The ‘pendatang’ label and Gerakan’s ‘wayang’

– Koon Yew Yin
The Malaysian Insider
23 October 2014

At Gerakan’s recently concluded national conference, the public was treated to a lone voice from the party who stated his view with regard to the birth place of the various racial groups in the country.

According to Johor delegate Tan Lai Soon, the Chinese and Indians were not the only pendatang (immigrants), but the Malays were also not natives of Malaysia as they had emigrated from Indonesia.

Tan said he wanted to explain the position of Malaysians in the country, as the original Bumiputeras were the Orang Asli and natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

“Except for the natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli, everyone else in Malaysia is a pendatang.”

Tan noted that “when Umno members say that the Chinese are pendatang, they obviously forgot that they were also pendatang from Indonesia,” he said.

This view is one which many Malaysians hold – whether in public or privately. But it is one which Umno, Perkasa, BTN and “ketuanan Melayu” supporters do not like to hear about and are trying to suppress as it delegitimises the special privileges that they are addicted to.

Tan’s statement can be said to be akin to stating that the emperor is not clothed when he is parading around in his fine new clothes.

For daring to point out this inconvenient fact of the origins of many Malaysians, Tan’s membership in Gerakan is suspended with immediate effect. Attempting to do damage control, deputy president Cheah Soon Hai argues that Tan’s position was not the party’s stand. According to him Gerakan is a party of all races and that no Malaysian is a pendatang.

Meanwhile, on cue, a coalition of Malay NGOs called Pertubuhan Pembela Islam (Pembela) has lodged a police report at the Dang Wangi police station over the issue and has asked Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail to charge Tan under the Sedition Act 1948.

According to Pembela, the “seditious” statement has given rise to a tensed situation and triggered anger among Malays as well as indirectly insulted the position of the Malay rulers.

Cheah said it was not just Malay NGOs who were upset with Tan’s remarks as party members too had lodged complaints over the remark by Tan in his speech. Finally, he offered a public apology “on behalf of the party to all Malaysians who have been hurt” by his remark.

Gerakan may be trying to sooth Umno’s ruffled feathers by its apology but it is digging a bigger hole for itself.

“Spineless party”, “puppet party”, “kowtowing leaders”, “shameless leaders”, “wimpering lap dog” are some of the more polite responses that the Gerakan president and vice-president have obtained from disgusted members of the public.

Tan’s statement may be politically incorrect or insensitive but he was simply saying out loud what many educated members of the public understand to be the history of migration into Malaysia from the neighbouring countries and from afar.

This also happens to be the authoritative view among many scholars of Malaysia – whether they may be historians, geographers, demographers or from other disciplines.

The origins of the population of colonial Malaya was the subject of much investigation and study by colonial officials and scholars. Almost all books and official records that came out during the colonial period devoted considerable attention to the subject of the origins of the Malays and non-Malays.

Below are some sample writings on the subject from colonial scholars that will be useful for Gerekan member Tan to use in his defence when his suspension case is heard by his party leaders soon.

R.O. Winstedt:

“In recent historical times the mixture of Malay races has proceeded rapidly in British Malaya …. Old Malay Malacca was full of thousands of Javanese and many Muslim Gujeratis and Tamils, and these aliens must have left their mark on a population that was a collection of strangers from the beginning. Selangor may have traces of old Malacca suzerainty, but the modern nobility are Bugis and there have been numbers of recent Sumatran immigrants. Negri Sembilan has been Minangkabau almost from the first. In Kedah and the Northern States there has been an infusion of Siamese blood . Again, in every State in the past there has been intercourse with the aborigines, and the aboriginal women have borne children to Malay fathers. Wavy or curly hair, dark complexions and other evidences of Semang blood distinguish the Malay of Upper Perak. South of that there is the lank-haired Indo Chinese Malay type, whose ancestry is Sakai on the distaff side.” Malaya (London, 1923) edited by R.O. Windstedt, pp. 86-87.

