Friday, September 12, 2008

This article is nice I would comment on it later on but it is something we should read and bear in mind.

Thursday August 28, 2008

Looking at our own reflection

A writer's life

Every race has rivalry, jealousy and envy. But all the bluster about superiority only hides a deep inferiority complex.

RECENT events that had the country fluctuate from a variety of emotions, has many Malays wondering: what is it to be Malay now, and has race become the only identifying factor in a Malay (man)’s life?

Has the Malay race become emasculated over the years, due to a public policy that had good intentions but was not administered properly?

The men I spoke to for this article were bewildered by the recent turn of events, and honest enough to concede that the race is regressing to a dark age.

All this bluster about being a superior race in the country hides a deep inferiority complex about themselves.

And with certain channels trumping the race card at practically every nook and cranny, was it any wonder that the Malays, especially so, Malay men felt threatened?

One of the things that cropped up in my discussions with these gentlemen was the issue of a ‘throw-away culture’ that contemporary Malays employ when it comes to their traditions, customs and heritage.

The Arabisation of Malay-Muslim life is not a pretty sight to them. Slowly going are pretty tudung girls in pretty baju kurung, who now don long tunics and sombre scarves. “What’s wrong with our baju kurung? They cover the aurat, don’t they?”

The issue of language and heritage is another that begs to be questioned. The Chinese send their children to vernacular schools, and are taught Chinese history. They send their children to calligraphy and other cultural classes.

Now why is it that modern Malay parents have abolished what was once the pride of Malay life?

Writing in Jawi, reading writers like Shahnon Ahmad and histories like Sejarah Melayu are considered to be the playground of academics, literary eccentrics, and those who are buying up our culture, our heritage are wealthy non-Malays, who really do appreciate all that is Malay.

Instead we adopt not necessarily healthy customs that are deemed in keeping with Islam (which is really more about non-Malay(sian) traditions and not about the faith at all).

Perhaps, it is suggested, the Malays are still insecure.

They have the compunction of adopting other cultures, because they don’t appreciate their own language and customs.

They are unable to think and analyse critically; but ape others that do.

Could this be that as a politicised race, the Malays do not have a thousand year history of tradition and culture?

What existed before is being aggressively erased from our psyche.

What is noticeable is that many young Malays hunger for material and physical wealth. They want it fast.

The proliferation of multi-level marketing companies selling from herbal to car products, and unit trust agents show that they want to be more than what they are now.

Having attended enough MLM and motivational talks with a predominantly young Malay audience, I am always left to wonder. Is this it? Is to be rich and look good the pinnacle of Malay success?

At the risk of sounding naïve and idealistic, whatever happened to values like savings, good moral principles and social justice?

Korang tau la, camne orang lain pandang kat kita ? jadi kita kena sukses! Kita kena belajar buat duit macam Cina! Bila ada kete besar, handbag mahal ? orang pandang lain babe ? challenge!”(You know how people look down on us, so we must be successful! We must learn to make money like the Chinese! When you have a big car, expensive handbags ? people look at you differently! This is a challenge!)

“Challenge!” was the ever-present war cry I kept hearing at the many MLM lectures I attended.

However, is wanting material success wrong?

The NEP hasn’t really made all Malays rich, and at the lower rung of the economic ladder are still the Malays.

Who doesn’t want to look good and feel good? Who doesn’t want to have money and not worry?

Another thing that cripples the Malays is what my respondents termed dengki Melayu.

When it was pointed out that every race and its people also practised rivalry, jealousy and envy among themselves, the men nodded but stressed that the Malays will not succeed if they are intent on destroying themselves.

The current politics of the country and the lack or rather the refusal to have an incorruptible system for anything – from applying for tenders to a job promotion – has given the adage “dog eat dog” a new twist.

“You get really good Malays who are as good as expatriates, but you don’t nurture them, promote them, because one, you’re intimidated by them, and two, they don’t play ball. They’re not going to brownnose you and aren’t part of a certain circle, so why bother with them?”

On the other extreme is a minority group a friend termed the “marginalised Malays”.

In his e-mail he wrote, “Frankly, although I am as Malay as they come, I feel 'race-less' in everyday life. 'Race' is so unimportant to me. The only 'race' I care about is car races and racing cars.”

Seriously, have you ever wondered about the ‘marginalised Malays’? Yes, there are in fact Malays who are marginalised by their own race! These are the Malays who do not conform to the mainstream Malay ideas, character, way of life, thinking and what have you.

These are the Malays whose girlfriend/wife/daughters do not wear tudung. They probably even drink alcohol and love the good life.

They could sit and argue and debate about all things in life (religion included) and they believe they are open minded and intelligent enough to engage with anybody, race and creed notwithstanding. The truth is they are neither here nor there.

Not accepted by mainstream Malays (some are even branded pengkhianat bangsa) nor are they accepted as equals by non-Malays.

They walk into high powered corporate meetings attended by non-Malays (even Caucasians) and all eyes would observe these Malays while thinking, in their head, “here comes the product of the NEP” when in truth the NEP had embarrassed these Malays to no end as they could well stand up to anybody regardless of race.

These is the “marginalised Malay”. Unhappy in his/her own turf and looked down by non-Malays as being “just another NEP Malay”. Ironic but true!

An old boyfriend wondered out aloud, whether all this self-reflection meant anything at all. After all, it’s only rituals like attending weddings and funerals, for instance that reminded us of our heritage.

Did we wake up in the mornings saying, I am a Malay (man or woman)? He didn’t think so, as Man was preoccupied with bills to pay and family to care for. This pondering is not going to help the race or country at all.

I received a text from an old friend, Mr What If: “I love this country. I have seen many a man caught up in his own self-importance and let everybody down. I want you to write about the need to bring Malay(sians) back to earth and to start again. Is that feasible?”

Is it?


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