How is Malasia a microcosm of Southeast Asia?

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How is Malasia a microcosm of Southeast Asia?

How is Malaysia, a microcosm of Southeast Asia

done by: Akshaya, Tan Sze Ying, Jun Wei & Clarissa Pudjo

SOURCE 1: MalayThe term "Malay" in the Malaysian constitution refers to those who are Muslims, speak the Malay language and adhere to Malay customs. The Malays are the majority group in Malaysia forming an estimated 51% of the total population and predominantly residing in Peninsular Malaysia. Given that they are Muslim, the Malay community celebrates religious occasions such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri at the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan, Hari Raya Aidil Adha, Nuzul Quran and the Prophet's Birthday. Malays are present in other countries such as Indonesia, Singapore, Tahiland and etc.

Malaysia, Truly Asia

CultureFirstly, Malaysia has a mix of culture. The three main races in Malaysia are Chinese, Malay and Indian. Similarly, the three main races in Southeast Asia are also Chinese, Malay and Indian.

SOURCE 3: Chinese Large-scale migration of Chinese people occurred in tandem with the economic development of Malaya. Chinese had brought along the culture, arts and traditions of their ancestors and contributed to the cultural diversity of Malaysia. The Chinese people - whether Buddhist, Muslim, Christian or of other beliefs - celebrate traditional Chinese festivals such as the Chinese New Year and other Chinese celebrations. Chinese can be found in many countries in Southest Asia, including Singapore, Phillipines, Indonesia etc.

TradeThe countries in Southeast Asia have an abundance of raw materials due to their rich natural resources. Malaysia is rich in rubber, oil palm and tin. Vietnam, for instance is rich in coal, iron, zinc and phosphate, and the Malay Archipelago is rich in spices like pepper, nutmeg, mace cinnamon and cloves. These natural resources attracted other countries to trade with us. Many European countries such as Britain traded with Southeast Asia countries for raw material since the start of 15th century.

South East Asia - a region which comprises eleven countries namely, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. These countries are different each with its unique features. Microcosm - a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristics of something much larger. Malaysia - a nation located in the Southeast Asia, bordered by Thailand, Indonesia, and Brunei, and shares water boundaries with Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. There is only one place where all the colours, flavours, sounds and sights of Asia come together – Malaysia. No other country has Asia's three major races, Malay, Chinese, Indian, plus various other ethnic groups in large numbers. Nowhere is there such exciting diversity of cultures, festivals, traditions and customs, offering myriad experiences. No other country is "Truly Asia" as Malaysia. "Malaysia, Truly Asia" captures and defines the essence of the country’s unique diversity.There are 3 key points which show that Malaysia is a microcosm of Southeast Asia through the mix of culture, trade and its environment.

SOURCE 2: RubberSince World War One, rubber had been one of the main contributors to the Malaysian economy and is still among the world's most important rubber growing nations. Malaysia produces almost 20% of the world's natural rubber. The boom of the motor car industry from 1910 - 1925 led to the peak of the rubber production. However competition from neighbouring countries and synthetic rubber have undermined Malaysia's competitiveness. The Malaysian plantation sector has diversified into other crops. Some other big producers of rubber are Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand which are countries in Southeast Asia.

SOURCE 2: IndianThe Indian people's relations with the Malay Peninsula can be traced back to around 2000 years ago when traders and envoys from the Indian subcontinent sailed to the Far East to find a market, merchandise and raw materials. Most of those who migrated here were of Tamil origin. In general, the major festivals that are celebrated by the Indians are Deepavali and Thaipusam. There are Indians in Singapore, Brunei, Myanmar and etc.

SOURCE 3: Palm OilPalm oil is malaysia's economic resource. In 2012, Malaysia, the world's second largest producer of palm oil, produced 18.79 million tonnes of crude palm oil. Even countries like Thailand and Indonesia are involved in palm oils trade. Though Indonesia produces more palm oil, Malaysia is the world's largest exporter of palm oil having exported 18 million tonnes of palm oil products in 2011.

