Do Malays have rights and privileges?

So, Malays have rights and privileges as Bumiputeras. But do Malays by themselves have rights and privileges? The rights and privileges of Malays are not stated anywhere! If a person who is a Malay renounces Islam and becomes an apostate, besides remaining a Malaysian, though he remains a Bumiputera, what race does he belong to?

Hussaini Abdul Karim, The Malaysian Insider

Malays (Malay: Melayu Jawi: ملايو) are an ethnic group of Austronesian people predominantly inhabiting the Malay peninsula including the southernmost parts of Thailand and island of Singapore, coastal Indonesian including east of Sumatra, coastal Borneo, including Brunei, coastal Sarawak and Sabah, and the smaller islands which lie between these locations. These locations today are part of the modern nations of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, southern Thailand and western Indonesia.

Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia defines various terms used in the Constitution. It has an important impact on Islam in Malaysia and the Malay people due to its definition of a Malay person under clause 2. It took effect after August 31, 1957 (“Merdeka Day” or “Independence Day”) in West Malaysia, and took effect in Singapore and East Malaysia when they merged with Malaya in 1963. The article no longer applies to Singapore, as it declared independence from Malaysia in 1965; however, it does affect the legal status of Malay Singaporeans when they enter Malaysia.

Definition of a Malay

The article defines a Malay as a Malaysian citizen born to a Malaysian citizen who professes to be a Muslim, habitually speaks the Malay language, adheres to Malay customs, and is domiciled in Malaysia or Singapore. As a result, Malay citizens who convert out of Islam are no longer considered Malay under the law. Hence, the Bumiputera privileges afforded to Malays under Article 153 of the Constitution, the New Economic Policy (NEP), etc, are forfeit for such converts.

Likewise, a non-Malay Malaysian who converts to Islam can lay claim to Bumiputera privileges provided he meets the other conditions.

In Mingguan Malaysia yesterday (February 12, 2012), Tan Sri Mazlan Nordin wrote: “In old maps of the Malay Archipelago names like Aceh, Minangkabau, Rawa, Makasar, Kerinci, Madura, Jambi, Palembang, Bidayuh, Kampar, Sulawesi, Maluku, Pekan Baru, Sumatera, Jawa Borneo, etc, appear.

He further said: “Profesor Anthony Milner dari Universiti Kebangsaan Australia also contributed towards some historical records and among others he wrote that the role of the Governor of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles, changed the name of Malay History (Sejarah Melayu) to give prominence to common Malays who were not from the royal families.”

He further stated: “Whenever he (Raffles) made a speech or he wrote he said ‘Malays’ and ‘the Malay race’ and he influenced the writer/historian Abdullah Munshi.”

In another document, Abdullah Munshi, who was from another race, considered himself a Malay. The Malay language became the language of his choice and he was acknowledged as an expert in Malay culture and the Malay language.

Milner, in his inference, among others, wrote about the separation aspect and how the Malayan independence was achieved — Malaysia (West and East), Indonesia, Brunei, etc.

Also mentioned was the migration of the Malay people to Sri Lanka and South Africa.

Malays as a racial identity and the Malay language in the Far East comprised people of various groups. Malays, therefore, were not a tribe.