Oleh Nik Abdul Rakib Bin Nik Hassan
Masyarakat Melayu di Sri Lanka tidak asing lagi bagi pengkaji pengkaji
Sri Lanka Malays in focus
by Kalabooshana S. B. C. Halaldheen
Malays are a recognised minority ethnic group in Sri Lanka. Most of them are the descendants of Malay soldiers who were brought to Sri Lanka in the 17th century by the Dutch.Some of the Malays are the descendants of Javanese Princes who were exiled to Sri Lanka because they rebelled against the Dutch rule. Some Javanese convicts were banished to Sri Lanka by the Dutch. The more dangerous convicts were sent from Sri Lanka to Cape Town in South Africa.At present there are about 60,000 Malays in Sri Lanka. Although the Malays are a minority within a minority they have contributed their mite towards the development of Sri Lanka many serving in the armed services of Sri Lanka and in the Police Service. Some are in the clerical and administrative services of the government. Many serve as teachers and in various other professions such as accountants, doctors, engineers, etc. Some work in the tea and rubber plantations as superintendents, conductors or supervisors. A few of them are in the private sector or in the import/export trade.The first Muslim to be elevated to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka was a Malay, Marhoom Justice M. T. Akbar. He was also the first Malay to serve in the legislature. He was responsible for the introduction of the first Muslim Marriage and Divorce ordinance and the Wakfs ordinance in Sri Lanka.The first Muslim in the Cabinet of Ministers in Independent Sri Lanka was a Malay, Marhoom Dr. Tuan Burhanuddin Jayah. He passed away in the Holy city of Madinah in Saudi Arabia while he was on an official visit to set up the Sri Lanka Pilgrims House in Jeddah. He was buried at Jennathul Bakki in Medinah after Janaza prayers held both in Medinah and Mecca at the special request of the custodian of the two Holy Mosques, His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia.Marhoom Dr. Jayah was also a diplomat and was also a pioneer in Muslim education. He was the Principal of Zahira College, Colombo for many years. It was during his period, many Muslim colleges were set up in the principal towns of Sri Lanka where there was a concentration of Muslims.Names of places such as Jawatte, Kartel (Slave Island) in Colombo, Jaela in the suburbs, Jayakachcheri (Chavakachcheri) in the North and names of streets such as Malay Street, Java Lane, Jalan Padang point to the fact that Malays have been living in the various parts of the country. Today the 60,000 Malays are scattered in Colombo, Hambantota, Ampara, Kalutara and in few other towns.The Dutch ruled the maritime province of Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) from 1640 AC to 1796 AC. It was during this period the Javanese Malays were brought to Sri Lanka by the Dutch. When the Dutch territory in Ceylon was ceded to the British in 1796, the British authorities found that the Malays who were well known for their bravery were ideal soldiers. It is said that a Malay soldier who draws out his kris knife from his pouch will not put it back unless there was blood in it. If he was unable to kill or injure his enemy he would cut his own flesh and ensure that there was at least a little blood on it.Soon after the British took over the maritime province of Ceylon, the Ceylon Rifle Regiment was formed and many Malays were recruited to the Rifle Regiment The British administrators also recruited Malays to the Fire Brigade.Malays were preferred for security related jobs. Many Malays were recruited for the Police service. In fact, the first policeman to lay down his life during the course of his duty was a Malay policeman named Sabar. He was killed while he tried to apprehend the notorious Saradiel of Uthuwankanda, known as the Robin Hood of Sri Lanka.Recently the 80-year-old Sri Lanka Malay Association (SLMA) commemorated the death of several Malay security personnel in the ongoing ethnic conflict in the north and the east in Sri Lanka. This gave the lie to the of repeated canard that the Sri Lanka Army comprises entirely of the Sinhalese population.Even in the field of sports, the Malays of Sri Lanka are not second to anyone. Sri Lankan Malays formed the first cricket club in Sri Lanka 125 years ago and named it the Colombo Malay Cricket Club. This club is still going strong and is a regular meeting place for many sports enthusiasts.Eighty years ago i.e. in 1922, the members of the Colombo Malay Cricket Club and other Malays formed the All Ceylon Malay Association which is now known as Sri Lanka Malay Association (SLMA).A social service arm of the SLMA named SLMA Rupee Fund was started during the time of Marhoom Zahiere Lye, and is doing yeoman service to the community.All these three organisations commonly known as Padang Complex is situated at Jalan