Malaysia – national flag
The flag was officially introduced in 1963. The 14 stripes and the star’s thank you stand for the federal government and the 13 states of the union. The yellow color symbolizes the nine sultanates, the red and the white are the old Malaysian colors, and the blue represents the unity of the Malaysian people. Crescent and star stand for Islam.
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Malaysia – prehistory
In Kota Tampan, simple tools made of water-rolled quartzite stones have been excavated on the Perak River. They are embedded in ash from the volcano Toba on Sumatra, whose last major eruption dates to approximately 74,000 years before now. The subsequent Hoabinh culture is known from finds in caves and from kitchen dung along the coast of the states of Penang and Perak. A single find can be dated to approximately 12,000 BC, while most are dated 8000-1000 BC.
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The population was hunters and gatherers. There is no evidence of agriculture, but taro and other tubers as well as wild fruits and berries may have been collected. The tools were made of flat, hewn water-rolled stones; others of slices carved of larger stones and formed along the edge. Bone tools are also known from some sites. The dead were buried in a sleeping position with no actual burial gifts, but often sprinkled with ocher and sometimes covered with a layer of stone. The skeletons show kinship with Australian and Melanesian peoples.
The best known cave find comes from Gua Cha in the state of Kelantan, where tombs from the Neolithic have also been found. The skeletons do not differ physically anthropologically from the Hoabinh culture, but culturally they are quite distinct. They are buried with round or flat-bottomed pottery and square axes. In Gua Cha and most other caves, the tombs and pottery belong to a later phase of the Ban Kao culture, dated to approximately 1000 BC The culture has had agriculture that has been supplemented by hunting and fishing.
According to a2zgov, the early metal age culture began around 500 BC. and coincided with the introduction of new technologies and trade in bronzes and iron objects, from Vietnam, China and India. Thus, for example, fragments of six boiler drums probably originate from Vietnam and can be dated to after 300 BC. The iron technology was possibly introduced from the Sa Huynh culture in southern Vietnam. It was developed locally, and especially some shaft hollow axes and knives are not known from elsewhere. They are found especially in coffin graves along with beads of glass, agate and carnelian. Such tombs are also known from southern India and Sri Lanka, but it is more likely that they came in as burial customs from Indonesia along with the current Austronesian peoples and languages.
Malaysia – history
During the 100’s and 200’s. a number of small Malay kingdoms emerged, while Indian religion, politics and culture became increasingly important. Between 600- and 1200-t. some of the kingdoms came under the influence of the Srivijaya Empire on Sumatra. Around 1400, the Malacca Sultanate was formed, where Islam became the state religion. Thereafter, the word Malay was increasingly used about the people who spoke Malay and practiced Islam.
Melaka became a regional trading center, but after being conquered first by the Portuguese (1511), then by the Dutch (1641), trade spread to the small states of Johor, Kedah and Brunei. However, Western influence was not widespread until the late 1700’s. The British took over Penang in 1786, Singapore in 1819 and Melaka in 1824and managed the areas together. At first, the British did not want to take full control of the Malacca Peninsula, but the discovery of rich tin deposits in the 1840’s, persistent strife between Chinese miners and sultans, and Germany’s interest in the area changed this. In 1874-88, the British intervened in Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang, which in 1895 were merged into the United Malay States under a central but indirect colonial rule. Four northern Malay states came under British control in 1909, and together with Johor they went under the name The United Malay States because they did not come under common central administration.
In North Borneo, from 1841, the Brooke family had ruled Sarawak as a principality, and from 1881 a British company controlled Sabah. British dominance in Sabah and Sarawak was first broken with the Japanese occupation of 1941-45.
In the 1800’s. immigration to the Malacca Peninsula grewof first Chinese, then Indians. The colonial regime wanted partly to secure Chinese labor for mines and urban industries as well as Indians for plantation operations, and partly to retain the Malays as a traditional peasant and fishing population. The Malays’ share of the population fell from 90% in 1800 to 45% in 1931 against the Chinese’s 39%. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, national movements emerged among both Malays and Chinese, and nationalism was reinforced by the Japanese occupation, which was accepted by the Malay aristocracy but fought by the Chinese, especially organized by the Chinese-dominated Malayan Communist Party, MCP. The showdown with collaborators in 1945 had ethnic undertones, and the creation of the Malaysian Union in 1946, which meant equal rights for Malays and Chinese, led the Malays to mobilize and organize in the United Malays National Organization, UMNO. At the same time, the strength of the Communists led the British to establish the Malaysian Federation in 1948, which granted special rights to the Malays. The conflict developed into an armed uprising, guerrilla warfare and state of emergency 1948-60; in reality, however, the Communists had lost the power struggle by the mid-1950’s. In 1957, the Malay Federation went from self-government to independence.
Malaysia was created in 1963 by a merger of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore and was conceived to maintain the English colonies in a provost state. Indonesia fought Malaysia from 1963, but the dispute was settled with Suharto’s takeover in 1965. Singapore was ousted from Malaysia in 1965 because Singapore’s dominant party, the PAP, challenged the ruling coalition in Western Malaysia.
From 1957, Malaysia was ruled by the Alliance, which was a coalition of the leading ethnic parties. Until 1970, UMNO President Abdul Rahman led the Alliance, whose policy was based on eradicating ethnic differences as Malaysians integrated into the market economy and the Chinese gained greater political influence. However, ethno-economic inequalities remained high, while inequality within ethnic populations grew.
In the 1969 parliamentary elections, the opposition parties won increased support, but the Alliance retained the majority. The election was followed by bloody clashes between Malays and Chinese, and hundreds were killed. Malaysia was declared a state of emergency and a Security Council led by Abdul Razak took overthe power. A national recovery program was launched to ensure the final political, economic and cultural dominance of the Malays through a state-led development policy. At the same time, the constitution stated that the special rights of the Malays were inviolable. An ethno-economic development strategy was devised with a view to eradicating poverty and erasing the coincidence between ethnicity and economic status. In addition, a new national ideology was formulated that aimed to unite different cultures and traditions with modern technology, democracy and social justice. The alliance was replaced in 1974 by a more comprehensive coalition, the National Front (NF), in which UMNO took an undisputed leadership position. The deliberate policy of favoring the Malays was later relaxed. NF maintained the government and got 2/3 majority in parliamentary elections 1974-95. In 1987, the democratic room for maneuver was narrowed as a result of a crisis in the government. After an economic crisis in 1985-86, rapid liberalization, devaluation and foreign investment, especially from East and South Asia, led to new high growth in 1988-96, with low unemployment and large immigration of foreign labor. Only with the Southeast Asian currency and financial crisis in 1997 did growth slow and the Malaysian government lowered its level of ambition.
Under Abdul Razak, Malaysia swung away from a Protestant to a neutral position, and under Prime Minister Mahathir’s “Look to the East” policy in the 1980’s for a time, Japan and South Korea were adopted as development models. Under Mahathir, Malaysia has often acted as a spokesman for developing countries and a critic of the West.
Malaysia was hit hard by the Asian financial crisis in 1997, but since 2002 the country has enjoyed relatively high growth. In 1998, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Anwar Ibrahim (b. 1947), who had been critical of Prime Minister Mahathir, was arrested, charged with corruption and homosexuality. He was sentenced in 2000 to nine years in prison after a controversial trial; during the trial, Ibrahim became a unifying figure for the opposition to Mahathir; Ibrahim was released in 2004. Mahathir resigned in 2003 and was replaced by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. After a sharp decline in the 2008 election, Ahmad Badawi chose to step down in 2009 in favor of Najib Abdul Razak.