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Niew, Shong (1969) The population geography of the Chinese communities in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study is an attempt to examine the spatial distribution pattern of the Chinese population in the Malaysian region (i.e. Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei) in relation to their migrations, growth, economic activities and socio-political characteristics. Chinese contacts with South-east Asia go back to the pre-Christian era and progressed slowly during the pre- European periods. With the advent of European powers, the role of the Chinese in South-east Asia rapidly changed from that of elite traders to one in which coolie labour was predominant. There was also a marked change in the nature of Chinese settlement in South-east Asia, as the early pattern of seasonal migration gave place to one in which immigrant labourers stayed for long periods of their working life and in many cases permanently. The creation of the British sphere in the South China Sea initiated the great 19th and 20th century migration of southern Chinese to the Malaysian region, Singapore in particular becoming a centre from which dispersion later took place to adjacent areas. Subsequent Chinese settlement in Malaya has been conditioned by early commercial agriculture, tin-mining rubber cultivation, commerce and trade. The policy in Northern Borneo, especially in Sarawak, has been to discourage immigration. Chinese penetration in Northern Borneo has been largely confined to gold-mining and agriculture in Sarawak, agricultural plantation work in Sabah and the oil industry in Brunei. Since the entry restrictions of the 1930s and more especially since the Second World War, immigration has declined in importance and today the Chinese communities in the region are growing almost exclusively as the result of the considerable excess of births over deaths. Meanwhile the increased birth rate, the equalization of sex ratios and the increase in the proportion of infants and children in the population indicate the extent to which', the Chinese here are changing from immigrant to permanently settled communities. Changes have also taken place in occupational specialisation of the various dialect groups within the Chinese population and in their social and cultural habits in the region. The process of fusion among them has taken place, especially in the large urban centres. The occupational distinctions between them have been considerably modified. The social geographical pattern based on the new distribution of wealth is becoming more important than the pattern based on the cultural differences of the Chinese communities. Governmental policies of mutual adjustment of various ethnic groups into one people can succeed only if different ethnic groups are regarded as equal, for discrimination tends to emphasize if not indeed to promote awareness of racial origin and thus further to complicate the pattern of distribution and redistribution of the Chinese and other ethnic groups within the region.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:10

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