Friday 24 June 2011

Malays Discussing Malays

The following are interesting perspectives in a posting to my Tigers eGroup by Tiger-Putera Colonel M. N. Taib. It contains email exchanges that began with a forwarded Malaysian Insider 24th May article, The Malay Nuisance by Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani.

I have abbreviated the names for privacy reasons and it suffices to state that SA is a Tiger-Putera; Tan Sri Z was a top civil servant and another, a Dato' Z. The exchange begins with the article forwarded to SA by his Chinese friend, PH (Ha! who else could it be!). Please read:


--- On Sat, 6/18/11, SA wrote:
From: SA
Subject: Re: FW: The Malay nuisance — Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
To: "ph"
Date: Saturday, June 18, 2011, 7:28 PM

My perspective.This belongs to the genre of Malay origin writers gazing at their navels. Goody- two shoeish, perhaps?

Thanks for sharing.

Warm regards,


On Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 12:36 PM, ph wrote:

The Malay nuisance — Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
May 24, 2011
MAY 24 — After 54 years of independence, the insecurities faced by the Malay community is no longer a dilemma but becoming more like a nuisance, hampering the country’s growth and well-being.
It is utterly irresponsible for middle class Malays to continue harping about self righteous Malay or “Muslim” agenda while the poor are still struggling with bread and butter issues like unemployment and proper education.
Having graduated from a local Islamic university, I am well aware of the conspiracy theories that continue to bog down the Malay psyche with self defeatist mentality.
The vicious cycle of hate and animosity will not benefit anyone and certainly not the Malays. It saddens me when prophecies of hate are being professed by so called “intellectuals” of the community.
What is even more sickening is their answer to an intellectual discourse of blaming others instead of trying to find real solutions that will solve real problems.
Despite being a majority in the country, why are we still obsessed with this siege mentality?
Our country did not gain independence yesterday. We should not be questioning the patriotism or rights of our fellow Malaysians but question what our “Malay” government has done to help elevate the dire economic situation of the poor?
Why blame the Chinese or Indians when the leaders of our country have always been a Malay? What has “ketuanan melayu” or the Malay agenda brought to the villages or urban villages after Merdeka?
Yes, the government has brought us development but that is our right as citizens of the country. That is the right of every community in the country, not the Malays alone.
Why talk about hudud or implementing syariah law when we cannot fulfill the basic tenant of Islamic jurisprudence which is justice.
Why cut the hand of a man that steals bread when leaders continue to swindle our riches?
Is the objective of Islamic law to only punish? I think not.
Islam is not a about grand mosques or prayer rooms but the people.
Where were the so called Muslim or Malay NGOs when the Lynas plant was announced or more recently the landslide that killed so many innocent children?
The call for an Islamic state is a luxury when the poor continue to beg for mercy.
We should stop questioning other races but start questioning ourselves and what have we contributed the country.
* Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani is a reporter with The Malaysian Insider.


--- On Sat, 18/6/11, SA wrote:
From: SA
Subject: Re: FW: The Malay nuisance — Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
To: "Tan Sri Z
Date: Saturday, 18 June, 2011, 6:10 AM
Dear TSri Z,

My comment was an attemt to highlight the phenomenon of Malay writers playing the liberal card without questioning the assumption of their statements. The Government, for which you and I served, had achieved much for the Malay constituency. Without the interventionist policies the economic disparity between the different political constituencies would be disastrous to our political stability and daily peaceful existence of everyone.

I agree with you that physical infrastructure s are meaningless for enrichng human development, materially, intellectual and emotionally. What's important was the lack of strategic direction in the policies towards making the Malays robust and independent thinkers. Anecdotal stories indicate that our shools do not attempt to promote  the equiring approach among their students. I hazard to say that's in the main that's where we Malays lack the wherewithal to advance vis-a -vis other races. Ah, you say, the Chinese are also part of the system. But their mercantile culture puts a premium on logical and creative thinking.

Generally our culture puts a premium on subservience and duplicitous methods to attain current satisfaction, defined as foreseeable future.i.e of the moment, for our local environment and cohorts(for people near and dear to us), until the crisis has passed. "kais pagi, makan pagi, kais petang makan petang' sums it aptly.

Salam Sir, Sorry for a longish statement to explain my one sentence throwaway line. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify.



On Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 8:08 PM, Tan Sri Z wrote:
En SA, the writer Asrul Hadi did indeed touch on a much avoided subject. we must look beyond what the government had done, i.e perceived doing good for the Malays, the real thing that need to be done has very little political value. You can point to a mega mosque yet you cannot point to a better health or education etc. A mosque benefit the Muslims but the others benefit everybody, so the political weighting is lost. Thats why you have big mosque which are empty most of the time.
Thank you.

Yours truly,

Tan Sri Dato' Z


Dear Dato' Z,

On the eve of your departure for London you must be busy. I'll try to be succinct in response.

Your analogy of the race is graphic and valid. But it assumes that there is a Malay tendency to blame our Chinese sojourners for our malaise. It's an easy target but my perception is that Malays generally are not in the same arena, race if you may.

We Malays and our earliest power owners, the sultans, have always been rentiers not producers of wealth. The Chinese are predisposed by nurture and culture to wealth creation and have been practicing this habit in Malaya  since their arrival here. They have fine tuned their ability to understand Malay frailties and exploit them from the top to the bottom of the Malay polity to create wealth and status for themselves. The manifestations of this capability are clear. I need not belabour the point. Asa race they are awesome in their willingness to go to the last mile to be wealthy and to achieve worldly status. In this context one can only appreciate their drive.

We Malays have never entered the race of your analogy. We are in it by default.

Our leaders and ourselves too have never imbibe the Socratic injunction to examine ourselves to make our lives worthwhile. I hesitate to say that we have never as a homogeneous entity ever develop a soul building philosophy. That is because Malays are heterogeneous and thinking about who we are and what we are, are foreign to our culture. We have Islam, yes. but in general only the practices, the orthopractice not imbibed and live the philosophy. The philosophy of life as enshrined in the Quran has never been discussed across our society and to become an ingrained habit of thought and action of our selves and our young. We hear our Ulamas voicing the philosophy but as another writer says( I forgot him for now) the words never got past the throat.

We Malays, titular persons, elected leaders and the electors ' fail to realize that much of the reality we want to change is due to things within us; in other words, we lack consciousness of our own roles in perpetuating our outward reality."

That is a quote from Yusuf Al- Qaradawi's book(1991) " Islamic Awakening- between rejection and extremism where he discusses injustices from the Quranic perspective.

Al- Qaradawi in fact was quoting Syrian Scholar, Jawdat Said in his book, in Arabic ,entitled(trans)- "Until they change what is in their hearts". Said said . " ... that the core of our problems is not an external injustice but, rather, the injustice that we bring on ourselves by virtue of what is inside us. This is the  law of history and society which the Quran affirms. Failure to realise this plain truth blurs our vision and generates philosophies which are either pessimistic and passive, or despotic and anti-Islamic".

I have no solutions to the malaise of the Malays. The Malay middle classes are growing, shukur to Allah and alhamdulliLah. I believe that its this middle class that must coalesce to  lead that strong optimistic and Socratic mental set at the human level. Finally Allah is the Arbiter and Granter of fulfillment.

Sorry it's long. Salam to you and Datin and have a refreshing holiday in England.


On Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 2:11 AM, Dato' Z wrote:

Dear SA,

Salam. Thanks for the forward. I am all the way with viewpoints of the original writer, as well of those of yours. There is a very 'Malay group'  who claim that after so many years, and despite the years of pro-Malay govt policies and myriad of Malay-biased programmes implemented, "Melayu masih ketinggalan/keciciran", in the economic, educational and social fields; so they say.

The question is: "Melayu masih ditinggalan/dicicirkan itu, disebabkan siapa?" Obviously, the answer they would give or imply would be: by the Chinese in the country. Therefore, the group's answer or solution to this Malay dilemma is: Give the Malays more of the same;and must continue giving more of the same...presumably, until the we Malays can catch up with the Chinese.

Another viewpoint is: What could have our Chinese compatriots done that have made the Malays being left far behind in all those fields?  Have the Chinese put obstacles/halangan  along the way to the govt policies and to those Malay-biased programmes all these years?

What have the Chinese done to check the advancement of Malays. An analogy of a 100 meter race may help: Three Malays and three Chines take part in the race. All start at the same starting line. At the end of the race, the position is: first, second and third go to the Chinese. All three Malays are left far behind. Who do we fault?

Now, let us say these three Chinese agree to give a handicap to the three Malays, and that the Malays would start from 30 meters ahead of the actual staring line.

When the whistle is blown, all six run at the same time. But, at the end of the race, the Chinese still take up the first, second and third positions. The Malays runners are still left behind (but this time may not be to far behind).

In the above two imaginary races, the the Chinese racers have made the Malay racers left behind. This is the fact. But,the pertinent question is: Do the Malays racers put the blame on the Chinese competitors, for making them lose the race, each time?

I think, in the above analogy, the Malay runners should accept the fact that their loss is due to the fact that Chinese competitors are faster, stronger, better trained and have more determination than themselves. And through no fault of themselves. Who then, are in default?

Supposing, another race is organized. This time, no Chinese will take part. Only just three Malays compete among themselves. The outcome is predictable, isn't?: the first, second, and third would Malay. But, when compared the times performed by the victorious Malays and against the Chinese, which group has run faster for each position?    

In the above case, should the three Malays ask for more handicap, say up to 60 meters ahead from the starting line? Rather than to ask for more handicap, I think they should undertake very hard training, imbue themselves with steadfast determination and motivation to succeed; infuse themselves with the highest confidence, be prepared to face all challenges.

And if need be, the govt shall design such exercise in disciplines and programmes for them, and make sure they will swear to follow and execute with diligence, until each can become as strong, and as fast a racers as the Chinese.

As for the slogan "Ketuanan Melayu", I would borrow from the slogan that Tun Abdullah Bedawi had once introduced. I suggest, therefore, that "Ketuanan Melayu" be changed to: "Kecermerlangan, Kegemilangan dan Keterbilangan Melayu". Terima kasih.

Dato' Z

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