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The early history of malaysia

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 5368 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The First chapter attempts to uncover Malaysia’s historical background, focusing mainly on the prehistoric age and the early history touching on topics such as the people and the ancient kingdoms, the Malay kingdom of Malacca, the colonial era and the Emergency.

History has proven that Malaysia is not a new country. Human has been living in several areas in the country since the Stone Age.

Early Inhabitants

Towards the end of the last decade, a human skull was found 12 feet underground in the Niah Caves, Sarawak. Test revealed that the skull belonged to a 15 year old boy who had been buried in the caves some 40,000 years ago. The discovery provided evidence of the existence of inhabitants in Malaysia, several thousand years ago, marking the early beginnings of her history.

However, later findings in Tampa Fort, Ulu Perak, confirmed remnants of ancient civilization in Kuala Tampan to be 74,000 thousand years old.

The ancient history of Malaysia spans 4 main phases:

  1. The Paleolithic Age
  2. Mesolithic Age
  3. Neolithic Age
  4. Bronze Age.

Refer to Table 1.1 – Ancient Periods and Early Inhabited Areas

Ancient Ports

Since 5,000 years ago, several places in Malaysia, especially those along the seashores, grew to become very important ports for local residents and the rest of the world. This is because Peninsula Malaysia is located at the crossroads between Chinese, Indian and Arabian trade routes. Besides that, Malaysia’s natural resources attracted many foreign merchants especially from Arabia, India and China.

Several ports were built in the country at that time, like the important ports of :

  1. Kuala Selinsing in Perak
  2. Jenderam Hilir in Selangor
  3. Santubong in Sarawak

Malaysia was rich with natural resources such as resin, cane, gold and tin ore.

Malaysia has been renowned as a great trade area. Indian merchants named Peninsula Malaysia as Suvarnabumi, which means Golden Earth and Ptolemy, a famous Greek geographer, named it Golden Chersonese, meaning Golden Peninsula. These indicated that the Malays were famous in trade since ancient times.

Old Malay Kingdom

Several great kingdoms rose up in Peninsula Malaysia and the areas surrounding the Malay Archipelago. Poweful Malay Kingdoms existed in the Malay Archipelago since the early part of the first century. These kingdoms were center of trade, government and the spread of religion.


Democracy is a concept that is very meaningful to a country that respects the freedom of the individual in determining the leadership of the country.

Democracy is synonymous with the expressions such as the voice of the people, the freedom of the people or the people that rule



  1. Political parties
  2. Candidates
  3. Fishing for voters
  4. Banners
  5. Ballot boxes
  6. State legislative assembly and
  7. Parliament

Most important issue here is the action of the citizen who fulfills the conditions for voting. The process of choosing a representative is termed “to vote”. The whole process determines which candidate or party wins. This is called election.


  • Elections give the citizens the right to pick their own government.
  • Elections allow putting into practice the principles of freedom of a citizen, that is, the freedom of the people to determine or choose their own leaders.
  • The candidates chosen by the citizens whether for the House of Representatives (Federal level) or State Legislative Assembly (State level) are responsible to the voters from their own constituency.

There will be contest among the number of parties that want to form the government. The party that wins the election at the parliamentary level with a majority, will form the Central government while the party that wins at State Legislative Assembly will form the State government.

The party that wins should fulfill the party’s promises in the election campaign. This is the social contract in the elections.


  1. the general elections – for the whole country
  2. by – elections – considered a general elections because the concept itself involves choosing a representative by the citizens.

Differences :-

The first one, is only held after Parliament or State legislative is dissolved. The by-elections do not involve dissolution or any of the assembly.


  • Every 5 years. However, a general elections can also he held before the term is up. The Agong must dissolve Parliament. This occurs at Federal level
  • Elections must be held within 60 days in west Malaysia and 90 days in east Malaysia.

The by-election is held at the death of a representative or member of the State or Parliamentary or a vacant seat.


