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PREFACE THERE was still no blueprint. The constitutional contract which was largely the product of intuition defined the goals of political development and set the parameters for legitimate means. It offered little guidance regarding either long-term strategy or im­ mediate political tactics. In return for broad Chinese (and Indian) political participation Malay would have to become the national language without destroying the cultural fabric of the communities of Chinese and Indians. No less important, Ma­ lays would have to gain genuine access to the economy and a proportionate share of its products without, however, depriving Chinese of their property or imposing crippling handicaps on their economic opportunities. The question remained: just how could this be accomplished? The Alliance leaders were quite confident that they would find the answer. Through bargaining within the small, exclusive Directorate composed of UMNO, MCA, and MIC leaders the necessary formulas would be developed and the new policies would be devised. Their approach, they thought, had already proven itself when they accomplished simultaneously (i) the vertical mobilization of the Malay, Chinese, and Indian com­ munities and (2) the horizontal solidarity of the Malay, Chi­ nese, and Indian political leaders. Indeed, the Alliance leaders could take pride in the success of the approach which produced the constitutional contract among the communities. Still, the fact remained that however hard their task may have been before, after independence it became more difficult still. The British administration was no longer present; and although at times it had vigorously op­ posed the Alliance approach, it had also contributed heavily to its success. Independence, in fact, deprived the communities and their political leaders of a convenient, common target which could distract from their own conflicts of interest. It also de­ prived them of any possibility of an external intermediary who would reduce the number of inter-communal contacts, and 144 A POLITICAL SYSTEM IN ACTION in cases of confrontation could conceivably serve as an arbitra­ tor. Perhaps most important though, independence deprived the English educated Malay and Chinese political leaders of a sig­ nificant ingredient of their appeal: their special connections with the British government and their special skill of negotiat­ ing with British administrators. Thus, as the Alliance set out on its task of managing con­ flicts of interest among the communites, the disruptive pres­ sures upon its system were intensifying. The members of the Directorate were no longer able to maximize simultaneously both their capacities of vertical mobilization and horizontal solidarity. Trade-offs would have to be made; that much was quite evident. Their compromises within the Directorate were bound to reduce the party leaders' support within their com­ munal constituencies. Their efforts to maintain popular (com­ munal) support, in turn, would necessarily escalate and rigidify their negotiating position in the Directorate and impair mutual confidence and solidarity. To be sure, the Alliance leadership did enjoy some positive margins in both categories; their reputa­ tion as engineers of independence, for example, was a formida­ ble asset. Still, there was always a danger that faced with the necessity of compromises, either vertical support or horizontal loyalty would drop below a critical minimum level and then the system would collapse. For the first twelve years of independence, it did not. In two elections, 1959 and 1964, the Alliance won substantial majori­ ties in Parliament and most of the state legislatures. Its Di­ rectorate retained its internal cohesion; if anything its members enhanced their mutual trust and confidence. This did not mean, however, that the system—the Alliance approach—was operating well. On the contrary, the first twelve years (at least in retrospect) demonstrated certain very funda­ mental weaknesses. The Directorate tended to temporize on the crucial inter-communal issues which were left unsettled by the constitutional contract. When it acted, the compromise which it negotiated, however fair, was far more unpopular in all communal groups than it realized. Finally, some problems it had to face were frankly staggering (e.g., Chinese acceptance of Malay language dominance, or improved Malay access to the economy) and probably beyond the time constraints and possibly beyond the intellectual resources of the Directorate. PREFACE 145 Thus behind the fagade of political stability signs of strain could be perceived. The coalition of English educated adminis­ trators (and politicians) and Malay school teachers and other more communalist elements in UMNO—in fact, the intermedi­ ate leaders who were responsible for Malay mass-support for UMNO—was in peril. Fissures were developing among Eng­ lish educated Chinese, while the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400871612
MARC Record
OCLC
643628522
Pages
460
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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