May 13, 2007
Last year, Indonesian lawmakers scurried together, working on revising citizenship laws through an “Anti-Discrimination Bill“. Their original law on citizenship was deemed as highly discriminatory, not respecting human rights and gender-biased.
Amongst its revisions, most important was one scrapping discriminatory articles in the bill, including those that distinguished “indigenous Indonesians” from people from other countries who had become Indonesian citizens.
Slamet said the “indigenous Indonesian” clauses could cause discrimination in society because they treated people differently.
“Therefore, we have now defined ‘indigenous Indonesians’ as those people who are Indonesian citizens without going through a naturalization process,” he said.
Read that last sentence again.
We have now defined ‘indigenous Indonesians’ as those people who are Indonesian citizens without going through a naturalization process.
Now do a quick comparison with Malaysia. We know the following:
- The term “indigenous” is not clearly defined in the constitution.
- The term “Malay” is identified in the constitution as one who speaks the Malay language, adopts Malay culture and is a practising Muslim.
- The term “bumiputera” is not clearly defined and does not appear in the Constitution. In fact, there is debate as to the origins of this term. Based on Tun Dr Ismail’s book, the term was first introduced in year 1972. (He also says the term was a curse.) Other sources state that it was first used in Parliament in 1965, while debating the act that would create the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), a government agency to preserve Bumiputera interests.
But interesting that the term Bumiputera is defined officially as follows. Based on a blurb in Wikipedia which in turn quotes from “Buku Panduan Kemasukan ke Institut Pengajian Tinggi Awam, Program Pengajian Lepasan SPM/Setaraf Sesi Akademik 2007/2008, by Student Entry Management under Management Department of Higher Education Institution, Malaysia Higher Education Ministry.
The definition of Bumiputra:
- Peninsular Malaysia
- “If a father is a Muslim Malay or indigenous native of Sabah as stated in Article 160A (6)(a) Federal Constitution of Malaysia; thus his child is considered as a Bumiputra”
- “If both of the parent are indigenous native of Sarawak as stated in Article 160A (6)(b) Federal Constitution of Malaysia; thus their child is considered as a Bumiputra”
The question is this. Malaysian policies initially were crafted to help “Malays and other indigenous communities”. This presumably included the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia, but because indigenous itself was not clearly defined, it is uncertain. In later development plans, the term was replaced with “Bumiputera”. Again based on policy was OA included therein?
Colin Nicholas from the Center for Orang Asli Concerns states that:
the authors of the Malaysian Constitution did not expressly accord the Orang Asli the special status enjoyed by the other Bumiputera communities viz. the Malays and the Natives of Sabah and Sarawak.
Indonesians have attempted to classify all citizens of Indonesia as indigenous, mainly because indigenous peoples were being accorded privileges not enjoyed by all other citizens. This is a concept revolutionary to Malaysians who I’m sure will take a million years to debate on the issue. If ever Malaysia wants to rise to the occasion of instituting a just and fair nation, it should be prepared to consider drafting an Anti-Discrimination Bill, which will admittedly take a long time as it will have to cover a whole lot! But crucial is that anti-race discrimination is focused upon.
Good thoughts to chew upon… (In the meantime, as an aside, Raja Nazrin who espouses much of the same things on ensuring recognition of ALL Malaysians, is getting hitched to apparently really intelligent Zara, chemical engineer! I say they should be model couple for Malaysia and I hope their union will bring upon greater emphasis to walk the talk in creating a better Malaysia…)
Comments are closed.