Malaysia’s history goes back as far as the Early Stone Age, but for concisions sake I’ll give an abridged historical overview. The Northern Peninsula of Malaya was a British colony until Japan took it over during WWII. Following the war, the British returned as an imperialist power, but Malays were hit with the independence bug during the Japanese occupation and gained its freedom from the Queen in 1957. In 1963 Singapore and North Borneo joined Malaya to form the federation of Malaysia. Following independence the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman was left with a diverse population of ethnic Malays, Chinese, and Indians and a scattered region; issues were bound to arise. Firstly, Singapore gained independence in 1965 rocking the newly formed Federation’s stability. Secondly there were clashes with Indonesia over claims for North Borneo, which continue today. Finally, a Chinese backed communist insurgency sparked an “Emergency” in the 1970s, inspired by the successes in Vietnam. It took the inspirational leadership of Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohammad in the 1980s, overcome these obstacles and steer the country into peacetime and economic prosperity.
POLITICS: History Brief