…JUST HOW MANY CHINESE HAD INDEED BECOME MELAYU.
By Mansor Puteh
I have described how a Chinese youth who had to sell of his family sundry shop in South China with his brother to buy a ‘sampan’ in order for them to escape poverty and the Great Famine in China to come to Tanah Melayu or Malaya.
This is not an isolated case; there are many such Chinese men and women who had refused to be called Chinese and started to call themselves Melayu or Malay instead.
It’s the same with the Arabs and Indians who came from elsewhere who wanted to become Melayu too.
There are many of them. Yet, this matter is not hitherto been mentioned or discussed, so the other Chinese and Indians are not aware that some of the ancestors of their Melayu friends and colleagues indeed were formerly Chinese and Indians.
They have Chinese and also Indian features which are not a tell-tale sign of their ancestries as there are now more and more Melayu men and women who have such features.
By my own estimation there are at least thirty percent of the Melayu who have Chinese ancestry and twenty percent, Indian ancestry, and some other percent with Arab or English and other ancestries.
That is now so difficult for anyone to see a Melayu who does not have alien ancestries in their blood, except if one were to look at the Natives or Orang Asli who are fast becoming full-fledged Melayu.
Coming back to the two Chinese boys in
South China: And when they got to Melaka, they decided to revert to Islam and become Melayu. They did not want to be called Chinese or ‘orang Cina’ anymore and chose to speak mostly in Melayu and not in Hokkien.
And when the elder of the two brothers asked his younger brother if he would like to make a return trip to their rural village in
South China to see how it’s like now, the younger brother refused.
He declined to return to
China saying that he is now Melayu and his country is Malaysia not anymore. China
He died not long later without ever setting foot in
This is a true story; one that deserves to be told and retold. Better, if it is turned into a feature film, so many other Chinese who are now in
Malaysia know not all of them who had come from still think highly of it. China
It was because of what
China was then that drove the ancestors to poverty and starvation, causing them to flee the country to come to Tanah Melayu and to the other countries in Southeast Asia or Nanyang or Nusantara Melayu.
And some of them are my ancestors, too, who had made us more Melayu than the other Melayu.
* * * * * * *
So there is nothing wrong for some Chinese to say they want to ‘Masuk Melayu’ and become a Muslim, especially if they do not want to be Chinese anymore. And the other Chinese cannot blame them for doing that, because it’s his personal choice.
Just like the Baba and Nyonya who do not say they are Chinese but are Baba and Nyonya, despite them practicing much of their Chinese heritage, while speaking in their own version of Melayu, although there are many of the younger Baba and Nyonya who look as though they have ‘reverted’ to becoming Chinese and less Baba or Nyonya, except when there is a Baba and Nyonya gathering or festival which is distinctly not Chinese or Melayu that they want to exhibit.
The Melayu did not say those who reverted to Islam would become ‘Malays’ or Melayu. Those Chinese who had reverted to Islam were the ones who said they wanted to become Melayu, and had left
and their Chinese ancestry; they chose to be Melayu. China
The ‘masuk Melayu’ charge was probably made by the other Chinese who wanted to scare other Chinese not to revert to Islam because they would not be Chinese anymore but Melayu.
And there were some Chinese who were influenced by that so they were not able to decide whether they really wanted to revert to Islam because they also did not want to be described as Melayu.
The charge was however dampened when the Islamic authorities started to allow the Chinese and non-Melayu to retain their Chinese surnames if they revert to Islam and this has somewhat put a stop to the charge by other Chinese that their brethren would lose their Chinese identity if they revert.
So what other new tricks to the other Chinese have to discourage their brethren for not reverting to Islam?
They are now at a loss.
So they started to think hard and now say the ‘sekolah kebangsaan’ or national schools are the places where the Chinese schoolchildren would be ‘forced’ to revert to Islam, a charge which is so ludicrous that it simply does not make sense.
As has been pointed no young non-Muslim kids in the primary school could be reverted for the reason he or she may not know what he wants. And the law says even if there is an underage kid who wants to revert, it will be at the sole pleasure of his parents.
The irony is that most Chinese who reverted to Islam are those who have the vernacular Mandarin school backgrounds, as opposed to the national school backgrounds.
And the national schools are dominated by Melayu students. Why can’t it be when the majority of the population is Melayu?
Besides, when they send their children to study abroad, they do not complain about the schools there as having too many local kids who are mostly Caucasians.
They enjoy being in the company of such people, but not in the company of the Melayu, despite the Melayu who were the ones who had saved their ancestors from possible starvation when they first came to Tanah Melayu after fleeing from China barely a hundred years ago.
Yet, they do not want to show any gratitude to the Melayu for allowing them to have their ways all the time, to the extent that they are some who are even willing to taunt the Melayu today, by challenging on their ‘special rights’.
They are not special rights, but are undeniable theirs right from the beginning and it starts from the history of the country which cannot be changed.