With the conflicts of the nineteenth century behind them, the British claim that they were simply ‘advising’ the rulers became the foundation myth of colonial government. Without any fear of contradiction, a British politician visiting Malaya could thus assert that ‘British influence became established in the Malay States – Federated as well as Unfederated – not as the result of conquest or aggression, but at the invitation of the rulers’ who had ‘always displayed a sincere affection and loyalty towards the British Crown’.1 The fiction that the ‘traditional’ structure of government had survived unaltered and should be maintained by the colonial regime was openly expressed in 1927 by Hugh Clifford, the second Resident of Pahang and now High Commissioner to the Malay states, who told the Federal Council that ‘no mandate has ever been extended to us by Rajas, Chiefs or People to vary the system of government’.2 Such assertions ignored the reality of the imposition of colonial political control discussed in the previous chapter, as well as the far-reaching effects of the socioeconomic changes the British had introduced to provide European capital with a supportive investment environment.
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