PETALING JAYA: Former Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin has said the only reason the Chinese are called “pendatang” or immigrants is that they have preferred isolation over assimilation and have refused to learn Bahasa Malaysia.
In his blog, he writes, “Why do they get so angry when they are called ‘pendatang’ when they themselves have preferred self isolation?”
He also said their refusal to learn Bahasa Malaysia hindered their ability to assimilate with the Malays.
Saying the Malays were always ready to embrace others of different races as long as they could communicate in the same language or “dialect”, he cited the village folk in Kelantan, Kedah and Perlis, who achieved this with relative ease.
He also lamented that Chinese in other countries assimilated with locals, unlike in Malaysia where it was a rarity.
He wrote, “After so many years since Independence, the Chinese in Malaysia still do not have a Malaysian identity unlike Indonesian Chinese who speak Bahasa Indonesia, Thai Chinese who speak Thai, Singaporean Chinese who speak English, and American Chinese who speak English.”
Taking MCA’s president Liow Tiong Lai as an example, Zainuddin remarked how proud the prime minister was that Liow despite studying in a Chinese school, delivered his entire speech at the recent MCA annual general meeting, in Bahasa Malaysia.
The issue of language was dealt with extensively in his entry, because according to Zainuddin, after 57 years of independence, the Chinese in Malaysia still spoke “bahasa pasar” or colloquial Bahasa Malaysia.
He related that at MCA’s AGM recently, PM Najib Razak appealed to them to learn Bahasa Malaysia and everyone responded with a resounding “Boleh!”
However Zainuddin was certain that 50 years from now “when Najib asks the Chinese if they can learn Bahasa Malaysia, they will once again answer that they can… but they won’t.”
Maintaining that it is the Chinese who refuse to accept the Malays instead of the other way around, he writes, “Who is building walls and insisting on preserving their ‘pendatang’ identity?”