Penang Monthly’s cover story this month is about East Malaysia and how it has always been an unknown territory to Malaysians on the peninsula. To start with, we need to remind ourselves of how troubled the beginnings of the Federation of Malaya actually were – and I don’t only mean the Indonesian decision to initiate undeclared war against the new polity.
The situation in the region in the two decades following the end of the Japanese Occupation of South-East Asia was fragile whichever way you look at it – states were emerging without clear ideas as to which nations they would represent or craft, or even about territorial borders for that matter; and international communism was seriously challenging the world order in the wake of the failure by Germany, Italy and Japan to re-configure the power equation.
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