Kuala Lumpur: Amid efforts by the ethnic
Indian Muslims in Malaysia to seek the status of `Bumiputra`
or sons of soil, a senior minister has underlined the need for
the community to retain its identity.
"Requests by Indian-Muslims to be recognised as
Bumiputras is a good thing but at the same time, it goes
against our efforts to ensure the community retains its
identity," said Nazri Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s
"I feel it is best that Indian-Muslims have their own
identity,” Nazri was quoted as saying by the media during a
get-together with the Indian-Muslim community yesterday.
Bumiputra is a Malay term embracing indigenous people
of the Malay Archipelago. The Malaysian government has
implemented economic policies and affirmative actions designed
to favour `bumiputras` in a bid to create opportunities for
the Malay middle class.
Indian Muslims in Malaysia have for long appealed to
the government to give them the `Bumiputra` status, which
comes with some perks like discounts given by banks etc.
The ethnic minority community feels they should be
given the `Bumiputra` status just like the Thais and
Portuguese living in the country.
"From the definition within the constitution, it is
clearly stated that a Malay must firstly be Muslim and then,
must speak the Malay language, practise Malay customs and
lastly, be born in the country. Based on this, the
Indian-Muslim community shares the closest of identities with
the Malays," a leader of the Indian Muslim community said.
However, the minister said the Indian-Muslim community
is treated the same as its Malay counterparts even without a
proclamation to declare them as `Bumiputras`.
Rather than being assimilated into the Malay race, the
community should be proud of its heritage, Aziz said when
responding to appeals to the government to recognise
Indian-Muslims for the special status.
"People regard them as Malays and I feel they will
eventually become Malays over the years, the minister noted,
adding that they would be assimilated.
"Perhaps, a hundred years from now, we won?t be able
to tell the difference as we speak the same language and share
the same customs," he underlined.