A Short History of Malaysia: Linking East and West

A Short History of Malaysia: Linking East and West

A Short History of Malaysia: Linking East and West

A Short History of Malaysia: Linking East and West

Synopsis

"A readable, well-informed and comprehensive history of Malaysia from ancient past to hyper-modern present day. A new title in the Short Histories of Asia series, edited by Milton Osborne."

Excerpt

As a modern nation state, Malaysia is not very old, but some of the oldest known human remains and artefacts have been found within its present borders. It is a multiracial federation formed without revolution and, although its territory is divided by the South China Sea and organised into 13 states and two federal territories, it has remained intact and weathered the economic upheavals of the late 20th century better than many of its neighbours. Among its successes may be counted the construction of a national history developed by successive governments to teach Malysian citizens and others about the formation of their modern nation state.

This book acknowledges the official version but it includes other histories as well. Each of Malaysia's constituent states has its own rich local traditions and celebrates individuals who have influenced the course of events in their own time and place. The national history and the local histories together are crucial for an understanding of the nature of modern Malaysia. A short history is necessarily selective and this one has the perspective of hindsight (knowing the outcome of critical events) and emphasises the contribution a variety of individuals have made to their societies and peoples. In this way it is hoped to give the general reader a real taste of the flavour of the Malaysian experience.

A ‘short’ history might suggest that it is possible to present a survey of events from 40 000 BCE to the early 21st century as a compact and neat package. To do so would be misleading because history is never neat and the federation which is now known as Malaysia was, until 1963, a fluid and bureaucratically untidy conglomeration of disparate and very varied parts. This book does not pretend Malaysia's past was neat but tries to describe the essential characteristics of its component parts and the experiences which have produced its present shape.

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