Monday 19 August 2013

What more do the (Singapore) Malays want ?

I read this "Survey on plight of S'pore Malays" in today's New Straits Times  ......


........  and just four days ago  in

I was having a jolly good time dramatising the conversation of Ah Beng, Ah Nand and Ah Mad about how Sinchiaporeans relate to one another.  That posting in no way  re-hashes the antics of that wonderful Singapore comedy "Phoa Chu Kang".   The main thrust was to highlight what the authorities expect of the Singapore Malay - to prove his/her loyalty and integration.

The survey by the Suara Musyawarah could be regarded by non-Malays in Singapore and elsewhere as just another whinge -  which deserves the exasperated retort   "What more do the Malays want?".

All this is just old hat - issues like participation in the Singapore Armed Forces, lagging behind in education and income, ownership of property  and  job opportunities.  It's so tragic because these grievances are tantamount to asking(?), complaining(?)  for crumbs from the Master's Table!  During the Roman Empire the Roman masters kept their conquered people quiet by giving them bread and circuses.  Singapore Malays are wont to boast to Malaysian Malays about the strength of their dollar against the Ringgit, the re-sale value of their flat etc - in other words, their bread.  They are also given the circus of  shopping malls, Wisma Geylang Serai,  Universal Studios Theme Park and Pulau Blakang Mati (ooops! Sentosa) Resort and more Shopping Malls.  On a good day they can drive in their costly Sing-cars or cheaper weekend cars to do their marketing - cheap at JB .  A few can take their little sprouts to Disneyland in USA, or vacations in New Zealand and Australia like many other non-Malay Singaporeans.   But there's always Langkawi, Cameron Highlands, Malacca ( not Melaka) and all the Beach Resorts in Peninsular Malaysia - all very cheep!  A plate of chicken rice in a Malaysian Hotel only costs SGD 6 !

But a people cannot live on bread alone.  A people need a sense of dignity, a feeling of pride in themselves and their culture - even if they have little to spare in their pocket.  What is the Singapore Malays' take on this?

Someone who looks or dresses like a Singapore Malay is missing in the image on the left and in the top right-hand corner.   This image is from  a Singapore Tourist Board brochure - it invites tourists to visit Little India and Chinatown.  What about Little Malayworld or Little Malaytown?  Where got such place in Sinchiapore!  

The most tragic and depressing part of the NST's article is this.

Suara Musyawarah vice-chairman Alwi Abdul Hafiz said the community had moved away from their loyalty towards the Malay archipelago, which was apparent more than two decades ago.

"Now there is a strong sense of nationhood, of belonging to Singapore, especially among the younger generation.  The issue is, we feel that our loyalty is being questioned and that we cannot be completely trusted."

Singaporean and other Nanyang Chinese will never forsake their cultural roots.  Look at Hua Song (meaning
"in praise of the Chinese")  -" a museum which offers students the chance to appreciate the spirit of adventure and enterprise of the early Chinese migrants".

Musyawarah's vice-chairman has chosen the wrong word to apply to the "Malay Archipelago".  It is not a question of loyalty but of upholding their cultural and geographical bond - just like the Chinese and Indians do in Singapore.  How about remembering and celebrating the Malays'  spirit and origin?  Firstly, -

  The note beneath the picture reads "The island of Singapore situated off the southern extremity of the Malay Peninsula is separated from the mainland of Johor by a strait......  It is about 27miles long, 14miles wide and covers an area of 217sq. miles.  The town of Singapore, capital of the Straits Settlements, lies in the South-easten coast of the island.  Many of the inhabitants live on and about the coast, the native Malays being frequently fishermen and boatmen, and some of the houses are built on poles over the water while at the neighbouring islet of Pulau Brani a whole village sits on the sea".

Where are these villages?  Check:

The original caption reads: " Water-colour painting by Suri bin Mohyani of Kampong Kuchan (Lorong 3, Geylang) the present home of the descendants of the Kallang River Orang Laut."

This is Geylang today.

Geylang :  The New Chinatown

And what about the Singapore Malays' cultural hub in Geylang?

I said this in my last paragraph of the above posting.  Singapore Malays have to write their own script of their place in modern Singapore.  They have seven years  ( in 2019, Singapore will be celebrating its 200th Anniversary) to get it going and get it right.  A people who do not acknowledge and respect their own language, history, culture and background - no matter how humble - will always be scorned and looked down upon.    Singapore Malays have to work and stand up for their dignity and rights as the 'natives' of Singapore because there is no round table like King Arthur's where everyone is accorded an equal placement.  Learn from the Chinese in Malaysia.  Unite - for you are all children of the Malay Archipelago.

The Chinese Singaporean is proud of being this.  (From the Hua Song Museum))

Malay Shop, Singapore.  The Singaporean Malay should uphold this tenacity of their forefathers.

While the Chinese maintain their Nanyang (Overseas)  credentials Singapore Malays discard their maritime ancestry as people of the Malay Archipelago so as to be more Sinchiaporeans than Singaporeans.

