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Sakmongkol ak 47

Sunday 21 December 2008

Melayu and their social Latitude(2)

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Can we explain away the backwardness of Malays because they are lazy? Their lifestyle is that way, because of laziness-inducing nature?. If that is so, why do we reinforce that laziness by conferring on them certain privileges that are now stridently denounced by many-non Malays? Will that not be a double whammy- Malays are existingly lazy because of indolence inducing nature, you compound that by giving freebies?. Our strategy should be, like the handling of the recession- counter-cyclical. .

The central thesis of these articles is to show:

  1. First, the Malays are backward because of a nurture- created social system reinforced by a political leadership bent on preserving a stratified Malay social structure.
  2. Second, change can come about through nurture- based on the belief that shortcomings of nature can be overcome by nurture.
  3. 3rd, change will also be possible by a change in leadership quality. In the end, the fact remains, good government, depends on good people. We are looking for a leader among leaders- or in simpler terms, a leader who never schemed to get power. Example: if DS Najib aims to become a leader among leaders- he will commit himself to the task of building Malaysia and not countenance the creation of a Najib faction or non Najib faction in government. To have a Najib faction is the surest indicator of scheming for power. For example. There are already talks that Najib will appoint Obergruppenf├╝hrer Nazri Aziz either as Defence or Home Affairs Minister. That’s reinforcing his rear defences. Seig heil!.
  4. 4th, the salvation of Malays depend on good leadership committed to the idea of liberal democracy based on free will of individual and sanctity of rule of law
  5. 5th, finally, Islam as the leverage for Malay progress and debunking of Islamic-ness exclusivity. Example: not being a PAS member does not imply less Islamic that the average Pasnik.

The myth of the lazy native( i.e.) Malays, has been debunked many times over. We cannot explain the backwardness of the Malay by reasoning they are lazy. because everything here is in abundance, catch the fish in the rivers, hunt whatever you want in the jungles, gather vegetables and ulams you want- as the principal reasoning was to why Malays are backwards? 50 years ago, maybe. Our inability to enforce the law in jungled-Malaysia(Malaya then) cannot be an excuse not to enforce the rule of law. .

Of course the Malays have an innate ability to change. To assume otherwise, is to reduce Malay to just a pliable putty. Ours is a world built on free will. And later the sanctity of the rule of law.

In 1927, Zaaba wrote- and this was long before the interview on CULTURE IS DESTINY- between Fareed Zakaria and Lee Kuan Yew, the following:- ( my liberal interpretation).

But the most heart wrenching and bitterest observation is the fact the Malays are indeed extremely poor in all the preconditions and requirements that are supportive of success and real achievement( not those things called success like social ranks, honorific titles- Dato, Dato Seri, Tan Sri, Tun) etc. most definitely their condition is not the result of undeveloped mental capacity and also definitely as a result of an innate inability to adopt good and higher values and habits etc. these positive things are achievable through of nurture and do not come about as of nature. As to their innate abilities, they have the same abilities like all the others. Except, the conversion of these into workable programs is lagging behind the others.

Why? Not because of their laziness-inducing natural surrounding or their innate inability to change. It is the social system that inhibits the emergence of these values and habits and a political system reinforcing the stratified structure of Malay society. . their possible route of salvation? The above things we mentioned.


satD 21 December 2008 at 22:31  

Aduh...enough of Nazri Aziz please

Ariff Sabri 21 December 2008 at 22:40  


bro...that was my first reaction. Najib calls him brader...aduuh, my sentiments exactly.

satD 21 December 2008 at 22:45  

he has all the skills to become a tyrrant....

the last nice bowtied gentlement was Kadir...n the museum guy

Saya... 21 December 2008 at 23:20  


Shortcomings of nature? Nah. Much like the whites blaming the blacks on their inferior DNA. God created all men equal. It's the environment that makes or breaks them.

Ornag pandai2 macam dato cakap apanama tah....self fulfilling prophecy...orang asyik cakap bodoh dan lembab...bodoh dan lembab la jadinye....

In this case, we need a strong leader with a big whip. Macam cikgu kat sekolah. A big THWACK!!!" or rap on their knuckles or butts. Should wake them up fast.

Problem is, too many wannbe leaders who only wannabe RICH and don't care two hoots about their fellow melayus.

Instead they get Nazis, eh Nazris, sorry lewat dah... to join their ranks and annihilate the rest of their fellow countrymen through the process of slow asphyxiation.

(Kuantan KL cepat betui sampai dato? Naik Maserati ka? Can imagine Datin repeating...slow sket bang oi!)

satD 21 December 2008 at 23:24  

Wanna give him power to control the tanks,guns, missiles, submarines, police/army and ISA.....phew...scary

Ted Torrence 21 December 2008 at 23:46  

Mat Tomoi

I really want to RSS your feed for all enjoy, but if you continue to spit put feed like this

MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 * Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan;?

then I would no choice but to leave you out.

