Malaysia has been known as an uniquely diverse country with a multi-cultural population made of Malays, Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups. The country offers the world a very harmonious blend of heritage, culture, architecture, arts, crafts and cuisines that are hardly seen in any other parts of the world. It also offers various forms of social activities based on its very diversified and colourful cultures. Tourist will be able to experience the ways of life and practices of the Malays, Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups of the country which will leave a long lasting impression upon them. Hence, Malaysia is truly Asia.
How did Malaysia become a melting pot of various races and cultures? Malvisa, through Malvisa TravelBug, is embarking on a journey back in time to bring to you the old Malaya and its transformation to what it is today, Malaysia. Malvisa TravelBug will allow you to explore the glorious historical past of this beautiful country. It will also provide you with insights into the colonization it has gone through and the legacies that have been left behind.
An historical journey of Malaysia….
Malaya has been a meeting place for travelers and traders from the East and West due to its strategic location between the Straits of Malacca and Indian Ocean. It became a leading supplier of tin, which was required during the industrial revolution and spices which were required for preservation of meat during winter. Trading links were established with China and India during the first century and this influenced the country’s cultural, customs, practices and language. Temple sites in Bujang Valley and Merbok Estuary in Kedah, north of Peninsular Malaysia, are legacies of the Hindu influence in the country.
In the 1400s, the Javanese prince, Parameswara, was responsible for establishing Malacca as a major trading port. He extended his control over Malaya, Sumatra and the Straits of Malacca, which become a leading route for traders. It was major gateway for Chinese and Middle Eastern traders who came for the spices. These boosted Malacca to be a powerful and wealthy kingdom. This drew the attention of the European explorers, first among them being the Portuguese. In 1511, led by Alfonsa de Albuquerque, the Portuguese colonized Malacca. Dutch followed in 1641. Both the Portuguese and Dutch influence in Malacca remains till today, through the community, architecture, buildings, etc.
The British became active in this part of the world early in the 1800 century. In 1786, the Sultan of Kedah sought their protection against the invasion of the Siamese soldiers and they set up the British East India company in Penang. It was Sir Stamford Raffles who exerted his influence and went on to discover Singapore in 1819 and acquired Malacca from the Dutch in 1824. Penang, Singapore and Malacca were collectively named the Straits Settlements.
Around 1850, the expansion of tin mining activities in the Malay peninsula caused disputes between the Malays Rulers and Chinese workers they employed. To curtail these trade and territorial disputes that would affect the British, they took control of the peninsula. They worked indirectly with the Malay rulers. They exerted their influence on them and coaxed them to accept British advisors or Residents, in their rule. Peninsula states were classified into the Federated and where their influence was lesser, Non Federated states. The Federated states were Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Pahang whilst the non-federated states were Johor and the four northern states, which they acquired from Siam in 1909.
The British system of rule was introduced and a Governor was appointed to administer the Straits Settlement. The British rule and system of administration benefited Malaya. A proper English medium education system was introduced to benefit the citizens. It was mostly run by missionaries. Road and railways were built for proper transportation of rubber, tin and palm oil.
Dissatisfaction arose from disputes between the British and Malay rulers due to the taxes and rules introduced without taking into consideration the local sentiments. The divide and rule practice gave the British firm control over the states and the citizens.
The Japanese invaded Malaya during World War II and the locals realized how powerless the British were to the patriotic Japanese. Upon their departure, there was a concerted effort by the educated and more affluent and wealthy citizens to seek independence from the British. This joint effort included the Malays, Chinese and Indians who were the dominant races in Malaya. On 31 August 1957, independence was granted to the Federation of Malaya by the British. It was one of the most peaceful transition of power.
The legacies of the British had a great influence in the administration and progress of Malaysia. The education, legal and parliamentary system of the British kingdom laid the foundation for the growth and development Malaysia. It also provided for a stable government. The government also practices religious freedom. Today Malaysia is a politically stable country with the diverse ethnic communities living peacefully and in harmony.