MALACCA: Close to 1,500 families from the Chitty community here are hopeful that they will be given bumiputra status just like the Portuguese.
Malacca Chitty Association secretary K. Nadarajan Raja feels the community should be recognised in view of its historical roots in the state.
“The Chitty came here during the reign of founder Parameswara, long before the Europeans.
“We are appealing for bumi status as a way to preserve our identity as a community which existed here since ancient times.
“Conceptions that the Chitty community was brought by the British to serve as Government officers and estate workers are wrong,” he said when interviewed here yesterday.
Nadarajan said many also confuse the Chitty as moneylenders or Chettiars.
“We are also known as Chitty Melaka or Malacca Straits-born Hindus or Indian Peranakan,” he explained.
He said they are the descendants of traders from the Coromandel Coast in Tamil Nadu.
“Our forefathers assimilated with the Malacca population by marrying Orang Laut, Malays, Chinese, Javanese and Bataks, creating a unique new culture,” he explained.
Nadarajan said that based on Portuguese explorers’ records, there were 300 to 400 Chitty people living in the Malacca Sultanate while Naina Chattu, a Chitty leader, was a Bendahara, a position equivalent to prime minister.
Nadarajan also believes that many others held key positions as ministers and top government officials during the Malacca Sultanate.
“Most of these stories are anecdotes as we lack documents to prove them,” he said, adding that the association is raising funds to enable its members to visit the Lisbon Library in Portugal where records on the period are kept.
Nadarajan said community leaders also plan to meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam to request bumiputra status.