Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Takkan Melayu Hilang Di Dunia (revisited)

Is Umno dead? What the fuck is Umno anyway? According to Wikipedia:

"The United Malays National Organisation, or UMNO, (Malay: Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu), is a right-wing party and Malaysia's largest political party; a founding member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled the country uninterruptedly since its independence. It is known for being a major proponent of Malay Supremacy or Ketuanan Melayu and mild Islamic fundamentalism, which holds that the Malays and other Muslims are the 'definitive' people of Malaysia and, thus, deserve special privileges as their birthright."*

So the entire foundation of Umno rests upon the ethnocentric notion of Malay Supremacy. Which begs the question: how do you define "Malay"? At this crucial juncture in Malaysia's political evolution, it's important to examine these fundamental issues and see what can be gleaned. Friends have been forwarding an anonymous essay on this very topic. Not a particularly well-written piece, but it does contain some fascinating facts. I shall present it here, after putting in some of my own editorial touches:
How many of you have read the book entitled Contesting Malayness edited by a professor of the National University of Singapore? It reflects the anthropological view that there is no such race as the "Malays" to begin with.

Following the original migration of the Yunnan (southwestern) Chinese around 6,000 years ago, they moved to Taiwan and are today known as the Alisan; some migrated to the Philippines and became known as the Aeta; others moved to Borneo around 4,500 years ago and are now called the Dayak. The migrants also split off to Sulawesi, Jawa, and Sumatra. The final migration was to the Malayan Peninsular about 3,000 years ago. A sub-group from Borneo also moved to Champa in Cambodia around 4,500 years ago.

Interestingly, the Champa deviant group moved back to present day Kelantan. There are also traces of the Dong Song and Hoabinhian migration from Vietnam and Cambodia. To further confuse the issue, there was also a Southern Thai migration, from what we know as Pattani today (see Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula).

Of course, we also have the Minangkabau who claim descent from Alexander the Great and a West Indian Princess (Sejarah Melayu pp 1-3)

So is there really a race called the "Malays"? Most anthropologists DO NOT SEEM TO THINK SO.

Neither do the "Malays" who live on the West Coast of Johore. They would rather be called Javanese. What about the west coast Kedah inhabitants who prefer to be known as Acehnese? Or the Ibans who simply want to be known as Ibans? Try calling a Kelabit a "Malay" and see what reaction you get... you'll be glad their head-hunting days are over.

The concept of "Malay" therefore refers to a collection of peoples who speak a similar language. Even so, "a similar language" does not mean the words are similar. Linguists call this the "Lego-type" language, where words are added on to the root word to make different meanings and to impart tenses and such. The Indonesians disagree with this classification. They refuse to be called Malay no matter how you may define the term.

According to this classification, the concept of "Malay" must include the Filipinos, Papua New Guineans, Australian Aborigines, as well as Polynesian Aborigines. These peoples are part of the Australo-Melanesian migration from Africa dating 60,000 years back.

The definition of "Malay" should also apply to the Taiwanese singer, Ah Mei, whose Alisan tribe can be regarded as the ancestors of the "Malays." The Southern Chinese (of Funan Province) ought to classified as "Malay" too, since they are of the same stock that migrated south 6,000 years ago.

Are the Bugis "Malays"? Interestingly, the Bugis, who predominantly live on Sulawesi, do not even consider themselves Indonesians. Neither do they fall into the same group as the migrating Southern Chinese of 6,000 years ago - nor the Australo-Melanesian group from Africa. The Bugis are, in fact, a cross between the Chinese and the Arabs. They are descended from a renegade Ming Dynasty official who turned to piracy. His career as a buccaneer was so successful that Admiral Cheng Ho was despatched to hunt him down and put an end to his mischief. In effect, the Bugis were career pirates operating among the Johore-Riau Islands. The nephew of Daeng Kemboja was appointed the first Sultan of Selangor. That makes the entire Selangor Sultanate part Arab, part Chinese. Talk to the Bugis Museum curator near Kukup in Johore. (Kukup is located at the south-westernmost tip of Johore, near Pontian Kecil).

Let's not delve too deeply into the legend of the five warriors - Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekiu, and Hang Lekir - who shared the same family name as Hang Li Poh. And who was she? A Ming princess who was sent to marry the Sultan of Malacca. The elder son of the vanquished Malacca Sultan was killed in Johor, and the other son eventually became the Sultan of Perak. Do we detect any Chinese genes in Raja Azlan? Could he be the descendant of Princess Hang Li Poh?

Next question: if the Malacca Babas are part-Malay, why have they been marginalized by not being classified bumiputera? Which part of their "Malayness" is not legitimate? Whatever the answer, why are the Portuguese of Malacca accepted as bumiputera? Didn't their forefathers arrive a hundred years AFTER the arrival of the first Babas? Parameswara founded Malacca in 1411. The Portuguese came in 1511, and the Dutch in 1641. Oddly enough, the Babas were in fact once classified as bumiputera, but they were "declassified" in the 1960's. WHY?

The Sultan of Kelantan had genetic roots in the Pattani Kingdom, making him of Thai origin. And has anyone come across a coffee-table book commissioned by the Sultan of Perlis wherein he claims to be a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad? Professor Emeritus Khoo Kay Kim is supposedly the author of the book. I'd pay good money to get my hands on a copy!

Negrito women and their babies (from the Philippines)

How many of you have met an Orang Asli? The further north you go, the more African they look. Why are they called Negritos? It's a Spanish word which translates as "little Negroes." The farther south you go, the more "Indonesian" they look. And the ones who live on Cameron Highlands look like a 50-50 blend. Take the Batek of Taman Negara, who look a lot like Eddie Murphy clones. Or the Negritos who live below the Thai border near Temenggor Lake. The Mah Meri of Carey Island look exactly like the Jakuns of Endau Rompin. Half African, half Indonesian.

