The Malay race (consists into two groupings – Proto Malays and Malay Polynesians, or Melayu Darat and Melayu Laut), likely originates from the Yunnan province or surroundings. The early Malay (or Champa) civilizations are: Lin Yi (also called Fu Nan), located in what is South Vietnam and Cambodia today, the dates of the civilization is around 100AD until 1500AD during its peak, and finally ended with the last King of Champa who died in 1823. The remnant of this civilization is off course the Great Angkor Wat. The second great civilization of Malays is Sri Vijaya, located in Palembang (South Sumatera) – which I believe, the empire was established after waves of migration from the Champa continent by sea using the monsoon winds to South Sumatra. After the fall of Sri Vijaya, which was defeated by Majapahit of Java, Parameswara, the prince of Palembang migrated to Malacca, which in turns established the Sultanate and Empire of Malacca. From the Malacca Empire and Sultanates, then we saw the birth of many Sultanates and kingdoms in the Malay Peninsula (as most of the Malay Sultans are linked by marriage or by blood to the Malacca Sultanate).

Originally, Malaysia was occupied by the Proto Malays – which may migrate to the Peninsula in batches probably during the ice-age, when the continental plate and the Islands were connected by land. This Proto Malays are what we termed today as “orang asli”, the same is true for some other ethnics in Sabah and Sarawak (Ibans, Dayaks etc). The second major wave of migration is from the Champa (circa 500 AD till 1500 AD), as the great Champa Kingdom expands, the population expands southwards, which includes the southern Thai peninsula (what used to be called Pattani, which have the old Malay name of Langkasuka). These Malays are classified as the Malay Polynesians or Melayu Laut. They tend to settled around river mouths and of agrarian society in nature. Later on when the Arabs came to Asia by the sea, these Malays learned the seafaring activities, and then became sea faring people as well.

From the South, with the advancement of the Malacca Sultanate, the Malays from Sumatera, formerly of Sri Vijaya empires migrated to Malay Peninsula – which we saw the formation of Negeri Sembilan – immigrants from Padang, Sumatra; and the immigration of Bugis diasporas in Johor, Pahang, and Selangor (circa 1500AD until 1900AD). Later on we also see waves of immigrations from Java (central and east Java) to Johor and Selangor, around the period of late 1800s until early 1900s (the Javanese of Tanjung Karang, Kuala Selangor, as well as Batu Pahat, Muar, and the western coast of Johor). These immigrants, I would consider to be Malays, as they are from either Proto Malays origin (as some Javanese are), or Polynesian Malays (as most of others are). Other immigrants to the Malay Peninsula are either of Arabic or Indian origins (from the West), and of Chinese origins (from the East).

The original religion of the Malays is of some form of Animism or Paganism, which worships the Nature. But prominence among them is the belief in what we called as “Adat” or customs. In fact, the position of Adat is so high that it ranks higher than the religion itself (remember the sayings: “Biar mati anak asalkan jangan mati Adat”). Therefore, it is quite easy for Malays to accept new religions into their society, as these religions by belief do not pose any conflict with Animism, and as long as it does not threaten the Adat. Because of this, Malays embrace Hinduism, when they came to Asia; and in the same manner embrace Islam as it came. One thing that we must understand, when the Malays embrace Hinduism or Islam, they never leave their Adat. In fact the version of Hinduism or Islam that they embrace, is very much a mixed of religion and Adat. And this probably explains why the Sultans in our present constitution are called as Ketua Agama dan Adat Istiadat Melayu. This also explains why the names of the old Malay kings are interchangeable between Hindu names and Arabic (Muslim names).

The other major waves of migrations to Malaysia were during the British dominance of Malaya: where many Chinese and Indians were brought forth by the British, as well as general migration encouraged or allowed by the British into what then was called Malaya. This is when many new “cities” in the hinterland were then developed, and replace the river mouth cities of the old. Examples are Ipoh in Perak replacing Telok Intan, Kuala Lumpur replacing Kuala Selangor and Klang, and of course the populations of the Straits Settlements were expanded. All of these took place in the period of 1700s until early 1900s.

