About Malaysia


Malaysia has its origins in the Malay Kingdoms. From the late 1700’s, Malaysia was part of the British Empire known as the Straits Settlements. The territories on Peninsular Malaysia were first unified as the Malayan Union in 1946. Malaya was restructured as the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and achieved independence on 31 August 1957.

AD300 Ancient Hindu kingdom in the Bujang Valley in Kedah.  Kedah was known as Kedaram or Kataha was in the direct route of invasions of Indian traders and kings.

1000 The Buddhist kingdom of Ligor took control of Kedah, and its King Chandrabhanu used it as a base to attack Sri Lanka.

1200 Ceramic shards at Kampong Sungai Mas in the Bujang Valley date to this time. Brick foundations and a block of shale with a Buddhist mantra inscribed in Sanskrit was also found.

1400 Malacca was founded by a fleeing Palembang prince named Parameswara. Its rise from a village of royal refugees to a wealthy kingdom. Malacca became one of the most influential port in Southeast Asia by 1550.

1511 Malacca (Melaka), the center of East Indian spice trade, was captured by the Portuguese. When the Dutch gained influence in Indonesia and Jakarta they took over Melaka and built the fortress A Famosa.

1646 The Cheng Hoon Teng Buddhist temple was built in Malacca.

1710 St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church was built in Malacca.

1728 The Muslim Kampung Hulu Mosque was built in Malacca.

1786 Capt. Francis Light landed in Penang and built Fort Cornwallis. Light, acting on behalf of the East India Company, swindled the island from the ruling sultan with a promise of protection. The British usurped the land to break the Dutch monopoly on the spice trade.

1839 Britisher Sir James Brooke arrived in an armed schooner to Sarawak, Malaysia, and helped the Sultan of neighboring Brunei subdue rebel, headhunting Iban (Dayak) tribes. As a reward he was made the Raja of Sarawak, and his heirs continued to rule until 1946.

1860 Prospectors for tin founded the city of Kuala Lumpur (”muddy confluence”) at the confluence of the Kelang and Gombak rivers.

1873 Britain sent an agent, Henry Wickham, to Brazil to get rubber seeds. The Seedlings were cultivated in Kew Gardens and transplanted to Malaysia.

1890 A tin rush was on and the elite gathered at the Royal Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur.

1902 The Khoo Kongsi, a Chinese clan house on Penang, burned down the night it was completed. The temple was rebuilt.

1915 By this year Malay plantations produced 107,860 tons of rubber compared with 37,200 tons in Brazil.

1938 British expatriates in Kuala Lumpur converted a hunting tradition to a drinking and running event called Hashing, named in reference to the bad food at the Selangar Club where they hung out.

1941 The outbreak of war in the Pacific in December’41 found the British in Malaya totally unprepared.

1942 to 1945 The Japanese Forces overan Malaya in two months. The new Japanese ruler had a racial policy just as the British did. They regarded the Malays as a colonial people liberated from British imperialist rule, and fostered a limited form of Malay nationalism, which gained them some degree of collaboration from the Malay civil service and intellectuals. (Most of the Sultans also collaborated with the Japanese, although they maintained later that they had done so unwillingly.) The occupiers regarded the Chinese, however, as enemy aliens, and treated them with great harshness: during the so-called Sook Ching (purification through suffering), up to 40,000 Chinese in Malaya and Singapore were killed.

1945 At the end of World War II, The Malayans on the whole glad to see the British back but things could not remain as they were before the war. Britain was bankrupt and was keen to withdraw its forces from the East.  Colonial self-rule and eventual independence were now British policy. The biggest problem following the end of World War 2 was the restoration of civil government.

1948 to 1960 The Malayan Emergency was part of a wider communist plan to gain power in South East Asia. The Malayan Emergency was declared on 18 June 1948, after three estate managers were murdered in Perak, northern Malaya. The men were murdered by guerrillas of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). The when on to attack British installations which in turn, stepped up counter-insurgency measures. In 1954 the army made simultaneous attacks on two communist camps, followed by paratroop drops, a ground attack, and further bombing runs ten days later. It destroyed 181 camps and killed 13 communists; one communist surrendered. On 31 July 1960, the Malayan government declared the state of emergency was over.

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