No Malaysian is a ‘pendatang’, eminent historian says as racial tensions flare


(MMO) – Anyone who has Malaysian citizenship cannot be deemed to be a “pendatang” or immigrant, historian Professor Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim proclaimed at a public forum here last night.

The phrase “Malaysian immigrant” is self-contradictory, the Universiti Malaysia lecturer explained, and faulted poor education for the perpetuation of the myth that has been revived in the latest racial flare-up between the Malay majority and the ethnic Chinese minority.

“Pendatang or immigrants is a term, someone who came from another country. Let’s say this country, and he is a citizen of another country, then he is an immigrant.

“But if he has been living here for a long time and applied for citizenship, then he is no longer a pendatang, he is a citizen,” Khoo told a forum on “Defending Malay Dignity” organised by a non-government group, Gabungan Merdeka Rakyat.

“Pendatang is only for people who are not citizens,” he reiterated.

However, he noted that the misunderstanding of such phrases, like the term “bangsa” were commonplace and present even in government forms.

“Our leaders made a mistake on forms, where you’re supposed to tick Malay, Chinese or Indian. Bangsa means nationality so if we are Malaysian, we should just write Malaysian.

“If we write Chinese on forms it indicates that we are citizens of China. Terms and words are different, terms only have a singular meaning,” he explained.

To illustrate his point, he gave the example of Malaysia’s membership in the United Nations and said that the global organisation’s name in Bahasa Malaysia translates to Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu.

“It’s United Nations, not United Races,” he stressed.

Khoo said phrases or terms differ in meaning from individual words.

“Here, education is at fault. We are not taught the meaning of a term. An ‘istilah’ is not the same as a word,” he said.

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