So all in all, the establishment of the Malaysian population took place from around 1500 until early 1900s – about 400 years in waves of immigrations. Starting with the Champa Malays, and then followed by the Sumatran Malays, then we have the Bugis and other sea faring Malays (from 1500s until 1700s). After that we have waves of Chinese, Indians, Javanese immigrants and other sorts of immigrants from 1700s until the 1900s. And thus explains what I claimed that Malaysia is really a “Nation of Immigrants”.

I hope this explains about my claims that claims of racial superiority over the land are rather dubious and incorrect. In fact those Malays who are “anti-Chinese” should understand that the Malays and Chinese pretty much originate from almost the same place: the Chinese continent (Yunnan and Champa). We all are immigrants to this Land. And for those Malays who are anti Indian, he must understand that in terms of Adat, the Malays are very integrally defined with the ancient India (Hinduism –as it forms most of the Malay Adats). Similarly, the same is true for any Chinese or Indians who are anti-Malays, should realize that our origins are so intricately close and linked. The bottom line is: We all share much more things than we differ. The racial divides that being promoted by some – are in actuality Political Divides – that is to expand a political agenda using racial justifications.

Hopefully now, if anyone wants to rebut you on this subject, please ask them to understand the history and culture first.


Add Yours
  1. Dato Left Haji Ustaz seiji

    Dude…is race is defined as where are we origin or the different identity n cultural. Japanese comes from china as well, should they called immigrant as well in their homeland. Even korea too are from china so we should called the immigrant at korea land.

    The definition of race is derived from how one community is formed n establish their cultural n so has their unique identity. The so called nation of malay has already been established n registered even in historical account. People like iching do also refer this nation as malay or people call malay

  2. Ray

    @Dato Left: So by your definition, the Chinese, the Indian and whatever races that resided in Malaysia for long can be considered a Malay too, since these races will inevitably integrate into and assimilate the local cultures and identity.

    In short, there is no racial superiority, all are owners and tenants in Malaysia.

    • zabda

      So the Malays can demand Yunan and Champa as Second Malaysia So The malays can demand Yunan and Champa or Tiawan as cesong Malaysia.It is sound very suitable. I strongly believe Malays came From Yunan,or somewhere from Southern China,but all Malays now Is Islam.We can,t accept non Muslim lead over us.Muslim is suffering too much at the hands of non muslim Colonial,Japan,Russia ( There are many Muslim In Russia),and China.Muslima was suffering in these countries and in their own countries at the hand of non Muslims.So we must defend our religion and political superior ti avoid atrocities by non Muslim since there are too many atrocities by them at the past. Mlays came early,thousands of years before Chinese and Indian,so the Malays must protect their virtues,since they are the fist who found the land.Malays lost Singapura to Chinese,we can,t lost all the land to others.We Malays now are having new Mlaysia,Yunan,Chmapa and taiwan.We will claim in the Hague court,Yunan,Champa,Taiwan soon as our sate.Since that sate is our grandfathers land.

  3. schizoboy

    dearest dato left, i dont know much about what race is defined but you have completely tarnished the definition of proper english usage.. please brush up on both your english and history.. would be helpful for u to make more racial comments on the net in the future.. 🙂

