Hinduism in Cambodian culture/ Boramey

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    The Khmer Republic and the War:

    In March 1970, while Prince Sihanouk was absent, General Lon Nol deposed Prince Sihanouk in a coup d’état [a Military Coup] planned by the CIA.

    Lon Nol assumed the power after the military coup and allied Cambodia with the United States. Son Ngoc Thanh announced his support for the new government. On October 9, the Cambodian monarchy was abolished, and the country was renamed the Khmer Republic.

    Hanoi rejected the new republic’s request for the withdrawal of NVA troops. 2,000–4,000 Cambodians who had gone to North Vietnam in 1954 reentered Cambodia, backed by North Vietnamese soldiers. In response, the United States moved to provide material assistance to the new government’s armed forces, which were engaged against both Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) insurgents and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces.

    In April 1970, US President Nixon announced to the American public that US and South Vietnamese ground forces had entered Cambodia in a campaign aimed at destroying NVA base areas in Cambodia. The US had already been bombing Cambodia for well over a year by that point.

    Although a considerable quantity of equipment was seized or destroyed by US and South Vietnamese forces, containment of North Vietnamese forces proved elusive. The North Vietnamese moved deeper into Cambodia to avoid US and South Vietnamese raids. NVA units overran many Cambodian army positions while the Communist Khmer Rouge expanded their small-scale attacks on lines of communication.

    The Khmer Republic’s leadership was plagued by disunity among its three principal figures: Lon Nol, Sihanouk’s cousin Sirik Matak, and National Assembly leader In Tam. Lon Nol remained in power in part because none of the others were prepared to take his place. In 1972, a constitution was adopted, a parliament elected, and Lon Nol became president. But disunity, the problems of transforming a 30,000-man army into a national combat force of more than 200,000 men, and spreading corruption weakened the civilian administration and army.

    The Communist insurgency inside Cambodia continued to grow, aided by supplies and military support from North Vietnam. Pol Pot and Ieng Sary asserted their dominance over the Vietnamese-trained communists, many of whom were purged. At the same time, the Communist Party of Kampuchea forces became stronger and more independent of their Vietnamese patrons.

    By 1973, the CPK were fighting battles against government forces with little or no North Vietnamese troop support, and they controlled nearly 60% of Cambodia’s territory and 25% of its population.

    The government made three unsuccessful attempts to enter into negotiations with the insurgents, but by 1974, the CPK were operating openly as divisions, and some of the NVA combat forces had moved into South Vietnam. Lon Nol’s control was reduced to small enclaves around the cities and main transportation routes. More than 2 million refugees from the war lived in Phnom Penh and other cities.

    On New Year’s Day 1975, Communist troops launched an offensive which, in 117 days of the hardest fighting of the war, collapsed the Khmer Republic. Simultaneous attacks around the perimeter of Phnom Penh pinned down Republican forces, while other CPK units overran fire bases controlling the vital lower Mekong resupply route. A US-funded airlift of ammunition and rice ended when Congress refused additional aid for Cambodia. The Lon Nol government in Phnom Penh surrendered on April 17—5 days after the US mission evacuated Cambodia.

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    Democratic Kampuchea (the Khmer Rouge/Red Khmer age):

    Immediately after its victory, the CPK ordered the evacuation of all cities and towns, sending the entire urban population into the countryside to work as farmers, as the CPK was trying to reshape society into a model that Pol Pot had conceived.

    Thousands starved or died of disease during the evacuation and its aftermath. Many of those forced to evacuate the cities were resettled in newly created villages, which lacked food, agricultural implements, and medical care. Many who lived in cities had lost the skills necessary for survival in an agrarian environment. Thousands starved before the first harvest. Hunger and malnutrition—bordering on starvation—were constant during those years. Most military and civilian leaders of the former regime who failed to disguise their pasts were executed.

    Within the CPK, the Paris-educated leadership—Pol Pot, Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea, and Son Sen—were in control. A new constitution in January 1976 established Democratic Kampuchea as a Communist People’s Republic, and a 250-member Assembly of the Representatives of the People of Kampuchea (PRA) was selected in March to choose the collective leadership of a State Presidium, the chairman of which became the head of state.

    Prince Sihanouk resigned as head of state on April 4. On April 14, after its first session, the PRA announced that Khieu Samphan would chair the State Presidium for a 5-year term. It also picked a 15-member cabinet headed by Pol Pot as prime minister. Prince Sihanouk was put under virtual house arrest.

    The new government sought to completely restructure Cambodian society. Remnants of the old society were abolished and religion, particularly Buddhism and Catholicism, was suppressed. Agriculture was collectivized, and the surviving part of the industrial base was abandoned or placed under state control. Cambodia had neither a currency nor a banking system.

    Life in ‘Democratic Kampuchea’ was strict and brutal.

    In many areas of the country people were rounded up and executed for speaking a foreign language, wearing glasses, scavenging for food, and even crying for dead loved ones. Former businessmen and bureaucrats were ruthlessly hunted down and killed along with their entire families; the Khmer Rouge feared that they held beliefs that could lead them to oppose their regime. A few Khmer Rouge loyalists were even killed for failing to find enough ‘counter-revolutionaries’ to execute.

    Solid estimates of the numbers who died between 1975 and 1979 are not available, but it is likely that hundreds of thousands were brutally executed by the regime. Hundreds of thousands died of starvation and disease (both under the CPK and during the Vietnamese invasion in 1978 ). Some estimates of the dead range from 1 to 3 million, out of a 1975 population estimated at 7.3 million. The CIA estimated 50,000–100,000 were executed and 1.2 million died from 1975 to 1979.

    Democratic Kampuchea’s relations with Vietnam and Thailand worsened rapidly as a result of border clashes and ideological differences. While communist, the CPK was fiercely pro-Cambodia, and most of its members who had lived in Vietnam were purged.

    Democratic Kampuchea established close ties with the People’s Republic of China, and the Cambodian-Vietnamese conflict became part of the Sino-Soviet rivalry, with Moscow backing Vietnam. Border clashes worsened when Democratic Kampuchea military attacked villages in Vietnam. The regime broke off relations with Hanoi in December 1977, protesting Vietnam’s alleged attempt to create an Indochina Federation. In mid-1978, Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia, advancing about 30 miles (48 km) before the arrival of the rainy season.

    The reasons for Chinese support of the CPK was to prevent a pan-Indochina movement, and maintain Chinese military superiority in the region.

    The Soviet Union supported a strong Vietnam to maintain a second front against China in case of hostilities and to prevent further Chinese expansion. Since Stalin’s death, relations between Mao-controlled China and the Soviet Union were lukewarm at best.

    In the late 1970s and early 1980s, China and Vietnam would fight the brief Sino-Vietnamese War over the issue.

    In December 1978, Vietnam announced formation of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (KUFNS) under Heng Samrin, a former DK division commander. It was composed of Khmer Communists who had remained in Vietnam after 1975 and officials from the eastern sector—like Heng Samrin and Hun Sen—who had fled to Vietnam from Cambodia in 1978.

    In late December 1978, Vietnamese forces launched a full invasion of Cambodia, capturing Phnom Penh on January 7, 1979 and driving the remnants of Democratic Kampuchea’s army westward toward Thailand.

    [Message last modified 10-28-2008 07:49pm by veayoo]

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    People’s Republic of Kampuchea (Vietnamese occupation) :

    On January 10, 1979, Communist Vietnam installed Heng Samrin as head of state in the new People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). The Vietnamese army continued its pursuit of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge forces. At least 600,000 Cambodians displaced during the Pol Pot era and the Vietnamese invasion began streaming to the Thai border in search of refuge.

    The international community responded with a massive relief effort coordinated by the United States through UNICEF and the World Food Program. More than $400 million was provided between 1979 and 1982, of which the United States contributed nearly $100 million. At one point, more than 500,000 Cambodians were living along the Thai-Cambodian border and more than 100,000 in holding centers inside Thailand.

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    Modern Cambodia:

    On October 23, 1991, the Paris Conference reconvened to sign a comprehensive settlement giving the UN full authority to supervise a cease-fire, repatriate the displaced Khmer along the border with Thailand, disarm and demobilize the factional armies, and prepare the country for free and fair elections.

    Prince Sihanouk, President of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia (SNC), and other members of the SNC returned to Phnom Penh in November 1991, to begin the resettlement process in Cambodia.

    The UN Advance Mission for Cambodia (UNAMIC) was deployed at the same time to maintain liaison among the factions and begin demining operations to expedite the repatriation of approximately 370,000 Cambodians from Thailand.

    On March 16, 1992, the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) arrived in Cambodia to begin implementation of the UN Settlement Plan. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees began fullscale repatriation in March 1992. UNTAC grew into a 22,000-strong civilian and military peacekeeping force to conduct free and fair elections for a constituent assembly.

    Over 4 million Cambodians (about 90% of eligible voters) participated in the May 1993 elections, although the Khmer Rouge or Party of Democratic Kampuchea (PDK), whose forces were never actually disarmed or demobilized, barred some people from participating.

