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A RECORD OF BRITISH PROGRESS
IN THE MIDDLE EAST
THOMAS H. REID
WITH A MAP AND FIFTY-ONE ILLUSTRATIONS
CHANGES in British Malaya have been so numerous and so wide-reaching in recent years that the authors feel that little need be said by way of justification of the production of this volume. The aim which they have kept steadily before them in their work has been the compilation of a comprehensive account of the development of British influence in the Middle East from the earliest times to the present day. On the one hand, they have sought to trace through their interesting windings the various movements, commercial and political, which led to the permanent planting of the Union Jack at both ends of the Straits of Malacca ; on the other, they have attempted to sketch the modern influences which have firmly established British power on the mainland, and created there a centre of commercial activity of unrivalled importance amongst the tropical dependencies of the Crown. In dealing with the earlier episodes which figure in the story, the authors have relied very largely upon the records of the East India Company's operations in the Malayan sphere, which are a mine of information upon the social and political conditions that obtained in the latter part of the seventeenth, the whole of the eighteenth, and the first half of the nineteenth centuries. On some phases of Straits history, more especially in regard to the events which immediately preceded the occupation of Penang, it has been possible to throw quite new light, with the aid of documents which have escaped attention hitherto.
Not the least interesting and valuable feature of this new material is the addition it makes to our knowledge of Captain Francis Light, the founder of Penang, who shares with Sir Stamford Raffles the honour of establishing British power in Malaya. In the later chapters of the book will be found, following upon a description of the Federated Malay States, an account of the non-federated States, including Trengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, and Perlis, which were brought within the British sphere of influence in Malaya by the Anglo-Siamese Agreement of 1909. This territory, parts of which are little known, presents characteristics of peculiar interest from the social and political standpoint. It also has, undoubtedly, a great commercial future, as it provides a wide field for planting and mining enterprise. The new East Coast Railway, which, when completed, will link up the British Malayan railway system with the Siamese lines, and ultimately, doubtless, with the Indian and Chinese railways, is to be carried through the centre of Pahang and Kelantan, and in all probability the ruler of Trengganu, when he recognises the beneficial effects of the railway on neighbouring territories, will seek the co-operation of the Federated Malay States authorities in extending the line to Trengganu. Generally speaking, close attention has been given to the purely modern aspects of Malayan development. The remarkable tin mines of the Federated Malay States, which supply the world with half the tin it consumes, are fully described, as well as the equally striking rubber industry, which seems destined in the near future to contribute almost as large a proportion of the rubber used by civilisation. Incidentally, glimpses will be caught of the changes which are converting this No-Man's-Land of a few decades since into the home of one of the most thriving and contented communities owning the British sway.
Grateful acknowledgments have to be made by the authors of the valuable assistance rendered in the preparation of the volume, either by the loan of photographs or by the supply of information, by Government officials and others. To the ready disposition shown to place personal photographic collections at the authors' disposal is to be attributed the remarkably complete series of illustrations which accompanies the letterpress, and in this connection they would especially mention Mr. J. B. Scrivenor, of the Federated Malay States Civil Service, whose assistance has been invaluable, and the Malay States Information Agency. Acknowledgment is also gratefully made to the Editors of the Colonial Office List for permission to use the map of the Malay Peninsula which appears in that publication.
A. W. T. H. R.