Was in Singapore the past two days and between bouts of client-related wor, zoned out on a bit of TV. The hotel has a Malay channel and they were showing an old P. Ramlee movie.
I love those P. Ramlee movies since I was a kid. To me they portrayed a very likeable race of people who were fun-loving, had a greak sense of humor, was sometimes the prankster. The women protaginsts were often smart, gentle and stylish, in those form fitting kebayas.
To me the P. Ramlee movies represented an innocent age where the Malay was the “Gentlemen of Asia.” It was an age where the Malay could stand tall and not have to shout to be heard, not to bluster to be noticed.
Then I read the newspapers and I wonder if it was all some mental construct of my childhood, that my perception of the Malay was, after all, a fantasy.
The news item was about this idiot in the Takaful Malaysia insurance company who, as the company’s head of the Islamic Law Department, issued an e-mail tohis Muslim colleagues, forbidding them from extending traditional greetings to their Hindu colleagues celebrating Diwali
The reason? The Hindus, said the learned counsel, were idol worshippers and this was frowned on by Islam. Ergo, Muslims should not wish them happy Diwali.
If that was not amazing enough, the more astounding fact is that the company managed to override the learned counself’s instructions, but could not find enough cojones to fire him. Now Hindu groups are protesting, asking for his dismissal.
There are other cases of racial strife in Malaysia, some relating to apostasy and I find myself wondering again where did it all go wrong and my perception of the Malay of the P. Ramlee days turn into the perception of the Malay today with a BIG CHIP on his shoulder, akin to the Malaysian Malay, as described by Dr Syed Alwi in the Malaysian news website Malaysia Today below:
As you know, I am an avid watcher of Malaysian affairs. I must confess that lately, Malaysia appears to be failing. Not a day passes by without more events that clearly highlight Malaysia’s race-religion fault-line. If things
keep going this way, I fear for Malaysia’s future.
Today, schools in Singapore celebrate Racial Harmony Day. I can visibly see the joy in the children’s faces as they wear their ethnic costumes and have fun together at school. But in Malaysia – even the right to choose a religion has become a sensitive, national issue. No doubt, there are many in Malaysia who hate my liberal views on Islam, family included. But I will say what I must say openly. I have come to the conclusion that Malaysia cannot progress any further without first addressing fundamental questions regarding its identity and soul.
I remember the days when we can laugh at Lat’s cartoons on everyday Malaysian life. But sadly, the Islamic tide has polarised Malaysians. Some
people ask why I should bother about Malaysian affairs since I am a Singaporean. May I remind Malaysians that it was Tan Siew Sin who once said that Singapore and Malaysia are Siamese Twins. Should Malaysia go down – it would hurt the region tremendously. Especially Singapore.
Where do you think Malay apostates would head for if Lina Joy loses her case? Singapore of course! I find the Malaysian Malay to be very under-exposed. For them, it’s all Islam and the NEP and everything under the sun would sort itself out. I am sorry to say this – but Islam and the NEP
may be the cause of the undoing of the Malaysian Malay.
There is nothing wrong with religion or affirmative action. But, like
everything else in life, they must be taken in moderation and with a pinch
of salt. A little doubt is good. Unfortunately in Malaysia, emotions over Islam have overcome reason. What we see today is the result of the NEP and
Islamisation policies of the past thirty years or so.
No one owes Malaysian Malays a living. Let me assure you that should Malaysia fail – the Malaysian Malay will suffer enormously. And rightly so.
After all – they have been pampered with all sorts of goodies over the years. They cannot now expect more goodies. Perhaps the day of reckoning for them, is near. Whatever it is, Malaysia had better wake up to the realities around her. The globalised world of the 21st century has no NEP to offer the
Malaysian Malay. And humans cannot live by religion alone.