    Prince Ranariddh’s FUNCINPEC Party was the top vote recipient with a 45.5% vote, followed by Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party and the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party, respectively. FUNCINPEC then entered into a coalition with the other parties that had participated in the election. The parties represented in the 120-member assembly proceeded to draft and approve a new constitution, which was promulgated September 24, 1993. It established a multiparty liberal democracy in the framework of a constitutional monarchy, with the former Prince Sihanouk elevated to King.

    Prince Ranariddh and Hun Sen became First and Second Prime Ministers, respectively, in the Royal Cambodian Government (RGC). The constitution provides for a wide range of internationally recognized human rights.

    On October 4, 2004, the Cambodian National Assembly ratified an agreement with the United Nations on the establishment of a tribunal to try senior leaders responsible for the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. Donor countries have pledged the $43 million international share of the three-year tribunal budget, while the Cambodian government’s share of the budget is $13.3 million. The tribunal plans to begin trials of senior Khmer Rouge leaders in 2008.

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    Early History of Cambodia:

    Prehistoric Cambodia is sparsely known. The earliest known site in Cambodia is Laang Spean cave which occupies the country’s northwest region. Laang Spean cave was first occupied beginning in 7000 B.C.

    Also of significance is the site Samrong Sen which was occupied circa 230 to 500 B.C.

    From 2000 B.C. and beyond, Cambodians started to domesticate animals and started growing rice.

    By, 600 B.C., Cambodians were making iron tools. Lastly influences from India came in 100 B.C.

    Archaeological evidence indicates that parts of the region now called Cambodia were inhabited during the first and second millennia BCE by a Neolithic culture that may have migrated from southeastern China to the Indochinese Peninsula.

    By the first century CE the inhabitants had developed relatively stable, organized societies which had far surpassed the primitive stage in culture and technical skills. The most advanced groups lived along the coast and in the lower Mekong River valley and delta regions where they cultivated rice and kept domesticated animals.

    Some historians speculate that these people arrived before their present Vietnamese, Thai, and Lao neighbors.

    These people may have been Austroasiatic in origin and related to the ancestors of the groups who now inhabit insular Southeast Asia and many of the islands of the Pacific Ocean. They worked metals, including iron and bronze, and possessed navigational skills. Recent research has unlocked the discovery of artificial circular earthworks dating to Cambodia’s Neolithic era.

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    Funan, Early Cambodia:

    At about the time that Western Europe was absorbing the classical culture and institutions of the Mediterranean, the people of mainland and insular Southeast Asia were responding to the stimulus of a civilization that had arisen in India during the previous millennium. The Indianization of Southeast Asia happened as a consequence of the increasing trade in the Indian Ocean.

    Vedic and Hindu religion, political thought, literature, mythology, and artistic motifs gradually became integral elements in local Southeast Asian cultures. The caste system was never adopted, but Indianization stimulated the rise of highly-organized, centralized states.

    Funan, the earliest of the Indianized states, is generally considered to have been the first kingdom in the area.

    Founded in the first century CE, Funan was located on the lower reaches of the Mekong River delta area, in what is today southeast Cambodia and the extreme south of Vietnam. Its capital, Vyadhapura, probably was located near the present-day town of Phumi Banam in Prey Veng Province.

    The earliest historical reference to Funan is a Chinese description of a mission that visited the country in the third century. The name Funan is largely believed to derived from the old khmer word ‘bnam’ meaning mountain. The Funanese were likely of Austroasiatic origin. What the Funanese called themselves, however, is not known.

    The symbolic importance of the mountain in the region is evident by the title “King of the Mountain” used by the kings of Funan, an honorific which is quite common in early cultures in Southeast Asia.

    During this early period in Funan’s history, the population was probably concentrated in villages along the Mekong River and along the Tonle Sap River below the Tonle Sap. Traffic and communications were mostly waterborne on the rivers and their delta tributaries.

    The area was a natural region for the development of an economy based on fishing and rice cultivation. There is considerable evidence that the Funanese economy depended on rice surpluses produced by an extensive inland irrigation system. Maritime trade played an extremely important role in the development of Funan, and the remains of what is believed to have been the kingdom’s main port, Oc Eo (now part of Vietnam), contain Roman as well as Persian, Indian, and Greek artifacts.

    By the 5th century, the state exercised control over the lower Mekong River area and the lands around the Tonle Sap. It also commanded tribute from smaller states in the area now comprising northern Cambodia, southern Laos, southern Thailand, and the northern portion of the Malay Peninsula.

    Indianization was fostered by increasing contact with the subcontinent through the travels of merchants, diplomats, and learned Brahmins.

    By the end of the fifth century, the elite culture was thoroughly Indianized. Court ceremony and the structure of political institutions were based on Indian models. The Sanskrit language was widely used; the laws of Manu, the Indian legal code, were adopted; and an alphabet based on Indian writing systems was introduced.

    Beginning in the early sixth century, civil wars and dynastic strife undermined Funan’s stability. A former northern vassal turned to independent kingdom, Chenla, began to increase its power and status quo was achieved only through dynastic marriages. But eventually Funan was absorbed by the Khmer Chenla and became a vassal itself. Funan disappears from history in the seventh century.

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    Chenla, the early Cambodia:

    The people of Chenla were Khmer and wrote in Khmer script, as opposed to the Funan practice of writing in Sanskrit.

    Chenla is first mentioned in the Chinese Sui History as a Funan vassal. The founder of the kingdom, who managed to break free from Funan’s control, was Strutavarman.

    A later king, Bhavarman, invaded Funan annexing it to Chenla’s domains. Once they established control over Funan, they embarked on a course of conquest that continued for three centuries. They subjugated central and upper Laos, annexed portions of the Mekong Delta, and brought what are now western Cambodia and southern Thailand under their direct control.

    At the same time, king Mahendravarman established peace with the neighboring kingdom of Champa through marriage arrangements, and Isnavarman, who succeeded him in 616, moved to a new capital, which, according to a Chinese writer, was inhabited by 20 thousands families.

    Culturally, the royal families of Chenla generally preserved the earlier political, social, and religious institutions of Funan, thus preserving the elements introduced from India. Chenla appears to have had a preference for Hinduism over other religions brought from there, like Buddhism.

    In the 8th century, however, factional disputes at the Chenla court resulted in the splitting of the kingdom into rival northern and southern halves. According to Chinese chronicles, the two parts were known as Land (or Upper) Chenla and Water (or Lower) Chenla.

    Land Chenla maintained a relatively stable existence, but Water Chenla underwent a period of constant turbulence, partly because of attacks from the sea by the Javanese and others. The Sailendra dynasty in Java actively tried to establish control on Water Chenla territories and eventually forced the kingdom to vassal status. The last of the Water Chenla kings allegedly was killed around 790 by a Javanese monarch whom he had offended.

    The ultimate victor in the strife that followed was the ruler of a small Khmer state located north of the Mekong Delta. His assumption of the throne as Jayavarman II (ca. 802 – 850) marked the liberation of the Khmer people from Javanese suzerainty and the beginning of a Khmer empire (Angkor).

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    The Angkorian period or Khmer empire lasted from the early 9th century to the early 15th century.

    In terms of cultural accomplishments and political power, this was the golden age of Khmer civilization. The great temple cities of the Angkorian region, located near the modern town of Siemreap, are a lasting monument to the greatness of Jayavarman II’s successors.

    The kingdom founded by Jayavarman II also gave modern-day Cambodia, or Kampuchea, its name. During the early ninth to the mid-fifteenth centuries, it was known as Kambuja, originally the name of an early north Indian state/tribe, from which the current forms of the name have been derived.

    Possibly to put distance between himself and the seaborne Javanese, Jayavarman II settled north of the Tonle Sap. He built several capitals before establishing one, Hariharalaya, near the site where the Angkorian complexes were built.

    Indravarman I (877 – 889) extended Khmer control as far west as the Korat Plateau in Thailand, and he ordered the construction of a huge reservoir north of the capital to provide irrigation for wet rice cultivation.

    His son, Yasovarman I (889 – 900), built the Eastern Baray (reservoir or tank), evidence of which remains to the present time. Its dikes, which may be seen today, are more than 6 kilometers long and 1.6 kilometers wide.

    The elaborate system of canals and reservoirs built under Indravarman I and his successors were the key to Kambuja’s prosperity for half a millennium. By freeing cultivators from dependence on unreliable seasonal monsoons, they made possible an early “green revolution” that provided the country with large surpluses of rice.

    Kambuja’s decline during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries probably was hastened by the deterioration of the irrigation system. Attacks by Thai and other foreign peoples and the internal discord caused by dynastic rivalries diverted human resources from the system’s upkeep, and it gradually fell into disrepair.


    Suryavarman II (1113 – 1150), one of the greatest Angkorian monarchs, expanded his kingdom’s territory in a series of successful wars against the kingdom of Champa in central Vietnam, the kingdom of Nam Viet in northern Vietnam, and the small Mon polities as far west as the Irrawaddy River of Burma. He reduced to vassalage the Thai peoples who had migrated into Southeast Asia from the Yunnan region of southern China and established his suzerainty over the northern part of the Malay Peninsula.

    His greatest achievement was the construction of the temple city complex of Angkor Wat. The largest religious edifice in the world, Angkor Wat is considered the greatest single architectural work in Southeast Asia. Suryavarman II’s reign was followed, however, by thirty years of dynastic upheaval and an invasion by the neighboring Cham, who destroyed the city of Angkor in 1177.

