The Malay question in Indonesia
ABSTRACT Thinking about links and fractures in political and historical thoughts about Malaya and Indonesia, one central question comes to mind: Why “ke-Melayu-an” (Malayness) did not become a national project in Indonesia? Given the facts that there have been emotional and material entanglements between Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, and that in Malaysia and Singapore, Malayan consciousness had a clear political context, it is important to revisit the notion of the Melayu identity in Indonesia. This article sheds some light on this issue, bringing language and political identity into vision. By looking at trajectories of Malay and Malayness in Indonesia, it aims to raise interest in a new methodology of studying political thoughts about national projects in Asia, starting with formulating central questions worthy to pursue further.
KEYWORDS: Malayness, Melayu identity, Indonesia, national project, political thoughts
Hilmar FARID is a writer-activist who is currently serving as the Director General of Culture at the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia. He is also a founding member of Jaringan Kerja Budaya, a collective of artists, researchers and cultural workers, and a researcher at the Indonesian Institute for Social History in Jakarta.