Decolonization of Feminism in the Malayan Nationalist Movement: A Case Study of Ibu Zain and Shamsiah Fakeh

Asyiqah Binti Mohamad Jamil, Asilatul Hanaa Binti Abdullah


The misrepresentation of Southeast Asians throughout history was often the results of the White Man’s burden doctrine practiced by Western colonialists, which clouded their perceptions of Southeast Asians, resulting in claims that Southeast Asians were inferior. This Eurocentric idea has distorted the representation of colonized nations in general. However, the worst Eurocentric fallacy is regarding Muslim women in Southeast Asia. They were not only misrepresented but also intimidated by the patriarchal nature of orientalism. Muslim women were, and indeed often still are, viewed as vulnerable victims that need to be saved from their men, making them quarry of double oppression. The most unfortunate part is even many modern white feminists still subscribe to these Eurocentric ideas. Thus, this paper aims to decolonize this narrative by illustrating the history of women’s involvement in politics from the time of the Malay Sultanate until post-World War II Malaya. This research also explores women’s participation in the far-right and far-left political movements in Malaya, with special references to Ibu Zain and Shamsiah Fakeh. We demonstrate the independence of Malayan women and affirm that they were well-presented in Malayan politics over this period of time.


Decolonization; Malay Nationalism; Malay Women’s Movement; Ibu Zain; Shamsiah Fakeh

Full Text:



Abdullah Asilatul Hanaa. 2021. ‘Colonial Historiography: A non-Western Perspective of the Larut Wars (1861-1875)’. Phd Thesis. International Islamic University.

Adam, Ramlah. 1977. ‘Sejarah Awal Pergerakan Kaum Ibu’, Jernal Sejarah, Universiti Malaya Jilid XI: 100-107.

Ahmed, L. 1992. Women and Gender in Islam. New Haven: Yale University.

Aljunied, Syed Muhd Khairudin. 2013. ‘Against Multiple Hegemonies: Radical Malay Women in Colonial Malaya’, Journal of Social History vol. 47 no. 1, 153–175.

Amoroso, Donna J. 1998. ‘Dangerous politics and the Malay nationalist movement, 1945–47.’ South East Asia Research, NOVEMBER 1998, Vol. 6, No. 3, 253-280, accessed 15 May 2022.

Fakeh, Shamsiah. 2007. Shamsiah Fakeh, dari AWAS ke Rejimen Ke-10. Petaling Jaya: SIDR.

Hasan, H. 2014. ‘Isu-isu wanita dalam Manuskrip Melayuabad ke-15 hingga abad ke-18’, Perspektif Jurnal Sains Sosial Dan Kemanusiaan, 6(1), 36-48.

Hasan, Muhammad Rahimi. 2020. ‘Emansipasi dan Nasionalisme dalam Politik Wanita Melayu Pra Merdeka: Sorotan Memoir Khatijah Sidek, Aishah Ghani dan Shamsiah Fakeh’, International Journal of the Malay World and Civilisation 8(1): 17-27.

Hashim, Ruzy Suliza. 1996. ‘The Question of Succession: The Role of Women in Traditional Malay Court Politics’, Deep South V.2.N 3, 1-2.

Hussain, Mustapha, Insun Sony Mustapha. & Jomo K. S. 2005. Malay nationalism before UMNO: the memoirs of Mustapha Hussain. Cheras, Kuala Lumpur: Singapore: Utusan Publications & Distributors; Distributed outside Malaysia by Singapore University Press.

Jaafar, Shahidan. 2009. ‘Komunisme tidak mengubah agama Shamsiah Fakeh’, Al-Islam January 2009: 34-36.

Karim, WJ. 1992. Women and Culture: Between Malay Adat and Islam. Boulder: Westview Press.

Khoo, Kay Kim. 1994. ‘Malaysian Women’s Participation in Politics: A Historical Perspective’. In Malaysian Women Creating Their Political Awareness. (Haas, R. & Rahmah Hashim (eds.). Kuala Lumpur: Asian Institute for Development Communication.

Milner, RS. 1978. Politics and Government in Malaysia. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Muin, Mazinah Abdul. 1996. Wanita Melayu dan Kegiatan Sosial, Latihan Ilmiah, Jabatan Sejarah, University Malaya.

Musa, Mahani. 2014. Malayan Women and Guerrilla Warfare, 1941–89, in Chapter on Asia, a selection of papers from Lee Kong Chian Research Fellowship, March 2014: 1, 206-2012. Singapore: NLBS.

Riach, G.K. & A Macat. 2017. An Analysis of Gayatri Chakravoty Spivak’s Can the Subaltern Speak London: Macat International.

Sani, Rustan A. 2008. Social roots of the Malay left: an analysis of the Kesatuan Melayu Muda, Petaling Jaya: SIDR.

Soenarno, Radin. 1960. ‘Malay Nationalism, 1896-1941’, Journal of Southeast Asian History, Mar., 1960, Vol. 1, No. 1, Nationalism in Malaya (Mar., 1960), 1-28.

Yassin, K. M. 2019. ‘Konsep Keperibadian dan Kesantunan Wanita Melayu Menurut Perspektif Ibu Zain’, International Journal of Humanities, Philosophy, and Language, 2(6): 01-13.

Yeo Kim Wah. 1973. ‘Anti-Federation Movement in Malaysia’, JSEAS 4, no.1 (Mar 1973): 31-50.

Zain, Mohd Faidz Mohd. 2011. ‘Pengaruh Nasionalisma Melayu Mewarnai Budaya Politik Melayu Dalam UMNO’, Jurnal Melayu (7): 193-216.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Indexed by:




© Copyright CC BY-SA

Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter View My Stats

Muslim Politics Review, p-ISSN: 2829-3568, e-ISSN: 2964-979X