Why did the group of some 1,000 Penangites tear up their Malaysian passport in the hope of acquiring British Overseas Citizenship (BOC)? Refer, ‘Malaysians left stateless in UK after passport gamble backfires‘.
What kind of people are they?
History: The Straits Chinese considered themselves to be a “privileged community”. They were the “King’s Chinese” (referring to the English monarch) because they lived in a crown colony of the British empire.
Chinese loyalty was to the British empire
Excerpt below from ‘A Modern History of Southeast Asia: Decolonization, Nationalism and Separatism’ by Clive J. Christie, a lecturer in History and Southeast Asia Studies.
“The loyalty of the Straits Chinese was directed not towards Britain as such, but towards the British Empire as a political entity; it was focused on the specific territory of the Straits Settlements and British Malaya within that greater political entity.” […]
“It is in the inter-war years that we see the emergence of a Straits Chinese elite that was to dominate Penang in the 1930s and 1940s. They shared many characteristics: education in the local elite schools, particularly St Xavier’s and the Penang Free School; important roles in banking and import-export businesses in Penang; and key positions in the Chinese Town Hall, the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Straits Chinese British Association (SCBA) and the Georgetown Municipal Commission.”
The Penang Chinese were “loyal British subjects”.
At that time, i.e. 1930s-40s, the Chinese mainly inhabited the island. Penang is small, insular and parochial. Nonetheless, one must beware when saying this because they – the islanders – will launch an all-out attack on you for stating the obvious.
Chinese preferred Penang to hook up with S’pore
In 1946 came a test — the Malayan Union was hurriedly and surreptitiously formed post-World War Two.
Christie, the Hull University lecturer, writes:
“The Malayan Union plan highlighted not only the ambiguity of the political aspirations of the Straits Chinese but ultimately also the ambiguity of their identity. While they could only welcome the notion of equal citizenship and opportunities for all races in Malaya, they shrank from the prospect of being cut loose from the safe moorings of the Straits Settlements and thrown into the turbulent politics of the new Malaya.”
Horror of horrors! Penang would be merged into a federation with the Malay states … a fate worse than death.
When in 1948 the Malayan Union was dissolved and replaced with the Federation of Malaya, the anxiety of the Penang Chinese grew even more acute.
There was quickly “a movement designed to get Penang out of the Malayan Federation, in order that it might rejoin Singapore as a Straits Settlement”.
Chinese wanted Penang to secede from Malaya
Christie writes that
“[… ] by early December 1948 an almost irresistible momentum for secession was building up: on 4 December 1948, the Penang Straits Chinese British Association voted for a policy of secession, and this was unanimously backed by an emergency general meeting of the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce on 12 December 1948.” […]
“For the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese- and English-language newspapers of Malaya, the priority was not so much the maintenance of the imperial link per se, as the link with Chinese-dominated Singapore.“
The Penang Chinese were very communal in their outlook and wanted links with its sister Straits Settlement, Singapore where their fellow Chinese resided, rather than with the neighbouring states ruled by Malay sultans.
In October 1949, the Penangites petitioned the Colonial Secretary of the Colonial Office in London for Penang’s status as a “colony of the Straits Settlements” to be restored.
In September 1951, they received word from the Colonial Office that their petition was rejected. Furthermore, they were told that there was to be no Royal Commission as requested to determine the status of Penang.
Penang Chinese rejected Independence in 1957
The newly reordered structure of the Malayan Union had severed Penang administratively from Singapore which shared a kindred 75-80 percent Chinese population.
Subsequently when the Malay states were on the cusp of Independence, separatists in Penang once again tried their luck at secession. The Penangites clamoured to remain as British subjects loyal to Queen Elizabeth II but to no avail.
And how the Francis Light islanders envied the Stamford Raffles islanders when during Merdeka, Singapore got leave to remain within the British dominions whereas their own Penang had no choice but to be bundled together with the backward Malay states.
The Chinese in Malaya still kept feeling the twitches of their phantom limb Singapore despite that the amputated limb was already cauterized in 1957.
Until today, many Malaysian Chinese look at Singapore with a loving ache and terrible longing.
BELOW: George Town, Penang in the 1980s
Janus, the two-faced
As you can see from the street scenes above, the writing on most of the business signboards was in Chinese. Some were in English and none in Malay.
Hence is it not wondrous strange that those Chinese who originate from Penang are today the ones loudest to swell their chest trumpeting – in English – that they are the Firstest of all Bangsa Malaysians?
They must have undergone a miraculous conversion in the blink of an eye.
Just like the Christian miracle of how, one moment Hannah Yeoh is applying for Australian PR, and the very next minute she is exhorting young non-Malays, “Don’t change your country, change your government”.
BELOW: Janus is the two-faced Roman god
The real root of the problem
Hannah Yeoh tried to obtain her Australian Permanent Residency in Tasmania, an island separated from the Australian continent like Penang is a separated island from the Malay peninsula.
Her mentor the Lims keep inciting the Chinese here that they are second-class citizens.
Why did the 1,000 Penangites ‘koyak’ their passports? Why did Hannah Yeoh similarly try to do the same to hers?
Emigration, actually, is not really an issue. People around the world do it, each for their own personal reasons. Singaporeans emigrate to the USA. Americans emigrate to Australia. Australians emigrate to Israel and others too.
What constitutes a problem is the grand, TWO-FACED hypocrisy.
Some hypocrites – like the Great Tudung-ed One whose application for Aussie PR was unceremoniously rejected – come crawling back to Malaysia …
… and then gobsmackingly proceeds to tell Malaysian residents that they are bad citizens who do not qualify to be Bangsa Malaysia because they are low class, wicked racists who are stupid enough to maintain the extremist and bigoted Umno in power.
There will be no hue and cry if 1,000 Penang Chinese quietly upped and migrated. The present uproar is not because they chose to leave but due to the hypocrisy of the emigration polemics raised by their DAP leaders.
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