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THE LAND Malaysia is unique in that it is the only country that has territory on both the mainland and insular regions of Southeast Asia. Peninsular Malaysia is largely mountainous (one-half of the total area is more than 500 ft [150 m] above sea level) and consists of several north-south-aligned mountain ranges dominated by the 300mi- (500km-) long Main Range, with elevations rising to more than 7000 ft (2000 m). Bordering the mountainous core are coastal lowlands that are heavily populated on the west and are narrow, swampy, and densely forested on the east. In East Malaysia the coastal plains (10 to 20 mi [16 to 32 km] wide in the east and 20 to 40 mi [32 to 64 km] wide in the west) rise to a hill and valley region and then to a mountainous core that has elevations between 4000 and 7000 ft (1200 and 2000 m) and includes Mount Kinabalu (13455 ft [4101 m]) in the extreme northeast, the highest point in the country. The 270mi- (435km-) long Pahang River is the principal river of Peninsular Malaysia, and in East Malaysia the Rajang and the Kinabatangan are the principal rivers of Sarawak and Sabah, respectively. Malaysia's equatorial climate is strongly influenced by northeast (November or December to March) and southwest (June to September or early October) monsoons. Mean annual temperatures range between 77 - 86 F (25 - 30 C) in the lowlands and 72 - 83 F (22 - 28 C) on the interior mountains. The mean annual rainfall is very high and ranges from 100 inches (2,500 mm) in Peninsular Malaysia to 90 inches (2,300 mm) in Sarawak and to 130 inches (3,300 mm) in Sabah. Relative humidity is also high, averaging 80 to 85 percent. The hot and humid climate favors dense tropical vegetation - up to three-fifths of the land is under forests, most of it evergreen rain forests, and vegetation includes bamboo, camphor, ebony, sandalwood, teak, palm, and mangrove forests. The country's varied animal life includes elephant, tiger, leopard, wild ox, sun (honey) bear, wild pig, orangutan, gibbon, and some rhinoceros. East Malaysia has one of the largest and most varied bird populations in the world, including hornbills, parrots, broadbills, swifts, pigeons, woodpeckers, and many other species. Tree crops, notably rubber and palm oil, are the country's most important cash crops. Malaysia's tin reserves are the third largest in the world after those of Brazil and China. Its proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas are also important. THE PEOPLE Malaysia is one of the most racially, ethnically and religiously diverse nations in the world today, with all of the world's major religions, as well as major Asian ethnic groups, represented. In this relatively tiny area, peace thrives as the various groups co-exist in harmony and tolerance; complementing one another to enrich the shared character, cultural mosaic and vision of the nation. Many Malaysians make it a custom to participate in the religious holidays of other faiths. Muslim mosques, Christian churches, and Hindu and Buddhist temples stand side by side in urban areas. Because it commands the Strait of Malacca (Malay = Selat Melaka), one of the major sea-lanes of the world, the Malay Peninsula has been the meeting place of peoples from other parts of Asia. This is reflected in the diversity of the country's population. Malays, Chinese, and Indians form the largest ethnic groups in Malaysia. More than 80 percent of the people live in Peninsular Malaysia. Most of the nation's urban areas are also there, including Kuala Lumpur, the capital and largest city.
who were mainly hunters and gatherers. including the Jakun. Malaysians use several different languages. Approximately two-fifths of the population is urban. The population of East Malaysia is even more diverse than that of Peninsular Malaysia. The tensions between the Chinese and the Malays have erupted in violence from time to time. and Indians/Pakistanis/Tamils (from Sri Lanka) (about 10% of the population). The population is young . resent the other group's wealth. as well as some Malaysian Indians.Three groups of people have lived on the Malay Peninsula since prehistoric times: (1) a forestdwelling people called the Orang Asli. and Senoi groups. who migrated from southeastern China and came to work in tin mining or retail trade. which accords them special privileges as enshrined in the Constitution. In addition. form a group called bumiputra. The Chinese are mostly Buddhists. and (3) the Malays. Many smaller ethnic groups. The Kadazans of Sabah and many Ibans of Sarawak are Christian. Peninsular Malaysia has about four-fifths of the country's population. speak their own language but can also communicate in Bahasa Malaysia. The Malays. In Sarawak. Still another wave of immigration began in the 1970's because of an economic boom. along with the indigenous people. mainly from Indonesia. the largest group is the Ibans. a Bahasa Malaysia term which literally means "sons of the soil". Many Malaysians of Chinese descent speak southern Chinese dialects. which means language of Malaysia. These two groups were the Chinese (about 35% of the population). Islam is the religion of almost all Malays. and the trend of migration is toward the cities. Formerly high birth rates have dropped among the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups in particular. is the Malays. also called the Sea Dayaks who were formerly headhunters and continue to live in communal longhouses. The Malays. and some are Muslims. Many Indian Malaysians use a southern Indian language called Tamil. the peoples of Borneo added still other ethnic groups to this multiracial land. Sabah's largest ethnic group is the Kadazans. or Confucians. poured into Malaysia to fill manufacturing jobs. in turn. Two other large ethnic groups came to what is now Malaysia during colonial times.about 37 percent are younger than 15 years of age. Many Malaysians also speak English. but the Chinese control much of the economy. practice traditional religions. Taoists. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers. The Malay language is an Austronesian language called Bahasa Malaysia. The Malays dominate Malaysia's government and armed forces. Semang. Most of the Indians and Sri Lankans are Hindus. with some Christians. accounting for more than half of the total population today. The Bidayuh (Land Dayak) inhabit the hill country of western Sarawak. who earned a living by fishing and seafaring. The largest ethnic group in Malaysia. in the 1800's and early 1900's. though a large number also know some Mandarin Chinese. and the life expectancy is 70 years for men and 75 years for women. (2) a coastal people called the Orang Laut. and most of the Pakistanis are Muslim. there are the Chinese (about one-third of the population) and some 25 ethnic groups as well as smaller tribal subgroups that speak Austronesian languages. such as the Kadazans. It is the country's official language. and is also the official religion of the state. Many Chinese Malaysians resent the political power of the Malays. Tamils speak either Dravidian or Indo-European languages. . Health standards are good for a developing country. who came to work on rubber plantations. who primarily farmed and fished. In Peninsular Malaysia the Orang Asli peoples. People are allowed to follow other religions but may not try to convert Muslims to their faith. The annual rate of growth of Malaysia's population was once one of the highest in Asia but has decreased steadily since 1960. When Sabah and Sarawak became part of Malaysia in 1963.
After more than two decades of robust growth. Malaysia has also established its own automobile industry. Malaysian automakers began in 1985 to produce a car called the Proton. Malaysia has a predominantly market economy that has been transformed from one heavily dependent on the production and export of raw materials to one that is much more diversified. From 1970 to the mid-1990's. vegetables. the third-highest in Southeast Asia. the Malaysian economy slowed somewhat in the late 1990's. the main cash crop. a vegetable oil made from palm tree nuts. Malaysia's impressive economic performance has been based on rich natural resources and a diversified economy. The New Economic Policy and its successors. the first Malaysian-built automobile. and bananas. The Malaysian electronics industry has been a major success. grew at an average annual rate of more than 7 percent. Malaysia's production of rice. The country now derives much of its wealth from manufacturing and a successful exporter of electronic products. rubber. Rubber goods. Malaysia had one of the world's fastest growing economies. were designed to reduce poverty among Malays and other indigenous people. Malaysian farmers also grow many varieties of tropical fruit. Agriculture. is grown primarily on small farms and accounts for one-fourth of the world's production of this commodity. Two local favorites are the spiky. Land reform was initiated after 1955 but benefited relatively few peasants. Malaysia's gross domestic product (GDP). and palm oil. after Singapore and Brunei. Rubber. Small farms also produce coconuts. With Japanese help. the GNP per capita is. Agriculture accounts for approximately one-fifth of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about one-fourth of the workforce. tin. an organization of smallholders. Sarawak is one of the world's largest producers of black pepper. the chief staple. reddish-purple mangosteen. strong-smelling durian and the juicy. cement. Malaysia was primarily an exporter of raw commodities. Nearly all of the country's palm oil and rubber are raised on large plantations for export. Manufacturing employs about one-fourth of Malaysia's labor force and produces about one-third of the gross domestic product. Nearly all manufacturing takes place in the western half of Peninsular Malaysia. Malaysia is also the third-largest producer of natural rubber. Malaysia is a leading producer of integrated circuits and other semiconductor devices. the total value of all goods and services produced within the country. The gross national product (GNP) is growing more rapidly than the population. The Chinese and other immigrants dominate most industries. and radio and television sets are important manufactures. mangoes. It still produces those basic goods. exceeded only by Thailand and Indonesia. including pineapples. iron and steel products.THE ECONOMY From the mid-1970's to the mid-1990's. accounts for one- . In the 1970's. foreign investment in domestic industries is encouraged. Many Malays continue to depend on subsistence farming. Palm oil is used for cooking and in the production of margarine and soap. such as timber. however. Private estates provide about one-half of palm-oil production and the Federal Land Development Authority. and most smallholders live in poverty. chiefly in the Kelang Valley and on the island of Penang. Some farmers raise cattle or hogs. initiated after ethnic riots in 1969 against prosperous minority (usually Chinese or Indian merchant) communities. and cacao (seeds used in making chocolate). meets nearly all of its domestic demand. but they play a much smaller economic role. Malaysia is the world's leading producer of palm oil.
Malaysia's main imports include chemicals. such as finance and real estate. and tin. Malaysian fishing crews take shrimp and such fishes as anchovies and mackerel from Malaysia's coastal waters. and China. which produce services rather than goods. Mining. Malaysia's exports have changed greatly since the 1970's. rubber and rubber products. is a major source of foreign exchange. easily mined tin deposits left by flowing water. Extensive reforestation was initiated in 1981. Malaysia has a rapidly growing tourist industry that draws millions of visitors a year. Japan. and teak. The Malay Peninsula has the world's largest reserves of alluvial tin. such as camphor and sandalwood. transportation. and wood products. machinery. The country's main service industries include government. The country's other minerals include gold and iron ore. The three territories are the area surrounding Kuala Lumpur (capital city). or coal supply about four-fifths of Malaysia's electric power. Hereditary rulers. in whose exploitation it participates. Quantities of copper and bauxite (aluminum ore) are also mined and exported. and transportation equipment. the United Kingdom. manufactured goods accounted for more than half of the country's export earnings. before the kingship rotates to another of the nine hereditary . such as gloves.third. performing mainly ceremonial duties. Electrical and electronic products. operate chiefly in urban centers. Singapore. Malaysia's mineral industries are dominated by the production and export of petroleum. The Malaysian Trade Union Congress. textiles. rule 9 of Malaysia's 13 states. Malaysia is rich in mineral resources. exported to Japan. mahogany. Putrajaya (new administrative center) and the island of Labuan. By the 1990's. and Germany. Fishing industry. South Korea. which means paramount ruler. He serves a five-year term. which the government controls. Shrimp is the country's most important seafood export. and beautiful hardwoods. make up the largest category of manufactured exports. Taiwan. such as ebony. Malaysia is well supplied with energy. Large amounts of oil and natural gas come from offshore wells near the coasts of Terengganu and Sarawak. Roundwood. The country is divided into 13 states and 3 federal territories. Most retail stores in Malaysia are small general stores run by Chinese or Indian Malaysians. The king is the head of federal government. petroleum. They now employ about half the labor force. Malaysia has enjoyed a positive balance of trade in recent years. Energy sources. and South Korea are major markets for Malaysia's crude petroleum. International trade. Urban areas also have the bulk of the country's other service industries. most of whom are called sultans. Malaysia's tropical rain forests yield many valuable products. From among themselves. which was founded in 1949. and retail sales. Singapore. Other major exports include palm oil. its tin production is threatened by depletion of reserves and price fluctuations. and hydroelectric plants generate about one-fifth. encompasses most unions in the country. the nine rulers choose a king called the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. including supermarkets and department stores. including aromatic woods. food. the United States. GOVERNMENT AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy and a federation of states governed by a constitutional monarchy. Forestry. Larger retail outlets. Service industries. when rubber and tin dominated. gas. The heavy rainfall and rugged terrain of Peninsular Malaysia and the Borneo states furnish ample amounts of the falling water needed for hydroelectric power. Plants that burn oil. particularly integrated circuits. The country's major trading partners are Japan. have become increasingly important to Malaysia's economy.
