An Economic History of Malaysia: Kids Edition

This may sound like fluff,

But the modern history of Malaysia is all about STUFF

In the 1500s it was all about the Spice Trade,

And so the Colonial Powers went on a bit of raid,

They pillaged almost every village,

But didn’t find anyone playing cribage.

It was Pepper they saught,

And they wouldnt stop for naught.

This went on until the Industrial Revolution,

Demanded a new kind of solution,

Tin, you see was in demand,

Especially by the British Land,

Suddenly you could put food in a can,

And it wouldn’t go tan. 

The Chinese came to mine,

Everything was working out just fine.

But Tin, you see, doesn’t grow on trees

So, Malaya was in search of a new expertise.

The British thought, “What about Rubber?”

Nothing rhymes with this except say, “The movie Flubber?”

And there was so many buyers,

Cause of all those tires.

Only one problem with this plot

All the rubber trees, the whole lot

Were in a basin called the Amazon,

Not to be deterred, the British carried on

Stole some seeds, took them across the seas

And then planted some trees.

But who was going to do all the hard work?

Well, for that the British didn’t call on anyone in York.

They simply asked some Indians to change their address,

If it really wouldnt be too much stress.

By 1921, the Battle for Rubber was won. 

And then there was another World War,

But I don’t want to be a bore. 

In 1957 Malaya got her independence,

And in 1960 she decided not to be dense. 

Rubber was on the way out,

But she couldn’t pout,

Instead she started growing Palms*

Which now has everyone up in arms

This region produces most the Palm Oil,

Which is killing the soil,

But the world uses it in almost everything,

Way more than they’ll ever use Bing,

From vegetable oil to chocolate to shampoo,

There probably needs to be a coup. 

And now you’re up-to-date,

Hope I haven’t made you late.

Make forests, not palms

*Weirdly palm oil trees were brought to this region by the British, purely for decorative

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