General issues: Federated Malay States 1900-1935, Malayan Postal Union 1935-1941, British Military Administration 1945-1948, Malayan Postal Union 1945-1968, Federation of Malaya 1957-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
Country name on general issues: Federated Malay States, Malayan Postal Union, Malaya, Melaya, Malaysia
Special issues: Straits Settlements office Bangkok 1882-1886, Japanese occupation Malayan Postal Union 1942-1945, Thai occupation 1943-1945
- Straits Settlements: British colony 1867-1942, Japanese occupation 1942-1945
- Federal territories: Federation of Malaysia 1979-Present
- Johore – Johor: Sultanate 1876-1904, British protectorate 1904-1942, Japanese occupation 1942-1945, Federation of Malaya 1948-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Kedah: British protectorate 1909-1942, Japanese occupation 1942-1943, Federation of Malaya 1948-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Kelantan: British protectorate 1909-1942, Japanese occupation 1942-1943, Federation of Malaya 1948-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Malacca – Melaka: Japanese occupation 1942-1945, Federation of Malaya 1948-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Negri Sembilan – Negeri Sembilan: British protectorate 1891-1900, British protectorate 1935-1942, Japanese occupation 1942-1945, Federation of Malaya 1948-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Pahang: British protectorate 1889-1900, British protectorate 1935-1942, Japanese occupation 1942-1945, Federation of Malaya 1948-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Penang – Pulau Pinang: Japanese occupation 1942-1945, Federation of Malaya 1948-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Perak: British protectorate 1878-1900, British protectorate 1935-1942, Japanese occupation 1942-1945, Federation of Malaya 1948-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Perlis: Federation of Malaya 1948-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Sabah: Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Sarawak: Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Selangor: British protectorate 1878-1900, British protectorate 1935-1942, Japanese occupation 1942-1945, Federation of Malaya 1948-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
- Sungei Ujong: British protectorate 1880-1895
- Trengganu – Terengganu: British protectorate 1909-1942, Japanese occupation 1942-1943, Federation of Malaya 1948-1963, Federation of Malaysia 1963-Present
Currency: 1 (Silver)Dollar = 100 Cent 1867-1880, 1 (Straits)Dollar = 100 Cent 1880-1946, 1 (Malaya)Dollar = 100 Cent 1946-1963, 1 Ringgit = 100 Sen 1963=Present
Population: 3 255 000 in 1900, 29 720 000 in 2013
Political history Malaysia
Malaysia is a federation of states located in southeastern Asia. The history of Malaysia may be divided into two streams: that of the states on the Malayan peninsula and that of the states on the island of Borneo: Sabah – the former North Borneo, including Labuan – and Sarawak. These streams join with the formation of the federation of Malaysia in 1963. This country profile focuses on the history of the states on the Malayan peninsula and, subsequently, the federation of Malaysia. For the earlier history of Labuan, North Borneo and Sarawak, please refer to the profiles of these countries.
The Straits Settlements
The Malayan peninsula in the 19th century is home to a number of independent sultanates and a number of sultanates under the sovereignty of Thailand. In the 18th century, the British establish their first settlement on the Malayan peninsula on Penang – currently called Pulau Pinang. Penang is an island off the coast of Kedah that is ceded to the British by the sultan of Kedah in 1786. The settlement is extended on the mainland of Kedah in 1789. In 1819, the British establish a further settlement in Singapore with the permission of the sultan of Johore – currently called Johor. As the Dutch are also active in the region, the British and the Dutch in 1824 agree on their respective spheres of interest. The Dutch recognize the British claims on the Malayan peninsula and transfer of the Dutch settlement of Malacca – currently called Melaka – to the British.
Subsequently, in 1826, the British bring Malacca, Penang and Singapore together in one colony – the Straits Settlements. In later years several British possessions are added to the Straits Settlements. In 1874, Dinding – a settlement on an island off the coast of Perak – and some of the mainland opposite the island. In 1886 and 1900, the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island are added, both located in the Indian Ocean. And, finally, in 1907, Labuan, an island off the coast of Borneo. Dinding will be returned to the sultan of Perak in 1935.
The Straits Settlements are initially governed from British India, in 1867 the Settlements become a separate colony governed directly through the Colonial Office in London.
