Malaysia's multicultural society supports one of the most dynamic economies in Asia. This completely revised new edition of the standard text, first published twenty years ago, traces the history of the country from early times to the present day.
The authors give particular attention to the evolution of Malay polities and their close links with indigenous groups who lived on the oceans and in the deep jungles of the region, from Sumatra to Borneo. This provides the background to the establishment of the Malay port of Melaka, which was conquered by the Portuguese in 1511, foreshadowing the establishment of a British colonial regime in the late nineteenth century.
Although the large numbers of Chinese and Indian migrants who arrived to work in the tin and rubber industries contributed to economic expansion, colonial policies did not encourage communal interaction. The authors trace the process by which post-independence leaders in Malaya attempted to counter the legacy of ethnic hostility while answering Malay demands for an affirmation of their rights and a stronger commitment to Islam. The incorporation of the Borneo states of Sarawak and Sabah into the Federation of Malaysia in 1963 rendered the goal of welding a nation from areas that were geographically separated and culturally disparate even more problematic.
The intense emotions attached to issues of race were made tragically evident in the racial riots of May 1969, which this book sees as a watershed in modern Malaysian history. As Malaysia enters the twenty-first century, the government is determined to oversee the transition to an economy focused on manufacturing and advanced technology, and to eliminate poverty and the association between occupation and race.
While several recent studies deal with the impact of colonial rule and Malaysia's spectacular economic transition, this book is unique because it tracks developments from early times and identifies continuities as well as change. Combining the authors' specialist knowledge of precolonial sources with the most recent contemporary research, this new edition reinforces the position of A History of Malaysia position as a standard reference for all those interested in the historical processes which led to the emergence of this culturally varied and economically energetic country.