Monday, November 7, 2011


by Mansor Puteh

The issue of mixed marriages in Malaysia is interesting; it brings out other relevant social, cultural, historical, geographic and religious issues as they happen with the interaction of all these factors.

And this does not include that of psychology and personal needs and choices, not taking into account biases and prejudices that some of the community leaders had tried to inculcate in their communities to make the young Chinese and Indians fearful of the others who are not of the same race as them.

These is seen at the national level; whereas in the international level, one can discern how as more and more Melayu take to the seas and skies, some of them will come into direct interaction with foreigners who will also be drawn into marriages with them.

First of all it is not an issue of mixed marriage but one of integration and the fault of history and also of geography.

These marriages, especially between the Melayu and Chinese and Indians especially were all created by the winds.

The Northerly and Southerly Winds were the forces that had caused this phenomenon to happen. They were the main reasons why Melaka was established by Parameswara in the first place.

Without its strategic position being harbored by the Winds, Melaka would not have been formed and the most important city in Southeast Asia would remain Palembang which was it before Melaka was established in 1400 CE.

The Chinese with Hang Li Po can therefore be said to have been brought to Melaka by the winds.

Later the British brought in the Indians also because of the renowned status of Tanah Melayu or Malaya because of that same reason, having created many Melayu states which had natural resources that were important to the expansion of the British Empire.

Mixed marriages in Malaysia therefore can be said to have happened long ago, with the many Chinese and Indians opting to marry Melayu men and women, who later left their races to embrace the Melayu one.

My own clan comprises of people with Chinese and Indians who had all left the races who are not so proud of this fact other than to discuss the issue on the academic level only.

Yes, of course, when we were much younger, we celebrated Chinese festivals and had our fair share of Chinese cookies on a regular basis by even using chopsticks to eat at home.

And my mother would apply eye-liners to enlarge our eyes.

Now, this is not done as people with single eyelids are not the exclusive features of the Chinese or Orientals anymore as there are now more and more Melayu men and women who have them.

Many a police officer who held my MyKad wondered if I had stolen it because of my Melayu name. Some of them and officers of government agencies thought I was dealing at the counters on behalf of someone else, like I was a Chinese agent or runner.

And few years ago few of my nephews married Chinese women from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

All of my relatives have Chinese features with some who can speak in Hokkien and can pass for Chinese.

Some of my older relatives including some of my sisters-in-law were all Chinese who were given to Melayu families for adoption since small.

It seems that Chinese couples who were facing financial difficulties or who had had many daughters preferred to offer their extra daughters to Melayu couples.

So by my own estimation 30% of the Melayu have Chinese ancestry and another 305 with Indian ancestry. The other Melayu have Arab, English and ancestries of all races, leaving the Melayu who are pure Melayu to be almost impossible to find.

Even Tunku Abdul Rahman's mother was Siamese and his first wife, Chinese who was the daughter of a bicycle repair shop in Alor Setar. His other wife, Tun Sharifah Rodziah Barakhbah is clearly Arab, and Tunku's other wife, also a Chinese called Mariam Chong Abdullah.

However, in recent times, the main reason why many Chinese and Indian men and women are fascinated with Melayu women and men is because of that - that they have blood fusion, so they have features of themselves in their faces, too.

Whereas, the Chinese men and women who do not have such elements are seen to be 'sinkek' or not interesting as they look plain.

The stress by the Chinese and Indian media, too, has made many young Chinese and Indians to hate themselves and their looks because the pretty Chinese and Indians are being fashioned from amongst the media-created images of the Chinese and Indians by the media.

So no wonder, the beauty contests especially the Miss Chinatown and Miss Malaysia and the others all promote images of women to be of a certain type - those who have mixed images or Pan-Asian and not 100% Chinese or 100% Indians.

All these factors, added to the overwhelming size of the Melayu population have created an image of the Melayu men and women to be more interesting.

Worse, when statistics show how many Chinese and Indian men especially who are those with vernacular school backgrounds who drop out of school early so they do not have proper educational and social upbringing, which forces them to go into illegal and small trading, which do not endear themselves even to the Chinese and Indians of the same status as themselves.

It won't be wrong to say this is also the main reason why there are many Chinese men especially who decided to bring in wives from Vietnam and Thailand, by offering match-making agencies large amounts of money so they could finally find a spouse.

If there is anything to be blamed for the recurrence of mixed marriages in Malaysia especially between Melayu with the Chinese and Indians, they are the vernacular schools and the Chinese and Indian media.

Chinese and Indians who left such vernacular school felt they had had enough of mixing with other Chinese and Indians, because in real life in Malaysia they are surrounded by Melayu everywhere so much so that they felt cheated by the time they are old and mature enough to look at the situation around them.

Therefore, it is also not surprising to note that the many Chinese and Indians who revert to Islam are those with vernacular school backgrounds as opposed to those who are with the national school backgrounds.

I studied at the St Francis' Institution in Malacca from Standard One to Form Five, and only two of my former classmates reverted to Islam - one of them a Chinese Baba and the other a Tamil Catholic who later married Melayu women.

It is therefore erroneous how the Chinese educationists and community leaders, especially felt that Chinese students would be 'forced' to revert to Islam if they study in the national schools when facts show how most of them who reverted to Islam are those who have Chinese vernacular school backgrounds and whose early childhood had been shielded from them to mix with the Melayu of their same age group.

Therefore, the vernacular schools are good for Islam and for the Melayu in Malaysia, as they tend to put the Chinese and Indians where they were originally from, communities who felt threatened because they thought they were not accepted by the Melayu around them.

This is the Little China and Little Indians of their imagination.

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