I am someone who takes pride in having a diverse and multicultural group of friends. Despite being born and bred a Malay, I hardly find myself identifying with the ethnic’s customs and traditions, especially as it is a patriarchal culture through and through.
I dislike limiting myself to only identify as a Malay; I am a diverse breed, much more complex than the rigid traditional group. But despite that, I am, and will always be a Malay – and there is nothing wrong with that either. The fabric of culture, traditions, heritage and practices is too intricate to weave through and dissect, and growing up, I found myself selectively accepting and rejecting bits and pieces of being and ‘living’ Malay.
Many a times that would mean going against popular opinions, being the more ‘liberal’ bunch whenever an argument among the Malays pops up. I’m sure you would remember not too long ago Malaysia settled in with a new government; one that promises of a new and fresh start, and one that does not capitalise on racial gains. Around the time as well, while people were haughtily showcasing their patriotism, they couldn’t help but to overstep the border of racial comfort and picked on issues (with the good intention of creating a more unified and harmonious community, of course) that did not sit very well with the Malays.
“People couldn’t help but to overstep the border of racial comfort and picked on issues that did not sit very well with the Malays”
I would like to highlight a situation where a friend of mine was expressing her dissatisfaction and resentment towards non-Malays who suggested/called for a fairer admissions system into public universities and also (a highly unpopular suggestion) to open UITM (for the Malays, by the Malays through and through) to all races.
She questioned: why must UITM be opened to all when there are so many public universities that are open to all locals?
Now if you must know, I am not the bravest little lion out there, I steer clear of confrontations and prefer the backstage sniggering instead. No matter how strongly I feel about a situation, I usually maintain a safe distance from public discourse. But maybe the new change Malaysia was undergoing had inspired a little courage in me after all, because this time, I chose to actually be part of the discourse and offered a counter-argument.
A friend of mine was expressing her dissatisfaction and resentment towards non-Malays who suggested/called for a fairer admissions system into public universities to all races
My counter-argument to her was that perhaps, there aren’t enough affordable tertiary education institutions available, and that people wanted a more equal education opportunity for all. If they can open vernacular schools for all without discriminating, then why can’t we do the same for tertiary institutions? We all know how expensive private universities are and this is in the interest of those who really need affordable access to education.
Her retort was, “Why UITM? Everybody says a lot of negative things about the quality of our education and looks down on UITM graduates – they shouldn’t even want to enlist here then.”
At that moment, I remember thinking that that was such an entitled opinion – not to mention I think she missed the point that the issue surrounded access to affordable education. Also, quality is something that can be worked on and fixed. The call to open UITM to all races was also based on the fact that it is the largest public university in Malaysia, boasting campuses all around the country, making it also capable of offering tertiary education to more people locally.
UITM students voice out. Source: World Of Buzz
This conversation pulled me back to several weeks ago when Ramadan first began and although it is not like Muslims (predominantly Malays in Malaysia) had only first started fasting this very year and that fasting is quite something we all should have gotten used to doing already anyways – there were still some funny fellas getting all fired up and offended when somebody eats and drink in front of them while they were fasting. There were even those who chastised non- Muslims for buying food at the Ramadan bazaar – saying that food must be prioritised to those who are fasting. These people who were saying these ridiculous things were, of course, none other than Malays.
The fact that they can whine and complain about that just show how incredibly, unbelievably entitled Malays are. The point of fasting during Ramadan is to control and discipline oneself while focusing on your faith instead of materials and worldly pleasures (including over-eating). What rights do you have to get upset when others eat in front of you or even buy food at the bazaar? It makes me want to shout “So what???” directly in their ears with a megaphone.
These kinds of thoughts and demands … they sure raise a good question (and I’m sure it is an unpopular one), are Malays an entitled bunch?
While we’re on the subject of culture, you might want to read:
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