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Sea Colonial Policies Nationalism Essay

1639 words - 7 pages

MJC: To what extent were colonial policies the main reason for the lack of progress of pre-WWII nationalism in SEA? (I try to brainstorm on colonial policies and see what I can come up with first)
-Lack of progress: tangible vs intangible progress/ultimate aim of independence
-colonial policies: direct/indirect rule, benign/brutal colonial masters which affects their policy stance
-nationalism: a political and social movement aimed at creating a nation state based on collective identity
Reasons for lack of progress: Colonial suppression, benign policies, disunity, inability to politicize the masses, elite-mass divide, western education
Thesis: The repressive ...view middle of the document...

Vietnam: Direct rule by French spurred many uprisings and nationalist groups like VNQDD and ICP but none of them were successful in terms of tangible progress.
Malaya: Indirect rule by British, but even though Sultanates were able to retain their power, the institutions created for political participation were merely a façade and they were puppet governors. This was compounded by the different aims of nationalist groups like KMS and the masses, and even the divide and rule policy that prevented the formation of common front by exacerbating the ethnic rifts already present in the divided population.
2. Yet, colonial policies may also sometimes, help in the progress of nationalism albeit a very minor one. The change in policy to give concessions to the nationalists resulted in a sense of confidence-boost in the nationalists, as they were able to extract a minor victory from the colonial master.
Burma: In the Shoe controversy, the British were willing to concede to the demands of the Burmese. This minor victory granted the Burmese and nationalists even greater confidence to address their socio-cultural problems and set in place an example of a successful movement for other nationalists to model upon.
However, it still very much depended on what type of colonial masters they were, brutal or benign that leads to their policy stance. Even so, benign colonial masters were also able to prevent tangible progress from being achieved.
3. The unwillingness and violent stance by colonial masters determined radical policies against the nationalists. It denied nationalist movements any chances of progress as they were inherently weaker in terms of military power to leverage on. Overt nationalists were thus quelled thoroughly and nationalist sentiments were curbed.
Vietnam: VNQDD was infiltrated by secret police and 225members out of 256members were killed. This was a devastating blow to the nationalist front and set an example of the consequences for future nationalists who wanted to rise up.
Indonesia: The PKI was ruthlessly suppressed, and PNI was also broken up. Their charismatic leader, Sukarno was sent into exile. This denied the nationalists a capable leadership or any form of avenues to rise up against the Dutch.
4. Benign colonial masters, though were less aggressive and more conceding, were also able to keep nationalist sentiments low and prevent the formation of a united front. Nationalists were not able to attain progress due to rising tensions between themselves.
Malaya: British divide and rule policy worsened the ethnic rifts already present and exacerbated the distaste between the races. This fragmented the huge immigrant population and prevented the formation of nationalist groups to demand for concessions.
Philippines: The grant of a set timetable for independence in Tydings Macduffice Act in 1934 and predominantly Filipino Congress ensured loyalty from nationalists were a given and there was little scope for opposition. Since...

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