The Chettiar Role in Malaysia’s Economic History is a revised version of the doctoral thesis entitled “The Money lending Activity of the Chettiars in Malaya, 1896-1957” written in Malay by Ummadevi Suppiah and submitted to the History Department, University of Malaya under the supervision of Associate Professor Dr. Sivachandralingam Sundara Raja. The Chettiar Role in Malaysia’s Economic History seeks to evaluate the extent to which Chettiars were instrumental in the economic development of Malaya during British rule. Since the formation of the Federated Malay States in 1896 until Malaya gained its independence, the Chettiars emerged as one of the major financiers in the economic development of Malaya through their role in helping the Malays, Chinese and Indians to progress in the economic sector. However, the Chettiar role affected each of the three races differently, depending on factors such as the economic position of the respective races and British policy.
The Chettiar Role in Malaysia’s Economic History is essential in assessing the Chettiar role in the economic development of Malaya especially when the British failed to provide sufficient capital aid for local and foreign capitalists comprising the Malays, Chinese and Indians to develop the economic infrastructure and commercial economic activities such as rubber and tin mining. The Chettiar Role in Malaysia’s Economic History also highlights the role of the Chettiar, from indigenous money lenders to individuals who have been successful in various professions and are actively contributing toward the economic development of modern Malaysia.
This volume begins with tracing the origins of the Chettiar community and their role in Malaya from the 15th century to Malayan independence. It also focuses on the scope, operation and importance of money lending activities as well as factors that have influenced these activities in various phases of Chettiar money lending activities from the 19th to 20th centuries. Furthermore, it explores the role played by the Chettiars in the economic development of the Malays, including the role of Chettiars in aiding the economic progress of the Chinese in Malaya and the role of Chettiars in the economic development of the Indians comprised of labourers in the estates and urban areas, businessmen, as well as civil servants. To conclude, the volume also discusses the exclusive role of Chettiars prior to independence and how they adapted to changing circumstances after independence up to the present day.
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