23,964,593 (about ( 2 >795,ooo), and the expenditure was $20,750,395 (about 2,460,000). The imports for the same year were valued at $50,575,455 (about 5,900,000), and the exports at $80,057,654 (about 9,340,000), making a total trade of nearly 15! millions sterling. The principal sources of revenue are an export duty on tin, the rents paid for the revenue farms of the right to collect import duties on opium, wine and spirits, and to keep licensed gambling-houses for the exclusive use of the Chinese population, railway receipts, land and forest revenue and postal revenue. The tin is won from large alluvial deposits :ound in the states of the western seaboard, and the mines are worked almost exclusively by Chinese capital and labour. Since 1889 the Federated Malay States have produced considerably more than half :he tin of the world. Recently there has been a great development n agricultural enterprise, especially with regard to rubber, which is now grown in large quantities, the estates being mainly in the hands of Europeans, and the labour mostly Tamil. The states are opened up by over 2500 m. of some of the best metalled cart-roads in the world, and by a railway system, 350 m. of which, extending from the mainland opposite Penang to the ancient town of Malacca, are open to traffic. Another 150 m. of railway is under construction. The jovernment offices at Kuala Lumpor, the federal capital of the states, are among the finest buildings of the kind in Asia. The whole of this extraordinary development, it should be noted, has been effected by careful, sound and wise administration coupled with a courageous and energetic policy of expenditure upon public works. Throughout, not one pennyof debt has been incurred, the roads, railways, etc., being constructed entirely from current balances. This of course has only been rendered possible by the extraordinary mineral wealth which the states on the western seaboard have developed in the hands of Chinese miners amid the peace and security which British rule has brought to these once lawless lands. The value of the tin output for the year 1905 amounted to $69,460,993 (8,104,199). Although agricultural enterprise in the Malay States is assuming considerable proportions and a growing importance, the total value of the principal agricultural products, including timber, for the year 1905 only aggregated $2,435,513 (289,143).

The whole of the Malay Peninsula is one vast forest, through which flow countless streams that form one of the most lavish watersystems in the world. The rivers, though many of them are of imposing appearance and of considerable length, are uniformly shallow, only a few on the west coast being navigable by ships for a distance of some 40 m. from their mouths. In spite of the notable development above referred to, only a very small fraction of the entire area of the states has as yet been touched either by mining or agricultural enterprise. It is not too much to assert that the larger half of the forest-lands has never been trodden by the foot of man. (For information concerning the botany, geology, etc., of the Malay States see MALAY PENINSULA. For the ethnology see MALAYS.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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