Aceh and Council of Eight in Penang 1873-1876

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‘Acehnese exile’ and ‘Penang Acehnese resident’. The discussion of these sources is centred on the importance of figures of Sumatran origin in the establishment of the intellectual network in Penang from the moment Penang was established in 1786. Within this 29 pages narrative, 1 page is dedicated to discussion on the Council of Eight. The author claims that the council acted as the key contributor in helping the progress of the war in Aceh through voluntarily funding initiatives and arms supply passing the Dutch blockage across the coastal areas.

The lack of scholarly literature on the subject is a justification as to why this paper is important. This article examines the rise and fall of the council. It reinvestigates the meaning of the council’s diplomatic activities in Penang. It examines to what extent the Council of Eight through its lobby and political activities affected Penangites and the East Indies communities. It contests the extent of contribution by the council towards the progress of the war.

Narratives elaborated in this paper are tailored based on qualitative methods and cross checking the existing related literature. Primary sources include newspapers published by the British in the Straits Settlement since the beginning of the 19th century and vastly distributed throughout the archipelago, namely the Strait Times, The Straits Observer and the Strait Times Overland Journal. Since the main publication house was closely located to the central council activities, information gathered by it were deemed reliable. In addition, the writer also relies on a direct witness account documented in Strait Law Journal and Reporter vol 1-4 and Cases Heard and Determined in her Majesty’s Supreme Court of the Straits Settlement in 1808-1884. However, due to the reason of material unavailability, essential use of indigenous sources is unfortunately inadequate.

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