There was a European impact on the societies ofSoutheast Asia and this impact had enormousconsequences. One of these many consequences was theeconomic transformation of the region. The colonial powers placed the interests of theindigenous population above their own. This chapter’s concern is to provide an outline ofmassive economic change that SEA experienced.
Colonies were seen as essential elements in theeconomic pattern that required the supply of rawmaterials to the industrial countries of Europe. Southeast Asians were expected to play anuncomplaining role in the process that enrichedtheir colonial masters but offered little reward tothem. For most European colonisers questions of equitysimply did not arise.
Rubber and oil palm plantations The expansion of rice-growing, the Mekong Riverdelta They did expansion of areas undercultivation, introduction of new crops andplantation products, and establishment of newinfrastructure. WHO BENEFITED FROM THISTRANSFORMATION?
Southeast Asia could supply many materials thatbecame, during 19th, essential to the needs of modern Europeand American. TIN from Malaysia and Indonesia could help meet the industrialto the development of fast-running factory machinery. RUBBER, particularly from Indonesia, Malaysia and FrenchIndochina, could help meet the multiple needs of societies thatexpected constant improvement in a range of items from motorcar tyres to surgical equipment. COPRA played a major part in the vast expansion of the soapindustry.
RUBBER Mostly as the result of British efforts, the possibilityof growing rubber in SEA was discovered, some1880s. Vast areas of the Malayan Peninsula, of Java andSumatra, and of Vietnam and Cambodia werebrought under rubber cultivation. By the beginning of the 1970s rubber plantationsaccounted for nearly 65 % of all cultivatedland, with 1/3 of the agricultural workforceengaged in the plantation industry.
RUBBER Initially, large investors controlled the rubber industry andthe benefits to Southeast Asians themselves werelimited, even in the field of labour. It was from 1920s onwards the small holder began to playan important part in the production of rubber.
TIN From 1870s onwards, the establishment of British politicalcontrol over the Malay states enabled the rapid expansion ofalready existing Chinese tin-mining enterprises. Greater technological efficiency Large Western firms Before WWII, Malay’s tin-mining industry remained in thehands of non-indigenous groups, Chinese and European.
RICE Rice is the most important export crop of all in SEA and togrow, the indigenous peasant was absolutely necessary. Rice had been imported from SEA before the onset of full-scale colonial advance in mid 19th, but the exports weresmall. In general rice was not grown for export. An increasing world market in 19th, rice-growing areacapable of developing rice surpluses were the MekongRiver delta region, the Chao Phraya River, and theIrrawaddy River delta in Burma.
RICE Rice had been exported from SEA before the onset of a full-scale colonial advance in the mid 19th, but it was very small. An increasing world market, it provided the stimulus forrapid expansion of those SEA’s rice-growing areas such asthe Mekong River delta, the Chao Phraya River, and theIrrawaddy River delta in Burma. Small number of Vietnamese landowners and the Chineserice merchants and Indian moneylenders and Burmeselandlords played major role in participating with theEuropeans.
The development of copra plantations A range of other crops include tobacco, coffee and sugar. Oil industry was produced in Burma, Sumatra and Sarawakand Brunei. Many other changes include the region’s infrastructure likeroads, railways, bridges, dams and ports. The expansion of the infrastructure, roads, canals andother forms of communication was so essential to moderneconomic life.
There were a major growth in the size of the rural population whilethe economic changes profoundly affected the life of the ruralpopulation. The development of cities provided one instance of the broadimpact of general economic change. Example, Bangkok andYogyakarta the population numbered some 10,000. Singapore, Malay fishing settlement in 1819, with less than 200residents.
During the years between mid 19th and theoutbreak of the Second World War, SoutheastAsia’s economy underwent greater change thatat any time in the region’s entire history