Malacca [State of Malaysia] #86 (1979)

Malacca #86 (1979)

Malacca #86 (1979)

Malacca (Melaka in Malay, மலாக்கா in Tamil and 马六甲 in Chinese), dubbed “The Historic State”, is a state in Malaysia and upon the southwestern coast of the Malay Peninsula opposite Sumatra, with the state of Negeri Sembilan to the north and west and Johor to the east. Malacca is situated roughly two-thirds of the way down the west coast and commands a central position on the Straits of Malacca. Its capital is Malacca City, which is 92 miles (148 kilometers) southeast of Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur, 146 miles (235 km) northwest of Johor’s largest city Johor Bahru, and 152 miles (245 km) north of Singapore. This historical city center has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 7, 2008. The state of Malacca covers an area of 642 square miles (1,664 km²).

The Malacca River roughly runs through the center line of the state from north to south. Kesang River acts as the eastern border of Malacca with Johor. The offshore Besar Island, Upeh Island and Undan Island are part of Malacca which are accessible by jetty from Malacca mainland. The peninsula of Tanjung Tuan is an exclave of the state, situated on the coast of Negeri Sembilan which it borders to the north. Malacca has several beaches edged with palm trees which has brought a number of resorts along the coast. With the exception of some of its small hills, Malacca is generally a lowland area with average elevation below 50 meters above sea level. The man-made Malacca Island is connected to the mainland and it is the first phase of the development of Malacca Gateway offshore development, expected to be completed by 2025.

Although it was the location of one of the earliest Malay sultanates, the local monarchy was abolished when the Portuguese conquered it in 1511. The head of state is the Yang di-Pertua Negeri or Governor, rather than a Sultan.

Before the arrival of the first Sultan, Malacca was a fishing village inhabited by local Malays known as Orang Laut. Malacca was founded by Parameswara, also known as Iskandar Shah or Sri Majara, the last Raja of Temasek (present day Singapore) following a Majapahit attack in 1377. He found his way to Malacca around 1400 where he found a good port — it was accessible in all seasons and on the strategically located narrowest point of the Malacca Straits.

According to a popular legend, Parameswara was resting under a tree near a river during a hunt, when one of his dogs cornered a mouse deer. In self-defense, the mouse deer pushed the dog into the river. Impressed by the courage of the deer, and taking it as a propitious omen of the weak overcoming the powerful, Parameswara decided then and there to found an empire on that very spot. He named it ‘Melaka’ after the tree where he had just taken shelter at, the Melaka tree (Pokok Melaka).

In collaboration with allies from the sea-people (orang laut), the wandering proto-Malay privateers of the Straits, he established Malacca as an international port by compelling passing ships to call there, and establishing fair and reliable facilities for warehousing and trade.

Because of its strategic location, Malacca was an important stopping point for Zheng He’s fleet. To enhance relations, Hang Li Po, according to local folklore a daughter of the Ming Emperor of China, arrived in Malacca, accompanied by 500 attendants, to marry Sultan Manshur Shah who reigned from 1456 until 1477. Her attendants married locals and settled mostly in Bukit Cina.

In 1481, Malacca again sent envoys to China to inform the Chinese that, while Malaccan envoys were returning to Malacca from China in 1469, the Vietnamese attacked the Malaccans, killing some of them while castrating the young and enslaving them. The Malaccans reported that Vietnam was in control of Champa and also sought to conquer Malacca, but the Malaccans did not fight back, because they did not want to fight against another state that was a tributary to China without permission from the Chinese. They requested to confront the Vietnamese delegation to China which was in China at the time, but the Chinese informed them since the incident was years old, they could do nothing about it, and the Emperor sent a letter to the Vietnamese ruler reproaching him for the incident. The Chinese Emperor also ordered the Malaccans to raise soldiers and fight back with violent force if the Vietnamese attacked them again.

In April 1511, Alfonso de Albuquerque set sail from Goa to Malacca with a force of some 1200 men and seventeen or eighteen ships. They conquered the city on August 24, 1511. After seizing the city Afonso de Albuquerque spared the Hindu, Chinese and Burmese inhabitants but had the Muslim inhabitants massacred or sold into slavery.

It soon became clear that Portuguese control of Malacca did not also mean they controlled Asian trade centered there. Their Malaccan rule was severely hampered by administrative and economic difficulties. Rather than achieving their ambition of dominating Asian trade, the Portuguese had disrupted the organisation of the network. The centralized port of exchange of Asian wealth had now gone, as was a Malay state to police the Straits of Malacca that made it safe for commercial traffic. Trade was now scattered over a number of ports among bitter warfare in the Straits.

The Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier spent several months in Malacca in 1545, 1546, and 1549. The Dutch launched several attacks on the Portuguese colony during the first four decades of the seventeenth century. The first attack took place in 1606 under the command of Dutch Admiral Cornelis Matelief de Jonge who laid siege to the town with the help of his Johor allies. He engaged the Portuguese armada which had been sent from Goa to offer armed relief to the besieged port. In 1641, the Dutch defeated the Portuguese in an effort to capture Malacca, with the help of the Sultan of Johore. The Dutch ruled Malacca from 1641 to 1798 but they were not interested in developing it as a trading center, placing greater importance to Batavia (Jakarta) on Java as their administrative center. However they still built their landmark, better known as the Stadthuys or Red Building.

Malacca was ceded to the British in the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 in exchange for Bencoolen on Sumatra. From 1826 to 1946, Malacca was under the rule of the British, first by the British East India Company and then as a Crown Colony. Due to the dissatisfaction with the British’s jurisdiction over Naning, Dol Said, a local chief and the East India Company had a war from 1831 to 1832, which resulted a decisive British victory. It formed part of the Straits Settlements, together with Singapore and Penang. Malacca went briefly under the rule of Empire of Japan in 1942-1945 during World War II.

After the dissolution of this crown colony, Malacca and Penang became part of the Malayan Union in 1946, which later became the Federation of Malaya in 1948. The declaration of independence was made by the first Prime Minister of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman, at Padang Pahlawan on February 20, 1956, which eventually led to the independence of Malaya on August 31, 1957. In 1963, Malaysia was formed with the merger of Malaya with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore, and Malacca became part of it. On April 15, 1989, Malacca was declared a historical city. It was then also listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 7, 2008.

Stamps of the Straits Settlements were used in Malacca where the Indian Post Office Act of 1837 was applied to the Settlements as part of the Bengal Circle (1854-1861) or the Burma Circle (1861-1867). The Straits Settlements joined the Universal Postal Union on April 1, 1877, and until 1899 operated a local postal union with other Malayan territories under British influence. This was renewed in 1946.

When stamps were first issued, the cancellations of the main offices were B109 for Malacca, B147 at Penang and B172 in Singapore.  Successive issues remained valid in the three main settlements until the Japanese occupation of 1942. During the occupation, fourteen stamps of the Straits Settlements received a large handstamp in carmine ink (Scott #N1-14). This handstamp covered four stamps and blocks of four showing the complete marking are valued at six times that of the individual stamps showing a partial handstamp. Six Malayan postage due stamps also received the same marking in 1942 (Scott #NJ1-6).

The first stamps to be inscribed MALAYA MALACCA were a pair of commemoratives in the Silver Wedding omnibus released on December 1, 1948 (Scott #1-2). The first definitives appeared on March 1, 1949 (Scott #3-17). A set of eleven definitives were issued in 1957 bearing the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (Scott #45-55); the queen’s portrait was replaced in 1960 with a Melaka tree and mouse deer (Scott #56-66). From 1957, stamps for the Malayan Federation were used concurrently with those of Malacca.

In September 1963, Malacca became part of the new Federation of Malayasia. The first issue after the formation was on November 15, 1965, and the wording was changed to Melaka. Since that date, only low values have been issued.

Scott #86 is a 20-sen stamp from the flowers issue released by the Malaysian States on April 30, 1979. Lithographed and perforated 14½, it portrays Rhododendron scortechinii, the only indigenous rhododendron to appear on a Malaysian postage stamp. Considering that there are only 15 species of rhododendrons as against 800 plus species of orchids on the peninsula the genus did well to even be considered. Rhododendron scortechinii is pictured with yellow flowers looking a bit like New Guinea’s R. macgregoriae on stamp with green background. However in the wild it has red orange as well as yellow flowers. The plant is a 5- to 6-foot high terrestrial shrub occurring at 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) to 6,888 feet (2,100 meters) on several of the main range mountains.

Rhododendron scortechinii occurs on Genting Highlands Mt. Ulu Kali and on Mt. Benam 7,094 feet (2,163 m), Malaysia’s second highest peak after Mt. Tahan 7,170 feet (2,186 m) in Pahang. The Genting Highlands like the Camerons is a resort area in Pahang state but is reached through Selangor state by an hour drive from Kuala Lumpur.

The flower is names after Reverend Father Benedetto Scortechini who was born in Anacona, Italy. He was a Roman Catholic missionary who operated in Queensland, Australia, from 1871-84. He was helped in his botanical studies by corresponding with F.M. Bailey and Baron F. von Meuller. He left Queensland for Malaysia reaching Taiping in 1884. It is tbought that he went up from the coast via the first railroad built in Malaysia; the railroad was completed that year. Father Scortechini was appointed the government botanist for Perak, a post he held until his death two years later. There is a genus Scortechnia named for him by Hooker, fils. Taiping is also famous for a lakeside avenue of rain trees, the largest in Malaysia.

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