Malaysia: A History In The Hands Of Change

Malaysia's history is littered with outside influences such as Portugal, Spain, England and Japan, so how have they maintained their cultural heritage?

The Portuguese claimed the area that is Malaysi today as early as 1510. Malaysia held an important standing in Portugal's wealth in the East for about two hundred years, until 1700. In 1709, Spain annexed Portugal and claimed Malaysia as its own colony. In a fierce disagreement with England and Holland over Malaysian territory and trade, Spain closed all Malaysian ports to any ships not bearing a Spanish flag. However, this Spanish colony was eventually annexed by England and would remain England's for the next two hundred forty years.

After uprisings in such colonies as Singapore and India in the 1800's, Malaysia began to consider its own independence. In 1918, however, Malaysia signed a revolution treaty with England, stating that they would not raise a resistance to England's soreignty in East Asia. Malaysia showed its loyalty by contributing large amounts of money to the Royal Air Forces during World War I.

When Japan began its invasion of East Asia's mainland in 1940, Malaysia, unable to receive aid from its mother country, fell beneath the invasion in the spring of 1941. And Japan controlled Malaysia for the next three and one-half years.

After the collapse of Japan in 1945, England officially

withdrew from Malaysia, knocking its already rebuilding economy out from underneath it. However, in the 1950's, England re-established itself as Malaysia's major trading partner and colonial power.

By this time Malaysia had slowly regained a standing among

Asia's growing number of third world countries. They resented England's fickle intrests in them and, when world -wide peace marches began in the 1960's, Malaysia began marches of a different kind. An appeal was voiced to the English Parliament in the spring of 1960, and by 1961 England had agreed to release its stronghold on Malaysia.

Since gaining its independence in 1961, Malaysia has been

sitting on a fault line of political and economic changes that continue to shift its status back and forth between the classes of developed and developing.

But even though its own future sits along a fault line, Malaysia strives to maintain a world image for itself by

promoting the freedom causes of other third world nations and by supporting international battles for refugee rights and aid for its fellow struggling third world countries.

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