I don't think that is the kind of feed you would like to offer, you must have been playing around with some Feedburner shits, I suggest you just go to "setting" and disable all your external feed. Unless you know what you are doing, Blogger feed is one of the best

Happy Ak47ing

Anonymous,  22 December 2008 at 00:41  

Dato Sak

I must say that your analysis is too race-based.
But I get what you are trying to say about society structure deterring progress.
If you ask me, do it like everyone else...suffer.....

Ariff Sabri 22 December 2008 at 06:25  

mr x,

pardon my ignorance. tell me what to do. i am all for making my blog accessible to many more. thanks

Unknown 22 December 2008 at 11:24  

Central to your argument is the definition of "poor" and "success".

If the Malays are not planning to go anywhere, why should they SLOG 24/7 to accumulate wealth when (like you say)everything they need is in full supply (if not abundance) here in their homeland.

Do they need mansions, luxury cars, annual holidays?

The other concept is this mentality of the imported labourers whose sole aim is to work hard, get rich and "balik kampong".

Ask ourselves, (by your definition) are there poor Indians in India and poor Chinese in China?

I see Malays working daily, selling food and drinks, manning the toll booths, attending to customers in retail outlets, monitoring the streets, etc.

Even the ones in the kampongs are not just sitting down all day long.

Their motivation and their value systems are not aligned with worldly gratification ONLY.

So what is success?

you work all day long, your kids are looked after by foreign maids, your aged parents are lonely in the kampongs, you back-stab in the office, you get caught in massive jams on a daily basis??

sure you get a fat pay check, you wear branded clothes and accessories, you drive a European four-wheeler, your house is the envy of your neighbours, you even get to enjoy annual vacation in a 5-star hotel accomodation in a developed country, get to rub shoulders with who's who, etc...

Is this the ONLY interpretation of success?

when you are an absent parent, you miss your kids' major life events, you can't send your sick parents to clinics/hospitals, you don't repair/cook/tend to your home "duties" .....

I don't know anymore

what with the domino effect of corruption in another country affecting our lives - is this globalisation?

the mad rush to industrialise that leads to this very danger of extinction of the human race

mother nature is already complaining, and we are brainwashing ourselves to compete with the world (referring to speak English campaigners)

Hey for all you know, the kampong lifestyle is the way to go ...

environmentally friendly, socially satisfying, culturally wealthy, spiritually strong, physically healthy???

in short, back to P.Ramlee era

just my two cents worth

Anonymous,  22 December 2008 at 14:45  

Fully agree with Omong's post on the matter, like my comments in JMD's blog, geographical and cultural factors must be included.

There's no need for a Bachelor's in Architecture if one intends to continue living in a long house in the interiors of Sarawak, heck algebra can also be left out.

I also see the clash of culture as commented, immigrants and their money accumulating habits clash with the Malay ones.

It's a matter of playing the modern game, go to school, so you can go to work, so you can buy things and be happy. All part of the industrialization revolution.

We don't need Nikes to swim, catch fish, harvest fruits in the dusun, etc..

What's more important are clean water supply, electricity, gas, to improve the people's living standards. Let the city dwellers chase after things.

Riddle me this: Malacca is said to be a great port during it heyday with international trade and such, wouldn't that mean we have a bloodline of businessmen and traders in the community.

Look at African bushmen still living in the wild to these day or the Amazonian tribes.

BaitiBadarudin 22 December 2008 at 15:07  

Just because the Orientalists termed the natives 'lazy' doesnt mean we see ourselves from their lenses. Like Omong & Co, I can foresee a new counter-culture evolving from responses to global warming that will make us spend more time at home, grow our own fruits and vegs, generally taking things slow ...

mekyam 22 December 2008 at 15:48  

i'm with omong, msleepyhead and baiti.

we've all heard the lament that malaysians, malays in particular, were made to run before we could walk properly. is it any wonder our gait is so ridiculous. we never got the hang of proper balance and coordination.

it would be really good for us to slow down and finally learn to put one foot in front of the other and pick our steps as we move forward.

it's easier said than done, of course!

but as baiti said, our changing planet may well take this decision right out of our hands... and feet! :D

re msleepyhead's riddle: i'd wager that the bloodline of those early melaka businessmen and traders was indian. think prince parameswara and gang. perhaps even merging with an even earlier indian bloodline of the langkasuka days in the north.

Anonymous,  22 December 2008 at 17:44  

Someone shot off a note to a few friends last week, canvassing support to ban the word Malaise. I have long discerned his anguish over the word, as he senses a kind of subtle ridicule. Regardless of what the Dictionary says (origin- French, relates to bodily weariness, discomfort, lethargy, mental uneasiness), he thinks there is a Malaysian context to this, something the late Prof Syed Hussein Alatas sought to demolish in his Myth of the Lazy Natives narrative.

I would not go the conspiracy-route that people are ganging up against the Malays but as a race don't you think we need to display greater exuberance, a get-up-and-go disposition?

I shall try not to go into details.

