Study in progress—Globalization: Perak’s Rise, Relative Decline, and Regeneration

HRH Sultan Nazrin Shah, with the support of his Economic History of Malaya project team, is currently researching for a future publication on the state of Perak’s economic and social history. At this early stage of the research it is anticipated the study will proceed in the following direction.

After a brief historical introduction to Perak, including how political order was restored in the late 19th century after chaos and power struggles, this forthcoming publication analyses the rise and decline—and ultimately, perhaps, regeneration—of a state’s economy originally built on natural resources. These resources were at first tin, and later rubber, which brought people, prosperity, and thriving towns during its rise under the British colonial administration, such that the state became Malaya’s commercial capital.

Then, post-independence, and as a component of the Federation of Malaysia, with Perak no longer in control of its natural resource revenues and taxation, a long period of economic decline set in relative to other Malaysian states. Blighted towns, that grew-up around a single industry, and a loss of people, especially skilled workers, were key features, as Perak’s deposits of tin were gradually depleted, and as it struggled to find a way to modernize its economy, away from tin and rubber.

It is expected that this new investigation will include short international case studies of Cornwall, Lancashire, and Sheffield in the United Kingdom, and Pittsburgh and Scranton in the United States. These are towns or regions that, too, rose to glory on the back of industries based on natural resource and then suffered decline. Some parts of them subsequently managed to regenerate their economies. The aim is to discern lessons on how and why Perak’s fortunes changed and to propose a tentative scenario for the state’s own regeneration.

Still, no economic entity—town, state, or country—operates in isolation or is immune to the laws of economy or geography. Themes of globalization, agglomeration, and geography will therefore be threaded throughout the study.


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

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