“Having an occasion to speak does not warrant you the right to spew folklores that lacks historic affirmation. The Chinese has a saying, ‘If you keep quiet, no one shall accuse you of being dumb.” That said, I felt compelled to give you an insight into our local history so that you’d be enlightened.
From the years 1511 till 1957, Malaysia was a colony of different different countries. (I can feel the temperature rising already.) The colonizers manages everything whilst the local folks just went about their daily affairs. They made the rules and we execute them out. For 446 years no one calls no one ‘pendatang’. Fact is everyone of that era was a pendatang and that includes the ‘colonizers’. And all the pendatangs were busily trading with each other. The real ‘Orang Asal’ lives inside the jungles and there they thrive. They were also ‘takluk’ by pendatangs.
Before 1511 exists the kingdom of Malacca ruled by able Sultans, one in succession of the other, who believed in capitalism. That means for as long as anyone pays their dues and taxes, they get to stay or trade, never mind their origin. That edict made Malacca a robust trading port which captures the imagination of many an European seafarer looking for a sojourn along the sea route to the East.
Malacca was officially stated to be founded in 1402. by Parameswara, a pendatang Hindu prince from Palembang. Parameswara is a Sanskrit title that stood for the ‘Supreme Lord’ and is not a name. He flee Sumatra after the fall of the Srivijayan Empire in the year 1377 which succumb to the attack by the Javanese Majapahit. His able troop of Bugis bodyguards were the people who pointed him to that land filled with abundance after their brief stopover first in Muar, Johore, then Bertam. They bargained to be made aristocrats if Parameswara found favor with this new place. When they arrived, Parameswara was indeed smittened. Lush vegetation, freshest of water from streams, an abundance of flora and fauna. From where he stood, he named the place, ‘Malacca’, after the fruit tree that shaded his presence and honored his promise. He asked his entourage if anyone knew of the hill besides him. Bukit ‘Cina’ was their reply. (That simply means there were pendatangs who knew of the place way before they.)
One fine day, after making himself the Sultan amidst all the traders and having established some rule of law, he had a rude shock when he was enlightened that this place which he named Malacca, belongs to Siam. Without much hesitation, he sent his son to appeal to the King of Siam that he’d be allowed to stay on, with the condition that he will share his earnings with Siam and pay homage to them (which was how the triennial ritual of paying homage with ‘Bunga Emas’ came along). Malacca as it was, was a protectorate of Siam and Java, thus, homage was sent to these two Kingdoms. But Siam as Mahmoud had found out, oddly pays homage to China. He then thought it befitting to sidestep Siam and went direct to China instead. His actions enrages the King of Siam who sent his boats to the Malacca shore but as fate would have it, Siam succumbed. From then on, Siam relinquishes its rule over Malacca. For 130years, the Kingdom of Malacca was ruled by Sultans. Never did they regard anyone else as pendatangs.
Before that, there were many polities which were part of some larger empires straddling the Nusantara notably the Buddhist Sri Vijayan empire ruled by Rajah Chola, another Hindu from India. As a consequence, the many customary rites as observed in our local investitures and solemnization ceremonies was adapted from that era. Many Malay words were also borrowed from the Hindoo lingua. That was the time when trade was active between the Indians, Chinese and the little little polities around the archipelago, which remains submerged in our local history till today.
Then came another pendatang named Lopez De Sequeira whom after being chastised by Mahmoud’s advisers (when all they wanted was to be allowed to trade) reported back to his majesty who sent Alfonso De Albuquerque with a fleet to claim back his pride.) Mahmoud and his royal household flee. Some to Perak, some to Johore. From there, they scatter forming newer Sultanates. Then came the Dutch East India Company who drove out the Portuguese before they made a pact with the British in exchange for Java.
