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Empires of ViceThe Rise of Opium Prohibition across Southeast Asia$
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Diana S. Kim

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172408

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172408.001.0001

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Fiscal Dependency in British Malaya, 1890s–1920s

Fiscal Dependency in British Malaya, 1890s–1920s

(p.121) 5 Fiscal Dependency in British Malaya, 1890s–1920s
Empires of Vice

Diana S. Kim

Princeton University Press

This chapter turns to Malaya, another site of British rule, where the monopoly was introduced more than a decade later in 1910, without expressed concerns about indigenous opium consumption or sumptuary restrictions. It shows instead how the British colonial state was highly reliant on opium revenue; and the monopoly emerged as local administrators were reversing longstanding acceptance of such dependency as a natural condition of colonial government. Over the course of several decades, taxing opium sales became conceived of as an untenable practice and challenge to fiscal order, culminating in the introduction of an opium revenue reserve fund in 1925 to enable the substitution of opium taxes. Officially, its declared purpose was to reduce reliance on opium taxes for one of the most fiscally opium-dependent territories of Southeast Asia under European rule, by setting aside a large sum of surplus revenue to which a fixed ten percent share of subsequent years' revenue would be added. The fund was first introduced in 1925 for the Straits Settlements of Singapore, Malacca, and Penang, as well as the Malay State of Johor, and extended across the Federated Malay States by 1929.

Keywords:   Malaya, British Malaya, opium revenue, opium sales, fiscal dependency, opium revenue reserve fund, opium taxes

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