Padang, Kompannaveediya, Colombo 2. Incidentally, Jalan in Malay means Road. Jalan Padang means Padang Road or Mawatha. In order to honour the Malays, the Colombo Municipal Council agreed to use the name Jalan Padang instead of calling it Padang Mawatha or Padang Road. This is the first time that completely a Malay name Jalan Padang has been given to a road.Malays in Sri Lanka are a peace loving and God fearing community. They built many mosques. Some of the well known Malay mosques are the Bogambara mosque in Kandy the Military mosque in Java Lane in Colombo and the Wekande mosque at Kompannaveediya.Although the Sri Lanka Malays have lost touch with their home country for more than 300 years, they have preserved their religion, culture and language. They speak a form of Malay which is a mixture of Malay, Arabic, Tamil, Sinhala, English and Dutch. Whereas the Cape Malays of South Africa have lost their language, the Sri Lankan Malays have been able to preserve their language at least in a creole form.Except for the Javanese princes who were exiled to Sri Lanka by the Dutch, the Malay soldiers and others did not bring the women folk to Sri Lanka. Most of these Malays inter-mingled with their co-religionists Moors and married Moorish women who were Muslims. A few Malays married Sinhala, Tamil or Burgher women.For many years, Malays had a representative in the legislature of Sri Lanka but during the last few years they have been denied this right. The small but virile Malay community of Sri Lanka hope and pray that the proposed amendments to the new constitution will provide for representation to the Malay community and others who have not been given any representation in the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
Orang Melayu: The story of Sri Lanka"s Malay folk
by Asiff Hussein
R enowned for their martial prowess and happy go-lucky attitude, Sri Lanka"s Malay folk have but a relatively short history in the country, albeit a very fascinating one.
This small Muslim community which comprises of about 50,000 persons are mainly descended from Javanese political exiles (nobles and chieftains), soldiers and convicts, who arrived in the island from Dutch-occupied Java during the period of Dutch colonial rule in Sri Lanka from 1658 " 1796.
Although the vast majority of Sri Lankan Malays are of Javanese ancestry, there are also considerable numbers descended from the folk of other islands in the Indonesian archipelago such as the Balinese, Tidorese, Madurese, Sundanese, Bandanese and Amboinese.
Thus the ethnic term "Malay" should not be misconstrued as indicating their origin from the Malayan peninsula. Although there do exist Sri Lankan Malays descended from the folk of the Malayan peninsula, their numbers are very few indeed.
The local Malays refer to themselves as orang Java (people of Java) and orang Melayu (Malay people) while the majority Sinhalese community call them Ja-minissu (Javanese people).
Indonesian political exiles comprised a significant portion of the early Malay population brought hither by the Dutch.
These exiles posed a serious political threat to the Dutch East India company (or "vereenigde oost indische compagnie", known as the VOC for short) which had its headquarters in Batavia (the Dutch name for Jakarta). Sri Lanka and the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa were the principal centres of banishment for such exiles. According to B.A. Hussainmiya (Lost cousins, the Malays of Sri Lanka. 1987) there must have been at least 200 members of this eastern nobility including the younger members of aristocratic families born in the island, in the latter part of the 18th century.
This is indeed a significant number considering the fact that during this time, the entire Malay population in the island amounted to about 2400 persons. However, during the early British period, Governor Maitland (1805 " 1811) who believed the exiles to be "a great pecuniary burden to the colonial revenue, besides being a danger to the British interests in the island", took measures to expel them.
Although the Dutch authorities in Batavia were reluctant to take back the exiles, Maitland"s threat that he would forcibly "send them in one his Majesty"s cruises to the Eastward to be landed among these islands", sufficed to change their minds. However, a few exiles who had espoused local women stayed back and gave rise to a small community of Malays claiming aristocratic status.
However, it was the Malay soldiers brought hither by the Dutch to garrison their strongholds, who comprised the bulk of the Malay community in the island. By the turn of the 18th century, there were about 2200 Malay soldiers in the island. Malay troops are said to have taken part in the wars of the Dutch against the Portuguese such as the storming of Galle (1640), the siege of Colombo (1656) and the capture of Jaffna (1658).
