Philippine Islands by Jennifer L Bailey; Center of Military History

By Jennifer L Bailey; Center of Military History

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58587 History Malaysia F2 8/27/03 5:54 PM Page 9 Malaysia as history The Malayan Union proposal (1946), promoted by the British after the war, is also described as a focus for nationalism. ’ The First Malay Congress, held in 1946, is described as the impetus which led to the formation of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in May of that year. ’ (Independence). Next comes ‘The Formation of Malaysia—Sarawak’ and ‘The Formation of Malaysia—Sabah’ with a further display entitled ‘Confrontation’, covering the 1963–66 period of hostilities between Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Malay language is part of the very large group known as Austronesian, whose speakers stretch from the Pacific to Madagascar. Speakers of Austronesian languages also have many sociocultural features in common, one of them being social ranking based on relative age. Seniority is accorded status and respect. In marriage it is considered that the husband should be older than the wife who should ideally be of the same blood line (consanguine). Marriages with first or second cousins are the neatest way of implementing these principles.

In Sabah, for blatantly political reasons many recent Muslim migrants from the southern Philippines have been classified as ‘Malay’, while non-Muslim, native Sabahans have not. Putting aside issues of ethnic classification, the religion of Islam is followed by more than half Malaysia’s present population. Being a religion of adoption, it has developed in the Malaysian territories, as elsewhere outside its heartland, in the presence of earlier belief systems. Traces of these older beliefs and practices survive in traditional agricultural rites and at celebrations to mark specific life-stages as well as at times of misfortune (such as disasters and illness).

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