Apart from new arrivals that have been given citizenship, the term ‘pendatang’ does not apply to most Malaysians.
WHAT is the big deal about the word pendatang?
Well, on the face of it, nothing much really. It is just a word.
But taken in the context of this lovely nation of ours, it is an unpleasant word indeed.
It is used to describe non-Malays and therefore the implication is that the Malays were the original inhabitants of this place.
All right, why is this a bad thing?
Firstly, it is hypocritical to the core. Just look at our Government and you will see so-called original Malays with an immigrant in their ancestry, sometimes just one generation away.
How come they are not called pendatang whereas the Peranakan who can trace their ancestries back hundreds of years are?
Also, it is hopelessly short-sighted. It talks as though immigration into this land happened only in the past hundred years or so.
This is clearly not true as this nation has been shaped by people from faraway lands for hundreds of years.
Bujang Valley shows that there was a Hindu/Buddhist culture and civilisation in Kedah two thousand years ago. Were Hinduism and Buddhism indigenous to the Malay Archipelago? Not in the slightest – it came from India.
Therefore, our earliest known civilisation was Indian.
And who brought Islam to the Malaccan Empire in the 15th century? Indian Muslim traders.
The Malay language, culture and even religion all came from the so-calledpendatang.
So for those screaming Malay pride, well, look back a bit and you will see all the things you scream about, religion and culture, owe so much to India. They should be giving thanks to the pendatang.
Another thing that sticks in the craw is how that word does not have any meaning anymore for the vast majority of Malaysians.
How can a person be an immigrant when they are born and raised here? So apart from new arrivals that the Government has given citizenship to, the term immigrant or pendatang simply does not apply to most Malaysians.
So, why is Perkasa and those of their ilk so enamoured of the word?
It is because it gives them power. It justifies all policies and laws which favours one ethnic group (theirs) over all others.
It hints at two classes of citizenry. It is a wonderful word for bigots who feel that they are entitled to special treatment ad infinitum.
What can we do about it? Actually, apart from countering the arguments of whoever is spouting such divisive language, I don’t think we should do anything to them.
It is their right to speak after all, and as long as there is no incitement to violence, it is their right to allow faecal matter to drip out of their mouths.
However, if anyone in power speaks like that, then we should do something about it. We should show that no such racist deserves to hold the reins of power. This also applies to those seeking power.
We should condemn them as hard as we can and ultimately we must strive to make sure they are either kicked out of office or are not voted into office at all.
But ultimately, my thoughts about the pendatang issue is this.
Those who scream the loudest about “them pendatang” having to be grateful to be here and how the Malays are the original people and therefore deserve to get special treatment till the end of days; what these people are doing is showing how weak they are.
They want us divided because they know they do not have the ability to stand proud without the Government helping them to stand.
They are in fact screaming about how pathetic they are.
Azmi Sharom (email@example.com) is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.