Malaya has long been an enigma to the West.

Tales of the peninsula—famously dubbed the Golden Chersonese[1] by Greco-Roman geographer Ptolemy—once set Western imagination aflame with promises of abundant treasure, ancient temples and wild cannibal warriors. By the advent of the 16th century, due to an increase in the number of European travellers, a wildly fantastical image of Malaya grew, fanned by orientalism, and propelled by gross exaggeration in early travel books and engravings. It was therefore unsurprising that 17th-century Dutch travel writer Johan Nieuhof (considered a credible source on the Far East by his contemporaries) wrote of a fanciful and mythical strain of the Malay race in Malacca called the Kakerlakken, who looked like Europeans and were blind in the day but could see at night.[2]

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Caleb Goh Hern-Ee

Caleb Goh Hern-Ee received his LL.B. (Hons.) from the Telekom University, Malacca in 2016. He is interested in the formative histories of Malaya and Singapore, the conundrum of national identity and the convergence of Eastern and Western civillizations. He is currently working on a series of papers that he hopes will magically transform into a book someday.

Su Lyn Koay

Koay Su Lyn read Law at University of London before becoming a history researcher at Penang Institute. She is interested in the socio-economic and political developments of post-war Malaya and is the co-author of Unsung Patriot: Memoirs of Wong Pow Nee.