Merdeka – Western Colonization


Portugal makes first European colonial claim on Malaysia, capturing Malacca. In April 1511, Afonso de Albuquerque set sail from Goa to Malacca with a force of some 1200 men and seventeen or eighteen ships. The Viceroy made a number of demands—one of which was for permission to build a fortress as a Portuguese trading post near the city. The Sultan refused all the demands. Conflict was unavoidable, and after 40 days of fighting, Malacca fell to the Portuguese on 24 August.


The Dutch East India Company with their local allies assaulted and finally wrested Malacca from the Portuguese in January 1641. This combined Dutch-Johor-Aceh efforts effectively destroyed the last bastion of Portuguese power, reducing their influence in the archipelago. The Dutch settled in the city as Dutch Malacca, however the Dutch had no intention to make Malacca their main base, and concentrated on building Batavia (today Jakarta) as their headquarters in the orient instead.


Now known as Malaya, its trading ports gain more economic clout as British trade with China expands. Mining of tin and gold brings influx of Arab, Indian and Chinese immigrants who soon control business. Britain establishes colonies and trading ports on Malay peninsula; Penang is leased to the British East India Company. At first, the British didn't put much effort into Malacca, and established themselves on the island Penang in 1786. Only until 1795 the British took over command of the Dutch in Malacca, who started focusing more on trade all around Indonesia.


Anglo-Dutch Treaty sets boundaries between British Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies, which is present-day Indonesia. The British Crown Colony (also referred to as the Straits Settlements) was established in 1826 and slowly but certain, the British increased their power over the rest of the peninsula. At first, it was primarily spices taken from the present Malaysia. But when in the early 19th century tin supplies were discovered, the trade shifted rapidly. The British first colonized the peninsula and after that, between 1840 and 1882, also annexated east-Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) into the British Crown Colony. In this period, the British also invited many Indian people to Malaysia, to fill up the shortage of workers.

Late 1800s to 1909

The Federated Malay States, in southern Malaya, was formed in 1895 after the British intervened in the fratricidal wars of the sultans. The British gained control over northern Malaya through an agreement made with Thailand in 1909 and merged all the territory under their control to form Malaya. Modern-day Kuala Lumpur is founded as a trading post for immigrant miners, and becomes capital of Federated Malay States in 1896. Profits pour in due to wartime demand for tin and rubber.


By 1910 the pattern of British rule in the Malay lands was established. The Straits Settlements were a Crown Colony, ruled by a governor under the supervision of the Colonial Office in London. Their population was about half Chinese, but all residents, regardless of race, were British subjects. The first four states to accept British residents, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang, were termed the Federated Malay States: while technically independent, they were placed under a Resident-General in 1895, making them British colonies in all but name. The Unfederated Malay States (Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu) had a slightly larger degree of independence, although they were unable to resist the wishes of their British Residents for long.

Our Pride


Check out the memorable logos and themes that have been created in conjunction with the Merdeka celebration since 1976. More

Merdeka Events

Don't miss out the Merdeka celebration at your local area, state or the big parade at National Merdeka level. Check the events date and hours! More

Celebration Gallery

Browse the selected colorful gallery of images  in conjunction with the Merdeka celebration around the nation. More

Online Exhibition

The Merdeka exhibition was produced by User Experience Service Unit, PSB UUM as part of Online Exhibition series.