Differing concepts of "Malay"-ness

I mentioned in the previous post about the Negara Kertagama about how Malaysia and Indonesia are embroiled in a dispute over the a traditional song, and I just wanted to highlight this editorial in the Jakarta Post which might shed light on our non-Southeast Asian readers who might not be familiar with the politics of the region. The term “Malay” does not mean the same thing in Malaysia and Indonesia!

26 October 2007 (Jakarta Post) – I mentioned in the previous post about the Negara Kertagama about how Malaysia and Indonesia are embroiled in a dispute over the a traditional song, and I just wanted to highlight this editorial in the Jakarta Post which might shed light on our non-Southeast Asian readers who might not be familiar with the politics of the region. The term “Malay” does not mean the same thing in Malaysia and Indonesia!

This difference in the definition of Malay, while essentially a political one, has profound consequences in exploring the archaeology of the different Malay peoples in the region. I hope this editorial might add a little nuanced understanding in how current politics affects archaeology.

Malaysia, Indonesia out of tune
Ong Hock Chuan

Neighboring and serumpun (from the same root) countries Malaysia and Indonesia have been out of step with each other lately over the traditional song Rasa Sayang.

The song and dance over Rasa Sayang began when the Malaysian government used it as a jingle to promote the country’s tourism.

Indonesians were aghast that a homespun Ambonese song had been appropriated by its neighbor. Some legislators called for the Malaysian government to be sued in the international court for stealing an Indonesian song.

Malaysia reacted by saying that the song was as much theirs as Indonesia’s since the song came from the Malay Archipelago. And since Malaysia’s culture is dominantly Malay, they had a right to use it.


Though the Rasa Sayang issue seemed to center over the heritage of a common culture, what it really exposed was the vast cultural difference between Malaysia and Indonesia in what is meant by the word “Malay.”

The difference is rooted over the perception of the concept of “Malay” in.

To Indonesians, Malay means an “ethnic group located primarily in the Malay peninsula, and parts of Sumatra and Borneo,” if you go by the Wikipedia definition. In other words, being Malay is no different from being a Batak, a Javanese, an Ambonese or a Sundanese. They are all, however of one nationality Indonesian, no matter which ethnic group they belong to and everyone is considered equal in the constitution.

This is not so in Malaysia. To many Malaysians, especially the Malaysian government, the word Malay means a race, as proposed by the German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach.

It is a theory that has been dismissed by anthropologists but, says the Wikipedia entry, “is still often used in this context, and it is the basis for Malay identity within the Malaysian nation.”

And there lies the trap that destroys Malaysia’s claim to any ownership to Rasa Sayang or most of the so-called Malay traditions and culture.

In reality, the Malays in Malaysia are mostly of Indonesian origin, according to Michael Chick, a Malaysian film maker who has studied the issue in depth. He has commented in a blog that 75 percent of Malays in Peninsular Malaysia are of Javanese descent. An additional 20 percent are from the rest of Indonesia.

Yet, because of history and politics, the Malaysian government must maintain the notion that Malay is a race. The notion secures for the government the support and votes of the “Malays” in Malaysia, who constitute a majority of the population.

If it were to acknowledge that Malay is not a race, then it would mean that Malaysia is a diverse nation that comprise ethnic Javanese, Chinese, Tamils, Minangkabau, Negrito, Dayak?It would have to go the Indonesian route of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (unity in Diversity). If this happens the political elite would lose its hold on power.

So this is the reason why Malaysia can only spin poor excuses for its use of Rasa Sayang. And it is for this reason that when it comes to a pissing contest dealing with the ownership of culture and heritage in both countries, Indonesia will always be upwind.

Indonesia, however, should not let this be an excuse to sit on its haunches. Culturally, Indonesia suffers from an embarrassment of richness when compared to its neighbor, but the ability of the government to exploit these potential gems is an embarrassment when compared to Malaysia.

For all its faults the Malaysian government is much better at packaging and marketing than Indonesia.

Indonesians here all admire how Malaysia markets itself with it Truly Asia slogan while living in a country of immense cultural, ethnic and geographic diversity. Its own marketing efforts are miserable and one would be hard pressed to remember the Indonesian tourism slogan.

