Thursday, September 11, 2008

This is an email I written to a 'friend' regarding what was written in the star thursday 11 september 2008


It was nice reading an article but sadly too much verbose but very little of what she was trying to convey. I have been asking myself that also, it seems that term has been hijack by many would be Malays especially those Jawi peranakans whom I am not fond off. Granted some of them have legitamacy but many now are just for the privilege that comes of being Malay. I remember when Tunku gave us independence these 'strong' jawi were given a chance to be a Malay by having a bin instead son of, many refuse. To them they were Indians and proud of that. later many drop the son of and walla take bin as to give them legitimacy. It is said that our former PM was such person, but then he never thinks like a Malay does he? Our PM in waiting too has strong Indian blood, family is just second generation and yet the suspended Division Chief of a state who is of jawi blood can call the Chinese Pendatang while he himself is not, I wonder what going to happen next.

What is then a Malay? Is Farish Noor one? He is from Jelutong Penang and if going by Hitler standard none i know of is Malay. Tun Razak is one the Other Prime Minister have Siamese Indian or Turk (Caucasian) blood running through their vein. The PM is also mix her mother is half chinese if I am not mistaken. So what makes a Malay, anyway? You?, I doubt so, you are far remove of understanding malay as I am. So tell me if i can ask you what is a malay to you? Anthropologist do not recognize malay as a distinct group.Anthropology defines only 5 Races in the World . The Caucasoids, Negroids, Mongoloids, The Dravidian, and the Austronesian. Any other species is merely a combination of the above 5 main groupings. Geographically, Malaysia falls within the Austronesian Category yet we do not belong in that group. We are Mongoloid unlike the proto Malays who are Austronesian and they have common features with the Aborigines of Australia. We are seafarers thus that is why when we establish our kingdom macam Farish Noor cakap by the river mouth. Your Ancestor were pirates just like Drake was and Elizabeth was too. We travel far and wide as far hawaii to the east and New Zealand to the south. But we never go beyond Sumatra. I do not know why it was only after magellan did malays go westward and establish herself in Seychelles and South Africa. Some went there as inmates some as sailors.

Yet I need to stress race is a questionable and dubious pursuit. To me what make me a malay is my culture and beliefs. Not faith never equate belief with faith, this is wrong. We belief in magic, we believe in ghosts and other worlds, our culture reflect that belief. Because we are young civilisation wise we are earthy, that means our make up and understanding of life is grounded kepada bumi. That is why every think we do , dance or wayang kulit, or main wau we will start by chanting verses invoking all the dewas and djinn. We believes in amulets and tok guru whose word could heal. All this are foolish things but beautiful nevertheless. Nowdays we sanitize this believe, we say it is wrong but this is what make us Malay. Instead of Shaman we cling to Tok Gurus or politicians who can go up the mimbar therefore he is maasum, they are now the new dewas whom we invoke. We arabise ourselve thinking we are doing the right thing but in the end it is the malays who are like lost lamb not knowing what they are. In japan and Indonesia these thing never happen. They are strong culturally because their belief coexist with their faith it gave them strength.

I am not saying that some beliefs is against the faith but it is my sincere feeling that when we embrace the religion in the 13th/14th century we still have this belief. The Missionaries who came knew that this is the strength of the community and leave it to change evolutionary and not abruptly as what happen now. Don't tell me those people who came before us knew not what is right and wrong? Now, increasingly we are trying to forget roots yet, the more we try the people still believe in shaman and horror periodicals and movies is doing roaring business, why? Because you do not meddle with this belief, I blame what happen to the malays now because they themselve ar enot sure what is a Malay like you.

I do not mind working with H, I wish to be part of the study. I love meeting him/her but not you. I wish your what if well and perhaps he could go and discover what to be a Malay all about .



This is the article in question

From P. Ramlee types to high brows


Putting a handle on the Malay Malaysian can be mind boggling. It depends on who you talk to and what his life experiences are.

I DON’T believe that all Malay men and women are lazy, idiotic and lost causes. I know of many who work so hard to feed their families, and I have met with very kind-hearted people in my field of work.

I have met with women who come from traditional backgrounds who volunteer to assist People Living With HIV and street kids; and I have a good bunch of Malay male friends who try to make me fat when we meet for makan, and have been supportive of my career.

What we questioned when we met throughout the month of August was this: Was all this angst about being Malay, and the what-nots, a middle-class thing?

