Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hey braader, you pendatang, I pendatang!

All our prime ministers have been ‘pendatang.’ It is almost certain that our next prime minster will be a pendatang. Based on our census data, practically 89 percent of us Malaysians qualify as pendatang. Yes, if you want to play that ‘pendatang’ game, please be sure you have your facts straight.

If you want to play that ‘pendatang’ game, then Malaysians of Chinese, Indian and Malay ancestry are, technically speaking, pendatang. And we have a negligible and dwindling number of Orang Asli – Malaysians of various indigenous ethnicities – who can legitimately and genuinely refer to the rest of us as pendatang.

I’m personally not in favour of invoking such a concept, let alone exploit it for making illegitimate, bogus, artificial and racist distinctions among ourselves. But the Umnoputeras who like to distort, exploit, and politicise this term to suit their narrow and bigoted agenda will find that this too, like the rest of their racist program, simply does not have cache. More importantly, we – fair minded Malaysians who have become tired of your abuses and exploits are not going to remain so silent anymore and let such distortions and machinations of you Umnoputeras to continue to manipulate and divide us.

If you want to play that ‘pendatang’ game, then be prepared to own up to the truth. Much like the descendants of the Conquistadors in Latin America have been forced – slowly but surely - to own up to the fact that the only once who are not ‘pendatang’ in the western hemisphere are the indigenous Indians, North Americans of European ancestry who have also shown xenophobic tendencies have been made to own up to the realisation of their own ‘pendatang’ status in the United States. Such has also been the storyline between the pendatang and the natives in the South Pacific. As much as many Americans, Australians, and Canadians of European ancestry, for example, like to think of themselves as ‘natives,’ they have been increasingly made to recognise that they are as much ‘pendatang’ to that world as are the more recent immigrants to those societies. With the exception of the Natives (indigenous) of those lands, all Americans, Canadians and Australians – however extensive their ancestry in those countries – are ‘pendatang.’

So, Umnoputeras, if you want to play that ‘pendatang’ game, then however extensive our Malaysian ancestry – whatever our race – we’re all pendatang. Like the indigenous Australians, Canadians and Americans, only the Orang Asli, against whom - I might add - we pendatang of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European ancestry have done much to oppress and exploit, are the only non-pendatang.

Mind you, I’m not one who likes to indulge in such racist games that the Umnoputera like to do.

But my fellow ‘warganegara Malaysia,’ do take a moment and first look in the mirror before you try to play this ‘pendatang’ game again. Okay, braader?

G. Krishnan