Singapore unearths its pre-colonial history that began centuries earlier


The New York Times reports:

While earlier generations learned a narrative that essentially started in 1819 with the British colonial administrator, Sir Stamford Raffles, stumbling upon a sleepy Malay fishing village, 13-year-olds now learn of a golden age that started 500 years earlier.

The new story, introduced in January, brings into focus a 300-year period, from 1300 to 1600, when Singapore was a thriving multinational trading hub, with an estimated population of 10,000.

Hopefully, we can take another look at the precolonial history of Malaysia as well.

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  1. Anil,

    Your above article only confirms what is always known by the world that there never were such places known as Australia, America, Singapore or Malaya just to name a few places. These places were named by the Brits and the people living therein were called as Australians, Americans, Singaporeans or Malayans.

    … now fencing up the Orang Asli , hoping that when they are out the people’s sight they will also be out of the people’s mind…They will always be known as the people living at one time on the tree top by encyclopedia britannica. So are the early settlers in Australia known better as convicts and also the early settlers in America as invaders from Europe. Christopher Columbus never founded America, the Red Indians were there since time immemorial so were the aboriginals in Australia more than 40 million years ago !

    … And finally what have (they) done for the Orang Asli and how many of these Orang Asli are being provided with scholarships or given their rightful dues ?

    • I am not an expert on these matters, but I would like to comment.

      I would see Singapore as an exception, since it was already known as Singapura before the British arrived. The rest you mentioned though, were indeed named by the west.

      Singapore’s Government’s position to “rectify” its history is to convince the people that immigration has and always will be a part of life in the city-state, hence the anti-immigration rhetoric is unjustified. There’s also the matter to outright proclaim Singapore has always been a city-state from its very birth, justifying its existence as an independent nation.

      Frankly, I have a slight indifference at people interpreting colonialism as a tragedy perpetuated by the Western nations. One should not judge history’s actions by modern society’s laws, which are vastly different. The real tragedy will be the today’s Governments denying the original inhabitants of the land outright their rights. Neglecting them is different, since most (based on light research) aboriginals prefer their rural way of life without modernism. America and Brazil are two obvious nations where the original inhabitants of the land are allocated areas where the Government has limited rights.

      Though one can also argue it’s to prevent them from ever claiming the state, but as said, every Government does this to protect their sovereignty and discourage separatism. European nations has been undertaking a shadowy operation since the end of WWII to systematically eliminate the Romani people (the most obvious group I can think of). Mao killed millions of the minorities from the southern Chinese provinces to ensure Han domination.

      UMNO traditionally distrusts the Chinese because ethnic Chinese from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Cambodia (not from the PRC or ROC) controls a large percentage of the economy despite being the minority. In a period of China’s rise, where the CPC Government is claiming every spit of land on the “who sees it first” logic, China could very well claim entire nations like Malaysia or the state of Sarawak. China already has a private claim on North Korea and Mongolia, citing both as historically Chinese territory. Hence they see a need to ensure that the Malays are the original inhabitants before the Chinese in history.

      I am just typing out random facts I recall right now. End message.

  2. On the subject of history, the Umno historian Prof Zainal Kling has claimed that:
    1. Malaya was a British protectorate, not a colony.
    2. But the British did have administrative powers in the fields of finance and the exploitation of Malaya’s natural resources.
    3. However, Malay sovereignty (kedaulatan Melayu) was still protected.
    4. Therefore, what is now Malaysia (with the exception of Melaka and Penang) was never colonized by the British.

  3. The Sri Vijayan city of Tumasik (Sea Town in ancient Javanese) was built around Canning Park with a hill fort built where Fort Canning now stands. The oldest remains on the hill dates back to the 2nd century C.E. (A.D.), i.e. contemporary with the Roman Empire. The Chinese and Hindu Javanese traded there. There was a large Hindu temple at Battery Park and in the colonial era, its only significant remnant was a large monolith which was carved into the shape of a lion’s head. This was a temple makara. When the Palembang colonists arrived in the 13th century and found the city state ruined and depopulated, they saw the still extant lion monolith and decided to rename the city state as Singa (lion) – pura (town). The British anglicised it to Singapore.

    • Yeah, and Palembang killed the local chief there and become the chief himself.That angered Siam King and Palembang got to cabut to Melaka. He became sultan and convert to Islam…


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