Susan M. Martin
Histories of the plantations sector in Malaysia have largely focused on the rubber industry and on the rise and fall of big British-owned colonial enterprises. But since independence, the sector has entered a new phase of spectacular growth founded on the oil palm. This volume offers a radically different history of a firm which spans both eras. The fascinating story of United Plantations Berhad (UP) highlights a Scandinavian-founded firm that evolved along quite different lines from the normal models of British imperial business. Tracing the company’s origins before the First World War, it describes the crisis years of economic depression and Japanese occupation then on to the years of spectacular growth which has lasted since the time of the Emergency and Merdeka right up to the present day. The success of this firm – based not just on an extraordinary combination of agricultural, engineering and marketing innovation but also on the company’s engagement and commitment to its local environment – provides a glowing example of a partnership between Europeans and Asians which has benefited both sides.