Topic: BusinessCase Study

Last updated: March 6, 2019

IntroductionIntroduction of the Residential SystemProblems faced by the ResidentsPerak : A Case StudyBirch’s MurderJames Birch vs Hugh LowEffects of Residential System on PerakAchievements of Hugh LowIntroduction of the Residential System?The Pangkor Treaty introduced the Residential System to MalayaArose out of the new Policy of British interventionA system of indirect British rule in the Malay States that had accepted British protection4 states only : Perak, Selangor Pahang and Negri SembilanThe Residential SystemA British Resident was appointed in each stateTo advise Sultan on all matters of administration and government except those concerning Malay religion and customThe Sultan remained as Head of StateThe Resident was there to advise and not to ruleThe Sultan was obliged to act on the Resident’s adviceThe Resident’s Duties1. Peace and OrderRestore and maintain peaceestablish law and order2.

Economic DevelopmentDevelop tin mines and other resources of the state 3. Revenue CollectionSet up an efficient system of controlling and collect revenueUsed to develop the stateThe Resident’s Difficulties1. Little help from Britainhad to achieve aims of the system with little help from their government2. Limited powerNo police or army to support them3. No specific guidelinesResidents received no specific guidelines from the British govt4. Sultans and followers resistant to changesDifficult to change and learn a new system of govt after centuries of traditional ruleSuccess or failure of the Residential System depended on one very important factor – The Resident’s working relationship with the Sultans and his Malay chiefsBritish GovernmentThe system had certain advantages for the British government :1. Limited ExpenditureOnly one man was sentSalary paid by SultanAccommodation provided by Sultan2. No Government ResponsibilityResident held full responsibility for anything that went wrongBritish Government is thus not put in any difficult situationWhat happened?Each Resident worked his own wayDifferent methods, different resultsSome successful, some notFirst attempt almost ended in disaster for the Residential System when JWW Birch, the first Resident of Perak, was murderedLater efficient administrators like Hugh Low made the system workableImplemented in 3 other statesPERAK : A Case StudyThe Residential System was first introduced in PerakThe first Resident, JWW Birch did miserably; in fact, he “died” miserably when he was murdered by angry Malay chiefs in 1874Who in the world was Birch?James W W BirchFirst Resident of PerakAppointed by Sir Andrew Clarke on 4 Nov 1874, 10 months after the signing of the Pangkor EngagementCivil servant for almost 30 years, mainly in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)He was Colonial Secretary to the Straits Settlements before becoming ResidentThus an experienced administratorDid not speak Malay, thus an obstacle to building up relations with the Sultan and the Malay chiefsHad a poor opinion of Malays and Malay customsReported to Clarke that “it concerns us little what were the old customs of the country…….

