The Legacy Of British Malaya

The legacy of British colonisation can be felt around the world, particularly in Malaysia. The British anchored down here in 1786, as part of the East India Company’s trading exploits, further into the region and towards the Indian Ocean. At the time, the Company had set-up base on Penang Island, with Sir Stamford Raffles going on to found the island of Singapore in 1819, which at the time, was under Malay hegemony. The British Straits Settlements, meanwhile was inclusive of a region known as Malacca, ruled by a tiny group of sultans, who had gotten into power after many hard-fought battles with Malay trades-people.

The sultans of the tiny Malay states began accepting British advisers into their country, from as early on as the 1870s, who were later crowned as the rulers of the lands. Together, with the sultans, all of the monarchies made Kuala Lumpur the capital of the country and a federation was propped up, comprising of Negri Sembilan, Perak, Selangor and Pahang. For a very long time, the country remained as a British colonial power, protected by the monarchy and the Empire, until a Communist uprising followed, that paved the way towards a charter of independence. The Communists were fighting to free the land from British political values, and the result was greater segregation of communities after an election was contested, with respective local candidates representing their particular communities, rather than choosing a candidate that is best suited for the task.

The United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) came to power as Tunku Abdul Rahman, the leader became the first prime minster of an independent Malaya. The state was declared by the new prime minister as a sovereign nation, that is both democratic and independent, and built on the foundations of goodwill and governance, blessed by repeated rulings of the British. Tunku Abdul Rahman, asked the locals in the state to not forget the contribution of the British in the future, and let it get spoiled. The Malayan flag replaced the Union Jack, as bonfires, dances and concerts welcomed the idea of independence. The most captivating piece of this history was the battles that took place before the sultans won power, I believe, because after independence, they granted us with so much goodwill for our contribution to Malaysia.

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Peninsular Malaysia, was ruled by Indian and Chinese traders, for a long time – they arrived and replaced the local tribal clans and chieftains. They enjoyed our great sea route, going as far back as 7th century BC – they even put their stamp on Malay culture, mixing it with Indian religion, laws and language. Hinduism actually spread when Malays visited India, but back home it had crept into the very foundations of our social and political values. Some believe that like the common law system, the English law system (a fraction of the common law system), both constitutional law and criminal law, has been derived from Hindu law, that exists in our power corridors. But this has become a thing of the past, since Malaysia rose as an Islamic state.

The earliest missionaries of Islam worked extremely hard to erase Hindu influence in the land (inclusive of punishments that seek to erase criminalist acts, through terrorisation of what lay in store for people committing them, physically, if they were to commit the same act, some people already did) and succeeded tremendously. Utilising every branch of “the idea of propaganda”, the missionaries made their rulers accept Islam, and convert Malacca, within a half century as a centre for conducting studies into Islam. The Sultans, of each and every state, were supportive of the missionaries interests, whilst the feudal lords in the regions decided to grant them blind loyalty in all their acts. All of the subjects were immediately asked to convert to Islam, which they gladly followed, after the Sultan, and teachings of Alexander the Great and Prophet Muhammad, became commonplace in Malaysia.

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