In the early 2oth century, Province Wellesley, or Seberang Prai, was flourishing. Already an important agricultural area, Bukit Mertajam was at the heart of the rubber boom when it hit Malaya. Surrounded by plantations, the town was also a critical transport hub for the whole region, with rubber and other commodities arriving by rail and road to be exported from Penang Port. It was the regional centre for the colonial administration, benefitting from good water supply, sanitation and policing. It was also the regional centre for the thriving smuggling trade.
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