|Pix from Utusan Malaysia article here on Mekah's Malay community|
He is repeating a call once made by Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim when he was holding the Culture portfolio as Minister.
He wrote here, "... as the Malays become more Muslim, they become less Malay.",
One observation on the nature of Malays is that they are quite flexible. They are able to adapt, or adopt or embrace the best or the worst of other culture and influences.
Being flexible has it's advantage for a race that is still trying to rediscover its past glory and regain back lost time.
However, Johan Jaafar, Rais and many others are concern with Malay adopting other culture and forsaken their own in the name of Islam.
More so, Malays have its own Islamic tradition and intellectual history.
Off course, the definition of culture within the current globalised world of open borders, connected, and free flow of capital, trade and information need a reassessment.
Before discussing this further, the article below:
Monday, 17 April 2017
With Arabisation, whither Malay culture?
by Johan Jaaffar
You don’t need to be an Arab to be a Muslim, but many seem to be abandoning their customs and traditions.
In doing so they are losing their real identity by trying to be what they are not. There is a real issue pertaining to identity struggle and contestation among the Malays today. In the name of religion, they are questioning not only how they look but their tradition, even folktales and performing arts.
Islamisation is not about Arabisation. You don’t need to be an Arab to be a Muslim.
But what we are seeing in this country today is the process of Arabisation of the Malays. The Malays have never been as confused in manifesting their true identity as they are now.
Islam is never against the discourse on race. The Quran acknowledges the existence of tribes.
But propagating a notion of one’s race as superior to others is not acceptable. In short, there is nothing with wrong with manifesting one’s race and at the same time professing the religion.
It used to be a lot less complicated back then. The race is Malay, the religion, Islam. Insofar as there is no conflict, race and religion co-exist.
But things have changed significantly over the last few decades. The Islamic movement of the 1970s has pressured the Malays to rethink their culture.
The fault lines were established. It is like telling the world that one needs to “look Muslim” to be one. To “look Muslim” is by imitating the Arabs.
There is a new demand to be “more Muslim”, for example in attire. Gestures, too, matter.
Read on here.
To expect Malays to stay to its tradition and cultures, it need to have a strong sense of identity to be proud of their way of life and value system.
It may sound like an old Mahathir record, but Malay need to be economically, politically and socially capable in order to have the cultural confidence.
For a start, Malays should not belittle their own and be excessively critical of themselves to the point of negatively stereotyping themselves.
There has to be a change for a positive attitude.
Malays have to be united or in a less political-cliche term, exist as a proud and viable community that cooperate and collaborate to bring each other up.
The Malay culture and history has the right values and ethos, including the spiritual aspect of Islam. While political power is still within its grasp, though withering bit by bit, there is the social foundation to work on.
All Malays needed is to transform their economic condition to be more sustainable and self-reliant.
It is one way to stem the bad habit of looking at others positively but look at themselves negatively.
It is timely for Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak to launch the Second Phase of the Bumiputra Transformation Economic Roadmap (BTER).
The emphasis this time, as taken from Bigdog's blog here, are the five main thrusts as defined in the strategy below:
1. Economies and scale and passage to grow. Bumiputra corporations would be supported, facilitated and encouraged to grow into the market.An economically independent and confident Malays will evolve a viable culture of its own and create a modern civilisation.
2. Empowering the talents of Bumiputra. Government would make it a national agenda to facilitate and support the building of talents amongst Bumiputra, in any fields be it academic, commercial, science and technology, professional, arts and culture and sports
3. Improve the resilience of Bumiputra entrepreneurs. Special programs such as Skim Jejak Jaya Bumiputra identify highly potential Bumiputra companies and being nurtured with the target to be listed in Bursa Malaysia.
4. Enabling the social mobility amongst Bumiputra. Bumiputra entrepreneurs would be facilitated and supported to explore and strengthen their trade beyond our waters, as part of the social mobility transformation plan with increasing the quality of life to another level.
5. The holistic transformation for the Bumiputra
Maybe such gathering of Malay cultural experts should be looking beyond preserving the past way of life and value system
They could be pondering on the future and carve out the evolution of a modern Malay culture with its core values intact and relevant with the world and technology of the day.
Just a passing thought.