There was once a Hindu-Malay Empire in Kedah. That's right. The Malays were Hindu before they became Muslim. It went by the name Langkasuka. Today it is known as Lembah Bujang. This Hindu-Malay Empire flourished about 2,000 years ago, pre-dating Borobodur and Angkor Wat by about 500 years. Lembah Bujang was a mighty trading empire, and it was built by Indian craftsmen and stonemasons. Obviously, Langkasuka was a vassal of India. This should make the Indians bumiputeras too since they were here 2,000 years ago. Why have they been dismissed as pendatang (immigrants) and marginalized?

In effect the "Malay" race is essentially an amalgamation of Asian tribes. So it's totally incorrect to call this country "Tanah Melayu." Instead we should call it "Tanah Truly Asia."

For once the Tourism Ministry got it right.
Now if my memory serves me correctly, Umno actually died 27 years ago on 4 February 1988 when Justice Harun Hashim declared the party illegal, since it had breached the rules governing political parties by failing to register at least 30 branches. According to Wikipedia:

"The Tunku and former UMNO President Hussein Onn set up a new party called UMNO Malaysia, which claimed to be the successor to the old UMNO. UMNO Malaysia was supported mainly by members of the Team B faction from UMNO, but Mahathir was also invited to join the party leadership. However, the party collapsed after the Registrar of Societies refused to register it as a society (without providing an explanation)."

Two weeks later, on 18 February 1988, Mahathir formed a surrogate party called Umno Baru. Which means the original Umno established by Dato' Onn Jaafar on May 11 1946 was no longer in existence. Instead, the party became, to all intents and purposes, an extension of and a vehicle for Mahathir's own egocentricity and megalomania. And the biggest joke is, Mahathir himself once declared his own racial origins as "Indian Muslim." Ketuanan Mamak. How does THAT sound?

[First posted 22 March 2008, reposted 18 August 2015]


*This is a verbatim quote from the Wikipedia entry on UMNO in March 2008. Somebody has since updated the entry, omitting the description "right-wing" and toning down the ethnocentric emphasis.


Anonymous said...

o me god, am really confused now, i speak and sound like a malay, but look javanese, have no idea and no speaks javanese but fluent in(malaysian) english, my son prefers to speak english than malay at home and watch Anime and eat burger, my wife is a bugis (now i know where she got all those tempers - pirate huh and those marauding arabs)....so what am i ? i consider myself err.... makal sakti?

Starmandala said...

That's right, my friend... let's all have a damn good laugh about our genetic origins. After all, before the migration from China or Siam or Africa or wherever, our remote ancestors were probably part Angel, part Ape! How about that? :-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting opening line, you've got!

Now, let me add one small twist regarding UMNO, bumiputra and Malacca Babas.

When the Malacca Babas approached the state govt to consider granting them 'bumiputra' status in a similar way to that of the Portuguese descendants in Malacca, they were in effect told to fly the wau. They were told to apply for membership in UMNO first. Now how about that for Ketuanan 'whatevercrap'!.

Anonymous said...


Maybe this' supposed to be the specialty of Malaysia - MULTIRACIAL.

I think, it's too complicated & we can't explain what's the source, that's why we should be as just one...no more judgement & comparison among races.

When will the day come when the nation being aware of this??

Anonymous said...

Excellent article!!! The UMNOputras are history. So is Krismuddin. Let's make the final chapter in the books for UMNO Baru since UMNO in its original form is already non-existent. On the way, let's also make a final chapter for all the race-based parties like MCA and MIC.

Michael Chick said...

Greetings all. This is Michael Chick, the original author of this topic. The version which you are reading is actually a response to a blog comment made over a year ago. Since then, I have rewritten this numerous times, and the latest is 9 pages long. That was published in Malaysia-Today under the title "Origins of the Malays".

Please e-mail me, or do Google search on either "Malays are not a Race", or "Origins of the Malays" for the latest version.


Michael Chick said...

Here's the latest edition: Let's see if your blog can handle the volume of text:

By Michael Chick

From http://www.discovermalaysia.biz/

It has been interesting to read such free-flowing comments on an all “Malaysian” free for all. I hate race classifications and here’s why….

How many of you have read the book entitled “Contesting Malayness - Malay Identity Across Boundaries” (edited by Timothy P. Barnard & published by Singapore University Press)? It reflects the Anthropologists views that there is no such race as the “Malays” to begin with.

If we follow the original migration of the Southern Chinese of 6,000 years ago, they moved into Taiwan, (now the Alisan), then into the Phillipines (now the Aeta) and moved into Borneo (4,500 years ago) (Dayak). They also split into Sulawesi and progressed into Jawa, and Sumatera. The final migration was to the Malayan Peninsular 3,000 years ago. A sub-group from Borneo also moved to Champa in Vietnam at 4,500 years ago.

Interestingly, the Champa deviant group moved back to present day Kelantan. There are also traces of the Dong Song and HoaBinh migration from Vietnam and Cambodia. To confuse the issue, there was also the Southern Thai migration, from what we know as Pattani today.

Of course, we also have the Minangkabau’s which come from the descendants of Alexander the Great and a West Indian Princess. (Sejarah Melayu page 1-3)

So the million dollar question… Is there really a race called the “Malays”? All anthropologists DO NOT SEEM TO THINK SO.

Neither do the “Malays” who live on the West Coast of Johor. They’d rather be called Javanese. What about the west coast Kedah inhabitants who prefer to be known as “Achenese” or the Ibans who simply want to be known as Ibans? Try calling a Kelabit “Malay” and see what response you get – you will be so glad that their Head-Hunting days are over.

Who are the Malays? In an article in the Star paper, this is what they said (an excerpt is reproduced here below):

“The Malays – taken as an aggregation of people of different ethnic backgrounds but who speak the same language or family of languages and share common cultural and traditional ties – are essentially a new race, compared to the Chinese, Indians and the Arabs with their long histories of quests and conquests.

