From the mid-16th to mid-19th centuries, the Malay Peninsula was a major Southeast Asian port for Arab and European shipping and trade networks. The British slowly rose to dominate the peninsula by the early 19th century through the consolidation of control over local Malay sultanates. It was not until the Japanese occupation during World War II (1941–1945) that the British foothold slipped.

The Japanese arrival disrupted local economies, destroyed the colony’s social and political norms, and oppressed the local populace through brutal tactics. Japan ascribed significant geopolitical interest to Malaya and other portions of Southeast Asia, while also using it as a location to draw the raw resources required to supply its war effort. After some initial savagery, many ethnic groups collaborated with the Japanese to ...

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