Collectors may notice the Malaya Patriotic Fund label used on many covers from Malaya in the early part of WWII. When Britain entered the war in September 1939, many countries under the British colony devised additional sources of income to finance the expensive costs of war.
The sources of the extra financial income were derived from domestic taxation (eg. war tax stamps), domestic and international credit, war savings or war loans, and donation. In Malaya, as part of the efforts to raise fund, donation by means of selling Cinderella stamps proved very successful.
In October 1939, a meeting of the general committee of the Fund took place, and the idea of selling labels for the war effort was tabled and was quickly adopted. This was despite the poor response to similar labels sold in World War I.
The Malaya patriotic fund was deemed as one of the most effective tools at that time to quickly obtain fund from the people of Malaya and British Borneo. As one of the many colonies, the usage of such labels on mails posted oversea also served as a striking reminder to the world that Malaya also participated in raising funds for the British troops.
The sale of the Malaya patriotic fund labels was a voluntary effort from the people of Malaya and British Borneo to raise fund and aid war charities and the British war effort in general.
Printing & Distribution
An initial quantity of 50,000 labels were printed and distributed in a number of main post offices – Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Malacca, Ipoh, Seremban and Kuala Lipis.
The labels were issued on the 3rd of January 1940 and proved far more popular than anyone had expected. Singapore GPO for example sold out within half-an-hour of putting them on sale, and the public were asked to refrain from bulk purchases. A back-up supplies of a further 50,000 labels were brought to replace the first-day sales. These were also available in smaller post offices.
The second printing took place between 4th January to April 1940.
The third printing took place between May 1940 to August 1940 with another 1,320,000 pieces of labels issued. This time, there were 3 denominations available 1¢, 2¢ and 5¢.
Between the first print to the third print, at least 1.5 million of such labels have been printed and distributed.
The design of the label incorporates an image of a British soldier wearing a steel helmet. A sentence of “He will thank you…” is written in white and the words Malaya Patriotic Fund written in bold black at the bottom.
The first printing were letterpressed in 3 colours of red, orange and black. Although they cost 1¢ each, the denomination was not shown on the label like all the latter prints. It had the largest dimension (39mm x 56mm) compared to later issues. The separation was a non-roulette type.
The design from the second printing was similar to the first one but with the 1¢ denomination printed on top left corner.
The third printing now incorporates three different denominations of 1¢, 2¢ and 5¢ – red, green and blue respectively. The labels in this issue had a smaller dimension of about 25 x 35 mm and was a roulette-type compared to its predecessors.
Contributions to the War
By the time the third issue was distributed, the labels had proved very popular and were sold even at the Mercantile, the Chartered and the Hong Kong & Shanghai Banks. They were also available outside Malaya in places such as Borneo, Christmas Island, Sumatra and Java (Singapore Free Press).
Although the exact amount of money raised by the sale of these labels is uncertain, over a million pound sterling was raised for the Patriotic Fund between September 1939 and December 1941 – through all the other concurrent means such as selling books.
The Straits Times (24th June 1941) published the receivers of the fund: £10,000 to the Lord Mayor’s Air Raid Distress Fund, £5,000 to the shipwrecks Marines’ Association, £5,000 to the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Family Association, £5,000 to the British Red Cross, and £5,000 to the Malta Air Raid Relief Fund.
No further information available on these labels after the Japanese Imperial army landed in Malaya in December 1941.
Further reading: The Malaya Patriotic Fund Poster Stamp by D. Daud.