The Malays and their high horse

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malaysians shout and scream about wanting freedom of expression — basically, freedom of speech, freedom of the media and freedom to assemble without the requirement of a police permit, which most times they will not approve anyway. But most people do not really know what freedom of expression means. They think that being able to insult, curse and swear means this is freedom of expression. The Malays have a saying for this scenario: like giving a flower to a monkey. Monkeys do not know how to appreciate a beautiful creation. They would only destroy the flower.

What you have been seeing in Malaysia Today the last couple of months is a classic demonstration of the immature mentality of those who want the freedom to express themselves but know very little about decorum and decency — what the Malays call sopan santun, which could also mean etiquette. You have been seeing in Malaysia Today the nastier side of Malaysians, Malaysians who show very little respect and consideration for others.

And most of these obnoxious characters are Malays.

Malays pride themselves in being a cultured race. Malays believe they are better than others. Malaysian Malays, in fact, look down on Indonesian Malays, thinking that they are country bumpkins. But, believe it or not, the Indonesians are more cultured. Malaysian Malays, today, have no sopan santun anymore. They are rude and crude as postings to Malaysia Today has proven.

Maybe Malaysians in general and the Malays in particular do not deserve freedom of expression just yet. Maybe they need to grow up first and learn how to appreciate this freedom before we give it to them. Maybe they deserve a government which controls and restricts their freedom after all. Maybe what Dr Mahathir said is true: if we give Malaysians too much freedom, then another race riot like May 13 will erupt.

And this, of course, can only happen if people are inconsiderate and unreasonable, like how many in Malaysia Today have demonstrated.

Maybe Malaysia Today’s experiment in introducing freedom of expression to Malaysians has failed. Maybe we need to let all these people grow up first another one or two generations before introducing them to freedom of expression. Maybe we should just close this blog and not allow free comments anymore.

Malays of days gone by could pantun (ryme). If you remember, in those days, the pantun champion was Baba Kim Teck, a Chinese from Melaka. Anyway, Malays, then, would engage in debating and bantering with sweet words and rhyme. Today, hardly any Malay can do this anymore, and Baba Kim Teck is now dead. Today, Malays argue and disagree using foul language and by swearing obscenities.

This all points to an attitude problem — the Malays think that they are masters of this land so they need not respect others. Non-Malays who dare question the Malays ‘in their own land’ must be cursed and sworn at. That is the only befitting treatment to the non-Malays who dare lift their heads to the Malays.

This reminds me of the story of Oliver Twist. Imagine Oliver having the gall to go up to the orphanage caretaker and asking, “Sir, can I have some more?” Who does he think he is? He should be grateful that the home would even take him in. How can he dare to actually ask for more?

Yes, the non-Malays should be grateful that the Malays would even let them live in this country. The non-Malays should be grateful that the Malays would allow them citizenship. The non-Malays should be grateful that they are not being sent back to India or China. How can they have the gall to ask for equality and meritocracy, the end of the New Economic Policy, and freedom of religion?

Don’t blame the Malays. It is not their fault they feel this way. They were brought up and taught wrong. This is what Umno has been teaching them for more than 50 years. They are beginning to believe this is actually etched in the Quran.

While on the subject of the Quran, the Malays also believe that their religion is the only acceptable religion and all peoples of other religions are destined for hell. The Malays, therefore, can look down on all those from other religions and even insult their religions if they want to. But heaven forbid if non-Muslims insult Islam or Muslims. If you do, then you will have to pay for this sin with your life. Those who insult Islam can be put to death as those who leave Islam.

Again, don’t blame the Malays for thinking this way so for they have been brought up believing this and have been taught this for more than 50 years. In fact, the non-Muslims are considered so unclean they should not even be allowed to touch a copy of the Quran — never mind that the non-Muslim may actually be quite pious while the Muslim may be an adulterous, murderer and receiver of bribes.

Somehow the Malays have forgotten the story about Prophet Muhammad who one day saw a non-Muslim giving a dog a drink and he pointed to this man and told his comrades that that man was going to go to heaven. The Prophet’s friends could not understand how a non-Muslim who is giving a drink to an ‘unclean’ animal could go to heaven and the Prophet explained that he is going to heaven because he showed compassion to an animal.

On another occasion, the Prophet’s neighbour, a Jew, called his son indoors and scolded him for eating outside the house because it was the month of Ramadhan and Muslims were fasting. The Prophet, again, told his wife, that that man is going to go to heaven.

Then we have the story of Abraham (Ibrahim) and Ishmael (Ismail) after they had built the Ka’abah. Abraham said, “One day believers from all over the world will come to visit you (the Ka’abah) but sadly the ibadah of only one in ten will be accepted by Allah (God).”

One in ten? That’s only 10%! This means 90% of the Muslims’ ibadah will be rejected by God.

Malays had better understand that these are stories from the Koran. Nowhere does it say ALL Muslims are automatically going to heaven and ALL non-Muslims are automatically going to hell. In fact, according to Abraham, the ibadah of only 10% of Muslims will be accepted by God. This means many of us may actually be in the 90% grouping rather than the 10%. So the Malays must get off their high horse, they must remove that chip from their shoulder, they must cut their arrogance down. They might not be that ‘chosen people’ they imagine themselves to be after all.

And this arrogance of being masters of the land too needs to be erased from the minds of the Malays. Some Malays have been citizens of Malaysia for only the last one or two generations; since the early 1900s. Take Dr Mahathir as an example. He may have been born in Alor Setar, Kedah, but his father migrated from India so he is only a one-generation Malaysian. And this goes for many other Malays as well.

In fact, my great-great-grandfather, Raja Lumu, came to this country in the mid-1700s, more than 250 years ago. I am the ninth generation since Raja Lumu. But there are people like Tian Chua whose family has lived in Malaysia since the 1500s. Tian Chua’s family came here more than 500 years ago and 250 years before my family did. But Tian Chua is not a Bumiputera. Dr Mahathir is. I am. And why is that?

So this perception that the Malays are superior and masters of this land and that Muslims should look down on non-Muslims is a fallacy. And it is this misguided perception that brings out the arrogance in the Malays. And this arrogance is very visible in the postings in this website.