NOTE: This article was written and circulated earlier by me. I have made minor amendments and corrections and re post it here for many to share.
I am quite disturbed by the recent events among the UMNO people’s actions and statements about race and Malaysian history. We actually forgot that to begin with – we ALL are immigrants to Malaysia; the only difference is who are earlier and who are later. Historically, the Malays are settling in Malaysia circa 1000 to 1300 (i.e. about 1000 years ago), and the rest of other races came in from 1600 onwards (few hundred years later). The difference in timing (at least in historical sense) is negligible. The Jews occupied Palestine for 5000 years (and hence their claim to the Holy Land), the Arabs occupied Arabia for the same period of time, and so on with other races, when comes to claim of racial supremacy over a piece of land being made. These people not only have claims over the land because of ancestral ownership, but also they were the pillars of the civilizations that was once built by their ancestors on these lands.
To say that the Malays have built a great civilization in Malaysia then we are definitely fooling ourselves; as in actuality the great Malay civilization lay in what is today – the ruins of Angkor Wat! (In Cambodia) (May be those Malays making much fuss about Chinese returning to China, should also be heading to Cambodia, as that is where he actually belongs – historically). In a real sense, Malaysia was built upon layers and layers of immigration – by Malays on various stages and variety – Champa Malays, Thai Malays, Melayu Laut, Indonesian Malays (Batak from Medan, Jawa from Java, Riau – from Riau Islands and province, Minang – from Padang), the Arabs (all the Syed, Saids, Sheikhs etc,), the Malabars (Indian mixed with Arabs), the Indian Muslims (which somehow becomes Malays or Mamaks), and the various mixed marriages that happened between these immigrants. This process happens at the same time when Chinese and Indians (Tamils, Sikhs, Singhalese, etc) were also migrating to Malaysia and assimilating into the territory.
Therefore, to claim that Malay race (which is already very vaguely defined if we look at the reality as I explained above), has prior and superior claim to this land than other race is totally absurd. What happen was by virtue of Malay Sultanate, this whole thing becomes a matter that has to be addressed by the British. In another word, the politics was in control of the Malays, and therefore, they want the supremacy of the Malays to continue (politically). When the negotiations took place for the formation of the constitutions (at states and federal levels), the insertion of the Malay race as well as Islam, and the role of the Sultans were enshrined in. That’s it. It was not done on the basis that the Malays were here earlier than the others.
Now that we have gone so far, and we have lived so far, comes the time for us to adapt to the changes that are taking place (and in fact already took place): we have now at least third generation immigrants Malaysians. In any society, when the third generations come forth, it is as good as he/she is a truly citizen of that country, assimilated into the culture of that country, etc..etc. I am actually of the inclination to propose that we should just amend our constitutions and laws to just simply identify that anyone who is third generation Malaysian should just carry an identity as a “Malaysian Race” (Bangsa Malaysia), and gradually we drop the Malay, Chinese, Indian race from our identity card. I honestly can’t imagine 50 years from now (i.e. two generations down the road), that our grand children still talking to each other as Malay, Chinese, Indian etc. Anyway, the names will continue to reflect the person’s origin – because Malays will continue to use Islamic names, Chinese will use mixed Chinese and Christian names, and the same for Indians. So there should be no fear of losing your “identity”.
For a start – let us agree that race based parties are “finished”. It should be the end of UMNO, MCA, and MIC (and hence BN). I would favor PKR – because it is truly being built upon multi racial lines. (Some would comments that PKR is for Anwar – not true. A party will live longer than the person. Anwar may be instrumental in forming it, but its future will be determined by its members). DAP – is also a good choice, except that it need to come to the center stage and gets a more balanced representation by various races (it is still overtly Chinese). PAS – is still a Malay party (which in many ways behaves just like the other side of the coin for UMNO) – it also needs to come to the center stage. In any case, the current Pakatan Rakyat serves as a good starting platform for all these political parties.
We also should not condone any stupid actions by any stupid group of people; be it Malays, Chinese, Indians etc; we should seriously open our medium of expression; the mere suppressions on racial issues over the years by BN, actually contributes to the current “lack of tolerance”. (Everyone needs to practice to walk before he can run – racism needs some form of open discussions (through the media and others), before it can be a free for all forums). The existing government controlled media must be blamed, and freedom of media must be opened. ISA must be abolished as it is actually used against those who are anti government.
9th Septeber 2008