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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

CEYLON MALAYS AND ORANG REJIMEN


In the days when imperialists sailed the high seas and in their glory of conquests and subjugations, islands, apart as stopovers for rest and supplies found themselves useful as prisons-at-large or exiles for rebels, convicts, criminals, and trouble makers. Napoleon lost at Waterloo and was condemned to St. Elba. Australia started as a penal colony for convicts.

After the Birch's incident at Pasir Salak, several of the top plotters were sent to Seychelles. Al-Arabi, raised popular uprising against British rule in Egypt and was sent to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia) quelled revolts by sending many royal dissidents to Ceylon in the 1700's.  They formed the impetus of the settlement of Malay community in Ceylon apart from labourers, runaways, and itinerant sailors.



The Malays, by force or choice settled in an area allocated for them known as Slave Island not far from the fort-cum-port of Colombo (capital) on the coast promontory. They provided the workers and defence for the Dutch and later the British owners of the fort. The latter organised a Malay regiment force which the Malays called  Orang Rejimen.













Member officers and privates of the Orang Rejimen in 1800's are shown below.













As normally the case, the mosque is their centre for religious and communal activities that help retain the Malayness in their culture although infused with Indian and Arabic influences.




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