Emily Sadka:

In addition to this internal immigration [Malays into the Protected Malay States] there was a large inflow from the islands of the Indonesian archipelago. In Perak, the foreign immigrants – the Bugis particularly – were the principal traders of the state; a Bugis trader, Nakhoda Trong, was a partner in the syndicate which leased the farm of the Perak river customs duties in 1874. There were settlements of Rawas and Mandelings from north-east Sumatra; a Rawa Che’ Abdul Karim went with a Sumatran to open up Selama in the 1870s, and during the British occupation of Perak in 1875-6, Rawas, Mandelings and Bugis helped the British in their military operations….In 1879, a census of the Malay population in Perak gave the number of foreign Malays as 9,274 out of a total free Malay population of 56,632. In Selangor the population was even more mixed. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, the Bugis settled on the Klang and Selangor, and in the middle of the eighteenth century, a Bugis prince became the first Sultan of Selangor and established the present dynasty. There were important Bugis and Sumatran trading communities in Kuala Lumpur and Klang. It was a quarrel between them that precipitated the Selangor wars of 1866-73. In Kuala Selangor there were also foreign Malay communities; in 1875 the Resident of Selangor described the population as consisting of Mengkabaus, Mandelings, Rawas, Bugis and Chinese….Negri Sembilan…had absorbed into its clan system colonies of immigrants from Malacca, Java and Acheh; and…a Bugis chief had established a settlement on the lower Linggi…

Note that footnotes are omitted except for this one: A Malay traveller has described the population of Klang in 1872 as a heterogenous collection of Malays, Arabs, English, Chinese, Eurasian, Eurasian, Klings, Bengalis, Hindus, and native born (peranakan) of Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Kedah – about 3,000 in all. (See Mohammed Ibrahim bin Abdullah, Kesah Pelayaran [Account of Travels] Johore, 1956, p. 46.)

The above are just two examples of the meticulous accounts of the population of Malaya and Malaysia during the colonial period.

They throw light on various other subjects such as the roots of the royal houses in Malaysia and the dynasties they have founded.

These and other unbiased histories and studies need to be compulsory reading material for all the political parties in Malaysia so that we can avoid further needless controversies on subjects such as who are pendatang and who are indigenous, and on related issues that provoke unwarranted calls for the use of the Sedition Act. – October 23, 2014.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 23 October 2014 - 11:55 am

    All this debate is interesting and true but face it, what really we want to know is when next UMNO right-winger or their NGO is going to call Chinese pendatang again or similar (because they think they are so smart) and get away with it..

  2. #2 by worldpress on Thursday, 23 October 2014 - 12:20 pm

    Chinese and Malay stayed knew each other in Calcutta 200 years ago

    Chinese were in Malaya nearly or at least 190-200 years and they were the earliest greatest economic contributors the pioneer open up inland raw jungle and boost Malaya economic production contributed to nation Malaya huge fortune

    A trip round the world in 1887-8
    The shark appeared the staple food of the poor in fish diet ; but thebut the bonita, a fish that looked like a two-foot herring, small sword fishes, gar-fish, a creature that seemed all fins and head, another with a head so big that its eyes look out from the middle of its sides, and a fish about the size and character ot the chad of the English channel, were all plentiful and cheap. One whole side of the market is given up to dried and salt fish, which made one thirsty even to look at. Another avenue is devoted to “chow chow,” or cooked food of all sorts, where groups of Chinese and Malays were squatted about enjoying fearsome-looking dainties of various kinds and flavours. The meat supply comes from Slam and India, and the fowls mainly from Cochin China and the Malay Peninsula. In the market we brought some fruit for lunch. The far-famed mangosteen was in season, and is a delicate pulpy fruit about the size of a large strawberry, with a fine subtle sub-acid flavour, embedded in a husk about f inch thick.
    The Governor draws a salary of ;^4,ooo a year, with free quarters at Government House, and various allowances and perquisites ; the Colonial Secretary is paid ;^ 1,600, with free
    quarters; the Treasurer ;^r,ooo, the Surveyor-General gets ;^l,200 a year besides his pay as Colonel of Royal Engineers, the Commissioner of Lands ;{^i,ooo, the Harbour Master .1^700,
    the Postmaster-General ;^700, the Chief Justice ;^2,ooo, the Puisne Judge ;^ 1,400, the Registrar ^C/oo, the Attorney-General ;^i,300, the Police Magistrates from ;^6oo to ;^8oo, the Bishop ;({^ioo! the Colonial Chaplain ;^6oo, the Inspector of Schools ;^700, the principal Medical Officer ;^8oo, the Inspector-General of Police ;^8oo, European policemen ;^8o and free quarters with rations, the Superintendent of Prisons ;{^8oo, with free quarters ; and the superintendent of the Botanic Gardens ;^400, with free quarters and ;^70 travelling expenses. I don’t think the salaries pail to these leading officials can be considered excessive, taking into account the responsible work they have to do and the blazing climate in which they have to do it. At Penang and Malacca the Resident Councillor gets ;£” 1,000 a year and free quarters, and the Resident at Perah, who is to all intents and purposes the actual governor of the country, receives ;^3,ooo a year.