The Malays' Middle Kingdom  ( The Middle Kingdom is the traditional name for China)

Enough's said.     I'd like to say more but I have to get on with the packing for our Hari Raya visit to Singapore to see Lely, Irene, Jai and his mum.

And to ziarah  Abah's and Akim's grave at Pusara Abadi.


Anonymous said...

It's sad really because the Malays are the last ethnic group to fall in with the other races in Singapore who altogether have been swept up in officialdom's "transcendental unity of religions" ideology. The collateral of this ideology is that only the secularism of the global money-mind is capable of uniting everybody in Singapore, God aside.

anak si-hamid said...

A very perceptive and very true comment!

Thank you Anon 2.30 am.

Very glad to have you here.

Anonymous said...

Thank you ma'am!

Petronius said...

Is secularism such a bad thing?

Looking at the consequences of "The Arab Spring", and especially at what's happening in Egypt, there's a lot to be said for not mixing up politics and religion into a noxious cocktail.

The Malays in Singapore have been given space to study, worship and work as they please. As have the Chinese, Indians and Eurasians in Singapore. The Malay language in Singapore has not been sidelined, even if English is the defacto official language.

Is the practice of meritocracy, for instance, incompatible with the aims, aspirations and mindsets of the Singapore Malays?

Is a Singapore Malay graduate from NUS, NTU, SMU, the polytechnics and the ITEs any less driven and motivated than his or her Chinese and Indian classmates?

So, nostalgic longings for the glory days of the Malay Archipelago may be misleading in the short term and self-defeating in the long term.

anak si-hamid said...

Thank you Anon 5.33 am

anak si-hamid said...

Thank you Petronius.

1. Wasn't Egypt under Mubarak a secular government?

2. Secularists may regard Morsi's Govt as a a mix of religion and politics. But weren't they democratically elected unlike the present martial/secular 'government'? Or is it the wrong kind of democracy?

3. The sun will only shine on an Arab Spring when it presents an acceptable face to the powers in US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

4. According to you, life is really hunky-dory for the Malays in Singapore. What on earth are they complaining about? Of course life's wonderful for the Malays who are not living off the dregs. They said the same thing about the American Blacks "Why don''t they get off their backsides?" Like the Malays in Singapore it depends on where your backsides are located - in the rented flats of Redhill or the soft cushy bits of Holland Road, Tanglin etc.

4.Is nostalgia a monopoly of non-Malays only? What about Hua Song, what about "Diaspora with Theatreworks and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra", what about elevating Chinatown and Little India as heritage centres, what about lavish Peranakan Museums? How self-defeating are these?

Isn't sauce for the goose also sauce for the gander?

Anonymous said...

it all started when stamford raffles did to the sultanate in singapore of almarhun sultan hussein...was it by force...?...and where did they laid him in state......?

anak si-hamid said...

Thank you Anon 11.23 am.

All true re: Stamford Raffles - and all the other Eurocentic historians. And this version has been put to good use by the non-Malay inheritors/followers of the British version of the history of the countries of the Malay Archipelago.

And there are Malays who are too comfortable to question the imperial set-up and /or too seduced by the promises of development and modernism á la capitalism.

Unknown said...

salam auntie

The sun will only shine on an Arab Spring when it presents an acceptable face to the powers in US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

the best comment! yup it's true.

Unknown said...

malays in malaysia stick to their identity, but lost their competitiveness.

malays in singapore lost their identity but again they had certain competitiveness.

is it something like this happened?

anak si-hamid said...

Salam and thank you firdaus m,

Yes, I think your first comment (5.23pm) is an interesting summary. But it's a shame that for the sake of "competitiveness" (for what), you lose your soul.

It's an odd partnership isn't it, (Comment 5.20pm), though there are many here who do not want to see Saudi Arabia's culpability?

Anonymous said...

""malays in malaysia stick to their identity, but lost their competitiveness.

malays in singapore lost their identity but again they had certain competitiveness.

is it something like this happened?""

I would be hesitant to agree we Malays in Malaysia have kept our identity. Today many among us are obsessed to become more Arab than Arabs. We are phobic of our traditional arts of wayang kulit, manora, and even our own marriage ceremonies. Some try to dress up like the Arabs and spout Arabic words everywhere as if your holiness is directly proportional to the amount of Arabic used to spice up your conversation. A couple of my acquaintances know people who have gone to Syria to become cannon fodder.

When heavy handed self-appointed guardians on religion try to find fault with everything, including acts of charity to other humans and creatures, what identity is there?

tsyhll said...

Here in Malaysia, the Malays are not so far off from Singa Malays. We now have embraced arabization and talibanization.

anak si-hamid said...

Dear Anon Aug 21 2.41am and tsyhll,

Thank you for your comments. Well said and very timely.

