In Malaysia racialist politics, politicians often create all sort of terms out of nothing – but for political gains. Just look at how the term ‘Bumiputera’ being bandied around.
In simple term it means Melayu + KadazanDusun + Dayak = Bumiputera
But it usages and meaning often dictates by the political stage. Now let’s look at when Bumiputera being used.
(1) political rally – where the audience could be mixed of Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu etc. BN Politicians will ” Saya, kita orang BUMIPUTERA”
(2) Political bargaining – ie., when UMNO try to negotiate with MCA, MIC, Gerakan for something, they say “look Samy, Tee Keat, Tsu Koon – kita orang Bumiputera di Malaysia melebihi 70 peratus penduduk, India hanya kurang 9 peratus, Cina hanya lebih kurang 18.9 peratus’. The Indian, Chinese leaders agreed and nodded.
This lead to UMNO politicians got the biggest chunks of government contracts – it’s likely none goes to another Bumiputera in Sabah and Sarawak. But when they make noise, as they occasionally do, UMNO would give mere 0.005 per cent of what they get. However, that’s more than enough to satisfied the Bumiputera in Sarawak. Why not – 0.005 of a multi-billion projects to only one person!
When not to use Bumiputera
(1) When there is policy making, closed door meetings. At a particular meeting I attended few years back – the chairman said “Ini agenda negara, agenda Melayu,” hmmm…what happen to the agenda Bumiputera? gone? I asked myself. Realizing I’m not a Malay – he suddenly said “Ini agenda Bumiputera” Wah – betul2x topeng punya orang!
This happen almost all the time in Malaya – mind you. Not so sure about Sarawak or Sabah though. So careful if heard Najib says Bumiputera – as he could mean Malayu only.
(2) Distribution of Bumiputera benefits – Iban is not recognize as Bumiputera in Melaka I came to discover a long time ago. I came to know an Iban married to a Chinese, they were residing in Melaka.
The hubby applied for to 5 percent Bumiputera status for a property, but according to Melaka state government he was not a ‘Bumiputera’ despite being an Iban, Bumiputera in Sarawak. What happen was, In Melaka the word Bumiputera apparently mean Melayu!
Here in Sarawak Tok Uban often used the term “Orang Kita, Bangsa Kita, Kaum Kita”. Those in the state government know to whom he refers to as they even has a joke about it.