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A book written by a Medical Student Tuan M. Zameer Careem, titled Persaudaraan: Malay in Sri Lanka (Brotherhood: Malay in Sri Lanka), in historical perspective shows that Indonesia in the past had a trading relationship with India and Sri Lanka. This book is important in understanding the relationship of Sri Lanka with the Malaysian and Indonesian community. There are twenty one discussions inside this book and two of the interesting discourses are ‘The Javanese Diaspora’, and ‘Advent of the Malay Royals to Ceylon’.

The relationship between Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka during the Hindu-Buddhist period developed a social and culture crossover effect. The social and culture crossover effect between India and Sri Lanka establishes a new civilization. Therefore foreign cultural boundaries are hard to observe, and was named a borderless civilization. N.J. Krom and Mookerjee stated that Indonesia relation with India and Sri Lanka was established through trading activities. Through these trading activities they also spread Hinduism and Buddhism and their cultures. In a world system’s theory perspective, Indonesia is considered a peripheral area, because the central religion and culture of Hinduism and Buddhism was located in India, while Sri Lanka was in semi-peripheral area. On the same time, there was a growth intensive relationship between Indonesia and Ming Dynasty administrations. The Ming Dynasty government saw Indonesia as a peripheral area too.
In the next periods spreading of Islam follows a trading activities pattern too. Again according to the world system’s theory, Indonesia was seen as a peripheral area. Two historical periods showed Indonesia as peripheral area. Hindu-Buddhist relation patterns flow from India-Sri Lanka-Indonesia-Indochina-China. Meanwhile the Islamic relation patterns flow from Persia-Bengal, India-Indonesia-Champa-Canton. The relationship with foreign countries in the above two periods contributed to the Malay community gathering much knowledge in the form of a cognitive revolution. This cognitive revolution was a starting point of the growth of human civilization, taking the form of an interaction in building of social organization. The knowledge received by Indonesia range from architecture, political system, trading economy and agriculture.

As per archeological excavations the relationship can be observed on inscriptions that are spread across Central Java by using the Siddam script. The Siddam script can be found on Kalasan inscription 778/779 A.D, Kelurak inscription 782 A.D, Ratu Baka inscription 792 A.D, and Plaosan Lor Temple. The Siddam script written in an inscription was used by the northern Indian community and Sri Lanka. The relationship memories were included in a Jātakas story in which its symbolic narration was located in a relief of Borobudur Temple and Mendut Temple.

The Jātakas story on Borobudur Temple and Mendut’s relief told of a cultural and economic relationship with India and Sri Lanka. The relation with Malay Peninsula, Indochina and Indonesia was implicated from knowledge development, shipping system and cruising. The India and Sri Lanka interaction with Malaya ethnicity was so intensive that it developed into a new hydraulic civilization. In this civilization, the agricultural system was irrigated by a government supervised irrigation system. The irrigation supervision was aimed at controlling planting and conflict between farmers.

The Dutch colonial had changed the relationship design between Indonesia and India, Sri Lanka, Indochina and China. Vereenigde Oost-Indische Comagnie (VOC) wanted to monopolize the Indonesia agriculture industry. Therefore Indonesia became the Dutch peripheral agriculture industry to fulfill the necessities of the European community. The exploitation of Indonesian agriculture by businessmen was beneficial in the macro sector. The golden era of Indonesian agriculture was in 1887, but one thing needs to be remembered. The plant seeds – such as tea and coffee – were imported from other countries. Assam tea was imported from Sri Lanka and India.

However, the relationships between India, Sri Lanka, Indochina, China and Dutch colonialism had pushed the civilization development of Indonesia. In the modernized setting this relationship will improve the aspects of properties, occupations and contracts. Those three aspects are the joints of civil society, because there was legal certainty in business world and introduced rational bureaucracy to modern elites of Indonesia.


About the author1

Tuan M Zameer Careem is a fourth year Medical Student at National University, Ukraine. He is an Alumnus of Royal College, Colombo 07. He is a freelance journalist and a regular contributor to local and International Print Media. His first scholarly tome, ‘Persaudaraan- Malay Life in Sri Lanka’ (First Edition) which was launched in 2016, is available for reference at the National Archives, Colombo, Stanford University Library, United States of America and at the National Libraries of Sri Lanka and Australia.

His first edition was sold out within a year of its publication and was used as a reference by Prof. Hussainmiya in writing the account on Malays for the anthropological tome titled ‘Peoples of Sri Lanka’ published by the Ministry of National Coexistence, Dialogue & Languages, which was launched under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena on July 18 at the BMICH, Colombo.

Title: Persaudaraan- Malay Life in Sri Lanka
Author and Editor: Tuan M Zameer Careem
Pages: 720
Publisher: S Godage and Brothers (PVT) Ltd.
Reviewed by: Prof. Dr. Hermanu Joebagio, M.Pd. Sebelas Maret University, Surakarta, Indonesia