    Khmer armed with war elephants drove out the Cham in the 12th century.


    The Cham ultimately were driven out and conquered by Jayavarman VII, whose reign ( 1181 – ca. 1218 ) marked the apogee of Kambuja’s power.

    Unlike his predecessors, who had adopted the cult of the Hindu god-king, Jayavarman VII was a fervent patron of Mahayana Buddhism. Casting himself as a bodhisattva, he embarked on a frenzy of building activity that included the Angkor Thom complex and the Bayon, a remarkable temple whose stone towers depict 216 faces of buddhas, gods, and kings.
    He also built over 200 rest houses and hospitals throughout his kingdom. Like the Roman emperors, he maintained a system of roads between his capital and provincial towns. According to historian George Coedès, “No other Cambodian king can claim to have moved so much stone.” Often, quality suffered for the sake of size and rapid construction, as is revealed in the intriguing but poorly constructed Bayon.

    Carvings show that everyday Angkorian buildings were wooden structures not much different from those found in Cambodia today. The impressive stone buildings were not used as residences by members of the royal family. Rather, they were the focus of Hindu or Buddhist cults that celebrated the divinity, or buddhahood, of the monarch and his family.

    Coedès suggests that they had the dual function of both temple and tomb. Typically, their dimensions reflected the structure of the Hindu mythological universe. For example, five towers at the center of the Angkor Wat complex represent the peaks of Mount Meru, the center of the universe; an outer wall represents the mountains that ring the world’s edge; and a moat depicts the cosmic ocean. Like many other ancient edifices, the monuments of the Angkorian region absorbed vast reserves of resources and human labor and their purpose remains shrouded in mystery.

    Angkorian society was strictly hierarchical. The king, regarded as divine, owned both the land and his subjects. Immediately below the monarch and the royal family were the Brahman priesthood and a small class of officials, who numbered about 4,000 in the tenth century. Next were the commoners, who were burdened with heavy corvée (forced labor) duties. There was also a large slave class who built the enduring monuments.


    After Jayavarman VII’s death, Kambuja entered a long period of decline that led to its eventual disintegration. The Thai were a growing menace on the empire’s western borders. The spread of Theravada Buddhism, which came to Kambuja from Sri Lanka by way of the Mon kingdoms, challenged the royal Hindu and Mahayana Buddhist cults. Preaching austerity and the salvation of the individual through his or her own efforts, Theravada Buddhism did not lend doctrinal support to a society ruled by an opulent royal establishment maintained through the virtual slavery of the masses.

    In 1353 a Thai army captured Angkor. It was recaptured by the Khmer, but wars continued and the capital was looted several times. During the same period, Khmer territory north of the present Laotian border was lost to the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. In 1431 the Thai captured Angkor Thom. Thereafter, the Angkorian region did not again encompass a royal capital, except for a brief period in the third quarter of the sixteenth century.

    [Message last modified 10-30-2008 10:23am by veayoo]

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    The Mohanokor and Cambodia are tied to South East Asia and Asia. A review of more South East Asian countries are beneficial to understand the peace and prosperity issues.

    Next histories to be reviewed will be Malaysia, Indonesia, and China.

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    South East Asia whose strategic sea-lane position brought trade and foreign influences that fundamentally influenced its history. Hindu India, the Islamic Middle East and Christian Europe to its west, and China and Japan to the north-east were major influences brought by shipping routes passing through the region.

    Malaysian history is also intertwined with that of neighbouring Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei and Thailand. This trade and foreign cultures brought the area great wealth and diversity, but has also domination and colonialism. The history of Malaysia is one of successive phases of outside influence, followed by the mid-twentieth century establishment of independence from foreign colonial powers.

    Hindu and Buddhist cultures imported from India dominated early Malaysian history. They reached their peak in the Sumatran-based Srivijaya civilisation, whose influence extended through Sumatra, Java, the Malay Peninsula and much of Borneo from the 7th to the 14th centuries.

    Although Muslims had passed through Malaysia as early as the tenth century, it was not until the 14th and 15th centuries that Islam first established itself on the Malayan Peninsular. The adoption of Islam by the fifteenth century saw the rise of number sultanates, the most prominent of which was the Melaka (Malacca). Islamic culture has had a profound influence on the Malay people, but has also been influenced by them.

    The Portuguese were the first European colonial powers to establish themselves in Malaysia, capturing Malacca in 1511, followed by the Dutch. However, it was the British, who after initially establishing bases at Jesselton, Kuching, Penang and Singapore, ultimately secured their hegemony across the territory that is now Malaysia. The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 defined the boundaries between British Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies (which became Indonesia). A fourth phase of foreign influence was immigration of Chinese and Indian workers to meet the needs of the colonial economy created by the British in the Malay Peninsula and Borneo.

    Japanese invasion in World War II ended British domination in Malaysia. The subsequent occupation from 1942 to 1945 unleashed nationalism in Malaya and Borneo. In the Peninsula, the Malayan Communist Party took up arms against the British. A tough military response was needed to end the insurgency and bring about the establishment of an independent, multi-racial Federation of Malaya in 1957. On 31 August 1963, the British territories in North Borneo and Singapore were granted independence and formed Malaysia with the Peninsular states on 16 September 1963.

    Approximately two years later, Singapore was expelled from the Federation. A confrontation with Indonesia occurred in the early-1960s. Race riots in 1969 led to the imposition of emergency rule, and a curtailment of political life and civil liberties which has never been fully reversed.

    Since 1970 the “National Front coalition” headed by United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has governed Malaysia. Economic growth dramatically increased living standards by the 1990s. This growing prosperity helped minimize political discontent. Successive UMNO-dominated governments have promoted the use of the Malay language and carried out systematic positive discrimination

    [Message last modified 11-04-2008 11:01am by veayoo]

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    Indian Influence:

    Indian influence in the region dates back to at least the 3rd century BCE. Indian traders came to the archipelago for abundant forest and marine products, and to trade with merchants from China. Both Hinduism and Buddhism were well established in the Malay Peninsula by the beginning of the 1st century AD, and from there spread across the archipelago. Chinese chronicles of the 5th century CE speak of a great port in the south called Guantoli, which is thought to have been in the Straits of Malacca. In the 7th century, a new port called Shilifoshi is mentioned, and this is believed to be a Chinese rendering of Srivijaya.

    The site of Srivijaya’s centre is thought be at a river mouth in eastern Sumatra, possibly near Palembang. For 700 years the Maharajahs of Srivijaya ruled a loose-knit maritime empire that controlled the coasts of Sumatra, Peninsular Malaya, and Borneo. Sometimes they also ruled parts of Java, but Javanese states resisted Srivijayan hegemony. Srivijaya was based on trade, welcoming annual trading fleets from China and India, and further afield, including Japanese, Iranians and Arabs. Its greatest enemies were the Siamese in the north. To secure a powerful ally against these enemies, the maharajahs paid tribute to the Chinese Emperors, but they were never under Chinese control.

    The power of Srivijaya declined from the 10th century CE. Never a centralised state, it was apparently weakened by a series of wars with the Javanese, which disrupted trade. In the 11th century CE a rival power centre arose at Melayu, a port possibly located further up the Sumatran coast at what is now the Indonesian Jambi province. Melayu’s influence is shown by the fact that the name is the origin of the word “Malay.”

    The power of the Hindu Maharajahs was further undermined by the spread of Islam. Areas which were converted to Islam early, such as Aceh, broke away from Srivijaya’s control. By the late 13th century, the Siamese kings of Sukhothai had brought most of Malaya under their rule. But the great wealth of the Srivijayan sphere, with its rich resources of aromatic timber, sea products, gold, tin, spices, wax and resins – all highly prized both in China and in the west – kept Srivijaya prosperous until it faded away in the 14th century.

    There were numerous Malay kingdoms in the 2nd and 3rd century CE—as many as 30 according to Chinese sources. Kedah—known as Kedaram or Kataha, in ancient Pallava or Sanskrit—was in the direct route of invasions of Indian traders and kings. Rajendra Chola, Tamil Emperor who is now thought to have laid Kota Gelanggi to waste, put Kedah to heel in 1025 but his successor, Vir Rajendra Chola, had to put down a Kedah rebellion to overthrow the invaders. The coming of the Chola reduced the majesty of Srivijaya which had exerted influence over Kedah and Pattani and even as far as Ligor.

    The Buddhist kingdom of Ligor took control of Kedah, and its King Chandrabhanu used it as a base to attack Sri Lanka in the 11th century, an event noted in a stone inscription in Nagapattinum in Tamil Nadu and in the Sri Lankan chronicles, Mahavamsa. During the first millennium, the people of the Malay peninsula adopted Hinduism and Buddhism and the use of Sanskrit until their later conversion to Islam.

    [Message last modified 11-04-2008 11:03am by veayoo]

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    Melaka and Islamic Malaya:

    The port of Melaka (“Malacca”) on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula was founded around 1400 by Parameswara, a rebel prince of the Srivijaya royal line, who was claimed in the Sejarah Melayu to be a descendant of Alexander the Great. Expelled from Sumatra for killing the ruler of Temasek (modern day Singapore), Parameswara established himself in Melaka. The kingdom rapidly assumed the place previously held by Srivijaya, establishing independent relations with China, and exploiting its position dominating the Straits to control the China-India maritime trade, which became increasingly important when the Mongol conquests closed the overland route between China and the west. Within a few years of its establishment, Melaka officially adopted Islam, and the Raja became a Sultan.

