Tuesday, 15 January 2008

But It Isn't Our Culture ...... or is it?

People do not believe lies because they have to, but because they want to. - Malcolm Muggeridge

The following are words from the article "Another Merdeka? - Return of the repressed" by M. Nadarajah in MalaysiaKini :-
“If Ketuanan Melayu is about being aggressive, then it involves breaking us into groups and applying the principle of exclusion…and pulling out the keris to threaten or frighten others. If Ketuanan Melayu is about peace, then it must be based on the principle of inclusion. Ketuanan Melayu must be protective not aggressive, must be nurturing not destructive, particularly when the others…(many born here)… have come here to help build this country…That is the real Malay Culture.”

There seems to be many perceptions and opinions with regard to what actually IS "our culture". In the first place, is there any real "culture" left, that is worth acknowledging?
Just as the cliche "The Root Cause of ..." was popular in the days of TDM, these days, the catch phrase seems to be "This isn't our Culture!"
Anything and everything that doesn't work in favor of the "political elite" is deemed to be a "foreign culture" and undesirable.
Since when were these wise guys "cultural" experts on determining what was, is, should or shouldn't be our culture? Half of them, can't even articulate their thoughts well enough for a decent debate! Some of them embarrass the nation by stuttering incoherently on Al-Jazeera, or reduce Muslims to a tribe on BBC!

Let me try to imagine what our politicos say is, and isn't our culture .....

It is apparently our culture to avoid questioning authority and demanding accountability - or else, you're an undesirable element. It is apparently very much in our interest to be submissive and subservient to authorities, no matter what the cost.
Freedom of expression through the available media, is a big No - or else, your licence may be suspended. Blogging about "interesting" socio-political issues may get your cheap PC taken for "investigation" for months on end, even if you're just trying to be constructive in your free time. (There goes your hobby, and online trading/ banking facility ....) You're now made to feel like a "potential threat" to society, even if you're a patriotic citizen - that's our culture!
Public protest isn't our culture even if the people want it. Political assassinations isn't our culture, even if it happens. Nor are pedophilia, corruption, nepotism, cronyism or C4 bombing of pretty girls.
Accountability towards financial/legal impropriety or sexual indiscretions isn't quite our culture as well! (Mr. CSL, What you know- You've let "us" down with your confession and resignation!)
It is not in our culture to have an independent Judiciary, EC, Media, and whatever else - we are simply too stupid to know anything, and as such, we need to have "leaders" to tell us what to think!

These leaders now promote a culture that approves of calling the dissatisfied tax-paying rakyat, who pay for their fancy suits and cars, "beruk", "monyet", "goblok", "wayar putus" and what not.
Of course, we cannot forget the bravado and calls for duels with the fairer sex (or otherwise) in parliament, even if violence "isn't in our culture".
We have "leaders" who prefer to look at hemlines of stewardesses with an eye elsewhere (which they don't have to, lest they get an infarct), terowongs (in their heads, probably, which voters don't see), and vulgar bocor statements in parliament, while ignoring factors leading to the lack of FDI in comparison to neighbouring nations.
We have a culture of being deaf and blind to the realities of globalisation, in the face of the much lauded "social contract".
We have a culture that highlights the differences between ethnic communities, rather than similarities - and it is okay to look for petty issues that divide the people further, like politicising Arabic word Allah.
It is also okay to promote prejudice against the beliefs and practices deemed alien from the Islamic perspective, while the "Non" elite politicians kowtow as always.
Matters like these have to gain maximum exposure to promote a sense of "non-belonging" among the Nons.
Meanwhile we are told that we should talk behind closed doors to sort out "our problems" - in other words, we have to make a "contract" (social or private) and come out smiling for the public to see. Whatever the "negotiated deal" was, it has to be under the jurisdiction of the OSA.