Indonesia needs to wake up to the fact that it is bad at marketing and if it continues to be bad, its competitors would take advantage. While Indonesia can be righteous, it would also be futile as we all live in a world where migration makes borders meaningless and competition razor sharp across borders.

Indonesia must be competitive to survive. It is blessed by natural resources and the diversity of its peoples and cultures that none can match. It is better to make the most of what we have rather than make much ado over what others take from us.


Related Books:
Nationalism, Politics, and the Practice of Archaeology (New Directions in Archaeology) by P. L. Kohl, C. Fawcett (Eds)
The Politics of Archaeology and Identity in a Global Context (Aia Colloquia and Conference Papers) by S. Kane

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

22 thoughts on “Differing concepts of "Malay"-ness”

  1. I find this hoohaa over the Rasa Sayang song quite interesting. In April I was in Ambon in Maluku, or The Moluccas in Indonesia. We were travelling by car and someone put on a cassette of local songs and one of them was Rasa Sayang. I started singing and the local Indons looked at me and asked how do I know the song. I said it is a Malay song. They immediately told me no, its a local Maluku song, and that Malaysia ‘stole’ it from them. That was the first I heard of the controversary surrounding the song.

    Whilst I was in Ambon, listening to the local language used by the people, I realised they use quite a few words that are not used in everyday Indonesian, but are words that I recognise from the Malay language.

    So which came first, the chicken or the egg???

  2. @caving liz: Malay was the language of trade in the region in times past. When Indonesia was formed the Indonesian founding fathers chose Malay as the national language because of this reason. Since then the Indonesian and Malay as used in Malaysia has diverged somewhat, a bit like British and American English. So very plausible that the people of Maluku may still retain some of the original words, a bit like the Indians and their antiquated English, although globalization is threatening uniformity for all of us.

  3. The article by ong and his reference to michael chick on “malayness” and conclude that there is no such thing is a little condescending and in fact betrays anti malay bias.

    To say there is no “malay” as a “race” as understood in the historical, modern, and Malaysian context is the same as saying there is no “Chinese” “race” as understood in the same context. Well go tell this to a “Malay” and “Chinese” of Malaysia, Singapore or even Hong Kong and see what happens.

    This subject of who stole what is really idiotic. Culture cant be stolen. its like saying the Americans stole the melodies of “Star Spangle banner” and “Let Freedom Ring” from the British.

    The Javanese and Balinese may have to pay the Hindus from India royalties for their wayang stories.

  4. To address mak jun yeen,

    “…Well go tell this to a “Malay” and “Chinese” of Malaysia, Singapore or even Hong Kong and see what happens…”
    MC: I have. In fact I’ve been discussing it in depth with the many many “malays” of Malaysia and Singapore and even parts of Indonesia. Contrary to your belief (or perhaps you simply didn’t know), they (malay) too conccur that the Malays are NOT a race. They actually prefer to be known as Bugis, or Batak, or Javanese (I’m generalizing here), or Orang Laut, Orang Acheh, Orang Champa and so on.

    The only exception is when it comes to government hand-outs. That’s when everyone insists that they are “malay” while beating their chests roaring like Tarzan. I doubt you’ve been doing much groundwork lately.

    “…The Javanese and Balinese may have to pay the Hindus from India royalties for their wayang stories…”
    MC: Perhaps you are right. The Malays have to pay the Indians for adopting their wedding ceremonies too. Not to mention the Sultanage system copyrights to the Indians. Maybe they also have to pay the Portuguese for using their language (15% malay is Portuguese; words like almari, bomba, bola, etc) and the Dutch (about the same amount) and then, to the Persians, Sanskrit, Arabic, Tamil, Hindi, and so on so forth. You see, the only original malay words numbered THREE (3) They are, saya, padi, and babi. All else was “imported”.

    Truly Asia Truly Hutang

  5. Michael Chick

    Thanks for revealing your true self.

    You see, When I say “Javanese, Balinese have to pay royalties” You straight away jump to “bantai” the Malays that they too have to pay.

