Is Barak Obama's Brother in-law Chinese-Canadian or Malaysian-Canadian?

Barak Obama's Canadian brother in law's parents are from Malaysia (Borneo). Yet Obama brags about his Chinese-Canadian brother in-law.

According to the CIA world fact book, 23% of Malaysians are ethnic Chinese.

If you quote from this blog, please refer to the author (that would be me) as "Celtic-Canadian". "Viking-Canadian" will also do.


Pale said...

Jeebus. Are you transparent or what? Why not go back to your Apple Ads?

Altavistagoogle said...

Transparently what? I just think it is odd to describe the parents as Chinese if they are from Malaysia. That's all.

Angeline Woon said...

I don't see how it is odd to describe the parents as Chinese. In fact, referring to them as Chinese may be more accurate than referring to them as Malaysian because, for all we know, they gave up citizenship to Malaysia when they moved to Canada.

Let me explain further. When you say someone is Chinese, it could mean that they come from China and are citizens of the People's Republic of China. Or it could mean that they are of Chinese descent i.e. their ancestors originated from China once upon a time. Anthropologists, historians and geneticists may quibble about what makes a person Chinese, but that's kind of like quibbling about someone being of French or Irish descent. Sure, they can say that they're Caucasian, but some people prefer to differentiate themselves further by saying they're French-Canadian or Irish-Canadian. Thus, broadly speaking, when a person refers to himself as being Chinese, and he is not a citizen of China, he's not referring to his nationality, but to his "race".

There is no such confusion about Malaysian being about nationality or a person's race, however. There is no such thing (at this moment in time) as a Malaysian race. To say someone is Malaysian, is akin to saying someone is Canadian, or American. It is all about their nationality.

To add to that, there was a survey done once in Malaysia a few years back, in which they found that Malaysians of Chinese descent think of themselves as Chinese first, and Malaysians second. If in Canada, a Canadian of Chinese-descent is referred to as Chinese-Canadian, in Malaysia, they're somewhat oddly referred to as Malaysian-Chinese.

In Obama's brother-in-law's case, his parents could have given up their Malaysian citizenship many years ago, seeing as they migrated to Canada over two decades ago (Malaysia does not allow for dual citizenship). To stake a claim of famous people who have given up their citizenship but who have ties to Malaysia, the Malaysian press commonly refers to them as Malaysian-born. This is because they are no longer Malaysians.

So, in conclusion, Chinese-Canadian would make much more sense than Malaysian-Canadian.

p.s. If ever people wanted to wiki me, I'm, at this moment in time, Malaysian-Chinese. I spend quite a huge amount of time in Canada though, with my French-Canadian partner. So who knows? Maybe all that hyphenated stuff would change.


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