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08 oktober 2008 06:10

Colonial Malaysia 1511 AD - 1957 AD

Colonial Malaysia 1511 AD - 1957 AD
At the beginning of the 16th century, the eastern spice trade was routed through Egypt, and no non-Muslim vessel was permitted to dock in Arabian ports. The competing European powers, painfully aware of the need for an open trade route to India and the Far East, sought to establish their own trading ports at the source. In 1511, a Portuguese fleet led by Alfonso de Albuquerque sailed into Malacca‘s harbor, opened fire with cannon, and captured the city. Malacca‘s golden age had come to an end.

The Portuguese constructed a massive fort in Malacca - A Famosa - which the Dutch captured in turn in 1641. This would give the Dutch an almost exclusive lock on the spice trade until 1785, when the British East India Company convinced the Sultan of Kedah to allow them to build a fort on the island of Penang. The British were mainly interested in having a safe port for ships on their way to China, but when France captured the Netherlands in 1795, England‘s role in the region would amplify. Rather than hand Malacca over to the French, the Dutch government in exile agreed to let England temporarily oversee the port. The British returned the city to the Dutch in 1808, but it was soon handed back to the British once again in a trade for Bencoleen, Sumatra. The Dutch still largely controlled the region, however, and in 1819 Britain sent Sir William Raffles to establish a trading post in Singapore. These three British colonies - Penang, Malacca, and Singapore - came to be known as the Straits Settlements. 

While the European powers played their regional chess game, the local Malay sultanates continued on their own affairs. After Malacca was captured, the new Muslim trading center became Johor, then later on Perak. Both the Minangkabau Immigrants from Sumatra and the Bugi people from Celebes immigrated to the peninsula in large numbers, leavingn lasting cultural contributions. In the late 1860‘s, a number of Malay kingdoms began fighting each other for control of the throne of Perak, causing enough of a disturbance in the region to inspire Britain to intervene and essentially force the Malay rulers to sign a peace treaty known as the Pangkor Agreement in 1874. The treaty, unsurprisingly, gave Britain a much greater role in the region - a role it would need in order to maintain its monopoly on the vast amount of tin being mined in the peninsula.

Coupled with the power of the White Rajas in Borneo, Britain ruled over what was then called Malaya until the Japanese invaded and ousted them in 1942. During this time, large numbers of Chinese fled to the jungle and established an armed resistance which, after war‘s end, would become the basis for an infamous communist insurgency. In 1945, when W.W.II ended, Britain resumed control again, but Malaya‘s independence movement had matured and organized itself in an alliance under Tunku Abdul Rahman. When the British flag was finally lowered in Kuala Lumpur‘s Merdeka Square in 1957, Tunku became the first prime minister of Malaya.            

Source : http://www.geographia.com/malaysia/


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