A Chinese market in Malaya in early 20th century
Source: National Archives Malaysia 
Knowledge of Malaysia’s economic history is essential for understanding the country’s present day social, demographic and economic achievements and challenges. The twentieth century was an amazingly eventful and transformative period.

Defined, inter alia, by two divisive World Wars, the failure of the League of Nations, the devastation of the Great Depression, the collapse of imperialism, decolonisation and the birth of nationalism, and a little later leading to the independence of the Federation of Malaya in 1957, followed by the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

In January 2016 HRH Sultan Nazrin decided that his long-standing project on the economic history of Malaya should enter a new phase of publication, dissemination and outreach, and he established a roadmap for research outputs over the next few years.

Among the deliverables foreseen are, inter alia, developing and maintaining a project website where the vast amount of historical data on Malaya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its components can be readily accessed in a user-friendly format by national and international researchers; preparing publications on Malaya (Malaysia’s) twentieth century economy and population; a technical publication on the methodology of GDP and its components; an economic and social history of Perak; and a publication reviewing a 120 years of population and economic change.
Beyond technical publications there are plans to increase awareness and to encourage discourse on the country’s economic history through more popular publications. There will also be an international seminar on historical GDP accounts.

HRH launched the first flagship publication arising from the project in January 2017: Charting the Economy: Early 20th Century Malaya and Contemporary Malaysian Contrasts. Its publication represented a major milestone. There was an extraordinary amount of imaginative and creative data work behind it that stretched back almost two decades. This work started with HRH’s Ph D dissertation which he wrote while at Harvard University where he attempted, inter alia, to make some provisional estimates of Malaya’s GDP for the early decades of the twentieth century.
Kuala Lumpur railway station hub early transportation system in early 20th century Malaya
Source: National Archives Malaysia 

c/o Asia-Europe Institute
University of Malaya,
50603 Kuala Lumpur

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