  4. Azman Wong

    I think, calling the Malays Pendatang is wrong. The Proto Malays were here since 1000 BC, while the Deutero Malays since 300 BC. Now I have Hainanese blood, and I know that the Li people were the original people of Hainan, and the Han Chinese only really had an influence from 110 BC. Still, no one would call the Han Chinese there Pendatang (Guangzhou and Taiwan also have aboriginals, same story). Keep in mind that Han Chinese culture originates from North China, so since they migrated to the South are they Pendatang? Of course not.
    As for accepting other religions and customs, this is no different than the influence of Sanskrit (descended from ancient Persia) on the rest of India, and keep in mind that Buddhism comes from India. Or even the overwhelming Western influence today. Compared to the much larger populations of India and China, it’s a wonder the Malay culture is still so strong (which is as unique as any other).
    On a slightly unrelated note, Malay culture doesn’t really emphasise on blood, rather on culture and heritage. Which is why the Javanese, Minangkabau, and Bugis and so forth, while perhaps not related to the Malays by blood, consider themselves Malay, and the Constitution doesn’t really require blood as a qualification for being ‘Malay’. It’s not standard throughout the world, where your heritage is by blood, but it’s not wrong that the Malays consider the word ‘Malay’ not as a race, but as a culture. (In fact I like that way better)
    While I don’t agree with special rights for the Bumiputras (I myself have Bumi rights), it’s a terrible thing to criticise a culture by saying they ‘stole’ it. What Ryan said is just as racist and wrong as any other racist concept.
    Even if the Malay culture was completely copied (which it isn’t), every culture is different. You can’t say that a culture is inferior because it accepts all different ideas and integrates it into its traditions than a culture which prefers to have its own.
    Besides, we all come from Africa, so every culture is linked, and it is idiotic to think that any culture is inferior, from the Igbo in Nigeria, to the Malays, to the Indians, the Chinese, the Caucasians, etc etc. We are all equal.
    Sorry for the obscenely long post, just some extra thoughts.

  5. minah jane

    I’ve just came across this page on the net and decided to go through this, and I’m surprised for something that is written in the 2000s, the article here still suggests the outdated theory, which is the out of taiwan theory (malays from yunan/south china) whereas since the 90s the out of Sunda theory starts to enter by Stephen Oppenheimer, and as of last year, the genome project had proven Oppenheimer’s theory as correct, that the out of Sunda theory applies. The single migration out of Africa before the ice age happened and settled here in the Sundaland (Malaya/Sumatera/Borneo). The malays are genetically linked to the sakai/jakun tribe and were the original sailors. When the great flood occured post ice-age, the continent drowned and the people fled the flood and these are who became the orang laut, and have migrated north towards Taiwan, south east towards Australia, then to New Zealand, and later on moved till as far as Hawaii. Some fled west to adagascar. The Malays now belongs to the greater Austronesian family. The Naga people of India are genetically linked to the Borneo people, the Champa people too are genetically linked to the Borneo people, as post flood, the whole area became tanah dan air for the malays, therefore they moved around and ruled the waters. The cradle of human civilisation is here in the Peninsular Malaysia, where the people moved and spread out to become other races. This dated back some 30,000 to 45,000 years ago. The Australian aborigines were the first migration by sea out of Sunda 10,000 years after the arrival of men from Africa into Sundaland.

    It is the colonization that created the invincible borders for the people of tanah dan air (tanahair), which later had become smaller and became countries. the word Jawa is linked to Hawa’ii and Hawaiki, as these are the names that describes the children of Eve (Hawa) from the first migration. So Jawa was previously not a tribe or kingdom, in ancient times it is to describe the children of eve that migrated out further and further, till later it became a kingdom or a tribe of people. Much like the terminology of “Malay” which was previously a description of the Malayo-Polynesian and the Pacific Islanders, which today had been reduced to the tribe in Sumatera and the Malay people of Malaysia, Brunei, Phillipines and Singapore (Indonesian prefers to use the word Indonesian instead). The Ami tribe of Taiwan (Formosan/Natives) are not Han chinese but infact are Austronesians as well, and so are the natives of Southern China, and the champas are austronesians whereas the mon and khmer are austro-asiatic. The Maori considers even if a person has 1/8 mixed blood with Maori, that they are still Maori.

    • Nk Khoo

      Can you point out more reliable sources of Sundaland theory? Who conducted the DNA tests to prove orang asli and Malay have same ancestor in 60,000 years ago or some time ago?

      Why Malay culture evolved into a civilization while orang asli is not, remained in primitive life for 60,000 years?

