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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Malay Middle Class and Bourgeois Morality(2)

Final installment.

For that’s what it is, right? Exerting to preserve one’s ethnicity as a matter of principle, and in the final analysis, our identity, is regarded as counterculture.

That’s what Huzir’s article was meant to achieve. The mocking of the principles held by the majority and its place, Huzir and his gang are appealing to some implicit authority contained in an attitude and way of being. The attitude and way of life exemplified by the individuals referred reverently to by Huzir. The scions of the upper class, the detached minority.

I have a problem with this thesis; which is, does the middle class like the one mentioned by Huzir or which he hopes will emerge in sizeable mass, sufficient to unleash revolutionary changes? Indeed, do they qualify as middle class? The individuals which he mentioned as paragons of the unheard voices of the middle class, which he opines can usher in a partial correction, are actually representatives of the very upper class of Malay society. What ‘s wrong with such disparate group? They are I am afraid, very narcissistic by nature believing that their achievements in life are the result of certain specific as opposed to universal values they adopted and practiced. I have no quarrel with the idea and proposition that values do shape our destiny, but I question the credibility of the assumption, that a narcissistic class of Malays can perform the revolutionary role of changing the Malays. Charon Mokhzani the son of the late economics professor Dato Mokhzani, may have declined to be interviewed by doing so politely- but his polite refusal may be an indication, that the bourgeois class with their own deep-seated sense of special values and bourgeois exclusivity , does not want to have anything to do with the greasy proletariat.

The social principles subscribed to by the majority of Malays, no doubt in part derived from their religion, culture and ethnicity are, to Huzir and his gang, a species of traditional morality. Huzir and his gang, mostly stage actors( I like Jo Kukathas by the way) believe in some kind of bourgeois morality.

What troubles me is, the morality being sold by Huzir does not have a source other than exquisite politeness which Huzir finds orgasmic and has no articulation. And that bourgeois morality that is not based on higher truth is a house built on sand.

What Huzir is trying to sell is that bourgeois values of family and work could operate in complete harmony with the politics of the majority, with a bohemian lifestyle, and regular visits to sado-masochism clubs and partaking in fine dining and wines. Only that he forgets, the setting on which the values are shaped is vastly different. One is the moneyed setting, the other, setting of deprivation.

It always seemed to me they believed in a morality that's generated by the capitalist system, or by freedom and opportunity but which, if not for the current politics, unfortunately perpetrated by an elitist Malay leadership, seem to be monopolized by the people mentioned by Huzir. They look back at their own family history, which involved arriving here and landing in a situation with lots of opportunities but demanding particular habits and attitudes. So they emphasized those habits and attitudes--family cohesion, education, hard work, ambition, persistence, etc.--and did wonderfully well. What worked for them could work for everyone. Or at least that seems to be the idea. The bourgeois morality holds that if people put themselves in a certain situation, with education, hard work, marriage and family, then all the necessary virtues arise more or less automatically out of that. No higher principle, whether God or C.S. Lewis's Tao of Living, is necessary.

But why do we get away feeling, such entreaties are just hollow words? So its not our personal attacks on Huzir that is the point here. The heart of our argument here, is the idea that his writings and validation by the named individuals represent. They wont hold water with the majority.

Finally, will our criticisms of Huzir’s line of thinking be taken as, in the words of one commentator in my blog, Sir Tong Kol, a caveat for the leadership to ensure that they ‘ The Malay leadership will have to keep making sense and not be distracted by sniping and third-grade ridicule dressed in high-browed prose’.? But then I also remember, the usual strategy by white middleclass America to suppress black civil rights movements, was to arrest and declare its leaders insane. At least my criticism of Huzir hasn’t been categorised as such. Harsh maybe, but not insane. I hope.

8 comments:

Jed Yoong 17 December 2008 at 00:42  

i think u r giving too much space/time to huzir....

DSN 17 December 2008 at 02:37  

Bro,
Cantankerous it might sound but you have had your piece. Huzir is no match for you, Mat Cendana, DemiNegara and even Jed Yoong!

Let us stick to our own Malay Middle Class. People like you and me. If there is any Huzir wanting to interview you, please direct him to my office too...malay middle class! x#@%&...

Apocryphalist 17 December 2008 at 06:38  

Dato’

I remember once a TV advertisement by Petronas that went something like this: A malay gentleman was shown reclining lazily on a sofa with eyes closed and enjoying Le Sacre du Printemps in the ambient background of his mansion. In comes his maid with a cup of coffee for him and out of a sudden, she accidentally dropped the spoon on the floor causing a tiny cacophony. The gentleman lit up sooo angrily at his maid, for having the audacity to disturb his concentration on that Stravinsky piece. “The Petronas Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra: come in and listen to the world’s most beautiful music played right in the middle of Kuala Lumpur”.

There’s your middle class malay for you, dato’. A hauteured vanity of misplaced arrogance who, just like the general singaporean teenager in a consensus some time ago who wished he/she was born a caucasian, in actuality terasa malu being born a malay and kalau boleh nak bleach his tanned epidermis just like he had done with his hair. His daughter rolls her “rrr’s” so she’d sound more like an American Idol candidate and has names that remind one of a South Kensington lass instead of any Kalsom or Sabariah from Bemban, Melaka.

Hello Encik amour-propre!! You are from Batang Berjuntai, ok. Your grandfather cycled every morning to sell getah sekerap to send your dad to school, eat ubi for breakfast and now what --- you want to shun away your malayness? If I don’t know any better, you’d turn up “Classic FM” while driving alone, chorus in any S.M. Salim’s crooning and even whistle J. Mizan’s “Hari ini kau datang riang” whenever nobody is looking. Stravinsky my foot! You probably can’t differentiate a C from a C-sharp and perhaps the only thing you know about Stravinsky is how to spell it.

