Bibliographic data

Nazareth, Philip N.: The Story of Malaya and her Neighbours. Singapore: La Salle Publications, 2nd ed.; 3rd repr. [2. Aufl.; 3. Nachdr.], 1966 [1961], 110–111.

"Scientific Inventions and Modernisation of Malaya"

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Scientific Inventions

There have been hundreds of inventions all over the world during the last 150 years. Many of them have had a tremendous effect on the progress of mankind. These inventions have lightened human labour and helped to spread knowledge, develop commerce and industry, improve communication and fight disease. They have brought cheap means of entertainment to millions of people. They have modernised many countries, including Malaya.

The Industrial Revolution in Europe and America made Britain, the U.S.A. and Germany the workshops of the world. Their need for raw materials developed trade and commerce in countries able to supply these raw materials. We have seen what effect this development in trade and commerce had on the building of roads, railways and seaports in Malaya and Singapore. The Postal and Telegraph system developed rapidly. Then followed faster steamship passenger and cargo services. In time came aeroplane services (local and international); and airports. Cars, trucks and buses, telephones, radios, gramophones, cinemas, talkies, sewing machines, transistor radios, electric irons, refrigerators, cookers, photography, rotary printing, electric lighting, air-conditioning, modern medical and dental treatment, and so on – these are so familiar to us in Malaya and Singapore that most of us take them for granted.

We have become so modernised .that we expect improved models and better services year by year and happily we are able to get them. Many of these are no

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more a luxury to us. We are so used to them in this modernised country that they are now an essential part of our lives. Our shops are stocked with goods from all parts of the world and our commercial facilities like banking, insurance, shipping, etc. are among the best in Asia.

Medical and Public Health services

In the field of medicine and public health Malaya and Singapore have made tremendous progress. Malaria was the chief killer in the Malay Peninsula. In 1898 Sir Ronald Ross, an officer of the Indian Medical Service, traced this disease to the anopheles mosquito, which breeds in swampy areas. In 1901 Dr. Malcolm Watson, District Surgeon of Klang, was given permission by the Federated Malay States Government to test Ross's theory. Dr. Watson had the town of Klang thoroughly drained and within two years this very malarious district became almost free from the disease.

[Drawing: To the left a building (probably a hospital), to its right a thought cloud with a nurse, a person wearing mouth protection (probably a surgeon), a bed, and a man lying beneath a sheet. At the bottom right hand side there is a nurse holding a baby, a man (probably a doctor) who is inoculating someone. To the right there is a traditional house, in front of it an ambulance and in the background there are trees and a palm tree.]

The Federated Malay States Railways decided in 1911 to have a deep-water port on the Klang River to serve Central Malaya. There is no natural harbour on this river and so a port, the present Port Swettenham, was built on a

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mangrove swamp to the south of the Klang River estuary. Within a few months malaria killed so many people at this port that ships refused to call there. Dr. Watson at once set to work draining the mosquito-breeding swamps and soon the port was saved.

These successes proved that malaria could be controlled and large sums of money were spent every year to introduce anti-malarial measures wherever possible. By 1920 malaria was under control in most parts of Malaya.

Hospitals were built in the bigger towns, and clinics, dispensaries and infant welfare centres served thousands of people in towns and kampongs a everywhere. Malaya's medical services are about the best in South - East Asia and they have done a great deal to make Malaya one of the healthiest tropical countries in the world.

Clearing of slum areas

Next in the record of modernisation in Malaya came clearing of slum areas and improvements in agriculture. Active steps were taken between 1920 and 1940 to teach people to make use of the hospital facilities, for many were afraid to go to a hospital or see a doctor. They preferred to use native medicines prescribed by the sinsei or the bomo. Things, however, gradually changed. People learned to lose their fear of the hospital and to realise the benefits of Western medicine. At the same time people living in slum areas began to see how much healthier it would be to live in clean houses and in non-crowded areas. They were encouraged to move away so that the slums could be cleared and new airy buildings put up in their place. This resulted in a steady movement of people from the crowded areas to the suburbs. In this way the health of the population improved, the danger of epidemics was reduced and the spread of diseases like tuberculosis checked.

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Improvements in agriculture

[Drawing: To the left two women sitting in a paddy field, in the background a fence or a wall, behind this a forest and three tall palm trees. In the middle there is a tree decorated with something resembling a sash, at its foot lie a sheaf or a bouquet of flowers. To its right there are fruit, probably three snake fruit, two halves of a fruit the size of a walnut (their shape resembles that of a coconut, but they are much smaller compared to the other fruit) and two pineapples.]

[caption in drawing:] Great improvements were made in agriculture also. The Department of Agriculture taught the farmers better methods of cultivating the soil.

It encouraged the production of copra and pineapples. Agricultural schools were opened to supply instructors to help the kampong people. A Drainage and Irrigation Department was started in the Federated Malay States in 1932 to make more land available for cultivation, while the Rubber Research Institute did all it could to assist rubber planters.

Education facilities

Education is one of the biggest jobs that the Governments of Malaya and Singapore are handling, and with great success too. Everybody realises that education of the young and the adult plays a very important role in this Age of Science and Speed. Primary, secondary, commercial, technical and university education is available in our country. There are hundreds of schools for the young, and special evening and night classes for adults. For higher education we have the University of Singapore, the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, the Nanyang University and the Polytechnic in Singapore, and Teachers' Training Colleges in the major towns.

[a] Editor's note: See glossary entry kampung .

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