  6. minah jane

    In response to Ryan’s accusation of Malays curi other people’s religion and culture, I would like to comment here that is so typical of the accusation from people who speak before they think. If we look further back, the Malays did not steal other people religion and culture as again, this whole area from the south of china till the polynesians were once tanah dan air for the malayo-polynesian people. In Polynesia, the people kept the culture much alive as the migration of people from other genetic background came in much later, hence they practised the old pre-hindu/buddha/islamic/christian ways of Malay cultures. Even in language, we still share some common cognates with them, such as “mana”, “benua”, numbers, as well as some ancient cultures. case in point, the pura in tanah lot bali is similar to the ones in hawaii (and they were never hindus). if we look back into the human migration and the biblical flood, there is a good chance that the biblical flood happened here, and the original sailor (Noah’s story) happened here as aside from the africans, the orang asli and the austronesians, there were no one else in the world at that time.

    There are records by the mayans about the drowned continent where the sun rises, as well as records in the egyptian book of the dead about the coming of people by boat that brought them the technology of plant domestication and water irrigation who fled the flood from where the sun rises, and described as short brown people. so because there was a huge chunk missing in the history of the malays that people dub them as pendatang, whereas my belief is that the culture started here in peninsula malaysia, and went everywhere else and came back here. malays ancient cultures and language are their own, which later had borrowed some words from sanskrit, arabic, and so forth. the so called indonesian culture that the malays are accused of stealing, could infact started here, as what is the link between the east coast malays (champa) that practises the so called javanese culture today to the javanese of indonesia and cambodians? aren’t the champas older than the javanese? batik can also be found used by the ami tribe of taiwan, to the maori people in new zealand as well as the hawaiians. and so are tattooing. the sailing culture of the outer polynesians are a reminiscences of noah’s story, as they brought along with them lime, coconut, dogs, pigs, breadfruit, and so much more that it all reached there from this region. so no, the malays are not pendatang as you thought, ryan, infact, their mitochondrial dnas can be found in the europeans as well whereas they do not have europeans mitochondrial dna, which suggests that they are one of the oldest group of people in the world. and they do not steal other people’s culture or religion, the trades were already happening in langkasuka during the earlier ADs that they simply adapted to the traders, much like how malaysian speak malays these days, with mixed of chinese, indians, english case in point the standard line in a mamak restaurant: “boss, kasi char koway teow unney?” (english, malay, chinese, tamil).

    • Jackk Sparro

      Tell that to your descendants, & your ancestors would have no where to hide! How more shallow would your meta-cognitive be, to profess some fairy tale, & much more to an open forum in the website!

      Carnal disorders must have taken place within you to state that malays were great sailors,& sailing from Africa,30 thousand years ago?? I would have agreed with you,if those were the Negritos who walked here across Asia continent around the time you mentioned!

      Seafaring empire of India even before the AD,the Sri Vijayans were the only civilization found here in SEA,besides the Chinese as these 2 races’ records were in writing 5 to 6 thousand years back!
      Heard of the Golden Chersonese era at the beginning of the AD? Lembah Bujang,Gg. Jerai’s discoveries of bronze statues of Buddha’s & Indian deities’ pointed to this period,as Chinese and Indians religious monks shared their faiths.Coins were used in trade,whereas barter-trade was used during the Malaccan legacy.

      Beruas @ Gangga Nagara near to Sitiawan in Perak boasted of “Raja Pertama di Malaysia” on a tomb ,as statues which dated back to the Bronze Age 1st BC,were unearthed & placed at Museum Beruas. Ruins of a fort were located to a hill nearby.

      First sultanate in our country was reported to be Kedah’s in the 6th AD.Mass convertion took place at the arrival of Islam,brought by the Indians in the 8th AD!

      Malacca legacy 14th AD,Parameswara was an Indian prince.His descendant married Princess Hang Li Po from China.After the Portugis captured Malacca in the 1500s,the remnants ‘retreated’ to the Johore & Perak sultanates .Selangor’s started in the 1700s’ by the peoples across the straits as well.