Lower courts include local and juvenile courts. justice (except where Islamic and native law prevail). and local officials. and the Islamic Party of Malaysia. Malaysia is now free of many tropical diseases. A Prime Minister and a parliament run the federal government. Parliament has two houses. Special religious courts issue rulings on Islamic law. The largest party in the alliance is the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). such as malaria. the other for Sabah and Sarawak. federal citizenship.rulers. are still a problem in rural areas. Malaysia's social-welfare system provides employed persons with work injury. 27 from Sarawak. which represents Muslim interests. called Sharia (also spelled Shariah). the members of which are mainly Chinese. The 13 state legislatures elect two members apiece. real political power rests with the federal legislature. and customs matters. and medical care is free for those who live near a government hospital or clinic. formerly called the Supreme Court. The Prime Minister then chooses a cabinet. Nine of Malaysia's 13 states were formerly kingdoms and continue to be governed by their traditional hereditary rulers acting on the advice of State Executive Councils. The people elect these representatives for five-year terms by universal adult suffrage. internal security. and 1 each from Labuan and Putrajaya. According to the country's constitution of 1957. is the highest judicial body in Malaysia. a coalition of parties representing the country's major ethnic groups. who are appointed by the king on the advice of the prime minister. Jury trials were abolished in 1995. The federal government is responsible for foreign affairs. Courts. The Dewan Negara has 70 members all of whom serve three-year terms. industry. defense. The state governments deal with immigration. Below it is a Court of Appeal. the Royal Malaysian Navy. and the Royal Malaysian Air Force. Kuala Lumpur elects 2. The king appoints the other 40 members on the basis of distinguished public service or to represent ethnic minorities with the advice of the prime minister. The Federal Court. 20 from Sabah. The general level of the country's health compares favorably with those of other developing nations. civil service. Social conditions. and disability benefits. a House of Representatives called the Dewan Rakyat and a Senate called the Dewan Negara. Labuan and Putrajaya each elect 1. Health services are generally adequate in the towns and cities. Altogether. commerce. and transportation. but there is a shortage of doctors and hospitals in the countryside. Normally. Political parties. Each of the 13 states has its own constitution. The most powerful political organization in Malaysia is an alliance called the National Front. . Local government. the leader of the political party with the most seats becomes Prime Minister.500 active members. communications. but some diseases borne by animal vectors. National government. The other four states have governors appointed by the federal government. It has 10 members. legislature. they constitute the Conference of Rulers. consisting of 144 from Peninsular Malaysia. finance. one for Peninsular Malaysia. unless an election is called earlier. The powerful Dewan Rakyat has 193 members. old age. Malaysia's armed forces have about 111. All service is voluntary. The two major opposition parties are the Democratic Action Party. Armed forces of Malaysia has three branches: the Malaysian Army. and at the next level are two high courts.
Even today. Long-distance travel in Malaysia depends heavily on aviation. In all schools. a second national airline called Air Asia began operations. and Sabah has only a short line for freight and passenger traffic. English and Bahasa Malaysia are compulsory subjects. operate in Peninsular Malaysia and in Sabah. a state-controlled line. order. or morality. adding to traffic congestion. Children start school at 6 years old. but non-compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 15. serves as a major shipping lane between Europe and Asia. Upper secondary graduates. A government-run corporation called Radio Television Malaysia operates radio and television stations. Historically. technical institutes. but Sarawak has no railway. includingMalaysia Airlines. though some schools.Education. Malaysia has a good transportation network. There are five regional airports and numerous smaller airports located in Peninsular and East Malaysia. Bahasa Malaysia is the language of instruction in most schools. . Malaysia has an estimated 58. This airport opened in 1998 and helped relieve congestion at the older Subang airport. secondary school. A government-owned airline called Malaysia Airlines is the major Malaysian air carrier. Graduates of this level may attend lower. but Sabah and Sarawak have poor-quality roads. on the western side of the Malay Peninsula. waterways were Malaysia's primary means of transportation. They remain in primary school for six years and then go to secondary school. Most middle-class families own cars.000 kilometers) of roads. TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS Transportation. Rivers form the main thoroughfare into the interior. the federal minister of information has the power to monitor all radio and television programming. also teach in Mandarin Chinese or Tamil. Malaysia's major seaports include George Town. Malaysia has many universities. but rapid economic growth has stretched it to the limit.500 miles (94. Railroads. The Strait of Malacca. three-fourths of which are paved. the country's roads have become severely congested. water travel remains important because the country's mountainous terrain and thick forests hinder movement by land. The largest university is the University of Malaya at Kuala Lumpur. and later upper. Lower-income groups tend to ride motorcycles or use public transportation. The broadcast media are government owned. especially Malaysian-built Protons. which are owned by the government. Since Malaysia's economic boom began in the 1970's.Primary and secondary education are free. Kuala Lumpur International Airport at Sepang is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Kuala Lumpur. Under the Broadcasting Act of 1987. More Malaysians have bought motorcycles and automobiles. The nation's press is privately owned but restricted by laws that forbid the publishing of any matter considered harmful to the country's security. Buses provide most of Malaysia's public transportation. especially at the primary level. It is estimated that almost 90 percent of all primary school age children attend the country's six-year primary schools. Communications. Port Kelang. Malaysia also has commercial and cable television stations. The South China Sea links the two parts of Malaysia and is the principal thoroughfare between East Asia and Southeast Asia. and Johor Baharu. Peninsular Malaysia has several highways. The rail network is well developed in Peninsular Malaysia. River transport continues to play a major role in East Malaysia. and teacher training colleges. In 1994. Kuala Lumpur is served by many international carriers. may enter one of the country's universities. upon certification.
They have vegetable gardens. Chinese peddlers travel upriver by boat to isolated settlements to exchange goods for forest products. Kuala Lumpur is a bustling. long-sleeved blouse. Their houses are built on stilts with wooden or bamboo walls and floors. live in modest apartments or town houses like those in American and European cities. and they also hunt. Rural Malays live in villages called kampongs. Nearly all Malays are Muslims. Malaysia has about 40 daily newspapers. For ceremonies and other formal gatherings. Batik is a traditional process of dying cloth in elaborate patterns. Cellular telephones are popular among business people and the middle class. In Sabah and in Sarawak. a long skirt extending to their ankles. both men and women may don traditional Malay dress. WAY OF LIFE Rural life. Well-to-do families may have tin or tile roofs. fish. For example. They supplement the rice by raising fresh vegetables and by fishing in flooded rice fields or nearby streams. The most important papers include Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia in Bahasa Malaysia and the New Straits Times and The Star in English. and thatched palm roofs. City life. comfortable homes with yards and servants. Most rural families grow rice as their staple food. Most farm families also raise a few rubber trees and sell the rubber to add to the family income. In Sarawak and Sabah. most Malaysians wear clothing similar to that worn in North America and Europe. and most also have a telephone. A lack of jobs in the countryside and an economic boom in the cities have contributed to urban growth. Malaysia is rapidly becoming an urbanized society. and gather edible plants in the nearby jungles. which includes a tunic or blouse and a length of batik cloth worn as a skirt. Many rural Malays who have recently moved to the city live in shacks and other makeshift shelters in temporary squatter settlements.483 feet (452 meters) high. and the use of such phones has become a status symbol in modern Malaysia. Many Malay men wear a black hat called a songkok. Most urban dwellers. In everyday life. Such raised construction prevents flooding in the rainy reason and allows air to circulate more freely to cool the interior. .Most Malaysian families have a radio or a television set. This office building. Several families often live together under one roof in a large dwelling called a long house. Petronas Towers. many people live in isolated villages. also spelled kampungs. and a shawl or kerchief over their heads. More than half the population lives in urban areas. including the world's tallest building. modern city with lofty skyscrapers. Most rural villages have one or more small shops run by Chinese merchants. stands 1. The Malays along the coast earn their living primarily by fishing. however. and many of them choose modest styles favored by Islam. Clothing. Wealthy Malaysians live in large. many Malay women wear a loose. who sell many articles that the people cannot make for themselves. Most people in the rural areas of Peninsular Malaysia are Malays who farm or fish. the headquarters of the national oil company.
director. . Recreation. kite flying and top spinning are traditional sports practiced by skilled adults rather than children. The most popular Western sports in Malaysia are soccer and badminton. xylophones. Sepak takraw is a popular game like volleyball using a rattan or plastic ball. Congkak is a traditional Malay game of skill using a board with holes and pebbles or marbles. and other kinds of American and European foods. A gamelan consists chiefly of metal percussion instruments. television. the martial art of the Malays. dance. and some Chinese women wear a long. in which the performers sing. Malaysians also eat many Chinese and Indian dishes. has become part of Malaysian national culture. Food and drink. Among the Malays. Rice is the mainstay of the Malaysian diet. Middle-class young people are the chief patrons of such restaurants.Chinese. and drums. some combined with Malay ingredients to create tasty combinations. mainly lamb. pizza. and meat. and other groups in Malaysia also wear their traditional dress for special occasions. including gongs. fish. Malaysia has attempted to preserve its traditional art forms despite the immense popularity of American and European rock music. sepak takraw players use mainly their feet. mutton. Malaysia has had an active motion-picture industry since the founding of Malay Film Productions in the 1940's. Malaysian cities also have fast-food restaurants that serve hamburgers. The arts. tight-fitting dress called a cheongsam. or chicken. Indians. Unlike volleyball players. however. Tea and coffee are popular beverages. singer. Fruit or cake is often served for dessert. Two principal ingredients in many Malay dishes are coconut milk and hot chilies. Among its most famous stars was an actor. Malaysian teams have won several international badminton championships. and motion pictures. An orchestra called a gamelan accompanies most performances. and composer named P. and act out heroic tales about sultans and princesses. Pencak silat. Many Indian women wear saris. producer. Ramlee. supplemented by vegetables. A traditional form of Malay drama is mak yong (also spelled mak yung or ma'yong). They cannot touch the ball with their hands. Ramlee appeared in films during the 1950's and 1960's. Silat practitioners fight not only with their hands but also with sticks and knives.