    The political power of the Malaccan Sultanate helped Islam’s rapid spread through the archipelago, reaching as far as modern day Philippines, while leaving Bali as an isolated outpost of Hinduism. Islam came to the Malay Archipelago via India, and unlike Middle Eastern Islam it was influenced by the mystical traditions of Sufism, and also absorbed some elements of Malay animist and Hindu traditions.

    Because Islam was introduced by traders and not military conquest, there was no imposition of the Arabic language or Arab political customs. Since most ethnic Malays could not read the Arabic Qur’an, the local version of Islam was much less rigorous than in the Arabic world. And since the indigenous Malay rulers retained their power, the Islamic clergy did not gain the political influence it enjoyed in other parts of the Islamic world.

    Melaka’s reign lasted little more than a century, but it came to be seen as a golden age of Malay self-rule, and the Sultans of Melaka became the models for all subsequent Malay rulers. Melaka became a cultural centre, creating the matrix of the modern Malay culture: a blend of indigenous Malay and imported Indian, Chinese and Islamic elements. Melaka’s fashions in literature, art, music, dance and dress, and the ornate titles of its royal court, came to be seen as the standard for all ethnic Malays.

    The court of Melaka also gave great prestige to the Malay language, which had originally evolved in Sumatra and been brought to Melaka at the time of its foundation. In time Malay came to be the official language of all the Malaysian states, although local languages survived in many places.

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    Struggles for hegemony:

    The closing of the overland route from Asia to Europe by the Ottoman Empire and the claim towards trade monopoly with India and south-east Asia by Arab traders, led European powers to look for a maritime route. In 1498 Vasco da Gama, sent by King John II of Portugal, found the route around the Cape of Good Hope to India, and in 1511 Afonso de Albuquerque led an expedition to Malaya which seized Melaka following a month-long siege and made it the centre of Portugal’s eastern activity.

    The son of the last Sultan of Melaka fled to the island of Bintan off the southern tip of Malaya, where he founded a state that which became the Sultanate of Johore.

    By the late sixteenth century the tin mines of northern Malaya had been discovered by European traders, and Perak grew wealthy on the proceeds of tin exports. The European colonial expanded further into the region. The Portuguese gained control over the trade from the spice-rich Maluku islands, and in 1571 the Spanish captured Manila.

    In the early sixteenth century, the Dutch established Dutch East India Company (VOC), initially based trade and Maluku, and their post Batavia in west Java. From there they expanded across the archipelago, forming an alliance with Johore against their main enemies, the Portuguese at Melaka and the powerful Sultan of Aceh. In 1641, after several attempts, the VOC-Johore alliance captured Melaka, breaking Portuguese power in Malaya for good – Portugal was left with only Portuguese Timor. Backed by the Dutch, Johore established a loose hegemony over the Malay states, except Perak, which was able to play off Johore against the Siamese to the north and retain its independence.

    The weakness of the Malay states in this period allowed other people to migrate into the Malay homelands. The most significant migrants being the Bugis, seafarers from eastern Indonesia, who regularly raided the Malay coasts. They seized control of Johore following the assassination of the last Sultan of the old Melaka royal line in 1699 and other Bugis took control of Selangor. The Minangkabau from northern Sumatra migrated into Malaya, and eventually established their own state in Negeri Sembilan. The fall of Johore left a power vacuum on the Malay Peninsula which was partly filled by the Siamese kings of Ayutthaya kingdom, who made the five northern Malay states – Kedah, Kelantan, Patani, Perlis and Terengganu – their vassals. Johore’s eclipse also left Perak as the unrivalled leader of the Malay states.
    The economic importance of Malaya to Europe grew rapidly during the 18th century.

    The fast-growing tea trade between China and Britain increased the demand for high-quality Malayan tin, which was used to line tea-chests. Malayan pepper also had a high reputation in Europe, while Kelantan and Pahang had gold mines. The growth of tin and gold mining and associated service industries led to the first influx of foreign settlers into the Malay world – initially Arabs and Indians, later Chinese – who colonised the towns and soon dominated economic activities. This established a pattern which characterised Malayan society for the next 200 years – a rural Malay population increasingly under the domination of wealthy urban immigrant communities, whose power the Sultans were unable to resist.

    English traders had been present in Malay waters since the 17th century, but it was not until the mid 18th century that the British East India Company, based in British India, developed a serious interest in Malayan affairs. The growth of the China trade in British ships increased the Company’s desire for bases in the region. Various islands were used for this purpose, but the first permanent acquisition was Penang, leased from the Sultan of Kedah in 1786. This was followed soon after by the leasing of a block of territory on the mainland opposite Penang (known as Province Wellesley). In 1795, during the Napoleonic Wars, the British occupied Dutch Melaka to forestall possible French interest in the area.

    When Melaka was handed back to the Dutch in 1815, the British governor, Stamford Raffles, looked for an alternative base, and in 1819 he acquired Singapore from the Sultan of Johore. The twin bases of Penang and Singapore, together with the decline of the Netherlands as a naval power, made Britain the dominant force in Malayan affairs. British influence was increased by Malayan fears of Siamese expansionism, to which Britain made a useful counterweight. During the 19th century the Malay Sultans became loyal allies of the British Empire.

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    British Influence:

    In 1824 British hegemony in Malaya was formalised by the Anglo-Dutch Treaty, the decisive event in the formation of modern Malaysia. The Dutch evacuated Melaka and renounced all interest in Malaya, while the British recognised Dutch rule over the rest of the East Indies. Penang, Melaka and Singapore were united as the Straits Settlements, ruled by a British Governor in Singapore.

    During the 19th century, the British concluded treaties with the Malay states, installing “residents” who advised the Sultans and soon became the effective rulers of their states. The wealth of Perak’s tin mines made political stability there a priority for British investors, and Perak was thus the first Malay state to agree to the supervision of a British resident. Johore alone resisted, holding out until 1914.

    In 1909 the weakened Siamese kingdom was compelled to cede Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu to the British. (Siam retained the Sultanate of Patani, leaving a Muslim minority in southern Thailand which has been a source of much trouble for successive Thai governments.)

    During the late 19th century the British also gained control of the north coast of Borneo, where Dutch rule had never been established. The eastern part of this region (now Sabah) was under the nominal control of the Sultan of Sulu, a vassal of the Spanish Philippines. The rest was the territory of the Sultanate of Brunei. In 1841, a British adventurer, James Brooke, leased Kuching from the Sultan and made himself the “White Raja” of Sarawak, steadily expanding his territory at Brunei’s expense. North-eastern Borneo was colonised by British traders, and in 1881 the British North Borneo Company was granted control of the territory under the distant supervision of the governor in Singapore.

    The Spanish Philippines never recognised this loss of the Sultan of Sulu’s territory, laying the basis of the subsequent Filipino claim to Sabah. In 1888 what was left of Brunei was made a British protectorate, and in 1891 another Anglo-Dutch treaty formalised the border between British and Dutch Borneo. Thus the borders of modern Malaysia were formed, in complete disregard of ethnic and linguistic factors, by the colonial powers.

    By 1910 the pattern of British rule in the Malay lands was established. The Straits Settlements were a Crown Colony, ruled by a governor under the supervision of the Colonial Office in London. Their population was about half Chinese, but all residents, regardless of race, were British subjects. The first four states to accept British residents, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang, were termed the Federated Malay States: while technically independent, they were placed under a Resident-General in 1895, making them British colonies in all but name.

    The Unfederated Malay States (Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu) had a slightly larger degree of independence, although they were unable to resist the wishes of their British Residents for long. Johore, as Britain’s closest ally in Malay affairs, had the privilege of a written constitution, which gave the Sultan the right to appoint his own Cabinet, but he was generally careful to consult the British first.

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    Multi-racial Influence:

    Unlike some colonial powers, the British always saw their empire as primarily an economic concern, and its colonies were expected to turn a profit for British shareholders. Malaya’s obvious attractions were its tin and gold mines, but British planters soon began to experiment with tropical plantation crops – tapioca, gambier, pepper and coffee.
    But in 1877 the rubber plant was introduced from Brazil, and rubber soon became Malaya’s staple export, stimulated by booming demand from European industry. Rubber was later joined by palm oil as an export earner. All these industries required a large and disciplined labour force, and the British did not regard the Malays as reliable workers. The solution was the importation of plantation workers from India, mainly Tamil-speakers from South India.

    The mines, mills and docks also attracted a flood of immigrant workers from southern China. Soon towns like Singapore, Penang and Ipoh were majority Chinese, as was Kuala Lumpur, founded as a tin-mining centre in 1857. By 1891, when Malaya’s first census was taken, Perak and Selangor, the main tin-mining states, had Chinese majorities.


