Hari Raya in Johor Bahru: priceless .. without PERKASA: even more priceless

By Azly Rahman

I posted on my facebook status page today a greeting for a psychedelic Hari Raya. Here is what I wrote:

“…O folks, friends and foe – have a psychedelic, fantastic, phantasmagoric, non-toxic, phlegmatic, bucolic, non-alcoholic, scenic, dialogic, bombastic, symbiotic, semiotic, semantic, supersonic, tantric, mystic, tribalistic, nationalistic, socialistic, anti-capitalistic, mantric, chantic, rendangis-tic, lemang-istic, satay-istic, chendol-istic, and most of all psychedelic Aidilfitri – ar. …”

Malaysians are in the holiday mood already – good but be safe on the road and even when feasting.

Even a local TV station is in the best mood with its interesting Hari Lebaranversion of the “Santa-Clausisation of a white-songkok-ed” haji in a no-horse open sleigh, zipping across the universe without a ho-ho-ho and Ronggeng the red-nosed water buffalo pulling the beca-looking sleigh heading towards a Disneyland down south maybe”. A very creative, but not necessarily altruistic message of forced 1Malaysia-isation.

Good try. Better semiotic representation next time though. Study semiotics but abuse it not.

Such is the embodiment of what has become of the celebration of Aidilfitri these days, in country hyper-real, hyper-modern, hyper-ventilating. The simplicity and the innocence is fast diminishing. The meaningfulness of the celebration is fast waning too.

During Ramadan, fasting these days means feasting through those breaking of fast elaborate and elegant buffet in nice hotels. Shopping malls started blasting music to fill the psyche with this “buy .. buy .. buy … till you drop” consciousness.

Bad karma

Brings me back memories of Aidilfitri in my kampong in Johor Bahru, at a time when Tun Abdul Razak was prime minster and JB was still a safe place at midnight – unlike now where the town feels like Chicago where Al Capone roams and cops and the Mafia gun down each other with the song ‘The Night Chicago died’ in the background.

That was JB at a time when the Johor statesman Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahmanor his like, could have been the next prime minister to turn the course of Malaysian history, away from the Perkasa-isation of Malaysia. Malaysia it seems is having bad karma.

Growing up I did not imagine that race relations and religious understanding would have turned out this bad. Little did I know that I would even be a social commentator writing about the rise of racial, ethnic, and religious bigotry and a new sophisticated form of racism emerging – a calling of mine.

Little did I know too that occasionally I would also be labeled as ” a traitor to the Malays ..” for my passionate and insistence promotion of a Malaysian Malaysia in which all Malaysians have special rights, all of us are immigrants, and all must be given the chance to flourish in this land where no one can claim his or hers – in a land where the promise made with the first New Economic Politics was the two-pronged strategy of the elimination of function based on race and most importantly the alleviation of poverty irrespective of race and ethnicity.

Hegemony and authoritarianism of the Mahathir era gave birth to this form of ethno-centric politics, retarding the growth of progressive and radical voices of transculturalism and benevolent multiculturalism. What saddened the Malays is that they are grossly misrepresented by these groups that are making it difficult for the different groups to reach out to each other as Malaysians.

What is saddening the Muslims is that ridiculous and out-of-line Muslims are misrepresenting the others by projecting the image of religious vulgarism untamed by rationalism and philosophical foundations much needed to be mastered, to build a foundation of Islam as how the Andalusian philosophers did it centuries ago.

Ahhh.. not my intention to bore the lemang and rendang cooks with such philosophical excursions.

Best of times

I want to still honour my Hari Raya of the Sixties and early Seventies when my hometown Johor Bahru was not complicated yet and Raya was not commercialised … those were the best of times … no electronic cards, no facebook, no Perkasa, no blasting music in malls, no kuih raya big business, no Mat Rempit, no mechanistically-produced rendang, no mamak cendol in khaki pants and Bollywood shirt, … good old times when i can still peek at the crack on the wooden wall of my house on a Hari Raya morning and see what Raya dress my neighbour (the little daughter) is wearing … and to figure out how much money I’ll make collecting “taxes” for the day so that I can watch lots of Shaolin and Bruce Lee movies in those bed-bug infested cinemas, Lido and Cathay, and Odeon and walk the length of Jalan Ah Fook along the sweet and heavenly-smelling Sungei Segget.

Ahhh… nostalgic Hari Raya in Johor Bahru: priceless … Hari Raya without Perkasa: even more priceless …



While the opinion in the article is mine, 

the comments are yours; 

present them rationally and ethically. 


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