The Malayan states
Initially, the British are only interested in trade through the Straits Settlements. The Settlements are important as they are located on the trade routes to China. The Malayan inland has significant tin resources and later a significant rubber production. Towards the end of the 19th century, a more political dimension is added to the British presence. As the British seek to protect their increasing trade relations within the region, they embark on forming protectorates to gain more control over the internal politics and political stability of their trade partners. The sultanates on their part are interested in British support to deal with internal conflicts and as a buffer against the Thai influence on the peninsula. Thus, Perak becomes a British protectorate in 1874, Selangor in 1878, Pahang and Negri SembilanCurrently knows as Negeri Sembilan follow in 1888. Negri Sembilan has a special position as it is a federation of smaller states with an elected sovereign. As one of these smaller states, Sungei Ujong has become a British protectorate in 1873, well before all of Negri Sembilan came under British protection. These British protectorates, in 1895, agree to form the Federated Malay States which is established in 1896.
The sultanate of Johore retains its independence until 1904, when it too becomes a British protectorate. Johore does not, however, join the Federated Malay States.
Great Britain further extends its influence on the Malayan peninsula when, in 1909, Thailand is forced to cede the sovereignty over Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and TrengganuCurrently known as Terengganu to the British, the sultanates becoming British protectorates. With the addition of these sultanates to the British sphere of influence, the borders of Malaya are defined.
During WWII, Japan invades Malaya in 1941 and occupies the peninsula from 1942 until 1945. The Japanese form the administrative area of Malaya which includes both the Straits Settlements and the Malayan states and to which are added, in 1942, the Netherlands Indies island of Sumatra and, from 1942 until 1945, the Riau Islands, also part of the Netherlands Indies. The sultanates that in 1909 were ceded by Thailand are put under Thai administration in 1943 – Thailand being allied to Japan in WWII. Christmas Island – part of the Straits Settlements – is also occupied by Japan, the Cocos Islands – also part of the Straits Settlements – remain in British hands.
From British military administration to the Federation of Malaya
After the Japanese capitulation in 1945, the British establish military administration over Malaya until 1946. In 1946, the British form two colonies: Singapore and the Union of Malaya. Singapore includes Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands, these to be transferred to Australia in 1958 and 1955 respectively. Singapore gains self government in 1959 and independence in 1963 as it joins the Malaysian Federation. The Union of Malaya includes the Malayan states and the settlements of Malacca and Penang, previously part of the Straits Settlements.
The British colonial administration in the Union of Malay faces strong opposition from the sultans of the Malayan states because of the limited amount of self government allowed by the British. In 1948, the British concede: the Federation of Malaya is formed, the Federation providing a larger degree of self government for the sultanates. The Federation of Malaya gains independence in 1957.
The Federation of Malaysia
In 1963, the Federation of Malaysia is formed. Part of the federation become the states of the Federation of Malaya, Singapore and the former British possessions on Borneo: British North Borneo – taking the name of Sabah upon becoming part of the Federation – and Sarawak. Malaysia is a constitutional federal monarchy. Head of state is one of the sultans, the head of state being elected for a term of five years. Singapore leaves the federation in 1965 to become the independent republic of Singapore.
The newly formed Federation of Malaysia is confronted with territorial claims on parts of Malaysian Borneo from both Indonesia and the Philippines. The Philippines have construed their case on the fact that parts of Sabah were leased from the sultanate of Sulu and, as the sultanate of Sulu has become part of the Philippines, the ownership rests with the Philippines. A United Nations commission denies the Philippine claim in 1963. Since then the claim has been dormant. Indonesia – ruling southern Borneo – claims rights to all of Borneo. The ‘Konfrontasi’ between Indonesia and Malaysia – in part an armed conflict – will last until 1966 when parties sign an agreement and Indonesia relinquishes its claims on Malaysian Borneo.
As of 1974, federal territories are formed under the direct administration of the federal government. The first to be established is Kuala Lumpur in 1974, Kuala Lumpur being the largest city in Malaysia and the capital. Next Labuan – off the coast of Borneo – is established as a federal territory in 1984, Labuan being a center for offshore banking. Finally, in 2001, Putrajaya becomes a federal territory. Putrajaya is the newly built administrative center of Malaysia.
Malaysia is currently the third economy in southeastern Asia after Indonesia and Thailand, the economy having been transformed into a multi sector economy since the 1980’s.
Postal history Malaysia
The Straits Settlements
The first stamps issued in what is now Malaysia are the stamps of the Straits Settlements from 1867. Before 1867, stamps of British India are used in the Straits Settlements. Initially, offices only exist in Singapore, Malacca and Penang. Later more offices are opened: in 1900 on Christmas Island, in 1903 on the Cocos Islands and in 1907 on Labuan. In some of the Malaysian states, stamps of the Straits Settlements are used for overseas mail: in Selangor until 1891, in Perak until 1892 and in Johore until 1916. Outside Malaya, stamps from the Settlements were used on the Philippines until 1877, again for overseas mail. The Straits Settlements have an office in Bangkok, Thailand from 1882 until 1886. Stamps from the Settlements overprinted ‘B’ are used in Bangkok.
