THE Federated Malay States cover an area of 25,000 square miles, and, with Province Wellesley and Malacca, they include the whole eastern shore of the Straits of Malacca, except the most southern section which, for nearly a hundred miles, lies within the territory of Johore. Johore is the only State in the Peninsula which has one shore in the Straits of Malacca and the other in the China Sea. The territory is of considerable extent, but the population is comparatively small, and the country is but little developed. There are no published statistics of area, population, trade, revenue, expenditure, or on any other subject which would be useful to the inquirer. As already stated, Johore has treaty relations with the British Government, which has the right to appoint an agent to reside in the territory. The administration centres in the Sultan, who employs a very few European officers and a number of Malays to assist him in the management of affairs. The capital, Johore Bharu, is a neat little town on the Johore Strait (Silat Tembrau is the Malay name), exactly opposite the terminus of the Singapore Railway. Just outside the town is the Sultan's Astana, or palace, and, apart from an imposing mosque, the public buildings consist of a somewhat out-of-the-way block of offices,
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a prison, a hospital, a court, police-station, barracks, a treasury, post office, and a small school-house. There are some miles of fairly good road to a place called Kota Tinggi, and some which have at present no definite objective. On the Muar River, near to Malacca, there is another small town called Bandar Maharani, and in its neighbourhood a good deal of useful planting has been done. There is tin in Johore, but no great effort has yet been made to prove its extent and value ; probably because the Government has not exerted itself to give the necessary transport and other facilities. In great part the country is still covered by jungle, but Singapore Chinese have, during the last sixty years or so, spread gambir and pepper plantations over a wide area, always choosing land as near as possible to the shores of the Johore Strait, or on the bank of a navigable river. In the absence of roads this was, of course, a necessity. The Chinese population engaged in these enterprises have supplied almost the whole revenue of the State, either directly or indirectly, and the Sultan has for a good many years received about £120,000 annually from the revenue farms of opium, spirits, gambling, and pawnbroking, from the export duties on gambir, pepper, and other produce, and from minor sources of taxation. Had even half, or a quarter, of the revenue been regularly spent upon the wise development of the country by means of a carefully devised system of roads, and had the administration been conducted on sounder principles by capable and energetic officers, Johore would have been to-day in a very different position. Gambir and pepper plantations exhaust the soil in a special degree, and gambir is one of the most wasteful cultivations imaginable. Enormous areas of virgin forest, containing valuable timber and other products, are felled and burnt, the gambir shrub is planted, and though the first crop of leaves may be picked after fourteen
months, and further cropping made every two months, the


shrub does not last many years, while it exhausts the soil and renders it useless for any other purpose. It is then abandoned and the process is repeated, destroying thousands of acres of land and timber, and leaving the State with nothing but a waste of impoverished soil. If any circumstances would justify the encouragement of such an industry on a large scale, it could only be to induce capitalists to introduce labourers into an uninhabited country, in the hope that they would remain as permanent settlers, and to spend on works of development all the revenue derived from this source. Pepper also exhausts the soil, but the vines will last for many years, and a pepper garden covers a comparatively small acreage. Unfortunately, the Chinese seldom start a pepper garden (which only gives an appreciable return after three years) without attaching to it a huge gambir plantation, and the leaves of the shrub, when they have been boiled and the gambir extracted, are used to fertilize the pepper vines.

Now that the Federated Malay States are constructing a railway right through the heart of Johore, and European planters are turning their attention to that State as a suitable field for the cultivation of rubber and other permanent products, Johore is offered a great opportunity of getting into line with its neighbours. Unless, however, efforts are made to develop the country, and especially to feed the railway by good roads, the opportunity will be missed, and the railway will fail to do for Johore what it has done with such splendid success for the Federated States, every one of which was, thirty years ago, far more backward than Johore at the same date.

