This website is the archive for our old blog

Please visit our main page for the latest update

Lilypie 3rd Birthday Ticker

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

How to Change Your Race Legally

Perhaps I shall share with you my experience today at Immigration and Checkpoint Authority.

I have held a blue Singapore Identity Card since mid 2004. But one thing that has not satisfied me was the fact that I have the word 'malay' written under 'race'. Why does it not satisfy me? First, I am not a Malay if we follow this academic definition:

"a member of a people inhabiting the northern Malay Peninsula and Malaysia and parts of the western Malay Archipelago"

Truly, I have no evidence that my beloved parents (Hindro and Tuti) or even my grandparents (Kismo and Yatiman, Selo and Soeleki) had any roots or heritage connection with Malay Peninsula inhabitants back in the previous centuries. If you look at me (which I am sure millions of your have), you'd see slight curly hair (which gets even more terrific curl under relative humidity level of 80%) and much more pigments than most people here to protect my beautiful and smooth skin under intense sunlight of this Archipelago. And No, I cannot be a Malay... Malay people in the region would be upset and embarassed if they see me claim my own being as one of their blood-brothers. It's like going to Harvard and claim that you are a Harvard student when you aren't.

So, to emulate from what Rani had done by having the word 'Indonesian' on her blue Singapore Identity Card, I tried to go further and deeper: I requested Immigration and Checkpoint Authority to change my so-called 'race' as Javanese - for obvious and kiasu reasons, of course. If Rani could do it that far, I should have done even better - Javanese should be the word written on my pass. And knowing that I have entered two interview rooms, I might as well ask for the furthest details in terms of race classification.

As far as the legal process goes at Immigration and Checkpoint Authority, I had to speak to two interviewers in two separate rooms, one of them was an officer who was an expert in this and he was acting as a witness when I verbally made a statement, under oath, with one hand up in the air, stating that I request to change my 'race'. Wow... that was the first time I ever took an oath, kinda cool, indeed... and this time it was relating to reinstating my origin as a Human Being. Truly, I never realized that the defintion of 'race' is so vital in Singapore (not that there is anything wrong with that, of course! Nor is the definition of religion for that matter).

When he asked if I could provide an evidence of my Javanese blood, the officer was a bit puzzled because nowhere in my passport nor my Kartu Tanda Penduduk could you find my race definition. To expedite the process, he had me write a specific reason why I shall be classified as a Javanese, and not a Malay. It was quite puzzling since I never had to prove to anyone anywhere about my Javanese blood. I was going to write: "because Javanese rule the Archipelago!" but then I refrained from doing the politically incorrect and wrote this instead: "because both of my parents are from Yogyakarta and all of my ancestors are rooted on the same island of Java".

Anyways, I was advised by Immigration and Checkpoint Authority to wait and sit tight until the request to change of 'race' is approved by the higher authority - since it apparently involves a lot of paperwork behind the scene. I was also told that there is a chance that when it gets approved, I will have to have Noe's birth certificate reissued.

To conclude:
  • Having to reissue a blue Singapore Identity Card: $S60
  • Having to reissue your son's Birth Certificate: $S70
  • Having the word 'Javanese' written on your blue Singapore Identity Card: Priceless

PS: Tell me if you agree that asking for someone's Race or Religion is like asking for the specified length of someone's penis during erection. I will reward you if you do agree :)


At 13/4/05 13:46, w said...

i agree. race and religion should not be a question asked in govt forms or the like.
but it does help "identify" you. they should find better ways...

However, unlike asking how long your dong is, at least its instantly obvious what your race is.

you know what maybe interesting is there has been a rising trend amongst Singaporeans (and Asians in general) to have spouses from different races. i wonder how the ICA will adapt to that. if a person is 50% irish and 50% chinese, or if a person is 25% javanese, 25% thai, 25% chinese and 25% anglo then how?
do make a new race called "mongrel" ? (not claiming to be a pure bred myself)

At 13/4/05 13:49, w said...

i think perhaps "mongrel" might be too harsh, so i apologise if anyone is offended.
maybe new categores: changlo, irchin, javglo, javchin (jana), thaiglo, thaina, thaitak (thai and batak)... and it goes on and on..

maybe we could even have our DNA seq. on the IC's. wahhahaha that would be cool.
"yeah its that guy with the demaged K marker and the defective C receptor".