    I didnt say the “Malays” didnt get sustantive parts of their culture from somewhere else. And it was Zaaba who said that the Malay language has three original words and they are “Batu”, “Padi” and “Babi”.

    The tone of your article and Ong’s imply a condescending attitude to “Malays” view of themselves.

    Lord Denning concluded in Mandla vs
    First you have to define the word “Race”? since this is an inexact term has no definitive meaning, I can also conclude that there was no “Chinese” or “Caucasian” or “Indian” “Race” (Of course this conclusion is supported by the majority of biologists including genecticists Spenser Wells and Sforza as they believe from their studies that if there is such a thing call”race” that we must classify ourselves, we should only be called African).
    Lord Denning concluded that Sikhs are not a “race” distinguishable from the non sikh Punjabis but the House Lord disagreed.

    Michael instead of giving us an indepth debate on views of the Malays of them selves your article which has been circulated around Malaysia give me a sense of bias which I believe is my duty to dispell the notion.

    The notion of “Race” is a mental invention and can be invented anytime for any purpose by groups of people, governments, laws, social conventions or a combination of all those. Thus Mariah Carey who look more like Angelina Jolie than Whoopi Goldberg, is categorise as a “African American” by American social convention but she would be a melange in “France” or “White” in Haiti and even in India.

    Yes, on the biological level, I beleive there is no such thing as “Race” but on the mental, social, political cultiral and emotional level, there is a “race”.

    In the end by talking about the “Malays”, and and catergorise certain people by that criteria, we our selves invent them and they exist in front of our very eyes.

  6. What bad editing? I thought that it was alright. I have a cranky keyboard myself, and sometimes even the spelling comes out quirky. So, I do apologise in advance should I make the occasional typo error. :$

    “…The notion of “Race” is a mental invention and can be invented anytime for any purpose by groups of people, governments, laws, social conventions or a combination of all those…”
    MC: I fully agree with you up till the mental invention part. I however disagree that it can or should be freely modified at one’s whim and fancies. Most dictionaries define race as “Physical differentiation based on facial, hair, eyes, bone structure, lineage, DNA, common ancestry and so on so forth” I am using that definition.

    Nowhere do any dictionaries state religion as a qualifier for a “race” definition. Hence, the invalidity of the definition of the “malays” as a race. If we are to go by the Article 160(2) definition, the Constitutional “malay” would EXCLUDE the Balinese, and the recent 15%”malay” Christian Converts as so reported by Channel NewsAsia during the height of the Lina Joy Court Hearings. Like I mentioned, it is so strange that Indonesia, who has a 240million population refuses to legitimize the “Melayu” as a race, (instead calling it a puak, or a kaum at best) while Malaysia, with her 24 million population, insist on its legitimacy. Like I mentioned many times, I like the Malayo-Polynesian definition, or even the Austronesian definitions. They are void of racial inclusions.

    Here’s a hypothetical scenario. 2 twin Brothers. Same biological Father, same Biological Mother. And yet one is a Malay, and the other is not. Just because one brother converted into Islam, or vice-versa. Do you see how ridiculous this “malay” race defintion becomes? Definitions are akin to Scientific Definitions. These are definitions which are NOT subject to modifications at one’s whims and fancies. What if Article Whatever number in the Malaysian constitution states that the Laws of Gravity now do not apply to its citizens? Just because it is stated as so, does not mean that the Laws of gravity applies to everyone else in the world EXCEPT to a Malaysian Citizen. The ridiculously deviant definition as stated in Article 160(2) is thus, invalid. No one else defines “race” by a religion. And since there is no other definition of the “malay” as a race, it thus invalidates itself. Worse, is the OPEN invitation for peoples of other races to “Join the Malay Race” as our silly Sabah Politician put it. It is not a country Club for one to “join”. MY GOD, how dumb can a Politican be?

    My take is that one CANNOT change his or her race. You can change your car, your shirt, or even your underwear, but one CANNOT change his or her race. You are born into it. I understand your “masuk Melayu” statement. However, it should be correctly labelled as “Masuk Islam” and NOT “Masuk Melayu” (please do get get any perverted “penetration” ideas for the sick bastards reading this!) Using the term “Masuk Melayu” seems to imply that Melayu is “superior” to Islam. (And the same works for your conversion into Christianity for the same term “Masuk Melayu”)

    On a side note, it is always humorous to see how quick “malays” will tell you that Lina Joy was “Indonesian” anyway, when they talk about her “illegitimate” conversion. So, it is “OK” for an Indonesian to convert to other religions, FULLY FORGETTING that 75% of whom we call “malays” on the Malaysian Peninsular are of JAVANESE descent!

    On the same note, it is interesting to see how Article 11 is NOT excercised by the Constitutionally defined “malays”. (at least not opnely anyway) How many “Lina Joys” do you know have changed it on their IC’s? The converts that I know are always living in a “hush-hush” type scenario. It’s time we told them that there is NO SUCH RACE A THE ‘malay” RACE to begin with, and that there is Article 11 in the Malaysian Constitution to legitimize their conversion. Be it to Hinduism (again), or Buddhism, Confusianism, Catholism, Christianity, Aethism, Agnostism, Hare Krishna or any other religion whom they so freely choose.

    A race is NOT defined by a religion. Period.

    Hope I have helped enlighten some obscurity 🙂

    And Oh, I loved your take on the SriviJayan parts. I found it very useful. Am conducting further research on some Sanskrit carvings in the next few months in Indonesia. Should be interesting…. I just got the “tip-off” from the lead Archaeologist. Are you into pre-historic stuff?

    Truly Asia

  7. As a footnote: Mahathir is Indian, Badawi is part Hainanese, part Pakistani, Endon, hi former wife, was part Japanese, his current Wife Jean, is Portuguese, Nik Aziz is Vietnamese, all the Northern states Sultanage is Thai, Johor Sultanage is Bugis, and so on so forth. If you are willing to accept Bangsa Melayu as a race, why not Bangsa Malaysia, which is far more inclusive and less prejudicial?

    Just a thought…..

    Cheers Man 🙂

  8. Let us leave it as that. the problem is in Malaysia, Singapore, and even America the word “Race” have been broaden and misapplied.

    In case of America, you can have a person whose physical features indistinguishable from any “white” person but once society knows you have a “Black” great grandfather, youre classified as “Black” and eligible for affirmative action.

    If you confined race as a set of physical features one group of people share together then yes you cant change that not without plastic surgery.

    That’s why I am taliking about mental invention in making people feel a sense of belonging together and the fiction that their destiny are tide together.

    People will always grouped together and the new anthropological term for this is “ethnicity” sort of a glamourse term for tribalism to avoid the term “race”.

    Anyhow I do not agree that there were and are no Malay Ethnic identity. History tells us they exis and existed. The Javanese, Bugis, Batak, Mandailings, Achennese all knew and know who were and are etthnic “Malays”.

    In the Riau Islands today, the Bugis, and Javanese still form separate identities from the Malays as well as the Minangs but in Malaysia and Singapore, they do not anymore.

    You may think this is not right but who are we to tell the Mlays if they say you can join my club as long as you accept certain criteria and in Malaysia and Singapore (yes WHo is a Malay is defined in Singapore’s constitution the same way as Malaysia’s.)

    Religion too can be a criteria whereby people of different origins may come and make themselves an ethnic grouping such as the Sikhs, Jews and Malays.

    Incidentally, people like Dr Burhanuddin al Helmy(one of the founders of PAS) and those Malay nationalist in Kesatuan Melayu Muda and API agreed to broaden the defintion of Malay to include all those who will call Tanah Melayu as their home and loyal to her as “MELAYU” but alas history did not take that path.

    I have always find people’s obsession with “race”, “ethnicity” idiotic but as one historian said that the biologists may conclude there no biological basis at least in our DNA to classify humans into race but there must something in our genes that make us put the minute diffences of human beings whether physical or cultrural into something big.

    Any how you should also research those middle age ladies in Malaysia born of “Chinese” parents but brought by “Tamils”, they looked “CHinese” but if you ask them, they will say they are very much Indian at heart. I know because I know many of them.

    One day We may become “Malay”.

