Has Malaysia arrived somewhere from the last insurgency era?


Reid Commission (the drafters of Malayan Constitution)

“History needs to be defended against those who deny its capacity to help us understand the world, and because new developments in the sciences have transformed the historiographical agenda.”

 – E Hobsbawm, Le Monde Diplomatique (Marxist Historiography, 2006)

Lessons of war; it is debatable to say that the Malacca empire was far more civilised than how we see ourselves today.

“On the ruins of Malacca fort, We build the soul of independence, Be united every race, Defend the right of justice inherited”.

– TN Harper, The End of Empire and the Making of Malaya (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999) 13. 

“The Malacca Empire of the fifteenth century is, even today, symbolic in Malaysia as an ideal and glorious Malay civilisation that continues to stand as the benchmark for the Malay community.”

– Abdul Aziz Bari, The Malaysian Constitution: A Critical Introduction (Kuala Lumpur, The Other Press, 2003) 21.

“It is regarded as an ideal precolonial polity for other reasons. It was here that an empire was formed in the fifteenth century that embraced much of what is characteristic of its successor, the Malaysian Federation, in the twenty-first century. Malacca is the Malay’s archetypal kingdom, regarded as the historical fount of Malay culture, literature, and political thought; a necessary myth perhaps in an age of nationalist sensibility.”

– A Harding, The Constitution of Malaysia: Constitution of Malacca (Oregon, Hart Publishing, 2012) 10.


The Japanese army arrived in Malaya (before Malaysia gained its independence in 1957) on bicycles in 1941

Colonial Era

Portuguese Malacca  |  1511–1641

Dutch Malacca  |  1641–1824

Straits Settlements  |  1826–1946

British Malaya  |  1874–1946

Federated Malay States  |  1895–1946

Unfederated Malay States  |  1909–1946

Kingdom of Sarawak  |  1841–1946

North Borneo  |  1882–1963

Japanese occupation  |  1941–1945

(Source: Wikipedia – History of Malaysia)

Writer’s speculation:

Little time has passed between the end of the last insurgency era and the beginning of the current one. That is both a blessing and a curse. Many senior army leaders or retired officers working as contractors have counterinsurgency expertise and experience. The problem is that the type of insurgency these experts best understand is not the same as the 21st century insurgency we have seen so far.

Many ideas and concepts central to their understanding of counterinsurgency is actually specific to one particular variant of insurgency and counterinsurgency. Reconceptualisation of insurgency and counterinsurgency on liberation and national conditions becomes one the key challenges of today, that is, distinguishing the universal themes and concepts from the context specific ones, and jettisoning those which no longer apply.

Given the importance of psychological and political battlespaces in insurgency and counterinsurgency, the authorities and the army must integrate psychological concepts and analysis in its startegic and operational planning. This kind of integration will require adding trained psychologists and cultural experts at many planning levels. The understanding on better concepts and, eventually, doctrine to understand the linkage of insurgency and organised crimes is certainly a necessity, which leads to the Joint doctrine or may it need to be interagency.

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