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Because of its strategic position between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, Malaysia has long been the meeting place for the traders and travelers from west and east. Therefore, its history is one of continual interaction with foreign powers and influences.
Hindu-Buddhist influence was strong in the centuries before the coming of Islam. By 1400, when the Malacca Sultanate was at the height of its power, Islam had become a major influence. By 1511, however, Malacca had fallen to the Portuguese. Meanwhile the Dutch had been establishing their influence and presence in Jawa. By 1641, The Dutch had also taken over Malacca but they turn lost it to the British who had been slowly consolidating their hold on the Malay states following Francis Light's arrival in Penang in 1786. In 1815 Malacca was in British hands and in 1819, Stamford raffles founded Singapore. Thereafter, through treaties, relentless political pressure and diplomacy, the British slowly extended their control over all the states of the Malay Peninsula.
Sarawak , once part of the Sultan of Brunei's Empire, was ruled by a British adventurer named James Brooke and his descendants since 1841. In 1888, Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah) become British protectorates. By 1920s, all the states that eventually comprised Malaysia were under British control. The first strings of Malaysian nationalism were felt in 1930s and following the end of World War II, the momentum of nationalism picked up again, culminating in independence for the Federation of Malaya in 1957 and the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

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> No.28 <September 2018>