Categorised | Letters to the Editor

Bumiputera-ness: who decides?

Nazri Aziz

Nazri Aziz

MINISTER in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz’s recent assertion respecting the bumiputera-ness of Siamese Malaysians piques my interest to no end.

Who or what decides on the bumiputera-ness or the bumiputera-less-ness of a Malaysian citizen? Is it the Federal Constitution? Was it the Reid Commission? Is it the cabinet, or Parliament, or the Barisan Nasional? Is it Umno? Or Perkasa?

My great-grandparents were born in Penang in the 19th century. They were salted-fish traders. In World War II, their mansions in town were expropriated by the Japanese and turned into barracks. I know for a fact that their blood, sweat and tears oozed into their native soil of Malaya.

My grandparents and parents had nothing to do with China. They contributed to Malaya and Malaysia and all facets of Malaysian-ness. That they and I were/are not qualified to be bumiputera Malaysians is simply illogical. Anywhere else in the world, one’s citizenship would be the ultimate and consummate qualification of one’s citizenry.

Here I am, a full-blooded Malaysian, and yet, somehow, a designated non-Malay and non-bumiputera Malaysian. Is it possible that my children’s children will also end up like I have – a stipulated non-bumiputera 1Malaysian?

Singa Pura Pura

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8 Responses to “Bumiputera-ness: who decides?”

  1. yeo kien kiong says:

    Politicians love to say the darndest things.

  2. Vincent Ang says:

    Why would any Chinese [Malaysian] want to be a bumiputra save for the Abdullah wannabes? All we want is fair treatment.

    The Chinese since they landed in Malaya until today have been independent of government handouts and have remained so till today. Begging to be bumiputra is pathetic. Are you saying you need to beg from racists [...]?

    The Chinese [Malaysians] have NEVER wanted to be bumiputra, do not want to be bumiputras and will never want to be bumiputra. Malaysia is our home and we are here to stay. [...]

  3. Lainie Yeoh says:

    If this continues I’m going to tick that I’m Malay in all forms that ask. If no one recognises me as Bumiputera (…puteri…?), the least I can do is recognise myself as someone who belongs here.

    As it is, right now I draw fishes over that part of the form, or tick lain-lain the few times I get caught doing that.

  4. Benny says:

    Sometimes I envy those who know that they are Chinese [Malaysian] or Malay [Malaysian] or etc. I am from mixed parentage. Grandfather is Chinese [Malaysian]. I put myself as a Chinese in forms. But recently, I registered for voting and the officer put me as bumiputera Sarawak in the form. He didn’t ask me anything. I am wondering if that is my category in the Malaysian database? Or just that the government already decides that all mixed-marriage offspring are bumiputera automatically? This ‘categorisation’ really confuses me.

    • Eng Wai Ong says:

      You are Malaysian.

      There is nothing to be envied (or un-envied) of being Chinese Malaysian or Malay Malaysian.

  5. ApesGalore says:

    Good article. Stroke the passion of a true love for the country but for the country to love you, it boils down to who is the government of the day and the maturity of our society to select the right leaders.

  6. Sabahan says:

    I think the Siamese are bumiputra since the dawn of Malaysia. Maybe half-bumi just like Eurasians. Correct me if I am wrong.They are allowed to buy ASB and get 7% bumi discount for purchase of house. Not first class bumi though.

    I would rather think this is more due to historical ties that Siamese are the native to this region and Bhumipol’s grandfather did at one time rule northern Malaya as vassal states until the British came.

    Partially maybe it is also because the numbers of Siamese and Eurasian are so small that they do not pose any challenge to the Malay hegemony, thus the bumi status.

    They are rightfully bumi because they are natives to this region and with a stroke of a pen between Britain and Siam, they were placed in a different country. Now saying that, I am not bitter about them being bumi as I accept the fact that most if not all, Chinese and Indians were later migrants to this area accept maybe the Peranakan. What I can’t stand is the blatant abuse that Pakistani, southern Filipinos and Indonesians who came after Malaysia was formed and are still thronging in daily are accorded the same status just to change the demographic, especially in Sabah. How come Sino-Kadazans are not rightfully bumi in Peninsular (even in Sabah, this is disputable).

  7. singa-sana says:

    Let me tell you a … story about bumiputera-ness, who decides and what are the criteria for being one.

    I am a Yemeni by descent, Singaporean by birth, and was married to a Catholic woman of mixed Indian and Chinese parentage. Under Malaysian (and Singapore) syariah law, she had to convert before she could marry me. That was many moons ago and water under the bridge, but… our two children, born of a foreigner of Yemeni descent and an ex-Catholic convert, are now officially bumiputera.

    How is that possible? Is it because they are Muslims? Because they are definitely not Malay, not by a long shot! This happened only by default because they are Muslims. So, being Malay or non-Malay has nothing to do with it. I believe that the main reason for this is because the government is an ethnocracy based loosely on religious affiliations.

    Any form of affirmative action should be capped with a reasonable time frame. After all, you cannot help someone forever and not expect them to be too reliant on that help (lots of African nations have severe issues because of their over dependence on aid). Aid is prone to abuse by those receiving and giving it out. Human nature knows not the concept of restraint; abuse, however, comes easier, especially when one thinks nobody is looking or when one believes that everybody else is doing the same. Sadly, it’s because as long as they have the upper hand, the majority do not really care what happens to the rest.


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