In order to propagate its Malay Supremacy ideology, UMNO-dominated educationists have forcibly implemented in school history textbooks that Malaysian history starts from Malaccan Sultanate by giving the impression that it was a no-man’s land before Malaccan Sultanate. They proclaim unquestionable Malay Sovereignty so as to legitimize UMNO’s permanent grip on power.
On the contrary, historical facts have shown not only that there were Malay Hindu kingdoms such as Sri Vijaya Kingdom in Northern Malaysian Peninsula before the emergence of Malaccan Sulatanate, but the first settlers of Malaysian Peninsula, Orang Asli, had already lived in Malaysian Peninsula for millenniums long before the influx of Malays and other ethnic groups. Even though Orang Asli are not a single ethnic group but they have one thing in common- that is, they are non-Malay indigenous people. (Dentan et al: 9).
Orang Asli were never numerically dominant enough to establish any “definitive government” in Malaysian Peninsula, an argument used by Dr. Mahatir Mohamad in The Malay Dilemma which provides UMNO’s Malay Supremacist ideological basis for denying not only all other later immigrants but also Orang Asli the native (Bumiputera) status. In their perception, Orang Asli were never advanced enough to establish any “definitive government” and hence they could not claim any indigenous status for any official systemic preferential treatment.
Ironically, the similar ideology was used by the White Afrikaners Nationalists to justify their indigenous status in contrast to the earliest known South African settlers of Khoisan people, whom according to the White Afrikaner Nationalists, had never established a “civilised government” in
. In other words, similar to Khoisan people in formerly apartheid South Africa, Orang Asli are numerically negligible to form a dominant political force to reckon with the Malay Supremacist UMNO to have their aborigines status recognised and receive legitimate state assistance. South Africa
It is not difficult to draw similarities between the two racial supremacist regimes of White Afrikaner nationalists and UMNO’s Malay supremacist. Therefore, it is important to look into Orang Asli’s predicament so as to examine UMNO’s Malay supremacist ideology and the reason that UMNO has consistently denied pre-Malaccan history despite the fact that Orang Asli’s ancestors had settled in
as early as 4,000 to 25,000 years ago. . Malaysia Peninsula
It is an indisputable fact that they are the “original people” of
. The term Orang Asli was first used by the Malay-dominated post-independence government. It means literally “the original people” (Colin Nicholas: 14). A term has been long accepted not only by Malays and Orang Asli themselves, it also has been accepted by all Malaysians and historians. Malaysian Peninsula
Orang Asli have been consistently the deprived minority in their own homeland whose fate could well be equated with that of Australian Aborigines, Maoris of New Zealand and American Natives. Not only the Malay Nationalist regime has consistently avoid any mention of Orang Asli’s existence in articulating its ultra-nationalist socio-economic policies, but also has misleadingly equated the Malays’ misfortune with that of Australian Aborigines and American Natives.
According to historians, there were evidence to show on the contrary, Orang Asli were also victims of enslavement by various dominant ethnic groups of
, including Malays. Despite official denials of slavery, Colin Nicholas staunchly criticized the official denial over the matter as oral literature of Orang Asli have recorded slave raids (Colin Nicholas: 17). Enslavement of Orang Asli has also been well documented as early as 1874 by an English colonial official, J.W.W. Birch (Yang:104). Malaysia
Malay ultra-nationalist historians have been apologetic towards Malays’ enslavement of Orang Asli as relatively a “benign” form of slavery. Indeed, Orang Asli slaves were treated variedly from as “a member of family” to rapes, murders and tortures(Dentan et al:54-7) to refugees in their own homeland. Their past grievances and indigenous rights are yet to be addressed by the Malay Supremacist which is seen to be impossible as it is viewed a threat to shaken its single-party rule based on political ideology of racial supremacy and self portrayed past victimization by British colonists and Chinese businessmen. A paradox of
According to statistics provided by the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (Colin Nicholas, www.coac.org.my), in 2003 , there were about 147,412 Orang Asli composed of 18 different subtypes in Malaysian Peninsula, who compose the most destitute Malaysians. They accounted only about 0.5% of Peninsular Malaysia’s population. Many believed that they live a nomadic life in the tropical rain forests.
According to Robert Dentan, most of them have in fact lived in a stable non-nomadic lifestyle in present days despite officials like to describe them as nomadic. Their “nomadic” lifestyle is mainly due to “regroupment” of their settlements, which have given way to forest logging, housing projects, industrial parks, airports and golf courses (Dentan et al: 7).
The Federal Constitution has not settled Orang Asli’s definite customary and individual lands rights They have been made to resettle and move from their ancestral lands. Out of all lands proposed for gazettement by in especially
, only 15.1% or 19,222.15 hectares out of totla land proposed for gazettement as Orang Asli reserves had been approved as gazetted Orang Asli reserves as at 31 December 2003 (Colin Nicholas, www.cosc.org.my). Malaysian Peninsula
Therefore, in actual facts, Orang Asli have been displaced form their ancestral lands by the much more dominant majority Malay-only Nationalist rule. It is a flaw for the Malay ultra-Nationalists’ to equate Malays’ fate with that of Maoris of New Zealand, Australian Aborigines and Native Americans. It is merely a part of their ultra-ultra nationalist propaganda to justify UMNO’s race-based preferential policies. It is in no way that Malay Supremacist ideology can justify race blind preferential policy such as affirmative action while the similar ultra-nationalist approach implemented by former White Afrikaners Nationalists regime in justifying apartheid socio-economic policies.
They may differ in degree of physical brutality used and being either minority-dominant or majority-dominant racial supremacy. Is UMNO’s Malay Majority Supremacy is more justifiable than White Minority Afrikaner Supremacy in similar multiethnic societies of
Malaysia and ? The fact is that majority racial dominance is much harder to break than minority racial dominance. Therefore the majority dominant racial supremacy is more justifiable. Nonetheless it is even more tyrannical but in disguise vis-a-vis the minority-dominant racial supremacy. South Africa