fate would ruin the city as quickly as it built it up. When the Dutch captured Malacca in 1641. At the height of its power. and later from Taiwan to Borneo and the Philippines. Most scholars believe the earliest settlers on the Malay Peninsula came overland from southern China in small groups over a period of thousands of years.. Melaka .C. Thus began a colonial legacy that would last well into the 20th century.D. Small Malayan kingdoms existed in the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD. These people became the ancestors of the Malays and the Orang Laut. Its rise from a village of royal refugees to a wealthy kingdom and international center for the spice trade was swift." Islam spread throughout the Malay Peninsula and to other parts of Southeast Asia.000 years ago.000 years of Indian influence.a city steeped in history . Malacca entered a golden age as a commercial and Islamic religious centre but in 1511 it was captured by the Portuguese. these newly arrived immigrants established a commercial kingdom called Malacca and secured Chinese protection for the city-state. 1400. when adventurers from India arrived and initiated more than 1. Descendants of the ruling family of . who wished to gain control of the valuable spice trade. Melaka's prosperity drew the attention of the Europeans. The earliest evidence of inhabitants on the Malay Peninsula that has been found is from about 10. a group of Malay-speaking migrants came to the Malay Peninsula from Srivijaya. During the middle and late 1400's. The traders brought with them the Islamic religion. The Malays soon moved their center to Johor at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula.000 years ago.History of Malaysia PRE-HISTORIC MALAYSIA Scientists have found archaeological evidence of human inhabitants in the Niah Caves in Sarawak from about 40. the port was no longer an important trading center. The ancestors of these people had traveled by sea from south China to Taiwan. These early inhabitants became the ancestors of the Orang Asli. In 1511. Sumatra. and the key shipping route through the Strait of Malacca. At any one time. new groups of migrants who spoke a language related to Malay came to Malaysia. the Portuguese seized the commercial kingdom of Melaka from the Malays but were unsuccessful in conquering other areas on the Malay Peninsula. opened fire with cannons. however. Malacca's golden age had come to an end. COLONIALISM (1511-1957) In 1511. within 50 years it was the most influential port in Southeast Asia. and Malacca's rulers now referred to themselves as "sultans. About A. The newcomers settled mainly in the coastal areas of the peninsula. a trading kingdom on the island of Sumatra (now part of Indonesia). In the mid-1400's. Melaka gained control over much of the Malay Peninsula. ships from a dozen kingdoms great and small could be seen in the harbor. Led by a Sumatran prince called Paramesvara. GOLDEN AGE OF MELAKA (1400-1511) We bring you back to the golden age of Melaka (also spelled Malacca).sailed into Malacca's harbor. Perfectly located for trade. Melaka became a Muslim kingdom. Europeans arrived in what is now Malaysia during the 1500's. and captured the city from the Malays. Neolithic culture was well established by 2500-1500 BC. It attracted traders from throughout the world. a Portuguese fleet led by Alfonso de Albuquerque and lured by the spice trade .was founded in 1400 by a fleeing Palembang prince named Parameswara. During the 1000's B.
Britain had either direct or indirect colonial control over all the lands that now make up Malaysia. Selangor. Sumatra. Minangkabau peoples from Sumatra migrated to Malaya during the late 17th century. the Dutch signed a treaty which surrendered to the British their possessions on the Malay Peninsula. In 1840. developing transportation and rubber plantations. World War II and its aftermath brought the end of British rule. The British also encouraged ethnic divisions. During the late 19th century Chinese began to migrate to Malaya. They also introduced rubber trees from Brazil and established rubber plantations in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Gradually. The Portuguese constructed a massive fort in Malacca .which the Dutch captured in turn in 1641 and ruled there for the next 150 years. In 1896 the Malay states accepted British advisors. Chinese. helped the sultan of Brunei quiet a local rebellion. the British encouraged the Malays to farm for a living. The Dutch traded Malacca with the British for Bencoolen. bringing with them a matrilineal culture. the British administered the two main ethnic communities in Kuala Lumpur separately through their Malay and Chinese leaders. For example. through local rulers. and Indians. Britain ruled over Malaya until 1941 when the Japanese invaded Malaya and captured Singapore in early 1942. which it called British Malaya. the sultan ceded the southern part of his territory. called "white rajahs. In 1826. North Borneo (as Sabah was then called) came under the control of a private trading company called the British North Borneo Company. family control by the Brookes in Sarawak. Nevertheless. By hardening the lines that divided the Malays. For example. . INDEPENDENCE FROM THE BRITISH From the 1890s the British invested heavily in what was then called Malaya. and Pahang formed a federation. and Perak. Japan occupied British Malaya and much of Asia until losing the war in 1945. a wealthy English adventurer. To provide labor for these enterprises. to Brooke in 1841 and bestowed on Brooke the title rajah. British rule took several forms. the British acquired Penang Island and established a settlement called George Town there. the British imported Chinese workers for the tin mines and Indian laborers for the rubber plantations. Britain acquired control over more of the area to protect its shipping lanes between China and India. By 1914. Brooke and his descendants. In 1824. To help feed the rapidly expanding work force. THE BRITISH RULE In 1786. In the kingdoms on the Malay Peninsula. The local sultan agreed to accept the resident's advice on political and economic matters. these policies helped keep the groups from uniting against the British. The British declared North Borneo and Sarawak to be British protectorates in 1888. the British expanded tin mining in the late 1800's. and corporate control in North Borneo. This would give the Dutch an almost exclusive lock on the spice trade.A Famosa (picture to the left) . present-day Sarawak. total British control was not established until the early 1900's. James Brooke. Britain placed a representative called a resident in each kingdom. the British governed indirectly. In 1819. Britain sent Sir William Raffles to establish a trading post on Singapore Island. To increase its revenues from British Malaya. In 1881. Negeri Sembilan.Melaka also founded other kingdoms on the peninsula." ruled Sarawak as a self-governing state until the 1940's. Coupled with the power of the White Rajahs in Borneo. Britain had direct colonial rule in the Straits Settlements. In the 18th century the Buginese from the island of Celebes invaded Malaya and established the sultanates of Selangor and Johore. the British formed a colony called the Straits Settlements that included Melaka and the islands of Penang and Singapore. In return.