    The Chinese mostly arrived poor, but their industrious habits and tight-knit networks of mutual aid (run by secret societies or Triads) soon made many of them rich. In the 1890s Yap Ah Loy, who held the title of Kapitan China of Kuala Lumpur, was the richest man in Malaya, owning a chain of mines, plantations and shops. Malaya’s banking and insurance industries were run by the Chinese from the start, and Chinese businesses, usually in partnership with London firms, soon had a stranglehold on the economy. Since the Malay Sultans tended to spend well beyond their incomes, they were soon in debt to Chinese bankers, and this gave the Chinese political as well as economic power.

    At first the Chinese immigrants were nearly all men, and most intended to return home when they had made their fortunes. Many did go home, but many more stayed. At first they married Malay women, producing a community of Sino-Malayans or baba people, but soon they began importing Chinese brides, establishing permanent communities and building schools and temples.


    The Indians were initially less successful, since unlike the Chinese they came mainly as indentured labourers to work in the rubber plantations, and had few of the economic opportunities that the Chinese had. They were also a less united community, since they were divided between Hindus and Muslims and along lines of language and caste. An Indian commercial and professional class emerged during the early 20th century, but the majority of Indians remained poor and uneducated in rural ghettos in the rubber-growing areas.

    Traditional Malay society had great difficulty coping with both the loss of political sovereignty to the British and of economic sovereignty to the Chinese. By the early 20th century it seemed possible that the Malays would become a minority in their own country. The Sultans, who were seen as collaborators with both the British and the Chinese, lost some of their traditional prestige, particularly among the increasing number of Malays with a western education, but the mass of rural Malays continued to revere the Sultans and their prestige was thus an important prop for colonial rule.

    A small class of Malay nationalist intellectuals began to emerge during the early 20th century, and there was also a revival of Islam in response to the perceived threat of other imported religions, particularly Christianity. In fact few Malays converted to Christianity, although many Chinese did. The northern regions, which were less influenced by western ideas, became strongholds of Islamic conservatism, as they have remained.

    The one consolation to Malay pride was that the British allowed them a virtual monopoly of positions in the police and local military units, as well as a majority of those administrative positions open to non-Europeans. While the Chinese mostly built and paid for their own schools and colleges, importing teachers from China, the colonial government fostered education for Malays, opening Malay College in 1905 and creating the Malay Administrative Service in 1910. (The college was dubbed “Bab ud-Darajat” – the Gateway to High Rank.) A Malay Teachers College followed in 1922, and a Malay Women’s Training College in 1935. All this reflected the official British policy that Malaya belonged to the Malays, and that the other races were but temporary residents. This view was increasingly out of line with reality, and contained the seeds of much future trouble.

    In the years before World War II, the British neglected constitutional development in Malaya. Following their usual policy of indirect rule, they were concerned to prop up the authority of the Sultans and to discourage any talk of Malaya as a united or self-governing country. There were no moves to give Malaya a unitary government, and in fact in 1935 the position of Resident-General of the Federated States was abolished, and its powers decentralised to the individual states. With their usual tendency to racial stereotyping, the British regarded the Malays as amiable but unsophisticated and rather lazy, incapable of self-government, although making good soldiers under British officers.

    They regarded the Chinese as clever but dangerous – and indeed during the 1920s and ‘30s, reflecting events in China, the Chinese Nationalist Party (the Kuomintang) and the Communist Party of China built rival clandestine organisations in Malaya, leading to regular disturbances in the Chinese towns. The British saw no way that Malaya’s disparate collection of states and races could become a nation, let alone an independent one.

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    War and Emergency:

    Tugu Negara, the Malaysian national monument is dedicated to those that fell during World War II and the Malayan Emergency.

    The outbreak of war in the Pacific in December 1941 found the British in Malaya completely unprepared. During the 1930s, anticipating the rising threat of Japanese naval power, they had built a great naval base at Singapore, but never anticipated an invasion of Malaya from the north. Because of the demands of the war in Europe, there was virtually no British air capacity in the Far East.

    The Japanese were thus able to attack from their bases in French Indo-China with impunity, and despite stubborn resistance from British, Australian and Indian forces, they overran Malaya in two months. Singapore, with no landward defense, no air cover and no water supply, was forced to surrender in February 1942, doing irreparable damage to British prestige. British North Borneo and Brunei were also occupied.

    The Japanese had a racial policy just as the British did. They regarded the Malays as a colonial people liberated from British imperialist rule, and fostered a limited form of Malay nationalism, which gained them some degree of collaboration from the Malay civil service and intellectuals. (Most of the Sultans also collaborated with the Japanese, although they maintained later that they had done so unwillingly.)

    The occupiers regarded the Chinese, however, as enemy aliens, and treated them with great harshness: during the so-called sook ching (purification through suffering), up to 40,000 Chinese in Malaya and Singapore were killed. Chinese businesses were expropriated and Chinese schools closed. Not surprisingly the Chinese, led by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), became the backbone of the Malayan Peoples’ Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), which with British assistance became the most effective resistance force in the occupied Asian countries.

    But the Japanese also offended Malay nationalism by allowing their ally Thailand to re-annex the four northern states, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu that had been surrendered to British in 1909. The loss of Malaya’s export markets soon produced mass unemployment which affected all races and made the Japanese increasingly unpopular.

    The Malayans were thus on the whole glad to see the British back in 1945, but things could not remain as they were before the war. Britain was bankrupt and the new Labour government was keen to withdraw its forces from the East as soon as possible. Colonial self-rule and eventual independence were now British policy. The tide of colonial nationalism sweeping through Asia soon reached Malaya.

    But most Malays were more concerned with defending themselves against the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) which was mostly made up of Chinese, than with demanding independence from the British – indeed their immediate concern was that the British not leave and abandon the Malays to the armed Communists of the MPAJA, which was the largest armed force in the country. During the last year of the war there had been armed clashes between Chinese and Malays and many Malays were killed by the armed Chinese communists members of the MPAJA and the returning British found a country on the brink of civil war.

    In 1946 the British announced plans for a Malayan Union, which would turn the Federated and Unfederated Malay States, plus Penang and Malacca (but not Singapore), into a unitary state, with a view to independence within a few years. There would be a common Malayan citizenship regardless of race. The Malays were horrified at this recognition that the Chinese and Indians were now to be a permanent and equal part of Malaya’s future, and vowed their opposition to the plan. The Sultans, who had initially supported it, backed down and placed themselves at the head of the resistance.

    In 1946 the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) was founded by Malay nationalists led by Dato Onn bin Jaafar, the Chief Minister of Johore. UMNO favoured independence for Malaya, but only if the new state was run exclusively by the Malays. Faced with implacable Malay opposition, the British dropped the plan.

    Meanwhile the Communists were moving towards open insurrection. The MPAJA had been disbanded in December 1945, and the MCP organised as a legal political party, but the MPAJA’s arms were carefully stored for future use. The MCP policy was for immediate independence with full equality for all races. This meant it recruited very few Malays. The Party’s strength was in the Chinese-dominated trade unions, particularly in Singapore, and in the Chinese schools, where the teachers, mostly born in China, saw the Communist Party of China as the leader of China’s national revival.

    In March 1947, reflecting the international Communist movement’s “turn to left” as the Cold War set in, the MCP leader Lai Tek was purged and replaced by the veteran MPAJA guerrilla leader Chin Peng, who turned the party increasingly to direct action. In July, following a string of assassinations of plantation managers, the colonial government struck back, declaring a State of Emergency, banning the MCP and arresting hundreds of its militants. The Party retreated to the jungle and formed the Malayan Peoples’ Liberation Army, with about 3,000 men under arms, almost all Chinese.

    The Malayan Emergency involved six years of bitter fighting across the Malayan Peninsula. The British strategy, which proved ultimately successful, was to isolate the MCP from its support base by a combination of economic and political concessions to the Chinese and the resettlement of Chinese squatters into “New Villages” in “white areas” free of MCP influence.

    The effective mobilisation of the Malays against the MCP was also an important part the British strategy. From 1949 the MCP campaign lost momentum and the number of recruits fell sharply. Although the MCP succeeded in assassinating the British High Commissioner, Sir Henry Gurney, in October 1951, this turn to “terrorist” tactics alienated many moderate Chinese from the Party.

    The arrival of Lt-Gen Sir Gerald Templer as British commander in 1952 was the beginning of the end of the Emergency. Templer invented the techniques of counter-insurgency warfare in Malaya and applied them ruthlessly.

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    Towards Malaysia:

    Chinese reaction against the MCP was shown by the formation of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) in 1949 as a vehicle for moderate Chinese political opinion. Its leader, Tan Cheng Lock, favoured a policy of collaboration with UMNO to win Malayan independence on a policy of equal citizenship, but with sufficient concessions to Malay sensitivities to ease nationalist fears. Tan formed a close collaboration with Tunku (Prince) Abdul Rahman, the Chief Minister of Kedah and from 1951 successor to Datuk Onn as leader of UMNO.

    Since the British had announced in 1949 that Malaya would soon become independent whether the Malayans liked it or not, both leaders were determined to forge an agreement their communities could live with as a basis for a stable independent state. The UMNO-MCA Alliance (which was later joined by the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC)), won convincing victories in local and state elections in both Malay and Chinese areas between 1952 and 1955.

