Maybe not many of us realize. It is a hot debate between hyper-Malay nationalists and East Malaysian natives. The writer and those supporters are trying to claim Malaysia is a Malay Land and all East Malaysian natives as Malay. No, some of them even claim that all Austronesian-speaking groups as “Rumpun Melayu” (Malay cluster).
In other words, they are claiming all Taiwan, Oceanic, Madagascar Indigenous groups as part of the Malay cluster. How ignorance/clever they are. Trying to equalize language category with ethnic group category.
Obviously, it is a “Malaynization” agenda, also a typical Malaysian version of Orientalism. It has been decades for some Malay scholars trying to stereotype and objectify East Malaysian natives (and also Orang Asal in Peninsula Malaysia). Their Malay publications are to serve the agenda of Malaynization, Islamization and Malayanization, omitting the differences between Borneo native culture and Malay culture. Their history is selective, ignoring the highly self-governance of Borneo inland natives, with the weak coastal control of Brunei and Sulu sultanate. Thanks to a few amateur historians, for revealing these untold histories in their writings.
Unfortunately, most of the non-bumiputera do not realize the importance to distinguish Malay and Borneo muslim natives. For them, all the Muslim natives are called “Malay”, due to the successful Malaynization agenda. If this agenda persists, undoubtedly, the harmonious racial relationship in East Malaysia will be destroyed. Malaysia may deeply struggle in “Malay” and “non-Malay” binary opposition in near future.
Solution? Of course, there is. For me, the answer is the full execution of Malaysia Agreement 1963. Many of us still taking MA63 as one of the dirty tactics being used by Sabah and Sarawak local parties to maintain/gain power. This perspective is over-simplified. MA63 was facilitated by UK before these local parties formed. Protection and autonomy is needed in order to protect the uniqueness of Borneo culture and society.
Just a few examples, without MA63, the native court system will be demolished, so as the adat-adat of Borneo natives. Without MA63, Malay from peninsula will be able to purchase Native title land in East Malaysia. The list counts, but I think I should stop here. Anyone of us who can understand Malay please leave your thoughts here or there (thepatriots.asia). This highly diversified federated nation should enjoy more mutual respect.