  9. MC: I’m glad we are on the same page. One little comment though, is on your pointer on “…Religion too can be a criteria whereby people of different origins may come and make themselves an ethnic grouping such as the Sikhs, Jews and Malays….”
    MC: As I understand, the “Sikhs” are of Aryan Descendent and the “Jews” are of the Abrahamic descent; Hence the traceability of a singular origin. Whereas, for one to accept the constitutional “malays” as a race, they should better be called “Truly Asia” , because that is exactly their ancestry.

    BTW I did not make up the “race” definition. Just about every dictionary and encyclopedia defines race by physical differences. Perhaps the Malaysian Government should insist that established academic publishers like Oxford, Macmillian, Brittanica and every other Anthropological Textbook publisher to to redefine the term “race” so that Article 160(2) is overidding?

    I jokingly used the term “MaphilindoThaiChinDiaVietWanGreekCamfrica” to describe the “malays”. What are your thoughts.

    BTW, I hear that the Sanskrit engraving is circa 1,800years old. About the age of Lembah Bujang. The importance of Lembah Bujang as a Hindu missionary point is overwhelming! The Hindu Malays then brought Hinduism from Lembah Bujang (Kedah) to the rest of the region; evidence found in Borrobudor till Angkor. Leftover traces from this massive spread of Hinduis by the Malays is still found on Bali.

  10. Actually there is another school of thought about the role played by Langkasuka which astride Phuket to Kedah in the formation of Malay Culture vis-a-vis Jambi-Srvijaya-Melaka.

    We are left with very little of the History of Negera Sr Dharmaraja(Nakhon Sithamarrat), the Sultanate of Senggorra( Songkla), and Patani (Pattani) and their interaction with Kelantan Kedah, and Terengganu.

    I love old Malay Hikayat as you get the echoes of the bygone pass like the Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa.

    In Malaysia the official discourse on history of Malays starts with Islamic Melaka and Johor.

    Go google “Evanescent Kingdom” and you will find a good article written on this.

    I share your views that the spring board of transmission of Subcontinental India’s culture and arts to Islands should be from the North and all has to do with trade.

  11. Anyway the dictionary definition of race was what got Lord Denning into the ire of the Sikh commnunity when he concluded the Sikhs is a religious community and not a “racial” one.

    He held that The Race Relation Act did not cover situation when someone was discriminated because of his religion. The Act only covered “race” as defined in the dictionaries.

    The House of Lords overturned the decision and concluded that to give purpose to the Act, that is oulawing “racial” discriminations the word “Raced” must be given a broad definition.

    And the House of Lords rightly concluded that you can be born and raised in one “racial” community but later join and be accepted as a member of another “racial” communtiy !!!!

  12. “Actually there is another school of thought about the role played by Langkasuka which astride Phuket to Kedah in the formation of Malay Culture vis-a-vis Jambi-Srvijaya-Melaka.”
    MC: Yes, and I would assume that when you mention Langkasuka, you mean “Lembah Bujang” as mentioned in “Sejarah Melayu”

    “We are left with very little of the History of Negera Sr Dharmaraja(Nakhon Sithamarrat), the Sultanate of Senggorra( Songkla), and Patani (Pattani) and their interaction with Kelantan Kedah, and Terengganu.”
    MC: I was trying to research the “Chi Tu” Buddhist-Malay Kingdom mentioned by the Sui Dynasty Yang. Supposedly located somewhere along the Sg Kelantan River. The only clue is “Chi Tu” which means “Red Earth”. So far, no luck. All I was able to find was the Che Siti Wan Kembangan Queen. Even then, her alleged Palace Grounds don’t quite seem right for the period. Forget her mythical daughter/niece who was supposedly “floating” from Hill to hill. Perhaps you know a little more on this…

    I love old Malay Hikayat as you get the echoes of the bygone pass like the Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa.
    MC: Lovely. Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka was having a sale, where you could buy lots of Hikayats, including Hikayat Raja-Raja Pasai, Hikayat Siak, and so on for a song. They were going for a mere RM2-5 each. They look a little water-logged though. The other Hikayat which is interesting is the Hikayat Abdullah (MBRAS) which is only RM10. What a STEAL!!!

