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Malaysia: Political Parties, Trades Unions and Pressure Groups Material

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0101 PP.MY
Held at: Institute of Commonwealth Studies
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Full title: Malaysia: Political Parties, Trades Unions and Pressure Groups Material
Date(s): 1958-
Level of description: Collection (Fonds)
Extent: 2 boxes
Name of creator(s): Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The politics of the areas now known as Malaysia have been dominated since independence by ethnic divisions which have permeated the economic as well as the cultural and political spheres. While the Malays form a majority of the population under the British they were largely excluded from urban roles and economic ownership in favour of the large Chinese minority, while the Indian community largely worked in serflike conditions on the peninsula's rubber plantations. The Federation of Malaya was created in 1952, and the aforementioned differences were initially resolved by the formation of the Alliance Party comprising the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the Malayan - later Malaysian - Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malayan - later Malaysian - Indian Congress (MIC). This multi-racial umbrella organisation presided over independence in 1957 and the merger with Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah which created the Federation of Malaysia in 1963 (Singapore left in 1965). Yet subsuming potentially antagonistic groups inside the Alliance almost guaranteed that the challenge to one-party rule would draw on the dissatisfaction of ethnic groups which no longer felt the original parties were representing their interests, and so new parties emerged in opposition, most notably the largely Malay Parti Islam-Se-Malaysia (PAS) and the predominantly Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP). The advances of the latter in the 1969 elections led to communal rioting and the two-year suspension of parliament, which was dominated upon its recall by a new coalition, the Barisan Nasional, based upon the Alliance but with a greater Malay dominance. This party has remained in power since, presiding over the impressive Malaysian growth of the New Economic Policy period of the 1970s and 1980s but also over a democratic process which looked increasingly unlikely to offer any possibility of a change of government.


Scope and content/abstract:

Constitutions, manifestos, conference reports, histories, speeches, pamphlets, posters, letters and leaflets, from 1958 onwards, issued by the Alliance Party (Malaysia), the Barisan Nasional (Organization), the Democratic Action Party, the Malayan Chinese Association, the Malayan Communist Party, the Malayan Employers' Consultative Association, the Malayan People's Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee, the Malaysian Chinese Association, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, the Parti Islam Semalaysia, the Parti Progresif Penduduk Malaysia, the Pemuda Sosialis Malaya, the Socialist Party (Malaysia), and the United Malays National Organisation. The materials originate from parties both inside and outside the Alliance/Barisan Nasional, and deal with the achievements of the governing parties and their failings and the failings of the democratic system from the perspective of opposition groups. There are also a small number of trades union and pressure group materials, the latter exclusively concerned with opposition to the war in Vietnam.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
Mostly English, some Chinese and Malayalam

System of arrangement:

Alphabetically by group, and then in rough chronological order.

Conditions governing access:

Open to all for research purposes; access is free for anyone in higher education.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies can usually be obtained - apply to library staff.

Finding aids:

Records at item level on library catalogue (SASCAT).

Archival Information

Archival history:

The ICS political parties collection was begun in 1960-1961, with special emphasis being placed on primary material such as party constitutions, policy statements, convention reports and election manifestos. Since then, the main method of gathering material has been to appeal directly to political parties throughout the Commonwealth, though contributions from Institute members and staff following visits to relevant countries have been significant. More recently material has been collected by means of downloading documents from the websites of the major parties.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also Political Party, Trades Unions and Pressure Group Materials for other Commonwealth countries and related material in the library's main classified sequence, all held at the ICS.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Description compiled by Daniel Millum, Political Archives Project Officer at the Institutes of Commonwealth and Latin American Studies.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Created 12/05/2004 AIM25

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