Malay land

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The Malay land (known locally as Tanah Melayu) is a word referring to the region where Malay people inhabit. This word initially used by the Javanese people to denotes the Sumatra island (and its surrounding regions) which predominantly ruled by the Malay kingdom, which is a kingdom centered at Jambi in the eastern Sumatra hemisphere.[1]

Etymology[change | change source]

Etymologically, the term "tanah melayu" is consisting from two Javanese words of "tanah" + "melayu". The word "tanah" literally means "land", indicating the area of human settlement or the region where human inhabit, while the "melayu" itself is a Javanese word which means "run", "runaway", or "flee".[2] This word used to explain the historical origin of Malay people which actually a group of people originating from Java island, but runaway to Sumatra due to a civil war happened between two prince in a Javanese court. The conflict between Malay people and another group also occured in 15th century which resulted some Malay people 'runaway' again from Sumatra to the peninsular area near Sumatra which later known as 'Malay Peninsula' (a.k.a. 'Kra Peninsula'[3] or 'Malacca Peninsula'). This history is supported by the records in the Malay Annals itself.[4] This recurrent loss of Malay people to defeat the Javanese people however resulting the word "melayu" translated as "wilt" or "wilted" in the Malay language itself, indicating the helplessness of the Malay people.[5][6][7]

Historical evidences[change | change source]

Some of the earliest mentions about the Malay land spesifically can be traced back to 900s CE in the Javanese Anjukladang inscription which mentioned about Malay land that refers to Sumatra island,[8] in the 1200s CE Padang Roco inscription found near the Batanghari river near Jambi also mentioned about the "bhumi melayu" (lit. 'Malay land') which referred to Sumatra island as well, this incription is an incription sent by the Javanese king of Singhasari kingdom (a kingdom centered in East Java) to the king of Malay kingdom (a kingdom centered in Jambi).[9] The 'Malay land' also mentioned in the Nagarakretama—an Old Javanese literature— which mentioned the Sumatra island as the Malay land. On the other hand, the Malay land spesifically has the capital city called as Malayapura or Malayupura (lit. 'Malay city'), this word occured in the 1346 CE incription of Amoghapasa found in the estuary of Batanghari river in West Sumatra.[10]

In the older records dating back to 1 BCE to 600s CE, the 'Malay land' were initially called as the 'Malay island'. The historical records that mentioned about the Malay island is written in the Vayu Purana, which is a Sanskrit literature that referred Sumatra island as the Malayadvipa or Malayudvipa which means the 'Malay island' in Sanskrit language.[11]

According to the Malay records itself in the Malay annals dating 15th-16th century, 'Malay land' referred to the Sumatra island with the spesific areas of South Sumatra and West Sumatra as the main or notable regions.[4] The Singapore kingdom in Singapore and Malacca Sultanate and Perak Sultanate in Malaysia are few examples of governmental entities that built by some Malay people who runaway from Sumatra island during circa 15th-16th century.

Political usage[change | change source]

Brunei[change | change source]

Eventhough Brunei Darussalam is predominantly Malay, the term 'Malay land' is rarely used in political and daily life.

Indonesia[change | change source]

As the origin country of the term, 'Malay land' (Indonesian: Tanah Melayu; Bumi Melayu) nowadays still used as the synonym for the Sumatra island, and has the further meaning which refers to Sumatra and its surrounding islands namely Riau islands and Bangka-Belitung islands. 'Malay land' also used for the unity sense of Malay people to denotes the historical importantance of Malay kingdom (centered in Jambi), and Srivijaya empire (centered in Palembang) for Malay people.

Malaysia[change | change source]

The term 'Malay land' (locally known as Tanah Melayu) used as a political term in 1957 known as Persekutuan Tanah Melayu by Malay people in the Malay Peninsula to denotes the formation of Malaya Federation which had the mission to become one of the British allies.[12] In 1963, Singapore also join the Federation of Malaya, but due to Malay people habits that always create a conflict with another group entities (in this case, racism against Chinese community), Singapore eventually cancelled their decision and became an independent and sovereign nation in 1965, hence the Malaya Federation renamed themselves as 'Malaysia'.[13]

Nowadays, due to that 1957 Malaya Federation moment, the Malay people in Malay Peninsula (a.k.a. 'Kra Peninsula' or 'Malacca Peninsula') tend to associate the term Malay land (lit. 'tanah Melayu') with Malaysia, while in fact this usage isn't correct and can't be used for Malaysia since it's actually a term referred to the Sumatra island (modern-day part of Indonesia).