The Malay nation, therefore, covers people of various ethnic stock, including Javanese, Bugis, Bawean, Achehnese, Thai, orang asli, the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak and descendants of Indian Muslims who had married local women.

Beneath these variations, however, there is a common steely core that is bent on changing the Malay persona from its perceived lethargic character to one that is brave, bold and ready to take on the world.”

The definition of “Malay” is therefore simply a collection of people who speak a similar type language. With what is meant by a similar type language does not mean that the words are similar. Linguists call this the “Lego-type” language, where words are added on to the root word to make meaning and give tenses and such. Somehow, the Indonesians disagree with this classification and insist on being called “Indonesians” even though the majority of “Malays” have their roots in parts of Indonesia?

They refuse to be called “Malay” no matter how you may define it.

The “Malay” definition also includes the Champa, Dong Song, HoabinHian, Taiwanese Alisan and Philippine Aetas. The “Orang Asli” are (for lack of a better term) are ex-Africans. If you try to call any one of our East Malaysian brothers an “Orang Asli”, they will beat you up! I had to repeat this because almost all West Malaysians make the same mistake when we cross the South China Sea. Worse, somehow, they feel even more insulted when you call them “Malay”. Somehow, “kurang ajar” is uttered below their breath as if “Malay” was a really bad word for them. I’m still trying to figure this one out.

Watch “Malays in Africa”; a Museum Negara produced DVD and also, the “Champa Malays” by the same. With this classification, they must also include the Filipinos, the Papua New Guineans, Australian Aborigines, as well as the Polynesian Aborigines. These are of the Australo Melanesians who migrated out of Africa 60,000 years ago.

Getting interesting? Read on…

The “Malay” should also include the Taiwanese singer “Ah Mei” who is Alisan as her tribe is the ancestors of the “Malays” and you will need to define the Southern Chinese (Southern Province) as Malay also since they are from the same stock 6,000 years ago.

Try calling the Bugis “Malay”. Interestingly, the Bugis who predominantly live on Sulawesi, are not even Indonesians. Neither do they fall into the same group as the migrating Southern Chinese of 6,000 years ago nor the Australo Melanesian group from Africa. Ready for this?

The Bugis are the cross-breed between the Mongolian Chinese and the wandering Arab Pirates (a runaway Ming Dynasty official whom Cheng Ho was sent to hunt down). Interestingly, the Bugis were career Pirates in the Johor-Riau Island areas and the nephew of Daeng Kemboja was appointed the First Sultan of Selangor. That makes the entire Selangor Sultanate part Arab, part Chinese! Try talking to the Bugis Museum curator near Kukup in Johor - Kukup is located near the most south-western tip of Johor.

Let’s not even get into the Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekiu, and Hang Lekir, who shared the same family last name as the other super famous “Hang” family member - Hang Li Poh and who was she? Legend tells us that she is the princess of a Ming Dynasty Emperor who was sent to marry the Sultan of Malacca. Won’t that make the entire Malacca Sultanate down line “Baba”? Since the older son of the collapsed Malaccan Sultanate got killed in Johor, (the current Sultanate is the down line of the then Bendahara) the only other son became the Sultan of Perak.

But wait a minute, that is what the legend says.

Let’s look at the proof - the solid evidence. There is a well next to the Zheng He Temple in Malacca which is supposed to be the well built by the Sultan of Malacca for her. According to legend, anyone who drinks of it shall re-visit Malacca before they die. Hmmm smells like a romantic fairy tale but let us look at who Hang Li Poh actually is. Which Ming Emperor was she a daughter to? So I got into researching the entire list of Ming Emperors. Guess what? Not a single Ming Emperor’s last name begins with Hang. In fact, all their last names begin with Tzu (pronounced Choo). So who is Hang Li Poh? An Extra Concubine? A Spare Handmaiden? Who knows? But one thing for certain, is that she was no daughter of any of the Ming Emperors. Gone is the romantic notion of the Sultan of Malacca marrying an exotic Chinese Princess. Sorry guys, the Sultan married an unidentified Chinese commoner.

Next question…

If the Baba’s are part Malay, why have they been marginalized by not being bumiputera? Which part of “Malay” are they not? Whatever the answer, why then are the Portuguese of Malacca bumiputera? Did they not come 100 years AFTER the arrival of the first Baba’s? Parameswara founded Malacca in 1411, the Portuguese came in 1511, and the Dutch in the 1600’s. Strangely, the Baba’s were in fact once classified a Bumiputera, but some Prime Minister decreed that they were to be strangely “declassified” in the 1960’s. Why? How can a “native son of the soil” degenerate into an “un-son”? The new classification is “pendatang” meaning a migrant.

Wait a minute, isn’t everyone on the Peninsular a migrant to begin with?

The Sultan of Kelantan had similar roots to the Pattani Kingdom making him of Thai origin. And what is this “coffee table book” by the Sultan of Perlis claiming to be the direct descendant of the prophet Muhammed? Somehow we see Prof Khoo Khay Khim’s signature name on the book. I’ll pay good money to own a copy of it myself. Anyone has a spare?

In pursuing this thread, and having looked at the history of Prophet Muhammed (BTW, real name Ahmad) we could not figure out which descendant line the Sultan of Perlis was. Perhaps it was by the name Syed, which transcended. Then we would ask which of the 13 official wives named in the Holy Koran? or was he a descendant from the other 23 names of the non-wives? Of the 13 were (at least known), there are 3 Israeli women. Then you would also ask yourself, isn’t Prophet Muhammad an Israeli himself? The answer is clear. All descendants of Moses are Israeli. In fact, the Holy Koran teaches that Moses was the First Muslim. Thus confirming that all descendants to be Israeli, including Jesus and Prophet Muhammad. It is also found in Sura 2:58 & 59 which specifically mentions that the Torah and the Kitab (Bible) are Holy Words of Allah. But since this is not a religious discussion, let’s move on to a more anthropological approach.

