Monday, 22 December 2008
The Ramblings of a Malay Malcontent (retired and retiring) - Part 1
This was scanned from my Pasir Panjang Primary School textbook titled Kitab Beneh Akal, published 1956 ( First Edition 1928 ) for The Department of Education, Federation of Malaya by Macmillan And Co. Limited, St Martin's Street , London. That should place me somewhere in the Mesozoic Era together with the dinosaurs! The kereta lereng is a bicycle - what do the Brits know in those days?
Thank you Kamikazepilze for this lovely song. Look out for the lady standing by the roadside with a baby in her arms at the part of "Badan pipis macam keropok...". That lady is Jai's grandmother (see my posting 28 November) and this whole scene was done in Kampong Tanjong Keling, Singapore. Thanks to P. Ramlee, the lost landscapes of Singapore are preserved in his movies. That's all that's left to us.
But we must be grateful because under Pax Britannica Malay society was preserved under the protectorate system. In fact in my Singapore Identity Card of 1956, I was registered as a BPP (British Protected Person) because I was born in Selangor. I still have that document. Also the feudal society was perpetuated. We , the noble savage needed to be preserved in our kampung, growing rice, vegetables, weaving baskets and mats and denied the education that the nobility and the immigrants in the urban areas were privileged to. Although now and then we have this strange desire to go amok, wielding parangs and sticks and threatening the the right of everybody else to make loadsa money. I suppose the Gulf Wars must be the Mother of all Amoks though the motives are a tat different - they are denying the poor Iraqis the
right to their own money.
But all was not lost for our great grandparents, or our great great grandparents because the nice 'orang putih' improved the irrigation and .. wait for this ... they even introduced cheap Japanese bicycles (hence the kereta lereng). But such high tech can have dire repercussions because the Japanese used precisely that vehicle to take over the Malay Peninsula.
Today the Malays have their SUVs, air-conditioned houses, English wallpaper lining their rooms, Queen Anne and crystal crockery, Portmeirion plates that cost RM 130 each, I am told. But this is just bread and circus - because the Malays are still bonded to the liturgy of the past : The Malay is not industrious... they are an indolent, contented, thriftless unambitious.... The Chinese who are the mainstay of the commerce of the country are the most numerous of the foreigners. They are engaged in every kind of trade and business, and monopolise the tin mining industry. This is an extract from " A School Geography of the Malay Peninsula" by G.W. Hepponstall, late Assistant Master, Victoria Institution, printed at The Methodist Publishing House, 1911.
Victor Purcell wrote this for a self governing Malaya.
...........Yet time serves wherein you may redeem
Your banished honours, and restore yourselves,
but this also serves as a cautionary statement for the Malays and their future generations.
Jangan Naik Basikal semacam Beruk.
To my young commentator, Putrajaya-afath, I hope you approve of this posting.