anticolonial coalition that won 51 of 52 parliamentary seats. In 1948. MALAYSIA IS BORN The first prime minister of the new nation was Tunku Abdul Rahman. which had a mostly Chinese population. suspending the Constitution and Parliament until 1971. the British finally subdued the Emergency in 1960.After World War II ended in 1945. Economic and political disputes soon developed between the mostly Chinese state leaders of Singapore and the mostly Malay federal government of Malaysia. when Malaysia was established. when stability returned and the Malaysian economy began to prosper. however. even in Parliament. and Sarawak became separate crown colonies. They amended the Constitution to forbid discussion. In 1969. North Borneo. Sabah. bloody riots broke out after an election on Peninsular Malaysia. The Malay majority hoped that including Sabah and Sarawak. The amendment also required all government bodies to use Bahasa Malaysia as their principal official language. which had ethnically diverse populations. known as the Alliance. In Malaysia. Earlier in the 1950's. When the British flag was finally lowered in Kuala Lumpur's Dataran Merdeka in 1957. The tensions eventually triggered racial violence. would balance the large numbers of Chinese from Singapore. and Sarawak to join Malaya in a federal union. The British relinquished their powers. Many non-Malays. This three-party partnership. In 1955 the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) joined UMNO in an anticommunist. finally settling into the present pattern in 1963. After the riots. and the powers of the Malay sultans. the ethnic groups followed different traditional occupations. Singapore. plus Melaka and the island of Penang. Malaysia's political leaders tried to build national unity. three years after independence. In 1961. The Malays controlled government and agriculture. Singapore. the term "Malaysia" came into being after Tunku convinced Singapore. and the Malays envied the economic success of the Chinese. Peninsular Malaysia became an independent nation called Malaya in 1957." including the special position of the Malays and of Borneo's ethnic groups. remained outside the federation as a British crown colony. the Malayan Chinese Association. The government declared a state of emergency. In the same year the Malayan Communist Party was formed and began a guerrilla uprising against the British that became known as the Emergency. as in the former British Malaya. Malaysia was a multi-racial country with a mix of people from many different races and cultures. the British tried unsuccessfully to organize Malaya into one state due to a mature independence movement organized as an alliance under YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman. In 1965. of certain "sensitive issues. In the 1960s membership in the federation shifted several times. was the forerunner of the National Front that is Malaysia's most powerful political organization today. It was a painful moment in the young nation's history that most Malaysians prefer to forget. In 1946 the United Malaya National Organization(UMNO) was established. Turbulence in the government went on into the early 1970s. which opposed a colonial status. resented the government's attempts to build national unity through increased emphasis on Malay culture. and in 1957 the Federation of Malaya had gained complete independence from Britain. while the Chinese dominated commerce and industry. The Chinese resented the political power of the Malays. the kingdoms on the Malay Peninsula. With Malay help. Singapore withdrew from the federation peacefully and became independent. . he and other leaders had formed a political alliance of the three main ethnic parties: the United Malays National Organization. a partially independent territory under British protection. and the Malayan Indian Congress. Tunku became the first prime minister of Malaya (picture). united to form the Federation of Malaya. This led to the birth of Malayan nationalism. Britain dissolved the Straits Settlements in 1946.
the New Economic Policy and its successor. In 1971. and rapid economic growth had brought prosperity to all racial groups in the country. Malaysia's leaders determined to improve the economic conditions of the Malays. who has led the country since 1981. however. When completed. and Islamic groups. uniting Malay. In 1999. the government created in 1974 a multiparty alliance called the National Front. Malaysia has undergone tremendous growth and prosperity. and has arguably made significant progress in race relations. they launched a 20-year plan called the New Economic Policy to achieve a better balance of wealth among racial groups. By 1998. Putrajaya will serve as Malaysia's administrative capital. the growth of Malaysia's economy had slowed somewhat. . Government leaders announced a new goal called "Vision 2020. Malaysia has made significant gains in creating national unity. about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Kuala Lumpur. To minimize racial politics. but Malaysia took measures to put its economy back on track. The goal suffered a setback. Malaysia's economy had grown at a robust rate for two decades. the New Development Policy begun in 1991. Parliament will remain in Kuala Lumpur. Despite considerable regional and ethnic divisions. some administrative offices began moving to a new city named Putrajaya. when an economic crisis spread throughout Southeast Asia. Many attribute the country's success to the dynamic leadership ofPrime Minister Datuk Seri Doktor Mahathir bin Mohamad. 1990s & THE NEW MILLENNIUM By the end of the 1990's.Also after the riots. In the last two decades. Chinese." which aimed to make Malaysia a fully developed nation with a high standard of living by 2020. had done much to eliminate racial tensions.
