“Bangun” (Wake up) Movement launched by the Malay Community in Sri Lanka called all the Malays living in Sri Lanka to join hands with them in order to fight for rights deprived by their community over the past.
During a presser held in Colombo on Thursday (28), President of the Bangun, Attorney at Law T.K. Azoor said their first and the main demand is restoring Malay representation in Parliament.
T.K. Azoor mentioned that Sri Lankan Malays have faced numerous obstacles which they believe is because their concerns are not being articulated at the proper fora in the best possible manner. Therefore, he believes that if their representation in parliament is restored, it would provide them with the opportunity to forge ahead and be on par with the other communities to work for national unity and development.
The Malays have not been having representation in Parliament since 1993 [26 years] since Mr. M. H. Amit resigned to give way for Mr. Gamini Dissanayake to re-enter Parliament.
“It is very clear that the Malays have lost a lot during this quarter century. The money allocated to a Member of Parliament by the Decentralized Budget can be used very effectively for the development of the community. The amount of money deprived by not having a Malay MP for the last 25 years is Rs.250 Million,” Azoor said.
He criticized that despite two republican constitutions promulgated in the past without a Malay participating in its deliberations, even in the present constitution-making process, the Malays have been left out and efforts to make representations as members of the public have been totally disregarded.
He recalled the following Malay representatives who once adorned the Legislature: Dr. T.B. Jayah 1924 – 1930, Legislative Council; M.K. Saldin 1931 – 1936, Legislative Council; Dr. T.B. Jayah 1936 – 1947, State Council; Dr. T.B. Jayah 1947 – 1950, Parliament; Dr. M.P. Drahaman 1956—1960, Parliament; Dr. T.B. Jayah March 1960 – May 1960, Parliament; B. Zahiere Lye July 1960 – 1965, Parliament; M.D. Kitchilan 1966 – 1970, Senate; and M.H. Amit 1989 – 1994, Parliament.
The turbulent history of Sri Lanka’s tiny Malay community had been brought to the fore by the 2016 visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues to the island nation. The UN Special Rapporteur Rita Izsak-Ndiaye presented the request of Sri Lankan Malaysians to award them separate minority status in the Sri Lankan constitution.
However, many attempts have been made to revive the local Malay language and culture by organizations such as the Sri Lanka Malay Confederation.
According to the Sri Lanka Census of Population and Housing, 2012, 40,189 Malays are living in Sri Lanka and 14,444 of them are reported in the capital of Sri Lanka. However, the Bangun Movement criticizing the data published by the Census Department alleged that although the data shows a decrease of 26.7% in the population of Malays for no valid reason, there are close to 80, 000 Malays in Sri Lanka.
Malays in Sri Lanka are Islam by religion. In Sri Lanka, they are however classified as Muslims and not Malays.