British Military Administration (Malaya)

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British Military Administration of Malaya
Transitional government




Japan surrender to British in Kuala Lumpur on 1945.
Capital Kuala Lumpur (de facto)
Government Military occupation
Historical era Post-war
 -  Surrender of Japan 2 September 1945
 -  British Military Administration set up
12 September 1945
 -  Formation of Malayan Union
1 April 1946
Currency Malayan dollar
Today part of  Malaysia

The British Military Administration (BMA) was the interim administrator of British Malaya between the end of World War II and the establishment of the Malayan Union in 1946. Specifically, the entity lasted from September 1945 to April 1946. The Federated Malay States, the Unfederated Malay States as well as the Straits Settlement including Singapore were placed under temporary British military rule.

By Proclamation No. 1 (1945), the Supreme Allied Commander of Southeast Asia established the British Military Administration which assumed full judicial, legislative, executive and administrative powers and responsibilities and conclusive jurisdiction over all persons and property throughout such areas of Malaya. The Proclamation also declared that all laws and customs existing immediately prior to the Japanese Occupation would be respected, except that such of the existing law as the Chief Civil Affairs Officer considered practicable to administer during the period of military administration. Otherwise, all proclamations and legislative enactments of whatever kind issued by or under the authority of the Japanese Military Administration ceased to have effect. Lord Louis Mountbatten became the director of the administration in September 1945. Major-General Ralph Hone was given the post of Chief Civil Affairs Officer responsible for the Peninsula. Other professional soldiers and former European civil servants who had joined the army during the war comprised the government as well.

During the same time, Singapore became the headquarters of the British Governor General in Southeast Asia.

On 1 April 1946, the BMA was dissolved and was replaced with a confederation named Malayan Union. Singapore however was separated from the confederation by the British and made a crown colony by its own right.


For the purpose of streamlining the administration, postwar Malaya was divided into 9 regions with Perlis-Kedah, Negeri Sembilan-Melaka, and the other states as regions in their own right. The regions were controlled by a Senior Civil Affairs Officer (ranked either Colonel or Lieutenant-Colonel). Earlier, the planning for civil affairs in the Malayan Peninsula was done by the Deputy Chief Civil Affairs Officer, Brigadier H. C. Willan. The Federal Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur hosted the Civil Affairs Headquarters. In October 1945 this office was merged with the office of the Chief Civil Affairs Officer.

Given the military nature of the administration, the official power of some of the pre-war civilian governments' entities were suspended, including the rights of the Malay rulers. Civil Affairs Officers also acted in the capacity of District Officers. Colonel J. G. Adams was selected as the President of the Superior Court in 1945.

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