Saturday, 28 February 2015

History of the Chinese and Indian in Malaysia

This article is based on the article The True History of Malaysia. History of Chinese and Indians in Malaysia.,(by Raja Petra Kamaruddin .
The Arabs and the Indians (Muslims from Gujarat came to Malaya) more than 500 years ago as traders and merchants. These were the people who brought Islam  to this country. At that time, the locals were mostly Hindus, while those from Negeri Sembilan  were Buddhists, with many others practising animism. The coming of the Arab and Indian merchants exposed the locals to Islam.
In those days, the people followed their Rulers. Therefore, when the Rulers converted to Islam the people followed — although they may not have believed in Islam or understood the religion. In fact, many till today still do not understand Islam after more than 500 years.
Then, along came the Chinese, with many being Muslims as well. Islam first reached China around 100 years after Prophet Muhammad. This means that Islam had reached China 800-900 years earlier than Islam in Malaysia. (However, in the northern states bordering Thailand, it was earlier than that. Refer to the Batu Bersurat discovered in Kuala Berang, Trengganu.  

The Chinese In Selangor

The Selangor Sultanate was founded in 1745, Raja Lumu, the first Sultan, migrated from the Riau islands in Indonesia because of a civil war in their home country. The son of the local ruler was killed in a fight over a girl. The offending party was exiled and had to leave Riau. And that was how the Selangor Sultanate was founded.
By then, the Arabs, Indians and Chinese had already been in the peninsula for 200-300 years, some even longer. But these Arabs, Indians, and Chinese were traders and merchants, not warriors or fighters, whereas the Bugis from Riau only knew one occupation — fighting and plundering. (In short, they were pirates, which was a noble profession back in those days where even Queen Elizabeth I knighted English pirates who plundered Spanish ships.) Invariably, the Bugis, being fighters, took Selangor by sheer force of its 'army'. None of the traders, who although were here earlier, would dare resist the Bugis who enjoyed killing. Moreover, Selangor was under Perak patronage. Thus, Raja Lumu had to make a trip to Lumut in Perak to get crowned as the first Sultan by Sultan Alauddin Mansur Shah, the 17th Sultan of Perak. And he took the name of Sultan Salahuddin Shah. Selangor eventually grew in prosperity. Actually, tin, had already been discovered even before Raja Lumu became Sultan in 1745.And it was the Chinese who were working the tin mines. But now, since Selangor had a 'government', and all the land in Selangor became 'state property'. The Chinese, therefore, had to get permission from the Sultan before they could mine for tin.
Around 100 years later, only when Sultan Abdul Samad took over as the 4th Sultan of Selangor ((1804 - 1898) in 1859, did they properly organize the tin industry. New areas such as Ampang, Rawang, Kajang  were opened up. And of course, all these tin mines were owned by the Sultan and members of his family.. The Malays, however, did not want to work those mines. Conditions were hard and diseases wiped out entire communities. Those who survived these brutal conditions were the exception, rather than the rule. So they needed people who were desperate enough to work those tin mines and were prepared to take the risk. And who else to talk to, if not the Chinese who had already been working those mines for hundreds of years?
So members of the Selangor royal family went into 'joint-ventures' with the Chinese, just like they did in Perak, another rich tin state. The Malay royals would 'arrange' for the tin concessions and the Chinese would provide the labor force to work those concessions. In a way, the Selangor royal family could be said to be the first to 'invent' the Ali Baba system back in the 19th century, long before the New Economic Policy was implemented in 1971
To reach Ampang and the surrounding tin-rich areas, Raja Abdullah and Yap Ah Loy led the first expedition up the Klang River and landed on the site where the Gombak River meets the Klang River. The place where they landed is the site of the famous Masjed Jamek in Kuala Lumpur. From there, they marched overland through the jungle into Ampang.. Thereafter, Kuala Lumpur was never the same again. It prospered and continued to prosper up to this day.
Yap Ah Loy bought up a lot of land in Kuala Lumpur and built his business empire. He opened bars, brothels and all sorts of businesses, legal, as well as what is illegal by today's standards. Even the British colonial 'masters' would patronize Yap Ah Loy's brothels.
Now, while Yap Ah Loy has been entered into the history books as the ‘Founder of Kuala Lumpur’, Raja Abdullah is never mentioned. The only thing associated with Raja Abdullah is that road in Kampong Baru that carries his name. Yap Ah Loy may have been the capitalist who opened up Kuala Lumpur.

The Indians In Malaysia

The Indian (and Arab) traders and merchants first came to the Malay peninsula more than 500 years ago and even brought Islam to this country. But the Indians laborers came at about the same time that Yap Ah Loy and Raja Abdullah were turning Kuala Lumpur into a thriving metropolis.At that time, the British planters were in Ceylon (Sri Lanka today) growing coccoa. Then a plant disease spread throughout the island, not only killing all the trees but also contaminating the land as well. This means the land was now useless.
The British then looked at Malaya and noting that the conditions were similar to Ceylon, relocated their cocoa estates to Malaya. But there was no way they could get the Malays to work these cocoa estates. Furthermore, the Ceylonese workers were well-trained and had been doing this work for years. So, in the mid - 19 century, the British brought the now unemployed Ceylonese cocoa workers to this country to work the Malayan cocoa plantations.
Then disaster struck. Brazil over-planted cocoa, triggering a worldwide glut. It was no longer economical to plant cocoa and the British had no choice but to close down the cocoa plantations.
Around that time, the British, who had illegally smuggled rubber seeds out of Brazil (a crime then), successfully grew rubber trees in the Kew Gardens in London. They also did some research and discovered a better way of planting rubber trees where the trees would give a better yield, as compared to the Brazilian trees.
Since Malaya had to close down all its cocoa plantations and it now had idle plantation land and surplus Ceylonese workers, the British planters decided to switch over to rubber. Because the British capitalized on research and technology, the Malayan rubber trees were more productive and profitable, and Malaya eventually dislodged Brazil as the top rubber producer in the world.
So, from around the 1850s to the 1920s, Indians and Chinese came to Malaya in great numbers. This was more or less the second wave of mass-migration. And it was for economic reasons and to provide the labor for jobs that the Malays would never do. However, there were earlier and other migrations as well.
For example, around the late 19th century and early 20th century, the British set up English medium schools for the Malays. One such school, the Malay College, Kuala Kangsar, was a school exclusive for sons of royalties and the Malay elite. Invariably, they needed school teachers who were proficient in the English language, and India offered a good source of English-medium schoolteachers (Malays could not speak English yet, at that time).
On the commercial side, there were many Indian businesses, as well. However, there was no way that they could qualify for loans from British-owned banks. So the Indians from the Chettiar community came here to set up money-lending businesses to service their community.
When the Malayan rail network was being developed, where else to get the workers, if not from India, the country with the largest railway in the world?

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