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This article is not to be confused with the 'Unfederated Malay States.

The Federated Malay States (FMS) was a federation of four protected states in the Malay PeninsulaSelangormarker, Perakmarker, Negeri Sembilanmarker and Pahangmarker—established by the Britishmarker government in 1895, which lasted until 1946, when they, together with the Straits Settlementsmarker and the Unfederated Malay States, formed the Malayan Unionmarker. Two years later, the Union became the Federation of Malayamarker and finally Malaysiamarker in 1963 with the inclusion of Sabahmarker (then North Borneo), Sarawakmarker and Singaporemarker.

The United Kingdommarker was responsible for foreign affairs and defence of the federation, whilst the states continued to be responsible for their domestic policies. Even so, the British Resident General would give advice on domestic issues, and the states were bound by treaty to follow that advice. The federation had Kuala Lumpurmarker, which was then part of Selangor, as its capital. The first FMS Resident General was Sir Frank Swettenham.

The federation along with the other Malay states of the peninsular and British possessionsmarker was overrun and occupied by the Japanese. After the liberation of Malaya due to the Japanese surrender, the federation was not restored. However, the federal form of government was retained as the principal model for consolidating the separate States as an independent Federation of Malayamarker and the Federation's later evolution into Malaysiamarker.

Constituent States and First Durbar

Although the Resident General was the real administrator of the federation, each of the four constituent states of the federation retained their respective hereditary rulers (sultans). At the formation of the Federated Malay States, the reigning sultans were:

  1. Sultan Alaiddin Sulaiman Shah of Selangormarker
  2. Sultan Idris Murshidul ‘Adzam Shah I of Perakmarker
  3. Yam Tuan Tuanku Muhammad Shah of Negeri Sembilanmarker
  4. Sultan Ahmad Mu’adzam Shah of Pahangmarker

In 1897 the first Durbar was convened in the royal town of Kuala Kangsarmarker, Perak as the platform for discussions for the four Rulers. This formed the basis for the Conference of Rulers that was created later on under Article 38 of the Malaysian Constitution in August 27, 1957.

Flag and emblem of the Federation


The Federated Malay States had a flag of its own until its dissolution in 1946. The flag consisted of four different-colored stripes, namely, from top to bottom, white, red, yellow and black. Combination of any color represents the four states that formed the FMS - red, black and yellow are for Negeri Sembilan; black and white for Pahang; black, white and yellow for Perak; and red and yellow for Selangor. The same design concept is used in Malaysian national emblem. In the middle is an oblong circle with a Malayan tiger in it.

The National History Museum located near the Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has a replica of the federation's flag.

Coat of Arms

Coat of arms of the Federated Malay States (1895-1946)

The coat of arms of the Federated Malay States featured a shield guarded by two tigers. On the top of the shield is the crown (known as Eastern Crown in English heraldry), as symbol of the federation of monarchies under the protection of the United Kingdom. A banner with the phrase "Dipelihara Allah" (Under God's (Allah) Protection) written in Jawi is located underneath the shield.

The combinations of the four colors of the shield represents the colors of the flag of the states of the FMS (in the same way the flag of the FMS represents the states)

  1. Red and yellow for Selangormarker
  2. Black, white and yellow for Perakmarker
  3. Red, black and yellow for Negeri Sembilanmarker
  4. Black and white for Pahangmarker

This design forms the basis of the Federation of Malaya'smarker (later Malaysia) national emblem with the guardian tigers element and a quartered shield of four colours (white, red, yellow and black) in the central part of the shield representing the Federated Malay States.

The phrase "Dipelihara Allah" was also adopted as the current state motto for the state of Selangor.

Naval Ensign

Naval ensign of the Federated Malay States (1895-1946)

In addition to a state flag, the Federated Malay States also had a a naval jack or ensign for use on government ships. The ensign, with the four colors of the FMS, was flown by HMS Malaya (commanded by Captain Boyle under the 5th Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet) during the Battle of Jutlandmarker in the North Sea, which was the largest and the only full scale clash of battleships during World War One.

The Treaty of Federation and Administration

British Protectorate

The protectorate of the Federated Malay States was established after the four Rulers of Selangor, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang agreed to a federation and centralized administration in 1895 and in which the Treaty of Federation was drawn up and signed on the 1st of July 1896. By this treaty and the previous acceptance of the British Residents System in Selangor (1875), Perak (1874), Negeri Sembilan (1873) and Pahang (1888); the FMS were officially turned into a nominally independent protectorate of Great Britain (not to be confused with the British possessions like the territories of the Straits Settlementsmarker

With the Treaty of Federation the Malay Rulers effectively gave up their political power in their states, having to act after consulting and only with the due consent of their respective Residents. However, the United Kingdom pledged not to interfere in matters relating to native Malay traditions and Islamic affair.

