Selective history, indifference behind ‘Tanah Melayu’ remark, say activists

There is indifference in the peninsula to the current composition of Malaysia which includes Sabah and Sarawak, say observers. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Activists have questioned Umno’s Tajuddin Abdul Rahman remarks in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday on Malaysia’s Malay origins, saying it was a case of selective history and shows indifference on the true make-up of the Malaysian federation which also comprises Sabah and Sarawak.

Former Sabah Foundation deputy director Johan Ariffin said he was not surprised by the Pasir Salak MP’s “This is Malay land” statement, saying it was typical of Umno leaders.

Tajuddin Abdul Rahman.

“If they continue that course, why does Malaysia need to exist?” Johan, part of the G25 reforms group comprising retired senior civil servants, told FMT.

“The Malays can keep Malaya for themselves. East Malaysians are happy to be on our own where we can collect our own taxes and exploit our own oil resources and not just receive handouts of 5%.”

Yesterday in the Dewan Rakyat, Tajuddin accused DAP of promoting an agenda that was unfair to all races in Malaysia. After he was interrupted by DAP MPs and told to study history, the Umno leader said Malaysia’s history would show that “this is a Malay land”.

Anas Zubedy

Social activist Anas Zubedy said Tajuddin was being selective on the history of Malaysia’s evolution.

“If we insist that Malaysia is still ‘Tanah Melayu’, we are ignoring the evolution process we have gone through,” he told FMT, adding that politicians should not cherrypick historical facts.

Anas said there was no denying that prior to 1957, Peninsular Malaysia was part of the Malay archipelago and that the country evolved from Malay polities into a single Malayan state, while Sabah and Sarawak had their own history.

But he said it was wrong to say criticism of Malay rulers amounted to an attack on the Malays.

“It is wrong because all Malaysians are subjects of their respective Sultans and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” said Zubedy, adding that Malays have no monopoly over the rulers.

“They are part of our constitution, as are specific provisions such as special interests of Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak, and legitimate interests of other communities.”

For Johan, Tajuddin’s remarks showed a need for people from the peninsula to learn more about Malaysian history and to get to know the other side of the country across the South China Sea.

He said there was an indifference on the true make-up of the Malaysian federation, and this could be seen in the way the anniversary of Malaysia’s formation in 1963 is celebrated every year on Sept 16.

Johan said Malaysia Day should celebrated on a grander scale to truly represent the different races, religions and cultures in Malaysia.

“Get AirAsia to sponsor low fares so that East Malaysians can fly over to KL on Malaysia Day and teach the Malays the true history of Malaysia,” he added.

Activist Marina Mahathir, meanwhile, said Tajuddin was just continuing his task of raising racial issues.

“We should make him ambassador to the US,” said Marina. “He’ll find a lot in common with Donald Trump”.

MPs riled up over ‘Malay land’ remark by BN’s Tajuddin