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History is glued together by the impacts developed countries have on weaker regions around the world. The powerful force of mankind and a stable government penetrates these weaker regions and transforms them into rich hotspots for economic advancements through trade and industrial expansion. Throughout its history, the Malay Peninsula has been known for its precious exports and accessible trading routes which led to its lands becoming filtered with European trading interests in the early sixteenth century. With the influence of various European countries constantly congesting Malaya, British interest in the land grew and seized power at the turn of the eighteenth century where they greatly shaped the Peninsula’s economic system, government and infrastructure, and aided in the protection of land during the Malayan Emergency (“Economic History of Malaysia”).
Without this British protection, Malaya would not have its economic strength and strong military to fight against the Japanese Occupation and gain independence. The interest in potential profits for the British in the Malay Peninsula led to the early development in this weak region and changed the course of history for one of Asia’s most trafficked countries during the Japanese Occupation and throughout the Malayan Emergency.
The British presence on the Malay Peninsula came with great advancements in the region’s previously weak industrial and economic systems. The British expansion in Malaya focused heavily on the region’s infrastructure that connects essential farming and mining worksites to ports for shipment which stimulate the worlds demand in tin and rubber exports. (“The Impact of British Rule”).
In fact, Samuel Bedford, a writer for The Culture Trip, found that before the British influences, in pre-colonial times, the most popular form of transportation was by foot, riding on elephants, and riding on boats of off land errands (Bedford). Railroads and roadways, for example, brought forth many advantages in Malaya’s transportation because it made shipping exports increasingly easier and allowed for a more efficient work cycle.
Transportation was not the only thing affected by the British rule; public service facilities, such as schools and clinics. (Bedford). One of the most important influences the British fed to the Malayan culture was a strong education system. Education was the most essential and basic paths to advancements and without the strong system influenced to the Malay’s, the rest of the technology advantages would not reach as far as the first generation. (“Malaysia, British, 1874–1957”). The British also took control of public clinics to reduce spreading diseased with the Malayan communities and raise the standard of living for it citizens (“The Impact of British Rule”).
The British involvement in Malaya originally sparked with idea of potential profits in lands precious exports, such as tin and rubber that have been highly regarded in trading with other countries, such as India, that dates back to the second and third century A.D. (“A Brief History of Malaysia”). As colonial expansion became more and more prominent, the British started protecting Malayan lands for agricultural plantations which raised priority for cash-crop farming (“Malaysia, British, 1874–1957”). “Malaysia is one of the most prosperous nations in Southeast Asia… Until the 1970s, Malaysia’s economy was based chiefly on its plantation and mining activities, with rubber and tin the principal exports” (“Malaysia”). The Rubber Tree, for example, was introduced to Malaya by Brazil in the 1870’s which led to thousands of acres of trees being cleared out to take advantage of this new necessity Thousands of plantations were used for rubber growing and eventually became one of Malaya’s more precious export. Rubber and tin provided the bulk of colonial tax revenues which built up the economy and grew the regions overall advancements (“The Impact of British Rule”). As exports of tin became increasingly successful in Malaya, Chinese workers rushed at the chance to work in the Malay tin mines and agricultural plantations and later became apart of the the regions middle class that played a major role in trade routes across the world (“The Impact of British Rule”).
Colonial Malaya would not have its advantages today it if were not for the British’s role in the The Pangkor Treaty of 1874. Tim Lambert, a writer for Local Histories, summaries the Pangkor Treaty as once the Sultan of Perak did in 1871, Chinese secret societies working in Malaya in the tin mines fought over its control (Lambert). However, a man by the name Raja Abdullah made a claim that he was the rightful heir to the Sultan made the Pangkor Treaty with the British the British must accept Abdullah as Sultan of Perak (Lambert). British influences begin to shift once the Pangkor Treaty is established. The British must follow Abdullah as an adviser in all matters, except religion and culture (Lambert). Because of this, the British began to restrict themselves to matters purely trade and eventually politics (Lambert). The Pangkor Treaty is not only significant for its economic expansion; the pathway for the expansion of British rule. With the treaty in place British had more ability to keep in traditional Malay administration while also placing cultural structure in colonial powers (“Malaysia, British, 1874–1957”).
British protection of Malaya territories grew as their administration took hold of more and more responsibilities (Lambert). The Japanese Occupation and Malayan Community Party (formed in 1930) in Malay started a rift in previous British advancements in the region including their economic and trading connections which worsened by dangerous varied reactions of Japan’s military control by Chinese and Malay citizens (“The Impact of British Rule”). The British military greatly underestimated the powers of the enemy during the Japanese Occupation and once realizing naval base resources were not enough they were forced to surrender 135,000 men to Japan in 1942 (“Malaysia, British, 1874–1957”). However, Britain’s strength and effort in the Malayan territories pushed them to persevere again the Japanese and thus allied with the Indian and Australian militaries in Malaya (“Malaysia : History”). While the allies were badly wounded, British integrity did not give up and once they realized the Japanese did not have the ability to fight both America and British at the same time and with time pushed the Japanese to surrender on 12 September, 1945 (“Malaysia, British, 1874–1957”).
Once the feat of British’s win over Japanese was behind them, the Malayan territory, with the exception of Singapore, becomes the Malayan Union; an independent region in 1944, newly called the Federation of Malaya in 1948. (Lambert). However, there is a quarrel between British estate managers and the independent state led to the government declaring it a state of emergency (Lambert). Beginning in 1948, the Malayan Communist Party started a violent campaign against the British in attempt to regain control of their territory (“Malaysia, British, 1874–1957”). “From 1950 onward, the British forces began to resettle these communities into ‘new villages’ and thus denied the MCP access to supplies” (“Malaysia, British, 1874–1957”). While this chain of events was successful, the Emergency did not officially end in the eyes of the gvernemt until 1960. (“Malaysia, British, 1874–1957”). However, the failure of the communist insurance was predicted by the new political alliance in Malaya and British perseverance to keep Malaya independent (“The Impact of British Rule”). The multicultural political system in Malaya gave hope for future advancements as an independent state and as the territory grew, Malaysia regained its prosperous state and advancented not only economically, but it’s industrial knowledge grew, prompting the citizens standards of living to raise dramatically, thanks to British influences (Lambert).
Throughout its history the Malayan Peninsula have gone through many changes in its state of self-sufficient ability. Once British influences saw potential in the small region of Malay, the advancements faced were extraordinary. Without British residence, Malaya would not reflect its economically, industrial, and politically advanced independent state it does today. The expansion of exports building up the regions economy and introducing tin and rubber plantations for workers and immigrants to boost the industrial necessities for a stable economic system was brilliantly successful. The power of the British to protect its states when in danger of the Japanese Occupation was, without a doubt, a dangerous task which resulted in hundreds of thousands of lives lost, but in the effort to gain Malayan independence, it should not have resulted otherwise. In history all across the world, there developed countries take over weaker regions and push them to gain not only a politically stable environment, but a comfortable standard of living to hold such advancements. The British-Malayan culture reflects greatly on this well known pattern of world history. It is with integrity that nations across the world build up such a strong bond between states, and with the perseverance of profit and indepence, it is well worth the journey.
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