Structure of the Federated Malay States

A well-ordered system of public administration was established, public services were extended, and large-scale rubber and tin production was developed. This control was interrupted by the Japanese invasion and occupation from 1941 to 1945 during World War II.

Federal Council

The British established the Federal Council in 1889 to administer the FMS. It was headed by the High Commissioner (The Governor of the Straits Settlement), assisted by the Resident-General, the Sultans, the four state Residents and four nominated unofficial members. This structure remained until the Japanese invaded Malaya on 8 December 1941.

From 1896 to 1936, real power lay in the hands of the Resident-General, later known as Chief Secretary of the Federation.

Residents-General of the FMS (1896-1911)
Residents-General From Until
Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham 1896 1901
Sir William Hood Treacher 1901 1904
Sir William Thomas Taylor 1904 1910
Sir Arthur Henderson Young 1910 1911

Chief Secretary to the Government
Chief Secretaries to the Government of the FMS (1911-1936)
Chief Secretaries From Until
Edward Lewis Brockman 1911 1920
Sir William George Maxwell 1920 1926
Sir William Peel 1926 1930
Charles Walter Hamilton Cochrane 1930 1932
Andrew Caldecott 1932 1934
Malcolm Bond Shelley 1934 1935
Marcus Rex 1935 1936

Federal Secretaries
After 1936 the Federal Secretaries were no more than coordinating officers,under the authority of the High Commissioners, which are always the Governors of the Straits Settlements

Federal Secretaries of the FMS (1936-1942)
Residents-General From Until
Christopher Dominic Ahearne 1936 1939
Hugh Fraser 1939 1942

State Council

In the Federated Malay States, the individual State were still ruled by the Sultan but was now advised by the State Council for the purpose of administrating the State. The State Council was made up of the Resident (or in certain cases by the Secretary to the Resident), native chiefs, and representative(s) of the Chinese community nominated by the Sultan. The council discussed matters of interest for each respective state such as legislative and administrative issues as well as revision of all sentence of capital punishment. The Resident and his staff (mostly consist of European and Malay) carried on with the administrative work.

  • 1875 - 1876 James Guthrie Davidson
  • 1876 - 1882 Bloomfield Douglas (b. 1822 - d. 1906)
  • 1882 - 1884 Frank Athelstane Swettenham (b. 1850 - d. 1946)
  • 1884 - 1888 John Pickersgill Rodger (1st time) (acting) (b. 1851 - d. 1910)
  • 1889 - 1892 William Edward Maxwell (b. 1846 - d. 1897)
  • 1892 - 1896 William Hood Treacher (b. 1849 - d. 1919)
  • 1896 - 1902 John Pickersgill Rodger (2nd time) (s.a.)
  • 1902 - 1910 Henry Conway Belfield (b. 1855 - d. 1923)
  • 1910 - 1913 Reginald George Watson (b. 1862 - d. 1926)
  • 1913 - 1919 Edward George Broadrick (b. 1864 - d. 1929)
  • 1919 - 1921 Arthur Henry Lemon (b. 1864 - d. 1933)
  • 1921 - 1926 Oswald Francis Gerard Stonor (b. 1872 - d. 1940)
  • 1926 - 1927 Henry Wagstaffe Thomson (b. 1874 - d. 1941)
  • 1927 - 1931 James Lornie (b. 1876 - d. 1959)
  • 1932 - 1933 G.E. Cater
  • 1933 - 1935 George Ernest London (b. 1889 - d. 1957)
  • 1935 - 1937 Theodore Samuel Adams (b. 1885 - d. 1961)
  • 1937 - 1939 Stanley Wilson Jones (b. 1888 - d. 1962)
  • 1939 - 1941 G.M. Kidd
  • 1941 Norman Rowlstone Jarrett (acting) (b. 1889 - d. 1982)

