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Malayan Union

Malayan Union British colony1946 – 1948
FlagCoat of arms
Capital Kuala Lumpur Language(s) Malay, English Political structure Colony King George VI Governor Edward Gent Historical era Decolonization  - Established April 1, 1946  - Disestablished January 31, 1948 Area  - 1948 132,364 km² (51,106 sq mi) Currency Malayan dollar 1 - FMS consisted of Selangor, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang
2 - Singapore taken out of the Straits Settlements and made a Crown Colony of its own This article is part of
the History of Malaysiaseries
Prehistory(60,000–2,000 BCE)
Early kingdoms Gangga Negara(2nd–11th century CE)
Langkasuka(2nd–14th century)
Pan Pan(3rd–5th century)
Srivijaya(3rd–14th century)
The rise of Muslim states Kedah Sultanate(1136–present)
Malacca Sultanate(1402–1511)
Sulu Sultanate(1450–1899)
Johor Sultanate(1528–current) Jementah Civil War(1879) European colonialism Portuguese Malacca(1511 - 1641)
Dutch Malacca(1641 - 1824)
Kingdom of Sarawak(1841–1946)
British Malaya(1874–1946)
Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824Burney Treaty(1826) Straits Settlements(1826–1946) Larut War(1861–1874) Klang War(1867–1874) Pangkor Treaty of 1874Federated Malay States(1895–1946)
Unfederated Malay States(1800s–1946)
Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909
Battle of Penang(1914)
North Borneo(1882–1963)
Mat Salleh Rebellion(1896–1900)
World War II Japanese occupation(1941–1945)
Battle of Malaya(1941–42)
Parit Sulong Massacre(1942)
Battle of Muar(1942)
Battle of Singapore(1942)
Battle of North Borneo(1945)
Sandakan Death Marches(1945)
Malaysia in transition Malayan Union (1946–1948)
Federation of Malaya(1948–1963)
Malayan Emergency(1948–1960)
Bukit Kepong Incident(1950)
Independence Day(1957)
Federation of Malaysia(1963–present)
Operation Coldstore(1963) Indonesia confrontation(1962–1966) Brunei Revolt(1962–1966) Singapore in Malaysia(1963–1965) 1964 Race Riots(1964) Communist Insurgency War(1967-1989)
Contemporary Malaysia Malaysia today
May 13 Incident(1969)
New Economic Policy(1971–1990)
Operation Lalang(1987)
1988 constitutional crisis(1987–88)
Asian financial crisis(1997–98)

The Malayan Union was a confederation of the Malay states and the Straits Settlements excluding Singapore, which was placed as a crown colony under direct British rule. It was the successor to British Malaya and was conceived to simplify the administration of British colonies in the Malay Peninsula. It was formed on April 1, 1946 by the British.

Malayan citizenship gave equal rights to citizens regardless of race. Citizenship was based on the jus soli principle. The head of state changed from the "Sultan" to the "President".

The Sultans, the traditional rulers of the Malay states, conceded all their powers to the British Crown except in the matters of culture and religion. The Union would be ultimately placed under the rule of a British Governor.

The idea of the Union was first expressed by the British on October 1945 in the aftermath of the Second World War by the British Military Administration. Sir Harold MacMichael was assigned the task of gathering the Malay state rulers' approval for the Malayan Union in the same month. In a short period of time, he managed to obtain all the Rulers’ signatures through intimidation.

On April 1, 1946 the Malayan Union officially came into existence with Sir Edward Gent as its first governor. The capital of the Union was Kuala Lumpur.


Dissolution and Malayan Federation

The Malays generally opposed the creation of the Union. The opposition was due mainly to the methods Sir Harold MacMichael used to acquire the Sultans’ signatures, the reduction of the Sultans’ powers, and the granting of citizenship to non-Malay immigrants and their descendants-- especially the ethnic Chinese, not only because of their racial and religious difference but also because their economic dominance was seen as a threat to the Malays. The United Malays National Organization, or UMNO, a Malay political association formed by Dato’ Onn Jaafar on March 1, 1946, led the opposition against the Malayan Union.

Due to protest inside the Malayan Union, the British finally conceded to local opposition. The Malayan Union ceased to exist on July, 1946. It was replaced by the Federation of Malaya (Persekutuan Tanah Melayu in Malay) which recognised the position of the Malays as the definitive people of Malaya as well as outlining stricter conditions on the granting of citizenship.

The Federation of Malaya would later become part of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.


During the duration of the Union, the flag of the Federated Malay States were used as the de facto national flag. The flag however was not used as the official flag of the Union.

Member states

Eleven states made up the Union. The states were:


Protest against the Malayan Union

See also


v • d • eBritish Empireand Commonwealth of Nations

Current territory  ·   Former territory
* now a Commonwealth Realm  ·   now a member of the Commonwealth of Nations


18th century
1708-1757  Minorca
since 1713  Gibraltar
1782-1802  Minorca

19th century
1800-1964  Malta
1807-1890  Heligoland
1809-1864  Ionian Islands
1878-1960  Cyprus

20th century
since 1960  Akrotiri and Dhekelia

North America 

16th century
1583-1907  Newfoundland

17th century
1607-1776  Thirteen Colonies
since 1619  Bermuda
1670-1870  Rupert's Land

18th century
Canada (British Imperial)
   1763-1791  Quebec
   1791-1841  Lower Canada
   1791-1841  Upper Canada

19th century
Canada (British Imperial)
   1841-1867  Province of Canada
   1849-1866  Vancouver Island
   1858-1871  British Columbia
   1859-1870  North-Western Territory
   1862-1863  Stikine Territory
*Canada (post-Confederation)
   1867-1931  Dominion of Canada1

20th century
*Canada (post-Confederation)
   1907-1934  Dominion of Newfoundland2

1 In 1931, Canada and other British dominions obtained self-government through the Statute of Westminster. 'Dominion' remains Canada's legal title; see Canada's name.
2 Remained a de jure dominion until 1949 (when it became a Canadian province); from 1934 to 1949, Newfoundland was governed by the Commission of Government.

Latin America and the Caribbean 

17th century
1605-1979  *Saint Lucia
1623-1883  Saint Kitts (*Saint Kitts & Nevis)
1624-1966  *Barbados
1625-1650  Saint Croix
1627-1979  *St. Vincent and the Grenadines
1628-1883  Nevis (*Saint Kitts & Nevis)
1629-1641  St. Andrew and Providence Islands3
since 1632  Montserrat
1632-1860  Antigua(*Antigua & Barbuda)
1643-1860  Bay Islands
since 1650  Anguilla
1651-1667  Willoughbyland (Suriname)
1655-1850  Mosquito Coast (protectorate)
1655-1962  *Jamaica
since 1666  British Virgin Islands
since 1670  Cayman Islands
1670-1973  *Bahamas
1670-1688  St. Andrew and Providence Islands3
1671-1816  Leeward Islands

18th century
1762-1974  *Grenada
1763-1978  Dominica
since 1799  Turks and Caicos Islands

19th century
1831-1966  British Guiana (Guyana)
1833-1960  Windward Islands
1833-1960  Leeward Islands
1860-1981  *Antigua and Barbuda
1871-1964  British Honduras (*Belize)
1882-1983  *St. Kitts and Nevis
1889-1962  Trinidad and Tobago

20th century
1958-1962  West Indies Federation

3 Now the San Andrés y Providencia Department of Colombia.


18th century
1792-1961  Sierra Leone
1795-1803  Cape Colony

19th century
1806-1910  Cape Colony
1816-1965  Gambia
1856-1910  Natal
1868-1966  Basutoland (Lesotho)
1874-1957  Gold Coast (Ghana)
1882-1922  Egypt
1884-1966  Bechuanaland (Botswana)
1884-1960  British Somaliland
1887-1897  Zululand
1888-1894  Matabeleland
1890-1980  Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)
1890-1962  Uganda
1890-1963  Zanzibar (Tanzania)
1891-1964  Nyasaland (Malawi)
1891-1907  British Central Africa
1893-1968  Swaziland
1895-1920  British East Africa
1899-1956  Anglo-Egyptian Sudan

