Muzium Negara Gallery C
Due to its importance in trade and as a port of call, the East India Company requested that Sultan Abdullah of Kedah lease Penang to them in 1784. The Sultan initially refused. However in 1785, due to the threats from Siam and Burma that were both competing for power, the Sultan offered Penang to the East India Company.
The British Occupation of Penang, Singapore and Melaka
In return the East India Company was to assist Kedah if they were attacked by external forces, notably Siam or Burma. His offer was was accepted by Francis Light without the knowledge and approval of the Company.
In 1786, Francis Light declared British rule in Penang, naming it Prince of Wales Island. Sultan Abdullah of Kedah was upset when he learned the truth about the agreement. He decided to drive the British out of Penang. The British, however, struck first, and was able to easily defeat Sultan Abdullah's fleet.
On 1 May 1791, Sultan Abdullah signed an agreement acknowledging British occupation of Penang.
The British occupation of Singapore began with the Treaty between Temenggung Abdul Rahman and Sultan Husin with Stamford Raffles on 6th February 1819. Among other matters, this treaty allowed the Company to build bases or plants in Singapore with the Company governing and funding the building of the port at Singapore.
This Treaty was further signed by both parties on 7th June 1823 and included amongst others, an agreement by Sultan Husin and Temenggung Abdul Rahman that allowed the Company to use land in Singapore not owned by them.
The British initially occupied Melaka on the basis of the Kew Letters from 1795 till 1818. From 1818 till 1824, the Dutch re-occupied Melaka. When the London Treaty or the Anglo-Dutch Treaty took effect on 17 March 1824, the British occupied Melaka, exchanging Bencoolen (Bengkulu) and Sumatra with the Dutch.
Penang, Singapore and Melaka were administratively combined in 1826. These 3 states were known as the Straits Settlements. Its administrative center started in Penang. It was headed by the Governor of the Straits Settlements.
In 1832, the administrative centre moved to Singapore.
Trade And Society in the Straits of Melaka: Dutch Melaka And English Penang, 1780-1830
by Nordin Husin
This pioneering work from a member of Malaysia's new generation of historians is a tale of two very different cities, the one with a trading heritage dating back centuries, the other a new creation spawned by the declining fortunes of the once mighty Dutch East India Company.
Melaka was an important commercial entrepot on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula long before it fell to Portuguese forces in 1511, but thereafter began an extended process of decline that would continue after the Dutch conquest of the city in 1641. Penang became a significant port after 1786 when 'country traders' created a base on the island to defy the Dutch monopoly, although it was quickly overshadowed by Singapore after the founding of a British settlement there in 1819.
Drawing on a large volume of archival records, many of them not used by earlier historians, "Trade and Society in the Straits of Melaka" examines the social and economic fabric of these two port cities, the one very much a Dutch town and the other British. Along the way, the author deals with a number of key questions.
- Did colonial port cities have a different character and structure from indigenous towns?
- Did the administrative style of the Dutch and English differ substantially?
- What was the economic basis of Melaka and Penang?
- What was the effect of the European presence on indigenous trade and society?
The answers involve considerations of urban morphology, demographic characteristics and migration, property rights, and slave ownership. The author also provides a detailed account of shipping in the Straits of Melaka, and discusses how this information contributes to debates concerning the decline of the region's 'Age of Commerce' in the face of imperialist competition.By documenting the impact of imperialist ambitions on the economy and society of two major trading centres, this book breaks new ground and will provide a point of reference for all future research concerning the period.
'This is a genuine pioneering study of Malaysian urban history that breaks much new ground. At its best it is a fine-grained social history of which we have seen far too little in Southeast Asia.' - Professor Tony Reid, Director, Asia Research Institute, Singapore.