Malaysia was colonized by the British for over 100 years and apart from the industrialization of our economy, the colonization has brought about massive influence to our Malaysian culture.
For example, one of Malaysia’s most developed cities, Georgetown got its name from the British Empire.
However, some people are now calling for the name to be changed as they viewed that Georgetown is an unwanted legacy of the colonial period, with its unambiguous history of oppression.
Before the British came, Georgetown was known as Tanjong Penaga.
Among those who called for the name change is Prof. Datuk Dr Ahmad Murad Merican from the International Islamic University Malaysia (UIA).
Speaking to Utusan, he said the places named by the colonizers need to be changed because they actually erase the early history of the place. He said that the government had been making efforts to restore the original name, but more need to be done to uphold the country’s original identity.
“When the colonizers gave their names as in Georgetown and Butterworth, they are stealing the identity of the place. They not only ruin history but erase the history of a place that has existed for so long,” he said.
He then cited to the recent name change of Bukit St. Paul to Bukit Melaka as an example. He said when Portuguese colonizers came to Melaka in 1511, the palace, mosque and surrounding areas were demolished by them.
Then St Paul’s church was built on Bukit Melaka.
“This matter should not be polemical as it involves our identity, culture and language, this is the process of dismantling the colonizers and restoring our identity.” he added.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Murad also pointed out other places which need to be renamed. For example, Port Dickson was previously known as Tanjung Tin. Others include Cameron Highlands and Fraser Hill.
“In the current situation, there is nothing stopping us, there are no restrictions. Why not change the names? If I am the Prime Minister, I will change the names of places, the names of streets.” he said.
On the other hand, Ahmad also urged the local authorities to be firm with the application for the names of new areas such as housing estates, towns and buildings that do not comply with the use of Malay names.
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