In consenting to the construction of the railway, the present Sultan has done more for Johore than any of his predecessors, and if he now encourages all genuine attempts to develop the mineral and agricultural resources of his country, especially if he determines to make personal


sacrifices in order that his State may have the benefit of well-considered public works, he will reap a rich reward in personal credit, and a substantial increase to his revenues. But the present sacrifice is necessary ; for while he is supposed to receive £30,000 a year for his personal use, and also controls the Treasury, the largest allowance paid to any Sultan in the Federated States is £6ooo a year, which is about the equivalent of the allowance enjoyed by the Sultan of Perak. As already stated, the remarkable results obtained in the Federated States are mainly due to very liberal expenditure on useful and profitable works of development, while observing a wise economy in other directions. In Johore an almost exactly opposite system has been adopted, with the result that while the Federated Malay States have, in the last thirty years, made a progress which can fairly be gauged by an advance in revenue from, say, half a million dollars to twenty-two million dollars, Johore has made comparatively small progress in real development, and the revenue has not increased in anything like the same proportion as in the neighbouring States. So to-day the Sultan of Johore's personal allowance is said to be $240,000 a year, out of a revenue of less than one and a quarter million dollars, while the Sultan of Perak's allowance is $50,000 a year, out of a revenue of about twelve million dollars. It is necessary to emphasize this comparison for two reasons : first, because it might be thought that the rapid development of the Federated Malay States is not specially due to the administrative methods employed there ; and, secondly, because comparisons have been drawn between English and Malay methods of administration, sometimes suggesting that the latter, as exemplified in Johore, are preferable.

In describing the acquisition of Pinang and Province Wellesley, in the early chapters of this book, frequent references were made to Kedah, and I need not now again describe its position. It is a considerable State with a


large Malay population, chiefly engaged in the cultivation of rice. The Langkawi Islands, and the States named Perlis and Setul, are under the Kedah administration, and that, again, is subject to the instructions of a Siamese Prince in Bangkok, who holds the post of Minister of the Interior.

Before ever the British Government intervened to restore order in the Southern Malay States, Kedah had, by the efforts of its Malay Sultan and chiefs, attained to a degree of order and development which placed it far ahead of any of the States yet named. The chief village, a small but regularly-laid-out and tidily-kept place, called Alor Star, is some miles up the main river of the country. From this village ran a good road, with the river, bordered by houses and orchards, on one side, and a wide expanse of rice fields broken by islands of palm groves on the other. It was said, then, that the road extended for sixty miles towards the Siamese State of Senggora, in the north of the Peninsula, but the road probably became a mere cart-track as soon as it passed the limit of cultivated fields, and I can say, as the result of personal observation, that ten miles from Alor Star the bridges had either never been built or had disappeared. For all that, the country was highly cultivated within a radius of five to ten miles round Alor Star ; the Sultan was a just and upright man of intelligence, and his officers were full of good intentions; his chief minister was a man of real energy, and the people seemed happy and contented. The Siamese interfered very little in Kedah, and though the revenue raised must have been small, the country was not in debt. Since then, though the Chinese population has considerably increased, while tin mines have been opened and the revenue farms have yielded much larger sums, the present Sultan has contracted heavy debts, and the Siamese Government have quite recently come to his assistance with a considerable loan. It is, perhaps, not surprising that, under these


circumstances, the Siamese Government are exercising a larger control in the administration of this State and its dependent islands and provinces. Here, again, is the opportunity of making a useful comparison between the administration of a Malay State, which has been under Siamese control since 1821, and the States where British influence has been exercised for thirty years. It is not suggested that the Siamese Government interfered with the government of Kedah to any great extent ; but, when that is granted, the connexion with Siam has not proved of any benefit to the subject State. In 1874 Kedah was more advanced in its institutions, in the observance of order, the well-being of its people, and the general development of the country, than any other State in the Peninsula. The then Sultan of Kedah, his brothers, and the chiefs who assisted him, were highly intelligent, and the country was free from debt. After thirty years of slow progress, including some mining development and an increase in the revenues, there is no striking improvement to note ; no important new works, no great increase in population, very slight extension of the town Alor Star ; but the country ---or the Sultan --- has contracted a considerable debt. The amount has been stated as about $750,000 ; in any case it is probably larger than the debt of either Perak, Selangor, or Negri Sembilan in 1874. There is no reason to suppose that Kedah is less rich in resources than the Federated States, and thirty years ago it was in a much better position than any of them. Kedah has had no internal trouble, no war ; but it has suffered from feeble administration and the expenditure of revenue and borrowed funds in private extravagance. Therefore Kedah, which thirty years ago had no debt, now is in debt and has nothing to show for it. The Federated States, which thirty years ago had debts, now possess a balance of twenty million dollars, and they have great works of development to show where the rest of their revenues have gone.