  1. Age 21
  2. Resides in an election division on the date.

But, if you are not registered as a voter, you cannot vote.

A “non-residing” voter can still vote if:-

  1. a Malaysian citizen who is working in the Armed forces or commonwealth countries.
  2. Living overseas but working for the federal or state government.
  3. Studying aboard.


  1. in jail or not fully sound of mind
  2. in jail for more than 12 months in any commonwealth countries


Is to convince the people, that the practice of democracy is fully and properly carried out. Article 113 of the constitution says that the EC is responsible for managing and administering the elections. 3 main areas of EC are

  1. draw up the boarders of the electoral constituencies
  2. prepare and verify the voters’ list for elections
  3. manage the election process for the Parliamentary and State legislative constituencies.

The members of EC are appointed by the Agong, ie a chairperson, a deputy and 3 other members.

VOTE AND BALLOTING- read up…page 98


In general elections, citizens will choose 2 candidates who are deemed qualified to represent them in both the Houses (federal and state).

Any Malaysian citizens 21 years and above qualifies to become a State or Federal excepts if the person has lost his right to become a member. The reasons for this may be:-

  1. not sound of mind
  2. bankrupt
  3. salaried post (govt employees)
  4. failure to submit his/her statement of expenses for the Parliamentary or State within 33 days after the announcement of the election results.
  5. Found guilty of criminal charges and was sent to jail for more than 1 year.
  6. Obtains foreign citizen ship.
  7. Found guilty of an offence related to elections.


  • Parliament has 2 Houses i.e the House of Representatives (HR) and the Senate.(S)

    HR is to draw up the bills and debate on them, while S is responsible

    for further debates and scrutiny of the bills that the HR had passed.

  • The members of the Senate also known as Senators, according to article 45 of the constitution are selected and appointed. Members that are picked, represents the states, 2 in each state are chosen by Schedule 7 of the constitution.
  • Senators who are appointed, consists of those who have rendered excellent services in public services or have been successful in business, agriculture, art/social welfare. A person can be appointed as a Senator from age 30 onwards.


For 1 term (3 years) but not more than 2 terms (6 years). The role of the Senator is also important especially in carefully going through the bills before their presentation to the Agong


Chapter 6


  • The constitution of Malaysia was born at the same time as the birth of Malaysia nation in 1963.
  • A constitution is a collection of measures and guidelines for regulating the administration of the country. The guidelines contain, among other things, the basis for making the laws so that the ruling government can put the country in order fairly and efficiently, basic freedoms, rights and responsibilities of various parties including the government and the people, citizenship, judiciary, finance, general elections and distribution of power among responsible parties as in federal and state govn.


It is from Federation of Malaya Constitution that the Malaysian Constitution (M.U.) begin. With the defeat of Japan at the end of 2nd world war, the administrative order in Malaya, Singapore and Brunei changed. By 1964, the situation was as follows:

  1. The North Borneo company gave up its rights and power over north Borneo.
  2. Charles Brook surrendered his power to Sarawak
  3. The Malay states were divided into 3 forms of government, the Straits settlements, the Federated Malay States and the Non Federated Malay States.

With the above changes, Singapore, north Borneo and Sarawak became separate British territories. Following this, the British combined the states of Penang and Malacca with the other nine Malay states and set up the Malayan Union on 1st April 1946.

MU was dissolved and a new constitution was drawn up on Feb 1st 1948 and was named Federation of Malaya Constitution 1948. following this, a British High Commissioner was placed in the central govn as the highest administrator. The Executive and Legislative council represented the local people.

The approval of the 1948 agreement stated the preparation towards self-rule. The general elections for filling 52 seats in the Federal legislative council was held in July 1955. The Alliance won 51 out of 52 seats and Tuanku Abdul Rahman leader of the party became the Prime Minister.

The success of the multi-racial party was positive.

