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6b.Colonialism in Southeast Asia is not only about the restructuring of local society for the sole aim of economic progress, and not always with tragic consequences.

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Lock Zhong Zheng [05A5B] Position Paper 6b.Colonialism in Southeast Asia is not only about the restructuring of local society for the sole aim of economic progress, and not always with tragic consequences. It is indeed true that apart from economic incentives, the western colonialists came to Southeast Asia for political and humanitarian reasons. Also, colonial rule did always result in tragic outcomes. The major factor responsible for colonialism in Southeast Asia was largely political, specifically the growing influence of other western powers in Southeast Asia. The western powers were aware that while economic wealth could bring about political influence, political influence was required to safeguard the latter. Essentially, these two forces are interdependent on one another. Hence, when it dawned on the western powers that the economic benefits of trade and commerce in Southeast Asia were immense, they realised that it was also equally important to establish political authority in the region. ...read more.


Rudyard Kipling For instance, as succession disputes among the Malay royal family and the Larut Wars among the Chinese secret societies were severely disrupting social stability in Malaya, the British felt that it was their duty to restore law and order, by intervening in the political affairs of Malaya. In the East Indies, the Dutch implemented the Cultivation System in 1830, which essentially was a virtual state monopoly of production and sale. Under this scheme, the Governor-General Johannes van den Bosch, compelled peasants to grow specific crops, specifically coffee, sugar and indigo and these crops were to be auctioned in Europe by the Netherlandsche Handel Maatschappij. The use of force on peasants was prevalent and as the years went by, the Cultivation System became essentially a system of economic coercion (taxation). Although the Cultivation System proved a success whereby it contributed to approximately 1/3 of Holland's revenue, it was characterised by monopoly in production and sale, coercion and the containment of the domestic economy was in discordance with the emergence of economic liberalism in the nineteen century. ...read more.


Colonialism in Southeast Asia brought about positive political impact on the region. Government activity now required a new style of administration, which is exemplified by clear, distinct, formal and impartial institutions, clearly defined bureaucratic function, standard procedures and huge amounts of paper. Western-styled education and administrative skills were now necessary to for entry into the government service, which is a contrast to the old administrative system, which relied on connections and kickbacks. For instance, In French Indochina, specifically Vietnam, knowledge of the French language became a prerequisite for admission to the mandarinate in Tonkin and Annam and in Siam, instead of ascribed rankings, modern education was the ladder to promotions within government service. To conclude, although some people claim that colonialism in Southeast Asia is about the restructuring of local society for the sole aim of progress, and often results in tragic consequences, I beg to differ. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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