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I consider that they are not worthy of any consideration”BIRCH’S FIRST ACTION : Collection of State RevenueRe-organized Perak’s revenue system to come under his direct controlBirch felt that revenue collection was the Resident’s responsibility, not the Sultan and the chiefsDiscontinued Sultan Abdullah’s leasing of “revenue farm”Also stopped collection of revenue by chiefs of Upper and Lower PerakThis antagonized the Sultan and his chiefsno respect for Malay traditions and customsPut an end to their main source of wealth; provoked anger of the Malay chiefsBIRCH’S SECOND ACTION : Administrative ReformCode of Civil and Criminal LawEnforced by a government police forcePenghulus now responsible to Resident, not local chiefBritish-appointed judge replace Sultan as Chief JusticeVague compensationBIRCH’S THIRD ACTION : Social ReformsDebt-SlaveryBirch wanted to end debt-slaveryOpenly defied custom by helping slaves escape and sheltering themDid not even offer to compensate the Sultan ands chiefs for the abolition of this long established practiceHis action seen as a direct challenge to traditional customsAlso reprimanded the Sultan when he demanded the return of his runaway slavesConsequences of Birch’s ActionsOpen challenge to Malay tradition and customDirect violation of the terms of the Pangkor TreatyBy July 1875, Sultan and his chiefs had rejected both Birch and the Residential SystemSir William JervoisBirch as “Queen’s Commissioner”Sir William Jervois succeeded Sir Andrew Clarke as Governor of the SS in May 1875Agreed with Birch that Abdullah should be firmly dealt withProposed that Residents be made “Queen’s Commissioners” and rule the states directly on behalf of the SultanThreatened to depose Abdullah if he didn’t agreeCONSEQUENCES OF BIRCH’S ACTIONS : MURDER OF BIRCHAbdullah’s complaint to Clarke went unheededBirch insisted that Abdullah sign a proclamation to give him the right to collect revenueThreatened to replace him if he didn’t agreeMeeting among Sultan and Malay chiefs (except Raja Yusof – remember him?)MURDER OF BIRCHDecision : KILL BIRCH & drive the British out of MalayaMaharaja Lela, chief of Pasir Salak, volunteered for the assignmentRaja Ismail (remember him???) agreed to support Lela1 NOV 1875Birch was at Pasir Salak after distributing the proclamations (remember the proclamation that he forced Abdullah to sign?) in Lower PerakHe was murdered at the bath house (what a way to die – while bathing!)Stabbed through the attap walls of the bath houseHis body was thrown into the riverBRITISH REACTIONJervois launched a series of attacks with forces from Penang and Singapore, and later India and Hong KongBy July 1876, all accomplices to the murder were capturedPunishment was severePUNISHMENTAbdullah deposed and sent into exile with Ismail and others involvedMaharaja Lela and accomplices were hangedAFTERMATHRaja Yusof was appointed Regent and in 1886 Sultan of PerakSir Jervois was reprimanded for attempting to replace the Residential System with direct ruleColonial Office was very angry with him and held him responsible for the revoltJervois was removed from his postPerak was placed under a state of military control after Birch’s murder and the revoltMar 1876 – J G Davidson was appointed 2nd Resident of PerakResigned in Feb 1877 because of difficulties and problems he facedThe man to save Perak and lay the foundations of her prosperity was Hugh LowHe saved the Residential System in PerakREASONS FOR MURDER OF BIRCH1. Wrong Choice of Resident 2. Conflict between Birch and Malay chiefs 3.

Abdullah not suitable as Sultan 4. Misunderstanding about Treaty 5. Unsympathetic Attitude of the British GovernmentREASONS FOR MURDER OF BIRCH1. Wrong Choice of ResidentDid not speak Malay; relied on interpreterKnew little about Malay tradition and customs and didn’t care to understand themDespised the MalaysArrogant and impatient manunable to win support of Sultan and the Malay chiefs2. Conflict between Birch and Malay chiefsReforms went against tradition and custom; antagonized MalaysReforms such as new revenue collection system and abolition of debt-slaveryNo consideration, no consultation and little or no compensation3. Abdullah not suitable as SultanBlindly entered into Pangkor TreatyNot clear about actual implications of the termsWeak ruler who wasted a lot of moneySelected by British only because he was willing to accept British protectionA poor choice indeed by ClarkeHad ten months to consolidate his rule before Birch arrived4. Misunderstanding about Treatymisunderstanding over the termsAbdullah and his chiefs thought the Resident merely assisted and advised the SultanNot prepared for the changes that were forced on them5. Unsympathetic Attitude of the British GovernmentAndrew Clarke to share the blameDelay of 10 monthsDid not respond to Abdullah’s complaints about BirchLed to Sultan and his chiefs taking matters into their own handsJervois was unsympathetic and aggravated the situation by forcing the Sultan to accept direct rule by BritishSIR HUGH LOW IN PERAK 1877-1889Sir Hugh Low was most suitable for the post of Resident1.

Experiencemany years of experience as an administrator and diplomat in SEAExperienced the Residential System in Sarawak2. Familiar with Malay customs and traditionsalso familiar with the practice of debt slavery3. Speak MalayHugh could speak Malayeasier to establish a rapport with Malay chiefs4.