The Malays also served in the Dutch wars against the Kandyan Kingdom (17th "18th centuries). With the surrender of the Dutch to the British in 1796, the Malay soldiers were absorbed by the British military, and so served them as they had done their predecessors, the Dutch. The British authorities who were not unaware of the martial prowess of the Malays, imported over 400 Madurese soldiers and about 228 Javanese soldiers along with their families from 1813 " 1816. This was during the brief period of British rule over Java from 1811 " 1816. Following the Dutch takeover of Java in 1816, the British had to turn elsewhere for the supply of Malay soldiers and set up recruiting offices, which were however a miserable failure. Captain Tranchell"s mission (1856 " 1857) which travelled extensively in the East Indies including stopovers in Brunei, Lubuan, Pahang and Kelatan, managed to recruit only seven Malays, which prompted a contemporary British officer, Cowan, to remark: "The expedition and the expenditure as compared with the proceeds of it must show these four of five (Malay recruits) to be about the most expensive in the British army." He says that everyone of them were subsequently set at liberty as they were physically unfit for fighting when they arrived at headquarters.
As for convicts, these comprised petty officials and commoners deported by the VOC. However, these were very few compared to the soldiers. It has been shown that in 1731, there were 131 of these convicts serving the VOC in Sri Lanka, besides those convicts serving in the army and those who had been set free. Although it appears that the majority of Malays did not bring their womenfolk with them, there is evidence to show that a good many of them did.
Christopher Schwitzer, a German resident of Dutch Ceylon alludes (1680) to Amboinese soldiers in the Dutch service who had Amboinese Sinhalese, and Tamil wives, so that we may assume that some of the Malays, especially the soldiery, brought their wives with them. However, as borne out by later Dutch records, the Malays preferred to marry local Moor women, due to their common religious background.
Intermarriage with Sinhalese women has however also been considerable since the 19th century. It is for this reason that local Malays somewhat differ physically from their brethren in the Indonesian archipelago. As for Malay culture, we know that the Malay language (known to local Malays as "bahasa Melayu") is still a living one and is spoken in Malay homes, though there is evidence to show that it is being fast replaced by Sinhala. The local Malay language which somewhat differs from standard Indonesian (bahasa Indonesia) and standard Malaysian (bahasa Malaysia) was however a thriving one in the olden days, so much so that two Malay newspapers, Alamat Lankapuri and Wajah Selong in Arabic script (known to local Malays as the Gundul script) were published in the latter part of the 19th century. As Hussainmiya (Lost cousins 1987) has noted, Sri Lanka"s Malays have belonged to a fairly literate society. Although a great part of their literature, which includes "Hikayats" (prose works) and "Syairs" (works in verse) have had their origins from classical Malay works popular throughout the Malay world, a considerable number of such works have had their origins amongst the local Malay community. The Hikayats which have derived from Arabian, Persian, Indian and Javanese sources, comprise of fantastic tales including romances, legends and epics. Some of the notable Hikayats found in Sri Lanka are the Hikayat Amir Hamzah, Hikayat Isma Yatim and Hikayat Indera Kuraisy. According to Hussainmiya (1987) the Hikayat Indera Kuraisy is peculiar to Sri Lanka. This fantastic Malay romance, which is interspersed with pantuns (traditional Malay quatrains) relate the adventures of the hero Indera Kuraisy who departs from his homeland Sarmadan in order to win the heart of the inapproachable princess, Indera Kayangan.
The Syairs are Malay classic poetry that have for long captured the fancy of local Malay folk. Two notable local syairs are the syair syaikh Fadlun, a romance-epic narrating the story of the pious Fadlun who lived in Arabia during the times of the Caliph Omar, and the syair Kisahnya Khabar Orang Wolenter Bengali which describes the armed skirmish between Malay and Bengali soldiers in Colombo on New Years Day 1819. These Hikayats and Syairs were also written in the Gundul script. However, despite attempts at reviving the Malay language, it is fast dying out and giving way to Sinhala.
