The Singapore Malay Community: Enclaves and Cultural Domains
By Karl Hack, Open University, UK
The history of the Malay community in Singapore is a complex one. For example, the question of “who is Malay” itself would elicit different responses from the Malay-Muslim community as well as from non-Malays. Unlike the Chinese and Indian dialectal divide, the people of the Malay stock do have different cultural heritage, places of origin, and in some cases, different originating nation states, but all bonded by a common religion and a similar language. The issue has, of course, been made more complex with the prevalent practice of cross marriages. Not all Malays are from the Malay Peninsula, and not all Muslims are Malays.
This lecture will not go into the intricacies of the Malay identity. It will, however, introduce the subject with a broad view to be inclusive, showing how today’s ethnic Malay communities evolved. It will also discuss the evolution, progress and transition of traditional the ethnic Malay enclaves in Singapore. Hence, a significant part of this lecture will also discuss the history of Kampong Glam. You might also consider the importance of Telok Blangah, not treated at length here, but nevertheless for a long time the location of the Temmenggong. To complete the discussion of the “Malay World” in Singapore, several aspects of Malay social life and communal practices will also be dealt within this lecture.