Malaysia’s multi-monarchy
Surviving colonisation and decolonisation
in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia
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This chapter asks why kingship has survived and flourished in Malaysia. The particular record of British involvement with the different kingdoms of the country provides part of the explanation; but also, the indigenous institution possessed specific features that help account for its continuing resilience. Monarchy has been more important politically and socially in the Malay world (and probably most of Southeast Asia) than, for instance, in India – and Malay rulers have also possessed a capacity to adapt to foreign civilisations, as well as experience in operating as a small player in hierarchies. Apart from the British incursion, Malaysian monarchs have faced challenges from Fundamentalist Islam, anti-feudal nationalism and the demands of a large non-Malay minority – and these challenges continue to be present today.

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