Formation of Malaysia

The Cold War in Asia

East Asia 1963.0916

Formation of Malaysia

Korean War, Indochina War, Vietnam War, Invasion of Tibet, Mao Zedong (16 September 1963)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

In 1961, Indonesia attacked Dutch New Guinea. The dispute was resolved by the United Nations, which transferred the territory to the Indonesians in 1963. Meanwhile, Singapore and British Borneo had agreed to merge with the recently independent Federation of Malaya to form the new state of Malaysia. Indonesian opposition to this move led to a 3 year confrontation, which Malaysia won with Commonwealth support.

Main Events

North Vietnam begins infiltrating South

Worker's Party of Vietnam forms in South Vietnam, Communist underground activity increases and Viet Minh troops begin to return

Ho Chi Minh trail opens

North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao gain control of Laos-Vietnam border and begin moving troops and supplies into South Vietnam

Sino-Indian War

China defeats India in clash over disputed Himalayan border


After Malaya, and the British colonies of Singapore, North Borneo, and Sarawak agree to unite to create Malaysia, Indonesia - whose leader, Sukarno, considers Malaysia a British puppet state - wages undeclared low level warfare in Borneo and, later, Malaya. British and Commonwealth forces support Malaysia and help fend off the Indonesian attacks. After protracted warfare, Indonesia agrees to formally recognize Malaysia in August 1966.

Cession of West New Guinea

Following their seven-month transitional administration, the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority transfers authority over West New Guinea to the Republic of Indonesia. The territory becomes the Indonesian province of Irian Barat.

Formation of Malaysia

Malaya and the British colonies of North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore join to form the independent Federation of Malaysia. The date of 31 August 1963 had initially been chosen for the formation of Malaysia to coincide with the independence day of Malaya and the British giving self-rule to Sarawak and North Borneo, but was postponed after opposition from Indonesia.

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