Apocryphalist 22 December 2008 at 18:05  

Oh Come on, people. Surely we can fathom Omong is only derisively satirical in that burlesque picture of us going back to the basics? Painting these … pantheistical bliss with the winds and the sun and bumi bertuah is one utopian dream, but let me remind you that when Julie Moonchild with her boyfriend Dweezil WindChime decided to be one with nature in 60’s America, the fun only got to as far as the milk for their illegitimate child was still available, or that there were still some cash left to buy the week’s supply of love-weed before even the Joni-Mitchell lyrics shook them out of their Woodstock-deluded reality. They realized that their nerdy, not-so-much rock-and-rolling classmates had, by then, become CEOs of computer companies that bear fruits as their logos. No, people. We don’t want to “go back to the basics” and fish for free ikan keli and cabut ubi kayu. Certainly NOT during the time when the Chongs and the Lieuws and the Boon Hongs are busy buying up YOUR land. Sooner or later, if this idea catches on, your ikan keli won’t be free anymore: Ronnie Chou there is going to CHARGE you for each kilo of ikan keli you fish out of the now THEIR bumi bertuah. Unless, of course, you can get your entire family of the next 3 generations to serve them in their bungalows as servants and drivers.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics entail how disorder precedes order in almost any working system in the universe. It would be impossible to demand for the original cream, sugar and coffee once a hot cuppa has been made. This means that there is a one-way flow towards equilibrium: be it social, economical or political. “Turning Back” is something which is good only in the local conceptual sense: as a whole, it is not even allowed entropically. I know the kind of … repulse-action we’d like to instill in our morally-righteous, spiritually-inclined, terra-centric spirit whenever we see those of foreign value systems bercakaran with each other to forward their ambient planning to be.. ultimately hedonistic by scrambling all they can get around them and SELL or OWN. But you have to remember one thing: It’s YOUR properties, YOUR bumi bertuah, YOUR land, YOUR unadulterated beautiful nature and clean air that they are scrambling with each other.

And we want to turn blind eyes to these and call for a … reverse backtrack?

In this one-way ticket towards everything equilibrium, one must discern between technology-assisted-progress with religion and spirituality being sanity checker guardians, as opposed to technology-assisted-progress period. Fortunately, we malays have been blessed with the ability to recognise the former. Let’s just work on it.


Anonymous,  22 December 2008 at 19:07  

I read the comments of omong, msleepyhead, baiti and mekyam with unease. How can anyone suggest (or even think!) that the Malays should regress to the era of P. Ramlee or hold up African bushmen as an example? I witheld comment until the posting of Sir Tong Kol, with whom I totally agree.

Here are a couple of observations: During a trip to Thailand, I visited a cultural show, where the traditional dances of different regions in Thailand were performed. It really struck me that the dance routine of the Northern region was exuberant and energetic. The dance routine for the Southern region (bordering Malaysia) was graceful, lembut and slow. The last time, I was in a real kampung setting, away from the city, it was quite a sleepy place. I see a lot of Malay office boys who lepak away their time in between despatch trips out in the street near my office. In contrast, in my previous job, our Indian office boy runs a side business with friends operating a parking lot.

In my humble opinion, the Malays should discard their lethargy and incessant rhetoric and just inculcate more get-up-and-go. Just try it. It may be easier done than said.

satD 22 December 2008 at 19:10  

Are we the kinda people that ponder upon things and let the world go by? Do we discuss basic micro stuff without understanding the macro trends which is evolving?

Man is conditioned in its thinking, its aptitude and its willingness to change based on what he knows...if he doesn’t know he would simply be in its original stationary state of existence...

Same goes for the Malay race.....original and constitutional malay.....what is it that we know about us and our evolution, our sufferings, hopes and our individual aspiration represent the populace.... are not constrained or conditioned individually by our worldly attachments; family, friend, institutions we work for etc.....all of these acts as the circumference to our logical evaluation.......whenever we stray....we pull ourselves back into the circle.....just look at us now still trying to find a solid common ground to build upon......hypothesis one after another....

Information and Knowledge is key i think for us to break this framed mindset instituted generations after generation on the Malay race.........without knowing what is out there.....we will forever be as how we are......are we all not explorers I ask you...........if not we must have the courage to venture out from this sorry state.....and as Dato Sak mentions.....we need good leaders to guide us in this journey.......with the right compass of course.....

Between Nature and is a natural process and the other is engineered....both affect the ability towards is reactive the other is pre-emptive.........

Do we want then wait for the environment to completely change then only act or institute pre-emptive “realignment” process toward adjusting the trajectory of our thinking to be more in-line with the Global requirements of our Malay explorers facing the incoming freedom of markets...

As for the leadership, that one no need to say anything anymore.........i bet you everyone of us can engage the current leaders without even breaking a brain did these people get there anyway? Is this what constitute an elected representative? I’m going off-tangent here....i heard that a Malay post-man was elected in Perak PKR...and Sultan had to choose a PAS guy...come on the PKR Lingam Camera way.......

I think people are generally not informed in undertaking their democratic rights.....this goes for the all not just the malays..........................the solution may be to distribute decision making process into smaller units.....with proper monitoring and evaluation of performance....local elections perhaps....

What are we all the online armchair commentators going to do....we can talk forever n ever....does the message get to the masses??

To me, a “significant” catalyst event that can rock the core foundation of our nation is needed to whip us back on track........what that is I don’t know yet.....maybe a war with another country perhaps......or the complete loss of competitiveness of the Malaysian Economy vis-a-vis the Changing Global Economy........

Going forward we must sustain this positive intellectual discourse to understand how we evolve to the state that we are in, build a thought process to be able to cyclically dissect and abstract, then a plan for the future emerges, build one that we and our younger generation want to live in.... or at least a better one than what we are in now

Omong....agree with you ..lets go organic....

satD 22 December 2008 at 19:14  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saya... 22 December 2008 at 20:01  

Yeah Apocryptic,

Moonchild and Windchime types usually graduate to Children of God kinda deviant cults created by LSD-wrecked wild-eyed, wild haired Charles Manson-type gurus, who then go on to become mass murderers...

See what living on a blissful self-sustaining utopian-like existence for too long can do to you... DRIVES YOU NUTS! Heheh...

Anonymous,  22 December 2008 at 20:39  

The Melayu have as many opportunities now as the other late comers in this land aka immigrants.

Some said they did not want to work the mines or tap rubber as a protest against the Brits.

Whatever it is, it can be noted that some of the earlier tycoons came to Malaya with probably only whatever they could carry on the boat.

Again as they are congregated in the town areas where trade takes place means they have access to money making opportunities as contrasted to Malays living in kampungs back in the days.

The NEP has helped to level that playing field and now with the spread of the Malay population, both urban and rural, will also mean we will see tycoons in the making. It's simply a matter of time.

The thing that should be done is to ensure the continued policy for opportunities to be made available to all, from the cities to the kampungs.

satD 22 December 2008 at 23:03  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saya... 23 December 2008 at 00:47  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saya... 23 December 2008 at 01:03  


Acid trips
they say
Are never made in vain
an experience so intense
the likes of which
one will never see again...

just count your blessings
you got back
with half an intact

satD 23 December 2008 at 01:08  

just pop another microdot dear n u will see it again..

Ariff Sabri 23 December 2008 at 01:26  

dear friends,

i am forced to use this collective term- because everyone seems to be giving their thoughts which overwhelm mine. i am humbled by your very perceptive analyses of the topic at hand.
personally, i am more inclined towards the cultural and economically deterministic school of thought ably enunciated by Malaysian Tigress, satD, sir tong kol and of course apocryphalist and betterMalaysia.
i suspect the ever analytcal omong is just being satirical.
msleepyhead, mek yam, baiti - while romanticizing persuasively on a version of idyllic life, i fear,we live in a world as we see it. the only way forward to to adopt a more robust approach to tackle life. otherwise, i think, at the end of the day, we will be reduced to a museum piece not unlike the Malay House in Singapore.

etheorist 23 December 2008 at 01:31  


Your series on Melayu is important - a subject which needs plenty of thought to flush out the key issues so that advancements can be made. (The other groups need to do their homework also.)

I enjoy reading them. Keep up the good work.

zorro 23 December 2008 at 02:45  

Datuk, your piece is always stimulating and the comment/discourse in this box is an intellectual treat. chemicals for me....I am a herbal activists.

Cheers to all the comments here.

mekyam 23 December 2008 at 04:58  

dear tok sak and fellow visitors,

i cannot speak for msleepyhead and baiti, but i think my mild exhortation for malaysians, particularly the malays, to switch focus from all the steps missed in our rush to modernity and instead reconsider moving on from there has been misunderstood as asking us to backtrack or go back to basics to the point of rustic immobility.

far from it!

i suppose it serves me right for couching my thoughts in such mushy prose. nonetheless, i'm going to repeat them even if just to remind myself of what i said:

"we've all heard the lament that malaysians, malays in particular, were made to run before we could walk properly. is it any wonder our gait is so ridiculous. we never got the hang of proper balance and coordination.

it would be really good for us to slow down and finally learn to put one foot in front of the other and pick our steps as we move forward."

my point was, to put it differently and more elaborately:

1) it is not so much nature or nurture that is to be blamed for the current situation we find ourselves in. it's the fact that some crucial developmental stages in the formation of our mindset were skipped in the mad rush to become a modern state. this affected the kind of educating necessary to coalesce into an attitude that can embrace all the ramifications of modernisation properly, or at least with more assuredness.

we have all the trappings of modernity -- modern cities and up-to-date infrastructures, literate and educated populace replete with tertiary education facilities, a modern competitive economy, a working democracy that chooses its government once every five years, etc2 --- but for all that is apparent, we seem to lack the maturity and collective good sense to sustain and maintain them responsibly.

as a result we see now a culture, be it socially, politically or economically, that can best be described as both diffident and brazen at the same time. our strides are seldom purposeful [only in tdm's time, but that was tdm's own strides, he just pulled us along with his stubborn will] and our ventures seldom culminate in rounded accomplishments. like it or not, many are the things that appear "tak sudah" in our country.

in almost everything we do, we never seem to be able to affect the kind of grace and appropriateness that come from being surefooted. i'm referring to the kind of confidence showed by people who have the wisdom to first reflect on their strengths and weaknesses before/when attempting anything, thereby profitting from the former and minimizing the effects of the latter.

somehow malaysians doing anything at all always gives the impression of jumping on any au courant bandwagon. it's always just too much bluster and not much substance and least of all, staying power. if there is one cultural trait malaysians share it's the desperate need to show everyone we can do it too [and we call singapore kiasu... hehehe!] without any thought about whether we really can, or we really need to.

2) having attributed the blame for our awkwardness not on nature or nurture but on the "missing steps" in our overall development as a culture, i then called for us as a people to take this opportunity -- this current situation where everything we have acquired seems to fall apart -- to slow down and recalibrate our wrong moves and wrong turns and figure out how best to step forward given all our shortcomings and missing lessons, regardless whether due to nature or nuture.

i was not calling for us to go back to being pastoral or hammock-swinging natives. rather i was exhorting us to be a people who finally make an effort to know and understand ourselves -- our now flawed pseudomodern selves with our ridiculous gait that does not hide the fact that even as try to appear as though we know how to move, deep in our psyche we are beset by the insecurities of those whose education wasn't complete -- and to plan our next steps forward, no longer as a deluded people, but one pragmatic and wise enough to make the best use of the assets we find ourselves with (faulty or not) and the moves we are saddled with (awkward or not).

that is the only pragmatic way forward.

3) while we are being pragmatic, we should pay attention to the fact that those economic practices and values that the world, including us, have been embracing since the industrial revolution are not working. they are causing the human race to destroy itself, all it's social and moral fabrics, not to mention at the same time wrecking the environment and the sustainability of the whole planet as we know it.

so if we truly want to be progressive, stepping forward with the above in mind is the way to go. awkward gait and all, we should be thinking of new economic, social and perhaps even political paradigms.

we should stop figuring out whether it was nature or nurture that was our undoing, frittering our energy squabbling about things we cannot do anything about, like who has more, who has less, whose fault it was now or historically, until we are losing the plot.

maybe if we stop squabbling among ourselves, we might just trailblaze for once.

and this was where i took up baiti's voice about listening to the planet, positing that our restless mother earth herself may dictate the direction we, the human race, may have to take, economically, politically and socially.

so in conclusion, if we trailblaze new economic, social and political paradigms with the sustainability of life on earth as we know it as our focus, we are actually in the most progressive group there is at the moment. so how is that seen as going backward again? ;D

mekyam 23 December 2008 at 05:52  

Sir Tong Kol said... Someone shot off a note to a few friends last week, canvassing support to ban the word Malaise. ... I would not go the conspiracy-route that people are ganging up against the Malays but as a race don't you think we need to display greater exuberance, a get-up-and-go disposition?

a "get-up-and-go disposition"?

definitely, sir tong!

and while at it, i think the malays also need to stretch their minds and stop being so self-absorbed! :D

n.b. as one who works with languages, i dare say the word "mal" came into existence prior to any knowledge of a group of people called the malays who is going to have issues with the word "malaise".

the french, and subsequently english, "malaise" comes from the latin "mal".

"mal" is from "male" [pronounced: mal├Ę] ("badly"), and is a word spoken by an ancient people in central italy around 700 B.C.

Ariff Sabri 23 December 2008 at 06:24  

mr bernard khoo aka zorro- thank you for visiting.

mek yam- waduh mek yam. this is a terror analysis. gives me the modal to expand on that theme. will write on that soon.
ah so... you have been hiding your real talent ye...

Anonymous,  23 December 2008 at 06:59  

Malays are lazy?, I don’t think so, please, don't count me in.

The British who came out with those terms were themselves the LAZY BUMS.

Maybe those years, (even today, I notice some of the new generations behaving the same) the Pendatangs were so busy BODEK2 the MAT SALLEH, would come running at a snap of their fingers, TO SERVE THEM FROM HEAD TO TOE, 24/7? .

Dek kata orang melayu, suruh jilat p…n…k pun, they would do with no question asked, always eager to please their MASTERS, THEREFORE



A Tabib 23 December 2008 at 07:09  
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Tabib 23 December 2008 at 07:37  

I hope it's not too late to add to the discussion.

I have no doubt in my mind that the Malays, as a race, can succeed and compete with the other races in the world. And this is not "jingoism" on my part. There's plenty of proof that Malays have shown their capability to do that especially in the past twenty to thirty years.

I agree with Mekyam's contention that TDM dragged the Malays by the scruff of the neck to modernity. Having said that I think the process of making these great strides towards a modern Malay race caused us to skip a generation where the effect is akin to being thrown into the deep end of the pool. We are now trying to stay afloat and find move forward. We sometimes go underwater and swallow some and splutter, but we are managing to keep our heads above water most of the time.

It takes a bit of time for us to find our footing and move forward more assuredly. We should be worried about the rate of progress, yes, but we shouldn't be disheartened. And there's no turning back.

