Sultan Sharafuddin apparently was angered by former premier Mahathir’s remarks calling Bugis descendants “pirates” during last month’s anti-kleptocracy rally. The sultan was said to be absolutely disappointed as such statement from a former prime minister could spark hatred and prejudice against the Bugis community. But why was the sultan felt so insulted?
That’s because the Selangor Sultanate are Bugis descendants. Therefore, it was a direct insult on the Sultanate of Selangor. Had the sultan been not a Bugis descendant, would he be so freaking angered? Most likely not, because the rest of the sultans (there’re a jaw-dropping 9 monarchies in Malaysia, mind you) don’t give two hoots about Mahathir’s remarks.
The Kingdom of Kedah, for example, was founded by Hindu dynasty Maharaja Derbar Raja of Gemeron. Even the founder of the Malacca Sultanate – Parameswara – who fled his kingdom of the modern-day Singapore after a Majapahit naval invasion in 1398 was actually a Hindu, or at least of Hindu descendants, as his name Parameśvara (Sanskrit: परमेश्वर) means the “Supreme Lord”.
On October 14, Mr. Mahathir said that Malaysia was being led by a prime minister who came from “Bugis pirates”. Of course, he was referring to Najib Razak, the country’s prime minister whose descendants are Bugis too. The real message was that like a pirate whose job is to rob and plunder another ship’s treasures in the 17th century, Mr. Najib has done precisely that.
As revealed by the U.S. Department of Justice, Prime Minister Najib Razak has been linked to siphoning and laundering money using the U.S. financial systems, and even acknowledging that the 1MDB scandal represents the largest action brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, involving stolen money of more than US$4.5 billion.
So, did Mahathir lie when he made that statement? Nope. But as expected, in the land of extremism and racism, such remarks could easily be twisted and spun out of proportion. It started when RPK (Raja Petra Kamarudin), Najib’s top blogger earning millions defending the prime minister, started the war instigating and linking Mahathir’s “Bugis pirates” to the Selangor Sultanate.
Raja Petra, who’s also “a half-Bugis pirates” because Sultan Sharafuddin of Selangor happens to be his uncle, is at war with Mr. Mahathir. Armed with the former premier’s remarks, RPK gladly provokes the Bugis community especially the Sultanate of Selangor as if the former premier is accusing every single Buginese people of being a pirate.
But was it wrong to call Bugis the pirates in the first place? Amusingly, while the Buginese people are proud that their ancestors were once the mighty heroes and warriors who fight off colonizer Dutch, they are too ashamed to admit that some of them were indeed pirates back then. So, they wanted to be respected and feared as courageous warriors but without the pirates label.
At the same time, RPK also defended that piracy was once considered a normal career. In fact, piracy was sometimes given legal status by the colonial powers. King Francis of France had relied on pirates, and even recognized them, to combat the Spanish and Portuguese empires in the competition for trade monopolies in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Perhaps they should take a moment and make up their mind. Are they still proud to be Bugis descendants? If they are, then they must realize that the package comes with the label that says they were also once pirates. To make them feel better, perhaps they can take comfort that the Bugis pirates were so brave they were also known as the “Vikings of the Nusantara”.
Of course, not 100% of Buginese people back then were pirates. They were also known as traders and businessmen. In the same breath, surely Sultan Sharafuddin isn’t a pirate himself and can’t be held responsible for what his descendants might have done. Still, the fact remains that Bugis were once pirates, the same way the Japanese were once brutal head choppers during World War 2.
Assuming the Sultan of Selangor was indeed angered, and not forced and dragged into a political game between Mahathir and Najib, why does it take him 2 weeks to get angry? To be fair, Mahathir only started calling Najib the “Bugis pirates” after Najib regime poked and insulted Mahathir’s ancestors – as Mahathir Kutty Iskandar who came from Kerala, India.
So, it’s okay for those who walk the corridors of power to insult other ethnics but not okay when being called Bugis pirates? Does the Bugis community know that there is “historical linguistic evidence” that due to migration to Sulawesi, the Buginese have “possible ultimate ancestry in South China”? This means the Sultanate of Selangor are Bugis descendants, which in turns could be Chinese descendants.
Just because the Bugis converted to Islam in 1605 doesn’t mean the Buginese people can happily cherry-pick and use that year as the cut-off point and ignored whatever that had happened earlier on, including studies of “Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups” which says the migration from South China contributed to the paternal ancestors of the Bugis today.
But if indeed the Buginese people are also descendants of the Chinese, why didn’t the Sultanate of Selangor defend the local ethnic-Chinese communitytoo when they were suppressed, oppressed, discriminated and insulted? Did he conveniently ignore his Chinese descendants heritage because the Chinese aren’t subscribers of Islam but Bugis are?
And when the local ethnic-Indians were being called “Keling”, did the same sultanate defend the minority considering Parameswara – obviously a Hindu descendant – was the founder of the Malacca Sultanate, without which the rest of the sultanates would not have had existed today? The point is this – is the Sultanate of Selangor speaks and defends on behalf of all ethnics, or merely the Bugis?
To whine, cry and foam at the mouth about Mahathir’s “Bugis pirates” political rhetoric only goes to show how narrow-minded the Bugis warriors are. After all, it was the same pool of Buginese people who once voted and crowned Mahathir Kutty Iskandar as the country’s prime minister – for a whopping 22 years. Are they admitting the brave Bugis have been scammed, conned and now insulted by a Mamak from Kerala?
More importantly, how does the Bugis community feels now that they are being called the pirates? Is that more deplorable when compares to the Indians being called “Keling” or the Chinese being called “Babi (pigs)”? Chill bro, being called the pirates are more glamorous. In fact, it’s pretty cool to be called pirates. Surely they enjoy and admire Jack Sparrow, the pirate of the Caribbean.