Diplomatic Corpus: Between the Dutch in Tanah Melayu and the northern Malay courts, 1641-1699
By Nazli Aziz
Jati, Vol. 11, December 2006
The expansion of Dutch power in Tanah Melayu introduced a new concept of diplomatic corpus to the indigenous states in order to gain political and commercial influence in a particular state. Almost the entire diplomatic corpus of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was framed in the western tradition of treaty making with little or no attempt to accommodate local practices. To the Malays Courts, however, the political friendships and alliance represented an open declaration of a shift in the spiritual and political power relationships. Thus, these two different conceptions patterned most unstable ‘diplomatic’ relations between the Dutch and the Malay Courts. The Dutch relations with Perak and Kedah could not find a comfortable modus vivendi. This paper focuses on how and in which way the Dutch and the Northern Malay Courts developed their relations as a result of the expansion of the VOC activities in Tanah Melayu. The rulers of the Malay Courts selecting the best of their own society while accommodating the Dutch, chose whatwas considered necessary for survival in the ever complex world order and vice versa.