In his Chinese New Year message today, the Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Adenan Satem, said a most sensible thing regarding the Chinese ‘pendatang’ rhetoric that is straining race relations in Malaysia.
He also thanked the Chinese for their contribution to the state and added that the community should rightfully regard Malaysia as their home. “You call Sarawak your home, and indeed this is your home, just like for those from many other races,” said Tan Sri Satem.
What Tan Sri Satem said would apply to Sabah as well. And we from Sabah have said the same thing many times in the past: that Chinese are as Malaysian as any other race or ethnicity.
It is probably time to put this matter to rest and no longer argue about who is more Malaysian and who came to this country first. Instead, we should discuss how to face the challenges ahead of us, especially the economic challenges and the bigger worry of terrorism that, according to the IGP, threatens to land on our own doorstep.
We have Malaysian Chinese who are descendants of those who came to this country more than 500 years ago and Bumiputeras whose ancestors came here only about 100 years ago or less.
Hence how do we measure who has more right to this country if the date your ancestors came here is used as a yardstick to determine who is more Malaysian?
The yardstick to use is: once Malaya gained independence in 1957, or once Malaysia was formed in 1963, whoever was already in Malaysia, especially those who were born in Malaysia, are Malaysians and equal to one another.
Anyway, if the reason for this rhetoric is because the Bumiputeras feel threatened, then rest assured there is nothing to worry about because the Federal Constitution of Malaysia protects the special position of the Bumiputeras.