I have noticed too the increasing arabization of the Malays. I think somewhere in my earlier postings, I have mentioned how some of the Malays especially in Malaysia prefer to be regarded as Arabs or anything else - but not as orang Melayu.

In Singapore some of the Malays especially the well-off and better educated are quite willing to discard their Malay identity just to be "one of the boys".

So what's to become of the bangsa Melayu? They have allowed themselves to be emasculated and deracinated - to be Arabised or Disneyfied. They are planting the seeds of disunity!

Anonymous said...

The Malay in Singapore had sacrificed more than others who tend to say they are Singaporeans but till now did not get what were promised.When the Malay ask for their constituional right the non Malay say it is racist but when the non Malay ask for their rights they say it is human rights. Are PAP dogma rights above the agreed constituion. Did'nt it was written if the Malay living condition still not level with the others than the goverment need to be revamp to level zero.

Anonymous said...

REF: So what's to become of the bangsa Melayu? They have allowed themselves to be "emasculated" and "deracinated" - to be "Arabised" or "Disneyfied". They are planting the seeds of disunity!

Macam orang Melayu nak jadi supercalifragilisticxpledocious
glamor sungguh jiwa mat arab & mat salleh tu. Perhaps there are no more Lt Adnan Malay heroes in our present times, or geniuses like Prof. Hamka?

Jabalnur said...

Comments on arabisation all above sounds so patronising. What's the difference between Arabisation of the Malays and the behaviour of the so called " modern Malays?"

Most of the modern Malay, while thinking they are still Malays are indeed Anglicised. They prefer shirts and trousers to Baju Melayu, Pasta to nasi lemak, brownies to Pisang goreng, beef steaks to masak lemak Cili api?

The anti Arab commenters above better look at themselves first before making such patronising comments. Their smell of hypocrisy stings.

Come to think of it, all of the Asian race have been somewhat converted to the western materialistic culture.

So what if a Malay wants to be Arabised? Is the Arab Islamic culture so deficient?

sha said...

Hi there,

I happened to come across your post quite randomly when I was searching for my grandfather's paintings online (Suri Bin Mohyani).
His water-colour painting of old Geylang was featured in your article. May I ask where you managed to find it? I'm trying to locate as many works as I can for all of us grandchildren. Much appreciated! My email is if you wish to write to me.

Kind Regards,

sha said...

Hi there,

I came across your post quite randomly when I was searching for images of my grandfather's paintings online (Suri bin Mohyani)
His water-colour painting of Geylang is featured in your blog post. May I ask where you found it? Was it from a book?
I'm trying to compile images of his works for his grandchildren and future generations.

Thanks so much!
Kind Regards,
Shareeda (

anak si-hamid said...

Dear Shareeda,

Thank you for the comment.

It's great to know that you're searching for your grandfather's paintings.

I got that image from a tattered Colony of Singapore Annual Report (from the 1950s) that I found at Chowrasta in Pulau Pinang.

I have looked through the Reports that I have in my keeping but that particular painting by Suri Mohyani is not in any of them. All I can suggest is this : look through the 1951, 1952 and 1958 Reports ( which I do not have) in the National Library and InsyaAllah you might find what you want.

I hope your search will be successful.

Goodbye LKS said...

We need to get rid of nincompoop like Najib, Rahman Dahlan, the rubber tapper son Ahmad Mazlan, the stupid sabah Keluak from UMNO.
These people have been bought by chinese money. Watchout too in Johor where chinese money are buying out malay land.
Only education and awareness writing like yours can create the necessary social movement to fight the injustice that was brought by Christian tribes from England, Portuguese or Dutch.
These european tribes are driven by their greed for gold and land. Luckily for the Malays, we were highly sophisticated Sultanates unlike the Red Indians Chiefs or the African tribes during the Catholics kill and plunder policy of the late 15 century.
We must reclaim Singapura from the Chineses migrants if not within 50 years then within the next 500 years.
It took 400 years for european secularism and communism to kill off the Catholics and Protestants Kings and Queen for a better and equal society where all men are created equal.
So it may take the Malays 200 years to reclaim and push out the Chinese back to China with the help of ASEAN and the US.
With the fall of the Chinese emperor Pu Yin, communists kings have grown in China and they have become delusional of their ugly faces wanting to claim the whole of Vietnama and Phillipines seas as theirs.
Each and everyone of us are obligated to fight for our rights and motherland against parasitic tribes like the Chinese.

Anonymous said...

History give us what us today..So if there was no history.Why did singaopre use history to claim the batu putih island.Singaporean Chinese should know they are just british boy being brought by british to work in mine.Chinese is this region which is belongs to autronesian people should know the histroy and do not adjust the history for your own advantage.This region always belongs to malay or autronesian branch..from thailand..amalaysia.singapore.fhilipana..etc..THAT IS THE FACT.Malay is not lazy but their economy just want to survive.That is their ancestor does.Do fishing for today.and eat for today.In malaysia,there is malay in village does the same type of economy.They do not own money.but they have house..can get food easily.but most important no debt!!