    The introduction of elected local government was another important step in defeating the Communists. After Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953, there was a split in the MCP leadership over the wisdom of continuing the armed struggle. Many MCP militants lost heart and went home, and by the time Templer left Malaya in 1954 the Emergency was over, although Chin Peng led a diehard group that lurked in the inaccessible country along the Thai border for many years. The Emergency left a lasting legacy of bitterness between Malays and Chinese.

    During 1955 and 1956 UMNO, the MCA and the British hammered out a constitutional settlement for anciple of equal citizenship for all races. In exchange, the MCA agreed that Malaya’s head of state would be drawn from the ranks of the Malay Sultans, that Malay would be the official language, and that Malay education and economic development would be promoted and subsidised. In effect this meant that Malaya would be run by the Malays, particularly since they continued to dominate the civil service, the army and the police, but that the Chinese and Indians would have proportionate representation in the Cabinet and the parliament, would run those states where they were the majority, and would have their economic position protected.

    The difficult issue of who would control the education system was deferred until after independence. This came on August 31, 1957, when Tunku Abdul Rahman became the first Prime Minister of independent Malaya.

    This left the unfinished business of the other British-ruled territories in the region. After the Japanese surrender the Brooke family and the British North Borneo Company gave up their control of Sarawak and Sabah respectively, and these became British Crown Colonies. They were much less economically developed than Malaya, and their local political leaderships were too weak to demand independence.

    Singapore, with its large Chinese majority, achieved autonomy in 1955, and in 1959 the young socialist leader Lee Kuan Yew became Prime Minister. The Sultan of Brunei remained as a British client in his oil-rich enclave. Between 1959 and 1962 the British government orchestrated complex negotiations between these local leaders and the Malayan government.

    In 1961, Abdul Rahman mooted the idea of forming “Malaysia”, which would consist of Brunei, Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore, all of which had been British colonies. The reasoning behind this was that this would allow the central government to control and combat communist activities, especially in Singapore. It was also feared that if Singapore achieved independence, it would become a base for Chinese chauvinists to threaten Malayan sovereignty.

    To balance out the ethnic composition of the new nation, the other states, whose Malay and indigenous populations would cancel out the Singaporean Chinese majority, were also included.

    Although Lee Kuan Yew supported the proposal, his opponents from the Singaporean Socialist Front resisted, arguing that this was a ploy for the British to continue controlling the region. Most political parties in Sarawak were also against the merger, and in Sabah, where there were no political parties, community representatives also stated their opposition.
    Although the Sultan of Brunei supported the merger, the Parti Rakyat Brunei opposed it as well.

    At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1961, Abdul Rahman explained his proposal further to its opponents. In October, he obtained agreement from the British government to the plan, provided that feedback be obtained from the communities involved in the merger. The Cobbold Commission, named after its head, Lord Cobbold, conducted a study in the Borneo territories and approved a merger with Sabah and Sarawak; however, it was found that a substantial number of Bruneians opposed merger. A referendum was conducted in Singapore to gauge opinion, and 70% supported merger with substantial autonomy given to the state government.

    After reviewing the Cobbold Commission’s findings, the British government appointed the Landsdowne Commission to draft a constitution for Malaysia. The eventual constitution was essentially the same as the 1957 constitution, albeit with some rewording. For instance, giving recognition to the special position of the natives of the Borneo States. Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore were also granted some autonomy unavailable to the states of Malaya.

    After negotiations in July 1963, it was agreed that Malaysia would come into being on 31 August 1963, consisting of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. Brunei pulled out after Parti Rakyat Brunei staged an armed revolt, which, though it was put down, was viewed as potentially destabilising to the new nation.

    The Philippines and Indonesia strenuously objected to this development, with Indonesia claiming Malaysia represented a form of “neocolonialism” and the Philippines claiming Sabah as its territory. Indonesian President Sukarno, backed by the powerful Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), chose to regard Malaysia as a “neocolonialist” plot against his country, and backed a Communist insurgency in Sarawak, mainly involving elements of the local Chinese community.

    Indonesian irregular forces were infiltrated into Sarawak, where they were contained by Malaysian and Commonwealth of Nations forces. This period of Konfrontasi lasted until the downfall of Sukarno in 1965/66. Under Sukarno’s successor, Suharto, Indonesian-Malaysian relations improved. At the same time Filipino President Diosdado Macapagal revived the long-dormant Filipino claim to Sabah, once part of the Sultanate of Sulu.

    In 1966 the new president, Ferdinand Marcos, dropped the claim, although it is still a point of contention marring Philippine-Malaysian relations.
    Malaysia formally came into being on 16 September 1963, consisting of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.

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    Problems of independence:

    The Depression of the 1930s, followed by the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, had the effect of ending Chinese emigration to Malaya. This stabilised the demographic situation and ended the prospect of the Malays becoming a minority in their own country. At the time of independence in 1957, the Malays were 55% of the population, the Chinese 35% and the Indians 10%. Since the Malays have until recently had a higher birth rate, the proportion of Malays has increased since independence – by 2000 it was over 60%.

    This equation was upset by the inclusion of Singapore, which increased the Chinese proportion to close to 40%. Both UMNO and the MCA were nervous about the possible appeal of Lee’s People’s Action Party (then seen as a radical socialist party) to voters in Malaya, and tried to organise a party in Singapore to challenge Lee’s position there. Lee in turn threatened to run PAP candidates in Malaya at the 1964 federal elections, despite an earlier agreement that he would not do so (see PAP-UMNO Relations). This provoked Tunku Abdul Rahman to demand that Singapore withdraw from Malaysia, which it did in August 1965.

    The most vexed issues of independent Malaysia were education and the disparity of economic power among the ethnic communities. Since there was no effective opposition party, these issues were contested mainly within the coalition government, which won all but one seat in the first post-independence Malayan Parliament. The two issues were related, since the Chinese advantage in education played a large part in maintaining their control of the economy, which the UMNO leaders were determined to end.

    The MCA leaders were torn between the need to defend their own community’s interests and the need to maintain good relations with UMNO. This produced a crisis in the MCA in 1959, in which a more assertive leadership under Lim Chong Eu defied UMNO over the education issue, only to be forced to back down when Tunku Abdul Rahman threatened to break up the coalition.
    The Education Act of 1961 put UMNO’s victory on the education issue into legislative form.

    Henceforward Malay and English would be the only teaching languages in secondary schools, and state primary schools would teach in Malay only. Although the Chinese and Indian communities could maintain their own Mandarin and Tamil-language primary schools, all their students were required to learn Malay, and to study an agreed “Malayan curriculum.” Most importantly, the entry exam to the University of Malaya (which moved from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in 1963) would be conducted in Malay, even though most teaching at the university was in English until the 1970s. This had the effect of excluding many Chinese students. At the same time Malay schools were heavily subsidised, and Malays were given preferential treatment. This obvious defeat for the MCA greatly weakened its support in the Chinese community.

    At the time of independence Malaya had great economic advantages. It was among the world’s leading producers of three valuable commodities, rubber, tin and palm oil, and also a significant iron ore producer. These export industries gave the Malayan government a healthy surplus to invest in industrial development and infrastructure projects. Like other developing nations in the 1950s and ’60s, Malaya (and later Malaysia) placed great stress on state planning, although UMNO was never a socialist party.

    The First and Second Malayan Plans (1956-60 and 1961-65 respectively) stimulated economic growth through state investment in industry and repairing infrastructure such as roads and ports, which had been damaged and neglected during the war and the Emergency. The government was keen to reduce Malaya’s dependence on commodity exports, which put the country at the mercy of fluctuating prices.

    The government was also aware that demand for natural rubber was bound to fall as the production and use of synthetic rubber expanded. Since a third of the Malay workforce worked in the rubber industry it was important to develop alternative sources of employment. Competition for Malaya’s rubber markets meant that the profitability of the rubber industry increasingly depended on keeping wages low, which perpetuated rural Malay poverty.

    As in education, the UMNO government’s unspoken agenda in the field of economic development was to shift economic power away from the Chinese and towards the Malays. The two Malayan Plans, and the First Malaysian Plan (1966-70), directed resources heavily into developments which would benefit the rural Malay community, such as village schools, rural roads, clinics and irrigation projects. Several agencies were set up to enable Malay smallholders to upgrade their production and increase their incomes. The Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) helped many Malays buy farms or upgrade ones they already owned.

    The state also provided a range of incentives and low-interest loans to help Malays start businesses, and government tendering systematically favoured Malay companies, leading many Chinese-owned businesses to “Malayanise” their management. All this certainly tended to reduce to gap between Chinese and Malay standards of living, although some argued that this would have happened anyway as Malaysia’s trade and general prosperity increased.

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    The crisis of 1969:

    The collaboration of the MCA and the MIC in these policies weakened their hold on the Chinese and Indian electorates. At the same time, the effects of the government’s affirmative action policies of the 1950s and ‘60s had been to create a discontented class of educated but underemployed Malays.

    This was a dangerous combination, and led to the formation of a new party, the Malaysian People’s Movement (Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia) in 1968. Gerakan was a deliberately non-communal party, bringing in Malay trade unionists and intellectuals as well as Chinese and Indian leaders. At the same time, an Islamist party, the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) and a Chinese socialist party, the Democratic Action Party (DAP), gained increasing support, at the expense of UMNO and the MCA respectively.

