It is the weakness of the Malays as a community that, from the economic standpoint, they fall into two well-defined groups. At one end are the Sultans and the hereditary Malay aristocracy, the latter filling many posts in the administration. At the other end are the peasants, the dwellers in the kampongs or villages. The latter produce nearly all the rice that is grown in Malaya, although this represents only one-third of the country's needs. Along the coasts they are often fishermen, living in small fishing villages under the coconut palms that fringe Malaya's coastline. These Malay peasants and fishermen are most likeable people, hospitable, cheerful, kind,courteous, but they are also backward and unambitious. It is part of their charm, of course, that they are unambitious and easy-going, that they do not worry too much about the morrow and trust the morrow to look after itself. But it causes real complications in the political sphere and as many of the educated Malays realize, it may in time lead to their playing a permanently subordinate role in the country which has been theirs for centuries.
......Few Malays are in commerce. There is, in effect, no Malay middle-class. The role of the middle class in Malaya, as in several of the other countries of South-East Asia, is played by the Chinese.
Here's my patchwork of images from my collection of old books to complement or decry some of the above points.
|"Children born with silver spoons in their mouths. The children of high class and prosperous parents wear sarongs and jackets of beautifully coloured and finely woven materials and quite small girls possess their own set of jewels. " Today a similar class of silver-spooned off-springs are sprung from the corporate and professional Malay elite.|
|"Engaging Malay girl. Singularly winning is the smile with which the Malay girl confronts the world." I suppose this fits in with Morrison's perception about the Malay who "do not worry too much about the morrow...."|
|All the virtues of hardwork and skills and business and savings are suggested here but sometimes it's like getting the tortoise to run against the hare in the 100 metres dash!|
I took the above photograph on our way from Georgetown to Tanjong Tokong three years ago.
This is the background to that wall painting. Is this the price of development?
But in this month of Ramadan - while we fulfill the tenets of our faith which came from the Arabian Peninsula let us not forget our dreams and hopes as the people of the Malay Peninsula. This is how we can strive ....
|Photo by Sukar Sarif in Intisari|
..... and this is how we should inspire our young. As our old Malay saying would put it ......
As a former teacher, I have met many, many good seeds. But seeds also need the clean light of the sun, the soft, warm wet earth, the loving hands to train the branches and the tendrils and to learn from the good examples set by the adult plants.
Have a peaceful and fulfilling Ramadan. But please remember that generosity, kindness, courtesy, consideration and thankfulness for Allah's blessings are not only for Ramadan.