Political and Commercial Considerations Relative to Malayan Peninsula

Political and Commercial Considerations Relative to Malayan Peninsula

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Anderson's Political and Commercial Considerations has been described by Professor John Bastin as the rarest of all books printed in Malaysia in the nineteenth century. Only a hundred copies were printed and about a third of these were distributed throughout the East India Company establishments in London and Calcutta, where they incomprehensibly disappeared, as did most of the copies that were left in the Penang secretariat. In his introduction to this reprint of Anderson's most significant work, Bastin renders a fascinating account of the whole history of the book subsequent to its publication, the inexplicable fate of most of its printed copies and lists the few known copies of this exceedingly rare volume which have been known to survive.

Anderson wrote the book in the hope of dispelling current misconception about the nature of the tributary relationship between Kedah and Siam; indeed Anderson's implicit purpose seems to have been to show that it was advantageous to British interests should it decide to intervene in the affairs of Kedah. Whatever the purpose may have been, Anderson's book, though perhaps imperfect in many places being the product of an ambitious and impetuous spirit, presented an exceedingly meticulous account of the prevailing conditions of the Malay States in the Western part of the peninsula in the first half of the nineteenth century. As a source on historical geography, Anderson's work has unparallelled value and foreshadowed the writings of latter-day colonial scholar-administrators who described the Malay Peninsula in scrupulous and exhaustive detail such as Maxwell, Swettenham and Low.

As the MBRAS volume is a facsimile reprint of the original, Anderson's spelling of place names would have undergone some very fundamental changes in keeping with current developments in the national language. Thus the casual reader may be expected to adjust himself slightly to archaic variations which include Rumbow(Rembau), Colong(Kelang), Junk Ceylon/Salang (Phuket) and Quedah (Kedah).

About the Author:

John Anderson (1795-1845) had started off first as a Writer with the Penang (then Prince of Wales Island) government in 1813. During the next sixteen years, he held a succession of official posts, including Assistant to the Accountant and Auditor (1816), Assistant to Secretary to Government (1817), Assistant to Warehousekeeper (1818), Sub-Treasurer and Assistant to Warehousekeeper (1819), Deputy Warehousekeeper and Malay Translator (1820), Deputy Accountant, Deputy Auditor, and Accountant to Recorder's Court and Commissioner of Court of Requests with the rank of Factor (1822), Paymaster and Malay Translator with the rank of Junior Merchant (1825), Accountant and Auditor, and Acting Secretary to Government (1826), and Secretary to Government and Malay Translator with the rank of Senior Merchant. In 1829, he went on home leave and retired from the service of the East India Company shortly afterwards in order to engage in mercantile activities in England. Apart from the present publication, Anderson's other writings include two pamphlets on British relations with the Malay states of Peninsular Malaysia and East Sumatra, along with two other travel accounts of a mission undertaken to the east coast of Sumatra and Acheh. He died in London on 2 December 1845.

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