  1. The British believed that the colonial territories understood the multi-racial political sharing.
  2. The British must be prepared for demand by the locals for independence.
  3. There are awareness among the citizens in the Federation of Malaya to build a new identity using a new approach by working together using the same means.

Following a constitutional meeting in London in 1956, attended by Malayan royalties and govt rep, a commission called REID COMMISSION was formed under the chairman ship of LORD REID to draw up a new constitution for a free and independent Federation of Malaya.

The Reid Commission was a royal comm. approved by the Queen of England and also the Malay rules. The comm. consisted of legal experts from UK, Aust, India and Pakistan. They produced a constitution that was strong and with authority. The constitution grew in strength, was practical and respected. Finally the draft of the Malayan constitution was accepted and declared as the Constitution of the Federation of Malaya on 31st August 1957 and honoured the Federation of Malay as a free and independent country.

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6 years later, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to become Malaysia. Because of more ethic groups joining Malaya, the Cobbold commission was set up in April 1962. England relinquished her power over North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore. These 3 countries then became independent and combined with the Federation of Malaya to form the Malaysian Federation with its own constitution.


The Malaysian constitution allocates power to the Federal and State levels. At the federal level Parliament, it is a legislative body with powers to make laws(acts) while the state level is empowered to make laws (enactments – make laws). Both bodies are empowered to make laws and these laws are legal as recorded in the constitution itself.

Parliament also has the power to amend laws that has been made, following the powers made by the constitution. It is clear that the Constitution is supreme. Is there any other party that is supreme in Malaysia ? Yes but not overriding the constitution. The Yang Di Pertuan Agong is supreme as stated in the constitution: (refer to page 111)

  1. The Agong is the cheif head of the state
  2. Agong symbolizes the nation.
  3. Agong is a componet of Parliament and country’s supreme head
  4. Agong is the supreme commander of the armed forces.
  5. Agong appoints Chief justice and judges
  6. All official govn actions and execution of the country’s regulations are carried out in the name of the Yang di Pertuan Agong.

The Content of the Constitution : The Malaysian constitution contains 15 sections, 183 clauses or Articles and 15 Schedules

The main features of the constitution are-

  1. Malaysian is a federation
  2. Malaysian is a constitutional monarchy
  3. Malaysia is a country that practices parliamentary democracy
  4. Religious freedom with Islam as the official religion of Malaysia
  5. Supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law
  6. Doctrine of the separation of power in which the judiciary, the legislative and the govn has each its freedom to carry out its different functions with no conflict of interest.
  7. Validity and transparency of the judiciary with exclusive powers subject to the provisions of the constitution
  8. National language, citizenship and the special rights of the Malays and the native tribe of Sabah and Sarawak.

Question : What do you understand by the concept ” Supremacy of the Constitution “? Explain the supreme features of the Malaysian Constution.



Chapter 6 provided an explanation on a number of basic issues relating to Malaysian constitution. The background of the Malaysian constitution and some of its features of its supremacy were examined in detail.

This sections provides a quick look at how the constitution is able to continue functioning as a whole. The topic to be discussed are language, Citizenship, Basic rights and the special positions of the Malays and ethic groups from Sabah and Sarawak.

LANGUAGE : The need for a National Language- Malay language that becomes the language to replace the English Language. The Malay Language becomes the official language for communication and was realized to be important for uniting the people of different ethic origin, each with their own spoken language. The Malay language later became the Malaysian language as this decision was recorded as Article 152, Section X11 of the Malaysian Constitution.

RELIGION : Islam is the official religion of the Federation, but other religions are allowed to be practiced in peace and harmony. (Article 1)

In states that have a ruler or sultan, they became the head of Islam in the state concerned (Article 2)

For states with ruler or sultan, the Yang di Pertuan Agong is the head of Islam.

The importance of Religion – is the most basic matter in life. It touches upon the very existence of the individual in the world, together with other beings, who are all God’s creation. In the Rukun Negara, the first principle of the Rukun Negara is “Belief in God”. Regardless of the religion that a Malaysian believes in, the national ideology emphasizes the importance of having a religion.

