Sunday, December 13, 2009

What is 'Ketuanan Melayu'?

Lately, a lot has been said about Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy). Albeit all these 'discussions' on the subject, I have yet to comprehend the concept. Are Malays born Superior? Are there different statuses of human beings? Who was the first to coin this concept? Right now 1001 questions linger in my mind and none of them has what I would call an appropriate answer.

Therefore I invite all of you, whether you are the proponent or the opponent of this controversial concept, to share your opinions at the comment section. Any facts or opinion regarding the issue are welcomed. Hopefully, with the input that you gave me, I will arrive at an informed conclusion and will be able to blog my stand on the matter.

Meanwhile, I'll be going overseas in an attempt to stimulate the world economy for 10 days :)
Keep it coming, I will post my reply when I reach home.


kenwooi said...

well.. malaysia is called a muslim country.. so i think we can get the idea who's supreme over here. =P

warisantmk said...


Last few days, there have been INTENSE EXCHANGES among leaders of political parties with regards to the term KETUANAN MELAYU, starting from the Parliment, and then dragged on in major medias, including the alternative medias. The latest was by Dr Lim Keng Yeik, former President of Gerakan, one of the component parties of the ruling Barisan Nasional(BN) party.

I wonder WHY the Chinese, and to less level of intensity the Indians, are so ALLERGIC with the term KETUANAN MELAYU…. Perhaps they are influenced by Lim Kit Siang’s WRONG INTERPRETATION of the term Ketuanan Melayu. LKS depicted the term Ketuanan Melayu to mean MALAY MASTER-CHINESE SLAVE relationship. The problem is, Bahasa Melayu is not LKS mother-tounge. So, he misunderstood the terms altogether.

The term Ketuanan Melayu were also misinterpreted by others to imply having to address Malays as TUAN, meaning MASTER. This is another FALLACY. The British used to be called TUAN in the past, but the term TUAN then was used as replacement of the word SIR in English. The word SIR was used instead of MY LORD or MY MASTER.

The term KETUANAN MELAYU truly only refers to the fact that Malays(Bangsa Melayu) were the ORIGINAL OWNERS and RULERS of Tanah Melayu, in the same way Chinese were the original owners/rulers of China, and Indians the original owners/rulers of India.

This explained why only the Malays fought AGAINST the British-introduced MALAYAN UNION in 1946. The Malays were then the only recognised owners of the lands of Tanah Melayu. The Chinese and Indians were then still IMMIGRANTS, like the Bangladeshis of today.

Only in 1953, two years after the formation of MCA, there were talks of granting citizenship to the Chinese and Indian IMMIGRANTS. Those were the talks that led to the Agreement among leaders of UMNO, MCA and MIC, which were later on known as the SOCIAL CONTRACT.

The GIST of the Social Contract was that based on certain criteria, about 1.5 million immigrants(1.2 m Chinese, and 0.3 Indians) were granted citizenship, IN RETURN for recognising the SPECIAL POSITION OF MALAYS and other MALAY-CENTRED PROVISIONS in the Federal Constitution.

Its high time that Chinese and Indian leaders begin to seriously teach their children and descendent to HONOUR the Social Contract agreed upon with their MALAY HOSTS.

warisantmk said...

A newspiece in MALAYSIAN INSIDER yesterday echoed what appears to me a BLATANT misinterpretation of the term ‘Ketuanan Melayu’. Part of the newspiece read like this:

…………..”Their defence of BTN follows a decision by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) governments in Selangor, Kelantan and Penang to bar its civil servants from attending the course. A number of former participants — who are mainly Malay — have also come out to attack the course as racist and suggested that it was used as a propaganda tool to maintain support for Umno’s concept of “Ketuanan Melayu,” or Malay supremacy.”

Now I begin to understand why certain section of non-Malays are not very comfortable with the term ‘Ketuanan Melayu’, when it is interprated as MALAY SUPREMACY. The fact is, ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ and MALAY SUPREMACY are not the same. The term ’supremacy’ means ‘unchallenged power’. So, the term ‘Malay supremacy’ would give the meaning of ‘Malay unchallenged power’. This is NOT what ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ means.