    The total population of the three towns of Singapore, Penang and Malacca is 424,000, of which 174,000 are Chinese, 174,000 Malays, and 3,400, including military, are Europeans.
    The total population of Ceylon is 2,800,000, of whom 1,850,000 are native Cingalese, 700,000 are Tamils from Southern India, 200,000 Moormen and Malays, and 22,000 Europeans and Eurasians, The religious census shows that 1,700,000 of the population are Buddhist, 600,000 Hindu, 200,000 Mohammedan, and 270,000 Christians.

  3. #3 by Noble House on Thursday, 23 October 2014 - 12:46 pm

    Rojak tastes best when mixed. Tried doing away with some of the original ingredients and no longer does it taste the same.

    If a Party can’t even defend one of its members for telling the truth then it is reason enough why it should be obliterated.

  4. #4 by sotong on Thursday, 23 October 2014 - 2:58 pm

    Until the ‘ pendatang ‘ fully acknowledge the Orang Asli are the first owner of the land, the first Malaysian, with all assistance to improve their lives from decades of dispossession, shame on the ‘ pendatang ‘…..all of you!!

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Thursday, 23 October 2014 - 5:43 pm

    C’mon, Y waste time debating dis issue
    Every1 of us has 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great-great grandparents, 32 ………. n so on
    All our ancestors contributed their DNA to each of us
    Bet U our ancestors came fr different lands
    Every1 of us has a potpourri of DNA contributed by “foreigners” (not originally fr Malaya or Malaysia)

    Any1 dares 2 claim dat he/she is genetically PURE?

    Mr Tan is obviously more knowledgeable than all so-called Gelakan “leaders”
    Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho would certainly describe Mr Tan in two words: BIG BALLS
    N Gelakan “leaders”: NO BALLs (don’t talk abt spine)

  6. #6 by boh-liao on Thursday, 23 October 2014 - 6:00 pm

    WHAT books?
    Oh, those books written by orang putih
    All lies 1
    Perkosa, Pembela, n other new NGOs (like BAKAR BAKAR) will organize BOOK BURNING events 2 burn those evil, full of lies books – BURN, burn, burn, Burning Ring of Fire
    (OK 1, AG n ministers all support 1)

  7. #7 by boh-liao on Friday, 24 October 2014 - 9:22 am

    Now an NGO beautifies Malays as perantau, not pendatang
    Veri creatif indeed 4 ppl who want 2 twist historical fact
    Ha, ha – Y not tell dat 2 d ex-minister who proudly declared dat he n other Malays r pendatang

    Really, rakyat must ask all those who proudly claimed 2 b perantau n labelled others as pendatang 2 DECLARE their genetic ROOTs/lineage:
    R they born here?
    How many generations here?
    Got Indonesian, Indian, Arabic, Thai, Chinese, etc ….. ancestors?

  8. #8 by Justice Ipsofacto on Friday, 24 October 2014 - 9:37 am

    … but but but umno is the supreme grand master of the universe and the GOD of all gods??!!

    The pendatang label when applied to umno got me all worked up. How can that be. Our supreme grand master is the grand master of nothing less than the universe itself and at the same time umno is also the GOD of all gods.

    Anyway, got that figured out. Umno is not pendatang. Umno emerged from the great bang. No in fact umno created the big bang which gave birth to the universe and to TIME.

    So that makes umno the supreme grand master of the universe, creator of time and the GOD of all gods.

    Yeah. Now it all makes sense why ibrahim bin perkasa is so angry all the time. Coz umno, the supreme grand master of the universe, creator of time and the GOD of all gods is not happy with the fact that we are ungrateful.


  9. #9 by boh-liao on Friday, 24 October 2014 - 4:15 pm

    UNLESS they could prove dat their ancestors EVOLVed in situ fr creatures dat inhabited in our tropical rain forests
    REAL local products of dis land

    Anyway, Perkosa n other related NGOs rule dis land
    They even gave a wonderful explanation Y devastating tornadoes n twisters occurred more frequently these days
    Big fat twisters, they R, n they hv rewritten our textbooks on weather, meteorology, n science

    All school teachers b warned
    Next time, in exam, when students answer question like “Explain d cause of tornadoes” with answers like “Bcos Musims hug, pat n k!ss dogs” or “Bcos of promiscuous saks, Oktoberfest, prostitution” – MUST give full marks 1 U know
    Otherwise Perkosa will hound U

  10. #10 by omeqiu on Friday, 24 October 2014 - 4:47 pm

    Mr. Koon, would you agree with Raja Petra of Malaysia Today?

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