How is Malaysia a microcosm of SEA?

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Social Studies

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How is Malaysia a microcosm of SEA?

Southeast Asia has been known as a region of spices for hundreds of years, with nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and coriander being a few you can find being traded here. Common ingredients would be fish sauce, shrimp paste, mint leaf, garlic, coconut milk and flesh. Rice is a staple food in Asia and 90% of the world’s rice is produced and consumed in the Asia Pacific area. Shrimp paste can be found in most meals in Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. It is often an ingredient in dip for fish or vegetables and goes by many names; belacan in Malaysia, kapi in Thailand, bagoong in the Phillipines, and ngapi yay in Myanmar.Another element of Southeast Asian cuisine is dried salted fish, with ikan bilis in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei, tuyo in the Philippines and trei ngeat in Cambodia.

How is Malaysia a microcosm of SEA?

Malaysia - Grated coconut flesh is squeezed to obtain coconut milk, which is used extensively in savoury dishes and desserts throughout the country. Some of these include nasi lemak, chendol, and laksa.Thailand -Coconut milk can be found in spicy green or red curries and in the sweet red ruby dessert, a Thai signature. The juice of a green coconut can be served as a drink and the young flesh is eaten in either sweet or savory dishes.Indonesia - Indonesia shares dishes like rendang, chendol and nasi lemak with Malaysia, but tongseng kambing (lamb curry) is ambiguous to the country. After the milk has been extracted from the shredded coconut flesh to make coconut milk, the ampas kelapa (leftover coconut flesh) can still be used in urap, seasoned and spiced shredded coconut meat mixed together with vegetables. Kerisik paste, added to thicken rendang, is one use of coconut flesh.

Uses of Coconuts


Dishes using shrimp paste


Thai Red Ruby Dessert



trei ngeat

Islamic ArtsThe spread of islamic art into Southeast Asia started over a thousand years ago and still continues on to this day. As Islam spread through SEA, so did the influence of it on art and architecture. Islamic art has 3 definitive characteristics:vegetal patternscalligraphygeometric patterns Thus, these characteristicsevolved to be the pillars of the world of Islamic Arts, binding together all the countries in SEA with common characteristics in the art form they share.

Mosques' architecture around SEAIn one way or another, each mosque displays strong characteristics of islamic art, however, at the same time, strong influences from its country is also evident. For example, the main entrance of the Demak Great Mosque is carved with motifs of plants, vases, crowns and an animal head with an open wide-toothed mouth. Islamic art also incorporates a lot of animal symbolism and figural representation. The Masjid Al-Dahab in the Philipines has its dome and minurets patterned with various geometrical patterns, which stem from islamic culture, but are greatly influenced by ethnic art, such as Maranao, Maguindanao and Tausug art. Designs on the Tenkara Mosque in Malaysia display high levels of craftmanship, which is evident in the windows, fanlights, carving wall panels, fascia boards and well-designed mimbar with intricate flower motifs.

Geometric Patterns

Vegetal Patterns


Tenkara Mosque, Melaka

Masjid Al-Dahab,Manila, Philipines

Demak Great Mosque, Demak, Indonesia

Vernacular MosquesThe Demak Great Mosque & the Tenkara Mosque are examples of vernacularmosques. Vernacular mosques are one of theearliest style of mosques,prominent in the 18th.

The characteristics of vernacular mosques are tiered roofs and the great use of timber in the building of the mosque. The tiered roof shape and overall architecture of the mosque is greatly influenced by Buddhist and Hindu culture.

Southeast Asia(SEA) is a region with a physical environment very unique to its own. Its climate can be grouped into tropical and subtropical, which includes hot and humid weathers, seasonally wet and dry weathers and exceptions of frosts in Nothern Vietnam and Myanmar Hilmalayas. Moisture is adequate with at least 100cm of rainfall per year and Java even having an average of 322 days with thunderstrom per year. Fertile river valleys, coastal plains and rugged terrains formed by mountains, plateaus and hills are common land features in SEA, most of the peninsular is geologically stable with rare valcanoes and earthquakes. Malaysia, being part of SEA, has its climate and land features similar to that of the rest of SEA. With a tropical climate, its temperature can rise above 3o degree celcius in the day and drop below 20 degree celcius at night. Mountain ranges are most commonly seen in Malaysia, running parallel form North to South along the peninsular.

Agriculture, being reliant on climate, bears results of what our hot-wet weathers in SEA can bring. Now, let us focus on one of the most common plantations in SEA, rubber.Favourable Climate for rubber tree growth1. mean temperature of 27 degree 2. rainfall above 200cm with no drought3. high atmospheric humidity of 80%4. absence of strong wind (and no frost)5. deep rich soil with good drainage, well-oxidised and acidic in reactionMalaysia:> 4-2 acres of land occupied by rubber planations (65% of total cultivation)> suitability of soil and climateSingapore has no rubber plantaions but houses rubber trees within our forests. Since rubber planting started, one million hectares of land in SEA has been converted to rubber plantations, in fact, most rubber trees are found in SEA! Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, are top rubber producers in the world.

Physical Environment

Quality of Rubber1. Elasticity2. Watertight and Airtight3. Resistant to a number of acid and alkalis4. has minimal abrasions5. can be combined with many textiles to give them certain new qualities.

Dyera CostulataIt is found in Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra and southern Thailand. During the 1920s-1960s, its latex was overhaverstedfor the production of chewinggum.

Uses of the Rubber Tree Rubber1. electrical insulation (telephones, radios)2. clothing (raincoats, shoes)3. vehicle: a) good for building tyres b) motors, controls, switches4. part of dynamos5. transgenic rubber: produce pharmaceuticals in latex (antibody)oily seeds feed livestockwood made into charcoal

Thai Kaeng

Modern MosquesThe Masjid Al-Dahab is an example of a modern mosque. Characteristics of modern mosques are the onion-shaped or top-shaped domes, together with tall minarets and high ceilings. Their architecture is greatly influenced by Middle Eastern culture. Another example of a modern mosque is the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


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