    In Malaysia the official discourse on history of Malays starts with Islamic Melaka and Johor.
    MC: I always state that the History of Malaysia begins with her Pre-History. This would be 60,000years ago (at least). The journey of the Australo Melanesians from Africa are the Negeritos and the Senois of today. They are also the ancestors of the Lake Mungo (Western Australian) Aboroginies as well as all the rest of the Polynesian Islands from Irian Jaya till Hawaii. Ever wondered why they all look African? Coz they are. Whilst in their homeland, they were called Australo Afrikanus. Here-in explains the presence of the Australian Lake Mungo man dated at 50,000years old and the Niah Caves Woman dated at 40,000years old. (Perak man is merely 10,500years old.) However, if the Malaysian Government were to talk about this, then it will have a very hard time explaining why the Orang Asli’s arrived at 60,000years ago while Parameswara arrived only 600years ago should make both of them Bumiputeras of “equal” standing. I attended a talk at Museum Negara entitled, “Orang Asli; First on the Land, Last in the Plan”. Was extremely interesting. Conducted by the CDOA, (Collin Nicholas)

    Speaking on “Islamic Sultanage” as I remember it, Parameswara died a Hindu. It was only his son, who converted coz he wanted to marry a princess from Pasai. Parameswara’s grandchildren and great grandchildren were also Hindu. Look at their list of names. Usually carries the Rama-something or the Sri, and the Jaya something. As I know it, there is an article published in 1982 by Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka which debated which point in History were they going to use as the “beginings” of Malaya. There were, of course, the other contenders such as Pasai, SriVijaya, Majapahit, Langkasuka, and so on so forth. But Malacca was chosen only because it was on Malayan soil, and that Langkasuka (Lembah Bujang) was Hindu. The the obvious choice was made. Hence the continium of the errata indoctrinated into the school systems. Little do the kids know that the origins of the title “Raja” and “Sultan” are also of Indian origin.

    “Go google “Evanescent Kingdom” and you will find a good article written on this.”
    MC: I tried. Too many countires. From Judea till German and so on so forth. What is the exact site or link?

    I share your views that the spring board of transmission of Subcontinental India’s culture and arts to Islands should be from the North and all has to do with trade.
    MC: It seems that the Gujerati’s were responsible for the Hindu conversions of the “malai” (Tamil for Hill People). Subsequently, the “malai” spread Hinduism till the rest of South-East Asia. Some contend that this term “malai” evolved into the “malay” that we know of today. Some Indonesians label it as “geseran bahasa” which morphed “malai” into its current form, “malay”. Do know know any more on this?

  13. I’m impressed by the intellectual content of your bilateral discourse on the issue of ‘Malayness’. To define ‘Malay’ as a race is doubt-ridden because it is a language, very much the same as defining ‘Arabs’ as those who speak arabic. On the other hand defining a race using religion is just as flabbergasting simply because religion itself (with the exception of Judaism) does not carry a racial connotation. However, the best definition is a socio-political one. Very similar to defining a ‘Bangsa Indonesia’, however if we see this issue from the ground, we will trip on the lines that separate javanese, from batak, from acehnese … etc within ‘Bangsa Indonesia’ whereas in ‘Bangsa Melayu’ these lines aren’t as distracting.

    In Malaysia there is no real distinction between Dr. M and Pak Lah as there is no distinction between Dr. Siti Hasmah and Datin Sri Endon or Datin Sri Jeanne. I myself am of mixed descent with a dad who is 50% Bugis and 25% Minang and 25% Mandiling and a mother who is 50% Hakka, 25% Cantonese and 25% Kek, yet we never saw ourselves as anything else but Malay because our identity card defines us as Malay. The only people who question our Malaynesss are the one who don’t share the same definition on their identity cards. We would not be fully accepted by them even if we tried to be simply because I am identified as Malay even when I have chinese features.

    Tracing a race along the archeological path will lead us to a revelation of the truth that mankind was once from the same womb but has since diversified into a multitude of races and culture. Therefore in today’s reality, a race is defined within a socio-political system of identification.

