This chapter covers a period in which the trajectory of Malaysian history was fundamentally redirected. In 1824, a few years after the establishment of the new British settlement in Singapore in 1819, Britain and the Netherlands signed a treaty in which Dutch and British spheres of interest were delineated by a line drawn down the Melaka Straits that divided the cultural unity of the Malay world in ways still evident today. Broadening British interests halted the penetration of Thai authority further down the Peninsula, but diplomatic arrangements acknowledged Siam’s long-standing overlordship in the northern region. Britain’s expansion into Asia encouraged individual Englishmen to try their fortune further afield, bringing Borneo into the imperial orbit. In 1874 the Pangkor Agreement laid the basis for the residential system, and thus opened the door to the eventual extension of British control over the entire Peninsula and effectively over northwestern Borneo. These political arrangements took place against a background of wide-ranging changes, including a marked rise in the numbers of Chinese arriving in the Malay world to work in tin mines and gambier and pepper plantations. Nonetheless, it is not change as such that makes the nineteenth century of special significance, since the Malay world had been absorbing and responding to outside influences for hundreds of years.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- ‘A New World is Created’, 1819–74
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number