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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Japan WWII Occupation Stamps From Malaya - Malaysia

First off... these aren't my stamps... they were part of a weekly catalogue created by my New Zealand buddies, Kadine Stamps, who were very kind and friendly during a recent E-bay transaction regarding some pre-WWI aviation tobacco cards.  Check them out HERE.

Mere hours before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor to drag the U.S. into WWII, just past midnight on December 8, 1941 (local time), Japan attacked Malaya.

During this tumultuous era, Malaya was British Malaya, which constituted the states on the Malay Peninsula and the island of Singapore that were under British control.

Under British rule, Malaya was one of the most profitable territories of the Empire, being the world's largest producer of tin and rubber.

Malaya was restructured as the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and achieved independence on August 31, 1957.

But on September 16, 1963, Malaya joined up with North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore to form Malaysia. However, on August 9, 1965, Singapore was kicked out. Or they left of their own accord. Though I believe it was Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman who wanted to expel Singapore.

Prior to that, there were major political and economic differences between Singapore and the rest of Malaysia, and even full-blown race riots occurring in July and September of 1964.

Anyhow… after Japan invaded Malaya, both it and Singapore were under Japanese control from 1942 until the war ended in 1945.

During the occupation, Japan rewarded Siam (now known as Thailand) for its co-operation during this period by giving it the state of Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu. The rest of Malaya was governed as a single colony from Singapore.

In the photo above, we have a small collection—an incomplete series of sets—of stamps from Malaya during the Japanese occupation, featuring the standard Malay printed images, but with a Japanese overlay (overprint) stamping indicating that the country is under Japanese rule.

At least that’s what the top three lines of stamps show. The bottom three rows show Japanese confidence in their continued take-over of the country.

The bottom three rows of stamps each indicate just at the base of the image, three letters that look like a sideways P, a 7 and a slanted T. That is katakana Japanese reading Ma-Ra-I, indicating Malaya.

These lower rows are obviously stamps from later in the occupation showing that Japan is quite comfortable in Malaya and Singapore.

The bottom left corner also uses katakana to write the word se-n-to, IE cent

Let’s take a closer look at the stamps themselves, and what they actually represent. I will indicate each stamp going Left to Right and Top to Bottom, designating them as Row and Column.

Row 1, Column 1: Whose image is on Row 1? This was a tough one to determine—mostly because I was looking up stamps from WWII. Turns out this was an overlay from a 1935 stamp issues not merely for Malaya, but for the Malaya province of Pahang. It features Sultan Sir Abu Bakar. His full name was Sultan Abu Bakar Ri'ayatuddin Al-Muadzam Shah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Abdullah Al-Mutasim Billah Shah, and he was the fourth Sultan of modern Pahang, a province of Malaya. Why would a 1935 stamp be part of a WWII invasion? Simple… the Pahang post offices must simply have had an excess of these stamps featuring their sultan, and no new designs needed to be created while he was still their sultan. Just the Japanese overlay.
I couldn't find a clean copy of the 5-cent stamp pictured above, but this 6-cent version at least shows off the artwork. Image from http://www.stamps-for-sale.com/pahang-1935-sultan-sir-abu-bakar-sg-34-fine-mint-48877-p.asp
Row 1, Column 2-4: This is Sultan Iskandar, though his full name is Sultan Iskandar Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Idris Murshidul Azzam Shah I Rahmatullah. He was the 30th Sultan of Perak, a province under Malaya. The provinces seem to have issued their own stamps showcasing their own sultan.
I would imagine that for the Malay, using a stamp featuring their sultan on it, while knowing that their country was overrun by the Japanese, must have been quite the slap in the face.
Image from https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/825636544156843847/?lp=true
Row 1, Column 5: British monarch King George VI, whose pre-king name was Albert, though he went by Bertie. He was the reluctant King, the younger brother to Edward VIII who was trained since birth to be King, but abdicated to marry an American divorcee. George VI, a stutterer, overcame the shyness that came with it to lead Great Britain through the dark times of WWII. He is the father of current monarch Queen Elizabeth II.
Image from https://www.linyangchen.com/Malaya-definitive-stamps/i-hz28Mcf
Row 2 and Row 3, All Columns: The image on these stamps depicts Selangor, the Royal Mosque at Klang, with a horizontal overprint. Also, in some cases, the overprint indicates a change in denomination…. sometimes up… sometimes lower, depending on what the post office could spare to fill in for missing denominations.
Image from https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/418482990349600310/?lp=true
Regarding these Japanese overprinting atop the stamps… sometimes the writing was placed vertically, sometimes it was horizontal. Sometimes it was in Japanese kanji, other times it was written in romaji (the English letters) but still in Japanese. The Malay stamps are apparently a challenge for collectors, as their might be up to four versions of each stamp during this time period, let alone for older, still unused pre-WWII stamps at a post office that were overprinted by the Japanese and put into use.
See Row 2 - all originally printed as 5-cent stamps, but two are now 6-cents, one is 20cents, and another is 3-cents. Even regarding the two "new" 6-cent stamps, there's different overlays - evidenced by the font used for "6 cts.). As well, the "new" 2-cent stamp is overprinted in red ink.
In my opinion, it just depends on the actual post office doing the overprinting... but for the serious collector, it's a variant of a variant (Occupation overlay).

