Copyright Notice

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author, at the address below.

Sakmongkol ak 47

Monday, 10 November 2008

The Bushido Spirit


Sometime in the l998 or 1999, sakmongkol had the opportunity to visit Japan. He and a friend went to a place in Southern Japan called Onomichi. A small town on Japan’s inland sea.

The town’s main activity seemed to be centred around the maritime industry. It had a few shipbuilding facilities and yards. Onomichi is also home of a few small ship-owners. ‘small’ here means, an entrepreneur who owns 2 to 5 ships, mostly of the oil and bulk liquid carrying types. These ships are also known as tankers.

We had gone to Onomichi to meet in person, a ship-owner to tell him that sakmongkol’s friend cannot continue with his intention to purchase a tanker from the owner. The friend wanted to meet in person to apologise and also to agree that the deposit paid will be forfeited and that further, any expenses incurred by the owner will be compensated. It is a matter of honour to meet the owner and tell him in person.

We rose early in the morning for at 5 in the morning, it was already daylight in Japan. She being the land of the rising sun.

And so we met the ship-owner who was a man in his 70’s. He welcomed us and invited us to a Japanese breakfast.

When it came to the discussion of the matter at hand, the old man said, it was fitting and honourable for us to come to tell him in person. But he continued, while our concept and understanding of honour is good, the Japanese he said , had a higher understanding of honour.

In ancient times, he said, if people committed something like sakmongkol’s friend did, he would have to commit seppuku and motioned his hands stabbing the stomach and guiding the imaginary sword or blade in a sideways motion, across the stomach.

We were speechless and only managed an awkward smile.

Sakmongkol is recalling this incident in response to a visitor to his blog( A Tabib) who mentioned that Zaid Ibrahim do the Japanese honourable thing. And sakmongkol’s rejoinder is, only if Zaid lives by the bushido code. .

Bushidō, Bushidō means the "Way of the Warrior", is a Japanese code of conduct and a way of the samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. It originates from the samurai moral code and stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honour until death. Bushidō, then, is the code of moral principles which the samurai were required or instructed to observe. More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten.

Seppuku was a key part of bushido, the code of the samurai warriors; it was used by warriors to avoid falling into enemy hands, and to attenuate shame. Samurai could also be ordered by their daimyo (feudal lords) to commit seppuku. The most common form of seppuku for men was composed of the cutting of the abdomen, and when the samurai was finished, he stretched out his neck for an assistant to decapitate him. Since the main point of the act was to restore or protect one's honor as a warrior, those who did not belong to the samurai caste were never ordered or expected to commit seppuku. Samurai generally could only commit the act with permission.

Sometimes a daimyo was called upon to perform seppuku as the basis of a peace agreement. This would weaken the defeated clan so that resistance would effectively cease. The fueudal lord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi used an enemy's suicide in this way on several occasions, the most dramatic of which effectively ended a dynasty of daimyo forever, when the Hōjō were defeated at Odawara in 1590. Hideyoshi insisted on the suicide of the retired daimyo Hōjō Ujimasa, and the exile of his son Ujinao. With one sweep of a sword, the most powerful daimyo family in eastern Japan was put to an end.

Were the judges conduct( those living) in accepting the ex gratia payments honourable? And was Zaid’s action in insisting on making monetary compensation honourable? Or if he had been totally dishonoured and shamed, would he have gone the Bushido way? perhaps not by Seppuku-ing but by some other personalised honourable ways?.


Anonymous,  10 November 2008 at 11:10  

Perhaps Zaid considered himself now to be a "Ronin"?

MRSM Kalae Chepo 66/73

Anonymous,  10 November 2008 at 12:46  

if our history , legacy and our own soul are shaped the Japs, I would say yes, that's the way to go.
Since we are vastly different from the Japs and more towards arab/western culture (until somewhere 1940s and 1980s)i said that is a stupid code.
Life is sacred. To end life as to achieve honor is as stupid to start life as to bring honor to this world. life must go on and find ways to overcome hardship till death says "hi" not by your hand but by the same fate that brought you to this world.

Navi 10 November 2008 at 13:33  

The question is, was Zaid's action dishonorable? Asking him to follow the the principles of Bushido is fine, provided all other leaders in UMNO did the same. The keris will do fine. We do not need a samurai sword.

ben,  10 November 2008 at 15:01  

Just thinking out of the box. IF Malaysians were to follow Bushidoism to the dot, then Malaysia today would be a developed nation many years ago, PDRM would be squeeky clean, judiciary spotless, and then Zaid wouldn't have to do he did, No?

Well we can't pick and choose what's favourable to us only, right ?

Erotomania 10 November 2008 at 23:21  

Anon @ 1246, 10112008,

Stupid to us but please do remember that seppuku was committed by Japs, who believe in reincarnation. To them honour has more value than life itself.

Anonymous,  12 November 2008 at 00:32  

I think the bushido is (partly) codified in the book Hagakure

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP