South East Asia & Pacific, Indian Oceans; key historical events
See separate page for Vietnam
For events of World War Two in Pacific, S E Asia, see China-Japan-Korea
For Hawaii, see USA
Indonesia & Timor – see Appendix 1
Laos – see Appendix 2
Philippines – see Appendix 3
Singapore – see Appendix 4
Thailand – see Appendix 5
22/11/2010, 347 people died in a stampede at the Khymer Water Festival, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
15/4/1998, Pol Pot died, aged 70. He had been dictator of Kampuchea (Cambodia), and murdered thousands of people.
1/2/1993. The Cambodian government began an offensive against Khmer Rouge rebels in western and north-central Cambodia.
12/3/1992. Mauritius broke its links with the British Crown and became fully independent.
14/11/1991, Prince Norodom Sihanouk returned to Cambodia after 13 years exile.
23/10/1991. A peace accord between the warring factions in Kampuchea (Cambodia) was signed in Paris after being brokered by the UN.
18/7/1990, The US and Vietnam began talks over the future of Cambodia.
2/5/1989, Kampuchea announced it would revert to being called Cambodia.
5/4/1989, Vietnam announced it would withdraw its troops from Cambodia by September 1989.
15/10/1987, The Queen abdicated as monarch of Fiji.
14/5/1987, A coup toppled the Fiji Government, in protest at the influence of Indians in the administration.
2/9/1985, In Kampuchea, the Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot retired.
31/12/1983, Brunei became independent from the UK. It joined ASEAN, becoming the 6th member, in 7/1/1984. The new State derived considerable wealth from its offshore oil reserves.
1/1/1981. Palau became self-governing.
30/7/1980. The former Anglo-French territory of the New Hebrides became independent as Vanuatu.
19/9/1979, Pol Pot, ex-dictator of Cambodia, was sentenced to death in his absence by the Vietnamese-backed Cambodian Government.
12/7/1979. Kiribati became independent. It was formerly known as the Gilbert Islands.
10/5/1979, The Federated States of Micronesia became self-governing.
30/9/1979, The Ellice Islands became the independent nation of Tuvalu.
7/7/1978. The Solomon Islands became an independent republic within the Commonwealth. They had been a British protectorate since 1899.
31/12/1977, Cambodia broke off diplomatic relations with Vietnam, and suspended air services between them. Fighting between the two countries had erupted in the Parrot’s Beak area, where Cambodia juts out into (South) Vietnam. The Chinese-backed Cambodian regime accused Vietnam of not being sufficiently ‘revolutionary’. Troubles began when many Cambodians moved across the border into the Mekong Delta area, after Saigon fell and before North Vietnam had fully established control of the area.
21/7/1977, Cambodia and
28/6/1976. Seychelles became independent. They had been ceded to Britain as a colony in 1814.
4/4/1976, Prince Norodom Sihanouk resigned as leader of
2/1/1976, Britain granted the Solomon Islands internal self-government.
16/9/1975. Papua New Guinea became independent from Australia.
17/4/1975. In Cambodia,
30/6/1974, France formally left SEATO. At a meeting of ministers in New York at the end of September 1975 it was decided to ‘phase out’ SEATO because of changed conditions in the region.
1/12/1973. Papua New Guinea became internally self-governing, see 16/9/1975.
20/4/1971, Cambodian Prime Minister Lon Nol resigned, but remained in power until the next elections.
10/10/1970. Fiji became independent from Britain. It had been a British colony since 1874.
4/6/1970. Tonga (The Friendly Islands) became an independent member of the Commonwealth. It had been a British Protectorate since 1900.
30/4/1970. US troops sent to Cambodia to attack Communist bases. They withdrew from Cambodia on 29/6/1970.
19/4/1970, Pathet Lao forces advanced close to Phnom Penh.
15/5/1969, Violence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between Malays and Chinese.
11/5/1969, The Vietcong launched ground and rocket attacks throughout South Vietnam.
18/3/1969, The US began heavily bombing Cambodia, the aim being to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail and thereby disrupt supplies to the Communist Vietcong. The operation was not publicised to the West, because that would have revealed Sihanouk’s complicity in the bombing of his own country. Sihanouk was pro-US because he perceived Pol Pot to be allied to Hanoi. In fact the bombing destabilised Cambodia so that within a year Sihanouk was deposed by his own ministers. The new Cambodian leader, Lon Nol, insisted that all Vietnamese troops leave Cambodian soil to the delight of the US. However Lon Nol was weak and his rule facilitated the advance of Pol Pot’s forces into rural areas, forcing Lon Nol’s troops back into the cities.
18/9/1968, Indonesia claimed sovereignty over most of Sabah. On 19/9/1968 Malaysia withdrew its diplomats from Manila.
12/3/1968, Mauritius, a volcanic island in the Indian Ocean, became independent from the UK, and joined the Commonwealth. It had been a British colony since 1810.
31/1/1968. Nauru became independent from Britain.
11/8/1966. Malaysia and
8/1/1965, Further Indonesian attacks on Malaysian territory.
3/9/1964, Britain agreed to support Malaysia against threats from Indonesia.
2/9/1964, Indonesian army units landed on Malaysian territory at Labis.
4/6/1964, The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 189, condemning military incursions into Cambodia.
16/9/1963. Malaysia became independent from Britain; a mob of over 100,000 burned down the British Embassy. The name Malaysia was adopted, from the previous name, Federation of Malaya, when joined by Singapore and Sarawak.
12/4/1963, Indonesian forces attacked Malaysia.
8/12/1962, Revolt in
1/1/1962. Western Samoa became independent.
31/8/1957. Malaysia (Malaya) became independent, ending 170 years of British rule. This was Britain’s last major Asian colony. Malay and British forces had defeated Communist rebels, and the new Prime Minister was Tenkgu Abdul Rahman. Rahman (1903-1990) was the son of the Sultan of Kedah, he negotiated the Federation of Malaysia with Sabah and Singapore, 1961-2, remaining Prime Minister if the enlarged Malaysia. However he resigned from politics after the violemnt Chinese-Malay riots of May 1969 in Kuala Lumpur.
8/2/1956, Malaya was promised independence by Britain by August 1957.
5/11/1954, Burma and
8/9/1954. South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty was signed. See 7/11/1973 and 30/6/1974.
20/7/1954. Cambodian independence from France was confirmed.
9/11/1953. Cambodia became independent.
6/10/1951, The British High Commissioner in Malaya, Sir Henry Gurney, was killed in an ambush by Communist guerrillas in the Pahang Hills. Chinese-backed Communists were fighting to destroy the rubber plantation economy.
4/4/1951, Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, died.
13/2/1951, The British Commonwealth Consultative Committee met in Colombo to discuss development plans for south-east Asia.
11/3/1945. Cambodia declared its independence.
For events of World War Two in the Pacific see China-Japan-Korea
2/3/1935, King Rama VII of Siam abdicated and was succeeded by his nephew, 10-year old Rama VIII.
31/10/1922, Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia, was born.
11/11/1917, Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii, died. See also USA.
10/11/1915, Britain annexed the Gilbert and Ellice Islands.
1914, New Zealand occupied the German colony of Western Samoa during World War One,
16/1/1911, Major oil find in Borneo.
2/1/1906. The Sultan of Brunei agreed to hand over administration of Brunei to the British.
1900, Germany colonised Western Samoa.
19/5/1900. Britain annexed Tonga, the Friendly Islands, an archipelago of 169 islands.
15/1/1896. Britain and France signed an agreement on their spheres of influence in S.E. Asia. Both countries guaranteed the independence of Siam (Thailand) and Britain recognised the French protectorate of Laos.
12/5/1888. Britain established a protectorate over North Borneo.
17/3/1888. Britain established a protectorate over Sarawak in the Malaysian archipelago.
9/6/1885, The Treaty of Tientsin was signed, under which China recognised the French Protectorate of Indo China in return for France agreeing to respect China’s southern border. See 26/10/1884.
26/10/1884, China declared war on France after France bombarded Taiwan as reprisal for China’s refusal to acknowledge the French Protectorate of Indo-China, see 9/6/1885.