Row 4, is a set of April 1943 stamps, to commemorate the birth of greater Japan. A series of stamps was produced in Malaya, with the underlying theme of “rebirth” – to symbolize growth and new beginnings.
Column 1 is a June 1, 1943 emerald 2-cent issue, depicting a grouping of local flora, in particular Malayan fruits and fronds.
Image from https://www.exonumi.com
Column 2 is an gray issue 3-cent, depicting a farmer tapping a rubber tree for its gooey sap. It was issued on October 1, 1943.
Image from https://www.exonumi.com

Column 3 is a gray green issue 1-cent,depicting a farmer tapping a rubber tree for its gooey sap. It was issued on October 1, 1943.
Image from https://www.exonumi.com

Column 4 This rose red 4-cent stamp issued on April 29, 1943 depicts “Tin dredging”. 
I had to look this one up… but it’s a floating factory. It works by it scooping up bucket loads of tin-bearing soil at the front end, which passes through an oscillating drum and a system of jigs and screens to extract the tin, before spewing out the waste material at the rear end through a number of chutes. I believe the one shown was built in the 1930s by F.W. Payne & Son of England, and may have been the Tanjung Tualang Dredge (at least six of them), weighing 4,500 tons, floating on 75 meters long pontoons, but is 35 meters wide and three meters deep. There may have been more, as I was only able to find data on ONE Malaya tin company, ergo, more dredges. Tin was a huge industry for Malaya until the 1980s when low prices, higher operating costs and a simple exhaustion of tin deposits collapsed the industry. While the dredging occurred along the Malaya coast, leaving deep ditches along its beaches, time and water from the ocean have mostly removed the remains, leaving ponds and wetlands, and yes, housing development to exist.
Image from https://www.exonumi.com

Row 5, Column 1 This dull blue 8-cent stamp issued on April 29, 1943 is part of the same series as Row 4, Column 1 and Column 5. It must have been one of the most unpopular stamps for Malayan to have to put their tongue to. It shows the monument of Japanese War Dead.
Image from https://www.exonumi.com
Row 5, Column 2 is a 1943 stamps that commemorates the fall of Singapore and the birth of greater Japan. This stamp was produced. It shows rice being planted, to symbolize growth and new beginnings.
The writing to the left of the stamp says: We plow the fields and scatter the seeds.

Image from http://welovetypography.com/post/7992
Row 5, Column 3: Part of the 1944 “Rebirth” stamps series from the Japanese Occupation period of Malaya. This whole series shows the same image, but different colors and denomination—showing the planting of rice. A map of the Malaya area is in the upper background. A smartly placed Japanese red sun in the upper right corner emits its rays over the rice workers below. The rays also extend over the map of Malaya. As far as propaganda goes, it’s not bad.
Image from https://sg.carousell.com/p/singapore-1944-15%C2%A2-japanese-occupation-of-malaya-rebirth-rice-planting-map-of-malaya-stamp-mint-00008-146486356/
Row 5, Column 4 red brown 10-cent stamp is part of the same series as Row 4, Column 1 and Column 5, and Row 5, Column 1. It shows off a fishing village, and was released on October 1, 1943.
Image from https://www.exonumi.com
Row 6, Column 1 and 2,  are from the same series as Row 5, Column 3.  Part of the 1944 “Rebirth” stamps series from the Japanese Occupation period of Malaya. This whole series shows the same image, but different colors and denomination—showing the planting of rice. A map of the Malaya area is in the upper background. A smartly placed Japanese red sun in the upper right corner emits its rays over the rice workers below. The rays also extend over the map of Malaya. As far as propaganda goes, it’s not bad. Yes, I’m repeating myself.

I’ve been to Malaysia with my pal Jimmy Jive, and had a reasonably good time. Because we were unaware of social customs in this Muslim country, we were afraid of our own actions (this was 1993, I think), and rather than do anything offensive, us two wild and crazy canuckleheads were mostly dull.

The people of Malaysia, however were wonderful. The country was, too. It was our own ignorance regarding the do’s and don’t’s that ultimately spoiled any potential fun we could have further got into. We still had fun.

And,  we were also afraid of the food. Yes… believe it or not… the guy who will eat natto (rotting/fermented soybeans, hachino-ko (bee larvae) and sea turtle phlegm (there are no words to describe this... and no, I will never willingly eat that again), didn’t know what Malaysian cuisine was, and because we were very limited on our cash, were afraid to spend it on unfamiliar things. To be honest, we ate at McDonald’s during our time there, which was only a couple of days. Nothing wrong with McDonald's. Tasty fun fare… but we should have been brave enough to have sampled the local cuisine.

I have a decal of the Malaysian flag plastered to the top of my clarinet.

Oh… and when the people of Malaysia would ask Jimmy Jive and I about where we were from, we would say Canada, and add that we were junior high school assistant English teachers in Japan. We learned quite quickly that bragging about Japan to any of its neighbors was not a good thing.

Yes, some 40 years after the end of WWII, countries like Malaysia still harbored a deep grudge.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

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