The term ‘ketuanan’ comes from the root word ‘tuan’, meaning owner, as being used in the phrases TUAN TANAH, meaning land owner, TUAN RUMAH, meaning the house owner and TUAN KEDAI, meaning owner of the shop. A TUAN TANAH may not be rich or powerful, but he is the LAND OWNER. This follows that, the term ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ is more associated with ‘ownership’ rather than ’supremacy’.

Deep in the heart of ALL Malays, they hold on strongly to the fact of history that the Malays were the ABSOLUTE OWNERS and RULERS of this part of the world known worldwide as the TANAH MELAYU, which was part of a bigger entity called the MALAY ARCHIPELAGO. To illustrate this, when the British were interested to lease Penang as their outpost, they seeked audience and signed agreements with the Malay Sultan of Kedah. And when the British were interested to lease Singapore(formerly known as Tumasik), they seeked audience and signed agreements with the Malay Sultan of Johore. Meaning, the whole world recognised the SOVEREIGNTY of the Malay Sultans over their respective Malay States. SOVEREIGNTY, in layman’s term is OWNERSHIP.

The term ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ is a re-affirmation that despite the multi-racial composition of our present day Malaysia. the Malays are holding certain SPECIAL POSITION in view of their ancestoral status as the OWNERS and RULERS of the Tanah Melayu. And elements of these are now part and parcel of our Federal Constitution.

warisantmk said...

Read more about Melayu-related issues in

Alizul said...

There's an interesting post on this by a non-Malay blogger Gopal Raj Kumar. He said:

"Ketuanan Melayu is not about Malay rights exclusively to the exclusion of other races, religions and cultures. Ketuanan Melayu is simply is a reassertion of that right of every Malay (nation) to reclaim their past and to extract from it whatever it is that is rightfully theirs. It is part of a process evolution, of decolonization and reclaiming a cultural identity free from the stain of colonization."

Read his post at:

warisan tmk said...

Gopal Rajkumar's assertion that Ketuanan Melayu is "simply a reassertion of that right of every Malay (nation) to reclaim their past and to extract from it whatever it is that is rightfully theirs" is somewhat MISLEADING.

Malays ancestoral rights from the past HAVE NOT BEEN LOST, to be reclaimed, as suggested. Infact all those ancestoral rights were incorporated into the Federal Constitution, hence the articles related to SPECIAL POSITION OF THE MALAYS.

Malays are happy with have provided in the Federal Constitution, but its the non-Malays who GRUDGING the Malays for the provisions.

Malays do not have to re-claim, but to DEFEND it.

Athari Bahardin said...


Talking about ketuanan melayu and social contract, one question i want to ask here: What about those of the chinese and indians that were born in Tanah Melayu/Malaya/Malaysia after Merdeka Day. They are not immigrants right? Why brought up the issue of who is tuan and all. Why can't we just live together among races and bring the country to the top of the world.

Forget about races, Adam PBUH was created out of many colors of dust/dirt. But was he a Malay? no. Was he an Arab? no. Was he a Jew? NO. Then of what race was he? If you can answer this then go on with your narrow minded (race-obsessed) philosophy, i'll back off.

And one more thing, later on Padang Mahsyar, your race is irrelevant bro. Your status in this country won't help you there whether you're a tuan or hamba in this humble world.

Stop fantasizing and start preparing for the afterlife.

Jay said...

My humble opinion

Mindset of ownership
If a kid is being given a sweet and subsequently being taken away, what would happen next? The kid would cry and want to have the sweet back. This is an analogy of what happen in majority malays mindset that "This" belongs to us.

Ketuanan Melayu
Why Malay are perceived as the "Tuan"? Aren't the country belongs to all Malaysia citizens regardless of race? What is the answer for this?
1) Because we are "Malay"
This is called racist.
2) Because we "came" first.
Yes, malays came long before chinese and indians, but the orang asli was here long before malays came, so shouldn't it be Ketuanan Asli more appropriate? Malays came here, take the land from orang asli, claim they are "Tuan" and called chinese and indian who came after that "pendatang", that is like a robber accusing others for robbery.
3) Because we Malays are better.
If we malays are better, then we should work for it, and not protect it with priviledges.
4) Because we fight for independence and give citizenship to chinese and indian.
The malays, chinese and indians fight and negotiated independence together, not just the malays.

Why the chinese still fairing better when they don't have priviledges?
Life is too comfortable with priviledges, why bother to work hard? Don't you see the second generation of malaysian chinese and malaysian indian whom migrated to overseas became lazy too? When we can have something from the government even if we don't work hard, life is so comfortable, then why bother?

Where is our country, Malaysia heading to?
If the trend continues, more talents and elites will be leaving this country, Malaysia. The cronies of BN would keep abusing the system and make themselves richer. By the time Malaysians realise what the BN cronies done to the country, our country would be in very bad shape full of poverty, corruption and the BN cronies would probably so wealthy and they can migrate to other country to enjoy life. Malaysia will fall behind other countries in the region.

Will things change in Malaysia?
It all depends on the malays. Malays afterall are the majority of the country that determines the future of the country. Things are not optimistic for now, many malays are still not open minded enough to see things from different angles. In other words, we are still living in the third world country mindset.

To malays, I hope you can wake up to be strong and do well in the future without the priviledges from the government. Being protected by the priviledges from the government is not something we should feel proud of, that is weakling's mentality. Only excellence achieved through hardwork on fair ground basis should make us proud. That would be the day that Malaysia become strong, advance, and a real first world country with first world mindset.

To chinese and indians, I can understand your frustration. But think from the other angle, this is a blessing disguised in unfair treatment. Unfair treatment makes you strive harder, work harder and excel.

warisan tmk said...

Athari Bahardin said...
......"What about those of the chinese and indians that were born in Tanah Melayu/Malaya/Malaysia after Merdeka Day. They are not immigrants right? Why brought up the issue of who is tuan and all..."

Athari Bahardin,

Those Chinese and Indians who were born of father/mother who were granted citizenship, are automatically Malaysians, and they are NOT immigrants.

And, yes, Malays, Chinese, Indians and other races have been living harmoniously, and have been working together to build this country. NEP only involves the provision of certain quota for Malays, to ensure a fair distribution of opportunities accross the board.

Just imagine, before the quota system to allocate places in public universities, less than 10% of Malays gained admission into the UM. Only after the NEP, the percentage of Malays in UM increased to over 50%.

Prior to NEP, Malay equity in National wealth stood at 2.5% only. With NEP, it has increased to 18%.

Chinese is a world race. A Chinese father may run a business in Hong Kong, with his son heading several companies in Malaysia, and the daughter maybe heading other associate companies in Thailand.

Chinese are too far ahead in business. If we leave the Malays to compete in FREE COMPETITION, it will be like the game of Monopoly, the RICH GETS RICHER, THE POOR GETS POORER.

Despite certain 'privilages' accorded to Malays, the Chinese still occupy 80% of TOP 100 richest persond in the country. We have not deprived the chinese of anything. We only reserve certain quotas of Government contracts, university places, and civil service post to the malays, that's all.

Athari Bahardin said...


You're talking about the chinese who are rich. But how about those who are poor? They are also poor chinese and indians who live among us, seeking help from the government but due to biasness of the present gov, they won't receive much.

Why not instead of focusing on the economy and education of certain race (in this case the Malays), we focus more on the poor (regardless of who they are, as long as they're Malaysians - it sounds more 1Malaysia isn't it?)

Please stop separating Malaysians into diff races, we only make the chinese and indians feel left out.

The rich now becomes richer, and the poor becomes poorer. The Malays are still left behind because of the fact that the upper class of Malays (read:Political Leaders - whether in BN or PR) don't really give a damn about the poor.

Let's say, if they are 40% of the Malays in our country who are considered poor, 20% chinese, 30% indians; lets help these people by separating the gov expenditures and quotas (as you said) for these people instead of focusing on only one RACE.

'Ketuanan Rakyat' as they say.

stgreg said...

Please read the following articles under Social contract tags on my blog.

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