The Malayan States
The Malayan states start issuing stamps as follows:
- The first state to issue stamps is Johore from 1876.
- Next are the states that, in the late 19th century, have become British protectorates: Perak and Selangor from 1878, Pahang from 1889 and Negri Sembilan from 1891. Sungei Ujong issues stamps from 1880 until 1895 when these stamps are superseded by those of Negri Sembilan.
- Last are the states that in 1909 are ceded by Thailand: Trengganu from 1910, Kelantan from 1911 and Kedah from 1912. Perlis does not issue stamps at the time as it forms a postal union with Kedah.
The first stamps issued by the Malayan states are often overprints on issues from the Straits Settlements, these to be followed by definitives.
The Federated Malay States and the Malayan Postal Union
Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak and Selangor, from 1900, use stamps issued in the name of the Federated Malay States which they have formed in 1896. These are used until 1935 when the Malayan Postal Union is founded and the Federated Malay States resume issuing their own stamps. While the individual states issue stamps for regular mail, the Malayan Postal Union issues postage due stamps. These are used as follows:
- 1936-1942: Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States
- 1945-1948: Union of Malaya and Singapore
- 1948-1963: Federation of Malaya and Singapore
- 1963-1966: Federation of Malaysia and Singapore
- 1966-1968: Singapore
Occupation issues WWII
During WWII, the Straits Settlements and the Malayan States were grouped together by Japan in the Malaya administrative area and so was the postal service. Available stamps were overprinted and – maybe overprinted locally – valid for use all through the Malaya administrative area. Thus, overprints are found on stamps of the Straits Settlements, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Trengganu and the Malayan Postal Union. A first series of overprints uses the seal of the Malayan military postal authorities in Japanese characters. A second series of overprints is in Latin script reading ‘Dai Nippon 2602 Malaya’Dai Nippon translates to ‘Greater Japan’ and 2602 is 1942 in the Japanese calender.. A third series of overprints is again in Japanese and reads ‘Greater Japanese Post’. Aside from these three generic overprints that have been applied in most of the Malayan states, more specific overprints exist in the individual states – including the settlements of Malacca and Penang – for example, using the seal of the governor or an additional overprint of a new face value. In 1943 and 1944, definitives of Japanese design were issued in addition to the overprints. To the Malaya postal area were added the Riau Islands off the coast of Singapore and – for a time in 1942 – Sumatra, both formerly part of the Netherlands Indies. Stamps issued for the Malaya administrative area are also found used on these islands.
For the states that, from 1943, are under Thai administration – Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Trengganu – a set of stamps for use in these states is issued by Thailand.
British Military administration and the Federation of Malaya
After the Japanese capitulation, the British issue stamps that are again valid in all of the Malayan peninsula. These being issues from the Straits Settlements overprinted ‘BMA Malaya'‘British Military Administration Malaya’. Although the military administration in 1946 is succeeded by a civil colonial administration, the BMA overprints are used until 1948 when the Federation of Malaya is formed. The BMA overprints are superseded by issues from the individual Malayan states. From 1948, Malacca and Penang – formerly part of the Straits Settlements, now states within the Federation of Malaya – also issue stamps as well as Perlis which previously formed a postal union with Kedah. When the Federation of Malaya gains independence in 1957, it starts issuing stamps for general use with its name, these to be used concurrently with the issues from the individual states.
The Federation of Malaysia
The issues from the Federation of Malaya are superseded by those of the Federation of Malaysia. The constituent parts of the federation – now including Sabah and Sarawak – continue to issue stamps, albeit only for the lower values. From 1979, stamps are issued for use in the federal territories. These issues are, from 1986, inscribed ‘Wilayah Persekutuan’ which translates to ‘Federal Territories’. The 1979 issue has no specific inscription to identify it as an issue for the federal territories – at the time only Kuala Lumpur. This issue is of the same design as the 1979 issues from the individual Malaysian states.Michel lists this issue with the federal territories, Scott lists this issue among the general issues.
For an overview of the political and ostal developments in the form of a diagram, please refer to the country diagram of Malaysia.
Album pages Malaysia
Album pages Malaysian States