By DINA ZAMAN
RECENT events that had the country fluctuate from a variety of emotions, has many Malays wondering: what is it to be Malay now, and has race become the only identifying factor in a Malay (man)’s life?
Has the Malay race become emasculated over the years, due to a public policy that had good intentions but was not administered properly?
The men I spoke to for this article were bewildered by the recent turn of events, and honest enough to concede that the race is regressing to a dark age.
All this bluster about being a superior race in the country hides a deep inferiority complex about themselves.
And with certain channels trumping the race card at practically every nook and cranny, was it any wonder that the Malays, especially so, Malay men felt threatened?
Perhaps, it is suggested, the Malays are still insecure.
They have the compunction of adopting other cultures, because they don’t appreciate their own language and customs.
They are unable to think and analyse critically; but ape others that do.
Could this be that as a politicised race, the Malays do not have a thousand year history of tradition and culture?
What existed before is being aggressively erased from our psyche.
What is noticeable is that many young Malays hunger for material and physical wealth. They want it fast.
The NEP hasn’t really made all Malays rich, and at the lower rung of the economic ladder are still the Malays.
Another thing that cripples the Malays is what my respondents termed dengki Melayu.
The current politics of the country and the lack or rather the refusal to have an incorruptible system for anything – from applying for tenders to a job promotion – has given the adage “dog eat dog” a new twist.
“You get really good Malays who are as good as expatriates, but you don’t nurture them, promote them, because one, you’re intimidated by them, and two, they don’t play ball. They’re not going to brownnose you and aren’t part of a certain circle, so why bother with them?”
On the other extreme is a minority group a friend termed the “marginalised Malays”.
In his e-mail he wrote, “Frankly, although I am as Malay as they come, I feel 'race-less' in everyday life. 'Race' is so unimportant to me. The only 'race' I care about is car races and racing cars.”
Seriously, have you ever wondered about the ‘marginalised Malays’? Yes, there are in fact Malays who are marginalised by their own race! These are the Malays who do not conform to the mainstream Malay ideas, character, way of life, thinking and what have you.
These are the Malays whose girlfriend/wife/daughters do not wear tudung. They probably even drink alcohol and love the good life.
They could sit and argue and debate about all things in life (religion included) and they believe they are open minded and intelligent enough to engage with anybody, race and creed notwithstanding. The truth is they are neither here nor there.
Not accepted by mainstream Malays (some are even branded pengkhianat bangsa) nor are they accepted as equals by non-Malays.
They walk into high powered corporate meetings attended by non-Malays (even Caucasians) and all eyes would observe these Malays while thinking, in their head, “here comes the product of the NEP” when in truth the NEP had embarrassed these Malays to no end as they could well stand up to anybody regardless of race.
These is the “marginalised Malay”. Unhappy in his/her own turf and looked down by non-Malays as being “just another NEP Malay”. Ironic but true!
An old boyfriend wondered out aloud, whether all this self-reflection meant anything at all. After all, it’s only rituals like attending weddings and funerals, for instance that reminded us of our heritage.
Did we wake up in the mornings saying, I am a Malay (man or woman)? He didn’t think so, as Man was preoccupied with bills to pay and family to care for. This pondering is not going to help the race or country at all.
I received a text from an old friend, Mr What If: “I love this country. I have seen many a man caught up in his own self-importance and let everybody down. I want you to write about the need to bring Malay(sians) back to earth and to start again. Is that feasible?”
Source: The Star: A writer's life by Dina Zaman