From Our Archives

The Capture of Malacca, A.D. 1511 (NEW!)

The Malacca Sultanate

Meteorological Report, 1885

Notes on Names of Places in Singapore and its Vicinity

History of the Translation of the Bible into Malay

The Philippine Claim to Sabah

 

CLOSURE OF MBRAS OFFICE DUE TO COVID-19

In accordance with the instructions of the National Security Council, the MBRAS Office will be closed for the duration of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) as one of the measures to lessen the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

However, our personnel will be working from home with limited resources
and therefore there may be some delay in matters which require our attention.
Please bear with us. We will do our utmost best to accommodate all enquiries.
THANK YOU.


 

   NEW from MBRAS

Jacques de Morgan's Explorations in the Malay Peninsula, 1884

  Jacques de Morgan's Explorations in the Malay Peninsula, 1884. Edited with commentary by Andrée Jaunay, Christine Lorre, Antonio Guerreiro and Antoine Verney. Kuala Lumpur: MBRAS, 2020. 210x270 mm; 225 pp.; maps and illustrations.
PRICE: RM200 (member)/RM220 (non-member) in Malaysia; Singapore: S$81; Brunei: B$91; Australia: AUD$108; UK & Europe:£66; US$73 for USA & rest of the world.

SPECIAL PRE-LAUNCH PRICE for MBRAS members: RM180 (until 30 April 2020 only).

In 1884 a young French mining engineer named Jacques de Morgan (1857-1924) explored the interior of the state of Perak, searching for locations suitable for tin mining. His journey was gruelling but exciting, passing through dense forests and mountainous terrain, and crossing fast-moving rivers with spectacular waterfalls. He took meticulous notes on the flora and fauna, the physical environment, and the people he encountered. It was a world known only to the aboriginal people living there, who proved extremely hospitable hosts to his party.

Jacques de Morgan’s account of his journey, together with excerpts from several scholarly articles published afterwards upon his return to France and commentary by prominent French scholars, was published in 2003 in a French-language edition (Paris: CNRS Éditions). This material has now been translated and is published in English for the first time. The volume is heavily illustrated with drawings by de Morgan himself, and includes a day-to-day account of his extraordinary journey. The picture of the Malay Peninsula in the 19th century that emerges from this book will be a revelation to modern readers.

Jacques de Morgan had been the subject of a recent exhibition (14 January-11 March 2020) at the Alliance Française Kuala Lumpur, tied to the release of his translated journals. Admission to the exhibition is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more details.
Please contact us to reserve your copy.

 

 

   FORTHCOMING

The Malay Keris: An Anthology

  The Malay Keris: An Anthology. Compiled by Paul H. Kratoska. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 2020. 6x9 inches; approx 300 pp.; illustrations.
PRICE: RM60 (in Malaysia); S$34/B$44 (Singapore/Brunei); AU$61 (Australia); £40 (UK & Europe); (USA & Rest of the World) US$46.

SPECIAL PRE-PUBLICATION PRICE for MBRAS members: RM48

With its sinuously waved blade and damascened surface, the fabled Malay keris is one of the most recognizable weapons in the world. Once routinely carried by men throughout the Malay world, both as part of formal ceremonial dress and as a fighting weapon, the keris today has become a family heirloom and a museum piece. The present collection of articles, most originally published in the Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, explains the design and manufacture of the keris, and some of the traditional lore associated with it.

Please contact us to reserve your copy.

 

 

   NEW From MBRAS

Reprint 34: A Journal in the Federal Capital

  After many years out of print, the Society's eagerly-awaited reissue, Reprint No. 34: 'A Journal in the Federal Capital' by the celebrated Straits Times journalist George L. Peet, is once again available for purchase. The republication of Peet's sparkling gem was made possible to the Society through generous support extended by urban regeneration vehicle Think City.

First published in 1983, Peet's book proved a bestseller and is still sought after by collectors long after the original print run has been exhausted. A Journal in the Federal Capital assembles a discerning selection of articles - personally handpicked by Peet himself - originally written when he was assigned as the Straits Times' Kuala Lumpur correspondent in the early 1930s. These articles first appeared under the eponymous weekly column which Peet maintained throughout his four-year sojourn in Kuala Lumpur.

To savour Peet's authentic impressions of 1930s Malaya, the intrepid reader need look no further than this engagingly lyrical account of pre-war Malayan life and places in all its brilliant hues.

