Malaysia Finds Its Place
among Nations of World

The strategic position of Malaysia at one of the world's major crossroads has determined the course of its history. The regime of the north-east and south-west monsoons, its tropical climate and the surrounding environment put together, made the country a natural meeting place for traders from East and West.
The abundance of life on the land, in the rivers and in the surrounding seas made settlement and sustenance easy for small, self-supporting human communities. Historical evidence of these early settlements is found at Kota Tampan near Lenggong in Perak; and in the Niah Caves of Sarawak.
The earliest of the present-day inhabitants of Malaysia are the Orang Asli of Peninsula Malaysia, the Penans of Sarawak and the Rungus of Sabah, whose presence in the country dates back to over 5000 years. They were probably the pioneers of the movement of peoples southwards from China and Tibet through mainland Southeast Asia and the Malay Peninsula to the Indonesian Archipelago and beyond. The next arrivals, the Malays, who came around 1000 B.C.,
represented the second and third wave of this extensive transmigration movement.
Following them were the Deutero-Malays who brought along more advanced farming techniques and new knowledge of metals. In time, the Malay peoples spread out into the islands of the archipelago, settling down into small self-contained communities which eventually gave rise to the complex and variegated ethnic pattern of Malaysia and Indonesia today.
Around the first century B.C, a new phase began in the historical development of the inhabitants of Malaysia, with the establishment of regular trading contacts with India and China. Over a period of a thousand years, these influences gradually made themselves felt, and have left their marks in the native language, literature and social custom.
Malaysia appeared for the first time on the world map as the "Golden Chersonese" or the Golden Peninsula. This map was drawn in 150 A.D. by the Greek cartographer, Claudius Ptolomey of Alexandria. At that time, there were already prosperous kingdoms in Peninsular Malaysia, such as Langkasuka and Ganga Negara.
Around the thirteenth century, Indian and Arab traders came to the region, bringing with them the religion of Islam. After 1400, Islam became a major influence with the conversion of the Malay-Hindu rulers of Melaka. From there, Islam spread to other parts of the Malay Peninsula and to the Malay states in Sumatra and along the trade routes throughout the Indonesian archipelago. The realm of the Melaka Sultans dominated both sides of the Melaka Straits for a hundred years, and marked the classical age of Malay culture.
In the early sixteenth century, Europeans sailed into the warm waters of Southeast Asia in search of spices and other riches. In 1511, Melaka fell to the might of the Portuguese seafarers, led by Alfonso de Albuquerque in his famous ship, Flor de la Mare. The Portuguese occupied Melaka for 130 years, until they were ousted by the Dutch in 1641, who in turn ceded it to the British in 1824.
Both Portuguese and Dutch power was confined to Melaka only. The British, however, pursued a policy of intervention. From their new bases in Pulau Pinang, obtained in 1786, Singapore in 1819, and Melaka - which were collectively known as the Straits Settlements - their influence and power permeated into the Malay Peninsula. About the same time, British adventurers in northern Borneo, that later became Sabah and Sarawak, acquired territories at the expense of the Brunei Sultanate.
The Japanese invasion of Malaya and British Borneo in late 1941 shattered British and other Western colonial supremacy, and unleashed the forces of incipient nationalism. In 1945, Japan lost the Second World War and relinquished all its territorial gains in Asia. But when the British returned to resume authority in Malaya, they were faced with an entirely new political situation that forced them to adopt new policies.
In 1946, the post-war British Military Administration (BMA) proposed the formation of the Malayan Union. This they quickly abandoned due to strong domestic opposition, and instead formed the Federation of Malaya in 1948. The Federation consisted of all the nine Malay states of the Peninsula, along with Melaka and Pulau Pinang -- united under a federal government in Kuala Lumpur headed by a British High Commissioner whose appointment required the approval of the Malay Sultans. Singapore, however, was to remain a British colony for the time being, considering its racial structure as well as the island's economic and strategic importance.
Today, Malaysia has found its place among the nations of the world. Her voice is heard often in many issues, ranging from environmental dangers to a staunch anti-nuclear stance, and from world peace to global financial stability. nw

Malaysian Prime Minister Adbullah Ahmad Badawi. The Malaysian Coat-of-Arms (above).

Copyright(c) 2003 Newsworld All rights reserved.
3Fl, 292-47, Shindang 6-dong, Chung-gu, Seoul, Korea 100-456
Tel : 82-2-2235-6114 / Fax : 82-2-2235-0799