At 13/4/05 14:02, Indi said...


let's take tiger woods for example.

he wrote this:


The purpose of this statement is to explain my heritage for the benefit of members of the media who may be seeing me play for the first time. It is the final and only comment I will make regarding the issue.
My parents have taught me to always be proud of my ethnic background. Please rest assured that is, and always will be, the case - past, present, and future.

The media has portrayed me as African-America; sometimes, Asian. In fact, I am both.

Yes, I am the product of two great cultures, one African-American and the other Asian.

On my father's side, I am African-American. On my mother's side, I am Thai. Truthfully, I feel very fortunate, and EQUALLY PROUD, to be both African-American and Asian!

The critical and fundamental point is that ethnic background and/or composition should NOT make a difference. It does NOT make a difference to me. The bottom line is that I am an American...and proud of it!

That is who I am and what I am. Now, with your cooperation, I hope I can just be a golfer and a human being.




At 13/4/05 14:04, Indi said...

To add, you can read this too:

Tiger also has German blood.

At 13/4/05 14:56, Fairy Mahdzan said...

Indi, I am indeed "upset and embarassed" to see you formerly accept yourself "being as one of the Malay blood-brothers." The nerve! Your hair is way too curly, "bro". ;-)

At 13/4/05 15:03, Indi said...

Fairy, you are correct. I never intended to call myself a Malay. I was forced to :)

PS: My hair can't lie

At 13/4/05 15:22, bambangw said...

a person can answer both question either proudly, or shyly..
so yes, i agree.

At 13/4/05 15:28, Fairy Mahdzan said...

I think Wicak should go work with Gil Grissom!

Indi, you have what Malaysians would refer to as "Orang Asli" hair. ;) My, you would be the envy of all Afro-style enthusiasts in the Malay peninsular. No Malay could possibly grow hair with enough bounce or volume texture the way that you can!

Hugs for Noe!

At 13/4/05 15:38, ricard said...

Indi, congratulation for your new "Race" he.he.
Emang itu kolom "race" di form2 isian singapore suka ngeselin, gak cuman di pas ngurus IC atau EP tapi buka account di bank juga ditanya ras, apa hubungannya ya.

Ngomong2 sebenernya kalo boleh gue pengen ngisi untuk data gue Race=Human, bukan Klingon atau Elf.

Soalnya siapaya sih yg bisa mastiin ras kita tuh pure mana, misalnya nih gue orang batak, tapi gue banyak orang batak yg tampangnya mirip india/tamil atau juga ada yg mirip china bukan nggak mungkin memang mereka hasil campuran dari ratusan tahun yg lalu akibat lalu lintas perdagangan, Batak2 yang mirip bule juga gue yakin hasil percampuran dengan para misionaris dari Jerman/Belanda.

Di Jawa juga gue yakin banyak yg tampangnya mirip India, kalau ngeliat sejarah Jaman Majapahit juga Candi2 di Jawa dan penyebaran agama Hindu di abad(abad berapa ya he.he. abad 14/15? gue juga lupa, silahkan buka buku sejarah) Udah pasti banyak India2 yg mampir di Jawa dan berasimilasi dengan penduduk lokal (gue bukan lagi ngomongin India yg jualan kain di pasar baru loh, tapi yg dateng tahun 1400 an yg ikutan bangun candi2). Terus di Aceh juga kenapa cewenya cantik2 gue percaya juga karena mereka banyak campuran dengan orang dari timur tengah(Turki tepatnya) Waktu Aceh dulu menjalin jalur perdagangan dan juga militer dengan kerajaan Ottoman.

Mungkin harusnya kolomnya bukan nanya Race ya, tapi Ethnic Group. Apa sama aja ya, tau deh he.he.

At 13/4/05 18:08, Natalia Elok said...