The vast majority of vernacular- educated Malay youth today speak Sinhala at home. In spite of all this, it can still be said that the local Malays have been much more conservative than their brethren domiciled in South Africa (Cape Malays) who have had similar beginnings but have ceased to speak that Malay language long ago (as far back as the 19th century, as evident from John Mason"s "Malays of Cape Town" 1861). This is despite the fact that the Cape Malays constitute a community three times as large as the Sri Lankan Malay community. There have of course been numerous attempts at reviving the local Malay language and culture by such organizations as the Sri Lanka Malay Confederation, an umbrella organization of the local Malay community. The second Malay world symposium held in Colombo in August 1985, and co-sponsored by the Malay Confederation and Gapena, the Malaysian Writers Federation, is a case in point.
To this day, the Malays have jealously retained certain aspects of their culture, examples being the honorific Tuan which precedes the names of Malay males, their family names, social customs and culinary habits. Today there exist many Malay family names that have fiercely resisted the inroads made by Islamic Arab names; these include Jaya, Bongso, Tumarto, Kitchil, Kuttilan, Kuncheer and Singa Laksana. Although Malay social customs such as those pertaining to births, circumcisions and marriages are not significantly different from those of their Moorish co-religionists, there nevertheless do exist a few practices that do differ. A practice peculiar to the Malays until fairly recent times was the singing of pantuns on such festive occasions. The Malays have also retained some of their traditional fare such as nasi goreng (Fried rice), satay and Malay Kueh (cakes and puddings). Pittu (rice-cake) and babath (tripe) is another favourite dish that has found much favour amongst other communities as well. Traditional Malay dress has however ceased to exist for some time. Local Malay women, like their Moorish sisters, dress in sari (Indian-style with a hood left at the back to cover the head when going outdoors) instead of the traditional Malay Baju and Kurung. However, it is possible that the sarong which Malay men as well as those of other communities wear at home is a recent introduction from the archipelago.
It appears that in the olden days, Sinhalese, Moor and Tamil folk wore a lower garment similar to the Indian dhoti and not exactly the same garment we know as the sarong, whose name itself is of Malay origin. The arts of batik printing and rattan weaving, both lucrative cottage industries in the country, also owe their origins to the Malay. Source: Explore Sri Lanka
Malays in Sri Lanka: came with their women-folk
by M.A. Sourjah
B ooks on Malays such as "Lost Cousins", "Orang Rejimen", etc., by Dr. B.A. Husseinmiya have been condemned in the past as perversive, specious and baseless cultural vilification of the Malays.
History has it authenticated otherwise, as would be evinced in references mentioned relative to the issue, as supportive of the fact that Malay soldiers brought their women-folk, when they came to Ceylon.
Christopher Schewitzer authenticates in his reference to the wives of the Amboinese soldiers is interesting as it shows that the Eastern (Malay) soldiers, when they embarked for Ceylon brought their women-folk along with them.
Memoirs of Rycklof van Goens discloses that between 1810 and 1820, the local Malay community received a further boost in numbers by the arrival of fairly large numbers of men and women from the islands of Madura and Java.
In 1813 more than 400 Madurese men and women and children embarked from Surabaya to join the Ceylon Malay Regiment, followed in 1818 by a shipment of about 228 Javanese Soldiers and their families, mostly recruited from North-Coast cities of Semarang and Gresik in Java-SLMA 7/118- Brownrigg to John Kendall, 8th August, 1818.
Frederick North (1796-1805) the first British Governor of Ceylon in one of his despatches to Home Office - 1802 stated his intention: "to induce the (Malay) recruits to come over to Ceylon with their families in the colonies I am forming at Hambantota and Tangalle, which I hope will in time produce a pure and constant supply of the hard core people (Malays) to perpetuate the Corps" - (SLMA 7/18 - North to Hobart, 7th September, 1802.
In the context of the above historical facts it would conclusive - proof that the Malay soldiers also brought in their wives and therefore would not have had the necessity to have "intermingled... and married Moorish women .." as conveyed by the flippant and slanderous pen of the author. This calls for positive assertiveness on the part of the Malay Community as a whole to effectively stamp out such inimical onslaughts to disfranchise and demoralize the cultural image of the Malays in Sri Lanka.