Archive for June, 2006

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Topography & Climate

In Peninsular Malaysia a mountainous spine known as the Main Range or Banjaran Titiwangsa runs from the Thai border southwards to Negeri Sembilan, effectively separating the eastern part of the Peninsula from the western. Malaysia lies entirely in the equatorial zone. The climate is governed by the regime of the north-east and south-west monsoons which blow alternately during the course of the year and whose existence in the days of sailing ships made the country the natural meeting and exchange point for traders from East and West.

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Malaysian History Part 3: Conquest & Independence

The Japanese invasion of Malaya and British Borneo in late 1941, which culminated in the humiliating British surrender in Singapore two and a half months later, shattered Western colonial supremacy and unleashed the forces of incipient nationalism. Although the British were able to resume their authority in the region after the collapse of Japan in 1945, they faced an entirely new political situation and those circumstances forced them to adopt new policies. As a result the Straits Settlements were dissolved. Pulau Pinang and Melaka were joined with the Malay States of the Peninsula to form a new Malayan Union. Singapore became a separate crown colony and so did both Sarawak and British North Borneo in place of the former Brooke and Chartered Company regimes. Labuan was joined to British North Borneo. These new arrangements met with considerable Malaysian opposition

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Malaysian History Part 2: Influences & Colonialism

A new phase in the historical development of the inhabitants of Malaysia began around the first century BC with the establishment of regular trading contacts with the world beyond Southeast Asia, specifically China and the sub-continent of India. The Hindu-Buddhist period of Malaysian history ended with the penetration of Islam into the area. Brought primarily by Indian and Arab traders, there is evidence of the presence of the new religion in the region as early as the thirteentl1 century. Both the Melaka and Brunei empires were shattered by the coming of the Europeans into the region. Melaka fell to a sudden Portugese assault in 1511.

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Malaysian Histrory Part 1: Early Settlement

The course of Malaysian history has been determined by its strategic position at one of the world’s major crossroads, its tropical climate, the surrounding environment and the regime of the north-east and south-west monsoons. Its position and other geographical circumstances made the country a natural meeting place for traders from the East and the West. The lush tropical forest and the abundance of life existing in it and in the surrounding water made Malaysia an easy place for the settlement and sustenance of small, self-supporting human communities. At the same time the thick jungle and mountainous terrain of the interior inhibited communication, while the absence of broad, flood-proned river valleys and deltas precluded the development of elaborate systems of water control such as those upon which the civilisations of Java and the Southeast Asian mainland came to be based.

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