Certain dominant themes emerge in examining the span of Malaysian history. One of these is the self-confidence with which Malays have always greeted external influences, an attribute undoubtedly arising from their long and persistent contact with the outside world. From about the beginning of the Christian era, Malays living on both sides of the Melaka Straits were witness to a growing international seaborne traffic passing through this narrow waterway, which linked India, the Middle East and Europe on the one hand, and Japan, Korea and China on the other. Taking advantage of their ideal location on the Straits, the Malays became active participants in this international trade and were able to develop successful entrepôts which formed the basis of some of the earliest and most influential maritime powers in Southeast Asia. The most impressive of the early kingdoms was Srivijaya, whose traditions were continued in an almost unbroken line to Melaka, Johor and Riau. They were noted not only for their flourishing entrepôt trade but also for their patronage of religion, the medium for many of the intellectual trends in the world beyond the Straits. This area, then, was never a backwater but was exposed to a continuing progression of ideas from abroad, the most suitable of which were adopted and adapted by the local population to suit their own needs.
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- Conclusion: Some Themes in Malaysian History
Barbara Watson Andaya
Leonard Y. Andaya
- Macmillan Education UK
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