Notes / Malay Society

Compiled by Mindy McAdams

A few points from the book.

Khoo Kay Kim (1991). Malay Society: Transformation and Democratisation. Subang Jaya, Selangor: Pelanduk. [238 pp.] In my copy of this book, pp. 145-160 are missing due to a printer's error.

The political culture of peninsular Malays today retains traditions, etc., that can be traced back to the Melaka Sultanate in the 15th century (p. 15). Before the British colonial period, Malays did not have the Western concept of a state (p. 25). Power centered on the sultan (raja) and his kerajaan, essentially a kingdom, and not on a defined territory. The British introduced the career bureaucrat (p. 42).

Penang was particularly important as an export center for pepper (p. 56), which came from Aceh (rather than inland). Tin, of course, was a major export. Betelnut and rattan were also important exports in the late 1700s.

I am intrigued by the Bugis, their influence in Johor, their origins in Sulawesi. The Bugis were huge traders coming into and sailing out of Singapore in the early days of its ascendancy:

The cargoes they brought to Singapore consisted of, inter alia, gold-dust, tortoise shell, mother of pearl, birds' nest[s], rice, kacang [peanuts], tobacco, wax, sarong, beche-de-mer [sea cucumber], camphor, sharks' fins, seaweed, mats [probably from Borneo], and rattan. They derived from places such as Sulawesi (Celebes), Bali, Lombok, Timor and New Guinea. Their return cargoes consisted largely of British and Indian manufactures, opium, iron-pans, salt, tobacco, lead, earthenware, rice and raw silk. British goods, indeed, were consumed by inhabitants in places hardly visited or frequented by Europeans (p. 60).

Sampan panjang: longboats
Perahu: boat (fishing boats = 10 to 13 feet long; perahu besar = 40 to 90 feet; p. 77)

Penang probably became subordinate to Singapore by 1824 (p. 61).

Essay on Kelantan and Terengganu (pp. 71-97) is fascinating.