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.

A group of Malay women in traditional Malay costumes

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.

@ WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka -