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Writing of Naning’s resistance: A newfound historical narrative

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This talk revolves around the book entitled Acts of Resistance: Dol Said and the Naning War, which happened in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, and its resistance to the four colonial powers of Malaysia, as well as the larger context of the history of imperialism in Southeast Asia, with some elements of the story dating back to the Crusade right up to World War Two.

When the British colonists first arrived in Malaya, they considered Naning, a small village about 30 miles from Malacca, to be under their jurisdiction.

The incumbent penghulu of Naning, Dol Said, resisted, claiming that Naning was an independent sovereign state with its own traditions and laws.

Intending to follow in the footsteps of its Indian conquest, the British East India Company sanctioned a military campaign to seize Naning and arrest its chief in 1831.

What ought to have been a simple campaign turned out to be one of the empire’s greatest blunders in what is now modern-day Malaysia. Some would argue that Dol Said’s anti-colonial stance was replicated for more than a century afterward, with different actors fighting the land’s colonial masters.

Shaun Adam’s narrative ties in archival records with folk narratives and oral histories, thus creating a richer and more comprehensive narrative of the infamous Naning War, which sparked off a history of unjust conquest – and resistance.


Shaun Adam was born in Selangor and built a career in international socio-economic development. He has held official positions, representing the interests of the Malaysian government and the EU and contributed to the Asean economic community for economic integration to working with the UN in Geneva. Under a scholarship, he earned a master’s from the University of Edinburgh.

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Passionate about social innovation, Shaun has come up with ideas and solutions to tackle inequalities which have been exhibited at the Nobel Peace Centre. He also holds a certification in sustainable heritage management from Unesco.


Emelia Noor holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and an MBA from UPM. Upon entering the workforce, she realised that her interest was also in social science, with history and culture as her focus. Since 2013 she started joining public forums and workshops organised by various NGOs advocating different issues, from women’s rights to history from below.

Emelia is now planning to undertake an interview project of a Malay community who used to live in Estate Prang Besar (now Putrajaya) to record their story of Malay estate workers living among Tamil workers on the rubber plantation.

Produced by Pusat Sejarah Rakyat

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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