Striving for Inclusive Development: From Pangkor to a Modern Malaysian State
Speech by Speech by Professor Emeritus Peter J. Drake
14 July 2019 | The St Regis Hotel
Selamat Pagi

I thank his Royal Highness for the invitation to attend this launch of his significant new book, and for the honour of speaking in his favour.

By way of background, briefly, my wife and I lived in Kuala Lumpur for the year of 1964 when I undertook research for my doctoral thesis. Since then, I have maintained great interest in and great admiration for the people of Malaysia.

I marvel at Sultan Nazrin Shah’s wonderful achievements. I knew from his previous book, Charting the Economy, that he is a very considerable scholar. This new book confirms his real ability to master and connect substantial detail, assemble it coherently, analyse it fully, and write up a most readable account—great skills.

I have been asked focus today on the period in the book covering 1786 to 1957, which tells us about the early years of the British foothold in the Straits Settlements in Penang, Singapore and Malacca. It includes also the important Pangkor Engagement of 1874 at which the then Rajah of Perak (Raja Abdullah), above many rivals, was declared the Sultan of Perak to be supported by a British advisor.

That event opened the door for subsequent British intervention in other Malay states, each accepting a British Resident. And the Resident was in charge of guiding the administration of the state, and in particular ensuring the welfare of the Malay people.

Next, in 1896, came the formation of the Federated Malay States—Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang. The Unfederated Malay States of Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis, and especially, somewhat differently, Johor, enjoyed much more autonomy than the Federated Malay States. But they too also accepted British advisors to the ruling Sultans.

Another attempt, in 1945–1946, was made to create a Malaya Union that failed, but it led instead to the 1948 Federation of Malaya which preceded the eventual decolonisation of the Malay sultanates and the formation of Malaysia.

The years from 1896 to 1957 saw the development and expansion of the tin mining and the rubber plantation industries, both under British oversight. These industries have been correctly described as the ‘Twin Pillars of the Malayan economy.’

Sultan Nazrin’s monumental new book deals with all the things I have been talking about and very much more in great detail. For example, it covers population, migration, human capital, health, education, agriculture development, poverty reduction, inequalities in income and consumption.

The final chapter is entitled Creating an Inclusive and Sustainable Future, and that chapter offers recommendations in relation to affirmative action, diversified development, immigration, labour regulation and environmental management.

To conclude, this magnificent book is the most substantial and authoritative contribution to the economic history of Malaysia.

I have not seen anything better, and I congratulate the author, His Royal Highness, most warmly.

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