Saya... 23 December 2008 at 08:12  

just a little PS;

While the kampung life may not be all that bad or negative, where people still try to earn a honest day's work and keep their spirituality intact, the tumor which must be excised is the rise of a disillusioned, aimless, reckless, destructive class of malay youth ie the likes of the rempit, the dropouts, etc. (is this the downside of migration to the cities in search of progess and a better life? One negative outcome of the Felda "reservations")

These are supposed to be the harapan bangsa, the youth and yet they have fallen to the side and even receive encouragement and recognition, making this destructive behavior "appealing" and a source of acceptance and a way of fitting into this world. Much like the gangs in the slums.

Who do we blame? The struggling parents who try to put food on the table and who have no time to "pantau" and impart values to their kids? The education system which is just too mechanical, merely going through the motions, not caring or noticing or having a monitoring system to check on those who fall through the cracks or lose interest? (and which is by the way manipulated by political forces rather than improved on by political will?)

Has anyone seen the state of the "state" schools and the state of the malay youth there? The loss of passion and dedication of the teachers in these schools? Sad. Frigthening. The system of dividing classes in kelas A, B, C is also a death sentence on these kids. I have taught in these schools and the C and D classes are not remedial and more focused as they should be, but seen as hopeless and the teachers merely go through the motions and leave the class quickly, glad that they suffered no injuries that day.

Is there also loss of the essential message of Islam, its values and role as an internal compass for our people, in its relegation to a set of mindlessly performed "rituals" and the failure to see those so-called "rituals" for their importance in imparting a consistent sense of who we are and why we are here?

Add to that the stuporing, escapism effects of our 'artiste" culture and the mindless (or brainwashing) reality show/media programming for the masses stuck in the crowded flats, and the run down housing areas and dead-end jobs. Much like the wretched masses in India whose highlight of the week is watching Shahrukh's new song and dance routine. The people are reduced to discussing about, reading up on the latest antics, gossips about their beloved stars instead ways and means of improving the sorry state of their being.

The opium of the masses. Keep them drugged and stupid, so the elite can keep their hold.

(We should impart a total ban on all the stupidity flooding the markets in terms of reading material and programming, btw. And reduce the prices of books which are just plain ridiculously high. Libraries are far and few and the books inside also leave much to be desired.)

Are those who are supposed to lead their people merely practising the same form of subtle/and not so subtle programmimg that we accused the penjajah of?

I am surely melencong here and quite "meleret" pre morning teh tarik (my opium) but I just wanted to highlight these issues affecting the Malays (though not in an eloquent a manner as that of the inimitable sorry, people!)

BTW, Bernard aka Zorro!

Long time no see! Yeah stick to the herbs...heheh. Want some kava?

Saya... 23 December 2008 at 08:16  

One negative outcome of the Felda "reservations")...that should be have been a question, sorry...

Frightening not Frigthening....aiyah too long to spell pre-tea!

Ariff Sabri 23 December 2008 at 09:20  


now you are beginning to sound like salleh ben joned to me. after you posted yr comments i hv been hunting for the sbj poem, where the hell did i put it last. yes, poems sacred and profane.
i remember he was described as a literary street fighter- perhaps that was what attracted a dull economist like me in the first place.

Apocryphalist 23 December 2008 at 12:34  

Dato' Sak,

Wah rindu kat SBJ yer. I present to you solely for your entertainment:-

Aku Salleh Ben Joned anak bertuah
dijadikan dalam kubang di luar nikah
Lalang biak merata menarikan mimpi liarku,
kerbau balar dara tunggang pertamaku
Salleh ben Joned
"Dendang si Tegang Pulang"
Poems Sacred and Profane, page 67

Knowing SBJ, I wouldn't be too far wrong to unpeel the meaning to that quatrain as nothing more than what it literary says: that he was born out of wedlock and that his first sexual experience was with a female water buffalo.

No lah. I prefer the "other" Ben lagi: Benjamin Jowett, Regius Professor of Balliol, Oxford:-

"I am Jowett, Master of this College
If there is anything I don't know,
I don't know it"


Anonymous,  23 December 2008 at 12:57  

Tq, Mekyam, for an entry that inspires deference; reminiscent of Saleh Ben Joned's clear thinking expressed with such insouciance. Of course, as Amir Muhammad pointed out in his Malay Mail column last week, As I Please, was Orwellian. Tak ada hal, Bro! Orwell pun pasti respect sama our SBJ! Ah, taxi dah sampai..

BaitiBadarudin 23 December 2008 at 14:11  

sakmongkol AK47 said...
dear friends,
msleepyhead, mek yam, baiti - while romanticizing persuasively on a version of idyllic life, i fear,we live in a world as we see it. the only way forward to to adopt a more robust approach to tackle life. otherwise, i think, at the end of the day, we will be reduced to a museum piece not unlike the Malay House in Singapore.
23 December 2008 01:26
mekyam said...
dear tok sak and fellow visitors,
i cannot speak for msleepyhead and baiti, but i think my mild exhortation for malaysians, particularly the malays, to switch focus from all the steps missed in our rush to modernity and instead reconsider moving on from there has been misunderstood as asking us to backtrack or go back to basics to the point of rustic immobility.
Dear Dato,
I may be perceived as romanticising pastoral bliss, but the reality about global warming is a 'wake-up' call to reevaluate our (I mean humankind, not just ethnic Malays here) definition of the terms 'progress', 'development', 'economic growth' and 'robust approach' as well as their attendant yardsticks.
As an ethnic Malay who lost her kampung to the PAP and as a daughter whose father 'naive'ly spent a hugh chunk of the sale from his father's 114 acres land to fight colonialism and Malay poverty (among other things), I should be able to grasp the ramifications of political and economic dominance.
However, I stand by my position that while we focus on acquisition and ownership of assets, these actions should be accompanied by equitable distribution and frugrality, as advocated by the Prophet (pbuh) and Islam.
Terima kasih dan salam.