If I seem to over-emphasize these points, and draw comparisons which sound invidious, the facts must be insisted upon, for if they have ever been fully recognized --and I doubt it -- they have been forgotten. As for the comparison, that also is a necessary part of the story, because casual visitors to the Federated States would conclude that what they see there is quite normal, and even residents as near as Singapore are, some of them, convinced that the Malay States are so rich in resources that they have naturally grown to their present condition of development and prosperity, and the work of government has been merely to sit still and chronicle the process of advancement from year to year. The exact opposite is the truth, for nothing but persistent effort in the right direction, foresight, courage, tact, and the other qualities necessary for dealing with such a difficult problem, could have achieved so great a success.

In recording events, it is a mere detail that I watched the process of Malay evolution at close quarters. That is, however, an added reason why I cannot omit from the story any facts which will assist the reader to form an accurate opinion on the policy pursued, from whatever aspect it is regarded.

Special circumstances, already fully explained, led to British intervention in four of the central States, and an impartial judgment on that experiment is greatly assisted by the fact that it is possible to compare the results obtained with the progress made in a practically independent Malay State, in the immediate south of the Federation, and with the same in another Malay State under Siamese suzerainty, in the immediate north. If it were not beyond the scope of this book, the comparison might be carried much farther afield --- to Burma, Tenasserim and Siam, to the Netherlands Indies, to Sarawak and British North Borneo, to the French possessions in Cochin China, and to the Philippines. All these countries have


their own systems of administration, and in all there were, perhaps still are, conditions similar to those which prevailed in the Malay Peninsula thirty years ago. It would be very interesting to compare the methods of government adopted in each place and the results obtained. If such a comparison were made, the Federated Malay States need not fear it.

North of Kedah there are several small coast States, of which Rendong is probably the most important. They are under Siamese control, and are administered, on Siamese methods, by officials in the service of that Government. Our only knowledge of them is gleaned from the annual reports of a British Consul, who makes occasional visits to the places on the west coast of the Peninsula, north of Pinang. From what he has been able to see, and the impressions left on his mind, it would not appear that there is evidence of very rapid development, or very enlightened administration in Rendong, Tongkah, and Junk Ceylon. On the opposite coast of the Peninsula, in about the same latitude, there is a small State called Petani. A hundred years ago or more, Petani, then an important country, was conquered by the Siamese, and, probably to save themselves trouble and minimize any idea of rebellion, the original State has been divided into seven small States, each with a separate Raja or chief, who administers his charge under the authority of the Chaukun of Senggora, a State originally Malay, but where the Siamese element is now greatly in the ascendant. The seven divisions of Petani are : Petani, Sai, Ligeh, Jalor, Jering, Nongchik, and Reman, on the borders of the northern territory of Perak. Owing to domestic differences and neglect of their proper duties, the Perak authorities allowed the Raja of Reman to push his outposts down the Perak River, till, at last, it was discovered that a great piece of territory had been quietly absorbed by their neighbour. As Reman was under the protection


of Siam, the occupation had to be treated seriously, and one of the very earliest complaints of the Sultan and chiefs of Perak, to the first British Resident, was in connection with this northern territory. After nearly twenty years of negotiation a compromise has been arrived at, with the help of the British Foreign Office, and a portion of the lost province has been restored to Perak by a definition of boundaries.

South of Petani, between the eastern boundary of Perak and the China Sea, lies the large and populous Malay State named Kelantan.

Kelantan is a sunny country on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, six degrees north of the Equator. It is drained by a considerable river, shallow throughout its length, with a delta and several mouths, whose position is constantly changed by the rush of the China Sea battling for six months of the year against the outcoming water and a sandy shore. Twelve miles up the river, on its right bank, is a considerable Malay town, with over ten thousand inhabitants, ruled by a Malay Sultan and his various chiefs, all of whom are settled in houses of some pretension in and about Kota Bharu.

The people of this place have certain peculiar customs, of which it may be mentioned that, though they are Muhammadans, the women move about as freely as the men. They mind the shops and deal with customers ; they wear the silk sarongs for which Kelantan is famous, and they do as much carrying and marketing, gossiping and field work as their fathers, husbands, brothers, and lovers. That is one striking peculiarity of the place, and another is that Kota Bharu is given up to various forms of relaxation in a way unknown in any other State in the Malay Peninsula. There is the season for bull-fights and the season for ram-fights ; the boat-racing season, the cock-fighting season, and the season when every one who is any one goes down to the mouth of the river, camps on


