The Straits Settlements and Malaya
in Colonial naval culture and British imperialism, 1922–67
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As early as 1902, the same year as the Anglo-Japanese naval treaty, military authorities in Malaya pressed for the creation of locally-recruited volunteer units. The Straits Settlements Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (SSRNVR) was established in Singapore on 20 April 1934. The SSRNVR's discriminatory recruitment policy was criticised by the Eurasian community, who highlighted the issue in its campaign for political and social rights. The Admiralty discussed reconstituting the Malayan Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (MRNVR) with the Malay ratings in Ceylon for the re-occupation of Malaya. The Royal Malayan Navy's (RMN) amateur roots as volunteer reserves undermined its attempts to professionalise the service, with the incompetence of retired and reserve British officers undermining the Navy's efficiency and Britain's prestige. This loss of respect, and the Malaysian Government's desire to assert its post-colonial autonomy, led it to forge a closer naval relationship with Australia at the expense of British hegemony.


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