CLICK HERE for more details.
RM40, inclusive of postage, within Malaysia only
For other postage options, please contact us for details.

 

 

   Latest Journal Issue

JMBRAS December 2019

 

The December 2019 issue of JMBRAS promises to delight readers, featuring robust scholarly contributions from seasoned and novice scholars working on familiar terrain in Southeast Asian history but uncovering new ground with vigorous research.

Peter Borschberg, no stranger to the pages of this journal, draws our attention to three maps of the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra in the Atlas Miscelânea, one of the lesser-known cartographic works ascribed to the Portuguese adventurer and mapmaker Manuel Godinho de Erédia. Borschberg's masterly examination of the maps reveal a local trading world marked by riverine systems and overland trails, instead of modern international borders. Borschberg's article brings a greater depth and perspective to his invaluable work on the pre-modern world historical geography of the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Singapore.

Peter Post, who studies the changing dynamics of the regional Asian economy and in particular overseas Chinese trading and family networks, in his article focuses on Oei Tiong Ham (1866-1924), one of the richest and most influential Chinese businessmen of his time, and his concern. With a specific focus on the transcultural strategic and family alliances that he cultivated during his lifetime, Post's fascinating article offer a riveting view of the business landscape of the period, when Oei Tiong Ham's concern rose to become, arguablym, the best known Overseas Chinese business conglomerates of its time.

The academic heat on national identity generated by the bicentennial anniversary of the landing of Stamford Raffles in Singapore, celebrated last year, continues unabated in the article by Ng Paul Seen, a fellow of King's College London. Ng's bold article revisits the facts surrounding a similar occasion in 1969, when Singapore celebrated the 150th anniversary of Raffles' arrival along with its fourth National Day on a grand scale. The article points out the different dynamics that influenced this decision while highlighting obvious changes in Singapore's self-conception as a sovereign nation.

Finally Nor Aisyah Kotarumalos examines various strands of historical narrative which contribute to the development of ethnic identity among the Bugis Malay community in Johor. Based on fieldwork conducted in a Bugis village in Johor, Nor Aisyah's perceptive study explains how varied perceptions of a common past created a shared sense of belonging among a community with roots elsewhere.

In Documents from Malaysian History Marcus Langdon offers a generous and substantial selection from the journals kept by William Scott between 1795 and 1805, a period in which he resided in Penang as a trader affiliated with the firm of James Scott, his cousin. Painstakingly transcribed and annotated, the journal entries provide a fascinating picture of Penang (then known as the Prince of Wales Island) in its early years of settlement.

On the cover of the December 2019 issue is a drawing of Ipoh made by French explorer Jacques de Morgan in 1884, during his sojourn in the Perak interior. A translation of de Morgan's journals along with excerpts of scholarly articles he had written upon his return to France, has just been released by the Society under the title Explorations in the Malay Peninsula, 1884(MBRAS, 2020) and is available for purchase at a special rate for members.

CLICK HERE to view the list of contents of the December issue.

 

 

   UPDATED!

MBRAS Index 1878-2019

List of Articles

  The fully updated Index to the JMBRAS, covering the first issue of its precursor the Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (JSBRAS) in 1878 until June 2019 can now be accessed on this site. The Index - virtually an extension of the Index Malaysiana and its Supplements, of which printed copies are still available - is offered completely free of charge in easily downloadable PDF format and will enable users to refer to all published JSBRAS/JMBRAS articles under the relevant heading and subject matter.

Also included here - as a separate file - is the entire List of Articles of the JSBRAS and the JMBRAS, from the earliest to the latest issue - a useful tool for quick reference, particularly for those seeking out relevant articles in chronological order.

Please click on the respective titles above to download.

 

 

   IN MEMORIAM

Khoo Kay Kim (1937-2019)

  Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim - historian and former President of the Society - passed away on Tuesday, 28 May 2019 at 82. An authoritative figure on Malaysian history, Prof Khoo has served on the Council since 1974, elected in 1981 as its Vice President in which capacity he then served for 11 years before being elected as President in 1992, a post he held for two terms until 1995. Prof Khoo then served again as Vice President between 1995 and 1999 before leaving the Council permanently. Following the illness and subsequent death of Tan Sri Mubin Sheppard, Prof Khoo served as JMBRAS editor between 1994 and 1998, when Dr Cheah Boon Kheng took over. Prof Khoo's demise represents a significant loss to the Society and to Malaysian history in general. The Council notes his passing with the greatest sorrow and prays for the repose of his soul.
 

