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British colonial policy on social welfare in Malaya : child welfare services 1946-1957

By Fuziah Shaffie


The purpose of this study is to illustrate the extent to which colonial welfare ideas and\ud practices shaped social welfare in Malaysia, with particular reference to child welfare\ud services. In particular, the study explores the scope in which social welfare services was\ud established and developed by the colonial government, the degree of the colonial\ud government's intervention in child welfare services, and the guidelines used by the\ud colonial officials to resolve child welfare issues during the period of 1946-1957.\ud Midgley's Social Welfare Models considers the role of diffusion of colonial\ud welfare ideas and practices, and the residual conception in the approach to welfare\ud within the context of colonialism.\ud The study has employed archival materials on British colonial administration in\ud Malaya kept in the UK National Archive and the Malaysian National Archive to\ud illuminate Midgley's Social Welfare Model. Interviews with Malaysian ex-welfare\ud officers who had personal experience of working at the Department of Social Work\ud (OSW) during the British colonial period were also carried out.\ud The study indicates that, as a contribution to historical and sociological\ud knowledge, children welfare services in Malaya were first organized for immigrant\ud labourers to ensure a regular and reliable supply of healthy workforce. This denotes that\ud the focus of the colonial government was on the exploitation of Malaya's economy, and\ud social welfare issues were peripheral. This standpoint taken by the British colonial\ud government has indeed conformed to the abovementioned welfare model.\ud The study has also revealed that during the period of 1946-1957, the British\ud made efforts to provide welfare for the people of Malaya with the establishment of\ud DSW in 1946. However, the DSW faced complexity of handling welfare issues, such as\ud children welfare, within a multiethnic society because of the different cultures, values\ud and beliefs that existed. The study also suggests that the needs of Europeans and key\ud workers were the prime concerns of the colonial government for their commercial\ud interests. The study has shown that ideas on welfare from the host country were\ud instituted, although, on some occasions, the government made attempts to adapt these\ud ideas to suit the local circumstances.\ud The study concludes that Malayan welfare policy enacted by the British colonial\ud officials followed British welfare ideas and accepted the role of voluntary bodies in the\ud provision of welfare to children. Thus, the government took a residual approach to\ud welfare in which welfare services were provided for the needy and the government\ud played a minimalist role in welfare provision. Although the colonial government\ud contributed to the development of child welfare services in Malaya during the period of\ud 1946-1957, the implementation of the services did. not follow any specific welfare\ud model and no definite child welfare policy was particularly drawn up for Malaya

Topics: HV
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:4113

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