1. Someone asked what about the “Orang Asli” literally the “Original People”. Weren’t they in the peninsular before the Malays?
2. They could be. So are the Red Indians, the Maoris, the aborigines of Australia, the many tribal people in many countries of the world.
3. If we consider that the Orang Asli have more rights to claim Malaysia as their own then we should acknowledge and respect the rights of the Red Indians, the Maoris, the Australian aborigines and all the other aborigines to be given back the land we now call America, Australia, New Zealand etc.
4. Perhaps in recognition of their rights, they are now not so ill-treated and killed as they were when the Europeans seized their lands. But this is not the same as declaring that the countries belong to the people originally found there.
5. In Latin America there were native, indigenous or Orang Asli governments when the Europeans arrived. The Aztecs, the Mayas, the Incas had recognisable states. But the Spaniards and the Portuguese conquered their lands and set up new States and Governments. The world have recognised these states.
6. In Malaysia the Orang Asli are as much citizens of the country as are the people of other races. They had never set up their own states and governments.
7. When the Europeans came, the governments and the states they had to deal with were Malay. All treaties were made with the Malay Governments. Even the Japanese recognised the existence of these Malay States when they drove the British out of the peninsular.
8. Of course when the British came back, they had to gain the assent of the Malay rulers in order to set up the Malayan Union. All subsequent agreements were with Malay rulers and Malay political leaders.
9. It is important to note that the Malay rulers only recognised Malays as their natural “rakyat”. They also recognised “Orang Asli” and non-Malays who had been assimilated as “rakyat”. However, non-Malays who continued to identify themselves with their countries of origin were not regarded as rakyat.
10. It was only after the Malayan Union was formed that the concept of citizenship was created. Still those recognised as rakyat of the rulers were acknowledged through what came to be regarded as special positions.
11. This was enshrined in the constitution. But the constitution also made it clear that the non-Malay citizens also have special position. Thus they may retain their original identity, use their own home language (mother tongue?) and perpetuate their own culture. They also have the right to teach in their own languages in Government supported primary schools and can set up their own private secondary schools.
12. The setting up of schools which teach in their own languages is not to be confused with schools for teaching other languages.
13. We would like to see the end of all special privileges so that we can all be together. We should all be just Malaysians speaking and teaching in one national language, practitioners of one national culture, and owing loyalty only to this beloved country, Malaysia.