An interesting piece about Malaysia’s attempt to be the champion of the Malay world, even though Malay is an ethnic grouping and not a race, except in Bolehland where its Constitution specifies what a Malay should be, including being a Muslim.
What if you are an Orang Melayu from Indonesia who’s a Christian?
HONG KONG: In a move that could backfire by drawing attention to discrimination against Chinese, Indian and other minorities in Malaysia, the country has claimed a role in the advancement of Malays in other lands.
The Malaysian deputy prime minister and heir apparent, Najib Razak, told an international Malay/Muslim audience recently that his government would work to help support them in countries from the Philippines and Singapore to Madagascar, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
Najib’s remarks may draw the attention of China, India and other countries to what has hitherto been regarded by most outsiders as a domestic issue: Malaysia’s official economic and social preferences for Malays, and by extension Muslims, which disadvantage Malaysia’s non-Malay minorities, mostly Chinese and Indian. His statements are also sure to irritate Indonesia, Malaysia’s larger neighbor and fount of Malay culture.
The word “Malay” can mean a language that is native to east Sumatra, which became the lingua franca of trade in Southeast Asia and is now the official language of Indonesia and Malaysia. Or it can mean the relatively small, mostly Muslim, ethnic group of some 20 million straddling Malaysia, and parts of Indonesia and southern Thailand. Or it can mean the much wider Malay racial/linguistic group of more than 300 million people, about 60 percent Muslim, encompassing most of Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia – plus many Madagascans and minorities in Vietnam and Cambodia.