So, how many of you have met with orang Asli?

The more northern you go, the more African they look. Why are they called Negrito? It is a Spanish word, from which directly translates “mini Negros”. The more southern you go, the more “Indonesian” they look. And the ones who live at Cameron Highlands kinda look 50-50. You can see the Batek at Taman Negara, who really looks like Eddie Murphy to a certain degree or the Negritos who live at the Thai border near Temenggor Lake (north Perak). The Mah Meri in Carrie Island looks almost like the Jakuns in Endau Rompin - half African, half Indonesian.

By definition, (this is super eye-opening) there was a Hindu Malay Empire in Kedah.

Yes, I said right - the Malays were Hindu and it was, by the old name Langkasuka. Today it is known as Lembah Bujang. This Hindu Malay Empire was 2,000 years old - pre-dating Borobudur and Angkor Watt who came about around 500-600 years later. Lembah Bujang was THE mighty trading empire, and its biggest influence was by the Indians who were here to help start it. By definition, this should make the Indians bumiputeras too since they were here 2,000 years ago! Why are they marginalized?

Of the 3 books listed, “Contesting Malayness” (about S$32 for soft cover) is “banned” in Malaysia; you will need to “smuggle” it into Malaysia; for very obvious reasons or read it in Singapore if you don’t feel like breaking the law.

The other, “Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsular” (about RM84) are openly sold at all leading bookshops. You should be able to find a fair bit of what I’ve been quoting in this book too, but mind you, it is very heavy reading material, and you will struggle through the initial 200+ pages. It is extremely technical in nature. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t banned (yet) because our authorities couldn’t make head or tail of it? (if I wasn’t doing research for my film, I wouldn’t have read it in its entirety)

The final one is the “Sejarah Melayu” (about RM 35) is available at the University Malaya bookshop and I have both the English and Royal Malay version published by MBRAS. Incidentally, the Professor (Author) was invited to speak on this very subject about 2 years ago, in KL, invited by the MBRAS. You can imagine the “chaos” this seminar created.

There were actually many sources for these findings. Any older Philippino Museum Journal also carries these migration stories. This migration is also on display at the Philippines National Museum in Luzon. However, they end with the Aeta, and only briefly mention that the migration continued to Indonesia and Malaysia, but fully acknowledge that all Filipinos came from Taiwan and before Taiwan, was from China.

There is another book (part of a series) called the “Archipelago Series” endorsed by Tun Mahatir and Marina Mohammad, which states the very same thing right at the introduction on page one:-

“… that the Malays migrated out of Southern China some 6,000 years ago…”.

I believe it is called the “Pre-History of Malaysia” Hard Cover, about RM99 found in (mostly) MPH. They also carry “Pre-History of Indonesia” by the same authors for the same price.

It is most interesting to note that our Museum officials invented brand new unheard-of terms such as “Proto-Malay” and “Deutero-Malay”, to replace the accepted Scientific Term, Australo-Melanesians (African descent) and Austronesians (Chinese Descent, or Mongoloid to be precise) in keeping in line with creating this new “Malay” term.. They also created the new term called the Melayu-Polynesian. (Which “Melayu” exists in the Polynesian Islands?) Maybe they were just trying to be “patriotic” and “nationalistic” - who knows? After all, we also invented the term, “Malaysian Time” when the rest of the world calls it “tardy” and “late”. It’s quite an embarrassment actually - Singaporeans crossing the border are asked to set their watches back by about 100 years, to adjust to “Malaysian Time”

In a nutshell, the British Colonial Masters, who, for lack of a better description, needed a “blanket” category for ease of classification, used the term “Malay”. The only other logical explanation, which I have heard, was that “Malaya” came as a derivative of “Himalaya”, where at Langkasuka, or Lembah Bujang today was where the Indians were describing the locals as “Malai” which means “Hill People” in Tamil. This made perfect sense as the focal point at that time was at Gunung Jerai, and the entire Peninsular had a “Mountain Range” “Banjaran Titiwangsa”, as we call it.

The Mandarin and Cantonese accurately maintain the accurate pronunciation of “Malai Ren” and “Malai Yun” respectively till this very day where “ren” and “yun” both mean “peoples”.

Interestingly, “Kadar” and “Kidara”, Hindi and Sanskrit words accurately describe “Kedah” of today. They both mean “fertile Land for Rice cultivation. Again, a name given by the Indians 2,000 years ago during the “Golden Hindu Era” for a duration of 1,500 years.

It was during the “Golden Hindu Era” that the new term which the Hindu Malay leaders also adopted the titles, “Sultan” and “Raja”. The Malay Royalty was Hindu at that time, as all of Southeast Asia was under strong Indian influence, including Borobudur and Angkor Watt. Bali today still practices devout Hindu beliefs. The snake amulet worn by the Sultans of today, The Royal Dias, and even the “Pelamin” for weddings are tell-tale signs of these strong Indian influences. So, it was not Parameswara who was the first Sultan in Malaya. Sultanate existed approximately 1,500 years before he set foot on the Peninsular during the “Golden Hindu Era” of Malaysia and they were all Hindu.

The book “Pre history of Malaysia” also talks about the “Lost Kingdom” of the “Chi-Tu” where the local Malay Kingdom was Buddhists. The rest of the “Malays” were Animistic Pagans but you may say that the “Sejarah Melayu” calls it “Melayu”? Yes, it does. Read it again; is it trying to describe the 200-odd population hamlet near Palembang by the name “Melayu”? (Google Earth will show this village).