Understanding, patient ; tolerantstrategy to understand before being understoodHugh believed in winning their friendship through tact and patience50 years old when he was made Resident of PerakJ G Davidson had given up the post of Resident after 9 monthsSIR HUGH LOW IN PERAK 1877-1889Perak was in great disorderHeavy debtNo proper governmentNo control over Malay chiefs in collecting revenueNo money in State TreasuryLocals suspicious of BritishSultan Yusof unpopularA discouraging situation for Low right at the very startHugh Low turned in an impressive performanceWithin weeks of his arrival, Low managed to get the co-operation of the important Malay chiefsBy his third month, he had drawn up a rough guideline for an efficient system of administrationSIR HUGH LOW’s REFORMS1. The Perak State Council 2. Collection of Revenue 3.

Law & Order 4. Debt Slavery 5. Development of Perak1. The Perak State CouncilTo encourage the chiefs to take more interest in state governmentMembers : SULTAN, RESIDENT & ASST RESIDENT, 2 MALAY CHIEFS & TWO CHINESE REPSState revenue & expensesAppointments & salaries of officialsPensions of Malay chiefsEventually became the State Government as it took on the role of passing laws2. Collection of RevenueAbolished privilege of Sultan and his chiefs to collect revenueNo objection because firstly, they trusted Low & were thus willing to cooperate, and secondly, they were well-compensated for their lossControl & collection of revenue was thus regulated3.

Law and OrderCourts of JusticePresided by European magistrates & assisted by Malay magistratesPerak divided into districtsFurther subdivided into villages with headmanThe Headman acted as police, kept the peace, settled minor disputes, helped to collect revenue4. End of Debt SlaveryLow felt that this was a cruel practiceIndicated his views tactfullyOver time, introduced law s that slowly controlled and checked debt slaveryEventually debt slavery was abolished in Jan 1884Sultan and Malay chiefs given compensation for the loss of slaves who were set free5. Development of Perak 1. State Treasury 2. Communications 3. Agriculture1. State Treasuryproper collection of revenueprevented overspendingencouraged investment in PerakAccumulated revenue to pay off debts of $800,000 (1877)Low helped Perak accumulate a surplus revenue of $1.

5 million by the time he retired in 18892. CommunicationState revenue used to improve communications to develop tin-mining industryRoads, railways builtPublic health care, drainage, water supply and street lighting3. AgricultureDevelopment of agricultureExperimented with tea, coffee and cinchona (quinine)Responsible for introducing rubber into MalayaSIR HUGH LOW’s REFORMSGreatest achievement was the establishment of law and orderwith this, he developed Perak into Malaya’s richest stateResidential System under Low was a huge successcopied by Selangor, Negri Sembilan and PahangLow retired in 1889 after 12 years in PerakECONOMIC AND SOCIAL BENEFITS OF THE RESIDENTIAL SYSTEMResidential System was successful because the Residents made it work1. More effective governmentPerak State Council led to the reform of the legal system2. Peace and security led to political stability3. Law and Order led to economic development and consequently higher standards of livingRapid increase in populationimmigrants attracted to Perakmade Perak more multi-cultural4.

Improvement in communicationsroads and railways built5. New cash crops introducedRubber, pepper, sugar cane, gambier and tobacco6. Economic development brought social benefitshealth facilitiessocial amenitieswater supplyelectricitystreet lightingPerak citizens enjoyed a higher standard of living compared to unprotected Malay states which remained backwardDEMERITS OF THE RESIDENTIAL SYSTEM1. No uniformity of Government between the four statesalthough answerable to the Governor in S’pore, the respective Residents had very little contact with him2. Residents became more powerful at the expense of local chiefsBecause of his dominant nature, Perak was actually ruled by himSultan and the State Council had only limited influence3.

Different rates of economic growthDevelopment depended on the capabilities of the ResidentsPerak and Selangor developed rapidlyPahang and Negri Sembilan remained relatively poor and backward


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