CITIZENSHIP : Is a special status held by the people to have the right to be in a country. This status gives rights, benefits and certain facilities. Some of the special rights as a citizen are:

  1. the right to vote in an election
  2. the right to take part in politics
  3. the right to fill a post that is exclusively for citizens only
  4. free to own landed property
  5. the right to receive benefits and facilities including welfare benefits, education and so on.
  6. Freedom of movement throughout the country and
  7. The right not to be exiled.

In return, the citizens should fulfill their responsibilities and expected to:

  • give national service including joining the army.
  • Abide the law
  • Contribute to the productivity of the country
  • Participate and support national programmes as Independence Day celebration.


Is based on one of the following :

  1. Jus Soli – based on the laws of the birth place. Citizenship is automatic for people born in Malaysia between Independence day (31st Aug 1957) and October 1962, regardless of parents status.
  2. Those born after 1962, can become citizens if either parents is a citizen at the time of birth ; at the time of birth, either parents has been residing in the country or ; at the time of his/her birth he/she was not a citizen of any country.

  3. Jus Sanguinis – according to blood descent. Relies solely on the citizenship status of the father. If the father of a newly born is a citizen of the federation, he too becomes citizen, regardless of where he was born (in or out of the country). However, for a child of a citizen is born outside the country, the child only inherits the father’s citizenship status if
    1. his father was born in Malaysia
    2. his father holds a post in the public service at the federal or state level
    3. his birth was registered at the office of a Malaysian consulate or with the Malaysian govn within one year of his birth.
  4. Marriage – Giving the right to foreign women who is married to a Malaysian citizen to apply to become a citizen. Citizenship is given through registration and that is :
    1. if the husband is a citizen in October 1962 or prior to that and marriage is still binding or
    2. the foreign woman has lived in the federation for more than 2 years before the application is made, has the intention to continue living in the federation and is of good conduct.
  5. Naturalization – Article 19 of the Malaysian constitution provides opportunities to residents who are not born in Malaysia to become Malaysian citizens. Applicants are required to fulfill:
    1. aged 21 and above
    2. have lived in the federation for at least 10 out of the 12 years from the date of application
    3. have intention to live permanently in the country
    4. good conduct
    5. have sufficient knowledge of the Malay language


    2 ways :-

    1. he rejects the citizenship for personal reasons and
    2. he has violated the laws and committed a prohibited action, that can be one of the following :
    1. he has become citizen of another country
    2. he participates in the foreign country’s elections or possesses a foreign country’s passport.
    3. A woman becomes a citizen of a foreign country through marriage with a foreign man
    4. Acts negatively showing he is no longer loyal to Malaysia
    5. Has business or ties with a hostile country
    6. Citizenship has been falsely obtained.

    Chapter 8


    Malaysia is a plural society of many ethnic groups. In West Malaysias, the largest ethnic groups are the Malays. Chinese and Indians. In Sabah and Sarawak, the number of ethnic groups is even bigger including among them the Kadazan, Bajau, Bidayuh, Iban, Kayan, Kenyah and Murut.

    These groups are categorized into Bumiputra and non Bumiputra.. In terms of the size of the group, the Bumiputras far outnumbered the non-bumiputras. Based on employment distribution, the bumiputras continue to dominate the agricultural sector. The Chinese and Indians too continue too be predominant in the professions, as accountants, engineers, lawyers and architects. Most of the Malays were originally from Indonesia, mainly from Minangkabau, Javanese, Banjar, Bugis and Boyan Indians from India and Chinese from China.

    Their migration to Malaysia was influenced by the push and pull factors.

    Push and pull factors – from Indonesia to Malaya

    1. Poverty – increasing population and increased taxes by the Dutch colonist in Indonesia.
    2. Political stability and growing economy in Malaya – tin ore and plantation and Malaya was peaceful.
    3. Indonesian traits- those of Bugis descent were skilled sailors and businessman. They travel to other areas.
    4. Political instability in Indonesia – Dutch colonized Indonesia . the hatred towards them were also factors that push them to migrate to Malaya.

