Malay Supremacy NOT ‘Ketuanan Melayu’
A newspiece in MALAYSIAN INSIDER yesterday echoed what appears to me a BLATANT misinterpretation of the term ‘Ketuanan Melayu’. Part of the newspiece read like this:
…………..”Their defence of BTN follows a decision by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) governments in Selangor, Kelantan and Penang to bar its civil servants from attending the course. A number of former participants — who are mainly Malay — have also come out to attack the course as racist and suggested that it was used as a propaganda tool to maintain support for Umno’s concept of “Ketuanan Melayu,” or Malay supremacy.”
Now I begin to understand why certain section of non-Malays are not very comfortable with the term ‘Ketuanan Melayu’, when it is interprated as MALAY SUPREMACY. The fact is, ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ and MALAY SUPREMACY are not the same. The term ‘supremacy’ means ‘unchallenged power’. So, the term ‘Malay supremacy’ would give the meaning of ‘Malay unchallenged power’. This is NOT what ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ means.
The term ‘ketuanan’ comes from the root word ‘tuan’, meaning owner, as being used in the phrases TUAN TANAH, meaning land owner, TUAN RUMAH, meaning the house owner and TUAN KEDAI, meaning owner of the shop. A TUAN TANAH may not be rich or powerful, but he is the LAND OWNER. This follows that, the term ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ is more associated with ‘ownership’ rather than ‘supremacy’.
Deep in the heart of ALL Malays, they hold on strongly to the fact of history that the Malays were the ABSOLUTE OWNERS and RULERS of this part of the world known worldwide as the TANAH MELAYU, which was part of a bigger entity called the MALAY ARCHIPELAGO. To illustrate this, when the British were interested to lease Penang as their outpost, they seeked audience and signed agreements with the Malay Sultan of Kedah. And when the British were interested to lease Singapore(formerly known as Tumasik), they seeked audience and signed agreements with the Malay Sultan of Johore. Meaning, the whole world recognised the SOVEREIGNTY of the Malay Sultans over their respective Malay States. SOVEREIGNTY, in layman’s term is OWNERSHIP.
The term ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ is a re-affirmation that despite the multi-racial composition of our present day Malaysia. the Malays are holding certain SPECIAL POSITION in view of their ancestoral status as the OWNERS and RULERS of the Tanah Melayu. And elements of these are now part and parcel of our Federal Constitution.