Silat of kungfu, kungfu of silat


I read with much delight RPK’s The art of silat, which reveals to us a bit on Ling Liong Sik’s mulling about Chinese (presumably Chinese Malaysians) and their approach to politics.
Why with delight?
Because I too had previously written on a couple of similar issues. For example, RPK wrote the following on one of Ling’s political reflections:

“The trouble with us Chinese,” he said, “is that we are not as skilled in politics as you Malays. We Chinese play politics like kungfu. We just charge and whack. You Malays use silat. You smile and dance and make graceful moves and we don’t know when the keris is going to stab.”

Seven years ago, on 07 Nov 2005, I posted Anwar Ibrahim & silky court intrigues, as follows (extracts):

Once an old (Chinese) pal of mine confessed to me how much he saluted the Malays for their amazing and sophisticated political skills, which were/are subtle as silk – silk of course is also an effective garrote. 

He lamented how raw the Chinese were by comparison. When I asked him why, he pointed out to a tradition of Malay court intrigues dating back to the legendary days of Hang Tuah and his best mate/nemesis Hang Jebat. 

When I countered by reminding him of equally diabolical Chinese court manoeuvrings, with its legends, history, eunuchs, imperial concubines, traitors and whatnot, he smiled and crushed my arguments by stating: 

“Those imperial ar$eh%les were northerners. The Chinese in Malaysia came from the south, and were of ignorant bumbling peasant stock.” 

I was outraged and protested vehemently, declaring that my ancestry could be traced back to the bloodthirsty pirates looting, pillaging and raping in the Formosa-Fujian-Guangchow region. 

Chinese pirate Sao Feng wakakaka

Bloody hell, calling me, a descendant of swashbuckling Chinese pirates, a descendant of country yokels! 😉 

Oh, BTW, Chinese victors in a dynastic struggle ordered dethroned royal families to kill themselves and avoid the shame of public execution, by presenting the unfortunate victims with a sash of fine white silk, for them to hang themselves.

It would seem there are certainly more than a few Chinese Malaysians who have lamented the political naivety of many in their community, but then we should remember we have been the descendants of mainly country peasants (wakakaka).
Chinese peasants – photo from Greenpeace East Asia
The other aspect of Chinese political naivety has been their hitherto refusal to recognize or just blissful ignorance that 65% of Malaysians are Malays who are Muslims where most (though not all*) deeply respect their sultans, culture and tradition. Such has been that the Malays have a saying ‘biar mati anak, jangan mati adat’ which means ‘better your children die than your traditions’.