By that same definition, then, the Acehnese should be considered a “race”. So should the Bugis and the Bataks to be fair. Orang Acheh, Orang Bugis, Orang Laut, Orang Melayu now mean the same descriptions of ethnic tribes, at best. And since the “Malays” of today are not all descendants of the “Melayu” kampung in Jambi (if I remember correctly), the term Melayu has been wrongly termed from day one. Maybe this is why the Johoreans still call themselves either Bugis, or Javanese until today. So do the Acehnese on the West coast of Kedah & Perlis and the Kelantanese insist that they came from Champa, Vietnam.

Moreover, the fact that the first 3 pages claiming that “Melayu” comes from Alexander the Great and the West Indian Princess doesn’t help. More importantly, it was written in 1623. By then, the Indians had been calling the locals “Malai” for 1,500 yrs already. So the name stuck.

And with the Sejarah Melayu (The Malay Annals in page 1-3) naming the grandson of Iskandar Zulkarnain, and the West Indian Princess forming the Minangkabau. Whenever a Malay is asked about it, he usually says it is “karut” (bullshit), but all Malayan based historians insist on using Sejarah Melayu as THE main reference book for which “Malay” history is based upon. The only other books are “Misa Melayu”, “Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa”, and “Hikayat Hang Tuah” which is of another long and sometimes “heated” discussion. I find this strange.

I also find that it is strange that the “Chitti’s” (Indian+ Malay) of Malacca are categorized as Bumiputera, while their Baba brothers are not. Why? Both existed during the Parameswara days. Which part of the “Malay” side of the Baba is not good enough for Bumiputera classification? Re-instate them. They used to be Bumiputera pre 1960’s anyway.

Instead of “Malay”, I believe that “Maphilindo” (circa 1963) would have been the closest in accurately trying to describe the Malays. However, going by that definition, it should most accurately be “MaphilindoThaiChinDiaVietWanGreekCamfrica” and it is because of this even our University Malaya Anthropology professors cannot look at you in the eye and truthfully say that the word “Malay” technically and accurately defines a race.

This is most unfortunate.

So, in a nutshell, the “Malays” (anthropologists will disagree with this “race” definition) are truly Asia! For once the Tourism Ministry got it right. We should stop calling this country “Tanah Melayu” instead call it, “Tanah Truly Asia”.

You must understand now, why I was “tickled pink” when I found out that the Visit Malaysia slogan for 2007 was “Truly Asia”. They are so correct (even though they missed out Greece and Africa). By the way the name UMNO should be changed to UTANO the new official acronym for “United Truly Asia National Organization”. After all, they started out as a Bugis club in Johor anyway.

As I said, I hate race classifications. This is so depressing and even more depressing is that the “Malays” are not even a race; not since day one.

“Truly Asia Boleh”

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum dear writer,
you sounded full of hatred..has life been so unfair?

im so sorry for u.

'teacher at heart'

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, everyone (including the author of this article) metions the Portuguese etc. but completely ignores the years when Zhenghe (Chengho) used Melaka as his port of call when many Chinese merchants and sailors came and settled in Melaka. Many of the babas can trace their lineage back to this period.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Malays originated from Yunan, that's according to history. Mostly Malays in Malaysia & Singapore are mixed blood of Chinese, Javanese, Indian, Portugese & Arab.

But, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is not an Israeli, he's an Arab belonged to the Hashimite family of Quraish.



Unknown said...

To Michael Chick,

Your essay "The Origin of Malays" at http://election.PenangA1.com/Origin_of_Malays.txt has just been updated to the latest version.

Good Day !

RitchieLow said...

Bugis, Orang Minang, Orang Jawa, Orang Riau, Batak, Temuan, Jakun, Murut, Bajau, Bidayuh, Iban, Kadazan. Such diverse culture and yet we find so little information about them in our primary and secondary school books, apart from some picture showing aborigines in loin cloths. If there is no China and no India to serve as a backdrop reference, Chinese and Indian will probably be in the above list as tribes of Malaysia albeit by different names like Baba etc.

Consider the following illustration; is John the guy from UMNO whose "laws" are all those catch phrases to fool the gullible ?

Two Tribes

Consider two different isolated tribes somewhere in the jungles of Malaysia. Call them Tribe 1 and Tribe 2. Each has its unique language with its own structure. The language of tribe 1 (language 1) tends to be very literal. A man who fishes, for example, is called "man-who-fishes." The same man, while sleeping, is called "man-who-sleeps"; while talking, "man-who-talks"; while running, -"man-who-runs"; etc. In language 1, distinctions are made between different kinds of words: "Thing-words," "Do-words," "How-words," "Story-words," etc. Abstractions are rare in language 1. To the people of tribe 1, any word that doesn't refer to something physically perceivable, is highly suspect. Their test for reality is physical.

The language of Tribe 2 (Language 2) is very different. A man who obtains his wherewithal mostly by fishing, is called "fisherman." (This system of nomenclature would seem absurd to the people of Tribe 1 - how can you call someone a "fisherman" when he is not fishing, but sleeping?) Language 2 contains many abstractions - like "happiness." People from Tribe 2 can talk for hours about "happiness." (To someone from Tribe 1, this would be incomprehensible - they only talk about "woman-who-is-happy" while she is happy, and "woman-who-is-sad" while she is sad.

To the people from Tribe 2, any word being used is automatically assumed to be part of existence, otherwise people wouldn't use it. (To someone from Tribe 1, the word "existence" would be a meaningless absurdity, because in their mentality only particular objects exist.) In Tribe 2, the test for reality is agreement. If other people agree with a word and the way it seems to be used, then that word is automatically accepted as valid and useful.

One day a strange man arrives at the place where the people of Tribe 1 live. They ask him: "Who you?" He: "I King". They: "your name King?". He: "No; my name John." They: "Why call self King if name John?" He: "I special person, agent of God." They: "You look different but not special; who God?" He: "God creator of world."They: "Where God?; How create world?" He: "God everywhere;
God all-powerful." They: "How we see God?" He: "Can't see God."
They: "You speak crazy." He: "No; I special; I show you."