 

   UPDATE

A Commemorative Tribute to the Life and Work of Dr Cheah Boon Kheng (1939-2015), Editor Emeritus, Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society and Historian

  Dr Cheah Boon Kheng, former Vice-President of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, passed away on 27 July 2015. He first joined the Society in 1976 and became its Vice-President in 1991, a post he relinquished in 2014 upon being diagnosed with cancer. Boon Kheng also served, with great distinction, as editor of the JMBRAS for nearly two decades, and handled the production of a large number of Monographs and Reprints.

In April 2017, the Society announced the creation of the Cheah Boon Kheng Memorial Fund, to be used to support MBRAS publications. The first volume to be financed by the Fund will be a selection of Boon Kheng’s articles - a prodigious intellectual output on Malaysian history over a period of more than 30 years - that will reflect his major scholarly concerns. The commemorative volume is being compiled and edited by our Hon. Editor Dr. Kratoska who is toiling ceaselessly to see the work through in its final stages. It is expected to be available to the public sometime in 2020.

In view of the impending publication of this handsome tribute to Boon Kheng, the Society is once again inviting contributions to this fund. Remittances can be sent through PayPal, or by a bank transfer or a cheque payable to the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Details for a bank transfer are as follows:

Name of Bank : Maybank
Address : 66, 68 & 70 Jalan Maarof, Bangsar Baru, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Account number: 514123165660
Account name : Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
Swiftcode : MBBEMYKL

For payments made by bank transfer, we ask that donors send MBRAS a scanned copy of the receipt by e-mail at mbrasmsb@gmail.com along with their postal mailing address in order that we may publicly acknowledge the donation and send a receipt.

 

 


Mencari Malaysia Reading Group

 
On behalf of the Society, University of Malaya and our partners from the National University of Singapore, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended the inaugural "Mencari Malaysia: Readings in Historiography and Historical Sociology" event at the History Department, University of Malaya on Friday afternoon, 13 April 2018.

We had a very encouraging turnout of some 80 people, from diverse backgrounds and who participated very actively. We will be writing to those who were kind enough to leave their email addresses to thank each of you and also to update you about what is next in the project.

The late Dr Cheah Boon Kheng's paper was a good point of departure to better understand how the past was conceived, defined, taught and advocated. Whilst the objective was to explore together the process of "history-making", Dr Cheah's 1996 paper yielded a very lively debate. We particularly appreciated the thought provoking views from the audience pointing out the many hazards in trying to develop a historical narrative. Pitfalls involving inherent biases, particular perspectives and the writer's political agenda are what makes history so controversial, contested and interesting.

There were many issues and points of view on how future reading sessions should evolve. We would like to thank Professor Syed Farid Alatas for his commitment to a scholarly methodology. He assiduously kept to a logical framework sharing examples of the usefulness of theory, in this case, a sociology of history, when developing narratives.

This led to a lively discussion of what motivated Dr Cheah when he wrote the 1996 piece on Malaysian historiography. Can one be objective when recounting the past? Whilst many of us were impatient and "jumped the gun", these reading sessions are designed to help us address what motivates an historian and what influences him/her when developing histories.

We would also like to acknowledge the differing view points particularly from Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Datuk Ramli Ibrahim and others. We will try to accommodate all suggestions as Mencari Malaysia is definitely a multi-faceted project requiring different modes of enquiry.

For the historiography reading sessions, the focus area will be on the issue of "Euro-centricity" for only by understanding what this means and why Cheah Boon Kheng highlighted the concept, can we arrive at a point of departure offering alternative narratives to "find" Malaysia. We expect the next session to be after Hari Raya on 22 June 2018.

Please also follow us on Facebook and watch this space as there are plans to do a live stream feed of the sessions to allow our members to follow the discussions.


Neil Khor
Hon. Secretary, MBRAS

 

 

MBRAS Obituaries

The obituaries of former Society members which used to appear on the homepage may now be found under the heading About Us . Readers looking for the obituaries should scroll down the page until they come to a section called In Memoriam, which appears just before a section featuring Past Illustrious Members. The obituaries may be accessed simply by clicking on the images of the individuals appearing in that section.
 

 
 
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