MELAKA: The local Peranakan Chinese community has the right to pursue bumiputera status, said Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.
He said the status should be considered based on the extended history of the community that dates back to more than 500 years.
“The descendants of Peranakan Chinese can be traced back to over seven generations, and this factor alone qualifies them to be considered for the status,” he said after launching two coffee-table books on the community entitled Straits Chinese Embroidery and Beadworks and A Baba’s Album at Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum here.
Nazri said his ministry had no objections to the community leaders seeking the status and will render support.
He said the ministry would also continue to defend the history and culture of the community.
“The community is an important component of our society and we do not want their heritage to vanish.
“Many younger Malaysians are unaware of the community’s legacy and we want to create awareness on the Peranakan Chinese through reading materials such as these two books,” he said.
Echoing the same sentiments, Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron also acknowledged that conserving Peranakan Chinese heritage was imperative for the state to continue being recognised as a culturally rich state.
“The state will make efforts to preserve their culture as well as that of the Indian Chetty as these communities reflect our identity around the world,” he said after an exco meeting.
Meanwhile, the Baba and Nonya Association of Malaysia chairman Ronald Gan thanked Nazri and Idris for supporting the community’s quest for the status and preserving the community’s heritage.
Gan said the association had previouslybrought the matter up with the Federal Government in 2014.
“With the bumiputra status, we also hope our rich history and culture that dates back to the Melaka Sultanate era would be given proper recognition.
Gan said historically, the Peranakan Chinese community, who settled in Melaka as early as the 14th century, was already recognised as Malay since back then.
He said that was the reason why some 200 plots of Malay Customary Land in the state awarded during the British rule belonged to the Peranakan Chinese.
“Most of these properties are in Klebang, Tanjung and Bukit Rambai where the owners are Chinese by name, but known as sons of the soil by the British and even the Dutch,” he added.