Sunday, July 08, 2007

Relation between Malaysia and United Kingdom

The eastern spice trade was hot at the beginning of the 16th century. The European countries needed to establish their own trading ports at the source. In 1511, Alfonso de Albuquerque led a Portuguese fleet into Malacca's harbor, opened fire with cannon, and captured the city and that was the start of interference of European powers with regions now considered part of Malaysia.

The Portuguese constructed a formidable fort in Malacca called A' Famosa. The Dutch captured Malacca in 1641 and got an almost exclusive hold on the spice trade until 1785, when the British East India Company persuaded the Sultan of Kedah to allow them to build a fort on the island of Penang in return for protection.

France captured the Netherlands in 1795. The Dutch government preferred to temporarily allow England to oversee Malacca rather than hand control of the port over to the French. Control of Malacca was returned to the Dutch in 1808 in a trade for Bencoleen in Sumatra.

In 1819, Sir William Raffles of Britain established a trading post in Singapore. The three British colonies of Penang, Malacca, and Singapore together was called the Straits Settlements.

While the European powers played competed against each other in the region, the local Malay sultanates continued on their own affairs. New Muslim trading center was established in Johore, then later on Perak. The Minangkabau from Sumatra and the Bugi from Celebes immigrated to the Malay peninsula in droves. In the late 1860's, the Malay kingdoms began fighting each other for control of the throne of Perak, causing disturbance in the region giving Britain a good excuse to intervene and forced the Malay rulers to sign a peace treaty known as the Pangkor Agreement in 1874. This treaty enabled Britain to maintain its monopoly on the huge amount of tin being mined in the Malay peninsula.

While the White Rajas ruled over Borneo, Britain ruled over what was then called Malaya until the Japanese invaded and droved them out in 1942. Large numbers of Chinese fled to the jungle and formed an armed resistance which became the communist insurgency when the war ended. When World War 2 ended in 1945, Britain took back control, but by then the Malayan independence movement had become more active and organized itself in an alliance under Tunku Abdul Rahman. The alliance negotiated for independence from Britain rule and evetually the British flag was lowered in Kuala Lumpur's Merdeka Square in 1957 when Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaimed independence and became the first prime minister of Malaya.

The tough military response from the British together with concessions by the Malay and Chinese political leaderships ended the Communist insurgency and helped established an independent, multi-racial Federation of Malaya in 1957.

While Britain interference in the affairs of the components of Malaysia in the past have been blamed for the many current ills of the country, its rule also imparted some lasting benefits. The British left behind an efficient administration, good communications in the form of good roads and railway and the mission schools created an English speaking educated elite which gave the country a competitive edge in the world. There is still a large section of the population who have good command of English which is important in this world of globalisation and the ubiquitous Internet.

Several early independence acts did not contain any provision for the loss of Citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC) by citizens of the newly independent states as in the case of the former colonies of Penang and Malacca. Citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies was withdrawn from those acquiring Malaysian citizenship in 1963, but this did'nt extend to existing citizens of the Federation. I suspect there are still residents who hold Citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies, but I have no relatives or substantial connections with Penang or Malacca and thus unable to bolster my suspicions. This probably need further research. Whatever it is, this plus what had been described above establish a special relationship between Malaysia and the United Kingdom.

Becaue of this special relationship between Malaysia and the United Kingdom, there will be people here who will want to travel to the United Kingdom. In addition to this special relationship, there would be places of interest you will want to visit. In London, there are Madame Tussaud's, Tower of London, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, The Royal Academy, Westminster Abbey, St. Pauls Cathedral, London Zoo, Victoria & Albert Museum, Kew Gardens, British Museum, The National Gallery and Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guards. Outside of London, there are Alton Towers in Staffordshire, Legoland in Windsor, Chessington World of Adventure in Surrey, Windsor Castle in Berkshire, Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Flamingo Land Theme Park in Yorkshire, Drayton Manor Park in Staffordshire, Chester Zoo in Cheshire, Windermere Lake Cruises in Cumbria, Thorpe Park in Surrey, The Eden Project in Cornwall, Blackpool Tower and Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Lancashire, Eastbourne Pier in Sussex, The Palace Pier in Brighton, Pleasureland Amusement Park in Southport, etc. You may even try your luck in capturing the legendary Loch Ness Monster (fondly nicknamed Nessie) with your camera at Loch Ness in Scotland.

If you do plan on travelling to United Kingdom, your likely point of arrival will be London. It will be wise to book accommodation ahead of your arrival for there is nothing worst than to be faced with the urgent need to find accommodation in an unfamilair place. You can do this conveniently online at Cheap Hotels in London, particularly if you are on a budget. You may be interested in Convent Garden, something similar to our Pasar Seni. In this case you may want to look for Cheap Hotels in Covent Garden. If you intend to travel outside of London, for example, Edinburg, try Cheap Hotels in Edinburgh. The site offers a Lowest Rate Guarantee which says if you find a rate lower than the best available Internet rate on another web site for the same hotel/accommodation, on the same dates and advise them within 24 hours of booking your room(s) with them, and they will honour that rate for the night(s) for which the lower rate was found and refund you the difference.

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