    At the May 1969 federal elections, the UMNO-MCA-MIC Alliance polled only 48 percent of the vote, although it retained a majority in the legislature. The MCA lost most of the Chinese-majority seats to Gerakan or DAP candidates. The result was anti-government demonstrations by Chinese in Kuala Lumpur, provoking a Malay backlash and leading rapidly to riots and inter-communal violence in which about 6,000 Chinese homes and businesses were burned and at least 184 people were killed.

    The government declared a state of emergency, and a National Operations Council, headed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, took power from the government of Tunku Abdul Rahman, who in September 1970 was forced to retire in favour of Abdul Razak.

    Using the Emergency-era Internal Security Act (Malaysia) (ISA), the new government suspended Parliament and political parties, imposed press censorship and placed severe restrictions on political activity. The ISA gave the government power to intern any person indefinitely without trial. These powers were widely used to silence the government’s critics, and have never been repealed. The Constitution was changed to make illegal any criticism, even in Parliament, of the Malaysian monarchy, the special position of Malays in the country, or the status of Malay as the national language.

    In 1971 Parliament reconvened, and a new government coalition, the National Front (Barisan Nasional), took office. This included UMNO, the MCA, the MIC, the much weakened Gerakan, and regional parties in Sabah and Sarawak. The DAP was left outside as the only significant opposition party. The PAS also joined the Front but was expelled in 1977.

    Abdul Razak held office until his death in 1976. He was succeeded by Datuk Hussein Onn, the son of UMNO’s founder Onn Jaafar, and then by Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, who had been Education Minister since 1971, and who held power for 22 years. During these years policies were put in place which led to the rapid transformation of Malaysia’s economy and society.

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    Modern Malaysia:

    In 1970, 75 percent of Malaysians living below the poverty line were Malays. The majority of Malays were still rural workers, and Malays were still largely excluded from the modern economy. The government’s response was the New Economic Policy of 1971, which was to be implemented through a series of four five-year plans from 1971 to 1990.

    The plan had two objectives: the elimination of poverty, particularly rural poverty, and the elimination of the identification between race and economic function. This latter policy was understood to mean a decisive shift in economic power from the Chinese to the Malays.

    Poverty was tackled through an agricultural policy which resettled 250,000 Malays on newly cleared farmland, more investment in rural infrastructure, and the creation of free trade zones in rural areas to create new manufacturing jobs. During the 1970s and ‘80s rural poverty did decline, particularly in the Malayan Peninsula, but critics of the government’s policy contend that this was mainly due to the growth of overall national prosperity (due in large part to the discovery of important oil and gas reserves) and migration of rural people to the cities rather than to state intervention.

    Little was done to improve the living standards of the low-paid workers in plantation agriculture, although this group steadily declined as a proportion of the workforce. By 1990 the poorest parts of Malaysia were rural Sabah and Sarawak, which lagged significantly behind the rest of the country. These years saw rapid growth in Malaysian cities, particularly Kuala Lumpur, which became a magnet for immigration both from rural Malaya and from poorer neighbours such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand and the Philippines. Urban poverty became a problem for the first time, with shanty towns growing up around the cities.

    The second arm of government policy, driven mainly by Mahathir first as Education Minister and then as Prime Minister, was the transfer of economic power to the Malays. Mahathir greatly expanded the number of secondary schools and universities throughout the country, and enforced the policy of teaching in Malay rather than English. This had the effect of creating a large new Malay professional class. It also created an unofficial barrier against Chinese access to higher education, since few Chinese are sufficiently fluent in Malay to study at Malay-language universities. Chinese families therefore sent their children to universities in Singapore, Australia, Britain or the United States – by 2000, for example, 60,000 Malaysians held degrees from Australian universities.

    This had the unintended consequence of exposing large numbers of Malaysians to life in Western countries, creating a new source of discontent. Mahathir also greatly expanded educational opportunities for Malay women – by 2000 half of all university students were women.
    To find jobs for all these new Malay graduates, the government created several agencies for intervention in the economy. The most important of these were PERNAS (National Corporation Ltd), PETRONAS (National Petroleum Ltd), and HICOM (Heavy Industry Corporation of Malaysia), which not only directly employed many Malays but also invested in growing areas of the economy to create new technical and administrative jobs which were preferentially allocated to Malays. As a result, the share of Malay equity in the economy rose from 1.5 percent in 1969 to 20.3 percent in 1990, the percentage of businesses of all kinds owned by Malays rose from 39 percent to 68 percent. This latter figure was deceptive because many businesses that appeared to be Malay-owned were still indirectly controlled by Chinese, but there is no doubt that the Malay share of the economy considerably increased.

    The Chinese remained disproportionately powerful in Malaysian economic life, but by 2000 the distinction between Chinese and Malay business was fading as many new corporations, particularly in growth sectors such as information technology, were owned and managed by people from both ethnic groups.

    Malaysia’s rapid economic progress since 1970, which was only temporarily disrupted by the Asian financial crisis of 1997, has not been matched by change in Malaysian politics. The repressive measures passed in 1970 remain in place. Malaysia has had regular elections since 1974, and although campaigning is reasonably free at election time, it is in effect a one-party state, with the UMNO-controlled National Front usually winning nearly all the seats, while the DAP wins some Chinese urban seats and the PAS some rural Malay ones.

    Since the DAP and the PAS have diametrically opposed policies, they have been unable to form an effective opposition coalition. There is almost no criticism of the government in the media and public protest remains severely restricted. The ISA continues to be used to silence dissidents, and the members of the UMNO youth movement are deployed to physically intimidate opponents.

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    Mahathir administration:

    Under Mahathir’s long Prime Ministership (1981-2003), Malaysia’s political culture became increasingly authoritarian, culminating in the dismissal and imprisonment on unsubstantiated charges of the Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, in 1997 after an internal dispute within the government. The complicity of the judiciary in this piece of persecution was seen as a particularly clear sign of the decline of Malaysian democracy. The Anwar affair led to the formation of a new party, the People’s Justice Party, or Keadilan, led by Anwar’s wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

    At the 1999 elections Keadilan formed a coalition with the DAP and the PAS known as the Alternative Front (Barisan Alternatif). The result of this was that the PAS won a number of Malay seats from UMNO, but many Chinese voters disapproved of this unnatural alliance with the Islamist PAS, causing the DAP to lose many of its seats to the MCA, including that of its veteran leader, Lim Kit Siang. Wan Azizah won her husband’s former constituency in Penang but otherwise Keadilan made little impact.

    Badawi administration:

    Mahathir retired in 2003, and his successor, Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, freed Anwar and allowed him to go abroad, which was seen as a portent of a mild liberalisation. At the 2004 election, the National Front led by Abdullah had a massive victory, virtually wiping out the PAS and Keadilan, although the DAP recovered the seats it had lost in 1999.

    This victory was seen as the result mainly of Abdullah’s personal popularity and the strong recovery of Malaysia’s economy, which has lifted the living standards of most Malaysians to almost first world standards, coupled with an ineffective opposition. The government’s objective is for Malaysia to become a fully developed country by 2020 as expressed in Wawasan 2020. It leaves unanswered, however, the question of when and how Malaysia will acquire a first world political system (a multi-party democracy, a free press, an independent judiciary and the restoration of civil and political liberties) to go with its new economic maturity.

    In November 2007, Malaysia was rocked by two anti-government rallies. The 2007 Bersih Rally which was attended by 40,000 people was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November 10 to campaign for electoral reform. It was precipitated by allegations of corruption and discrepancies in the Malaysian election system that heavily favor the ruling political party, Barisan Nasional, which has been in power since Malaysia achieved its independence in 1957.

    The 2007 HINDRAF rally was a rally held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November 25. The rally organizer, the Hindu Rights Action Force, had called the protest over alleged discriminatory policies which favour ethnic Malays. The crowd was estimated to be between 5,000 to 30,000. In both cases the government and police were heavy handed and tried to prevent the gatherings from taking place.

    The issues of high inflation, rising crime rates, ethnic tensions in the multicultural nation, and many other issues came back to haunt Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the next general elections in 2008. The Opposition coalition of DAP, PAS and PKR won 82 seats in Malaysia’s parliament, denying the government its two-thirds majority.

    The Opposition also took the 4 states of Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor, while retaining the opposition stronghold of Kelantan. Still Barisan Nasional, with a simple majority of 140 seats in Parliament, were able to form the next government. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was sworn in for a second term on 10 March 2008, defying calls to quit after presiding over the ruling coalition’s worst ever election performance.

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    The reviews have taken a lot of my time. While I am exausted, a few friends asked why do I bother sweating with history?

    The answer is that the reviews reveal problems Cambodia and all other countries have faced for thousands of years. The problems are wars and poverty, which have been the main topic of history. History is mainly history of wars!

    If readers recall well, my divine father is set to bring a long lasting peace and prosperity to the Great Mohanokor as well to the whole world!

    History reviews help me to understand the human problems as I will be assisting the Borameys in formulating the divine miracle solution. (I hardly can wait to see the final formula myself! Please remember also that I am only a human assistant.)

    I believe though my present sweat could be greatly worthwhile if the solution formula will stop wars for Cambodia, for the Mohanokor and for the whole world.

    Through the reviews, you have seen that millions, billions and trillions of people have been killed in history around the world. ( In just one internal war, China killed over 200 million people. China history will come soon to this thread).

