“Eurasian” is a term used to describe people of mixed race. With a colonial history dating back over 500 years there has been a fair amount of mingling between foreigners and locals.
Portuguese, Dutch and British sounding surnames are not uncommon in Malaysia. The size of their population in Malaysia is estimated at 29,000.
One prominent mixed race group is the Kristang community of mixed Portuguese and Melakan descent who have their own language and customs, though now in decline.
The Portuguese Settlement in Melaka is where you can find members of this community.
The Selangor Eurasian Association came into being on December 14, 1919 with the aim of looking after the social and economic welfare of the Eurasian community and to provide sports amenities.
A good place to find out more is the Eurasian Community Gallery at the People’s Museum in Melaka. This is how the museum describes Eurasians:
“Usually the Eurasians who spoke Portuguese Creole, popularly known as Kristang, were Christians (most are devout Catholic). They celebrate Christmas and Easter, love music, cherish family ties, appreciate laughter and relish pang susie, curry devil, feng curry, s’more and sugi cake.
It is in the sports arena that Eurasians display their superiority. Very often they outshone their colonial masters and brought delight and pride to the locals.
Eurasians also shine academically and professionally in politics, music and arts. They were the backbone of the civil administration by producing the best teachers, clerical staff and trusted accountants.
They are a small community yet provide the ‘salt flavouring’ to the whole. Undeniably the Eurasian community survives and grows. Many have migrated to other countries and settled down there.”
There is a Christian cemetery in Loke Yew Road, Kuala Lumpur where a number of Eurasian graves can be found.
This article first appeared in malaysia-traveller.com