An Economic History of Malaysia, C.1800-1990: the Transition to Modern Economic Growth

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Malaysia has long been known as a leading exporter of important primary commodities (notably tin, rubber, timber, palm oil, petroleum) to developed countries. In the last decades of the twentieth century, secondary industries (such as electrical and electronic components, textiles, car-assembly) have been successfully developed concurrently with the redistribution of wealth, income and employment under the New Economic Policy (1970-90). By 1990 the country approached 'Newly Industrialised Country' status. This study breaks new ground by integrating these developments within a long-run thematic framework, namely the transition to modern economic growth. The roots of Malaysia's export-based economy are traced to the nineteenth century, and in some respects even earlier. It is also the first economic history to take the Malaysian region as a whole, covering Peninsular Malaysia together with Sabah and Sarawak, which most published works treat separately.