Unknown 23 December 2008 at 14:24  

Hey Mekyam

Great argument.

Tun Dr M did good as he was forced by circumstances of the times.

At least now we have true-blue Malay intellectuals as portrayed by some commentators here who are convincing in their debate (whether pro or against) and to speak in a foreign language.

I'm also not suggesting going back but at least take stock of where we are heading.

We don't want to be so laid back as to permit another colonial era.

But we need to be in control of the pace.

Hey Guys, I do enjoy this discourse. Thanks.

Anonymous,  23 December 2008 at 15:29  

Indeed Dato Sak's right to quote Zaaba as a refreshing reminder.

The malaises (no offends) that circumscribe the Malays have been identified & worded by many, not least by Zaaba alone.

That's in the 20s! Prof Alatas has also written more recently.

Reading here now & what Zaaba & Alatas had written then, the Malay psychic vis-a-vis SoPo & religion has become more race-centre & conservative respectively!

Are there improvements &/or the implementations forward looking? Is the 'SoPo leap' justified by the time & resources spent? If the answer is yes then why the Gini coeff has become highest among the Malays? If the Malays are more confidence now why are they still flop to the govt for helps?

Where are the things that go wrong? Consider, counting Zaaba, that's a period of 80+yrs has lapsed! In between there is also 36yrs of NEP!

Whatever 'external' factors affecting the Malays are only the challenges, NOT excuses!

Compare to the German & the Japanese, both took less than 30+yrs after their defeats in WW2 to pull themselves together. More recently the Korea & the Communist China take less than 20yrs to fast pace their ascend to economic well-being. Though in the case of the Chinese, the disparities are there but the changes can only be described as amazing.

Dato Sak mentioned that "There are Malays with innate ability to adopt good and higher values and habits etc. These positive things are achievable through of nurture and do not come about as of nature.

It is the social system that inhibits the emergence of these values and habits and a political system reinforcing the stratified structure of Malay society."

If one has identified these SoPo systems, then where does one find the courage to dismantle these inhibitions? So in the end there are still a lot of soul searching. Not least the soul of the Malay leaders.

satD mentioned "What are we all the online armchair commentators going to do....we can talk forever n ever....does the message get to the masses??"

In a way this was exactly like the case of Zaaba & Alatas. Many has been written & yet there are NO conscientious movers out there to lead the herd to the watering hole. Moreover, even when one reaches the waterhole, convince one individual cow to drink may then be an issue. What about the whole herd?


Snakebite 23 December 2008 at 15:57  

interesting debate. I am sure the answer is somewhere in the middle. A litle bit of both but not too much of either.I am sure every melayu loves their kampungs, with rivers, trees, fresh air and all, but they would want to go back to their kampungs in their Beemers and SUVs. No, I don't think we need SBJ

satD 23 December 2008 at 20:56  

Fast forward 50 years.....

Will a new modern sub-race "melayu baru" evolve from "Melayu Lama"....

And when they meet in town...the Melayu Lama asks....when are you coming back to visit us in the "reservation" we miss u.....

Saya... 23 December 2008 at 21:25  
This comment has been removed by the author.
walla 23 December 2008 at 23:16  

Every country or society has its own heartland challenge - how to bring up a people facing an onslaught of change. In some countries, the challenge is just big by the size of the cohort involved. In other countries, they may have an advantage of having a longer history of change-making but they are also facing a new problem of mass migration, creating an unfillable vacuum in the heartland as urbanization takes a toll on the way of life in the rural areas. Yet in other countries, it could be something akin to marginalization of the way of life, and in the process, the value system attached to it.

It is not lost on me that in the many recent posts the blogger has been writing, he has been making sharp analyses into the Malay situation which seems to embody the last example of the above challenge. And to repeat his key message, for that matter those by some of the commenters, there is in the case of the Malay society in the heartland a sharper difference from say the Japanese farmer or the Romanian rural worker.

The difference is that the Malay today stands at the crossroad where it seems he has to make a decision - to retain as much of his way of life as possible in order to safeguard as much as possible the value system which it enjoins, or to throw caution to the winds and embrace the march of modernization that seems less to be in tune to the drums of eastern values than the beats of western dreams.

It is indeed the Malay Dilemma returned. If he keeps the past in the present, he may soon find himself unable to coexist, immerse or interact with the rest of the world. However, if he embraces all that the present and future are titillating him to accept, he may thrive and succeed but lose all that he and his forefathers have held dear and sacrificed much - the faith, culture and root - that have been the very pillars of his identity.

One can understand and empathize with the blogger who once asked if the Malay doesn't have these, what does he have left?

