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Muhammad Eunos Abdullah, Chairman 'Kesatuan Melayu Singapura' (Singapore Malay Union) - origins of Malay nationalism in Singapore

Muhammad Eunos Abdullah was born in Singapore in 1876. He was the son of a Minangkabau merchant from Sumatra. He studied in Raffles Institution in 1893 and later worked in the office of the Master Attendant, Singapore Harbour. In 1907 he became the editor of Malay paper 'Utusan Melayu'; he was a social worker and was the first Malay to become a Justice of the Peace in 1922. The other outstanding Malay then was Dr Abdul Samad, the first Malay doctor in Singapore.

The first signs of Malay nationalism appeared in the founding of 'Kesatuan Melayu Singapura' (Singapore Malay Union), a quasi political organisation formed in 1926 by Muhammad Eunos Abdullah, its first President. The main objectives of the Singapore Malay Union were to promote Malay progress, higher and technical education among Malays and interest in politics. Membership of the union was restricted to Malays; Arabs and Indian Muslims were excluded from it. It could be said that the Singapore Malay Union was the Predecessor to the United Malay Nationalist Organisation in Singapore.

Muhammad Eunos Abdullah who was a member of the Straits Settlements Legislative Council made an appeal in 1927 to the government requesting that a plot of land should be reserved for a 'Malay Kampong' where Malays could lead a Malay way of life. The government gave its approval and a sum of $700,000 was granted to the Singapore Malay Union to buy 600 acres of land. This eventually becomes known as Kampong Eunos or Kampong Melayu.

Later similar Malay kampongs were established in other parts of Singapore; these were Kampong West Coast (Pasir Panjang), Kampong Sembawang, and Kampong Ayer Gemuroh.

In the early 1930s the government decided to build Kallang Civil Airport. It became necessary to resettle the Malays of Kallang Village in Kampong Melayu.

In Singapore Government Gazette. (1950) 'the occupation of land (Malay Settlement, Jalan Eunos) Rules 1950' said:

Jalan Eunos Malay Settlement Male member of the Malay race who habitually speak the Malay language, profess the Muslim religion and conform to Malay customs, and who have been born in the Colony of Singapore or the Federation of Malaya provided always that preference will be given to applicants born in the Colony of Singapore

It was also specified that those with substantive salaries or wages unlikely to exceed $100 per mensem were eligible for the right of occupancy.

Later as a result of rapid urban redevelopment, priority had to be given to programmers like public housing, urban renewal and industrialisation and it was inevitable these Malay Settlements had to be discontinued.

Today Singaporeans irrespective of their ethnic background live as neighbours in Housing and development Board flats - another feature of our evolution towards nationhood

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