Thursday, 5 May 2016

A Malay Malady - Episode 1

When the corporeal parts and trappings of  the Malay-Muslim's garments,  physical appearance, titles, education, talent and wealth are removed, we all look anatomically the same - in the eyes of God, and to the worms that consume and recycle our earthly flesh.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, so to speak.

My people - kings and ministers, tycoons, paupers, CEOs, and Directors, managers and supervisors, taxi drivers, road sweepers,  soldiers, policemen, farmers and fishermen, should take a  look at the image below and try to realise that is what they all look like inside when all the flesh and blood turn to mush.

"Alas, poor Yorick.  I knew him well" said Hamlet when he picked up Yorick's skull at the graveyard.

If only I could express that same sentiment when I encounter - in the flesh - some of my fellow-Malay men and women.

A Malay Skull - May 1839 Encyclopaedias and Dictionaries, Part II page 252.

After that brief euphoria in my last posting I find myself back in the pits of another Kafkaesque engagement with Malaiseian bureaucracy.

Just last week on Thursday in a certain government department, we had the bizarre privilege of encountering a government Pegawai  - a government servant - whose explanation of the convoluted workings of his department  was injected with repeats of  "Dengar!", "Dengar Sini!", "Dengar ya!" in a tone that you would use to a dog or a cretin; who very ostentatiously rolled his eyes and looked to Heaven when I started to explain myself; and who shared smirks with the female officer at the next counter - who broke out into giggles at our predicament.

The Malay-Muslim male seems to have a penchant for eye-rolling when talking to a Malay-Muslim female . I used to think this was just a peculiarity of the highly educated Malay-Muslim male who thinks he is the epitome of the cat's pyjamas.

From A little jaunt into escapism - 9 August 2015
 But from last week's experience it seems to happen across the board.  Is it because Malay-Muslim females are somehow an inferior species?

Anne - my stepmother-in-law -  gave me this advice when I lamented about the racist abuses thrown at me in Leicester.  "Just visualize these sick people sitting on their toilet with their trousers draped around their feet!"

So, what vision do I create?   I reckon this pegawai to be in his early 30s,   Let me picture him as a snotty toddler wrapped in his kain lampin.  Thirty years ago, throw-away nappies like Pampers were not in vogue except for very select parts of the urban elite.  And thirty years ago, I had just finished my Masters and was embarking on a new life as a married and retired ex-teacher in Leicester.

 And now, in a government office, he is being publicly rude to me in front of his female junior colleague.  I suppose I could be his grandmother's age and if he had been a Malay-Muslim Singaporean his emak and  bapak could have been one of my former students.

I guess I was so upset and too stunned to recite this bidalan to him.

Hidup di-dunia biar beradat             Let's live in this world by the rules of old,
Bahasa tidak berjual beli.                 For manners are not to be bought and sold.

(Extracted from Malay Proverbs,Bidal Melayu by A.W.Hamilton 1937)

But then what's the point?  Too many of our young(er) selfie-and-self-obsessed anak bangsa have lost the art, the sound and rhythm of their cultural background to modernisation, to arabisation, to occidentalisation and to nihilism.  The Lunchais are bobbing on their Labu-labu - long live the me-layu!

The Chinese maintain their tong pao ( of the same womb).  The Malays are divesting theirs into the tong sampah.

                                          Tiada Gentar Membela Diri dan Pusaka Asli



abounceinmystep said...

Dear Puan Ash

As a civil servant, i am horrified at the treatment you received. It was rude, condescending and inexcusable. From the bottom of my heart, i hope from this day onwards, you meet more beradab, compassionate and helpful civil servants . My mother and i both read your blog and our collective bp's went upstairs, so to speak. i cant imagine how you must feel. be that as it may, if ever i am in position to train front liners (in the future) i will make it a personal goal to ingrain (perhaps POUND??) courtesy into their SOP in dealing with the public without bias or prejudice to age, race, social status etc and whatever ridiculous criteria human beings seem to use as an excuse to be less than kind.

God bless.

a civil servant.

anak si-hamid said...

Dear abounceinmystep,

Thank you for the comment and giving me a rebounce in my faith in our civil servants. I have come across some very civil Civil Servants but Malaysians could do with a lot more. With professionals like you in the service there is hope - keep on POUNDING.