      • Ali

        Parameswara was an indian prince?!
        Prove it!!!
        Srivijaya was a civilization you dumbass!!
        Otherwise why else the malaccan sultanate develops the classical malay language and court traditions?!
        Are you actually tell me the kelings are so self hating to the point they changed their identity at whims?!
        First sultanate in 6th AD?! hah!!
        Islam didn’t even emerged till 8th AD you dumbass!!
        How could the indians bring islam to malay peninsula when most of the arabs were not even islamised yet?!
        The first sultanate in Malaysia was the Malaccan and I shall wait for anyone to bring me proves that it is founded by indians.

  7. minah jane

    so for a dr in history to actually say that the malays are immigrant from bugis, jawa, minang etc is absurd! yes, they are migrational tribes, but these are tribes of the malayo-polynesian peoples, and countries such as indonesia and malaysia have not come into being until the last 57-63 years. prior to that, we were divided by colonized areas, the british colony, the dutch colony, the french colony, the spain colony…. and prior to that we were divided by kingdoms, majapahit, javanese, acheh, melaka, but prior to that we belonged to some bigger kingdoms, sriwijaya was not only in sumatera! sriwijaya spanned across from sumatera to the isthmus of kra, and kelantan being one of its important cities! and parameswara, the start of malay sultanates, was infact a sriwijayan prince, where he wanted to take back temasek and moved back upwards from where his nenek moyang used to reign over these lands… that does not make him an immigrant when he simply wanted to take back what was rightfully belonged (but collapsed empire) of his family. even the javanese genes are connected to partially borneo and partially siamese, so are the javanese pendatang to indonesia as well? the fact is this, the malaysians cannot look beyond this small country, hence the misconceptions happened here. when the debates that malays are pendatang came about, no one considered that indonesia/malaysia is hardly even a century old! and prior to that we were colonized for over 300 years.. but prior to that? if we look at the broader picture, can we say that the phillipinos are not malay when they acknowledge that they are? can we say that the outer polynesians are not of malayo-polynesian descent when they know that they are? are we saying the madagascar people are not malayo-polynesian either? so the question of this favorite word “pendatang”, or curi budaya or agama, let’s just say that the malays datang dari orang asli yang datang dari orang africa, yang pergi ke indonesia ke filipina, kemudian ke serata southern hemisphera. some yg di indonesia pulang balik ke homeland malaya, atau ke kemboja, and became champa malays yang pusing balik ke kelantan and terengganu jadi east coast malays. yang di filipina dan kalimantan indonesia pun pusing balik ke sabah atau sarawak. so yes, by adat and language, malays have travelled all over and came back… but it’s by no means they are pendatang as they were only returning home after fleeing the flood.

    • Nk Khoo

      If the Sundaland theory is correct who says Chinese ancestors are from Southeast Asia after the big flood era. (Chinese ancestors immigrated to North after leaving India continent is the dominant theory).

      Chinese are like Malays who simply return to their ancestral home in Malaysia, thus to label Chinese are pendatang is also wrong. LOL

    • rosdi mohd

      Well said jane. You know our encestry ancient history very well… lots us know, just that dont talk much about it. It is funny sometimes there come someone… Who are not ever his/her culture/history to talk about and suddenly become expert about it. Well said :).

  8. lala

    ur so wrong. hindu is a religion which doesnt exclusive to any races. long ago, its true that malay had been under influence of hindu and thats why nusantara or southeast asia was called al-hind by arabs merchant. but that doesnt mean malay was originated from india and malay is indian based on what u wrote there. malay once under influence of hindu but then malay accept islam later on.

  9. srikandi melayu

    To the author, you are the one that should ‘ understand the history and culture first.’ The theory that said Malays are from Yunnan is a lame theory

  10. Eric Wyles

    It was so interesting to read about the Malay peoples origins.I have a big interest in this subject as I have Malay blood on my fathers side.My Grandfather and my Grandmother were both Malay/Aboriginal from North Queensland Australia and I know so little about my Malay side.Apparently my grandfathers father was a person by the name of Ben Lorenzo Brown who,as public records state, was a dark skinned, straight haired man who was born in Manila Phillipines during the early 1800s.I wish I could find out more about him but don’t know where to start,so if anybody can help I would be so appreciative.

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