We are Bumiputeras, insists Indian Muslim umbrella body

permimPETALING JAYA: An umbrella body representing various Indian Muslim associations is insisting that the community should be officially recognised as Bumiputera.

The Federation of Malaysian Indian Muslim Associations (Permim) president Dhajudeen Shahul Hameed said this was because the community had been in the country for over five centuries.

“We have contributed to the economic development of the country, and have also been following the Malay culture. There are so many commonalities here,” he said. “What we want, is just for this to be gazetted,” he added.

Dhajudeen had, two nights ago, made three requests, namely to gazette the community as Bumiputera, set up a Muslim Indian landmark in Kuala Lumpur or Putrajaya, and appoint a special officer in the Prime Minister’s Department to manage the affairs of about one million Indian Muslims in the country.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was also present at the Hari Raya function, had said that the government would study in depth the request for Indian Muslims to be recognised as Bumiputeras.

Commenting on this, historian Khoo Kay Kim had earlier today said that Indian Muslims could not become Bumiputeras, but a case could be made to categorise them as Malays.

Khoo told FMT the term “Bumiputera” was coined in 1963 to refer to the non-Muslim indigenous peoples of Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

“Before 1963, Malays in Peninsular Malaysia were just called Malays,” he said, noting that a Malay is defined as someone who is a Muslim, speaks Malay habitually and practises Malay customs.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Ayoob Khan Muhamad Yakub, personally felt the issue of “Bumiputera” recognition was long overdue.

“We are the Indian Muslim community who spread Islam to this country and who contributed to the economic wealth, helping to administer and manage the affairs of the country,” he said.

Ayoob’s views mirrored that of Dhajudeen, who said that the economic contribution of the Indian Muslim community was important and could not be denied.

Ayoob also said the time had come for the appointment of a special officer in the Prime Minister’s Department to manage the affairs of the Indian Muslim community.

“This is to safeguard the affairs and interests of this community. Also,this will enable the government to listen to the pulse of this community,” he added.

He said there were about 1.5 million Indian Muslims in Malaysia, if the Muslims originally from Malabar and Pakistan were included.