The Malay Peninsula was probably already settled in
the Stone Age. In the 3rd millennium BC. the ancestors
of the Malays migrated from southern China (so-called
Proto-Malays). In the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. there
was another wave of immigration from southern China.
Indian and Chinese influences increased through trade
relations: Hinduism and Buddhism, respectively, spread
throughout the Southeast Asian region. After the
immigration of Indians, a few small kingdoms formed on
the Malay peninsula. Various kingdoms also existed on
the island of Borneo.
From the 7th century, the Malay peninsula
increasingly came under the influence of the Buddhist
kingdom of Srivijaya on the island of Sumatra and was
conquered by it in the course of the 8th century. The
Srivijaya empire temporarily extended across the entire
Indonesian archipelago before gradually losing
importance in the 9th century.
The Sultanate of Malacca
In the 14th century the Srivijaya empire was
conquered by the Javanese Majapahit empire. At the
beginning of the 15th century, the city of Melaka was
founded on the southwest coast of the Malay Peninsula. A
former sprout of the Srivijaya dynasty from Sumatra, who
had converted to Islam, made Melaka the center of the
Sultanate of Malacca, which he founded in 1414 and which
spread over the Malay peninsula. At the turn of the
century to the 16th century, the sultanate experienced
its heyday and greatest expansion. Almost the entire
spice trade in this region was controlled from the port
city of Melaka.
In 1511 Melaka was conquered by the Portuguese, who
developed the city into a fortress and now took control
of the extremely lucrative spice trade between Asia and
Europe. Numerous commercial branches were founded along
the coast by Portuguese and Spanish merchants.
In 1641 the Netherlands conquered Melaka and much of
the Malay Peninsula and rose from there to the leading
European colonial power in Southeast Asia. The
Netherlands had competition from Great Britain: in 1768,
after consulting the Sultan of Kedah, they founded their
first branch on the island of Pinang. According to AbbreviationFinder,
the town of George
Town, founded by the British, quickly developed into an
important hub. The solution to the emerging conflicts
between the two colonial powers was a contract of 1824:
the Netherlands relinquished its branches on the Malay
Peninsula, in return Great Britain ceded its possessions
in the Indonesian archipelago to the Dutch.
In 1826 Great Britain merged its possessions on the
peninsula (Pinang, Singapore, Pangkor, Melaka) into the
so-called "Straits Settlements" (branches on the
straits), which were administered by the British
colonial administration in India. In 1867 the areas were
declared their own crown colonies with administrative
headquarters in Singapore. The remaining minor empires
on the Malay Peninsula also came under British
influence. From the mid-19th century, Great Britain also
controlled parts of the island of Borneo. The current
provinces of Sarawak and Sabah were declared British
protected areas in 1888.
In 1906 the British possessions on the Malay
Peninsula and Borneo were merged to form the Federation
of Malaya. The other sultanates on the peninsula (Perlis,
Kedah, Terengganu, Kelatan and later Johor) formed the "Unfederate
States of Malaysia" and were under British protection.
The British expanded the plantation economy on the
peninsula (rubber, palm oil, tea) and used mainly
Indians as workers. The Chinese population also rose
significantly during the British colonial period. These
often held key positions in the management of the
plantations and in trade.
The Second World War and the aftermath
During the Second World War, the Malay Peninsula and
the offshore islands were occupied by Japanese troops.
After the end of the war and the Japanese surrender, the
areas on the peninsula and Borneo were again put under
British administration. The resistance movement against
the domination of the colonial power, which had already
emerged during the war and whose supporters formed the
United Malaysian National Organization (UMNO) in 1946,
was hampered by ethnic tensions between Malays, Chinese
In 1948, all sultanates on the Malay Peninsula were
combined to form the Federation of Malaya (Malay
Federation). Singapore and the British possessions on
the island of Borneo were excluded from this. The
struggle of communist groups against the colonial power
was added to the internal ethnic tensions. In 1948,
after several communist attacks on plantations and tin
mines, the British leadership imposed a state of
emergency on the Malay Confederation (until 1960). The
"Malay Communist Party" (MCP) was banned, and there were
occasional clashes until the late 1950s.
