Daniel Lee, Ulrica Ong, Kiri Halsted
How far was the success of the nationalist movements in SEA dependent on the personalities of their leader?
The success of the nationalist movements was widely due to the personalities of their leaders, the conservative and religious natures of the leaders as well as the charisma of the leaders. Nationalist movements refer to movements which aim to preserve a nation’s identity, tradition, culture or language. The success of nationalist movements refer to the advancement in independence for the country as well as the creation of an identity for the locals which are different to their colonial masters.
Firstly, the conservative and religious natures of the leader’s personalities contributed to the success of the nationalist movements in SEA. Due to the leaders’ strong religious beliefs, they were able to garner support from those who shared the same beliefs as them which can be seen through numbers and protests. This led to the success of the nationalist movements, as they were able to not only garner support but also be united under the same beliefs, working towards a common goal.
In Burma, the Young Men’s Buddhist Association (YMBA) was formed in 1906 and by 1916, it had become a national organization with branches throughout
Burma, which shows that it had garnered a lot of support through numbers from the Buddhist youths all around Burma. The common goal of the people in this organization was to assert their Burmese identity and to “rescue” it from being tarnished by the British. The most famous incident of a clash between the Burmese Buddhist and the British was when the British refused to remove their shoes before entering Buddhist religious buildings even though the Burmese Buddhist were persistent in their attempts to get the British to comply to their request. In response, the members of the YMBA held a protest against the British’s actions and this led to the British being more mindful of the cultural issues in Burma. Therefore, the religious and conservative nature of the personalities of the leaders of YMBA led to the success of the nationalist movement in Burma.
In British Malaya, Kaum Muda began in 1906 with the aims of giving Malays the proper understanding of and submission to the law and the spirit of Islam. This purified the society as the Malays properly practiced Islamic practices. This resulted in the purification of Islam which in turn accelerated the social and economic improvements within the Malay society. Therefore, the religious and conservative nature of the personalities of the leaders of Kaum Muda led to the success of the nationalist movement in British Malaya.
Secondly, the charisma of the leaders led to the success of the nationalist movements. Charismatic leaders are usually good speakers at rallies and are thus able to influence more people. This is important for nationalist
movements as more people will be motivated to support the movements. With this support, the nationalist movements would then be able to carry out various nationalist activities which leads to the movement being able to achieve its aims and objectives. Thus the charisma of the leaders is important in helping the nationalist movements to be successful.
In Dutch Indonesia, Sukarno was a charismatic leader who was able to inspire people through his speeches by showing his passion in implementing his movement’s ideas and giving the locals a better livelihood. Sukarno’s party, the Perserikatan Nasional Indonesia (PNI), was the first major political party which was ...
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