‘Recognising Malaysia as part of Nusantara not challenging Malay dominance’: Madius
Published on: Monday, July 24, 2023
Madius claimed some Malays in the peninsula hope to “Malaynise” Sabah and Sarawak in the Malayan mould, by converting non-Muslim natives to Islam, and assimilating Muslim natives as Malays. – Bernama pic
Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia needs a new narrative of nationhood to counter the politics of 3Rs – race, religion and royalty, said Upko Honorary President Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau.
Madius, who is also Tuaran MP, said the nation should recognise and celebrate its three valuable elements – the Nusantara heritage, multiculturalism and liberal political system.
“Nusantara, or Maritime Southeast Asia, is the medley of islands and coastal lands that in the widest definition cover not just Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and East Timor but also the Philippines and Southern Thailand,” he said in a statement, recently.
“Vast majority of the Nusantara natives are Malay-Polynesians, most of whom speak languages related to Malay but are not Malays. Recognising Malaysia as part of Nusantara, rather than homeland of just the Malays, is not at all challenging the Malays’ dominance in Malaysia.
“How so? Islam and the Malay language are religiously and linguistically dominant in Nusantara, and Malays are certainly the dominant ethnicity in this part of Nusantara, Malaysia.”
He claimed some Malays in the peninsula hope to “Malaynise” Sabah and Sarawak in the Malayan mould, by converting non-Muslim natives to Islam, and assimilating Muslim natives as Malays.
“To this end, they try to create different tiers within Bumiputera.
“They think homogenising Sabah and Sarawak natives and expanding the number of Malays would strengthen Malaysia and prevent separatism.
“Counterproductively, such condensing mentality only weakens Malaysia because non-Malay natives in Sabah and Sarawak have our languages and cultures and do not want to lose our identity to become Malays.
“I have many relatives and friends who are both pious Muslims and proud Dusuns, who do not want to become Malays let alone Arabs.”
The Sabah and Sarawak natives, he said, only want to be in the same category with the Malays and Orang Asli as Bumiputera, with no distinction of first, second and third classes.
Hence, embracing Nusantara as the wider cultural category with the Malays would ease our fear of assimilation without changing the communal balance of power in Malaysia.
“Embracing Nusantara will only strengthen, and not weaken, the institutions of Malay Rulers, which are Nusantara-origin and all along have been the inclusive guardians of not just the Malays but all other Malaysians.
“Embracing the Nusantara heritage will also change the wrong impression that Malay language is a language of the Malays or the Muslims,” he said.
He added, that should help in further promoting the use of Malay as a language for all Malaysians, as the Indonesian language is for all Indonesians.
“Before the emergence of nation-states, the ancestors of Nusantara natives moved in and out of islands and peninsulas.
“Sometimes our ancestors clashed with each other but eventually we found ways to accommodate and live with each other.
“Often, the early comers helped the late comers, and the late comers respected the early comers.
“Because many of the Nusantara peoples, especially those in coastal area on trade routes, were into trading, our ancestors were constantly exposed to foreign languages, religions and cultures, and they welcomed the traders and missionaries who brought them.
“Hence, plural societies started long before the colonisation by the Western powers. Sometimes, they emerged as local kingdoms pursued economic advancements in response to early globalisation.”
He said the nation’s multicultural society is not a historical error inflicted by colonialists and needing assimilation as the solution.
“Some have the wrong idea that the New Economic Policy (NEP) can only be justified if the non-Bumiputeras are denounced as unwanted because they were brought in by the colonialists and ungrateful because they resist assimilation.
“No, if we want NEP to be more accepted by the non-Bumiputera, respect their right – just like our right as Sabah and Sarawak natives – to not be assimilated,” he said.
He also suggested that the nation cannot denounce colonial legacies that are positive and useful for the people now.
“First, Malaysia is a post-colonial state with British rule as the single most important commonality between Malaya and Borneo.
“Denying our common colonial past is denying our strongest historical tie.
“Second, persevering the liberal political system we inherit from the British – the Federal Constitution, constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy, civil and political liberties including religious freedom, judiciary independence, common laws, impartial and professional bureaucracy – is at the core of the social contract that produces and maintains Malaysia, the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“If you tear apart the liberal political system, you also tear apart the moral basis of Malaysia’s existence.”
Third, he said decolonisation is not restoration of the pre-colonial indigenous political system, but the realisation of democracy.
“When every citizen is politically equal, and government exercises its power on the consent of the governed, colonisation becomes impossible.
“Sabah and Sarawak suffered internal colonisation when one-party rule crippled our liberal institutions.
“For Malaysia to stay decolonised, we must pursue decentralisation of power for all 13 states to prevent the re-emergence of power concentration which may be captured by extremists,” he said. * Follow us on Instagram and join our Telegram and/or WhatsApp channel(s) for the latest news you don’t want to miss.
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