Wading into the Rasa Sayang controversy is the Malaysian Minister that every blogger loves – to hate mostly, because of Tengku Adnan‘s infamous comment that all bloggers are liars and unemployed and that 80% of them are women.Unspun thinks that the root of the problem may lie in the different understandings of the word Malay. To the Malaysians, especially the Malaysian Malays, seem to think it refers to a Malay race, as proposed by the German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (see Wikipedia reference here). It is a theory that has been dismissed by anthropologists, continues the Wikipedia entry, but “is still often used in this context, and it is the basis for Malay identity within the Malaysian nation.”
If you go by the first definition then sure, Malaysia has the right to use anything in the Malay Archipelago because it belongs to the Malay race.
If you go by the second definition then, boy, Malaysia can’t even claim to be the king of the mountain of the Malay world. The Melayus of Sumatra especially can claim the right to the throne since it is in their island that Iskandar Zul Karnian (Alexander the Great, how did a Greek get into the picture? It’s all Greek to Unspun) appeared and all floweth from him.
To Indonesians and others, Malay means “the ethnic group located primarily in the Malay peninsula, and parts of Sumatra and Borneo.” In other words the Melayu is a small ethnic group holed up in mainly Sumatra where Indonesians are concerned. And they are a small minority compared to the javanese, the Sundanese, the Bataks and the Ambonese, who seem to be the undisputed source for Rasa Sayang(e).
So here’s a wicked idea to add to the controversy: What if Sumatran Melayus sue the Malaysian government for trying to pass itself off as the Big Swinging Stick of the Malay world? Iskandar, after all, did not see it fit to trample on their earth but Sumatra’s. And who’s got the Melayu River where Iskandar made his debut?