Production, Trade and the Colonial Malayan Economy

JCA editorial board member Alec Gordon has a long interest in colonial statistics and the colonial surplus. It is thus appropriate for him to review a new book, Charting the Economy: Early 20th Century Malaya and Contemporary Malaysian Contrasts.

Authored by Sultan Nazrin Shah and published in Kuala Lumpur by Oxford University Press, Gordon begins by complimenting the publisher for “offering us a beautifully laid out, hard cover book that is clearly presented with large print, apposite breaks in the analysis for lucid and instructive boxes, coloured maps and tables.”

While critical of some unasked questions regarding the control of production and profit, Gordon says that the author has done a fabulous job in what is a “brain-breaking task of building and concentrating all the records of national income data of colonial Malaya that had previously been scattered…”. He is “most impressed by the author’s bold creation and presentation of the statistics necessary to study the economy of the colonial period.”

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