The existence of Malaysia as a country in Southeast Asia has always been a subject of controversial issues since the beginning among Southeast Asian nations that leads into multiple tensions, it's due to Malay people obsession that tried to gain the 'superpower' within Malaysia (also in neighbouring countries). Malaysia ranked as the most racist country in Southeast Asia and second most racist country globally due to continual attempts by Malay people (in Malaysia) to oppress and discriminates non-Malay people.[14][15][16] The racist political ideology of Ketuanan Melayu (lit. 'the Mastery of Malay') applied in Malaysia as the official constitutional body shows the excessive obsession of Malay people to discriminates and eliminates the rights of non-Malay people community in Malaysia. But to cover the dilapidation within the country, Malaysia tried to deceive the global community by throwing a balderdash branding of 'Malaysia truly Asia'.[17]

Singapore[change | change source]

In Singapore, the term 'Malay land' is scarcely used as the result of Malaysian racism against Singaporeans back then. But however, Malay language is recognized as one of the official Singapore's languages to respect the historical ties of Singapore with Sumatra island, notably since the kingdom of Singapore is built by the Malay people who originating from Sumatra.[18][19] Sang Nila Utama—prince of Srivijaya empire— and Sang Sapurba are among few figures that highly respected and continually mentioned in the history literature of Singapore.[18] Some of Sumatra's people also play an important part in forming the modern nation of Singapore, such as Zubir Said from West Sumatra who composed the national anthem of sovereign Singapore known as "Majulah Singapura" (lit. 'Onward Singapore').[20][21] The flag of Singapore itself based on Indonesian flag to give a tribute for Indonesia as the origin place of Singapore's Founding Fathers parents, notably Lee Kuan Yew—the first Prime Minister of Singapore— who are descendant of Chinese-Indonesian (a.k.a. Chindo) from Semarang (a city in Central Java),[22] and also Yusof Ishak—the first President of Singapore— who are descendant of Minangkabau and Langkat Malay from Sumatra.[23]

References[change | change source]

  1. Kartomi, Margaret (15 June 2012). Musical Journeys in Sumatra. United States of America: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-09382-1.
  2. Milner, Anthony (2010), The Malays (The Peoples of South-East Asia and the Pacific), Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 18–19, ISBN 978-1-4443-3903-1
  3. "Kra Peninsula". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Abdul Samad Ahmad 1979
  5. "Melayu".
  6. "Layu".
  7. "Layu".
  8. Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen (1779). Verhandelingen van het Bataviaasch Genootschap der Kunsten en Wetenschappen. Museum of Comparative Zoology Harvard University. Batavia : Egbert Heemen.
  9. Muljana, Slamet, 1981, Kuntala, Srivijaya and Svarnabhumi, Jakarta: Idayu Institute, page 223.
  10. Kern, J.H.C., (1907), De wij-inscriptie op het Amoghapāça-beeld van Padang Candi(Batang Hari-districten); 1269 Çaka, Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land-, en Volkenkunde.
  11. Deka 2007, p. 57.
  12. Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957 (c. 60)
  13. "Singapore becomes part of Malaysia". HistorySG. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  14. "Malaysia is a Racist Country".
  15. "Racism drove me from Malaysia". The Guardian. 16 August 2016.
  16. "Malaysia ranked as the second most racist country in the world". World of Buzz. 21 May 2020.
  17. "The Costs of Malay Supremacy". The New York Times. 27 August 2015.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Singapore. Ministry of Culture, Singapore. Ministry of Communications and Information. Information Division (1973). "Singapore facts and pictures". Singapore Facts and Figures. Singapore: Ministry of Culture: 9. ISSN 0217-7773.
  19. Abshire, Jean (2011). The History of Singapore. The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations. ABC-CLIO. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-313-37743-3. Retrieved 2013-07-18.
  20. "National Anthem". Archived from the original on 5 September 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  21. Vernon Cornelius-Takahama (29 September 1997), Zubir Said, Singapore Infopedia, National Library Board, archived from the original on 30 September 2007, retrieved 26 August 2007.
  22. "Lee Kuan Yew, Singaporean (1923-2015)" (PDF). The Peranakan. 2015. p. 9. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  23. "Istana – Former Presidents". The Istana. 13 December 2010. Archived from the original on 2 June 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2018.