An oil plantation in Malaysia

Agriculture and EnvironmentSoutheast Asian countries have similar agriculture and environment due to their similar climate. Many countries in Southeast Asia have paddy fields, forests and mangrove forests

SOURCE 1: Paddy FieldsPice is a staple food for all classes in Southeast Asia. A paddy field is a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing semiaquatic rice. Paddy field farming is practiced in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos

SOURCE 1: TinThe tin mining industry was once a major contributor to Malaysian economy. Tin occurs chiefly as alluvial deposits in the foothills of the peninsular Malaysia on the western Main Range, in the kelantan valley and near Mersing on the the East Coast. In the 19th Century, the growing industrial demand was seen as an opportunity by the British to intervene into the administration of the Malay States. By the end of the 19th Century, Malaysia had become the largest tin producer in the world and was supplying about 55% of the world’s tin. Others countries in Southeast Asia that produce and trade tin include Indonesia and Thailand.

SOURCE 2: ForestsMalaysia has dense forests and one of the best tropical forestry research in the world. All other countries in Southeast Asia, also have forests. One of the most famous attraction in the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia is the Crown Shyness. It is a couple tree planted at the same time, with its branches only located at the top. The shade of the tree is umbrella shaped and this view can only be spotted in two places in the world (other location is in Indonesia, SEA).

Through all these sources we can say that trade is another key point which shows how Malaysia is a microcosm of Southeast Asia because there are countries like Thailand and Indonesia and some other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Indonesia which are involved in this trading business with Malaysia. This shows that Malaysia has similar trade businesses as other Southeast Asian countries and this makes it a microcosm of Southeast Asia.

Counter-ArgumentIn Malaysia, there are many other races. There are other races in Malaysia such as Peranakan and Sikh but these races may not be found in other southeast Asian countries. Similarly, other countries in Southeast Asia may have cultures that Malaysia does not have. For instance, the main ethnic group in Myanmar is the Barma. This race is seldom found in Malaysia.

A rubber planation in Malaysia

Counter-ArgumentAll countries in Southeast Asia trades, but not all countries trade tin, rubber and palm oil. Other countries in Southeast Asia trade products ranging from industrial, mining, agricultural to Craft sectors. For example, Indonesia trades gold and copper. Other countries trade the crops they grow. eg paddy and vegetables.

Thus, Culture is one key point which shows how malaysia is a microcosm of SEA. This is because The largest ethnic groups in Malaysia are the Malays, Chinese and Indians.The culture in Singapore is defined by the different ethnic groups which are also the Chinese, Malay and the Indians. Therefore, this shows how Malaysia has similar characteristics as other countries in Southeast Asian countries and is a microcosm of Southeast Asia.

Counter-ArgumentAlthough Malaysia's agriculture and environment is similar to many countries in Southeast Asia, there are a few exceptions. Not all countries in Southeast Asia grow crops like paddy (eg. Singapore). Also, there are other countries outside of Southeast Asia that have mangrove swamps and forests. Therefore, agriculture and environment can also show that Malaysia is not a microcosm of Southeast Asia.

SOURCE 3: Mangrove ForestsA quarter of the world's 40m hectares of mangrove forests are located in south-east Asia. In the Indonesian Archipelago, mangroves occur around much of Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, and the surrounding islands, while further north, they are found along the coast of the Malay Peninsula. Malaysia has a current estimate of 564,970 hectares of mangroves, Indonesia has around 9.36 million hectares and Thailand has around 15 million hectares of mangrove forests.

These sources, which tell us more about Malaysia’s environment, show how Malaysia is a microcosm of Southeast Asia. This is because other countries in Southeast Asia share a similar environment as Malaysia. Thus, we can say that Malaysia is microcosm of Southeast Asia.

Mangrove Swamp at Kuala Selangor Nature Park Malaysia

Paddy field in Malaysia


We can therefore conclude that yes, Malaysia is truly Asia! This is because the sources which show how Malaysia is similar to other countries in terms of its culture, trade, agriculture and environment are more significant than the counter-arguments. Hence, Malaysia is a microcosm of Southeast Asia.

Sources: (introduction) (rubber)


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