20th century
1900-1914  Northern Nigeria
1900-1914  Southern Nigeria
1900-1910  Orange River Colony
1900-1910  Transvaal Colony
1906-1954  Nigeria Colony
1910-1931  South Africa
1911-1964  Northern Rhodesia (Zambia)
1914-1954  Nigeria Protectorate
1915-1931  South West Africa (Namibia)
1919-1960  Cameroons (Cameroon) 4
1920-1963  Kenya
1922-1961  Tanganyika (Tanzania) 4
1954-1960  Nigeria

4 League of Nations mandate.


18th century
1757-1947  Bengal (West Bengal (India) and Bangladesh)
1762-1764  Philippines
1795-1948  Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
1796-1965  Maldives

19th century
1819-1826  British Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore)
1826-1946  Straits Settlements
1839-1967  Colony of Aden
1841-1997  Hong Kong
1841-1941  Kingdom of Sarawak (Malaysia)
1858-1947  British India (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Burma)
1882-1963  British North Borneo (Malaysia)
1885-1946  Unfederated Malay States
1891-1971  Muscat and Oman protectorate
1892-1971  Trucial States protectorate
1895-1946  Federated Malay States
1898-1930  Weihai Garrison

20th century
1918-1961  Kuwait protectorate
1920-1932  Iraq4
1921-1946  Transjordan4
1923-1948  Palestine4
1946-1948  Malayan Union
1946-1963  Sarawak (Malaysia)
1948-1957  Federation of Malaya (Malaysia) since 1965  British Indian Ocean Territory

4 League of Nations mandate.


18th century
1788-1901  New South Wales

19th century
1803-1901  Van Diemen's Land/Tasmania
1807-1863  Auckland Islands6
1824-1980  New Hebrides (Vanuatu)
1824-1901  Queensland
1829-1901  Swan River Colony/Western Australia
1836-1901  South Australia
since 1838  Pitcairn Islands
1840-1907  *Colony of New Zealand
1850-1901  Victoria (Australia)
1874-1970  Fiji5
1877-1976  British Western Pacific Territories
1884-1949  Territory of Papua
1888-1965  Cook Islands6
1888-1984  Sultanate of Brunei
1889-1948  Union Islands (Tokelau)6
1892-1979  Gilbert and Ellice Islands7
1893-1978  British Solomon Islands8

20th century
1900-1970  Tonga (protected state)
1900-1974  Niue6
1901-1942  *Commonwealth of Australia
1907-1953  *Dominion of New Zealand
1919-1949  Territory of New Guinea
1949-1975  Territory of Papua and New Guinea9

5 Suspended member.
6 Now part of the *Realm of New Zealand.
7 Now Kiribati and *Tuvalu.
8 Now the *Solomon Islands.
9 Now *Papua New Guinea.

Antarctica and South Atlantic 

17th century
since 1659  St. Helena (On African Continent)

19th century
since 1815  Ascension Island9
(On African Continent)

since 1816  Tristan da Cunha9
(On African Continent)

since 1833  Falkland Islands11
(South America)

20th century
since 1908  British Antarctic Territory10
since 1908  South Georgia and
                    the South Sandwich Islands
10, 11

9 Dependencies of St. Helena since 1922 (Ascension Island) and 1938 (Tristan da Cunha).
10 Both claimed in 1908; territories formed in 1962 (British Antarctic Territory) and 1985 (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands).
11 Occupied by Argentina during the Falklands War of April-June 1982.

Categories: Former countries in Asia | Former British colonies | Short-lived states | 1946 establishments | 1948 disestablishments | Former countries in Malaysian history | British Malaya

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