Malay Citizen For Malaysia Free Of Indian And Chinese

Malaysian in Malaya at least who have roots in India and China, for example, can be Malay citizen, Borneo being different kettle of fish, being work in progress Equal Partnership Of Malay Federation And Borneo Territories in Malaysia under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA’63)!

Commentary And Analysis . . . No one in the former British Borneo territories would be comfortable if they are considered Malay citizen.

Already, the Borneons are upset that dictatorial former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad considers Malaysia as Tanah Melayu (Malay land). Mahathir was repeating the case for Malay citizenship, the thesis statement earlier made by former Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. The Tengku echoed politician Burhanuddin al-Helmy.

Sabah and Sarawak are not in the Malay Peninsula i.e. the southern portion of the Kra Peninsula.

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Malay Citizen Origin

Again, Tanah Melayu was in fact misnomer for government reserves which were gazetted on Orang Asli (aboriginal) land in Malaya by the British. The colonial administration wanted various immigrant communities from the Archipelago, habitually speaking Malay, out of the way. The British wanted large areas free of the squatter colonies which were codified under the Malay administrative label. That paved the way for tin mining and rubber plantations.

Malaya is an English word derived from Malay which means hilly/mountainous in Tamil and Malayalam (hilly/mountainous).

The Orang Asal (Original People), in particular, see themselves as Borneons. They take great pride in having NCR (Native Customary Rights) land, i.e. ancestral and historical property, under Adat presided over by the Native Court. Adat, customary practices which have force of law, is the 1st law in international law.

The Negrito (Semang), still found in the mountains of Malaya, were the first people in the peninsula. The DNA trail shows that they came from the mountains of Kerala, in southwest India, 40K years ago.

The Negrito, still found in the High Country in Kerala, were the first people in India. It has been estimated that they came 70K years ago, from east Africa, by hugging the African, Arabian, Persian and Indian coasts, before reaching the Malabar coast in Kerala.

Others in India mostly came 15K to 8K years ago, the latter being more accurate. The Albino in the north were descended from the Dravidian (archaic Caucasoid or old Caucasian) speakers. The Dravidian speakers were descended from the proto-Dravidian who reached Afghanistan after the long trek from the Greek islands.

Borneo Not Malay

Malaysian in Malaya at least who have roots in India and China, for example, can be Malay citizen, Borneo being different kettle of fish, being work in progress Equal Partnership Of Malay Federation And Borneo Territories in Malaysia under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA’63).

Mahathir wasn’t saying anything new when he proposed that Malaysian who have roots in India and China, for example, can be viewed as Malay citizen.

The media has commented on it. See Chinese and Indian migrants should have become ‘Malay’?

It was about two years ago that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah raised the Malay citizenship concept proposed by Burhanuddin al-Helmy, based on Malay identity, for all citizens no matter their origin.

The trio, i.e. Mahathir, Razaleigh and Burhanuddin, did not come up with well thought out concepts on citizenship and identity. There was no Definition. If there was thesis statement, the problem statement may not exist, unless Malaysian in Malaya who originate from India and China are seen as political problems i.e. if they don’t assimilate, not just integrate.

Indonesia No Role Model

Mahathir cited Indonesia as example of assimilation, not just integration, for Malaysia.

There’s no basis for comparison as “outsiders” form no more than perhaps 5 per cent at the most in Indonesia. In Malaysia, “others” put together made up 49.6 per cent of the population in the 2010 National Census. The 2020 National Census, delayed by the pandemic, has no Malay, Orang Asal (Original People) and Orang Asli (aboriginal people) categories.


If shove comes after push, there can be Referendum on Malay citizenship after the Definition of Malay in Article 160(2), as form of identity, was repealed. Other related Articles, already aberration in law, may be rendered redundant.

Integration, assimilation, DNA, geographical origin, and pluralism aren’t constitutional matters. The colour-blind Constitution enshrines freedom of conscience, other freedoms, and secularism.


Article 3, being standalone clause as the Constitution was based on the rule of law, states that Islam was the religion of the Federation, i.e. Malaya, enshrined in Article 160(2). Article 3 echoes the Definition of Malay in Article 160(2) as form of identity based on Islam, being habitually Malay speaking, and born or domiciled in Singapore or Malaya by Merdeka on 31 August 1957.

Article 153 on “special position of Orang Asal, Orang Asli and Malay”, was rendered redundant by sunset clause 15 years after Merdeka on 31 August 1957.

The sunset clause was removed after the 13 May 1969 disturbances in the streets of Kuala Lumpur. In law, Article 8, there can be no discrimination, save as provided by law. If there’s discrimination, i.e. by law, there must be sunset clause.

Article 152 on national language (bahasa kebangsaan) — read 20K Bahasa Melayu as habitually spoken in Johor-Rhio-Lingga — may need update for Malay citizenship.

The 40K Bahasa Malaysia replaced Bahasa Melayu by 1969. Bahasa Malaysia, unlike Bahasa Melayu on paper, was used in practice as the unofficial official language. Parliament can debate Bahasa Malaysia as national language, under Article 152, as replacement for Bahasa Melayu.

Bahasa Malaysia, which includes the 20K word Bahasa Melayu based on mixture of loanwords (Cambodian, Tamil, Sanskrit and Pali), has 20K loanwords from English, local languages and dialects.

The 127K word Bahasa Indonesia, which includes the 20K Bahasa Melayu, has about 30K Dutch loanwords. It has also 77K loanwords from English and local languages and dialects.

Official Language

Official language, the medium in which the government does business, was also used in Parliament, the media and schools. The vernacular schools mostly use Tamil and Chinese.

Bahasa Malaysia was the unofficial official language of the lower court in Malaya.

English was the language of the court in the former British Borneo and in the superior court in Malaysia. — NMH

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Joe Fernandez
Longtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez has been writing for many years on both sides of the Southeast Asia Sea. He should not be mistaken for a namesake formerly with the Daily Express in Kota Kinabalu. JF keeps a Blog under FernzTheGreat on the nature of human relationships.

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