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Ken, Wong Lin (1959) The Malayan Tin Industry to 1914 With Special Reference to the States of Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00034028

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Abstract

The development of the Malayan tin industry was largely the result of the increase in the demand for tin in consequence of the industrialization of Europe. The largest single industry which brought about this increase in the demand for the metal was the rapid development of the tin-plate industry in Britain in the course of the 19th century. In the beginning Cornish tin sufficed to meet the industrial need of this industry and other industries in Britain, Europe, and America, but with the increase in industrialization, the demand for tin began to grow at a more rapid rate than production, resulting in a tendency for prices to rise. At the same time, the quality of Cornish tin became less and less suitable for the manufacture of tin-plates as more and more metal was smelted from - lodetin consequence of the impoverishment of the stream tin deposits. British tin-plate manufacturers began to demand the abolition of the protective tarrif which had sheltered the Cornish tin industry from the from tin produced in the Malay Archipelago. With the abolition of the last of the protective tin duties in August, 1853, Straits tin, which had been introduced into the European market earlier, began to pour into the British metal market and soon became accepted as suitable for the manufacture of tin-plates and other articles. The expansion of tin production in the Malay States was made possible by the Chinese, who possessed both the skill, the capital, and the labour. But the wealth derived from tin mining soon led to rivalry between the Chinese and the Malay chiefs over the possession of the tinfields. Eventually, the British Government in the Straits Settlement intervened to restore order. The establishment of British rule in Perak, Selangor, and Sungei Ujong was followed by rapid expansion of the mining industry. This expansion was almost wholly the result of Chinese enterprise, the Europeans being unable to establish themselves in the industry partly because of the opposition of the Chinese and partly because alluvial tin mining in Malaya was more suited to the labour-intensive methods of mining employed by the Chinese. However, in the field of smelting, a European company, the Straits Trading Company Ltd. was able to establish itself in spite of Chinese opposition. Its success was the result of favourable circumstances and the assistance rendered to it by the British administration. In the decade before the First World War, Chinese mining enterprise began to decline and to give way to European competition. The main reason for this decline was that the alluvial tin deposits had become impoverished, and ceased to pay working by the labour-intensive methods of the Chinese. The European companies, which commanded greater financial resources and engineering skill, were able to introduce new but expensive methods of mining which could be employed to mine the low-grade tin soil economically. Contributing to the decline of the Chinese was the loss of profits from the revenue farms because the British administration decided to collect the revenue directly. Another contributory factor was the difficulties which Chinese capitalists had with their labourers. In the past, they had effective control over their workers, whom they exploited through the truck system.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00034028
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:28
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/34028

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