Karim on why race is not so stifling an issue in Indonesia


This is an interesting perspective of the question of Malayness from Malaysian writer Karim Raslan.

His last paragraph is especially sobering for ketuanan Melayu types:

“History’s record is cruel and unforgiving. Winners shape history and erase the achievements, even the existence of the losers. For many Malaysian Malays it is eye-opening to come to Indonesia only to discover that their community — their people — have long been on the receiving end of history’s lessons, suffering and losing out to more dynamic, driven people.”

It must be tough being a Malaysian Malay in such transparent times that give the lie to the totally ersatz view of Malayhood, as Umno would have them believe.

Karim Raslan: Tale of Two Malays

From the viewpoint of race, Indonesia is a liberating, even intoxicating place, especially for Malaysians like me who’ve been conditioned to view people in cultural and religious “silos” — Malay, Chinese and Indian. The Indonesian approach to race is infinitely more fluid. Distinctions are relatively unimportant.

These contrasting ways of perceiving the world lie at the heart of many of the squabbles that arise between Indonesia and Malaysia. These emanate from a sense that we really ought to understand each other better when in fact history and politics have long intervened to create two very different polities.

On the one hand, there is Malaysia, where political power is in the hands of the Malay-Muslim community. Indeed, Malay identity has been very broadly defined. People of Arab, Javanese and even Turkish descent are considered Malay, thereby consolidating power in the face of a large and dynamic non-Malay population.

In Indonesia, however, the challenge has always been how to unify this archipelagic nation and prevent its fracturing. As a result, there’s the uniting and all-embracing rhetoric enshrined in the phrase, “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika,” unity in diversity. People seem to be able to shift between boundaries easily. Javanese, Muslim, Christian, Batak, Hindu and Balinese merge into one another.

via Karim Raslan: Tale of Two Malays – The Jakarta Globe.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Andy says:

    Karim Raslan comments about the Indonesian Malay (ethnic, not the so-called race) is not really something you want to comment in public. Like anywhere else, you have to thread the slippery path of the political correctness, and most likely you will fall.

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  2. Interesting in that the Malaysian category of “Malay” comprises a number of different ethnicities, and race is a crucial distinction in terms of power and privileges.
    By contrast, Indonesians recognise and celebrate the diversity of the archipelago’s ethnic groups, and ethnicity is not so strongly correlated with power and privilege – at least not in any official capacity.

    I think Indonesia’s more relaxed attitude to religion (regarding intermarriage, conversion, etc) is also a factor in this fluidity – Malay’s stricter Islam serves as a divider between ethnicities.

    Obviously, there is a big difference between the 2 countries in proportions of native/”non-native” – while the Chinese in Indonesia are disproportionally wealthy, they are less than 5% of the population. In Malaysia, having 40% of the population being Chinese or Indian means that Malay policy-makers want to guard against a threat to their interests, which is not really a factor for pribumi Indonesians.

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  3. Opah says:

    The sad fact is Karim Raslan has to publish his article in Indonesia, where his comments are nothing startling or informative. He has no chance of publishing it in the mainstream media of Malaysia where the Indonesian concept of race is always brushed off. Admitting it would mean that the political leaders of Malaysia recognise that the vast majority of Malaysians are “pendatang”, from Indonesia, China, India, the Middle East, Europe and so forth. And the nation is led by a “pendatang” from Sulawesi.

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  4. Spirit of Freedom says:

    Have you read this article re. Asessment of SBY by UMNO/Utusan Melayu ?
    —-
    Susilo Takut Pada Bayang-Bayang?
    Oleh Borhan Abu Samah

    SELEPAS menang besar pada pilihan raya untuk meneruskan penggal kedua sebagai Presiden, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono kini memberi tumpuan untuk membangunkan negara Islam terbesar ini.

    Dengan perancangan kerja 100 hari dan lima tahun, Susilo berusaha memastikan penggal terakhirnya itu mencatatkan sejarah sebagai antara pemimpin yang berjaya memajukan ekonomi Indonesia.

    Bagaimanapun hakikatnya Susilo atau lebih dikenali sebagai “SBY” terus terbelenggu dengan isu-isu yang diciptanya sendiri khususnya pembanterasan rasuah dan penyalahgunaan kuasa.

    Daripada skandal menggunakan wang kerajaan bagi menyelamatkan Bank Century hingga ke isu konspirasi melumpuhkan Suruhanjaya Pembanterasan Korupsi (KPK), semuanya tidak diselesaikan.

    Malah ia berlarutan dan sekali gus menghakis keyakinan rakyat terhadap kewibawaan dan kesungguhan beliau dalam membanteras rasuah.

    Dan beliau seolah-olah cuba lari daripada kenyataan dengan mendakwa ada pihak yang cuba menjatuhkannya.

    Berbicara di depan para pemimpin Parti Demokrat di Jakarta Ahad lalu, beliau mengungkapkan perkara yang sama – ada gerakan yang mahu menjatuhkannya. Beliau membuat penilaian itu berdasarkan situasi politik akhir-akhir ini.

    “Setiap malam saya berzikir dan berdoa bersama isteri dan ahli keluarga bagi mencari apakah tujuan semua fitnah dan pembunuhan watak seperti ini.

    “Akal sihat saya mengatakan perilaku politik seperti ini paling tidak untuk jangka pendek ingin memburuk, menggoyang dan kalau boleh menjatuhkan SBY dan pemerintahan ini,” kata Susilo.

    Pada Jumaat minggu lalu Susilo juga berucap tentang perkara yang sama dan beliau menyatakan memperoleh maklumat mengenai usaha tersebut.

    Pada 17 Julai lalu selepas serangan bom berani mati berkembar ke atas Hotel JW Marriot dan Ritz Carlton di Mega Kuningan, Jakarta, Susilo mendakwa ada operasi ketenteraan untuk membunuhnya. Bahkan beliau menunjukkan gambar wajahnya yang dijadikan sasaran latihan menembak oleh sekumpulan militan bagi memastikan beliau tidak menjadi presiden untuk penggal kedua.

    Ternyata selepas kenyataan itu, beliau tetap menang pilihan raya dan menjadi Presiden untuk penggal kedua.

    Ketika demonstrasi di beberapa bandar utama di Indonesia pada 9 Disember, Susilo memilih untuk ‘lari’ ke Bali di mana tiada demonstrasi. Ketika itu beliau sepatutnya menghadiri acara di Makassar, tetapi membatalkannya setelah mendapati demonstrasi juga diadakan di kota utama Sulawesi Selatan itu.

    Kalau dilihat sejarah beliau menduduki puncak kepimpinan, ramai mengatakan ia juga melalui jalan yang tidak jernih iaitu ‘menikam belakang’ Megawati Sukarnoputri.

    Susilo yang ketika itu adalah menteri Kabinet Megawati, secara diam-diam mengatur gerakan menentang bosnya dengan menubuhkan Parti Demokrat. Setelah yakin kedudukannya kuat, barulah Susilo mengumumkan untuk menentang Megawati. Beliau berjaya mengalahkan wanita tersebut.

    Megawati pastinya tidak melupakan bagaimana sakitnya dikhianati dan sejak itu tidak pernah berhenti menjadi pembangkang kepada kerajaan Susilo.

    Maka kini Susilo berdepan dengan ketakutan kerana bimbang apa yang dilakukannya terhadap Megawati akan berulang kepadanya. Adakah beliau kini diburu bayang-bayang sendiri?

    http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/info…a&pg=re_08.htm

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