On a Kedah Government scholarship.1970) For his contributions and sacrifices in bringing the country from colonialism to independence. Tunku Abdul Rahman is known as the Father of Independence. he led a mission to London for a discussion with the British government concerning the independence for Malaya. 1951. His efforts in overcoming the country's political problems by way of cooperation among the various ethnic groups saw the birth of the Alliance Party in 1955. and led the Alliance to victory in the 1959. free from British colonialism. he went on to study at St. In 1956. and Che Manjalara. Tunku became the UMNO President succeeding Dato' Onn Jaafar. 1956 and consequently. where he received his Bachelor of Arts in law and history in 1925. the twenty fourth Sultan of Kedah. He traveled all over the country meeting people from all walks of life to promote unity. 1903 in Alor Setar. Catherine's College. 1964 and 1969 general elections. and of Malaysia from 1963 to 1970. . Cambridge University. His attempt at completing his law studies at the Inner Temple in England in 1938 came to a halt due the outbreak of the Second World War. he established the Kesatuan Melayu Great Britain (Malay Association of Great Britain) and became its first secretary. Bangkok and Penang Free School. Tunku received his early education at the Debsurin School. After returning home. when he was made chairman of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) soon after his return. Under his leadership. and then as a district officer in several Kedah districts. He proved unpopular among some British officials thanks to his outspokenness and tendency to introduce reforms in his quest to improve the living standards of the people. Tunku was then elected as the first Prime Minister of Malaya. the independence of Malaya in August 31. 1957.TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PUTRA (1957 . Said to be a robust and bright boy with a particular fondness for sports. the Alliance won the country's first general election in July 1955. He became the first prime minister of the Federation of Malaya from 1957 to 1963. Tunku was then appointed the country's Chief Minister and Minister of Home Affairs. Tunku was born on February 8. the capital of the State of Kedah. His leadership flair also unfolded in England. He resumed his studies eight years later and came home with his legal qualifications in 1949. The meeting resulted in the signing of the Independent Treaty at Lancaster House in London on February 8. he joined the Kedah Civil Service as a cadet in the Legal Advisor's Office. Realizing the Malay students there were not represented by any organization. The political awareness he gained while making friends with people from various nations in England did not go to waste. On August 26. A firsthand experience in racial discrimination with the college's administration was said to have intensified his conviction in fighting for equality and ignited his desire in making his homeland an independent state. He is the seventh prince of Sultan Abdul Hamid Shah.
Tun Razak joined the Malayan Civil Service. became Pahang's Chief Minister.In May 1961. and to reduce and eventually eradicate identification of economic function with race. His achievements include formulating the development policy known as the Red Book. an organization for Malayan students to discuss their country's political issues. Tunku proposed the idea of Malaysia . Tun Razak was also a member of the February 1956 mission to London to seek the independence of Malaya from the British. Tun Razak was a member of the British Labour Party and a prominent student leader of the Kesatuan Melayu Great Britain (Malay Association of Great Britain). he worked as the Assistant State Secretary of Pahang and in February 1955. TUN ABDUL RAZAK BIN DATO' HUSSEIN (1970 .a federation of Malaya. All but Brunei joined in the federation on July 9. Singapore. Two years later. He also formed the Malayan Forum. With a Malayan Union scholarship. 1963. During his student days in England. Tun Razak left for Britain in 1947 to study law. In 1950 he received a Degree of an Utter Barrister from Lincoln's Inn. He and the "second generation" of Malay politicians saw the need to tackle vigorously the economic and social disparities which fuelled racial antagonism. A bright student. Singapore however withdrew from Malaysia in 1965 due to disputes. heading the country from 1970 to 1976.to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty. After the general elections in 1959. at just 33 years of age. Tunku stepped down as the Prime Minister and was succeeded by Tun Abdul Razak. His studies at the college ceased with the onset of the Second World War. Tun Razak set up the National Front on January 1. After joining the Malay Administrative Service in 1939. Born in Pulau Keladi. 1973 to replace the ruling Alliance Party. he became the Minister of Rural Development in addition to holding the portfolios of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. who was blessed with seven children from his marriage to the late Sharifah Rodziah Syed Alwi Barakbah. Tun Razak succeeded Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra as the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Pahang on March 11. On September 1970. He stood in and won the country's first general elections in July 1955 and was appointed as the Education Minister. he was awarded a scholarship to study at Raffles College in Singapore in 1940. Sarawak. in 1950 he became the youth chief for United Malays National Organization (UMNO). North Borneo (later called Sabah) and Brunei. On Sept 22.1976) Tun Abdul Razak succeeded Tunku Abdul Rahman as the second Prime Minister of Malaysia. Tun Razak received his early education at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar in 1934. 1970. passed away in 1990. 1922. Upon his return. Tunku. Tun Razak is the only child to Dato' Hussein bin Mohd Taib and Hajah Teh Fatimah bt Daud. Tun Razak is also renowned for launching the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971. He increased the membership of its parties and coalitions in an . The NEP set two basics goals . Owing to his political caliber.
He received his early education in Singapore and at the English College in Johor Bahru.1981) Tun Hussein Onn was Malaysia’s third prime minister. For his contributions in the area of national and rural development. resigned from the civil service to go into politics. 1990 at the age of 68. Tun Abdul Razak is known as the Father of Development. Tun Hussein came back to Malaysia in 1945 and was appointed Commandant of the Johor Bahru Police Depot. He also gave serious consideration to the concept of Rukun Tetangga and the fight against the drug menace. Johor. Upon completion of his training. He was later posted to the state of Selangor. he was elected the UMNO secretary general. becoming Kelang and Kuala Selangor’s district officer. he retired from active politics and relinquished his prime minister post due to health concerns. India. qualifying as a Barrister-at-Law.effort to establish "Ketahanan Nasional" (National Strength) through political stability. who was married to Toh Puan Suhaila Tan Sri Haji Mohd Noah. The following year he joined the Malaya Civil Service as an assistant administrative officer in Segamat. He stood in and won the general elections in 1969 and was then appointed as the education minister. In 1949. Tun Hussein. Tun Hussein.Tun Hussein’s meteoric rise continued when on August 13. After leaving school. underwent a coronary bypass in early 1981. On July 17 the same year. 1922 to Dato Onn Jaafar and Datin Halimah Hussein. After the war. He came back as a certified lawyer and practiced in Kuala Lumpur. TUN HUSSEIN ONN (1976 . his vast experience prompted the British to employ him as an instructor at the Malayan Police Recruiting and Training Centre in Rawalpindi. For instance. 1973 he succeeded the late Tun Dr Ismail as the Deputy Prime Minister. With IMP losing momentum. who came from a family with deep nationalistic spirit and political roots. 1976 he was appointed as the prime minister of Malaysian after the passing away of Tun Razak. Tun Hussein however left UMNO in 1951 to join his father in forming the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP). he joined the Johor Military Forces as a cadet in 1940 and was sent a year later to the Indian Military Academy in Dehra Dun. He passed away on May 29. Johor on February 12. In 1950. He was born in Johor Bahru. 1981 saw the National Unit Trust Scheme being launched. On January 15. Tun Hussein returned to politics in 1968 after being persuaded by Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak to rejoin UMNO. he was absorbed into the Indian Army and served in the Middle East when the Second World War broke. Tun Hussein is renowned for stressing on the issue of unity through policies aimed at rectifying economic imbalances between the communities. . April 20. Tun Hussein went to London to study law at Lincoln’s Inn. he became the first youth chief of UMNO (United Malays National Organization). a party his father helped established. leading the country from 1976 to 1981.
