It is time we set aside our differences and get in touch with the core values of humility, respectfulness and above all, faith in God, says Syerleena Abdul Rashid.
Instigating political violence and creating disunity amongst Malaysians seems to be a daily feature in modern local politics. Hard right-wing groups that claim to be champions of Islamic rights and Malay rights seem to stray from fundamental values that are naturally upheld within the Malay-Muslim community.
As for peace-loving Malays, quite a number of us may find some of the points raised by these ‘champions’ as hurtful.
Violence is not only discouraged in Malay culture, it is abhorred, as it goes against our core values – both culturally and religiously. In general, Malays are non-confrontational and polite in nature. Actually, you can learn a lot about real Malay values and culture just by watching P Ramlee movies!
We respect everyone and our ‘indirectness’ or subtlety shows how much we honour preserving a person’s ‘face’ (air muka). For example, if a Malay man or woman is confronted by something that makes them uneasy, they tend to get long-winded and beat around the bush before getting to the point.
Malays will respectively address strangers by embracing them as one of our families; hence, everyone is either our Mak Cik, Pak Cik, Kakak, Adik or Abang. Maintaining a close-knit family unit within the Malay community is seen as something of great importance and trumps everything else. Then again, all Malaysian communities stress the importance of upholding a strong family unit, and that makes Malaysia a beautiful place to live in.
It is most unfortunate, however, that these values have been replaced by destructive and negative aspirations.
An MP from Seputeh caused an uproar within the hard right-wing Malay communities through a video that was released during the Lunar New Year. For the average Malaysians, the video was clearly a satire and was intended to poke fun at current issues and especially, at ourselves.
But the humorous message of the video was lost and several politicians from the other end of the political spectrum decided it was time to manipulate the situation and bring in the hate-mongers.
At the flick of a switch and several finger guns later, Teresa Kok is now the poster child (or woman) for allegedly insulting the King and the Malays. What is more disturbing is the attitude of several of our Malay brethren, who instantly lap up the deceitful mix of lies and unreasonable accusations hurled towards her.
When the ire of the gullible is provoked, racial hatred ensues thereafter, no matter how senseless and illogical the whole thing may seem.
The hate-mongers enjoy ‘reminding Malaysians – especially the Malays, of the ‘Ghost of May 13’. Modern Malaysians and peace-loving Malays, or at least the ones who do not subscribe to Utusan Malaysia’s daily heretics, will find this ‘boogeyman’ utterly unimaginative. Nevertheless, there is a significant number of folks at the grass-roots who still believe in this fable and will continue to aggressively defend Malay rights, even if it calls for bloodshed.
This is all made possible through years of perfecting the practice of gutter politics. The hate mongers want to do more than just create a ripple in our sea of solidarity. They still assume that we are unable to tell what is right or wrong. They want us to believe that everything is white or black, good or bad.
Most of us are able to see the underlying agendas that perpetuate this nurturing of fear within our communities – but there are those who are unable.
Therein lies the problem: the ruling elite has successfully nurtured a superficial culture based on fear, hate and ignorance by dumbing down the education system, our schools, the syllabus and by pacifying the academicians by instilling their own kind to administer institutions of learning.
Then there are the threats of expulsion, severance, rejected promotions, the fear of being ostracised. Decades of mental and emotional abuse have left most of us feeling highly insecure – in ourselves and in our pursuits.
Several factions within the ruling regime mooted the idea of banishing ‘race’ from all forms. This is seen as a step towards positive nation-building and towards bridging the gap that decades of race-based policies have caused.
But the hate-mongers conjure yet another fable: Malays would lose all rights and privileges if such a ruling is passed. Meanwhile, these hate-mongers vehemently accuse moderate Malays of being too embarrassed by their own ethnicity/race and therefore opting not to read ‘Utusan Malaysia’ or study in national schools.
But the truth is far more complicated than that.
Most of us believe in the importance of developing positive relationships with other fellow Malaysians regardless of ethnicity, and most of us understand why the hate-mongers do what they do. After all, they are doing this just to ensure that certain things remain unchanged and unchallenged for generations to come. Change is never an easy thing to adapt to.
We also understand why people react the way they do and why certain detestable remarks are made. But what we do not understand is the passive obedience that seems to prevail when dangerous political games are summoned through means that collide with our true nature. Is the self-esteem and self-worth of some communities that low that any form of manipulation can be carried out with great ease?
It is time we set aside our differences and get in touch with the core values that centre on humility, politeness, respectfulness and above all, faith in God – the kind that is untainted by the politics of drivel.
We are constantly told that Malays are under threat. It used to the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British and Communism; now it’s the ‘pendatangs’, the PATIs (undocumented immigrants), the moderates and Christianity.
Truth is, the only threat that exists is our own insecurity.