Who is a Malay? The debate is still raging in Singapore with many disputing the Malay credentials of the PAP’s Presidential election’s candidate.
But a doctor’s prescription on who is a Malay in Malaysia could save Halimah Yacob the day in the court of the social-media haranguers.
The book A Doctor In The House could eventually settle the issue of ‘who is a Malay’ and could endorse Halimah’s Malay credentials
In the good old days of the print media dominance, attacks from several parties against a particular person would have been called ‘trial by the press’. But in Halimah’s case, it is purely a trial by the social-media and many are still unhappy with her racial origin.
The question for them is whether there is a violation of the electoral rules where only candidates of ‘Malay’ origin can contest in the presidential elections.
There has been a lot of arguments on Halimah’s Indian origin, which would disqualify her as the PAP’s candidate.
However, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia who came under attack recently on his racial origins, gave the simplest prescription of all on who really is a Malay.
In a response to the Zahid Hamidi, Malaysian Minister of Home Affairs (formerly Minister of Defense) who attacked Mahathir’s status as a Malay, the doctor said in a laconic way that it is true he has Indian blood in his veins.
Refusing to play the racial card brandished by the ruling Umno party, Mahathir simplified the meaning of being a Malay by saying to be a Malay, one has to speak the Malay language, follow the Malay customs and be a Muslim.
Thus, the Indian blood does not disqualify Mahathir from being a Malay, a status of which he said he is very proud of.
Zahid, in a desperate attack on Mahathir, made a fuss on the latter’s racial origin brandishing a picture of an old identification card of the former PM as proof of his ‘Indianness’.
The Umno leader – Zahid is deputy leader of the all Malay party – lambasted Mahathir on what he said was his ‘abuse’ of the Malay race repeating an ancient saying of Mahathir who once said ‘the Malays easily forget.’
But turning the tables over Zahid – who is said to be of Indonesian origin and who has unleashed a storm against his own racial origin on local social-media networks in Malaysia – Mahathir’s book said the former PM cannot take the blame for his Indian origin.
“I admit I have Indian blood or to be correct I have South Asian blood streaming in my veins, but from which small part of India did my grand parents come, I do not know,” he wrote in his memoirs A Doctor In The House.
“I am a Malay and I am proud of it. I am a Malay not on paper. But from the sentiment and the pride, I am also a Malay,” his writing in the memoirs said.
Recently, Mahathir said the question of who is a Malay should not be raised since many among the Malays in Malaysia, for example, did not know their origins.
Many had Indonesian blood, Indian or Arab blood that could be traded to Yemen and so on.
To be a Malay, said Mahathir, is no more an ethnic thing as today it is more of a legal matter.