MALAYA: Independence by 1957

The British, who find glorious words for both victories and defeats, have an expression for their retreat from imperialism. They call it "creative abdication."

In Malaya, Britain's rubber-rich colony, last week the phrase seemed for once appropriate. Four years ago the British promised Malaya self-determination "in due course," but did not fix a date. Last week the British named a date, and soon: August 1957.

Last year they set up Malaya's first popularly elected government, prepared for a period of temporary confusion and uncertainty while Malayans found their political feet. Chief Minister Prince (the Tengku) Abdul Rahman moved immediately to make...