Whereupon the stranger performs various tricks like apparently making $$$ appear and disappear. They: "You clever man-who tricks." He: "I special; I King." They: "You speak funny; you clever John-who-tricks." He: "I King; my word law." They: "What law? - special word?" He: "Yes; my word law - you must obey." They: "Ah! You mean order-word!" He: "Yes; I King; I make law." They: "No;
you speak order-word?" He: "Yes; I special". They: "What special? - Anybody speak order-word?" He: "You not understand." They: "No."

Eventually John-the-stranger gives up trying to convince the people of Tribe 1 that he has a "special status" and that his words are different from the words of anyone else - so he leaves, to search for more gullible and impressionable victims elsewhere...

For many days and nights he trudges through the jungle before discovering the people of Tribe 2. They: "Who you?" He: "I King." They: "Your name King?" He: "No, my name John." They: "Why call self King if name John?" He: "I special person, agent of God."
They: "You look different; what God?" He: "God creator of world." They: Where God?; How create world?" He "God everywhere; God all-powerful." They: "Show special?" Whereupon the stranger performs various tricks like apparently making $$$ appear and disappear. They: "You King, agent of God." He: "Yes, my word law." They: "What law?" He: "Law special word of God through me; you must obey." Whereupon the people of Tribe 2 bow down and kiss the feet of John - they do not habitually test abstractions against reality, so they readily accept John-the-stranger as their "King" and his word as "law."

Thereafter all he has to do to control and dominate them, is to open his mouth...

Starmandala said...

Thank you, Michael Chick, for swinging by and clarifying the origins of the essay that inspired this blogpost! We owe you a teh tarik for having put so much time into reading through all these dry history books and picking out a few gems of information for us lazy flers :-)

Anonymous one who said this post was "full of hate" - I wouldn't call it hate, just a perverse form of glee in exposing the HUGE LIE upon which UMNO was built. I was 19 when Razak planned the May 13 massacre as an excuse to topple Tunku Abdul Rahman and put his Melayu Baru Neocons in power. Mahathir was the youngest member of the Umno junta that seized power after May 13. In all these decades since I've waited and waited for the day this evil implant of "supremacy" would be lifted from the Malay psyche and the people be free to find themselves as truly beautiful and talented human beings, blessed with an abundance of interesting genetics. It's not "hate" - just glad to hear the Fat Lady of Umno sing her swan song!

Starmandala said...

Thanks for your upbeat comments, Lee Wen! Somebody left an anonymous remark about Zheng He's visits to Melaka in the 15th century. Those interested may want to read a blogpost dedicated to this great navigator - perhaps the greatest that ever lived!

Anonymous said...

Razak PLANNED the May 13 massacre?

You are a complete jerk.

Starmandala said...

This reply is for the anonymous commenter who called me "a complete jerk" for saying Razak planned the May 13 massacre. All right, he had a bit of help from Harun Idris, the then MB of Selangor. Among the core members of the Melayu Baru Neocons were Syed Jaafar Albar, of the Dewan Pustaka dan Bahasa, Mahathir Mohamad, Ghazali Shafie, and possibly Tun Dr Ismail too. (I'm not 100% sure about the degree of TDI's involvement but he was Umno's chief intellectual and ideologist at the time). Where does this info come from? The Tunku mentioned these names to veteran journalist K. Das while being interviewed for an official biography that never saw the light of day. K. Das was a dear friend of mine with whom I collaborated in 1987 on a book called 'The Things Politicians Say About Politicians' (forerunner of Amir Muhammad's 'Politicians Say The Darndest Things'). I suggest you read Dr Kua Kia Soong's 2007 book, "MAY 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969" which offers ample documentary evidence that Razak masterminded the massacre as a 'sandiwara' by which to seize power from the Old School Malay aristocrats. Think about it: if there was a political will to maintain public order, any racial skirmishes could have been quelled within two days, if not two hours. Instead the killing and looting and burning was allowed to drag on for two weeks or more. But, then, if the "rioting" had been nipped in the bud and public peace restored, there would have been no excuse to declare the election results "null and void" and impose martial law.

Anonymous said...

What goes around comes around.

What the father planned almost 40 years ago will come fullswing if the son is incriminated with Altantuya's murder.

Sins of the father to be paid by the son, hopefully.

poetic justice... and they say there is no GOD

Anonymous said...

The Malay bashers are out again misusing Michael Chick's article to "contest" Malayness.

Michael Chick's opinion is his opinion using his parameters on the definition of the word "race" and has many good points.

But to say there is no "Malay" ethnic group in Malaysia or many of those who call themselves "Malays" in Mlaysia should call themselves or some Bugis, Bawean, Java or whatever not is like sayning there are no "Chinese" race because they are really Hakka, Cantonese, Hokkien etc.

There are people who call themselves "Malay" in Indonesia that are distinct from the Achenese, Mandailings, Bugis and Javanese and the latter groups do not like to refer to themselves as Malays.

But in Malaysia, these groups have no problem calling themselves "Malays" or group themselves with the "proper" Malays. Who are we to dispute what they like to call themselves if the Malays in Malaysia accept them as "Malays"

I am reminded of the House of Lords decision in the Mandla's case whereby the Law Lords have to decide whether a "Sikhs" are a distinct "race" or "ethnic group" or are they just a religious group within the the larger Punjabi commmunity which they do not differ in physical attributes.

Needless to say that the House of Lords answered the first question in the affirmative.

THe law Lords went further to add that one CAN BE BORN OF one "race" and join another race in adulthood if the latter "race" accepts that person in membership.

So this endless quetioning of Malaysia's definition of who is a "Malay" is pointless because ethnicity can be gained or defined through nativity, culture, language, religion, political, social and other factors exclusively or in combination.

I may be Chinese by nativity but my sons and grandchildren can become any ethnic group they want to be depending on the receptivity of the Race they want to join.

By disputing who is a Malay to begin with is indicative of their existence.