the great stretches of sand, which divide the fresh waters of the river from the salt waters of the sea, and there they disport themselves after their own fashion. The occasion of this festival for sea-bathing, boat-sailing, fish-catching, and general junketing is the close of the north-east monsoon, when the China Sea ceases to lash itself furiously against the east coast ; when its mighty roar dwindles down to the cooing of the tiny silver-crested waves, and the people of the land feel that they are no longer prisoners, and can set their red and white and orange and chocolate-coloured sails and skim out over the gleaming waters to wooded islands and deep-sea fishing-grounds. There are few more fascinating pictures than the Kelantan fishing-fleet, in all the glory of strange hulls, mat and cloth sails of every hue and quaint design, standing out to sea from the river mouth at daybreak. The sun, just rising above the horizon and throwing shafts of light through the lifting mist across the silver grey of the waveless sea; the boats, several hundreds in number, gliding in a fairy-like procession from closest foreground to the utmost limit of vision. They make a marvellous study in colour and perspective, and parallel with the line of their noiseless progress lies the shore --- a long stretch of grey-green wood and yellow sand, divided from the sea by a narrow ribbon of white wave.

That is Kelantan from the sea. Twelve miles of clear island-studded river, winding between rice fields and palm groves, form the highway from the river mouth to the capital. The Sultan's astana or palace, which, with its dependencies, surrounds on three sides a court of sand, is closed on the fourth by a wooden palisade with one great central gate flanked by smaller gates on either side. A second and similar set of gates forms a further enclosure, about a hundred yards nearer the river. From these outer portals to the river stretches a long straight road, and, on occasions of great ceremony,


the visitors whom the Sultan delights to honour will find this road lined, on both sides throughout its entire length, by spearmen, while the principal chiefs and a great posse of retainers escort the guests from the landing-stage to the hall of audience, where the Sultan receives them. Beyond the palace, the town, the houses and gardens of rajas and chiefs, the country is highly cultivated as far as the eye can reach. Immense quantities of cocoanuts are grown and made into copra, all of which is exported to Singapore.

South of Kelantan again, and immediately north of Pahang, is the independent State of Trengganu. By the Treaty of Bangkok, concluded in 1826, between the English and Siamese, it was mutually agreed as follows :

" Siam shall not go and obstruct or interrupt commerce in the States of Trengganu and Kelantan. English merchants and subjects shall have trade and intercourse in future with the same facility and freedom as they have heretofore had, and the English shall not go and molest, attack, or disturb those States upon any pretence whatever."

From the time that Treaty was made till the end of the century, the Siamese lost no opportunity of seeking to impose their authority upon the Sultans of Kelantan and Trengganu, always pressing Kelantan more firmly than Trengganu, in proportion as Kelantan was nearer to Petani and Kedah, two Malay States already under Siamese control.

Nothing less than a book could deal fully with the whole story of the assertion of Siamese claims in regard to these two States, and the replies of British Governors of the Straits and others who contended for the independence of Kelantan and Trengganu, but I must be satisfied with trying to give the briefest intelligible account of the dispute and its settlement, so far as the question has been settled.


When Raffles finally left the East he wrote a long and interesting letter of instructions to Mr. John Crawford, the Resident of Singapore. The letter is dated 7 June, 1823, and having discussed all local questions, Raffles wrote as follows :-

" Having given you these instructions as far as regards your situation as Resident of Singapore, I am desirous also of calling your attention, on some points, to the line of policy which it appears to me advisable for you to pursue more generally in your political capacity in the Archipelago. On this subject one of the most material points is our political relations with Siam and the Malayan States alleged to be tributary to it. On this point it is incumbent upon me to state with candour that the policy hitherto pursued by us has in my opinion been founded on erroneous principles. The dependence of the tributary States in this case is founded on no national relation which connects them with the Siamese nation. These people are of opposite manners, language, religion, and general interests, and the superiority maintained by the one over the other is so remote from protection on the one side or attachment on the other, that it is but a simple exercise of capricious tyranny by the stronger party, submitted to by the weaker from the law of necessity. We have ourselves for nearly forty years been eye-witnesses of the pernicious influence exercised by the Siamese over the Malayan States. During the revolution of the Siamese Government these profit by its weakness, and from cultivating an intimacy with strangers, especially with ours over other European nations, they are always in a fair train of prosperity ; with the settlement of the Siamese Government, on the contrary, it invariably regains the exercise of its tyranny, and the Malayan States are threatened, intimidated, and plundered. The recent invasion of Kedah is a striking example in point, and from the information conveyed to me it would


