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Kow, Lim Heng (1974) The evolution of the urban system in Malaya. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study attempts to examine the developmental process in the formation of the urban system in Malaya. To provide a framework for such examination, a twofold working hypothesis is formulated at the outset: that no system of towns and cities related to the traditional society existed on the Malay peninsula in the past and that the present" day urban system is the product of the colonial-immigrant complex. The first part of the hypothesis is verified through the examination of the two most important ancient trading centres on the peninsula: Kedah and Malacca, Both the city-state and the commercial empire to which they belonged, failed to generate an indigenous urban system rooted in the traditional society. The second part of the hypothesis, which constitutes the central theme of the present study, is substantiated from different angles. The 'surface' development in Perak illustrates the immigrants' efforts, reinforced by the colonial infrastructure, in spurring the process of urban crystallization. The 'nodal' development in Selangor embodied in Kuala Lumpur, demonstrates the critical importance of the concentration of the political power, the administrative paraphernalia and the transport networks, in addition to the immigrant economic activities, in the making of a capital. The slow pace of urban development in Kelantan and Trengganu, where the colonial-immigrant impact was at its weakest, reemphasizes the weight of the external factors. The rapid growth of Penang and Singapore and the commanding domination of the latter as the primate city, symbolise the full force of the colonial-immigrant complex, operating within the colonial space-economy.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:20

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