The words may also be uttered in isolation with literal meaning. They could be very offensive if referred to a sensitive Malaysian, who is neither a “pendatang” nor an animal, but we often hear these words being used to refer to illegal immigrants (“pendatang haram”) these days.
Once, I heard the word “pendatang” being uttered in Parliament to refer to another Malaysian who was not a Malay, and the word offended him. This became a controversial issue not only in Parliament but also in public.
No government can police us in respecy of good behaviour
Some Malays would use the word “binatang” on another person who is ill-mannered, cruel, aggressive, violent, a wife beater, a bully, a rapist, etc, by uttering “Awak ini binatang”, or “Binatang punya orang”.
Most words in any language are meant to be good if they are used with good intention and with practical meaning, but could be offensive if used to hurt the feelings of others.
Today, these words are seldom heard or used any more, not because they were outlawed by the government but because people began to realise that it is morally wrong to degrade or insult other people.
Rukun Negara was introduced in 1970, and the government’s effort in uniting the people seems to be effective. Recently, the issue arose again in these pages when Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye urged the government to be tough and act against any Malaysian who calls a fellow Malaysian “pendatang”.
Name-calling among Malaysians is as common as a duck taking to water. It would be unethical for the government to take action against or outlaw any Malaysian who called another Malaysian a “pendatang”.
I strongly feel that if a Malaysian who was born and bred here abides by the principles of Rukun Negara, which, among others, emphasises the importance of good behaviour and morality, being loyal and patriotic to king and country, respecting the national anthem, flag, language, each other’s culture, customs and religion, and having the sense of belonging to one’s beloved country,
I am sure one will not be referred to as a “pendatang”. It is regrettable that not all Malaysians are doing this, or care. It is important to behave and differentiate between right and wrong.
We are our own moral guardian and no one or no government can police us in respect of good behaviour and morality.