appear that that commercial seat, governed by a prince of most respectable character, long personally attached to our nation, has only been saved from a similar fate by a most unlooked-for event. By the independent Malayan States, who may be supposed the best judges of this matter, it is important to observe that the connexion of the tributary Malays with Siam is looked upon as a matter of simple compulsion, Fully aware of our power, and in general deeply impressed with respect for our national character, still it cannot be denied that we suffer, at the present moment, in their good opinion by withholding from them that protection from the oppression of the Siamese which it would be so easy for us to give ; and the case is stronger with regard to Kedah than the rest, for here a general impression is abroad amongst them, that we refuse an assistance that we are by treaty virtually bound to give, since we entered into a treaty with that State, as an independent power, without regarding the supremacy of Siam or ever alluding to its connection for five-and-twenty years after our first establishment at Pinang. The prosperity of the Settlement under your direction is so much connected with that of the Malayan nation in its neighbourhood, and this again depends so much upon their liberty and security from foreign oppression, that I must seriously recommend to your attention the contemplation of the probable event of their deliverance from the yoke of Siam, and your making the Supreme Government immediately informed of every event which may promise to lead to that desirable result."

At the same time Raffles wrote as follows to the Supreme Government :-

"The information which must be before the Supreme Government from Prince of Wales Island, as well as in the reports of the late Mission to Siam, renders it unnecessary that I should enter at any length on the actual


condition of the Malay States in the Peninsula ; but I have thought it advisable to direct Mr. Crawford's attention to the subject, with the view of his keeping the Governor-General in Council regularly advised of the progress or otherwise of the Siamese influence among them.

" The conduct and character of the Court of Siam offer no opening for friendly negotiations on the footing on which European States would treat with each other, and require that in our future communications we should rather dictate what we consider to be just and right, than sue for their granting it as an indulgence. I am satisfied that if, instead of deferring to them so much as we have done in the case of Kedah, we had maintained a higher tone and declared the country to be under our protection, they would have hesitated to invade that unfortunate territory. Having, however, been allowed to indulge their rapacity in this instance with impunity, they are encouraged to similar acts towards the other States of the Peninsula, and if not timely checked may be expected in a similar manner to destroy the truly respectable State of Tringanu, on the eastern side of the Peninsula.

" The blockade of the Menam River, which could at any time be effected with the cruisers from Singapore, would always bring the Siamese Court to terms as far as concerns the Malay States, and from the arrogant and offensive tone recently assumed by the Siamese, some measure of the kind will, I fear, are long become indispensable, unless the possible apprehension of our adopting such a measure may bring them to terms of more accommodation than they have yet shown."

Those words, coming from a man of very exceptional character and ability, who for nearly twenty years had devoted himself to the study of Malay affairs, who had for five years governed Java and all its dependencies with distinguished success, and had selected and secured Singapore for the British Crown, might have been expected to


carry weight. But, as so often happens, the voice of the man on the spot was disregarded ; Raffles was suspect, and his immediate masters were the directors of a trading company, the objects of which were profit and not the protection of weak but friendly races from ambitious neighbours. Had Raffles known the commercial value of the Malay States and made that his plea, the East India Company might have been more ready to listen to him. If his representations had any effect at all it must be found in Art. 12 of the Bangkok Treaty of 1826, so far as it provides that neither British nor Siamese shall interfere in Kelantan or Trengganu.

The weight of numbers, greater unity, and some military discipline had enabled Siam to overrun Petani and Kedah, and impose on those States such control --- it could hardly be styled government --- as was thought necessary. What that meant to the Malays is briefly but accurately stated in Raffles' sentence : " These people are of opposite manners, language, religion, and general interests, and the superiority maintained by the one over the other is so remote from protection on the one side or attachment on the other, that it is but a simple exercise of capricious tyranny by the stronger party, submitted to by the weaker from the law of necessity."

From 1826 till 1862 nothing particular happened; but in that year the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Colonel Orfeur Cavenagh, found it necessary to protest against a proposal of the Siamese Court to send to Trengganu the ex-Sultan of Lingga, whose design to make an attack on Pahang, and so disturb the peace of the Peninsula, was notorious. At first this remonstrance, made after a personal complaint from the Sultan of Trengganu to the Governor, was successful ; but some months later the ex-Sultan of Lingga was sent to Trengganu in a Siamese steamer, and, as Colonel Cavenagh's renewed and energetic protest and request for the ex-


Sultan's removal met with nothing but promises which were not performed, the Governor deputed two vessels-of-war and a Straits Government steamer to Trengganu to demand the immediate return of the ex-Sultan of Lingga to Bangkok ; but the demand was not complied with in the time allowed, the Trengganu fort was shelled, and the Court of Bangkok ultimately removed the ex-Sultan. The shelling was merely a demonstration, and no one was hurt.

In a narrative of these proceedings, prepared by Governor Cavenagh and transmitted to Calcutta, the following are the three first paragraphs :-

" Trengganu is an independent Principality, situated on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, the ruler of which, as is often customary with weak Oriental States, dispatches a periodical Embassy with presents to his powerful neighbour, the King of Siam ; but he has never acknowledged obedience to the latter, and has always refused to do him personal homage.

"2. When the Treaty of 1826 was concluded between Great Britain and Siam, the independence of Trengganu and the adjoining State of Kelantan was mutually guaranteed by Article 12. This Article is still in force, having been confirmed by the Treaty of 1856, whilst Article 10, which specially referred to the countries and provinces under the authority of Siam, was, by the same engagement, in a great measure abrogated.

"3. Even as far back as 1785, the Sultan of Trengganu has been in direct communication with the British authorities in the Straits, and has on one or two occasions actually solicited their aid to enable him to resist the Siamese when threatened with attack ; he has, at all times, been recognized as an independent chief, and neither in 1850, when he dispatched an embassy to Java, with a view of cultivating friendly relations with the Dutch, nor in 1851, when his treatment of some British subjects became the matter of


investigation, were any pretensions to exercise the slightest control over his proceedings, or to interfere on his behalf, advanced by the Siamese Court."

Apparently, then, it was not till 1862 that Siam put forward any pretensions to the exercise of authority in Trengganu, and then the claim was based upon the fact that, in two instances, one the complaint of a Chinese trader "relating to some matters in connexion with Kelantan," and the other an inquiry from the Governor of the Straits whether " the report that the Government of Siam intended to depose the Raja of Trengganu and place the ex-Sultan of Lingga in his stead were true or not," reference had been made to the Siamese Government through the British Consul at Bangkok ! Nothing more was heard of the Trengganu affair, and in the succeeding thirty to forty years nothing very definite happened, but to those interested in Malay affairs it was evident that Siam was quietly but persistently endeavouring to establish political influence, and even active control, in Kelantan, while attempts of the same nature met with no success in Trengganu.

Kelantan marches with Petani on the north, and is no great distance from Senggora; it was therefore not difficult, in a long course of years, for the Siamese to make their influence felt in an adjoining State which had no means of resistance, and no friend but Britain to support its independence. Ever since the Straits became a Colony the Governor has, at uncertain intervals, visited these East Coast Malay States. On those comparatively rare occasions, often several years apart, the Sultans of both Kelantan and Trengganu invariably declared their independence. In the case of Kelantan the wish was probably father to the statement, for it is certain that Siam gradually established a considerable influence in the country, though until 1902 there was no treaty or engagement of any kind to show that Kelantan had parted with


any of its independence. In Trengganu, perhaps because it was farther away, perhaps because it is less developed, has a smaller population and a much smaller revenue, assuredly because the Sultan is a very obstinate man, Siamese blandishments met only with a polite reception and no result. To this day the Sultan maintains his absolute independence and exercises it ; no Siamese official has ever obtained a footing in the State, and the Sultan declines to sign any document which might in any way compromise his liberty of action.

The stranger may ask why Siam, with a very indifferently developed kingdom of its own, with large subject provinces on the east and south, quite sufficient to occupy for many years the best attentions of a vigorous, intelligent, and progressive Power (one cannot say people, for they do not count in such matters) should have taken the trouble to try to absorb distant and foreign territories inhabited by a people of different race and religion, with whom they have nothing in common, and who cordially dislike them. The answer probably is, that having dealt with Kedah and Petani, the Court of Bangkok saw no reason why they should not absorb as many more Malay States as possible, especially as the rulers could make no resistance by force, and the value of adjoining States had been amply proved when developed under British protection. These were good enough reasons, but it so happened that at this very time France was sorely pressing Siam on the east, where the Native Government made a series of grave mistakes, for which it has had to pay very dearly. France having settled herself in Saigon, began the process of " peaceful penetration," northward to Annam and Tongking, westward to Cambodia and Luang Phrabang. It is difficult to speak with confidence on matters of dispute between two foreign Powers, when the territory concerned is so remote and boundaries are so imperfectly defined. Probably it would not be incorrect to say that


Siam was not satisfied with claims she could establish, but went beyond them and asserted rights which France was not willing to recognize. Then, having hitherto dealt with only one European Power, Great Britain, and found that, in those dealings, the assertion of shadowy claims and refusal to consider proposals for compromise constituted a very useful form of diplomacy, it was probably imagined that the same tactics would serve equally well with France. And so they did for a time. Curiously enough, however, there was a limit to French endurance, and once reached, the Government of the Republic adopted the plan suggested by Stamford Raffles, and sent two gunboats up to Bangkok, while the Menam was blockaded and, our interests being threatened, this country was almost drawn into war with its nearest neighbour. Instead of agreeing with their adversary quickly, while he was in the way to agree, and so obtaining very much better terms, the King of Siam, or his advisers, thought it would be more clever and more profitable to play off the French, on the east, against the British in the south, and vice versa ; and instead of giving way anywhere, to make extended claims both eastward and southward. The awakening was sudden and unpleasant, and the result, as regards France, is that not once, but several times, Siam has had to abandon claims and give up territory over which she had long exercised sovereign rights. Finding on one border an uncompromising Power, which had forced its way to the Mekong and imposed certain unpleasant conditions in regard to territory on the other bank of that river, the idea seems to have been conceived that losses of territory and influence on the east might be made up by additions of territory and influence in the south, where the only Power able to protect the Malays could be treated as a negligible quantity, or induced to further the scheme. The successful game of playing off France against England was, or ought to have been, at


an end when those Powers made, in 1896, a treaty, guaranteeing the integrity of Siam proper, and declaring their own respective spheres of influence. Even since that treaty, France has managed to extend her authority at the expense of something more than Siamese pretensions, while British complacency has permitted the crystallization of Siamese claims in the south to the extent that Siamese protection of the Malay State of Kelantan has been recognized. In one way this step is a benefit to Kelantan ; for it is better to know what your position is, better to have some definite authority, than to live in the constant fear of trouble, of the deposition, the banishment, even the imprisonment of the Ruler (as occurred so recently in the case of the Raja of Petani), and the possible fall of the State from a position of independence to the rank of a province governed by a foreign official.

In a paragraph of Raffles' instructions to Major Farquhar, Resident of Singapore, Sir Stamford, writing on 6 February, 1819, said: "With regard however to those States which have not yet fallen under their [that was the Dutch] authority, it is justifiable and necessary that you exert your influence to preserve their existing state of independence. If this independence can be maintained without the presence of an English authority, it would be preferable, as we are not desirous of extending our stations ; but as from the usual march of the Dutch policy, the occupation of Tringanu, and the extension of their views to Siam, may be reasonably apprehended, a very limited Establishment in that quarter may become ultimately necessary."

Supposing that Raffles was right, not only for his time but till now, and that Great Britain had no desire to extend her stations in Malaya, her interest in the "open door " has always been sufficiently strong to make her prefer to see a friendly State preserve its independence


rather than fall under an influence with any selfish or exclusive tendencies. No Power can dispute the fact ---which France has declared by treaty --- that the Malay Peninsula is a British sphere of influence. Any country but Great Britain would long ago have extended its protection over all the States, including Kelantan and Trengganu, and they would have been glad to accept the position. That there has been no "land-grabbing" is evidenced by the fact that Johore still manages its own affairs. Singapore has for years been the market for all the east coast, and it will remain so. Practically the whole trade of Kelantan and Trengganu is with Singapore, and, till quite recently, it was all carried in British steamers owned in Singapore. So long as those conditions remain the Imperial Government may prefer to take no further responsibilities. From what we now know of the Peninsula, it would be better for both Malay and British interests that these States should be developed and administered on the lines which have proved successful in the Federated States ; and it would have been natural and straightforward to say so and arrange accordingly. It is quite understandable that the States should be allowed to work out their own salvation or damnation as best they may. It is, however, difficult to see on what grounds Siam should be encouraged or allowed to absorb Malay States against their will. It is the Malay habit to seek and lean upon a powerful neighbour ; weak States naturally fall into that position. It might, however, be hard to say what benefit a Malay State and people would be likely to derive from a course of Siamese administration. If it is urged that the Malay is indifferent in the matter of masters, the case of Achin seems a strong argument to the contrary, and, as a matter of fact, the Malay is very tenacious of authority, very slow to make friendships and very reluctant to change them. The Achinese are Malays, and if a small State in Sumatra prefers to fight for thirty


years and then put its women and children in the battleline sooner than accept Dutch masters, it is very improbable that a Malay State in the Peninsula would willingly accept Siamese masters. 
Raffles saw the case in its true light, but it is fair to assume that a British Foreign Secretary in 1890, or later, would not be conversant with Raffles' opinion on the subjection of Malays to Siamese. It is also rather an article of British official faith that, in questions of Imperial interest, people on the spot are bad judges. There is much to be said for this creed, but it would not be difficult to show that it does not meet every case. It was, perhaps, a mistake to give up Java ; it was certainly a mistake to contract ourselves out of Sumatra ; and if there are reasons for allowing Siam to increase her territory and her revenues at the expense of the Malays, they have never been publicly stated. The British Government seems to have held the mistaken view that the smallest extension of British influence in the Malay Peninsula might serve as a pretext for new French claims against Siam. It was clearly to the advantage of Siam to suggest and encourage that view, and though the Government of Bangkok failed to influence France by similar considerations, and the Republic has pursued its own policy and driven Siam back step by step, England not only observed a rigorous abstention, but raised no objection to the prosecution of Siamese designs on friendly Malay States whose outside interests have always been, and must remain, closely connected with the Straits Settlements. The reader can form his own opinion on the action of the East India Company in abandoning Kedah to what Raffles styled the rapacity of Siam. There is a very wide difference between any trading company, however great, and the Imperial Government. It is, for instance, difficult to imagine that the British Government, possessing as it does a complete knowledge of all the circumstances,


would stand aloof and allow the Sultan of Trengganu to be forced into subjection against his expressed determination to maintain his independence, especially while the administration of the country offers no pretext for intervention.

The writer desires to refrain from any criticism of Siamese methods of government, either in Siam or in the dependent provinces. An opinion expressed by Sir Stamford Raffles has been quoted, because it is confirmed by the greater knowledge now possessed of things Malayan and things Siamese; but it is sufficient to let the question rest on general principles. The Malay Peninsula is a British sphere of influence, as much as Sumatra is Dutch, or Cambodia French, and while it does not appear that Siam has ever had either excuse or invitation to justify the extension of her influence and authority in the Malay States, and neither Petani nor Kedah have benefited by their long connexion with Siam, British protection has been invited and the results of our intervention and influence in the Federated States are sufficient reason to extend it, or, where the Malays prefer to be left alone, to shield them from outside interference.

These considerations are important as concerning high principles and the welfare of the Malays, who not only cannot make themselves heard, but may be profoundly ignorant of the conclusion, by second and third parties, of arrangements which will probably decide the course of their future existence. They are important to us on other and more selfish grounds, because the trade of all the Malay States north of Pinang has, for a century, been practically confined to that Settlement, just as the trade of the East Coast States is centred in Singapore. More important still is a new factor which has grown out of the recent development of the States under British Protection, including the State of Johore. The Main Trunk Railway from Pinang to Singapore will shortly be completed, and the question of an east coast line, to connect


Pahang, Trengganu, and Kelantan with this system, and with the markets of the Straits Settlements, must arise in the near future. If the east coast States are to be developed and those countries are to enjoy a similar prosperity to that already established in the western States, railway communication is a necessity, because for nearly half the year, during the prevalence of the north-east monsoon, the coast is dangerous for those small steamers which alone can navigate its shallow waters. Trengganu and Kelantan have no funds to meet the cost of such an undertaking ; for many years all their resources will be required for roads and other less expensive but equally necessary works. The Federated Malay States have the money, the experience, and the men to do for Trengganu and Kelantan what they are now doing for Johore, and, in supplying a better and more reliable means of communication between these States and the Singapore market, there will be no diversion of trade, only a new route to that port which, by its position, its facilities, and its freedom from restrictions, has attracted the commerce of neighbouring places for upwards of a century.

The East India Company has given place to the British Government, and the Malays of the Peninsula have in the last thirty years acquired a fairly accurate knowledge of the extent of British power, the value of British help, the character of British officers, and their methods of administration. British prestige to-day is a reality in the Peninsula ; it is something so good and so much respected by the Malays that it imposes on the British Government a responsibility to consider how it will be affected by their action in any question which nearly concerns the welfare of the people who have come to regard the King as the ultimate disposer of their destinies. No one who knows them doubts that their ambition is, as they put it themselves, " to take shelter beneath the British flag,'' and as that is their desire, so it is probably their ultimate destiny.

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