|Malaysia :: Brief History|
Capital City: Kuala Lumpur
National Holiday: Independence Day/Malaysia Day, 31 August (1957)
National Anthem: Click here for anthem.Brief History: The Malay Peninsula developed as a major Southeast Asian commercial centre, as trade between China and India and beyond flourished through the busy Straits of Malacca. Islam arrived in the 14th century, followed by European traders in the 16th century, after which the Portuguese, Dutch and British successively dominated the Straits.
The British crown colony of the Straits Settlements was established in 1826 and Britain gradually increased its control over the rest of the peninsula. The Straits Settlements included Penang, Singapore and Malacca. Penang was established in 1786 by Captain Francis Light as an military as well as a commercial outpost. Its development was soon overshadowed by Singapore, established by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819. Malacca came into British hands after the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1825 and a year later, the Straits Settlements were formed. These settlements were collectively ruled from the English East India Company seat of government in Calcutta until 1867 when their administration was transferred to the Colonial Office in London. It was at about this time that British policy toward the Malay States turned aggressive and within ten years of the end of the transfer movement, several west coast Malay States came under British influence. The role of the merchants of the Straits Settlements saw the British government intervening into the affairs of the tin producing states in the Malay Peninsular. Coupled with Chinese Secret Society disturbances and civil war, British gunboat diplomacy was employed to bring about a peaceful resolution that favoured the merchants of the Straits Settlements. Finally, the Pangkor Treaty of 1874 paved the way for British expansion and by the turn of the 20th century, the states of Pahang, Selangor, Perak and Negeri Sembilan, known together as the Federated Malay States (not to be confused with the Federation of Malaya), were under the rule of British residents who took orders from the High Commissioner in Singapore, who was also the Governor of the Straits Settlements. This officer in turn received orders from the Colonial Office in London. The other Peninsular states were known as the Unfederated Malay States and, while not directly under rule from London, had British advisors in the Sultans' courts. The four northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu were previously under Thai control. British North Borneo (currently the state of Sabah) was a British Crown Colony formerly under the rule of the Sultanate of Sulu, whilst the huge jungle territory of Sarawak was the personal fiefdom of the Brooke family. Following a Japanese occupation during World War II popular support for independence grew, coupled with a communist insurgency. Post-war British plans to form a 'Malayan Union' were scuppered by strong Malay opposition who wanted a more pro-Malay system, rejecting Singapore's inclusion and demanding only single citizenship as opposed to the dual-citizenship option which would have allowed the significant immigrant communities to have claimed citizenship in both Malaya and their country of origin. Independence was achieved for the peninsula in 1957 under the name of the Federation of Malaya, which did not include Singapore.
A new federation under the name of Malaysia was formed on September 16, 1963 through a merging of the Federation of Malaya and the British crown colonies of Singapore, North Borneo (renamed Sabah) and Sarawak, the latter two colonies being on the island of Borneo. The early years were marred by Indonesian efforts to control Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore's eventual secession in 1965.
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