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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Azly Rahman : The Malays are not fools. We have never been.



An Utterly Shameful Representation Of The Malays? – OpEd

Location of Malaysia. Source: CIA World Factbook.Location of Malaysia. Source: CIA World Factbook.
Analysing the events that happened — the humiliation of peaceful protesters, harassment, intimidation, terroristic-threats — leading to the 60,000-Yellow Shirt-BERSIH-Rally strong that ended peacefully in Kuala Lumpur, I have this to say about those who are out to misrepresent the Malays:
Aren’t Malaysians tired of seeing the Malays being represented as buffoons, stupid, amok-prone, close-minded, rempits, kris-kissing fools, AliBaba forty-thieves, rejects, religious fanatics, red-shirts, whatever shirts… it is a clever production and reproduction of the Malay ruling class, both feudal and wannabe-feudal… so that the Jebat aspect of the Malay – the amuck, the wannabe-sultan, the misogynic, the sex-maniac-royal groper and rapist of ancient Malacca, the royal-jet-setting-good-for-nothing-ancient-kings, the hedonistic, the grotesque epicure, the gangster, the absurd –is pushed forward and propagated to strengthen the Tuah aspect – the fool that followed the foolish orders of the foolish and idiotic Malacca sultan, the womaniser-cum-religious leader – the bad hombre of Malay culture – these are the twin representation of the Malays.
A laughing stock – the Malays are made to become.
This is what the ruling class wants to use as ‘Hitlerian Youth’. This image must be destroyed. For way too long the image of the Malay as wise, learned, philosophical, tassauwuf/sufistic being, the communicatively competent , the Old School pre-Merdeka Johor type, the prudent, the proverb-loving, the artistic, the high-cultured, a nation of high intellect and Jawi-literate Malay, the deeply perceptive and reflective, the viewer of materialism both as “rezeki/god’s bounty” to be careful with and to not let it be a corrupter of the soul, the Raja Haji-type of Malay (warrior who fought against the Dutch with bravery and with philosophy… where are you now, these Malays?
Aren’t we sick of the red-shirts’ antics and their representation of the Malays? a representation that has also been used successfully by the non-Malays – through the power of discourse of a newer Malay fascism hegemonising national perceptions?
Then there is the display of silat to ineffectively and hilariously scare people off.
Malays don’t need this representation as well. It was useful as a way for good, morally upright warriors of the 15th.century to kill their sultans, such as in the famous story of the death of the pervert and womanising and power-drunk sultan, Mahmud of Kota Tinggi, Johor. He was killed by his own Laksamana Megat Seri Rama while he was carried by his serfs on his mobile-throne, the ‘julang’, hence the story Mahmud Mangkat di Julang.
That evil-fool called a sultan killed the laksamana’s wife Dang Anum simply because she ate a piece of jackfruit (sebiji buah nangka) from the Raja’s orchard – because she was craving for it. She was pregnant. The raja ordered her stomach to be cut open to retrieve the jackfruit. That was the story of the Malay sultan worshipped by his people.
Laksamana Megat Seri Rama, skilled in silat, had to put the fool to death. Good for the sultan. That’s how a good silat man or woman ought to do – get rid of tyrants when while they are on their throne.
But strangeness we are seeing in the use of the Malay art of self-defense. Lost is the meaning of SILAT as I understood it – ‘silatur-rahim’ or to make peaceful connections with other human beings – with Chinese, Indians, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Martians, Jupiterians, Robots and Androids… or even Trump-supporters. SILATUR_RAHIM that is what it means. Some Malays don’t even understand the simple meaning of a Malay word.
Read… read… read…
If only each family inculcate the love of reading, of wisdom, of humility, of perspective-taking, of respecting others, of appreciating and learning from the arts, sciences, world music, and become a good global citizen – we will not need to do this in public: Beat each other up with planks while doing the breakdance. READ… READ… READ… in the name of thy Lord who created thee… that foundational verse “Iqra bismi rab bikal lazee khalaq”.
I’d say: stay home, take off your colored shirt, wear your singlet and your sarong/kain pelikat if you are still feeling hot and angry, help mum bake cookies, and read and read, read and be more intelligent in understanding what is ailing our society.
What a waste of time some these Malays are doing harassing people on the streets, storming buildings, running after cars, yelling incomprehensibles – all in the name of truth? What truth then?
How much money is being given to the cause of the rebellion without a real cause? This is the puzzling aspect of the red-shirt movement – why are they harassing those who wants to see a better Malaysia? A cleaner society and one that is not only for the Malays, or for the Muslims, or exclusively for the Malay-Muslims but a Malaysia for all Malaysians. Is that not a simple concept of good citizenship to comprehend and to fight for? I don’t think it is.
The way these troubles are created seem troubling and ‘out of place’ in a Malaysia – a globalised Malaysia of the 21st century. It seemed like a very awkward, rude, uncouched, uncultured way of exercising free speech. It seemed like a well-paid job done without rhyme or reason or sincerity. But the worst part is that it is claimed to be one “defending the rights of the Malays” when the Malays in general do not wish to be defended as such. It is a shameful way.
What ought to be done is to stop these grotesque ways of behaving and start the work of helping the Mat and Minah Rempits, the single mothers, the youth who are about to go into the dungeons of drug addiction, and the Malays who think that Tanah Melayu is theirs alone and others are “intruders in history” and ought to be sent back to where they came from.
These are the Malays that need to be helped and their dignity restored. That would be a nobler job for the red-shirt gang or any gang wearing whatever shirt yelling for Malay Rights. That is the jihad of peace the Malays in general would agree to be associated with.
Not the run-amuck, latah, and drunken Jebat and foolish Tuah Malays we no longer wish to see.
Let us help destroy this image of the Malays. We are not fools. We have never been.

About the Author

Dr. Azly Rahman
Dr. Azly Rahman
Dr. Azly Rahman grew up in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in International Education Development and multiple Masters Degrees in the fields of Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies and Communication, and currently pursuing a fifth in Creative Writing. He has written more than 350 analyses/essays on Malaysia and global issues. His writings have appeared in scholarly forums in China, Australia, Europe, Indonesia, Malaysia, Denmark, Finland, and the United States. His 25 years of teaching experience in Malaysia and the United States spans over a wide range of subjects, from elementary to graduate education. He has edited and authored seven books; Multiethnic Malaysia: Past, Present, Future (2009), Thesis on Cyberjaya: Hegemony and Utopianism in a Southeast Asian State (2012), The Allah Controversy and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity (2013), Dark Spring: Essays on the Ideological Roots of Malaysia's General Elections-13 (2013), a first Malay publication Kalimah Allah Milik Siapa?: Renungan dan Nukilan Tentang Malaysia di Era Pancaroba (2014), Controlled Chaos: Essays on Mahathirism, Multimedia Super Corridor and Malaysia’s ‘New Politics’ (2014), and One Malaysia under God, Bipolar (2015). He is currently working on his eighth book, on Gifted and Talented Education in Malaysia, honoring a prominent educator. He currently resides in the United States where he teaches courses in Education, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Political Science, and American Studies.