How Penang’s Early Prominence was Lost

By Ooi Kee Beng

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The early decades in the life of Prince of Wales Island did not see it living up to the expectations of its administrators, especially as a ship-building port. But as a trading station at the northern end of the Straits of Malacca, the port of Penang did succeed very well, which was what prompted the East India Company to make it its Fourth Presidency (alongside Calcutta, Bombay and Madras) in 1805.The following abstract is an attempt to understand why Penang,...

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Ooi Kee Beng

is the Executive Director of Penang Institute. His recent books include The Eurasian Core and its Edges: Dialogues with Wang Gungwu on the History of the World (ISEAS 2016). Homepage: