Decolonisation (1957-1966)/ University of Malaya
On October 8, 1949, the University of Malaya was founded in a grand ceremony held at the Oei Tiong Ham Hall at Raffles College, Singapore. The university would primarily serve citizens of Malaya, Singapore and Borneo and it was hoped that it will become a great centre of learning, enlightenment, culture and humanity for Southeast Asia.
In 1948, three years after the conclusion of World War II, the British Military Administration formed the Federation of Malaya out of British Malaya’s peninsular states, but re-created Singapore as a separate colony from its northern neighbours, while maintaining British North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak as British lands. Socially, economically and historically, the ties between the peoples of those areas cited as “Malaya” have not been quite so bounded, and it was not until 1963 that they became contained together in a geo-political scheme known as “Greater Malaysia”. The ideological basis of the university was therefore a sustained manifestation of “pan-Malayan” imagination activated since the colonial period especially within social and trade networks in the archipelago, rather than of any political conurbation.
It becomes the first national university still bearing the name “Malaya”.