25/8/1883, A Treaty was signed at Hue recognising Tonkin, Cochin China and Annam as French Protectorates. However China rejected the Treaty and resisted French interference in the region.
29/6/1880. France annexed Tahiti.
1876, Rubber seeds, which originated in the Amazon Basin in South America, were sent from the Royal Botaincal Gardens in Britain to Ceylon, and then on to plantations in Malaya, Sumatra, Java and Borneo. This was the origin of the S E Asian rubber industry.
11/8/1863, A French Protectorate was established in Cambodia, after continued attacks by Thai and Vietnamese forces.
1860, The ruins of Angkor Wat were rediscovered.
1846, Britain annexed the small island of Labuan, which commanded the entrance to Brunei Bay, as a defensive base against pirates.
24/9/1841, Sir James Brooke was appointed Rajah of Sarawak.
See also USA for events in Hawaii connected to United States of America
8/5/1819, Death of King Kamehameha, who united Hawaii.
3/12/1810. The British seized the islands of Reunion and Maurice (Mauritius) after the Battle of Grand Port.
1786, The British occupied Penang.
14/2/1779. Explorer Captain James Cook, born 27/10/1728, stabbed to death at Keelakekeua Bay by natives of Owyhee, the modern Hawaii. See 28/4/1770, 18/1/1778.
18/1/1778. Captain James Cook discovered Hawaii, then known as the Sandwich Islands. Having sailed from the Cape of Good Hope in 1776, Cook’s plan was to sail through the Bering Straits and attempt to find a north-east route between Europe and the Pacific from the eastern side. See 14/2/1779.
5/4/1722, The explorer Jakob Roggeveen discovered Easter Island.
11/7/1688, Narai, King of Siam, died.
20/3/1602. See 31/12/1600 and 2/4/1595. The Dutch East India Company was formed to trade with the East Indies; it had permission to arrange treaties, wage defensive war, and build fortresses. Its headquarters was at Batavia, Java. The Company was to help in the long war of independence by the Dutch against Spain. The British Treasury had been drained by rebellion in Ireland and support for the Protestant revolt in The Netherlands against Spain. See 29/11/1596. This company was wound up in 1798.
21/7/1595, Alvaro Mendana discovered the Marquesas Islands.
4/8/1511, Alfonso de Aberquerque captured Malacca.
11/9/1509, Portuguese Fidalgo Diogo Lopes de Sequeira became the first European to reach Malacca, having crossed the Gulf of Bengal.
1500, End of the Khmer Empire.
4/4/1287, Wareru created the Hanthawaddy Kingdom in modern-day Lower Burma.
1181, Jayavarman VII became King of Cambodia; ruled until his death in 1220.
1150, The great Temple of Angkor Wat was completed (begun 1113).
900, The city of Angkor Wat was completed.
802, The Khmer people were united under King Jayavarman I
Appendix 1 – Indonesia & East Timor
20/5/2002, East Timor became independent from Indonesia. It had been a Portuguese colony, whereas the west of Timor, along with the rest of Indonesia, had been a Dutch colony until gaining independence in 1949. The Portuguese retained East Timor until 1975, when, with majority support, the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente, or Fretelin, a Leftist organisation, took control. Indonesia then invaded the former colony, and east Timor was declared the 27th province of Indonesia in July 1976. However the UN refused to recognise Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor, instead continuing to regard it as a Portuguese colony. In 1991 pro-independence demonstrators were massacred by the Indonesian Army in Dili, attracting international condemnation. Guerrilla warfare between Indonesia and Timor independence fighters continued until 1999, when Indonesia agreed to a plebiscite offering East Timor a choice between a special autonomous regime within Indonesia or independence. There was a large majority for independence, and President Xanana Gusmao, leader of Fretilin, became President of the newly independent State.
1/10/2005, The resort of Bali was bombed by terrorists. 26 were killed and 100 injured.
20/9/1999, Timor L’Este appealed for help from the international community.
21/5/1998, President Suharto of Indonesia resigned as the country’s economy worsened.
