Cocos Malays

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Cocos Malays are a community that form the predominant group of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, which is now part of Australia. Despite that they all have assimilated into the ethnic Malay culture, they are named in reference to the Malay race, coming from places such as Bali, Bima, Celebes, Madura, Sumbawa, Timor, Sumatra, Pasir-Kutai, Malacca, Penang, Batavia and Cirebon.[1]

The first Malays are believed to have arrived and settled in the Islands in 1826 "when Alexander Hare, an English adventurer brought his Malay harem and slaves there." [2] In 1827 John Clunies-Ross changed the lives of the Malay slaves when he settled the Islands with his family. The existing Malays and large number of newly arrived Malay immigrants that Clunies-Ross brought with him were employed to assist with the harvesting of coconuts for copra.[2] In September 1978, the Clunies-Ross family sold Cocos Islands to the Australian government. Since then, the Chief of State has been Queen Elizabeth II, represented by the current Governor-General, Administrator Brian Lacy. The Chairman of the Islands is Council Haji Wahin bin Bynie.


Most of the Cocos Malays follow the Sunni branch of Islam.[1]

Dress code[edit]

The Cocos Malays have their own dress code - Baju Kebaya for the women and Baju Melayu for the men. Baju Kebaya consists of a loose tunic (in which it refers to a long collarless shirt with a short neckline that is pinned together with a brooch) and is worn over a skirt or sarong. Baju Melayu is a loose shirt (either with a collar with three or more buttons or collarless with a neckline). The Baju Kebaya and Baju Melayu of the Cocos are indistinct of the attire of typical Malay. The dress of the community are believed to be having a blend from several cultures, the Javanese and the Scottish.


Cocos Malays have their own language variety, which is being called Basa Pulu Kokos. It is considered rough and unsophisticated because of the use of slang in it and the constant change in word meanings. The language is a mix of Indonesian and Malaysian with local pronunciation and elements of English and Scottish being mixed in.

Phrases/ Vocab:

Selamat pagi - Good morning

Selamat ténggah hari - Good Afternoon

Selamat soré - Evening

Selamat malam - Good Night

Apa Kabar? - How are you?

Kerangkeng - Food closet.

Ke kaca - Cute

Kenes - Cute

Baik - Good

Jumpa lagi - See you later (See you again)

Korsi - Chair (normally in Malay, Kursi or Kerusi)

Dostor - Doctor (normally in Malay, Doktor)

Esbok - Fridge

Bok - Box (normally in Malay, Kotak)

Epel - Apple (normally in Malay, epal)

Jukong - Cocos Malay boat (Junk ship came from this)

Gua/Loh - Me/you (this is Hokkien derived Indonesian slang, but considered normal in Cocos Malay)

Cimni - Chimney

Kot - Coat

Hiju/Hijo - Green (usually in Malay, hijau)

Kalo - if (normally in Malay, kalau)

Emak/Mak - Mother (used to address females with children)

Pak/Ayah - Father (First term used to address males with children. Second term is father)

Paman/Man - Uncle (used to address males without children)

Bibik - Aunty (that is younger than the parent)

Nek/Nenek - grandma (used to address grandparents of any sex)

Wak - respectful term to address woman with teenage children

Oh tuhan ku! - Oh my god!

Addressing elders:

  • If Yusri is a teenager, then Mak Yusri (mother of Yusri) becomes Wak Yusri.
  • When Yusri who is now Man Yusri, has a child called Mustafa, Wak Yusri becomes Nek Mustafa and Man Yusri becomes Pak Mustafa.
  • If Mustafa who is Man Mustafa and a teenager, has a child called Budi, then Pak Mustafa becomes Nek Budi.


The migration of Cocos Islanders was mainly started since the World War II. The first emigration had taken place from the Cocos Islands to Sabah, Malaysia. The number of people in first batch of the migrating community was believed to be around 20. At Tawau, the community built their settlements.

The migrated community is now distributed dominantly at Tawau and Lahad Datu in Sabah. While there's a less significant population in Singapore.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]