Alexander G. Flor, Ph.D.
Professor, Faculty of Information and Communication Studies University of the Philippines
Sixty years ago, the Philippines played host to a summit in Manila that established, in principle, a non-political union of three countries in the Malay Archipelago – Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Attended by the heads of state of these three countries – President Soekarno, Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman and President Diosdado Macapagal – the summit proposed a confederation known as Maphilindo.
Philippine President Macapagal convened the summit stating that “the establishment of Maphilindo will remove the barriers that have been built artificially to divide the peoples of the Malay race.” This view of a Greater Malaya has been inspired by the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, who, seventy years earlier, dreamed of a great Austro-Malaya-Polynesian nation connected by its Malay heritage.
In the 1890’s, Rizal founded a movement called Los Indios Bravos (The Brave Indians) whose intention was to liberate all Malay peoples. However, Rizal did not advocate armed rebellion against the region’s colonizers, i.e. the Dutch, who ruled Indonesia; the British, who colonized Malaya; and the Spaniards, who subjugated the Philippines. His approach was through reform and intellectual enlightenment.
While studying in Barcelona, Spain, he was active in the propaganda movement along with other Filipino writers and intellectuals who subscribed to the Lyttonian dictum that, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
Revisiting Greater Malaya
It is noteworthy that the word Malay or Malaya has two meanings in Filipino. As a noun Malay means consciousness. As an adjective, Malaya means free. The word elicits suggestions of a free man/woman endowed with consciousness. This is the Malayan character and it speaks to every present day Indonesian, Malayan or Filipino.
Unfortunately for Rizal and his comrades, Macapagal and his fellow Malay leaders and for us, as well, this movement for a Greater Malay consciousness in Southeast Asia did not prosper. The political, cultural and religious divisions imposed by our former European colonizers proved to be deeply rooted. In time, these divisions should fade particularly when Indonesians, Malaysians and Filipinos become far more aware of our shared values and roots.
Furthermore, the current environment for knowledge sharing and reuse supports this prospect. Although archipelagic in nature, Greater Malaya possesses a higher likelihood for integration now than in Rizal’s time. We envision this eventuality through knowledge networking among academic institutions in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Knowledge management is an evolving discipline that treats intellectual capital as a manageable asset. Its goal is knowledge sharing and reuse. The intellectual capital of universities in the Greater Malayan Region may be linked via knowledge networking. Initial steps would be to first establish formal linkages among the universities followed by collaborative undertakings. After which, institutional and electronic networks for sharing and reuse should be established and maintained.
With these initiatives, Rizal’s dream of a Greater Malaya, whose intelligentsia are actively linked together sharing the same sense of self, may be realized within our lifetime.
**Source : Southeastdialogue.org