25/12/1994, Protests by indigenous villagers of Papua against mine pollution (see 1936) were met with military attacks, killing three protestors,
7/12/1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor. See 28/11/1975. On
17/7/1976 East Timor was declared the 27th
28/11/1975, Portuguese Timor declared independence from Portugal, as East Timor. See 7/12/1975.
16/10/1975, Indonesian forces on a raid into Portuguese Timor killed 5 Australian-based journalists.
11/8/1975, Mario Lemos Pires, Governor of Portuguese Timor, was forced to abandon the capital, Dili, due to civil war between UDT and Fretilin.
3/7/1971, The first elections in Indonesia for 16 years. The incumbent government won a clear victory.
21/6/1970, Achmed Sukarno, President of Indonesia, died aged 69.
22/2/1967, Suharto replaced Sukarno as President of Indonesia.
12/3/1966. General Suharto
assumed power in an army coup in
7/1/1965. Indonesia left the United Nations, under President Sukarno.
31/10/1963, Britain suspended aid to Indonesia.
31/12/1958, President Sukharno proclaimed a state of Emergency in Sumatra.
5/12/1957. All Dutch nationals were expelled from Indonesia.
3/12/1958. Indonesia nationalised Dutch businesses.
4/8/1956, Indonesia repudiated its debts to The Netherlands.
11/8/1955. Muslim right wing government took
28/12/1949, Ahmed Sukarno, aged 48, leader of the Indonesian Nationalist Party, arrived in Batavia (Djakarta) to take up residence on the former Dutch Governor’s Palace. Since the end of the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in 1945, Sukarno had fought hard for independence from the Netherlands.
27/12/1949. Holland recognised the independence of Indonesia.
15/12/1948. In Indonesia, Dutch troops seized
1/8/1947. The UN Security Council asked for a
20/7/1947. Dutch troops attacked Indonesian forces in Java.
17/8/1945, Indonesia was proclaimed an independent
republic, under Dr Sukarno, after its
liberation from Japanese forces. The
PNI (Indonesian Nationalist Party) proclaimed a Republic in the city they
1936, Dutch prospectors discovered large gold and copper deposits in western Papua New Guinea. Mining began by Freeport in 1972. By the late 1970s, the indigenous population was protesting about pollution from the mine and slag heaps. In 1977 the Free Papua Movement blew up part of the mine buildings; a military crackdown followed, in which 900 villagers were killed. See 25/12/1994.
6/6/1901, Sukarno, President of Indonesia, was born.
1660, Celebes became a Dutch colony.
1520, Dutch colonisers established a post on Timor.
Appendix 2 – Laos
2/12/1975, Following the fall of Saigon, Vietnam, to the Communists the Pathet Lao in Laos took over the entire government, effectively abrogating a coalition agreement with the Lao government made in 21/2/1973. The King of Laos abdicated and Laos was proclaimed a People’s Democratic Republic.
13/2/1971, South Vietnamese troops, with US aircraft and artillery backing, entered Laos, to eradicate North Vietnamese supply depots. However they were repelled with heavy casualties.
1/3/1969, In Laos, the Pathet Lao opposition rejected the government’s offer of talks to end the civil war.
11/5/1962. President Kennedy ordered US naval, air, and land forces into the Indo China area, to prevent Laos from falling under Communist control.
7/5/1962, Negotiations began in Laos between the three warring parties.
16/5/1961, A 14-nation conference on Laos opened in Geneva. It soon ran into deadlock.
2/5/1961, Warring factions in Laos agreed to a ceasefire.
8/8/1960, Coup in Laos; General Souvanna Phoumi became leader.
29/10/1959, King Sisavang Vong of Laos died, aged 74, after a reign over 50 years. He was succeeded by his son, King Savang.
22/10/1953, Laos became independent from France; it was admitted to the United Nations in December 1955.
19/7/1949, Laos became independent within the French Union
Appendix 3 – Philippines
10/5/2016, Duterte (born 28/3/1945) was elected President of the Philippines.
30/12/2015, The Philippines said it will join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank despite disputes between it and the bank's founder, China.
24/9/1993. In the Philippines, Imelda Marcos was jailed for 18 years for corruption.
16/6/1992, In the Philippines, Cory Aquino was defeated in elections by General Fidel Ramos.
30/11/1989, Rebels in the Philippines attacked Cory Aquino’s palace and three military bases.
28/9/1989. Ex-President Marcos of the Philippines died in Honolulu.
29/1/1987, President Corazon Aquino of the Philippines put down a second attempted coup against her two-year-old administration; she was assiated by the USA. Rebels supporting ex-dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda abandoned the TV station in Manila they had occupied on 27/1/1987. Loyalist troops had thwarted the rebels by cutting power to the TV station.
25/2/1986. Right-wing President Marcos, who had ruled since 1965, was forced to flee the Philippines, after defeat by Corazon Aquino (born 1933). Mrs Aquino’s husband had been shot by Marcos’ troops in 1983. President Marcos fled to the roof of the palace and were whisked away by US helicopters.
21/8/1984, Half a million people in Manila demonstrated against the rule of Ferdinand Marcos, on the first anniversary of the assassination of Benigno Aquino. Marcos had ruled since 1972.
21/8/1983, The Philippines opposition leader, Benigno Aquino, was shot dead minutes after returning home from exile. Born in 1932, Benigno became a Senator at 35 and was the leader of the opposition to Philippines leader Ferdinand Marcos during the period of martial law from 1972. Had martial law not been declared and the Presidential elections due for 1973 been run, it is generally accepted that Benigno Aquino would have won. In fact Aquino was arrested in November 1977 on charges of murder sand subversion. In 1980, suffering from a heart condition, Aquino was allowed to leave for exile and treatment in the USA. His assassination was widely believed to be on the orders of Marcos, and it unleashed protests that led to the collapse of the Marcos Presidency; in February 1986, Benigno’s widow, Cory Aquino, became President of the Philippines.
17/1/1973. President Marcos of the
30/12/1965, In the
10/8/1965, The agreement between the United States and the Philippines on U.S. military bases was formally amended, returning exclusive jurisdiction over the Port of Manila and the city of Olongapo to the Philippines, and ceding more than 1,200 km2 of territory back to the Philippine government.
1956, Maria Corazon married Benigno Aquino.
30/8/1951, The US and The Philippines concluded a mutual defence pact.
11/9/1917, Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philippines, was born.
4/7/1902, The US suppressed a rebellion in the Philippines.
4/7/1901, The US Republican, Taft, was appointed Governor of the Philippines, replacing a former military government with civilian rule. He announced an amnesty for all former rebels who took an oath of allegiance to the USA.
4/6/1900, The Battle of Makahambus Hill took place near Cagayan de Oro City in the Philippines. This was the first victory of the Filipino soldiers against the American occupation forces.
5/10/1762, The British captured Manila, Philippines, from Spain,
14/4/1617, At the Second Battle of Playa Honda, the Spanish navy defeated the Dutch in the Philippines.
1594, Lisbon closed its spice market to Dutch and English traders; at this time Portugal was in personal union with Spain, both being ruled by Philip II, and England was helping the Dutch to gain independecnce from Spain. This forced traders from those countries to get their spices directly from India, and the creation of the Dutch East India Company followed.
1565, Spain began the colonisation of the Philippines, initially claiming the central island of Cebu. However they shifted focus to Luzon, making Manila the capital in 1571.
7/4/1521, Ferdinand Magellan arrived at Cebu.
16/3/1521, Ferdinand Magellan sighted the Philippine Islands.
Appendix 4 - Singapore
23/3/2015, Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore who played a major role in the development of that country, died aged 91. He became first Prime Minister of newly-independent Singapore in 1959, remaining in government until 2011. He took Singapore into a federation with Malaysia in 1963, and took it out in 1965. He ran Singapore with a strong hand, but achieved economic growth that averaged 7% a year for four decades.
26/11/1990, President Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore resigned after 26 years in office.
9/8/1965. Singapore seceded from the Federation of Malaysia. It became an independent Republic within the Commonwealth.