Sadly, this kind of skewed-thinking malay like the one portrayed by that Huzir piece also tags along another intellectually-challenged baggage: he sees the 2-3 kerat ligeros around him and thinks the entire malaysia should either be moulded upon them or that they represent what all malays should become.

They need to be re-schooled from this blunderbuss, dato’.

Aporyphalist

Malaysian Tigress 17 December 2008 at 07:45  

I quite agree with jed la dato.

Spending too much time on these inconsequential fellows like Huzir, with the likes of "intellectuals" like gwlnet et al coming out of the usual woodworks upon hearing the word "ketuanan" and immediately blubbering her "highly intellectual" broken english and broken melayu the same old grouses against Islam and Malays without any concrete evidence is waste of energy(maybe she needs to learn to cut and paste?).

Suruh depa tengok cermin dulu. Who are they to question our practices, to question the graveness of the murtad issue, and why do we have to explain anything to them in the first place. Do we ask them to explain their oftentimes logic-defying and insane practices???

This is Tanah MELAYU, so live with it lah. I have. Tak suka, berhijrah lah. That is what even Rasullullah saw advised the Muslims when the environment wasn't conducive to their practicing their deen. Baginda tak suruh pun pi create trouble and havoc and chaos to get what we want. Do you go around asking for the same things when you fellas migrate to the US or Europe? Macamlah discrimination doesn't exist there. Get real lah!

That they are talking about atrocities, payback time (I couldn't make out most of her incoherent "treatise"), just goes to show what their agenda is. To create ketidakstabilan.

What atrocities? What payback? They obviously haven't read about the histories of rest of the world ie Bosnia, Rwanda, south Africa, the US, Vietnam, Cambodia to name a few.

Compare that to Malaysia and how its founding fathers graciously welcomed others into the nation's fold.

Granted, there are many issues that need addressing ( legitimate issues such as equal access to education and scholarships, poverty facing all races esp the Indians, to name a few), but to oversensationalise and overdramatise to the extent of hurting the very nation that has for years allowed other religions and races to flourish, celebrate their respective holy days, build their holy temples even in areas risking human lives ( see Batu Caves, the huge illegal, dangerous complex on Gasing Hill) relatively unhindered and unregulated is a gross injustice.

Islam is the official religion,yet we even allow liquor, gambling, pig breeding in order to cater to the sensitivities of the others. Got to Kelantan, the heartland of Islam, and see if you have any whiny gwlnets there. They simply follow the flow. Pelik.

The pinpointing of all faults on UMNO is thoroughly hypocritical when the MIC and MCA and others parties representing (or who were supposed to be) the other races have been EQUALLY COMPLICIT in mining the nation's resources for their own advantage.

Do you think the MCA and MIC really cares for equality and all the other issues they are "fighting" for, konon nowadays?

Nah. They are just leeches and parasites waiting for the next "equal opportunity" to bleed the nation dry.

I wish all the Muslims, Malay or otherwise, and all the saner non-muslims voices would just give this "non"-issue a rest and focus on the crux of the matter: a still corrupt, inefficient, unqualified administration unable to bring Malaysia up to the level that it and its people deserve.

(sorry other commenters, I don't pretend to be an intellectual, so my treatise "isn't intellectual" but I didn't cut and paste this time to save some readers from going into stupor. I should have known,majority of Malaysian tak suka membaca)

Malaysian Tigress 17 December 2008 at 07:59  

(Apo,

I also cannot differentiate C from C-sharp or spell that Starvinapa word lah!

Nelly, Puff Daddy, Jonas Brothers easier, mindless and stress free, can boogie some more.

Caviar is tasteless la as in "where got rasa"...telur ikan tenggiri kari better. Like manna from heaven.

Caviar also politically incorrect to eat (like mentioning ketuanan Melayu), because beluga sturgeons are an endangered lot....

Anonymous,  17 December 2008 at 08:42  

Betul tu To',

I totally agree with u and with what stated above by Jed, DSN, Apocryphalist, and Malaysian Tigress.

Kalau kat Penang, they will surely ask back this Huzir - "Hang sapa?".

No doubt, Huzir was merely expressing his views commonly shared with the few of his 'urban middle class' friends.

Well, he is definitely entitled to his views. And of course this sort of views is most welcome by the Star, thus the piece got printed in this MCA owned/inclined newspaper.

I would not want to say more about this particular daily paper...

TUMPANG LALU,
a lower-middle class Malay

Anonymous,  17 December 2008 at 10:07  

My short 2 sen,

Huzir & yrs opinions r like the quarrels between the kids & the father.

One has formed a view based on his past under the tempurung, the other has the outside world as his/her oyster.

Each one has the distinct education, up-bringings & backgrounds to form their own weltsicht.

Like someone asked "..wat does your daughter do Fri/Sat nights in kl?"

Or even if U known can U control them? Or is it healthy to do so?

Let them go outside to the world & have their heads knocked. Only then they will know what's life!

Ya loh - the elusive generation gap!

This clash of world view can sadly be showcased in the recent history of Iran, under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

There r more relevancy & similarity in this context to the Malay M'sians.

The saddest part was the winning of the either parties only bring misery to Iran as a whole.

A parting thought; Dato' yr view is not only confined to the different classes of Malay. Such views play the same role within the Chinese M'sian - especially the English & the Mandarin ed.

gwlnet

Malaysian Tigress 17 December 2008 at 14:06  

Waaahhh...Gwennie...weltsicht....hmmm must learn words highbrow intellectuals use....

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