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    The Long Lasting Peace

    Both my divine father Mokot Pich and Buddha Tum Neay referred to “Long lasting Peace and Prosperity”.

    Personally, I wonder how long will they be. This is one important topic I’ll discuss with my mighty divine father Mokot Pich.
    The histories I have reviewed cover around at least 6,000 years of documented human settlement. Human traces dated back to several hundred of thousands of years further than that though.

    If Peace and Prosperity would last that long, I would be very happy. Wouldn’t you? Histories show wars and killing since their beginning. Changing future history main contents would be lovable and miracle. Do not forget though that the Boramey and divine matters are miracle by themselves. If the miracle components turn to miracle solution, lasting peace and prosperity, I cannot see why anyone turns against the effort!

    The reviews have brought me ideas to discuss with my divine Borameys. They help me to understand the problems as well as formulating strategy and actions to get to told goals. While doubt always exists in my human mind, I am willing to take a chance and see whether I could turn Boramey and divine initiatives for the benefit of all humans. Lasting Peace and Prosperity for Cambodia or Mohanokor or the whole world are so precious to me.

    Most of you may have thought that I am writing about fairy things. I realize that since the beginning of my involvement. I am taking a chance on the adventure hoping that the fairly, Boramey and divine things turn true. If that would be the case, I would not be the only one to benefit from the true side of the story. Beneficiaries would be all of you, Cambodians and, by my divine father words, the whole world.

    Personally, still without scientific proof though, I have seen a few key events that would lead to the miracle solution formula already. There is more work to be done for me while Borameys and divine entities are doing their mighty part.

    With so much to gain would all of you wish me and my divine team good LUCKS?

    The reviews have taken a lot of my time. While I am exhausted, a few friends asked why I bother sweating with history.

    The answer is that the reviews reveal problems Cambodia and all other countries have faced for thousands of years. The problems are wars and poverty, which have been the main topic of history. History is mainly history of wars!

    If readers recall well, my divine father is set to bring a long lasting peace and prosperity to the Great Mohanokor as well to the whole world!

    History reviews help me to understand the human problems as I will be assisting the Borameys in formulating the divine miracle solution. (I hardly can wait to see the final formula myself! Please remember also that I am only a human assistant.)

    I believe though my present sweat could be greatly worthwhile if the solution formula will stop wars for Cambodia, for the Mohanokor and for the whole world.

    Through the reviews, you have seen that millions, billions and trillions of people have been killed in history around the world. (In just one internal war, China killed over 200 million people. China history will come soon to this thread).

    [i]Originally posted by veayoo[/i]
    The reviews have taken a lot of my time. While I am exausted, a few friends asked why do I bother sweating with history?

    The answer is that the reviews reveal problems Cambodia and all other countries have faced for thousands of years. The problems are wars and poverty, which have been the main topic of history. History is mainly history of wars!

    If readers recall well, my divine father is set to bring a long lasting peace and prosperity to the Great Mohanokor as well to the whole world!

    History reviews help me to understand the human problems as I will be assisting the Borameys in formulating the divine miracle solution. (I hardly can wait to see the final formula myself! Please remember also that I am only a human assistant.)

    I believe though my present sweat could be greatly worthwhile if the solution formula will stop wars for Cambodia, for the Mohanokor and for the whole world.

    Through the reviews, you have seen that millions, billions and trillions of people have been killed in history around the world. ( In just one internal war, China killed over 200 million people. China history will come soon to this thread).

    [Message last modified 11-08-2008 09:42am by veayoo]

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    As a US citizen, I had a doubt in my mind about what I am dealing with along with my Borameys plan in implementing the Buddha Tum Neay in which Cambodia and its past territories will go in the direction of a lasting peace and prosperity. One concern is conflict between policies.

    If I help Cambodia, my mother land, but I act against the policies of my homestead country, the US, I can get into big trouble one day. In history, there were people who got shot for treason. I do not want to be one of them by involving in an adventure to save mother country and people.

    Fortunately, I found a good news. There is no principle conflict in the general goals(I do not know how much everyday tactical problems there are).

    After checking quickly into the US world, regional, Asia, Southeast Asia and Cambodia policies, in:


    The US and the Mohanokor goals actually are the same. This confirms Borameys statement that the Mohanokor peace and prosperity will be enjoyed not just by the Khmers but by the whole world! Along with the long lasting peace and prosperity to be enjoyed by the Khmers and the world, Buddha Tum Neay said that there will be 120 countries that would submit themselves to the new Oudom Mohanokor! ( I will need to find out what this last statement would really means).

    The US Ambassador also gives a quick reference to China in the US policies. The reference is important for the Oudom Mohanokor as, historically, China was the one who came to beat Vietnam, Thailand and Laos many times (not sure about Cambodia). China is a big guy in Aisa.

    The following excerpts from a US Ambassador in Cambodia support the parallelism between the two efforts.

    In 2006, the US Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph A. Mussomeli outlined the United States policies in Cambodia, Southeast Asia, Asia, and the world in general. The policies principles cannot be understood without looking from different scopes from the world in general down to Asia, Southeast Asia and Cambodia at the end. The outline says little specific thing about US policies in Cambodia.

    US world policy:

    “We begin by looking at core objectives for U.S. foreign policy worldwide. Certainly the emphasis on one or more of these objectives may vary from region to region or from country to country, but the core objectives remain: regional peace and security, support for democracy and human rights, sustainable economic development and commerce, and combating transnational threats.

    US policy in Asia:

    “ We like to say that the United States has been an Asia-Pacific nation for nearly two centuries. And to this day, our unfailing support for Asia’s success remains rooted in the same basic principles outlined as core foreign U.S. policy interests:

    First: security through respect for the rule of law and combating transnational threats such as terrorism, narcotics, HIV/AIDs and AI;

    second: prosperity through freedom of commerce and economic development;

    third: support for democracy and human rights.”

    “We see three major areas which are important to form the framework in which integration can take place in an environment of mutual trust:

    1) security;
    2) prosperity; and
    3) freedom.

    Again, these are the areas identified as U.S. foreign policy interests. “

    “Certainly the emphasis on one or more of these objectives may vary from region to region or from country to country, but the core objectives remain: regional peace and security, support for democracy and human rights, sustainable economic development and commerce, and combating transnational threats.

    Those of you who might suspect that these core objectives are not our real agenda, ought to look at them more closely. It is true that they are more idealistic than some would assume of any country’s policy objectives. But they are also the ones that best advance US interests. Our goals are unabashedly selfish in the sense that our policy is based upon the view that a stable world, that is prosperous and free, holds the best opportunities to advance America’s own economic prosperity and safeguard our own security and political liberties.”


    Presdident Barack Obama yelled at his winning election speech to the world that the US will hunt and destroy whoever tries to destroy world stability !!!

    I actually am helping the US, Cambodia and the whole world :)

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    History of Indonesia:

    Indonesia is an archipelagic country of 17,508 islands (6,000 inhabited) stretching along the equator in South East Asia. The country’s strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade; trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history. The area is populated by peoples of various migrations, creating a diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and languages.

    Fossilised remains of Homo erectus, popularly known as the “Java Man”, suggest the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited two million to 500,000 years ago. Austronesian people, who form the majority of the modern population, were originally from Taiwan and arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE. From the seventh century CE, the powerful Srivijaya naval kingdom flourished bringing Hindu and Buddhist influences with it.

    The agricultural Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties subsequently thrived and declined in inland Java. The last significant non-Muslim kingdom, the Hindu Majapahit kingdom, flourished from the late 13th century, and its influence stretched over much of Indonesia. The earliest evidence of Islamised populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra; other Indonesian areas gradually adopted Islam which became the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra by the end of the 16th century. For the most part, Islam overlaid and mixed with existing cultural and religious influences.

    Europeans arrived in Indonesia from the 16th century seeking to monopolise the sources of valuable nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku. In 1602 the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and became the dominant European power. Following bankruptcy, the VOC was formally dissolved in 1800, and the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nationalised colony. By the early 20th century Dutch dominance extended to what was to become Indonesia’s current boundaries.

    The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation during WWII ended Dutch rule, and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement. Two days after the surrender of Japan in August 1945, nationalist leader, Sukarno, declared independence and was appointed president. The Netherlands tried to reestablish their rule, but a bitter armed and diplomatic struggle ended in December 1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognised Indonesian independence.

    An attempted coup in 1965 led to a violent army-led anti-communist purge in which over half a million people were killed. Politically, General Suharto, out-maneuvered President Sukarno, and was formally appointed president in March 1968. His New Order administration garnered the favour of the West whose investment in Indonesia was a major factor in the subsequent three decades of substantial economic growth. In the late 1990s, however, Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the East Asian Financial Crisis which led to popular protests and Suharto’s resignation on 21 May 1998.

    The Reformasi era following Suharto’s resignation, has led to a strengthening of democratic processes, including a regional autonomy program, the secession of East Timor, and the first direct presidential election in 2004. Political and economic instability, social unrest, corruption, natural disasters, and terrorism have slowed progress. Although relations among different religious and ethnic groups are largely harmonious, acute sectarian discontent and violence remain problems in some areas.

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