State-formation in south-east asia was formed by a racial division of labour in which locals were the political entrepreneurs.
Thai history was formed by encouraging the chinese to “turn” thai. They would choose what if they wanted a Thai or Chinese identity once they reached adulthood. Most chose to be Thai because the Thai elite was the place to be.
This is also similar to Java where the successful Chinese would marry into the Javanese aristocracy (priyayi).
The aggressive expansion of the European colonies in the 19th century help change the tendencies that were already apparent because they now represented the ultimate power so local political and economic leaders needed to have relations with them.
Due to the fact Thailand was not formally colonised the process of turning chinese into thais continued until the early 20th century when the arrival of more chinese women and a surge of Thai nationalism temporarily interrupted the process.
The Dutch went into Java and exalted a few powerful Chinese community leaders who were loyal to them, and these men became some of the region’s original tycoon godfathers. The chinese elite came to be known as cabang atas or highest branch.
The leaders of the chinese society were the peranakan who worked with the Dutch as officers to keep the chinese population in line.
Once technology increased and the first steam boats came into use was when the Opium Wars started. Then the First War came around and there were many reason for people to get out of China. This resulted in many of them to be transported into south-east asia where population was small and they had attractive labour rates.
In the 1830s Dutch and British trade monopolies were dismantled so the European states took over colonial management in south-east asia.
The tripartite split helped those who were politically and economically elite and of Chinese origin, the tycoon that could most effectively use his external relationships and still have authority in a immigrant community.
Oei Tiong Ham - richest man in Indonesia. His father was appointed Major of the Semarang Chinese but Oei expanded on his father’s empire through cosmopolitan expansion from a traditional trade base. He got a lot of his money from revenue farms, usually opium, big in the sugar industry. Expanded in shipping, opened a bank. First World War came along he moved to Singapore where he passed. He was one local business that could compete with large Dutch companies.
Yoke Lew - richest Chinese of the Malaysian peninsula. Opened a mining empire which employed thousands of Chinese where he also supplied them with opium, liquor, and gambling facilities. Also diversified in real estate, rubber plantations, he was even given British knighthood.
Intergrating revenue farming operations with mining and plantation ventures was common for the tycoons of the region. It reduced labor costs.
Don Carlos Palanca Chen Qianshan - Phillipines, greatest ‘headmen.’ Coolie broker, operator of major opium monopoly, tax collector, and interests in textiles, sugar, rice, and real estate. He established equilibrium between the immigrant Chinese and Spanish communities. Passed in 1901.
So all in all the aspirant godfathers were made revenue farmer and exploiter of his co-nationals.
Eventually Thailand was a rice economy with some tin mining in the south Malaya did tin and rubber, Philippines produced sugar and coconuts, Java was planted with sugar and coffee, and Sumatra produced tobacco and rubber.
Though these tycoons made a lot of money it was nothing compared to those if of the large European firms.
Chinese banks collapsed in Malaya and the Philippines due to the depression in the 1930s. Malaya fell in 1920 mostly from falling rubber prices.
Chapter 1 - Jennifer Rosales
- “The colonials sought to rule through existing elites, both political and economic.”The Dutch in Java and Indonesia, built the division between…