    From China to Malaya

    Most of the Chinese in Malaya originated from Fukien, Kwangtung and Kwangsi in south China. Factors that lead the Chinese to migrate to Malaya are :

    1. difficulties of living in China – rapid increase of population, frequent floods and drought and limited natural resources.
    2. Political instability in the districts of south China – the local Chinese considered the Manchu Dynasty rulers as foreigners, thus they were against the kingdom and this threatened their lives.
    3. Growth in the tin and rubber created a need for labour.
    4. Political stability in Malaya under the British rule-economy improved.
    5. Migration facilities- transportation systems as steamships made it easy for Chinese to migrate.
    6. Chinese population characteristics – people from Kwangtung and Fukien are very hardworking and like traveling. These factors encourage them to migrate.

    From India to Malaya

    Most of the Indians are Tamils, Malayalis, Telegus and Sikhs. Factors that led the Indians to migrate to Malaya are :

    1. Difficulties living in India : – work was scarce. Rapid increase in population, natural disasters
    2. Rapid economy development in Malaya – rubber was introduced, followed by palm oil – increased jobs.
    3. Encouragement from the British govt – the British encouraged the migration of Indians to work in plantations, clerks and technical and constructions.

    Chapter 9


    Unity and national integration is important to ensure the people live in peace and harmony. Conflict among the races can bring trouble and disturbance to the country with adverse effects on its development

    In Malaysia, unity has as its foundation the national ideology (the Rukun Negara). It is hoped that national unity can be achieved through unity at the following levels : territorial, economic, political, educational, social and cultural. The ultimate objective is of course an overall and lasting integration.

    Plural Society:

    A complex society such as Malaysia is called a plural society, from the point of view of settlement, politically and socially. Every group has their own religion, culture, language, thinking and way of life. .

    Ethnic Relations in Malaysia

    The process of Integration : The theory of Racial Relations can be broken down into 5 sectors :-

    1. Segregation – in the area of residence, school systems, transportation and public facilities. It occurs whether consciously by law (de jure) or not based on law (de facto) an example of segregation de jure is the apartheid policy (official government policy) that was practiced in South Africa.
    2. Accommodation – ethnic groups are aware of each other’s norms and values but they continue to safeguard their own living culture. They live in harmony and respect one another.
    3. Acculturation – is when a minority group accepts the norms, values and patterns of behaviour (culture) of the majority group. This process is a process of borrowing or accepting the cultural elements of the majority group, without changing the original; cultural elements.
    4. Assimilation – the entry into a dominant society through friendship and close connection.
    5. Amalgamation – when different culture /races mixes to form types of new culture and race, which is done through inter-marriage between ethnic groups or races.

    History of Ethic relations – (read up -page 165)

    1. stage of co-existence
    2. stage of frequent external contact
    3. stage of compromise
    4. stage of unity
    5. stage of integration


    Obstacles :

    1. Prejudice – a pre-judgment action of actions. The problem with this in the country is, it usually takes the form of “bad expectations” of other races. This problem continues to exists because even though new positive information comes up concerning the other groups the existing prejudice persists.
    2. Communalism – the attitude of favouring one’s own ethnic community. In Malaysia, this phenomenon is quite obvious in the economic, political, social and cultural spheres whereby an ethnic group favouritism towards those from within the group. Such communal behaviour can easily lead to tension in relationship and social gaps between individuals or groups of different ethnic origin.
    3. Ethnocentrism – is the belief that one’s own culture is superior to that of others. Any other cultural element that is different is considered wrong, bad or even dangerous.

    Prejudice, communalism and ethnocentrism are “feelings inside” that can give rise to actions of partiality or injustice towards other groups. Such behaviour is described as discrimination.

