Sunday, July 15, 2012

The unknown history of malays in Western Australia

In the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to mingle around with the malay community in Perth. Most of them had been here for more than 20 years; and their 2nd and 3rd generation calls Australia home. It was interesting to understand their achievement; surviving in a foreign land in the quest of changing their fortune.
And in my discussions of what made them came to Australia, i found out about one part of the malay history I never knew. This topic came up on our conversation in Radio Melayu last week when we discussed about this. Interestingly, there was a big population which resided North of Western Australia- Broome to be the main movers of pearl industry in the early 20th century. Imagine, at one time there was more than 1800 of them! Cool eih.. we were the famous pearl divers in an industry which made Broome boomed then.
I did my Net search and cool enough there was this page which described the early days - and the malays who were well known for this skill. Malay Pearl Divers
 And interestingly, the Malays were in a centre of controversy in the change of policy - White Man Policy then in Australia. It is an interesting read and i am still looking for bits and pieces which i reckon would make a good documentary facts! (If any parties interested to highlight this part of history!)

"In the postwar years, Malays were at the centre of controversies that highlighted difficulties in both the White Australia Policy and the indentured labour system. In 1947, the Chifley government attempted to deport a group of Malay seamen who had been admitted during the war as refugees. The plight of these men, many of whom had married Australian women, won considerable public sympathy."

I was lucky to have met a senior chap- who came as a diver in 1963 - but since the 80s had moved and lived in Perth. He still speaks Malay and he is old, Pak Atan.
Insya-Allah, I will try to dig up more about them and their lives, their stories and experience for me to share with all of you.


arcane said...

This is interesting!

Anyway,followed your advice. Went to Lesmurdie falls and happy with it ;) !

Nora Yunan said...

My father is also one of the oldest Broome pearl divers still living at 85 years old. He now resides in Perth and has 7 great grand children..alhamdulilah.