Abstract: The Trouble with Tin: Businesses and Governments in Decolonizing Malaya

Nick White


Focusing on the decolonization period of the late 1940s to late 1950s, this paper analyzes the contestations that surrounded the future of the tin industry in the world's premiere producing country, Malaya (today's peninsula or West Malaysia). Government-business relations were not only complicated by deep fissures between U.S., British, and Malayan administrations but also by the long-standing structural and ideological cleavages within the foreign-controlled dredging sector. Against the backdrop of communist insurgency and political devolution, the developmentalist orientation and administrative idiosyncrasies of terminal colonialism underlined the autonomy of the Malayan state from business actors (whether expatriate, multinational, or ethnic Chinese).