Hey, Indi,I do believe that you're not Malaysian,well.. by hearing thecwords you’re saying: instead of “mengape”, you say “mengapa”, while those Malay says ‘cem mana, you say “bagaimana”.Hehehe

Well in fact, I also once experienced almost similar things: It was in a hospital and the nurse asked me what race I have. Well, the basic reason of this question related to blood type. I am not a doctor, so I know nothing about the connection between blood type, blood rhesus and race. The form I had to fill in had the following choices of race: kaukatic, asian indian, asian malay, asian chinesse, asian arabian, african etc (For sure there is no Indonesian choice).Well,… I chose Malay. Urrgghh… Are we Malay race??

At 13/4/05 21:42, dewaperang said...

ikutan ahh...;p
race: indonesian, di sing itu aje yg ane EP kek, PR kek, SIM kek, kekekekeke..

At 14/4/05 06:13, bint-eh rocha said...

why is it improper to ask one's racial/religious/ethnic/whathaveu background? surely one should look at it contextually ...

At 14/4/05 09:48, Mel said...

can't agree more with you, Indi..
the truth is : gue bosan (salah, BOSAN!!!) ditanya orang sini, "You Malay or Chinese, ah?"

Terus terang paling sering gue jawab Indonesian. Tapi itu akan melahirkan pertanyaan lain, "You Indonesian Chinese, ah?"
Kalau udah gitu gue mentok deh. Panjaaang kalau mau diceritain gue punya cuma sekitar 1/4 darah Tionghoa dan sisanya darah campuran.
Yang jelas gue orang SUNDA!
Tapi mana ngerti mereka?
Paling gue settle dengan bilang, "Yes, I'm Indonesian Chinese."

Yang jelas gue gak mungkin ngaku Malay karena, like you said, kita gak berasal dari semenanjung Malaysia!

Yang bikin gue pusing lagi, gue pikir Filipinos, Thais, Vietnamese sama racenya dengan kita. Mungkin yang membedakan cuma facial featuresnya aja. Yah gue aja ama orang Batak, Ambon bisa beda!! Berarti perbedaan antara kita dan Thais, Filipinos dll sama saja dengan membandingkan facial features antara kelompok2 etnik di Indonesia.

Huh gue rasa topik ini cuma menyediakan perdebatan tiada akhir. I'm glad you wrote this, Indi, gue udah lama pengen nulis tapi too personal, gue suka napsu sendiri. Ini akibat selama 7 tahun di Singapore selalu dibombardir pertanyaan norak tentang race gue! Enek!

Yang lebih eneknya lagi, gue dulu ngambil jurusan antropologi, tapi gak bisa menjawab juga pertanyaan ini. Mungkin gue keseringan tidur waktu kuliah. Hmmmmmm

Eh, baca2 lagi blog gue deh. Ada beberapa entry yang ngebahas soal race juga.

Thanks Indi. Salam buat Rani dan towelin Noe for me :)

At 15/4/05 00:22, Askar said...

Its not race but "race"... fallacious, not supported by genetic science and biology... Racism exist because of it...coz the notion of race as a cluster of inherited (and certain observable) characteristics and provide justification for exploitatative relations... Differences don't matter but take on important social significance. Agree?

At 16/4/05 11:58, tute said...

Congrats to ur new race! I am amazed on the effor you have put in!! I have tried putting my race as "Balinese" when I applied for my PR and yet the immigration lady just dimissed by saying they never had such race before so in the end she put "Indonesian". Wanted to argue that "Indonesian" cannot be classified as a race, but didn't want to waste my you have made me think whether I should go back and demand a change of race..hahhaa..out of curiousity and kiasu-ness purpose only of course...

At 21/4/05 15:03, andriansah said...

Gw setuju banget...
Untuk masalah paperwork, definisi ras itu harus di perjelas.

Tapi untuk pergaulan masa masih ngomongin masalah ras? Semakin mengglobalnya pergaulan di dunia karena semakin mudahnya komunikasi seharusnya gak bicarain masalah SARA.

At 22/4/05 18:14, --ambar-- said...

My experience when apply visa in s'pore I wrote Indonesia as my race on others coloumn and my religion as a free thinker (who cares ! Emangnya gua atheis apa komunis).The MOM guys never asked me again.
To be honest, S'pore just the same degree of racist like UK. Enek ngomongnya...

At 16/5/05 15:22, Anonymous said...

Nihao Dajia......
Well.... gue belom pernah ke Singapur jadi ya bener-bener nggak ngerti peraturan di sana... cuman ya kayaknya harus ada yang dilurusin mengenai istilah "Malay" yang lagi elo pada bahas.
Setau gue, (nggak tau juga kalo ternyata pengetahuan gue salah), "Malay" itu khan bahasa Inggris dari kata "Melayu". Nha kata "Malay" atau "Melayu" itu punya dua arti (seenggak2nya menurut gue begitu). Yang pertama mengacu pada etnis (ethnic), BUKAN RAS. Yang dimaksud etnis "Melayu" itu ya yang sekarang tersebar di Sumatra, Semenanjung Malaysia (termasuk Thailand Selatan), dan di Kalimantan. Dan kalo berani bilang bahwa asalnya orang-orang Melayu itu dari Semenanjung Malaysia, wah... itu teori dari mana..... Karena setau gue.... gelombang migrasi orang Melayu itu justru dari Sumatera dan ketika hijrah ke Semanjung Malaysia (dan Thailand Selatan), mereka juga bawa budaya mereka yang kelak dikenal sebagai budaya Melayu. Dan di semenanjung tersebut mereka bercampur dengan orang-orang yang emang udah menghuni daerah situ..... Kalo mo diceritain panjang banget... tapi ya kira-kira begitu..... Ya emank kalo diliat dari penngertian itu... emang orang Jawa, sunda, Bali, Madura, Cebuano, Visayas, Kadayan, Batak, Karen, dsb sama sekali nggak bisa disebut Melayu/Malay karena disitu pengertian Melayu khan etnis, bukan Ras
Terus tentang yang kedua......
Istilah "Malay" atu "Melayu" itu mengacu pada sekelompok orang yang termasuk rumpun "Paleo-Mongoloid". "Paleo-Mongoloid" itu bukan "Mongoloid", kalo "Mongoloid" itu nama resmi ras yang sekarang populasinya tersebar di Asia Timur dan beberapa wilayah di Asia Tenggara. Sedangkan "Paleo-Mongoloid" itu, menurut beberapa pakar, sebenarnya varian dari "Mongoloid" aja, cuma pigmennya lebih banyak.
OK..... nha istilah "Melayu" atau "Malay" yang merupakan istilah populer dari istilah teknis "Paleo-Mongoloid" inilah yang disebut Ras. Penyebarannya luas banget.... karena sampe ke Madagaskar segala..... Jadi kalo dibilang Malay dalam pengertian ini... ya bener juga... soalnya sebagian besar orang Indonesia, Kamboja, Laos, Philipina, dsb adalah keturunan dari beberapa gelintir Paleo-Mongoloid tsb. Jadi ya jangan marah kalo orang jawa disebut "Malay" dan jangan ngotot maksain "Jawa" jadi ras.. karena dimana-mana "Jawa" itu khan "etnis" bukan "Ras". Gue sendiri lebih suka menyebut gue orang Indonesia, walau Indonesia itu sendiri sebenarnya terminologi politik, dan bukan budaya, apalagi genetik. Cuma kalo ditanya lagi, ya gue bakal jawab bahwa gue orang Jawa... cuman gue nggak akan bilang kalo "Jawa" itu ras... karena gue yakin kalo "Jawa" itu etnis. Walau secara genetik gue juga nggak jawa2 banget.... bisa dibilang gue ini Mestizo. cuma karena gue tumbuh dewasa dengan budaya jawa, ya gua anggep gue ini Jawa. Karena udah jelas... lha wonk tiap hari gue ngomong baik di rumah maupun di kantor pake bahasa jawa kok.....
OK... gitu aja dulu.... mungkin eloe2 yg baca pada bosen bacanya...
OK... sukses buat semuanya...


Mikhail Li Xinwa

At 20/11/05 05:33, Anonymous said...

I am tired of being asked my race. How do you respond? Sometimes I say, "that's innappropriate", when they argue to be proud about your culture, that implies shame exists as well and tells me more about them. Its not as if they would get to know my culture anyway, they are only interested in superficial feature of my face.


Post a Comment

<< Home