Malaysia: The Bigger Picture

In this 19th century map of Asia, Malaysia – as it was known to the world then – was the whole region of Malay Archipelago encompassing the modern nations of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines and Indonesia.

There was an original plan for a united state based on the concept of the Malay race attempted by Wenceslao Vinzons during the Commonwealth government in the Philippines. There he espoused a United Malay race – his Malaya Irredenta ideal. It was in realization of Jose Rizal‘s dream of bringing together the Malay peoples, seen as artificially divided by colonial frontiers.

On June 1963, the Philippines’ president, Diasdado Macapagal, convened a meeting of senior ministers from the three neighbouring countries of Malaya, Philippines and Indonesia to form Maphilindo and advanced a plan for a confederation of nations of Malay origin. Dr Subandrio, Indonesia’s foreign minister, supported the scheme and Malaya’s deputy prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak, endorsed the concept. A meeting of heads of government followed at the end of July which upheld the scheme but apparent reconciliation did not last.

It was unfortunate that Jose Rizal’s dream shattered when Malaya went ahead with the formation of Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963 bringing Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore into its realm – when it could have been a confederation of Malay States of the Malay Archipelago that include Indonesia, Philippines and Brunei as well.

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