Pendatangs especially colonizers were also allowed perpetuity grants in the form of land titles in places such as Penang. Beneficiaries include James A Scott and David Brown, both whom were aligned to Captain Francis Light, the founder whose part of the deal is an offensive policy against the Bugis as agreed upon with the Sultan of Kedah in exchange for the possession of Penang that extends till Kuala Muda in Kedah.
Fast forward to circa 1940s, Onn Jaafar mooted UMNO. It was the period of the Malayan Emergency where many insurgents joint the communists because of their displeasure towards British rule.
Onn Jaafar was toying with the idea of Independence for Malaya, thus he raises his wish to the British overlords. Henry Gurney, then governor, told Onn Jaafar that independence will not be possible unless other races, especially the Chinese are included. Henry Gurney as it was recorded, became the catalyst and backbone to the setting up of the MCA under Cheng Lock and HS Lee. His concerns are simple. The Chinese are the workhorse and the engine of growth. He also fears that if the Chinese were to be left out, they will abandon support for the British and joined the MCP just like many Malays whom the British army had a hard time flushing them out from the jungle. That to him is an even more severe backlash because he is answerable to the Empire. If ever there is a commotion, it would indeed be disastrous. At that moment in time, nearly 7 out of 10 Chinese were triad members and 7 out of 10 were males deployed in the mining, rubber and port industries. As the story unfurls, Henry Gurney was later assassinated. So was his successor Malcom Mc Donald.
Onn Jaafar understood his request and tried hard to convince and convert Umno into the United ‘Malayan’ National Organization. But his second tier and grassroot members were not taken in. Feeling enraged, they called him a betrayer of his own race. Onn left Umno and eventually set up IMP (independent Malaya Party). In 1946 as a run up to the elections, UMNO , headed by Tunku, Onn’s successor, changes their manifesto by agreeing to work with MCA, the reason was that they were losing heavily for obvious reasons, that Onn Jaafar was a powerful figure to reckon with. Tunku also issued warnings to Umno members that whoever sided IMP or Onn would be expelled. In the elections, UMNO, together with MCA which forms the Alliance Party won. MIC came later. That paved the road to independence.
This is a factual account as extracted from many many historical records and accounts and is self explanatory. Never was it ever recorded that one race is a pendatang whilst the other is not since we were all colonized if you may by Hindus from 1402-1511, by Portuguese from 1511-1641 by the Dutch from 1641-1825, by the British from 1825-1941, by the Japanese Occupation from 1941-1946, again by the British from 1946-1957. Before all these, were the Buddhist Srivijayan Empire from the 12th Century. Recent archaeological discoveries has also pushed back the history of Kedah which may precede the Sri Vijayan Empire but they were without doubt linked to Siam. As of now, it is still uncertain thus, cannot be taken into account of. And even though so, it only extends the predates, not like it will corrupt all that we already know about our early and modern history.
It is indeed ironical that some concerned individuals mentioned that we were never colonized except for two years. (Where are your citations please? Better still, are you sure you are Malaysians?) And that some are pendatangs whilst others are not? It is as if without this term enshrined into our history, someone’s special rights would degenerate into some kind of illicit entitlements or are there underlying motives behind all these fiascos?
Our country will degenerate faster if we keep looking backwards busily sweeping off our tracks, whilst running forward. As if that is possible?
That said, if ever there is an award for the country with the most complications, our country will surely reign as the most expensive wristwatch around, because wristwatch value is measured by the number of complications it has on a single face. But to a Chinese, being very practical people, we will never buy it no matter how valuable they are for only one reason. If it breaks down ,it is difficult to find someone who could repair it. Just like our country. We are already so complicated, so we should be praying that it doesn’t break down. Because if it does, no one indeed can help us repair it. Same like the wristwatch. And in a wristwatch, every single part has its own function and it needs to be synchronized correctly to keep time. As Malaysians we should all be like the parts inside these wristwatches and be as harmonious as we can possibly be. One part fails and the whole mechanism stops working! We should not listen to those who attempts to destabilize the country, make them even more complicated than it already is.