Friday, October 11, 2013


This is a continuous correspondence with Major Thomas. But I also printing out description by Swettenham when he describe what is a Malay. I took it from Sabri Zain blogsite

GOOD READ : Malay Sketches by Frank Swettenham

This book was written by Frank Swettenham. As you may know, Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham was the first Resident General of the Federated Malay States (NEGERI-NEGERI MELAYU BERSEKUTU). He was one of close to forty former British empire officials to actually oppose the Malayan Union.
I still haven’t managed to read the entire Malay Sketches yet other than a few random flips of the pages, but I reckon it should make a good reading based on the table of contents. Among the chapters, Swettenham talks about the phenomena of amok and latah, Malay superstitions, Malay pastime and how the Malays conduct warfare.
I’ll provide you with excerpts from the first chapter of Malay Sketches titled The Real Malay, where Swettenham described the Malay people from his own perspective as a foreigner :
…He is courageous and trustworthy in the discharge of an undertaking; but he is extravagant, fond of borrowing money, and very slow in repaying it.
…He takes an interest in the affairs of his neighbours and is consequently a gossip. He is a Muhammadan and a fatalist but he is also very superstitious.

…He is however lazy to a degree, is without method or order of any kind, knows no regularity even in the hours of his meals, and considers time as of no importance. His house is untidy, even dirty but he bathes twice a day, and is very fond of personal adornment in the shape of smart clothes.

A Malay is intolerant of insult or slight; it is something that to him should be wiped out in blood. He will brood over a real or fancied stain on his honour until he is possessed by the desire for revenge. If he cannot wreak it on the offender, he will strike out at the first human being that comes in his way, male or female, old or young. It is this state of blind fury, this vision of blood, that produces the amok.

The spirit of the clan is also strong in him. He acknowledges the necessity of carrying out, even blindly, the orders of his hereditary, chief, while he will protect his own relatives at all costs and make their quarrel his own.

…He has a sublime faith in God, the immortality of the soul, a heaven of ecstatic earthly delights, and a hell of punishments, which every individual is so confident will not be his own portion that the idea of its existence presents no terrors.

…He is often studious even, and duly learns to read the Koran in a language he does not understand.

…He takes his pleasure, sows his wild oats like youths of a higher civilisation, is extravagant, open-handed, gambles, gets into debt, run away with his neighbour’s wife and generally asserts himself.

…Malays are extremely particular about questions of rank and birth, especially when it comes to marriage, and mesalliances, as understood in the West, are with them very rare.

A Malay is allowed by law to have as many as four wives, to divorce them, and replace them. If he is well off and can afford so much luxury, he usually takes advantage of the power to marry more than one wife, to divorce and secure successors; but he seldom undertakes the responsibility of four wives at one time.

…but in spite of the Malay’s reputation for bloodthirstiness, in spite of (or because of, whichever you please) the fact that he is impregnated with the doctrines of Islam, in spite of his sensitive honour and his proneness to revenge, and in spite of his desire to keep his own women (when young and attractive) away from the prying eyes of other men,…
Dear Wan Zaharizan

I was happy to read your reply to my email.  In my own quiet way, I have always been a 'challenger' for Human Rights.  It has not really helped me throughout my career.  This is why I have been vocal in Honesty & Integrity and against Greed & Corruption!  In the course of my duty I have fought and 'chased' Chin Peng & his comrades all over the jungle especially in northern Malaya and close to the Thai border!.  But that was during the emergency and to be truthful, I do not hold a grudge for him because it was then what he believed & fought for!  I fought for King & Country but he was on the other side of the Red Line.

I feel sorry that a historical figure has been sacrificed for political gains.  Thank you anyway for your comments.  Maybe one fine day we will meet in Penang.  I did keep in touch with J.E. Todd after his retirement; up to a few days before he passed on.  Were you under his term of Office?  Regards

Thomas Oh

Dear Thomas
Thank you for your email and your praise. I do not deserve it. I am much younger than you far younger. It just my knowledge of events belies my age for I am just 52. The thing is, i was brought up in an environment where freedom to think was allowed. I was allowed to be what I want to be and to be proud and humble and have a respect for those who might not have the means to live as I did.
My grandfather was Wahi Anuar, yes a communist, a friend of Musa Ahmad his colleague, the chairman of the Communist Party of Malaya till 1980, when both were reporters.His name was not Wahi Annuar but it was his pen name. Wahi means divine message and Annuar means lightning thus Wahi Annuar means a divine messenger who lights up the sky.Most of his writings were confiscated by the police special branch.
Yes, he was lucky and was rehabilitated and if not for Aziz Ishak the first Minister of Agriculture, he would never join the government, where a special post was created for him in the Ministry of Agriculture then. He was the Ghost writer for Tunku, Tun, Aziz's, Khir and Ghazali Jawi etc. So when people could not forgive Chin Peng why did you accept Musa Ahmad, Shamshiah Fakeh(the wanita head of CPM until 1968 - after the cultural revolution) and many others.
Is it not because the government is hell bent not to acknowledge that the non Malays too did fight against the British or colonial master? I think it is true. Instead of tackling the issue it intend to demonize Chin Peng. So there is no reconciliation in the end. I do not agreed with communism but i cannot deny that Chin Peng and others were freedom fighters until 1957. Although i believe their principled were skewered I do acknowledge their contribution. In 1955 they would have lay down their arms if Tunku agreed to the status quo before 1948 where the CPM as a party exist and has a hq in Jalan Ipoh if I'm not mistaken. Tunku wants absolute surrender and thus the talk fail.
We could have done right as the for IGP Rahim Noor stated follow and abide to the agreement but as I said, the Government under that Indian Chap decided not to. Principle were thrown out the window and its saddens me as the Malay Gentlemen as describe by Swettenham and Winstedt remains shattered!


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