Although I don't agree with her inexactitude of the Malay stock ( The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia came under the "Alam Melayu" grouping and under the main Austronesian group covering the Malay Archipelago and extending as far as the Melanesian/Polynesian region)
Though, it is not in common usage over the region it covers, it is not imprecise to refer to people from the region as Malays.
In Sabah, custom, culture and religion may be varied among the different indigenous people, but it is not wrong for Bajaus, Dusuns, Kadazans, Filipinos and other indigenous races there to identify themselves as Malays under the "Rumpun Melayu" ethnic origin.
In ethnology the ethnonym "Melayu" refers to this distinct ethnic group.
I have alway enjoy Erna's writing and have on many occasions posted her articles on the social media.
This Sabah lass is not only a good writer, but also a truly devoted Sabahan, as one can see from her consummate writings on issues concerning Sabah.
MARCH 6 — To paint the Sabah situation as “virtuous Sabah natives” against “invading foreign terrorists” is far too simplistic.
The reality is as complex as Sabah’s political landscape, enmeshed in history and complicated by the notion of statehood.
Farish Noor explains the complicated history of the various people of North Borneo and the Philippines in his column where he says:
“In the midst of the chest-thumping, saber-rattling jingoism and hyper-nationalism we see rising in both Philippines and Malaysia today, we ought to take a step back and look at ourselves honestly in the face.”
Historically the people of Sabah are a complex mix. With the formation of countries and borders, people who are connected by history and blood are now separated by that thing we call “citizenship.”
Sabah artist Yee I-Lan sums up that divide in one of the pictures from her “Sulu stories” series.
Of the subjects in the photo, Yee says: “One carries Malaysian identity, the other Filipino. They come from the same sea and place and knowledge.”
But while we must acknowledge history, we have to address present realities.
Whatever the Sulu descendants claim, their kingdom is long gone. Their attempt to supposedly reclaim their birthright is now seen as an act of violence.
You cannot resurrect ghosts with blood and threats.
But to people like Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia is first and foremost the land of the Malays. Sabah and Sarawak do not fit in with his tidy narrative of the country being led by Malay Muslims.
Dr Mahathir for all his statesmanship could never wrap his head around the fact that in Sabah, Muslims were not always Malay. Nor that the Malay narrative could include non-Muslims.
All you need to do is look over at Bali in Indonesia with its predominantly Hindu and unmistakeably “Malay” population. But then, this is a country where many Malays live in ignorance of, or patently deny that, their ancestors ever being Hindu.Read more.