3/6/1959. Singapore achieved self-government. Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister/
14/2/1938, The British Naval base at Singapore opened.
5/8/1923, C V Devan Nair, President of Singapore, was born.
12/8/1910, Yusof bin Ishak, first President of Singapore 1965–70, was born in Perak State (died 1970)
5/7/1826, Sir Stamford Raffles, British colonial administrator, founder of Singapore in 1819, died in London.
1824, The Anglo-Dutch Treaty. The Netherlands recognised Britain’s dominion over Malaysia, and Britain undertook not to advance its colonisation south of the latitude of Singapore.
29/1/1819, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles landed at Singapore and set up a trading post there.
5/7/1781, Sir Stamford Raffles, who founded Singapore, was born.
Appendix 5 – Thailand
13/10/2016, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand died, aged 88, after a 70-year reign. He was succeeded by Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, after a period of mourning.
17/8/2015, A terrorist bomb exploded at the Erawan Buddhist shrine in central Bangkok, killing over 20 and injuring more than 120. No-one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
1/2/2014, Violent protests in Bangkok.
11/4/2009, Civil unrest in Thailand; state of emergency declared.
2/9/2008, Unrest continued in Bangkok; Prime Minister Sundaravej declared a State of Emergency.
19/9/2006, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand declared a State of Emergency as the Thai Army staged a military coup.
5/1/2004, Thailand declared a State of Emergency as Muslim insurgency in the southern provinces, Narathiwat, Pattani and Yaia increased.
2000, Bangkok was reported to be sinking at up to 5 cm a year. The city is built on what was a swamp, and there has been considerable removal of ground water.
10/5/1993, An explosion at a doll factory in Bangkok, Thailand killed 187
23/2/1991, Thai Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda was ousted in a bloodless coup.
17/11/1990, A mass grave, believed to be from World War Two, was discovered near the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai, Thailand.
8/12/1963, Sarit Dhanarajata, Prime Minister of Thailand, died.
20/10.1958, Military coup in Thailand.
17/9/1957, Military coup in Thailand, Prime Minister Pibul Songgram fled, and was replaced by Pote Sarasin, Secretary-General of SEATO.
11/5/1949. Siam changed its name to Thailand.
21/12/1941, Siam (Thailand) signed a treaty with Japan permitting the entry and transit of Japanese troops. This facilitated the Japanese invasion of Burma.
2/3/1935, King Rama VII of Siam abdicated after a 10-year reign during which absolute royal power was abolished. He was succeeded by his 10-year-old nephew who ruled ass Rama VIII (Ananda Mahidol) until he was assassinated in 1946.
20/6/1933, Army coup in Siam (Thailand).
24/6/1932, Radicals captured King Rama VII and held him prisoner until he agreed to reforms and the creation of a Senate.
1918, The image of the sacred White Elephant was removed from the flag of Siam.
23/10/1910, Vajiravudh (1881-1925) was crowned Rama VI, King of Thailand.
8/4/1907, Britain and France confirmed the independence of Siam (Thailand).
1902, Thailand annexed the Sultanate of Pattani, on its southern border with Malaysia. The Muslim Malays of Pattani launched a resistance movement against Thai Buddhist rule.
15/1/1896. Britain and France signed an agreement on their spheres of influence in S.E. Asia. Both countries guaranteed the independence of Siam (Thailand).
3/10/1893. Siam (Thailand) gave up all its territory east of the Mekong Rover, and recognised Laos as a French protectorate.
1/10/1868, Mongkut, King of Siam, died aged 64. In his 17-year reign he made considerable reforms, with Western help. His decision to roll back centuries of isolation was taken during his travels as a Buddhist monk for 27 years. In 1863 France had forced him to relinquish his vassal state of Cambodia, which became a French protectorate.
11/8/1863, A French Protectorate was established in Cambodia, after continued attacks by Thai and Vietnamese forces.
1/4/1851, Rama IV (1804-68) took the Thai throne.
6/4/1782, Chao P’ya Chakri founded the Chakri Dynasty in Siam, ruling as King Rama I. He made Bangkok the capital.
1680, The French established trading posts in Siam.