Penang: The Rebel State (Part One)

loading Weld Quay.

In the post-war period before Merdeka, Penang attempted to secede from the Federation. This remains an obscure tale, even for Penangites. In the first of a two-part article, we revisit this phenomenon and trace the sparks of the state’s secessionist movement from 1948 to 1951.

The formation of the Penang Secession Committee in December 1948 is seldom mentioned in history books. Nonetheless, it was this committee that fielded the primary demands for Penang to be excluded from the Federation of Malaya, to revert to its former status within the Straits Settlements, and to retain its links with the British Empire. Its demands were put forward as a motion to the Penang Settlement Council on February 10, 1949 and later, in a petition sent to Whitehall, London.

While the British were sympathetic towards the move, they were determined to consolidate the process towards selfgovernance and even independence for their Malayan colonies.

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