Cruzeiro said...

I have some misgivings about this "contesting Malayness" - using the same logic, there is no such thing as any race in planet earth, except the human race!
"Race" is a social construct of rulers, to perpetuate their rule and retain political autonomy.
A people will evolve over time to create a unique culture of the own as a result of various influences, local and foreign.
Every race traces itself back in time to yet another - ad infinatum.

I would however, readily agree that the 5.13 sandiwara was in actuality an UMNO internal coup d'etat, design to put some elite neo-cons in place with the help of "NEP".
That is why we see cultures of cronyism, feudalism and nepotism practised in UMNO Baru today.

Anonymous said...

well. i think the problem here is, when the UMNO decide to provide Malay supremacy, and persuade priviledges for Malay as the aborigines, they have to define what the aborigines of Malaysia is...but unfortunately, history shows that there are many races settled in Semenanjung long before the Malays, So when the law installed the Malay to be define as aborigines who are muslim, dont u think that is the religion, but not the ethnicity that decide who should get the priviledge?
And it spark me one quetions, if a Malay with bumiputera status opt to quit out of Islam, can he or his successor be called Malay as they are no longer fulfilled the condition of Malay in law, even though their blood are malays?

Anonymous said...

1. Existance of a malay-hindu empire is in fact stated in our lower form history textbook. And that parameswara is not the first sultan of malaya is also already stated in the text book. He is only the first sultan of the Malacca empire.

2. The fact that malay culture is a mixture of many other culture is also stated in our lower form history text book. (even some words in the modern malay language - eg almari, khas, are "imported" from other language. and these is also stated in the text book).

3. The fact that malay is not originally a muslim - very obvious. Islam by Pft. Muhammad only started around 1400 years ago. and malay migrated from yunnan 60,000 years ago.

4. That the other races have been here in the so called "tanah melayu" a.k.a suvarnabumi a.k.a semenanjung emas many thousand years ago (mainly for trade purposes - globalization and trade beyond borders have started a very long time ago) also stated in the lower form history text book.

5. even the federal constitution (article 160) defines malay as "a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay
language, conforms to Malay custom". therefore, technically anyone that fulfil these 3 criteria should be defined as a "malay" and should therefore be a "bumiputra". (which also means that a malay who is an apostate should not be granted with bumiputra privileges as a "malay" must be a muslim according to the federal constitution definition)

6. There is no "special biological features" for malay. You can find some very fair, some very tanned, some have large eyes, some very small.

So, who are "malays"?

All these 6 facts are widely known. And yet, people still think UMNO is relevant? i wonder.....

and by the way - i'm proud to introduce my self as a truly malaysian (mom is from the indian trader's decendent mixed with bugis and malay and dad is the malacca baba). Saya orang malaysia. and i know in my generation (the Gen Y), many of us are a mixture of so many races. The malaysian malaysia state is inevitable. Soon enough we will all be mixed up that we could no longer identify what race we actually are - we will then be just malaysian not malay or malaysian chinese or malaysian indian. (and that time, if people still think UMNO,MCA and MIC still relevant... god pls help them..)

Anonymous said...

The author of the article wrote that the book, "Contesting Malayness" is banned in Malaysia. It is not, though. You can get it at Kino. =)

Anonymous said...

What do you say about Muslim Supremacy and Royal Supremacy?

I think let keep it up with our newly discovered Rakyat Supremacy ... that's the only way to protect our own interest.

What say uou we group together and start a Rakyat Supremacist News Portal and a start, anyone?

Cruzeiro said...

Who is this impostor using RPK's name?
Doesn't he have a name of his own?

Martin Bradley said...

You're not wrong Antares.

According to Ronald Provencher in Mainland Southeast Asia an Anthropological perspective

p111, who in turn quotes from I.T.Davis Malay as defined in the States Malay Reservation Enactments

A Malay is simply someone who behaves as a Malay should, this includes - speaking habitually the Malay language, follow Malay customs and accept Islam.

Mahathir bin Mohamad, p152 of The Malay Dilemma, calls the Malays - The definitive people of Malaysia, without offering his reason for doing so.

For me, personally, I believe that the collective noun Malay has become used to define a group of peoples of mixed heritage who are resident in a particular area and who have adopted and adapted aspects of other's culture during several hundred years to form the group we now refer as Malays.

But honestly this is no different from the old argument - who are the British. And the answer is practically the same - a mixed bag of peoples from a number of different nations having mostly taken on a middle - eastern religion, in the British sense - Christianity, in the Malay sense Islam.

As the Malays are a mixture of Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Orang Asli etc etc, the British are a mixture of French, German, Dutch, Italians, Spanish, various Scandinavians etc etc.

Michael Chick said...

I always feel very sad that people in Malaysia (in general) are unable to tell the difference between nationality and race. Let me reiterate: The 5 component races of the world are The Caucasoid, the Negroid, the Mongoloid, The Austronesian and the Dravidian.

Now, "malay", or "melayu" is but a tribe in Jambi, Palembang, Sumatera.

Tunku Halim said...

One thing to note though is that all the migration that Michael Chick refers to is STONE AGE migration - ie. the events occurred tens of thousands years ago. The people who migrated from South China are unlikely to have the same physical characteristics as those who live there today.

The historians or pre-historians (to be precise) are more or less in agreement about the Austronesian migrating from Southern China. I don't believe there is any controversy in Paul Munoz's book. This migration pattern is referred to in DGE Hall's "A History of South-East Asia" (1964)

"Malay" is a very loose defintion. They are strictly a subset of the Austronesian. Unfortunately the definition is also political... and includes Malay speaking Anglo-Saxon muslims too!

Starmandala said...

There's only one race: human. And that's in the process of turning into the human dance. Why race? Why not take time out to smell the roses, jasmine, full moon flower and rafflesia? Let's stop racing and start driving/walking/cycling consciously! Nice to hear from you, TH :-)

Michael Chick said...

Hi, nice to see Tengku Halim post a comment. I was using your "Malacca History" book when I first started looking for clues. It's a good starting point.

However, regarding the dates, it is the Neolithic period which was when the southern Chinese started the migration. That was merely 6,500 years ago. Not tens of thousands as you said. It is far more recent than what the Malaysian government would like people to think to think. Instead of calling all constitutional "malays" as Mongoloid, the term Austronesian much better describes them. The very same people from Sumatera till Tahiti. This excludes the Australo-Melanesians (aka African), which locals call "Orang Asli". So far not one single Anthrolopologist has refuted this claim that the "malays" are not a race.

Truly Asia needs to

Anonymous said...

where is the history of 'bumiputra'

Starmandala said...

Hello, Dr Salin. You'll be surprised to learn that the concept of Bumiputra was first mooted by the Tunku himself. Google it yourself or just start with the Wikipedia entry on 'Bumiputra' :-) Thanks to your comment I dipped into the subject briefly and learnt that my son actually qualifies as 'Bumiputra': "If one of the parents is Muslim Malay or Orang Asli as stated in Article 160 (2) Federal Constitution of Malaysia; thus the child is considered as a Bumiputra." Yahoooo! He can join Umno!!!

Anonymous said...

I read this thread with much enthusiasm but my one big question is....when are we going to revise our history books regarding these facts or at least shed more light into the blurred history we get during high school?

People especially all Malaysians need to be properly informed about our roots...no matter where we come from we have to learn how to live as one now, that is a fact that we cannot escape from unless one plans to migrate to 'greener pastures'.

Why can't the government accept the fact that we are ALL bumiputras and not just exclusively for some....I deemed that as extremely racist, exclusivistic and unhealthy for a country which boasts of a place where an array of ethnic groups co-exists. Did we not just celebrate our 50th Independence Day? It seems that we are really living in the pre-historic days, instead of plodding onwards we seem to cling on to old-out-dated ideologies...why are we so afraid to move with the times? In this current age, I strongly feel we are still blinded with selfish interests and will lag behind in the race of pursuit for higher achievement. Look how far our neighbours have flourished.

Guys out there, is UMNO, MCA or MIC
really in line with the nations "Truly Asia" image? I don't think so...They have served our ancestors well, its time we move on as Malaysians! Malaysia, Truly Asia!

Starmandala said...

In reference to the last comment from "Anonymous": hey, thank you for the thoughtful words. It's almost a blogpost unto itself! The fact that this subject is being freely discussed online - and only today I read about Universiti Malaya students demanding the resignation of their incumbent student leader so they can make a fresh start with reclaiming their civil liberties as thinking citizens of Malaysia - well, all this is part of the political paradigm shift that knocked the Umno-dominated BN off its self-built pedestal on March 8th 2008. With that monolith of repression out of the way, many good things lie ahead for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Malay only have Malaysia. Indian & Chinese got bigger/better world than Malaysia. Ex: Hindraf has supporters from Tamil Nadu. If chaos in Malaysia, both Chinese & Indian could escape, but Malay & Bumiputera won't be accpeted (probably indon, waiting by parang)& die here. Give them chances.

Starmandala said...

The last anonymous commenter said:
"Malay only have Malaysia. Indian & Chinese got bigger/better world than Malaysia..."

How about thinking a bit bigger? If the entire world plunges into chaos - either through drastic climate change or the collapse of an outmoded and unwholesome global economic system - where would we humans go?

The answer is pretty obvious: either we stay calm and apply our intelligence, experience, collective wisdom and skills to helping one another (as happened in Argentina when their corrupt government collapsed)... or we'll wipe each other out by regressing into mindless, panic-stricken savagery.

In the case of Malaysia, the only way out of danger and instability is for us to reconnect with first our humanity - then with our inherent divinity. I know before that can happen old dogmas and belief systems must be shattered. Let them be shattered - they serve no purpose apart from keeping us divided in fear and mutual suspicion, and they only further enrich the ruling elite (priests and kings)!

The Malays don't seem to realize how fortunate they are to have so many genetic resources to draw from. In fact I tend to feel more "Malay" than anything else - the only difference being that I don't fear dogs, pigs, and sultans ;-)

Anonymous said...

So we all dont want to believe that there are "races". Ok fine, but why start with "malay" ? Is there a "chinese" , "indian", "arabs"... etc etc then ?

Starmandala said...

Anon @ 5:45PM - Frankly, my friend, I don't give a damn about "race." That's one reason why I stopped using my birthname and began calling myself Antares - "trans-ethnic" you see! All of us humanoids currently in physical incarnation on earth can be loosely described as Homo sapiens (though I seriously doubt the "sapient" qualifier) or MANUSIA. That's why I usually put "manusia" whenever I'm asked to state my "race" on official forms. If YOU start to do the same, we're finally getting somewhere :-)

Anonymous said...

Im suggest to u ..Dont talk bout malay if u dont know. Read here http://riwayatmelayu.blogspot.com

From Prophet Ibrahim a.s (abraham) had sons named Ishak a.s with Ismail a.s.
JEWS come from Ishak a.s with his mother Siti Sarah n stay in bethlehem. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w come from Ismail a.s with his mother Siti Hajar stay in Mecca.

Anonymous said...

Ketuanan Melayu benefits only the Tuan, at the expense of Melayu. It's about Ketuanan in the name of Melayu, in many ways which hurt the Melayu. This Penumpang Kristian Cina has this thought.. do share your thought .. http://katasayang.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/takkan-melayu-hilang-di-dunia-topsy-turvy/

Unknown said...

mesmerizing article.... from hanuman chalisa team members

panca said...

And they went wholesale to call one of their own flowing in their veins, Cina Babi. Where does the yellow look came from? Calling your great great great grandfathers, Babi...betul kurang diajar@scumnos.