  • 1874 - 1875 James Wheeler Woodford Birch (b. 1826 - d. 1875)
  • 1876 - 1877 James Guthrie Davidson
  • 1877 - 1889 Hugh Low (from 1883, Sir Hugh Low) (b. 1824 - d. 1905)
  • 1889 - 1896 Frank Athelstane Swettenham (b. 1850 - d. 1946)
  • 1896 - 1902 William Hood Treacher (b. 1849 - d. 1919)
  • 1902 - 1903 John Pickersgill Rodger (b. 1851 - d. 1910)
  • 1905 - 1910 Ernest Woodford Birch (b. 1857 - d. 1929)
  • 1910 - 1912 Henry Conway Belfield (b. 1855 - d. 1923)
  • 1912 - 1913 William James Parke Hume (1st time) (acting) (b. 1866 - d. 1952)
  • 1913 - 1919 Reginald George Watson (b. 1862 - d. 1926)
  • 1919 - 1920 George Maxwell (b. 1871 - d. 1959)
  • 1920 - 1921 William James Parke Hume (2nd time) (s.a.)
  • 1921 - 1926 Cecil William Chase Parr (b. 1871 - d. 1943)
  • 1926 - 1927 Oswald Francis Gerard Stonor (b. 1872 - d. 1940)
  • 1927 - 1929 Henry Wagstaffe Thomson (b. 1874 - d. 1941)
  • 1929 - 1930 Charles Walter Hamilton Cochrane (b. 1876 - d. 1932)
  • 1931 - 1932 Bertram Walter Elles (b. 1877 - d. 19...)
  • 1932 - 1939 G.E. Cater
  • 1939 - 1941 Marcus Rex (b. 1886 - d. 1971)

Negeri Sembilan
  • 1888 - 1891 Martin Lister (1st time) (b. 1857 - d. 1897)
  • 1891 - 1894 W.F.B. Paul
  • 1894 - 1895 Robert Norman Bland (b. 1859 - d. 1948)
  • 1895 - 1897 Martin Lister (2nd time) (s.a.)
  • 1898 - 1901 Ernest Woodford Birch (b. 1857 - d. 1929)
  • 1901 - 1902 Henry Conway Belfield (b. 1855 - d. 1923)
  • 1902 - 1903 Walter Egerton (b. 1858 - d. 1947)
  • 1904 - 1910 Douglas Graham Campbell (b. 1867 - d. 1918)
  • 1910 - 1911 Richard James Wilkinson (b. 1867 - d. 1941)
  • 1912 - 1919 Arthur Henry Lemon (b. 1864 - d. 1933)
  • 1919 - 1921 J.R.O. Aldworth (acting)
  • 1921 - 1925 Edward Shaw Hose (b. 1871 - d. 1946)
  • 1925 - 1928 Ernest Charteris Holford Wolff (b. 1875 - d. 1946)
  • 1928 - 1932 James William Simmons (b. 1877 - d. 19...)
  • 1932 - 1937 John Whitehouse Ward Hughes (b. 1883 - d. 19...)
  • 1937 - 1939 Gordon Lupton Ham (b. 1885 - d. 1965)
  • 1939 - 1941 John Vincent Cowgill (b. 1888 - d. 1959)

  • 1888 - 1896 John Pickersgill Rodger (b. 1851 - d. 1910)
  • 1896 - 1900 Hugh Clifford (1st time) (b. 1866 - d. 1941)
  • 1900 - 1901 Arthur Butler (b. 18... - d. 1901)
  • 1901 D.H. Wise (acting)
  • 1901 - 1903 Hugh Clifford (2nd time) (s.a.)
  • 1905 - 1908 Cecil Wray
  • 1908 - 1909 Harvey Chevallier (acting)
  • 1909 - 1910 Edward Lewis Brockman (b. 1865 - d. 1943)
  • 1910 - 1911 Warren Delabere Barnes (b. 1865 - d. 19...)
  • 1911 - 1917 Edward John Brewster (b. 1861 - d. 1931)
  • 1917 - 1921 Cecil William Chase Parr (b. 1871 - d. 1943)
  • 1921 - 1922 F.A.S. McClelland (acting) (b. 1873 - d. 1947)
  • 1922 - 1926 Henry Wagstaffe Thomson (b. 1874 - d. 1941)
  • 1926 - 1929 Arthur Furley Worthington (b. 1874 - d. 1964)
  • 1929 - 1930 C.F.J. Green
  • 1931 - 1935 Hugh Goodwin Russell Leonard (b. 1880 - d. 19...)
  • 1935 - 1941 C.C. Brown

Administrative subdivisions

For the purpose of efficient administration, all the states of the federation were further divided into districts (Malay: Daerah). Each district was administered by a District Office (Malay: Pejabat Daerah) headed by a District Officer (Malay: Pegawai Daerah).


