COMMENT | Most Malays, from either urban or rural areas, would attest to the adage from Hang Tuah: "Takkan Melayu hilang di dunia" (Malays will never disappear from this earth).
It is a good thing, a blessing even, that the community has such supreme confidence – especially since the state of the global economy is leaving everyone with the sinking feeling that they may never get to see tomorrow, especially if they lose their jobs.
But if one goes by the furore surrounding the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) brought up during the (Rise of the Ummah) rally – both of which appear to suggest that Malays are losing ground – then one would have to ask if Hang Tuah’s thunderous proclamation still applies?
It should, because Hang Tuah is right. Malays will not disappear from this earth, ever.
There are five reasons for this. First of all, Malay is one of the most widely used languages in the world. Although it is no longer the lingua franca of Southeast Asia – supplanted and displaced by English – some 250 million people speak the language in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
With such numbers, Malay is the sixth most popular language in the world after Chinese, English, Spanish and Arabic.
Secondly, while Malays in Thailand have lost some of their ability to speak the language, it was Dr Mahathir Mohamad, no less, who pointed out that this does not imply the loss of the entire ethnic group.
The Malays in Pattani and Narathiwat, for example, are still proud of their Malay roots, and their Islamic fervour remains no less unstinting despite the language not being widely spoken anymore.
Although the conflict in southern Thailand may not be all about Malay identity politics –the International Crisis Group (ICG) once pointed out that 50 percent is due to local crime, while another 50 percent is due to true ethnic and religious fervour – it is important to remember that they still look to Malaysia with some degree of admiration and envy.
Third, Malays have a strong and binding relationship with Islam. Contrary to what the late Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore may have believed, that Malaysia and Indonesia can be the radical second front of Islamic extremism after the Middle East, there is little empirical evidence to suggest widespread radicalisation. Groups like Jemaah Islamiyah, though dangerous, remain in the minority throughout the Malay archipelago...