Malaysian Federation: Union of Convenience

July 24, 1963

Report Outline
Birth of New Southeast Asian Nation
Problem of Overseas Chinese Minority
Possibility of Broader Malay Federation
Special Focus

Birth of New Southeast Asian Nation

A New Country called Malaysia, composed of Malaya, Singapore and two British dependencies on the island of Borneo—North Borneo and Sarawak—is to come into being on the last day of August. Formally proposed in a British-Malayan agreement of July 31, 1962, the plan for a Malaysian federation has been buffeted during the past year by opposition from Communist China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Indonesia, whose territory includes a large part of the island of Borneo, is believed to have encouraged guerrilla activity in British Borneo, and its spokesmen have talked about an armed “confrontation” with Malaya. Although Malaysia is sure to be born on schedule—as an independent member nation of the British Commonwealth—its future peace and tranquillity may depend to considerable extent on the attitude of Indonesia's mercurial President Sukarno, who has maintained that all of Borneo rightfully belongs to his country.

Origin of Plan to Create Malaysian Federation

Prince Abdul Rahman, prime minister of Malaya since that country became independent on Aug. 31, 1957, informally urged creation of a Malaysian federation two years ago. Addressing the Foreign Correspondents' Association of Southeast Asia, May 27, 1961, he declared that “Malaya today as a nation realizes she cannot stand in isolation.” Sooner or later, the prince said, Malaya “should have an understanding with Britain and the peoples of Singapore, North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak.” He added that “We should look ahead to this objective and think of a plan whereby these territories can be brought closer together in political and economic cooperation.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S. Policy in the Pacific
Apr. 20, 1990  Should the U.S. Reduce Its Pacific Forces?
Apr. 07, 1989  Pacific Rim Challenges
Apr. 25, 1986  The Strategic Pacific
Jul. 05, 1985  Dawn of the Pacific Era
Jun. 06, 1975  Changing Status of Micronesia
Aug. 17, 1966  Australia: Pacific Ally
Nov. 04, 1964  Indonesia vs. Malaysia
Jul. 24, 1963  Malaysian Federation: Union of Convenience
Jul. 05, 1962  West New Guinea: Pacific Trouble Spot
Jan. 28, 1953  Pacific Defense
Sep. 09, 1949  Pacific Dependencies
May 03, 1945  Trusteeship in the Pacific
Imperialism, Colonization, and Independence Movements
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific