Skip to main content

Malayan Constitutional Changes (Agreement)

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 8 July 1954

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is now in a position to make a statement on the proposed constitutional changes in Malaya and the possibility of all Malayan political parties co-operating in the new proposals.

Yes. I am glad to be able to announce that, after the High Commissioner had explained the course he intends to pursue when he appoints the nominated reserve members, to whom reference is made in paragraph 31 of the Election Committee Report, the leaders of the Alliance have stated that they are prepared to co-operate with and participate in the Government at all levels as before.I am circulating below the text of the letters exchanged between the High Com missioner and Tunku Abdul Rahman on behalf of the Alliance, in which this agreement was reached. Briefly, it is the intention of the High Commissioner to consult the leaders of the majority party or parties among the elected members before making appointments to the five reserved seats.

A. High Commissioner's letter of 6th July, 1954, to Tunku Abdul Rahman

"As a result of my recent discussions with you, Colonel H. S. Lee and Dr. Ismail, I am writing to clarify the course I intend to pursue when appointing nominated reserve' members, to whom reference is made in paragraph 31 of the Election Committee Report.

These members are not to be appointed by me until the election is completed and the appointments are to be made in the light of the result of that election. Apart from the officials, whom all are agreed should fill two of these seats, the primary purpose of these members is to give a voice in the Council to any important element which had not found adequate representation in the Council through the electoral process. In giving effect to this purpose it would. I believe, be inappropriate for me to send these representatives into the Council to oppose the policy of the majority among the elected members; indeed this might well be regarded as thwarting or frustrating the wishes of the electors as expressed at the polls and as being inconsistent with promotion of that harmony and close identity between the Legislature as a whole and the Executive, which the Election Committee unanimously indicated in paragraph 106 of their Report should be the constant aim of the High Commissioner. The purpose of these seats, as well as the basic intention of the Constitution, will, I believe, be more readily and appropriately achieved by filling these seats with representatives chosen for the purposes indicated in paragraph 31 of the Report, who are not likely to find themselves out of harmony with major political opinion in the Council as reflected among the elected members, and consequently less able to inform and guide that opinion effectively.

It is therefore my intention to consult the leaders of the majority party or parties among the elected members before making appointments to these seats.

I hope that with this statement of intention, you will find yourself able to co-operate in the establishment of the new constitutional arrangements and to give your support to legislative measures which will give effect to proposals contained in Federal Council Paper No. 21 of 1954."

B. Tunku Abdul Rahman reply, dated 6th July, 1954.

"I have to thank you for your communication in regard to the course which you intend to pursue on the introduction of elections in appointing "nominated reserve" members, which I have communicated to my colleagues.

In view of this statement we are satisfied that the proposed constitutional arrangements have a reasonable prospect of working satisfactorily and the Alliance is therefore prepared to extend its support to the establishment of these arrangements and to co-operate and participate with the Government at all levels as before. We therefore trust that for this purpose members of the Alliance will be re-appointed to the various Councils, boards and committees of which they were previously members. But in this connection you will appreciate our concern that all our members who have resigned should be afforded the same consideration in order to ensure cooperation at all levels.

We do, however, feel that there are other aspects of the Federation agreement as it stands which merit further consideration and we understand that it will be Your Excellency's intention to discuss with Their Highnesses the Rulers on 15th July the request of the Alliance for a Commission to report on these matters."

C. High Commissioner's Reply to Tunku Abdul Rahman dated 7th July, 1954.

"I have to thank you for your letter of the 6th July on the subject of the constitution arrangements to provide for the introduction of elections and am glad to receive your assurance that the Alliance will give its support to the establishment of these arrangements, together with the expression of its wish to cooperate and participate with the Government as before.

In the circumstances I hope the " status quo" before the resignations will be restored as soon as possible so that the Alliance may be able to give this support and co-operation. But as the resignations have extended to councils, boards and committees in States, it will be necessary for me to consult Their Highnesses the Rulers in this regard and I intend to take the first opportunity of doing so."