True Malaysian culture

Dyana Sofya
Malay Mail Online
January 9, 2015

JANUARY 9 ― I am a Muslim and I am a Malay. I am proud and I am okay. I am not an extremist.

On Wednesday, 12 people were shot dead as three gunmen attacked the Paris office of French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in what some now call a militant Islamist attack.

The magazine’s editor-in-chief and four well-known cartoonists, along with two police officers, were among those killed. Apparently, the gunmen claimed to be “avenging the Prophet Muhammad” as they fled the crime scene.

Unfortunately, this tragedy is not an isolated incident. There is now a global trend of young confused Muslims resorting to murder and vengeance in a twisted idea of jihad, justifing their violence in the name of religion.

As the recent government White Paper on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria proves, even Malaysians are not exempt as 39 Malaysians were identified to have been involved in the violent jihadi movement.

This situation contradicts the nature of Islam as the majority of Muslims believe it to be ― the religion of peace. Tariq Ramadan is therefore right to condemn the Charlie Hebdo attack as as a “pure betrayal of our religion,” which we all know to preach compassion and mercy.

In Malaysia, we face a similar problem.

Malay culture is known for its grace and courtesy. Even when expressing disagreement or reproach, Malays are known to use subtle hints, sometimes even invoking poetry in the form of pantun nasihat, in order not to offend their counterparts.

One personal example that I have learned, is that serving food with a stick of lemongrass in the dish is to signal that the host is running out of food and that they are scraping the bottom of the pot. Hence, guests should consider eating less to make sure there is enough for everyone.

These subtle Malay manners seem to have disappeared today. We now have Malay groups publicly offering rewards for slapping women and tainting people’s faces with chicken blood. We also have a former Chief Justice bent on instigating racial and religious hatred by making provocative statements pitting the Chinese and the Malays against one another.

It is extremely unfortunate that these extremist voices are allowed to dominate the public agenda. This is why it is important not only to fight back against these purveyors of hate, but also to replace their agenda with a moderate one espousing peace, harmony and universal Malaysianness. It is dangerous to allow them to define the image of Islam and the Malays. If we do, then it would be a victory for all extremists.

In order to move forward, we need to focus not on primordial traits like ethnicity or religion, but on values ― in particular, the values of compassion, kindness, charity, honesty, justice and benevelonce that every Malaysian shares, regardless of culture.

Perhaps it is also tragic that Malaysians need disasters to remind us of our shared values. It is only when tragedy strikes that we stand together, respect each other more, and readily come to each other’s aid.

Having visited the flood-stricken areas in the East Coast myself, I have seen how thousands of Malaysians of all walks of life and colour have risen above where the government has fallen below expectations. Where the state and federal governments faltered, regular Malaysians in their own capacities took matters into their own hands, gathering whatever resources they could and launched an unorganised (but not disorganised) aid campaign that crossed the boundaries of political partisanship, race and religion.

Now that is true Malaysian culture!

We may have started the year 2015, but old courtesies are never out-dated. While the last year may have ended on a despondent note, this year may be the beginning of better times for our country, provided true Malaysians stand up.

Here’s hoping we always stick to it and not only act like true Malaysians when disasters strike. Happy New Year!

  1. #1 by Sallang on Saturday, 10 January 2015 - 9:04 am

    Well written.
    However, PR has 3 years left with hope to make it happen. How?,What?
    Drop your drag net NOW. Haul in as many of your age group.Those at 18 yrs of age included. In 3yrs time they will be voting.
    Not many of us can have the stamina like saudara Lim Kit Siang and the late Karpal Singh, to fight on.

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 10 January 2015 - 10:04 am

    By far, DAP is at the fore-front of reform, structurally, program wise BUT even than DAP’s franchise is way behind – it its still too urbanne despite the fact its socialist. Its still unbelievable how insignificant its franchise among the rural Sarawakian and Sabahan is. Its doing better with urban Malays than it is doing with rural Sarawakians and Sabahan.

    DAP’s partners in PR have a bigger franchise but is just messing up left and right.. How is it going to happen?

  3. #3 by worldpress on Saturday, 10 January 2015 - 12:19 pm

    There are people can not identify between reality and fancy, between truth and not truth……


  4. #4 by boh-liao on Saturday, 10 January 2015 - 2:33 pm

    “this year may be the beginning of better times for our country” – REALLY?
    HOW lah 2 hv better times when CANNOT sleep bcos of mat rempit’s noise at night?
    Perhaps, cannot sleep, CAN make LOVE lor, then better n syiok times leh

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Saturday, 10 January 2015 - 3:01 pm

    WOW, d nation’s top judge n d AG demand respect fr all lawyers

    Is dis a true Malaysian culture?
    Respect has 2 b earned, no know meh

  6. #6 by winstony on Saturday, 10 January 2015 - 3:50 pm

    When is the PR, especially the DAP, going to get its members, especially the Malay members, to spearhead a continuous drive to the rural areas to spread the word that their only salvation is with the opposition?
    That any other way will set this country on a self-destruct mode.
    It is important that this message get across to the elderly folks as well as every vote counts!!!
    There is no time to lose!!!!
    Just do it!!!!!

  7. #7 by boh-liao on Saturday, 10 January 2015 - 5:31 pm

    When GE14 comes, PR might hv disintegrated oredi
    PAS might hv teamed up with UmnoB beating d hudud drum – hu dud, hu dud, hu dud ……………

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