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By A. S. Teselkin, John M. Echols


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Sample text

46 KOH KENG WE The Straits Settlements, including Singapore, became important financiers of politics, trade, and production on the peninsula. Individual merchants or cliques and syndicates played important roles in the politics of the region, as politics remained intimately connected to trade despite the non-interventionist imperial policy of the British administration. Singapore had a unique political economy on the archipelago in how political power became detached from trade. As such, it provided access to important materials of state building without entailing political subjugation, in contrast to the situation on the Dutch side of the border.

On the basis of these accumulated materials and the networks formed with repositories of such texts and knowledge in the western archipelago, the YTM family elite became producers of knowledge pertaining to Malay history, tradition, language, and literature, with Raja Ali Haji’s works being published in Dutch journals, and the same person applying to the Dutch government for a printing press (Van der Putten 1995, 1997 & 2001; Matheson & Andaya 1971; Andaya 1977; Raja Ali Haji 1982). Pulau Penyengat, the residence of the YTM family and circle opposite the Dutch fort of Tanjung Pinang, developed into an important centre of Islamic learning and practice.

This discourse transcends the examination of the cultural and social history of the various ethnic groups in Singapore as ‘overseas’ groups, and instead assumes that certain groups have portrayed themselves as members of Singapore while at the same time belonging to and operating in two distinct spheres – the sphere of Singapore, on the one hand, and the ancestral homeland from which they had originated, on the other. There are currently a number of scholars who are working on the trans-national links of people based in Singapore.

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