Who is the Malay?

This is the title of a chapter from “Breaking the Silence: Voices of Modern Islam in a Constitutional Democracy” written by my good friend, whom I respected so much for his principles, Mr. Rosli Dahlan co-authored with Mr. Mohammad Afif Daud (both from Lee Hishamuddin Allen Gledhill law firm). You can access the article from here: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/who-is-the-malay-rosli-dahlan-and-mohammad-afif-daud

What’s interesting about the article is that it approaches the subject of the definition of the Malay from legal interpretation of the Article 160 of Malaysian Federal Constitution. And if you go by what’s explained, it is clear that “Malay” and “Malay”ness if we want to go by that, clearly fits my earlier writing about the origins of Malays and Malaysia – that Malays are at best a “hodge-podge” combinations of various people and “races”, united by religion (that is Islam), language (that is Malay language), and to some degree customs (that is adat Melayu). The British had a tough time to define Malay, as any definition that are too narrow would make many to be excluded, and too wide, would render the definition to be too loose.

As the authors suggest: it is time that we review the issue and perhaps we can revisit the subject of “Ketuanan Melayu” or racial issues in light of the current status of our country, and to define the future the people of our nation. In order not to take away anything from the authors, and not to misrepresent them, I would recommend readers to read their article. It is really worthwhile, especially for the Malays, since many don’t even understand their own rights within the constitution.

 

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