Within the last two decades, and particularly after the Federation of Malaya achieved its independence (1957), most historical writings on Malaya (now called Peninsular Malaysia) have been inspired or influenced by a marked revisionist tendency. Such revisionism, abetted by nationalism, has led to (a) a critical reappraisal of British personalities and policies in Malaya, and (b) a relative reduction of historical interest, both professional and popular, in the ‘imperial theme’ as compared with indigenous topics. While some of these revisionist writings may be self-conscious and tendentious, they do provide a corrective to earlier colonial historiography and have encouraged a more balanced estimate of the British element in Malaysian history.
ERNEST CHEW is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Singapore, from which he received his MA degree for a thesis on ‘Frank Swettenham's Malayan Career up to 1896’. He also holds a PhD in Indian history from Cambridge University. He has contributed several articles to journals, and is completing the revision of his two dissertations for publication. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard-Yenching Institute, USA.