State capital : Taipingmarker

1. Ulu Perak (Upper Perak)
2. Larut and Krian
3. Kuala Kangsar
4. Kinta
5. Hilir Perak (Lower Perak)
6. Batang Padang

The territories of Dindingmarker and Pangkor Islandmarker was ceded to the British, administered as part of the Straits Settlementmarker. Returned to the government of Perak in 1935.


State capital : Kuala Lumpurmarker (also as the Federal capital)


7. Kuala Selangor
8. Ulu Selangor
9. Kuala Lumpur
10. Klang
11. Ulu Langat
12. Kuala Langat

Negeri Sembilan

State capital : Serembanmarker


13. Coast District
14. Seremban District
15. Jelebu
16. Kuala Pilah
17. Tampin

Tanjung Tuanmarker (also known as Cape Rachado) was a Dutch possession (originally Portuguese before 1641), passed to the British in 1824. Administered as an exclave of Malaccamarker until today.


State capital : Kuala Lipismarker


18. Ulu Pahang
19. Temerloh
20. Kuantan
21. Pekan


One Malayan Dollar - Front (1941)

From the earlier period of the federation the currency in used was the Straits dollar issued by the Board of Commissioners of Currency. As the currency depreciated over time, it was pegged at two shillings four sterling pence in 1906. In 1939, the British government introduced a new currency, Malayan dollar (ringgit in Malay) for used in Malaya and Brunei replacing the Straits dollar at par value. It had the smallest denominations of 1 cent to a highest of 1000 Malayan dollar and retained the exchange rate as was from the Straits dollar.

The Federated Malay States main economic activity was mostly focused on agriculture and mining with emphasis on rubber and tin. FMS and Malaya as a whole was the main supplier of these two commodities for the British industrial need. Rubber estates or plantations were established in all four states and tin was mined primarily in the Klang valley in Selangor and the Kinta valley in Perak. This labor intensive economic activities prompted the British to bring in immigrant workers from Southern India to work at the plantations and workers from Southern China to mine the tin.

The economic condition in the period can be viewed as self-sustainable, as the income of the federation was more than what was expended in terms of maintaining the administration and economic activities. In the later period, a lot of resources was poured into the development of the city of Kuala Lumpurmarker, as the capital of the federation. This period also saw rapid growth in terms of communications infrastructure such as interstate roads, a narrow gauge railway line from Penang to Singapore, and the Port Swettenham (present day Port Klangmarker). Public schools and academic institutions were also opened along with an improvement in public health. An area in the city was also gazetted as a settlement for the Malay called Kampung Barumarker. Public buildings were also constructed such as the Kuala Lumpur railway stationmarker, the Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad complex and Masjid Jamekmarker.

The table and section below illustrated the economic growth of the federation and its member states.

Growth of trade and government revenue and expenditure (1875-1922)
Year Revenue Expenditure Import Export
1875 $409,394 $436,872 $831,375 $739,972
1880 $881,910 $794,944 $2,231,048 $1,906,952
1885 $2,208,709 $2,261,954 $8,667,425 $9,961,786
1890 $4,840,065 $5,237,275 $15,443,809 $17,602,093
1895 $8,481,007 $7,582,553 $22,653,271 $31,622,805
1900 $15,609,807 $12,728,930 $38,402,581 $60,361,045
1905 $23,964,593 $20,750,395 $50,575,455 $80,057,654
1910 $26,553,018 $23,598,610 $53,255,151 $102,851,990
1915 $40,774,984 $42,838,631 $61,343,935 $162,429,254
1920 $72,277,146 $100,433,471 $175,916,712 $289,112,016
1921 $54,449,568 $114,386,546 $102,914,877 $134,955,549
1922 $52,494,110 $49,811,007 $78,822,349 $140,429,775
Note: All values are in Straits Dollar (One dollar fixed at two shillings and four pence sterling). Data for Pahang included only from 1890 onwards

Ref: Harrison, Cuthbert Woodville. An Illustrated Guide to the Federated Malay States. 1923


The revenue of Selangor in 1875 amounted to only $115,656; in 1905 it had increased to $8,857,793. Of this latter sum $3,195,318 was derived from duty on tin exported, $1,972,628 from finance, federal receipts, and $340,360 from land revenue. The trade balance was chiefly derived from the revenue farms, which included the right to collect import duty on opium and spirits. The expenditure for 1905 amounted to $7,186,146, of which sum $3,717,238 was on account of federal charges and $1,850,711 for public works. The value of the imports in 1905 was $24,643,619 and that of the exports was $26,683,316, making a total of $51,326,935 equivalent to £5,988,000. Tin is the principal export. The amount exported in 1905 was 17,254 tons. The total area of alienated mining land at the end of 1905 amounted to .