The working class, according to Zaidel, is more concerned with livelihood. As a local graduate who comes from a lower middle class background, and has now a study loan to service, all this was just pure drivel.

“I’m assuming from the comments in your Facebook notes and emails, that all these people have non-technical degrees. Law, politics, communications and so forth. Me and my friends – we’re geeks,” she said.

“We see things differently. We don’t want to be what these aspirants want to be: middle class. Frankly I think we have this P Ramlee syndrome. And another thing, all that talk about being ashamed of the NEP, yet how much it has helped them. Oh another thing, why are they so ashamed of speaking in Malay?”

No one is defending the salaried man. The Working Class, be it Malay, Chinese, Indian or everyone Malaysian. And that is what Barisan Nasional or whoever it is must look into.

“See all this intellectualising by these supposedly English speaking liberals – and may I borrow a quote from former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – detached intellectual discourse by intellectuals who want to display their intellect? You think the grassroots really care what they say?” Zaidel asked.

Two weeks ago, I had written an article based on my meetings with my male friends.

They were from their mid 20s to their early 50s. Most of them were locally educated, and a good number came from working class to middle class backgrounds.

One didn’t have a degree but is now a successful bonds trader, and while four benefited from scholarships, the rest took loans or paid their way through university.

One spoke to me in Queen’s English, all plumy and marbles, three spoke to me in fluent Malay – because they spoke and thought in Malay at work, home, play and they were proud of it – and the rest communicated in the hybrid we use when we speak with friends: English, and then Malay, then back to English (no, not Manglish).

One felt he was a marginalised Malay, and for that, I paid the price, for quoting him, because as far as the rest of Malay-Malaysia was concerned, he erred on the ethno-religious aspect and hence his views were not valid and not to be considered.

What puzzled H, my partner in crime, who operates a research centre, and I, were the vitriolic emails wanting the poor marginalised Malay man’s blood for even daring to speak up about his love of plonk.

I had written about my respondents’ feelings about culture, the NEP, their fear that the Malays as a race would die if we kept on insisting on being dependent on a welfare state and throwing away everything that was their heritage.

And that was all some of my rabid readers zeroed on.

And yes, the jubah issue. All two men asked was whether Malay women were embarrassed by their national costumes, that that was why they chose to wear the jubah. My Facebook and email creaked from the flurry of comments.

Let me get this straight: these men did not imply that wearing the hijab meant a woman was backwards. Their wives wore the tudung! Hence, this has led me to think that a good many people out there do not understand language, its nuances and complexities. They read what they want to read, and if need be, create the reality and impose that on the article (and others). I’d say something more rude, but it’s bulan puasa.

All these brickbats were good. Keep them coming, for H and I plan to work on a project and are seeking funding: its working title is Minda Melayu. We’re planning field studies and a poll of what Malay Malaysians really think about race (their own and others) and Malaysia. When this takes off, I’ll be doing this wearing a suit of armour, and a huge pile of Xanax in my handbag.

And so the comments and emails came in fast and furious. A good number who did benefit from the NEP realised that the NEP was weakening the race, while another good number disagreed.

One wrote in and told me that we Malaysians should be grateful we’re not poor Bangladeshis; to which I responded, we Malaysians have a lot to learn from Bangladesh.

Obviously the poor sod has not heard of the Grameen Bank and Bengali laureates like Rabindranath Tagore and Amyrta Sen. And why, I asked the reader, couldn’t we aspire to have public amenities that are given to the Swedes, Norwegians, such as paid maternity and paternity leave, excellent public safety and healthcare, for instance?

“Oh, itu negara kafir.”

August and September have proven to be very highly entertaining and informative months. Mr What If and I met and discussed whether he’d make a great Pahlawan Melayu (fella’s having a crisis: he’s half Malay and half white).

Over the last weekend, two pieces of news entered the public consciousness. One was a short interview with Dr Sham Rahayu Ab. Aziz who likened egalitarian Malays to poison to their own race, and that there was a huge difference between liberal Malays and constitutionalised Malays (Melayu Perlembagaan).

The other, by Muaz Omar, was a commentary about disassociating Malays from Malay supremacy. The earlier news piece was picked up by a blog, and the comments drove home the point that while all this clamour is good because we have been so repressed (!), we are warring among ourselves. Sept 16 is around the corner. Will race and faith no longer be relevant if changes are afoot?

Madame Dina and her crystal ball says more sandiwara will happen. Aummmm.


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