While the modern Netherlands seem to be far away from Malaysia, the Dutch involvement in the Malay Peninsula used to be much more extensive than it is now. The Dutch established relations with the Sultanate of Johor in the early 17th century, and in 1641 they captured the Portuguese colony of Malacca (on the south-eastern coast of today's Peninsular Malaysia). With a long interruption during the Napoleonic Wars, the Dutch Malacca era lasted until 1824.
A small Dutch-Malaysian Eurasian community, descended from the Dutch settlers in Malacca, persists to these days.
In the 20th century, the Netherlands established diplomatic relations with Malaysia soon after the Asian state became independent. The erudite Dutch Sinologist and author Robert van Gulik (who was raised in the former Dutch East Indies himself) served as the ambassador of the Netherlands in Kuala Lumpur in the early 1960s. During his diplomatic service there he became closely acquainted with Malaysia's gibbons (he kept a few in his ambassadorial residence) and became sufficiently interested in this ape species to start the study of its role in ancient Chinese culture, the results of which he later published in his last book (Gibbon in China).