But one cannot stand still, rooted in some sentimental clinging, for to stand still in a fast-changing world is to recede into some rip van winkle pasture.

The Malay man is no different in ability and perspective as any other learned or enlightened people. People like sakmongkol, satD, mekyam and mat cendana reflect as much. In fact one can go further to say that at his best, the Malay man is capable of 'qualitative precision to almost sufistic sublimity and simplicity' and that's a rare human, and humane, attribute worthy of a mankind heritage award. At a less wordy level, you will find this peppered every day by the ordinary Malay folks in the kampung and heartland as they go about in their own simple ways to eke another day's living.

One suspects that it is precisely because of his appreciation of his own value system that the Malay man feels he is caged in some cell from which he must break lose or lose his identity in the process. He wants to get out of his economic situation without losing his social identity and value system. The stomach growls in hunger but only because the heart yearns to overcome hunger in order to practise goodness.

So it comes back to socioeconomic challenges.

But we have seen how the past socioeconomic macro-plans and micro-actions have not only left him feeling uneasy but have also upped the ante on what is required of him today and tomorrow without providing him any idea, means or motivation to surmount the new challenges. Not to say the cost to the nation and his other brothers.

His value system extended more holistically to encompass others and the country has therefore been distorted in the very process of chasing socioeconomic progress that has only been quick-fixes and not hard-knocks that they must be in order to prepare him to make his own fishing rod, rather than to be constantly pointed to where each shoal swims.

Somehow the economic imperative of his survival and the value system he wants to enshrine have become mutually entangled.

When one is faced with something like this which is apparently intractable, it is only too easy to take the easy road. But will the real world provide constant privilege for one to perpetually live in the quixotic dreamland of windmills as some permanent relief from the travails of facing harsh realities?

One senses all already know the answer.

What remains to be DONE? First, set some preconditions that underpin the first principle - that of coexistence, inclusioning, interactivity. First, don't lash out. No man has ever come out of a cage by rattling it. He escapes his chain by systematically studying how it is constructed, and quietly working to unentangle it, strand by strand. Second, to every action is an equal and opposite reaction. Third, do onto others what one wants done onto oneself, religious remits aside. These conditions are universal and create a more stable and proactive platform to engage rather than confront in order to be a prelude to cooperate rather than compete.

Once these trivialities are out of the way, reengineer the new Malay. This calls for unorthodox thinking. He is no longer someone in a portrait in the old arts and craft shop next to the dilapidated bicycle repair shop somewhere in the misty heartland of yesteryear. In fact, the canvas is blank. He is like a set of Blank Company accounts. You see the silhouette but nothing inside it. Now the next step is to inject all the things into it that you know will contribute to strengthening him to such an extent he will not have to depend on the next Tun to use big projects in order to create oomph in his life. Simply because there will be no more such big projects in the world we are facing going forward. How many MSC's can Malaysia have? Answer already known.

And what are those things? Not 'way of life' for that locks the person to someone's preferences, even if those preferences may define the very fibre of the Malay existence.

I leave the solicitations open for others more learned and perceptive to tease them out....

I write this post for:

the old Malay man, an ex-bodybuilder in his seventies, who walks the wards in IJN, jovially helping to counsel other post-bypass patients on Life, renewed by Him...

the young Malay boy, a despatch rider, who fell into that damn manhole which wrecked his bike, whose repair was then just paid off by a passerby using money meant for his own medical treatment...

the blogger who was always kind in his sms'es.


Anonymous,  24 December 2008 at 06:35  

I am not sure if "Lazy" is the right word but I always think of of the Malays as being very similar to people of spanish blood. This includes of course Spain but also countries in South America and to some extent Phillipines. The people in these countries are fun loving but they don't seem to like to work very hard - the spanish love their siesta for example even though it is argubly outdated in today's world. As a result, these countries for the longest time were generally poor and today some still are. Do we think of them as lazy in the same way as we use the word to describe malays? Probably not. Interestingly the Aussies are also fun loving and don't like to work too hard - but they are not as poor. I wonder often if the non malays immigrants had not come to malaysia, would she be where she was today?

A Tabib 24 December 2008 at 16:46  

Just like to add a couple of points.

The Malays have crossed a pysychological rubicon. This crossing was done almost unconsciously and took just over a generation to achieve. With the crossing the Malays have overcome a huge impediment to their being able to see themselves as a race able to find its place in the modern world. And TDM - please resist the temptation to resort to name-calling - was the man mainly responsible.

Before the crossing the Malays were a nation of doubting thomases. When confronted with a new challenge they'll ask themselves, "can we do it"?. "Are we up to it"? These questions were seldom articulated but they were ever present in the back of the Malay mind. Since the crossing, the basic assumption has changed. Now, when meeting a new challenge, the Malay thinks "yes, it's doable" - it's a given. This attitude doesn't guarantee success of course, but it does guarantee that the Malay will stick his finger in there and see what happens.

The Malay's usage of his finger has led to some degree of success; so much so that the others now feel unduly threatened. Thus the clamour about ending NEP, review of social contract, etc.

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