  14. MC: I was trying to research the “Chi Tu” Buddhist-Malay Kingdom mentioned by the Sui Dynasty Yang. Supposedly located somewhere along the Sg Kelantan River. The only clue is “Chi Tu” which means “Red Earth”.

    Chi Tu is believed to have been founded by a certain Prince Buddhagupta from Bengal, likely patron of a vihara (shrine/temple) called Ratamrttika (meaning ‘Red Earth’), in a city called Karnasuvarna in his original homeland. Buddhagupta was also called Mahanavika (meaning ‘Great Mariner’).

    Pro-Kelantan scholars believe the seat of Chi Tu was somewhere around the upper part of Kelantan River, which is called Pergau River. The actual site is believed to have been a place called Bukit Panau (still the same name today). It is also quite close to a town called Tanah Merah (‘Red Earth’ in Malay).

    There r also competing claims of a Chi Tu in Kedah n in Pattalung near Songkhla (southern Thailand). A possible explanation could be that our Buddhagupta as a prince-merchant could have in fact passed thru them all, married a local princess in each place, n was given a provincial kingdom as dowry/gift by his royal father-in-law in all 3 places.

  15. The successor kingdoms of Chi Tu, called variously as Amdan Negara, Srivijaya Mala and Tanah Serendah Sekebun Bunga (meaning ‘Valley of Flower Gardens’) – all of whom are said to have come under the hegemony of the Palembang-based Srivijaya empire – are also believed to have had their seat of power at Bukit Panau.

  16. An estimate date of Buddhagupta’s arrival is the mid to late 5th century. Maybe around 470 AD.

    A later ruler of Chi Tu by the name of Prince Nayejia was also recorded to have either visited China or sent an embassy there in ca 627 AD.

  17. There is also a possibility, that the great Malay-cored empire, Palembang Srivijaya (683 – 1088 AD), as well as its brother empire, Sailendra of Mataram, were themselves both descended from Buddhagupta’s Chi Tu/Raktamrttika kingdom in Tanah Merah, Kelantan.

    Chi Tu/Raktamrttika once rebelled against its overlord kingdom, Funan, and was invaded by Funan as a result. Possibly in early to mid 6th century. In the aftermath of that invasion, a prince(s) or princess(es)of Chi Tu/Raktamrttika fled to Sumatra, then Java, eventually marrying into the predecessor kingdoms of Srivijaya and Sailendra, thereby contributing to its later lineage.

    Chi Tu later recovered after making peace and resubmitting to Funan overlordship. A prince of Chi Tu named ‘Nayejia’ (Chinese translitteration of Narendra, perhaps?) is stated in Chinese records to have led an embassy to Tang China around 612 – 613 AD.

  18. Mr Michel Chick,
    Are you an Australian or a scots or of mixed lineage.?

    For your info Malays,Javanese,Bugis and Rao/Rawa ( Do you know about this suku/kaum ?) are all SUKU/KAUM from Nusantara.Before the arrival of the “mat salleh” who divided the region between them,for ages these suku/kaums have been moving from one island to another; some from smaller islands to big islands like Sumatra ,Java, Celebes and vice versa.they were sea faring people and their language is Malay.They are a race distinct from the Chinese,Indians,and of course the Mat Sallehs.Apart from the language, Islam binds them.Of course there were conflicts and differences but the fact remains there of Malay race as those from China are Chinese and India are Indians.

    Oh yes, you mentioned that 75% of Malays are Javanese.
    Clarification:
    Firstly, Javanese are part of the same rumpun/suku.They are called ‘orang kita Jawa” as banjarese are alled ‘orang kita Banjar ” and so on.

    Secondly,those you interviewed may happened to be from the west coast of Malay peninsular.There other Malays in the eastcoast and Malay sukus in East Malaysia.

    Thirdly,it is appreciated if ‘writers ‘ like you and other Mat sallehs be more proffessional and objective in your “reports” vis your books.The days of mat salleh orientalist bringing on secret agendas should be over and considered outdated.The 60 % Malays in this country are level headed and the other races are also aware that we will not be inluenced by instigations via whatever means .For we can and we will work together towards peace and prosperity.Go elsewhere and peddle your ‘trade’.

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