The revenue of Perak in 1874 amounted to $226,333. That for 1905 amounted to $12,242,897. Of this latter sum $4,876,400 was derived from duty on exported tin, $2,489,300 from railway receipts, $505,300 from land revenue and $142,800 from postal and telegraphic revenue. The remainder is mainly derived from the revenue farms, which are leased for a short term of years, conveying to the lessee the right to collect import duties upon opium, wine and spirits, to keep pawnbroking shops, and to keep public licensed gambling-houses for the use of non-Malay only. The expenditure for 1905 amounted to $10,141,980. Of this sum $4,236,000 was expended upon railway upkeep and construction and $2,176,100 upon public works. The value of the imports into Perak during 1905 was over $20,000,000, and that of the exports exceeded $40,000,000, making a total of over $60,000,000, equivalent to about seven million sterling. The output of tin from Perak ranged between 18,960 tons, valued at $23,099,506 in 1899, and 26,600 tons, valued at $35,500,000, in 1905. The fluctuating character of the output was due to the uncertainty of the labour supply. The mining population was recruited exclusively from the districts of southern China, and during certain years an increased demand for labourers in China itself, in French Indo-China, in the Dutch colonies, and in South Africa temporarily and adversely affected immigration to the Straits of Malacca. The output had, moreover, been affected from time to time by the price of tin, which was $32.20 per pikul in 1896, rose to $42.96 in 1898, to $74.15 in 1900, and averaged $80.60 in 1905. Exclusive of tin, the principal exports were $108,000 worth of Para rubber, $181,000 of copra, $54,000 of hides, $48,000 of patchouli, and considerable quantities of timber, rattans and other jungle produce.

Negeri Sembilan

The revenue of the Negri Sembilan amounted to only $223,435 in 1888. In 1898 it had increased to $701,334, in 1900 to $1,251,366, and in 1905 to $2,335,534. The revenue for 1905 was derived mainly as follows: - customs $1,268,602, land revenue $145,475, land sales $21,407, while the revenue farms contributed $584,459. The expenditure in 1905 amounted to $2,214,093, of which $1,125,355 was expended upon public works. The trade returns for 1905, which are not, however, complete, showed an aggregate value of about $13,000,000. The value of the tin exported during 1905 exceeded $6,900,000, and the value of the agricultural produce, of which gambier represented $211,000 and damar $80,000, amounted to $407,990.


The revenue of Pahang in 1899 amounted to only $62,077; in 1900 to $419,150. In 1905 it was $528,368. The expenditure in 1905 amounted to $1,208,176. Of this sum $736,886 was expended on public works. Pahang is still a source of expense to the federation, its progress having been retarded by the disturbances which lasted from December 1891 until 1895, with short intervals of peace, but the revenue was steadily increasing, and the ultimate financial success of the state is considered to be secure. Pahang owed something over $3,966,500 to Selangor and $1,175,000 to Perak, which had financed it for some years out of surplus revenue. The value of the imports in 1905 was $1,344,346, that of the exports was $3,838,928, thus making a total trade value of $5,183,274. The most valuable export is tin, the value of which in 1905 amounted to $2,820,745. The value of the gutta exported exceeded $140,000, that of dried and salted fish amounted to nearly $70,000, and that of timber to $325,000.


Press and Publications

Military History

WWI and the FMS

With the threat of Germany, the British Navy was in a drive for expansion. As a contribution, the Government and people of the Federated Malay States; agreed to finance the commissioning of HMS Malaya in a motion proposed in the Federal Council by His late Highness the Sultan of Perak in 1913, supported by His late Highness the Sultan of Selangor. The battleship which cost $25,000,000 (approximately £2,945,709) was one of five of the "Queen Elizabeth"' Class, displacing 31,000 tons, mounting fifteen-inch guns and capable of . The most modern ships of their day, they formed the 5th Battle Squadron and fought as such at Jutlandmarker in 1916. HMS Malaya was also refurbished and was in service throughout World War Two.

WWII - Japanese invasion and dissolution

Postage stamps

While the four states issued their own postage stamps as before, there were additional issues for the Federated States as a whole.

Notable event

The Federated Malay States was also within the flight path of American aviator, Amelia Earhart, on her Thailand - Singapore leg during her final and fatal attempt to cross the globe in 1937. Permission to enter the FMS airspace with provision to land in Taiping Airport was given on 7 June 1937.


See also

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