Saturday, September 17, 2016

(Joe Chelliah)

Malays from all over the Malay Archipelago came to the Malay peninsula as it was very porous situation then where boundaries were concerned. The ancient Indians, Chinese and even Marco Polo visited these parts and acknowledged the various Malay rulers of the times.
The Malays were quite happy with their simple lives along with their religion and also their traditional agrarian and fishing ways of life even included piracy and raids on commercial vessels by the sea gypsies. Then came the Europeans who saw greater economic opportunities.

While the earlier Portuguese and Dutch confined themselves to trade only Melaka the British began to make greater inroads into the peninsula through what history records as British intervention in the Malay states…and oftentimes at the request of the rulers themselves who were feuding over ascension and other minor things.

The British went on to develop Malaya and made it the largest producer of tin and rubber within a short time….and not without the power and permission granted by the Malay rulers

along with ample pensions for the sultans and their chieftains, visits to England and other "English sophisticated" ways of the times - some even kept handle-bar mustaches..

The ordinary Malays who preferred their traditional way of living did not fancy too much working on plantations or mines and the harsher lives that came with it…..and so the British, with the permission of the Malay rulers again, brought in the Chinese and Indians in and in greater numbers to man these economic efforts and ventures. The British took great pains to keep the sultans happy and also set up special schools (including religious schools) and institutions like the

Malay regiments and a Malay majority police force that are with us till today. Indeed the Malay civil service was a British creation that had posts from ketua kampongs to Chief Secretaries…..also seen till today. Another thing is that the British themselves created laws that prohibited preaching any non-Muslim religion to the Malays knowing full well about Malay sensitivities in the matter of Islam.

When it was time to leave the British negotiated with the rulers and the people’s representatives of the Malays, Indians and Chinese. When the British saw that the Malayans were indeed united under the Alliance Party in 1955 which won a landslide majority, independence was then agreed upon and granted. The Malay sultans, Islam, Malay and Malay customary laws and traditions were left undisturbed. Non Malays were, for the first time, granted citizenship plus the right and freedom to profess their own religion and also learn their mother tongue. Everybody was pleased and Malaya was born.

Now after 50 years or so the situation is not quite the same anymore. The Malay villages are quite empty, the rubber estates are no more and are now existing mostly as oil-palm plantations and also manned mostly by foreign workers. Social development has taken place with widespread educational opportunities that began in 1957 itself. Rapid urbanization and great economic growth has also taken place.

I will not touch on politics (and also about East Malaysia) but would merely comment that it is the single most divisive thing in Malaysian politics today fanned by economic greed.
So there, that’s a short summary of what and how our country is what it is today and from where it came from.


Believe it or not, it is my position and conclusion that the British actually liked the Malays a lot. They took great care of their rulers/ chiefs and leaders besides the lay people and their way of life by " leaving them alone" and not displease them in any general to be happy and follow their ancient traditions, customs, religion and adat...this is mistakenly seen by some as "abandonment" of the Malays a divide and rule strategy etc.

It was a pragmatic thing if you ask me....all they needed was the goodwill and permission from the Malay rulers which they obtained and developed Malaya as they say it fit....And they had the Indians and the Chinese to do whatever else they wanted in this country....who also by virtue of their occupation and function lived quite compartmentalized in the estates and towns.
The Brits could have easily quelled the anti-Malayan Union protests or any other local "upstarts" with their powerful military...just as how they did in India and throw out all the rulers ( in India they did just that and got rid of hundreds of sultans, maharajas, maharanis and nawabs)...but not here. They even named the new entity Perseketuan Tanah Melayu / Federated Malay States instead of maintaining " Malaya".
So instead of shouting abuses at the British ( penjajah etc), Malays and indeed all Malaysians should instead put up pics of Queen Elizabeth too to celebrate Malaysia Day....the Malays without really abandoning the non-Malays....and also stayed here till 1969 to protect and nurture the young nation from Indonesia and communism.

No comments: