Protector?: An Analysis of the Concept and Practice of Loyalty in Leader-Led Relationships Within Malay Society breaks down the idea of being a “protector” in both traditional and contemporary Malay society, analyzing the dimensions of symbolic and substantive protectors. It examines the various forms of power held by the Sultans and the class of late-colonial era “administocrats” that replaced them in the post-independence period, as well as the economic and political consequences for broader Malaysian society. First published in 1979, and building on the pioneering work of Syed Hussein Alatas, this short volume remains essential reading today.
Protector?: An Analysis of the Concept and Practice of Loyalty in Leader-Led Relationships Within Malay Society is a modest attempt at analyzing an important dimension of the political culture of Malay society. It was in fact Syed Hussein Alatas, Professor of Malay Studies at the University of Singapore, who first suggested that unquestioning loyalty to a leader in return for protection of the led which is widely acknowledged as a characteristic of the feudal epoch could well be a feature of present day-Malay society.
In this work segments of which have been extracted from a doctoral thesis submitted to the University of Singapore in early 1977, the author has endeavored to trace the origin and growth of the concept of unquestioning loyalty from the Malacca Sultanate of the 15th century through the colonial period to the contemporary setting. More than that, the author has tried to link the concept and its practice to political, economic, and cultural realities in different periods of history. The consequences of unquestioning loyalty and the nature and content of protection offered by the ruling elites, apart from the various social forces which are eroding the concept itself, have also been examined in some depth.
It is an examination that has taken the author beyond the conventional confines of studies in the political culture of a particular community. By relating ideas to their articulators, the author has made an effort to understand how an idea serves the interest of its articulator sometimes to the detriment of the larger community in whose name the idea is articulated. Studying ideas and their advocates is one of the primary concerns of the sociology of knowledge, one of the most fascinating branches of sociology.