First and foremost, let me state that all Malaysians, regardless of race, are bona fide citizens of this country Malaysia….and they should not be called ‘pendatang’, a Malay term for ‘immigrant’.
However, its historical fact that the forefathers of certain section of Malaysian citizens of today were ‘pendatang’ or ‘immigrants’ to the lands of Tanah Melayu, before they were accepted as citizens of the then Persekutuan Tanah Melayu.
Once the former immigrants became citizens of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, they were NO LONGER ‘pendatang’ or ‘immigrants’. Subsequently, their descendents became automatic citizens of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, and later, Malaysia.
It is very insensitive, provocative and seditious to call our fellow citizens of the country as ‘pendatang’, even in cases whereby their forefathers were ‘pendatang’ or ‘immigrants’. We fully understand the feelings of our fellow citizens when they are labelled as ‘pendatang’.
Its interesting to note that this ‘pendatang’ labellings DID NOT surface in our political stage for a period of over 50 years after the independence of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. In fact, its quite a recent problem, beginning to surface in the run up to the 2008 General Election. Perhaps Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Kit Siang are fully aware as to the reasons behind the ‘re-surgence’ of highly-charged racial politics in the country.
I do not believe any Malay in their right frame of mind would call his fellow citizens as ‘pendatang’. However, there is every possibility that the term ‘pendatang’ was used to refer to their forefathers, who were ‘pendatang’ or ‘immigrants’ to the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu during the British era.
However, by trying to ‘hit back’ by labelling the Malays as ‘pendatang’ too, will not solve the problem. Malays were part one of the natives of this country we used to call Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. Earlier Malays, or the Proto-Malays, were one of the ORANG ASLI tribes of the country.
However, unlike the other ORANG ASLI tribes, who lived normadic life in the high lands of the country, the Proto-Malay ORANG ASLI tribes lived closer to river mouths and the sea…hence their interactions with foreigners and their much more modern status compared to the other tribes of ORANG ASLI. We can safely say that the Malays are the MODERNISED ORANG ASLI of Tanah Melayu, Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, and Malaysia.
No doubt there were certain ‘suku kaum’ of Malays sailed over to Tanah Melayu from neighbouring insular Malay Archipelago…including Sulawesi(Bugis), Java and Sumatra. However, lets not deny the fact that most Malays are decendents of the Kedah Malays, Perak Malays, Kelantan Malays, Trengganu Malays, Pahang Malays, Selangor Malays, Johor Malays, Melaka Malays and Negri Sembilan Malays, who were the NATIVES of those Tanah Melayu states.
I believe this ‘pendatang’ issue should not have re-surfaced, had all sides respect and adhere to the spirit of the CITIZENSHIP AGREEMENT, which are more commonly known as the SOCIAL CONTRACT, agreed upon by all major races in Persekutuan Tanah Melayu a few years before the country’s independence.
CITIZENSHIP AGREEMENT or the SOCIAL CONTRACT allows certain ‘SPECIAL POSITION’ of native races and tribes. It so happend that Malays were the MOST DOMINANT among the native races and tribes. And the ‘special position’ was embodied and CASTED in our Federal Constitution.
If our fellow Malaysian citizens who are descendents of their ‘former immigrants’ forefathers STOP their attempts to put aside or to do away with the CITIZENSHIP AGREEMENT or the SOCIAL CONTRACT, I’m very sure, the native Malays have no reason whatsoever to re-kindle the ‘pendatang-related’ issues.