Dr M, We All Are Pendatang!

(The message from the great Tunku back in 1988 is still relevant today. The issue of asking someone to go “back” to whatever country that their great-great-great parents came from is nothing new and is not limited to the Bolehland but who is not a “pendatang” in the first place and interestingly that includes “whiter than the white” Dr M whose ancestry was from India.  As the Tunku himself had said, think for yourself and see if what some people have done with their powers is right or wrong)

Is this another distraction from real issues in the next general election? Another dump of dirty politics on the main road?

It is a distress for one to read on the Dr M’s admission on “Project IC” in Sabah and where instead of acknowledging his past mistakes (some even called it treason) and trying to get forgiveness and work towards citizenship of the real stateless people in Malaysia, he instead called for RCI on the citizenship to Indians and Chinese before Merdeka. And worse, he puts the blame on the late Tunku Abdul Rahman (the statesman who got this country its independence and saw through the formation of Malaysia) for granting citizenship to “unqualified” people.

One thing for sure, Dr M have fallen from grace even if he has done some good for the country in the past. And on Dr M’s stirring of the cheap dirty politics to cover his back (it is not the first time he has done this), there has been far too many angry response. The one from Erna Mahyuni nails the point on the dot:-

Sometimes, I think the nation would be better served if Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s vocal chords took a trip to Siberia. After all, few things have been as powerful and as destructive as his voice.

With that voice, he suggested Operasi Lalang. With his words, he brought low two institutions: the royalty and the judiciary. But to silence him forever is to play by the rules he set. Kill dissent, smother criticism, strangle freedom of expression. We may not like to listen to Dr Mahathir, but we have to give him the same rights we long for and deserve.

As he enters his twilight years he continues digging his own grave, this time by insisting we scrutinise the citizenships granted to the non-Malays during Malaya’s independence. That he equates Sabah’s illegal immigrants with the Chinese and Indians is insulting. But hardly surprising. Dr Mahathir believes that to elevate the Malays, it is necessary to trample on the other races. In his heart, Malaysia has always been “Malay-sia.” Land of the Malays, for the Malays, by the Malays.

What a lie.

And it is a lie perpetuated by the fools in Perkasa and the more right-wing elements in Umno. This country would be nothing without the “pendatang.” Dr Mahathir also forgets that many so-called Malays have ancestors who were also in their days “pendatang.” The Bugis. The Minang. The Javanese. Go to Kelantan and you will see Malays who have Thai ancestry. Go to Johor and you will find Malays who can name Chinese among their forebears.

USM professor Zilfalil Alwi, wrote a paper “Asal Usul Melayu Berdasarkan Fakta Genetik” (Tracing the Origins of the Malays by Analysing Genetic Data) where he theorised that early Malays could also have been Indian priests who had arrived at the Malay peninsula to propagate the Hindu faith.

That would make sense, seeing the predominantly Hindu Malay population in Bali. Who eat pork unreservedly, to the horror of our Malays when they visit the island. Dr Mahathir says “Melayu mudah lupa” but himself forgets that non-Malays have worked for the country, fought for the country, died for the country. If tomorrow, should all the non-Malays leave en masse, the country would be crippled.

Non-Malays have served in government, in the armed forces, as well as in the police. Can Sabah’s illegal immigrants say the same? Can we say that Sabah’s “instant citizens” fought off the communists or, in the Confrontation, say they fought off Indonesia’s armed push to put an end to Malaysia? Unlike Sabah’s illegal immigrants, the Chinese and Indians did not come from countries who still privately believe that Sabah and Sarawak should belong to them.

If one day Sabah’s illegal immigrant population dwarfs the natives, would it be surprising if either Indonesia or the Philippines attempts to again “claim” the Borneo states as many of its citizens are there anyway? While Sabah’s illegal immigrants have contributed to the economy, the natives do not embrace them as kin. They cannot claim a shared history, they cannot pretend to have become part of the process that led to Malaysia’s birth.

They did not win the right to citizenship. They do not deserve to be citizens merely because they are willing to vote for Barisan Nasional. Dr Mahathir also forgets the Orang Asli, who, among all the peoples of Malaysia, most deserve to be called “sons of the soil”. But they have benefited the least and suffered the most from Malaysia’s creation. We take their land, send missionaries to “save their souls” when we can’t even save them from poverty.

To the Orang Asli, we are perhaps the real pendatang who have taken everything and given them little in return. They are barely even recognised in our history books or schools. How many Malaysians, for instance, can name the many Orang Asli tribes? Instead of recognising the Sakai and Jakun as the “real” bumiputera, “sakai” and “jakun” are now Malay derogatory terms.

If you insist on semantics, Dr Mahathir, then technically we are all pendatang.

The call for fellow Malaysians to go back to India, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Timbuktu, etc (and soon Afghanistan, Nigeria & Iran, trust me on this) has been nothing new especially from short sighted, power hungry politicians who often wanting to slay the wrong bogeyman. They seem to take great pleasure in seeing the various races (who now living in harmony with each other) in Malaysia to be in odds with other and then manipulate the situation for personal interests (both BN and Pakatan are guilty on this).

Fuelling the fire for further disunity between fellow Malaysians is the recent ex-PM’s suggestion for RCI on citizenship of Indians and Chinese during Tunku’s time. If Dr M is trying to divert the alleged wrongdoing with his Project IC with this, he is dead wrong. The issue is not so much on why citizenship was granted but rather how it was granted i.e. did the proper scrutiny, procedures and criterias were followed in granting the citizenship?.

Besides it’s futile to dig into the granting the citizenship during the independence now, especially after 56 years in existence. One because the key people involved in earlier decision are no longer alive today, so whatever motive for the citizenship back then must be deduced and interpreted from official documents and other records and we all know how very liberal interpretations (depending on who is doing the interpretations) could led to different meanings and by extension difference consequences. So, it will not be right to fall back on official documents alone. If Dr M wanted to do a RCI on the grant of citizenship for the Indians and the Chinese before Merdeka, he should have done that when he was in power and Tunku was still alive.

Two, when the citizenship was granted to the Indians and the Chinese immigrants in early 1950s and onwards, BN was not the government of the day, the British were and they did not regard the Chinese and Indians as illegal immigrants and did not actively hunt down these people high and low as we do now with illegal Indonesians, Bangladeshi and at times African “students”. And it part of the understanding that the Indians and Chinese (who was then part of the British protectorate) who wish to remain in this country after independence will be granted citizenship and will be absorbed into the new federation. They cease to be the citizens of India and China from that time onwards. And it was done in the open and with the full agreement of all parties (if Tunku did not agree with this condition, he could have simply said no and insisted on another condition for the independence). It was not done to secure one’s electoral powers in the state. It was not done with a sinister motive.

The issue of granting citizenship to illegal immigrants in Sabah (which caused them to leech on the state resources and its people) has not been a new issue to the true Sabahans and it had remained a thorn on them for many years now. If it is not for the upcoming general elections, it is very unlikely Najib’s administration would have proceeded with the royal commission to investigate on the illegal immigrants & the grant of citizenship to them. But now since RCI have been formed, it is best to wait for the royal commission to complete their investigations and submit their final findings. And if the royal commission finds faults and makes the necessary recommendations, hopefully the Government will follow through with the relevant actions.

But in the meantime, we need to deal with threats to undo what our forefathers has done when they first laid the foundation for the country to be independence and move ahead with all races united as one people. We cannot afford the lose the country just because of one old man.

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