Living under British colonialism

“The Asian population as a whole would have despised those who had put up that sign outside the prestigious Selangor Club which read ‘No dogs or Chinamen.’ The Chinese were not the only Asians excluded.

Racist attitudes and discriminatory behaviour were par for the course. All the minuscule colonising nations of Europe were smugly superior in their newly-acquired technological superiority, allied to a religion whose founder had allegedly died on the cross for their salvation. Asian servants, waiters and other workers were routinely addressed as ‘Boy’ by the British, especially the women; such people did behave in public (for example, in the shops) in a supercilious manner. This ‘superior’ class of humanity was grandly supported in substantial homes by Asian cooks, maids for any children, drivers, and gardeners. They must have felt awfully superior – and so fortunate. So said my elders.”

(These paragraphs are from ‘On empires gone and going’ in Musinngs at Death’s Door.’

When my Anglo-Australian wife and I shared a home with an English couple in Singapore a few years after the end of WW2, but before independence from Britain, the wife displayed all the attitudes attributed by my elders to the lesser lights in the colonial service. She was insufferably ‘superior’; their very income may have been persuasive.
Yet, the husband, a chatty fellow, told me that when they returned home, they were going to be poor again.

With independence, some of the British in private enterprise left. The few I met in Australia were just normal friendly people. Why then did those cosseted as officials behave in the offensive manner attributed to them?)

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