In the meantime, the transition to the country's
sovereignty was gradually being prepared. Free elections
were held for the first time in the mid-1950s, in which
UMNO, the leader of the independence movement, Abdul
Rahman, was elected head of the Malay Confederation. He
led the coalition of UMNO, "Malayan Chinese Association"
(MAC) and "Malayan Indian Congress" (MIC). After a
constitution was drawn up, the country was released on
August 30, 1957 as Malaya under the British Commonwealth
of Nations. Singapore and Northern Borneo initially
remained British colonies. In 1963, Singapore, Sabah and
Sarawak included the formation of the Federation of
Malaysia (as a combination of the names Malaya and
Singapore) with Kuala Lumpur as the capital. The
inclusion of the former British colonies Sarawak and
Sabah in Borneo created considerable tensions with
Indonesia and the Philippines, which resulted in
military confrontations. In 1966 Indonesia relinquished
the areas, in 1968 the Philippines gave up its ownership
After ethnic, economic and political differences,
Singapore, which was largely populated by Chinese,
resigned from the Malaysia Federation in 1965. Two years
later, Malaysia, like Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and
the Philippines, was one of the founding members of the
Southeast Asian association ASEAN (Association of
Southeast Asian Nations).
In 1970, Prime Minister Abdul Rahman had to resign as
Prime Minister after a series of bloody racial riots and
a state of emergency was declared in 1969. At that time,
Chinese made up about a third of the population, but had
more than 90% of the economy under their control. The
government in Kuala Lumpur decided to favor the Malay
population in all areas of public life. Bahasa Malaysia
has been declared the official language. Abdul Rahman's
successor was Abdul Razak (until 1974), who led an
alliance of 11 groups (including the dominant UMNO).
Economic reforms (New Economic Policy) laid the
foundation stone for the rapid economic recovery in
Malaysia in the coming decades.
The party alliance ("National Front") was also the
strongest political force in the 1974 and 1978
elections. In 1981 Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad succeeded
Hussein bin Onn as prime minister. In 1983 the
constitution was amended to restrict the monarch's
rights (Malaysia is a parliamentary electoral monarchy)
vis-ид-vis the parliament.
Tensions between Malays and Chinese continued on the
Malay Peninsula in the 1980s. The Sabah and Sarawak
provinces in Borneo and the Malaysian government in
Kuala Lumpur have had disputes over the share of
resource-rich provinces in the rapid economic growth.
Opposition groups were elected to the state parliament
for the first time.
Due to the increasing spread of Islamic
fundamentalism, the Malaysian government banned the
Islamic sect Al-Arquam in August 1994, the supporters of
which demanded an Islamic state of God with Sharia law.
In 1998, the political leadership was forced to adopt a
series of austerity measures due to the Asian crisis. In
2001, the government repeatedly attacked opposition
politicians from the "National Justice Party" and the
Islamic PAS. Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad, who has been
head of government for Malaysia for 22 years, was
replaced in October 2003 by former Interior Minister
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The ruling party alliance
"National Front", which includes a total of 14 parties,
won 64 in the parliamentary elections in March 2004, 644
percent of the vote. This gave the moderate head of
government Badawi, who is tough on government
corruption, a clear mandate from the electorate.
However, the "National Front" lost more than 50 seats in
the early parliamentary elections in March 2008 and thus
the two-thirds majority with which the constitution can
be changed. The alliance suffered the worst slump in 40
years. It also lost government control in four states.
The alliance suffered the worst slump in 40 years. It
also lost government control in four states.
In 2009, on April 3, 2009, Najib Razak took over the
office of Prime Minister from his predecessor and party
friend Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Growing ethnic tensions in the country are reflected
in the formation of new parties. The Human Rights Party,
founded by P. Uthayakumar, has been fighting for equal
treatment of Indians since July 2009. The Perkasa party
has existed since February 2010 and is viewed by critics
On February 9th, 2010, corporal punishments under
Islamic law were carried out on women for the first time
in Malaysia. The three condemned women were hit with
sticks due to illegitimate intercourse.