which ensured his succession as the Fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia on 16 July 1981. He was returned unopposed as President in 1984. which won four general elections under his leadership in the period from 1982 to 1995. Tun Hussein Onn is remembered as the Father of Unity. Mahathir was elected as one of the three Vice Presidents of UMNO in 1975. Dr. he was again returned unopposed as party President.2003 and oversaw his country's transition to an industrialized nation The son of a schoolmaster. Malay states [now in Malaysia] In full TUN DR. Dr. Under his leadership. He has been a member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) since its inception in 1946. In 1978. In a Cabinet reshuffle two years later. which dominated the economy. 1990. was replaced in 1991 by the New . MOHAMAD also spelled MOHAMED or MUHAMMED. 1925. Mahathir sought to bridge Malaysia's remaining ethnic divisions by increasing general prosperity. He was first elected to Parliament in 1964 as a member of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). Mahathir was educated at Sultan Abdul Hamid College and the University of Malaya (King Edward VII College of Medicine) in Singapore. Alor Setar. and privatized numerous state-owned enterprises. Mahathir rejoined UMNO and was reelected to its Supreme Council in 1972.2003) . a post he relinquished in order to contest in the 1974 General Elections. In 1969.) The New Economic Policy that the government adopted in 1971 to improve the economic situation of Malays embodied many of the ideas Mahathir had advocated. In the 1987 party elections. Dr. Kedah. Malaysia's ethnic Malay majority was much poorer than the ethnic Chinese minority. the dominant party within the ruling governmental coalition. 1986. he was appointed Chairman of the first Higher Education Council in 1968. however. soon after Datuk Hussein had announced his retirement. he won the Deputy President seat. He was reelected to Parliament unopposed in 1974 and was then appointed Minister of Education. In this regard. Member of the University Court and University of Malaya Council. Kedah. reduced trade tariffs. His long prime ministry gave Malaysia the political stability it needed to pursue policies that would foster sustained economic growth. the New Economic Policy. Mahathir was elected president of the UMNO. TUN DR MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD (1981 . As Minister of Trade and Industry. After graduating in 1953 he worked as a government medical officer until 1957 when he set up his own private practice in Alor Setar.born Dec 20th. (Though politically dominant. he made Mahathir his Deputy Prime Minister in addition to being Minister of Education. The government welcomed foreign investment. which had encouraged Malay economic success. Owing to his keen interest in the country's education. He was the first commoner to hold that office. reformed the tax structure. When Datuk Hussein bin Onn became prime minister in 1976. Mahathir has been active in politics since 1945. In 1973. Malaysian politician who served as prime minister from 1981 . After Tun Abdul Razak became prime minister in 1970. where he studied medicine. In June 1981. Mahathir was expelled from the UMNO after his forceful advocacy of ethnic Malay nationalism brought him into conflict with Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. Mahathir weathered several challenges to his leadership from within the UMNO. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD. the ruling party Barisan Nasional (National Front) won landslide victories in the 1982. Mahathir defeated his challenger to retain the Presidency and in 1990 and 1993. he led several investment promotion missions overseas. Mahathir was appointed a Senator. 1995 and 1999 General Elections. and Chairman of the National University Council in 1974. he relinquished the Education portfolio for that of Trade and Industry. Member of the Higher Education Advisory Council in 1972.For his efforts in promoting goodwill among the various communities. Dr.
2009) Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. and Mazhar and ten grandchildren DATO' SERI ABDULLAH AHMAD BADAWI (2003 . including deputy secretary general (1974-78) in the Ministry of Culture. and they have seven children Marina. affectionately known as "Pak Lah". Melinda. Calling for modern and progressive Islamic rule as well as reform. In 2003 he succeeded Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad as prime minister of Malaysia. before entering politics.net/malaysia/history.html . is the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia. with a burgeoning manufacturing sector. which emphasized general economic growth and the elimination of poverty. Maizura. an expanding middle class. and increased life expectancies. Mahathir is married to a doctor. Abdullah was elected to parliament in 1978 for his constituency in Kepala Batas (Penang). Mirzan. in the northern Malaysian island of Penang. Malaysia acquired one of the most prosperous and dynamic economies in Southeast Asia. foreign (1991-99) and. Siti Hasmah bt Mohd Ali.Development Policy. he led the Barisan Nasional coalition to a stunning landslide victory in the 2004 parliamentary elecitons. Datin Seri Dr. 1939. finally. defense (1986-87). Youth and Sports. He held a series of civil service posts. Abdullah was born on November 26. Mukhriz. He received a Bachelor of Science in Islamic Studies from the University of Malaya in 1964. http://kiat. rising literacy rates. serving as education (1984-86). by winning 198 out of 220 seats in parliament. Under Mahathir's leadership. and wresting control of the Terengganu state government back from the opposition. deputy prime minister (1999-2003) following the dismissal of Anwar Ibrahim. and begin his rise in the government and UMNO. Dr. Mokhzani.