Malaysian legal history has been determined by events spanning a period of some six hundred years. Of these, three major periods were largely responsible for shaping the current Malaysia system. The first was the founding of the Malacca Sultanate at the beginning of the 15th century; second was the spread of Islam in the indigenous culture; and finally, and perhaps the most significant in modern Malaysia, was British colonial rule which brought with it constitutional government and the common law system. Before the British came, the preexisting law comprises Malay adat (customary) law and the customary laws of the various communities. Malay adat law was the basic law of the land since the heyday of the Malacca Sultanate in the mid- fifteenth century. It was combined of indigenous Malay adat law with Hindu Buddhist element, overlaid with principles of Syariah law; the latter received with the coming of Islam early in the same century. Britain had become a major colonial power by the middle of the eighteenth century. For the strategic reasons stemming from Anglo- French rivalry and the desire to maintain and develop the China trade, the British were motivated to find a suitable port where ships on the voyage from India and China could refit and victual. Common law was introduced to the Straits Settlement through Royal Charters of Justice. Its application was extended to the Malay states through administrative arrangement. It was first introduced through legislation on specific matters based onBritish Indian models, and through the British or British-trained Bar and Bench, the reception of the common law was later formalized by a series of enabling legislation, the first enacted in 1937. Common law was received in similar manner in the Borneo states.
The beginning of British colonization
1) The Strait Settlement
-Penang British were able to gain a foothold over Malayan soil was in large part...