    Causes and Reinforcing Obstacle to Integration :

    1. Ignorance of other ethnic groups – refers to the lack of understanding of the way of life, the living conditions and the problems with the other races. As a result, there is a lack of appreciation and respect for other races.
    2. Process of socialization limited to within ethnic groups – Different races have different ways of bringing up children, especially at home.
    3. Communal politics Barisan Nasional is most meaningful and practical because it joins together various political parties even though each is a communal party.
    4. Socio-economical differences – refers to the history of colonialism. People feel deprived of the chance to share in enjoying the nation’s wealth. Programmes implemented to reduce the socio-economic gap fail to make certain certain groups happy. They become jealous, suspicious, frightened and feel neglected.
    5. Cultural differences – easily start off feelings of prejudice, racism and ethnocentricism (extreme political view) all of which pose a threat to national integration.. These differences are frequently revealed in all kinds of social and cultural activities.

    Govn efforts in handling the problem of weakness in unity can be summarized in 3 important steps :

    1. Political efforts – actions are taken therough the legislative systems, where laws and acts made by parliament to settle problems related to unity; example – allocations that provided protection to communities, the Seditions Act aimed at preventing individuals from raising sensitive issues in public, Internal Security Act – ISA is aimed at protecting the country’s interest and internal security and The Alliance – Barisan Nasional – views among the races are coordinated and resolved by the party’s representatives.
    2. Economic Effort- the measures taken are recorded in a 5 year plan and govn development policies. The aim is to have economic quality among the races by providing loans, business licenses and work contracts.
    3. Social and Cultural effort – by sharing the values among the races. The educational curriculum is adjusted for the introduction of cultural elements and interactions among the various races. In 1971, National Culture was introduced to create a national identity for the Malaysian society.

    The Basis of Racial Unity in Malaysia

    The fundamental reasons behind Malaysia’s success in uniting her people are: (page 173)

    1. sharing of political power
    2. democratic government
    3. sound economic growth
    4. cultural compromise

    Chapter 10


    The RN was officially proclaimed by the Agong on 31st Aug 1971, on the 13th National Day celebration.

    The decision to formulate the RN was made after the May 13, 1969 tragedy. The racial clash had eroded the people’s confidence in race relations in the country.

    What actually caused the May 13 riot ? A misunderstanding in Kampong Baru, KL. Some opposition political party were over enthusiastic in their celebration of the party’s victory in the general election. Their actions went a bit too far and beyond the confines of the law and social ethics. Humiliating shouts and unruly behaviour angered some supporters from another party. The two opposing parties, one was predominantly Chinese and the other was purely a Malay party. Uncontrolled exchange of words soon developed into a racial clash between the Malays and Chinese. To control this, the govn quickly imposed curfew and declared a state of emergency. Parliament was suspended.

    The emergency situation dragged for more than a year. During this period several efforts were made to restore the peace and to develop a sense of responsibility and patriotism. A special committee was established to formulate RUKUN NEGARA.


    1. Achieving a greater unity among the people;
    2. Maintaining a democratic way of life;
    3. Creating a society in which the nation’s wealth can be enjoyed together in a fair and equitable manner;
    4. Ensuring a liberal attitude towards the rich and diverse cultural traditions; and
    5. Building a progressive society which shall be oriented towards modern science and technology.

    The RN is directed towards developing a modern and progressive nation where people together enjoy the nation’s riches in a fair and just manner, living in a peaceful environment, respecting each other, despite ethnic and cultural differences.


    4. RULE OF LAW
    5. DECORUM( socially acceptable behaviour) AND MORALITY

    CHAPTER 11


    The basic objective is to improve the quality of life of the people.

    Development can be looked at;

    1. Social development – The condition where people are capable of obtaining basic needs like food, shelter and clothing.
    2. Economic development – changes in income. Increase in national or per capita income or the monthly income of a citizen are indicators of economic development. With this, the authorities can provide facilties like hospitals, clinics, schools, water and electricity, roads


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