Research Projects

Japanese Occupation of Malaya


Japanese Occupation of Malaya: Understanding the Japanese presence in and impact on Malaya through translations of Japanese sources in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan; with Dr Naoko Iioka


The Japanese occupation was a watershed period in the history of Southeast Asia in general and Malaysia in particular. Until now, primary research into the occupation in Malaya has been separated by language. Japanese publications are rarely consulted by English-language researchers due to the lack of knowledge of their existence or adequate translations. This barrier has hampered the historical search into the occupation period, especially Japanese understandings of Malay people and their relationship to the “Asia for Asians” philosophy and the concerns of people in Malaya during the occupation as reported by occupation forces and administration. This project will identify key primary sources in Japanese located in Japan and Taiwan to be translated into English regarding the history, anthropology and education of Malay peoples during the occupation. This newly translated and infrequently accessed material will be analysed in light of previous scholarship on the Occupation to gain a deeper understanding of Japan’s mindset regarding Malaya and local experiences during that time.


Partner researchers: Naoko Iioka (PhD History, National University of Singapore, Freelance translator and Independent Researcher). Initial translations by Damian David Jungmann, Frankfurt.


Update May 2016: Completed Translation of Japanese entries Bibliography on the Japanese Occupation Period of Malaya (1941-1945). Tôkyô: Ryûkei shosha, 2007. マラヤ日本占領期文献目録(1941-1945)龍渓書舎 2007). Compilers: Akashi Yoji, Hara Fujio and Masutani Satoshi, the Forum for Research Materials on the Japanese Occupation of Malaya and Singapore. As the original bibliography lists English, Malay, and Chinese language publications as well, it is recommended to refer to the original bibliography book, which was published by Ryukei Shosha.


The translated entries of the bibliography may be consulted at the NTU HSS library intranet here. The Preface and Notes to the Translation may be accessed here.


Users who wish to consult the online resource at Nanyang Technological University should write in beforehand to request for a visitor pass (valid for 7 days) to access the excel file on-site at designated workstations in the Lee Wee Nam Library.


Sumitomo Japan-Related Research Grant, awarded to Sandra Khor Manickam and Naoko Iioka for Financial Year April 2017 - March 2018


Ando Kozo and the Medical Department of the Japanese Military Administration of Malaya (1941-1945)


This project investigates the history of Japanese medical migrants to British Malaya and their roles during the occupation within a larger history of medicine and imperialism. This ground-breaking research bridges the linguistic divide separating Japanese and non-Japanese research into the World War II in Southeast Asia by utilizing Japanese, English and Malay sources to research the role of medicine in the Japanese occupation of Malaya.


Hikayat Dunia


Translations and comparisons of several versions of the lithographed text, Hikayat Dunia; with Prof. Jan van der Putten


This research aims to continue the series of transliterations and analyses of the works by Abdullah Abdul Kadir Munsyi begun by Amin Sweeney in his series: Karya lengkap Abdullah Abdul Kadir Munsyi (The Complete Works of Abdullah). Hikayat Dunia, a geography intended to teach students of the Malay world about the world has several versions all of which attempt to spread Western knowledge in 19th-century Malay Archipelago.


Transliteration of section in Hikayat Dunia (1855) pertaining to the Malay Archipelago completed by Sandra Khor Manickam with advice from Jan van der Putten and Syahidah. Initial transliterations of further Hikayat Dunia (1848, 1856, dan 1885) sections pertaining to the Malay Archipelago completed by Wan Mohd Dasuki Wan Hasbullah.

The Early Anthropology of Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay


A Russian in Malaya: Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay’s Malaya Expeditions (November 1874 – October 1875), with Dr Elena Govor (Australian National University)


Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay is not usually a name associated with the Malay Peninsula or with the Malay World. While he is a well-known figure in anthropological circles of Australia and the Pacific, his writings on the indigenous people of Malay Peninsula remain fragmented and confined to several articles translated into English from originals in German in Journal of Eastern Asia and Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1878.


This research intends to provide a complete translation of Maclay’s journal which he wrote in Russian during his first expedition to Malaya. His journal remains one of the earliest anthropological documents of indigenous peoples of Malaya and gives multiple insights into indigenous and Malay societies in transition. The translation would be fully annotated, showing differences in the versions of diaries published in Russian, references to his other written material on the Pacific, and explanations about the indigenous and Malay informants he met along the way.


African Students in Malaysia


Solidarity in an oppressive world? The promise of Malaysia-African interactions in Higher Education


This research investigates how Malaysia’s foreign policy vis-à-vis African counties links to the push for the globalization of Malaysian private higher education (PHE) of which African students as customers plays a big part. From the 1960s, Malaysian politicians have fostered the idea that South-South development initiatives form a strong counter narrative to Western or Northern domination in the political and economic spheres. Leaders of countries involved in South-South initiatives promote this narrative as a better form of development that will lead to less dependence on former colonizing countries’ financial aid. This research traces the early engagements between Malaysia and African countries and, in particular, Malaysian’s support of an anti-apartheid regime in South Africa and its positioning as a champion of South-South solidarity. Yet the solidarity implied in Malaysia educating the citizens of African countries comes up against the realities of inequality among Malaysia’s own citizenry, racism towards African students in Malaysian society and the corruption underpinning South-South partnerships. This paper will look at the contradictions in the promise of South-South development.


Update May 2016: Forthcoming publication: "Solidarity in an oppressive world? The paradox of Malaysia-African interactions in Higher Education", for inclusion in Cynthia Joseph & Susan Plowright (Eds) Education reforms, nationalism and neoliberalism: Policies and politics in Malaysian Education. London: Routledge


Last edited April 2017