Matters that promote pride and prejudice among the people in the nation is always played up so as to promote the feeling of "insecurity".
It is always "acceptable" within our culture to have inflammatory statements screaming for blood of their fellow citizens, simply becos they were born "infidels" of "Non-Bumi" stock. That was acceptable, as the "leaders" were playing to the gallery, and becos the Kris was actually meant to "protect" them, apparently! No apology is due from one who is the "Tuan" - that's our Culture.

All these events that have brought about lots of ill-feeling and restlessness among Malaysians, brings to mind what Malcolm Muggeridge said of mankind in general:-

It is difficult to resist the conclusion, that 20th century man has decided to abolish himself ...... Tired of his struggle to be himself, He has created boredom out of his own affluence, Impotence out of his own erotomania, Vulnerability out of his own strength. He himself blows the trumpet that brings the walls of his cities crashing down, until at last, Having educated himself into imbecility, Having drugged and polluted himself into stupefaction, He keels over, a weary, battered old brontosaurus, and becomes extinct.

It wouldn't be too difficult to imagine the above statement in the Malaysian context, considering the events that have transpired over the last 25 yrs.
The sad part is, a vast majority of Malaysians are too oblivious to their surroundings, being all too busy in the hustle and bustle of urban life, trying to make a living to cope with their aspirations of a "better" lifestyle - albeit a costlier one, physically, emotionally and financially. Anything that comes in the way of these "aspirations" is perceived as a nuisance.
They have been conditioned to believe that it isn't their duty to improve the system, but only to work and compete within it. Malaysians are convinced that political struggles are best left to the elite/ the Malays/ Bumiputras, lest they lose their "bread and butter" as a result of persecution- as a result of asserting their rights.

Malaysians have been made to believe that Freedom, Human Rights, Dignity and Accountability isn't worth the price that they might have to pay in this country, for their future generations. This is more evident among the "Nons" - many of who, have dreams of migrating to other lands of opportunity, where their contributions would be appreciated. Meanwhile, many Nons have been made to believe that it is their duty to work their asses off and pay through their nose while they have to, before they can "jump ship".
Many Malays in the heartlands and in the middle/ lower socio-economic strata, on the other hand, have swallowed the propaganda of the mainstream media, that boosts their ego and religious fervor.
They would fight tooth and nail to uphold the racist and divisive agendas (of some selfish leaders, as per the social contract) that they are convinced, to be truly beneficial to their interests. Having been convinced of this myth, many have willingly surrendered their rights to their "leaders", who have been entrusted to speak for them.
They are only too happy to see that people whom they perceive to be of their "stock", being able to call the shots, even if they can only crow about it, while being enslaved and dependent on "economical favoritism".

This, I'm certain, is what our "leaders" really appreciate as "our culture"
- this is, "Truly Malaysia".

"Many of our perceptions are distorted by our prejudices, particularly if we perceive those prejudices to be convictions". - Ravi Zacharias


  1. Dear author of the article,

    Look again at what you wrote

    Now compare "our culture" to that of Hitler's Nazi Germany or Mussolini's fascist regime.

    Do you think we're heading that way?

    Let us all think about it.

  2. Loyal malaysian15/01/2008, 20:31

    .lest they lose their "bread and butter" .. yes, among the older generation of non-Malays I believe this constitute the biggest fear & the BN had consistently work on that fear during past elections.
    So, what's really our culture now? Let's hope this election will signal the beginning of a new culture of questioning and challenge of a government that has lost its moral authority to rule.

  3. Good summary

  4. Dear Passerby,
    Good comparison.
    There are many similarities in political rhetoric of both parties.
    Knowing that alone isn't enough - the problem is with Malaysians who subscribe to it out of "perceived insecurities" while being oblivious to "enslavement", and those ever ready to "jump ship" due to a sense of "non-belonging".
    It is quite obvious where we are heading should this culture persist.


NOTE: We do not live in a Legal vacuum.
A pseudonym/ nickname with comments would be much appreciated.