Tag Archives: Malaya

Malaysia’s unsung heroes: Captain Francis Light

Looking at the official history of Malaysia, you could be forgiven for thinking that civilisation began with the arrival of Islam, that nothing good happened during colonial times, and that the only worthwhile deeds were carried out by Malays. With this series of articles we give some overdue recognition to the unsung heroes of Malaysia, the people who belonged to the wrong ethnic group (non-Malay), the wrong religion (non-Muslim), and/or lived in the wrong era (all of history except the Malacca Sultanate and post-independence).

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Without Captain Francis Light there would be no George Town. But his legacy is much more than just one city. When Light took possession of Penang in 1786, on behalf of the East India Company (EIC), he set in train a process of colonisation which resulted in all of present-day Malaysia, as well as Singapore and Brunei, coming under British rule. Continue reading Malaysia’s unsung heroes: Captain Francis Light

Introducing Malaya and Borneo (1948-1950)

Introducing Malaya and Borneo (01)
Courtesy UK National Archives

We at itchy feet, itchy mind love old photos, particularly ones which give glimpses of what life was like in pre-independence Malaysia. So imagine our excitement when we found this beautiful collection of pictures from the UK National Archives, called Introducing Malaya and Borneo.

No date is given, but the set must have been published some time between the formation of the Federation of Malaya in January 1948, and the formal recognition of Indonesia’s independence (the former Dutch East Indies) in December 1949. Continue reading Introducing Malaya and Borneo (1948-1950)

Suffolk House: the first and last of Penang’s “great houses”

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Unique is much overused word, but there is no other way to describe Suffolk House, the finest example of Anglo-Indian architecture outside of India. Built more than two hundred years ago, the “First Great House” of Penang, is not just visually stunning, it is a living link to the early days of British colonial rule in Malaysia. Continue reading Suffolk House: the first and last of Penang’s “great houses”

Art Deco with a Malayan twist

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In its Jazz Age heyday, Art Deco influenced everything from jewellery to ocean liners, from graphic design to architecture. Rather than a set of hard and fast rules however, it was an eclectic mix of parts, which somehow came together to form a beautiful whole. Art Deco was the first truly global style, but ironically, for such an influential movement, its name was not coined until decades after it had fallen out of fashion. Continue reading Art Deco with a Malayan twist