Monday 22 December 2014

Christmas - Part 1

That time of year is coming upon us again - the season of goodwill and peace to all men (and women, oops!).   It's also the season for  shopping, for putting up ornate lights and decoration in the city centres, for giving and receiving presents, for boozing ( in the West mainly )  and for eating - and I must also add - for over-consumption and over indulgence.

It's similar to any other religious festival (discounting the boozing for Hari Raya of course) and "secular" festivals like Chinese New Year and the Gregorian New Year in most parts of the world.

In Malaysia, of course, all religious festivals are celebrated with gusto and they are all gazetted as public holidays.

But consider this.   In the UK (according to 2011 figures) 4.4 % of the total population are Muslims and the vast majority of these are located in England where they make up just over 5 % of the resident population.  In this primarily Christian country, Muslims do not enjoy a public holiday during  Eid.

In China, which has an estimated 1-5 % Christian population, Christmas Day is not a public holiday.

Christmas Day is a gazetted public holiday in Malaysia - which has a Christian population of 9 %. Yes, Sabah's Christians make up just over 30% of Sabah's population and in Sarawak, 43 % of her population are Christians.   But what of Peninsular Malaysia?

Malaya,  a primarily  Muslim  country, had been invaded and ruled by Christian nations like Portugal, Holland and Britain since the 15th century.  She  became a part of Malaysia in 1963.   Here, Christmas Day was gazetted as a Public Holiday by the colonial authorities long before Merdeka in 1957  -  even though Christians make up just over 3% of the Semenanjung's population (2010 statistics).  I reckon the percentage must have been even lower in pre-1963 and colonial days.    But is this surprising?   Malaya, after all, has been a  part of the Christian British Empire since the late 18th century.

So remember the Muslims in England: 5 %  of the population, and they have no leg to stand on if they want Eid to be declared a public holiday in this "primarily Christian country"!

I recall Allahyarham Usman Awang's poem:

Baiknya hati Melayu itu

tak terbandingkan

Selagi yang ada sanggup diberikan

Sehingga tercipta sebuah kiasan:

"Dagang lalu nasi ditanakkan

Suami pulang lapar tak makan

Kera di hutan disusu-susukan

Anak di pangkuan mati kebuluran"  - Thank you, Zaini Hassan, for reminding me of Usman Awang's acerbic wit!)

However, the "anak di pangkuan"  mentioned in this poem has mutated into ... fat cats, copycats, cool cats, hep cats, cat's pyjamas (whiskers) - mostly, but not entirely with the aid of the NEP, under the aegis of  the (old) UMNO.   Nearly 60 years after Independence in 1957, the Malays are fighting like cats and dogs.  They have lost the ability to smell the rats.  They have allowed themselves to be manipulated, to be used as cats'  paws - resulting in bitter disputes and in-fighting.

Oh dear, I must stop these references to 'cats'  - they don't deserve to be reflected in the asinine aspects of my bangsa Melayu. 

Sadly the Malays who have been hoisted on the NEP have instead turned into the Other "kera"  -  "seperti kera diberi bunga".  

Even more challenging, the Malays of the 21st century have to re-boot themselves into "Melayu Sederhana" , now that they have been painted into a corner by the uninvited home decorators.  It looks like  si kera  must liberate, liberalise (?) themselves and begin to lay out a carpet of flowers from their little corner right up to the front door -  while all other things remain unequal.

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