Chinese not ‘pendatangs’, Malaysia is their home too, Sarawak CM says

Adenan Satem

(Malay Mail Online) – The Chinese should no longer been seen as immigrants in Malaysia as they have lived here for generations, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said.

In his Chinese New Year message, the Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) chief thanked the Chinese for their contributions to the state, and told the community that they 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,” local daily The Star quoted Adenan saying in Kuching.

Chinese businesses have played an integral role in Sarawak’s economic success, Adenan added as he went on to encourage continuous racial unity.

“I would like to thank Chinese businesses for playing their role in building Sarawak,” he said.

“Let us continue to uphold the spirit of moderation in our ties with one another,” he added.

Adenan also urged Sarawakians to stay united, saying the state is large enough to accommodate all its different ethnic groups.

“We cannot have divide and rule tactics,” he was quoted saying.

“Sarawak is for everybody and Sarawak is big enough for everybody.”

Adenan had on on January 14 said his state administration will replace the “lain-lain” (Others) column with “Sarawak Bumiputera”, in response to a public rally demanding recognition of the state’s many indigenous tribes.

A federal government panel will decide sometime this month on what will be used to replace the “Lain-lain” column currently used as an ethnic designation on official forms in Sarawak, according to a news report today.

In 2008, Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail was suspended from Umno and stripped of all party posts for three years following an uproar over his remarks describing Chinese Malaysians as “pendatang” during a political rally in Permatang Pauh.

“Pendatang” is the Malay word for immigrants that carries a negative connotation among the non-Malays.

No criminal action was taken against him, but a journalist was subsequently arrested under the Internal Security Act for reporting his speech.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had also ruffled feathers in 2010 when he told Parliament that Chinese and Indians were “not patriotic enough”, explaining their low numbers in the armed forces.

The same year, there were two teachers were accused of making racial slurs at their non-Malay students, causing an uproar.

In 2013, Umno’s mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia splashed the headline “Apa Lagi Cina Mahu?” on its front-page, two days after the ruling BN was returned with a diminished majority in the 13th general election.

The Malay language daily also trained its guns on DAP, accusing the opposition party of racist politics.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had also blamed BN’s dismal election performance on a “Chinese tsunami”, claiming that the opposition Pakatan Rakyat had played on racial sentiments to woo support from the country’s second largest ethnic group.