To see the other side of the world only to appreciate my own home more than I thought I would. I am thankful that I manage to see the other side of the world before I reach 25, it wasn’t really something I plan or set a time frame for it, I just had a dream that I know I will try to reach it some time when I grow up. I was 10 years old when I made that promise, and it was 11 years later that I manage to achieve my dream if it wasn’t because of one in a life time opportunity that God finally opened His door to me.
Sometimes, I would travel in my own home town just for the love of travelling itself because I don’t think you need to travel so far away to discover about yourself or the things around you. You can still learn so much and discover a lot about your own country for there were still places in this country I live that I haven’t manage to explore or been to yet.
The good thing about living here is that its a melting pot of different culture and people because it was once the transit point for merchants from both the east and the west while waiting for the monsoon season to pass.
The Malays makes up 50% of the population of Malaysia, the west labelled us Malays as the ‘Lazy’ native. Coming from the mouth of a colonialist you can never trust their word for it contain a self interest where they successfully manage to rule by divide and conquer method by separating the races in Malaysia according to the type of work, making the Malays then the lowest in the pyramid, only few educated Malays had the opportunity to study abroad or in the english school, and even if they get into english school they were still discriminated in such length.
My father was schooled in one of the earliest english school back then, he used to take a train back home to his village up north. He didn’t come from some rich background family, it was thanks to a relative who help him go to the boarding school. And he told me about how his mat saleh (English) teacher who would not bother to teach them anything that they decided to learn by themselves that subject (I can’t remember what subject but it involve calculations, its either math or some science subject that still need some calculations)
So I hear it from the first hand of someone who actually experience the time when the Malay were poor and don’t get much opportunity if not because of the DEB and the things that former Prime Minister of Malaysia , Tun Dr Mahathir did back then despite the critics. Whether you like him or hate him, if there is one thing about Dr. M that many would agree on is his leadership and his visions in bringing Malaysia to a level that no other Prime Minister of Malaysia have manage to take us.
Yes I am a fan of Dr Mahathir, and there is nothing that you can change my mind about him. There may be some of his plans that did not work out well, but most of the decisions he made were right and can only be seen after sometime. He was a long sighted, who look for things that can be fruitful in a long term basis. Things that you will critic him now, but will shut your mouth after seeing the reason why he decided to do that back then when many don’t understand.
Who would have thought we would need another bridge when people oppose of the building of that bridge to be a waste of money? Who would have thought that KLCC would be one of the major tourist site, despite it being said as a waste of money to build not just one but two twin towers? And if it wasn’t because of the PLUS highway, you would still be stuck in a 10-12 hour traffic jam from north to south! Who would have thought that it is the same Putrajaya that they say is a waste of money is the same Putrajaya that they yearn to take over in the next election?
Well I guess in terms of development, making Malaysia a brand, or known in the international market, it would be thanks to him that Malaysia will either be known as Malaysia or by the Prime Minister name which even when there was an abduction with the Abu Sayyaf people, they would release the Malaysians unharmed because they know the name ’Mahathir’ that they respect most?
And many delegations was sent off,for Peace missions or medical assistance in war countries, that the people from countries like Iraq, Afghanistan & Palestine knows Malaysia too well, some even took refuge in Malaysia either through study, work and many other reasons because of Malaysia’s help.
Now, from Dr Mahathir’s recollection of memory, Malays then were called as the ‘Lazy Native’, words like ‘Pemalas’ was associated with us Malays. Which is rather ironic, for if you observe the history, many Malays were travellers or ‘perantau’ or ‘pedagang’. It is their nature for a young man, to travel all over the country if not the neighbouring country and start their own life there.
They have the knowledge to travel on boats, set their sail, navigation, and if you see the Malay engineering on their houses, some even makes boats or houses without using nail, but wooden nail, that is sustainability way before the word ‘sustainability’ was even invented.Their house blue print was designed in such way that there is a natural air ventilation to keep their house cool on the day through their windows and roof and save water through their wells where most home used to have one each and keep some in their tempayan where there is even proverbs about the things around them like “Janganlah kerana mendengar guruh berdentum di langit, air di tempayan dicurahkan” which means don’t do something that have not been confirmed yet. No guest can enter the kitchen without going through doors and wings of the house without the people inside know it before hand.
Nowadays you can just go straight to the kitchen, you can even see the kitchen from the living room, The Malay Kitchen back then was the furthest place in one’s house, to reach the kitchen is to reach one’s family private area for it is usually layered with the family’s room, so the doors were designed in such position so that the people at the kitchen can get ready to greet the guest in a proper attire for they may not be well dressed and the muslim women especially grab their scarf if there is men coming into the kitchen That’s how knowledgeable the Malays were to think so far ahead that many did not know, I myself only know this when I attended a conference where one of the presenter were studying on the old Malay House engineering
Some of us were farmers,fisherman, and paddy planters, which is the closest you can get to nature and to God for those who works with the nature are the closest to the Creator. I personally respect such work even for those who breeds goats or cows, for its not an easy job to tame animal back when the animals were free to roam and bred without any injection or health supplement but rely solely to natures richness.
And the interesting part is that these hard working people, are actually not a Lazy native, but a ‘chillax’ native, which is the chill & relax people who knows when and how to relax themselves and spend their time with either with friends or family or the whole village.
How? Well, the Malays’s staple food is rice, back then, some even go to work with rice as breakfast, either rice with some dish, or Nasi Lemak, Nasi Goreng or Ubi Kayu and such. They even pack rice as their lunch and probably another plate rice for dinner, only for tea they may have some kuih or fried noodles. Now you see that as if its not healthy but what we don’t realize is that the amount of rice they took, was also burnt sufficiently with the amount of hard work they had to do after they had their meal. They went out to work at the sea, or the paddy field, plough some vegetable or fruits at their dusun or farm.
It is only unhealthy when you don’t burn the cholesterol/fat you take and only stuck with your computer without any ‘exercise’ that the Malays have move to working in the office instead.
We used to live according to the season, dry season means to dry the fish, rainy season means staying at home for a family time bonding, and even in such a windy season, we will go out and play the kites we make last but not least fruit season calls for a fruit feast. And I do remember reading somewhere that even while waiting for monsoon season to be over, the fisherman spend their time to repair the net, and their boat and such.
We know how to have a good time, even if you see people sitting at the coffee shop having their ‘Kopi O’ or ‘Teh Tarik’ , playing some board games and such, that is not lazy, that is how you relax when you deserve it because most of them have already done their work. You only see them at their relax time, you didn’t see them working hard before that.
Of cause this may look like some very rosy picture of the Malays, I do not say that they don’t have their own thorns and all. But look at the bright side, the Malays are not some lazy bum , there are hard working Malays that yearns to change their life to make their family life better but at the same time not push themselves too hard and go easy on themselves.
And its a pity that some of the Malays have forgotten about their own root and could not even be bothered to find their own roots. This is not about being some Malay Supremacy, that is the label people put to diminish the Malays, it is about finding your roots, knowing your heritage, your culture, you own family that have a long history way back to even earlier than the 13th century.
Some, even have somehow either spends too much time living abroad and embracing the culture outside that they see their own culture as something backwards when we already have a culture that is rich with culture and history of its own that have not yet be rediscovered.
Not all the things in the west are good, and not all the things in the east are bad, ‘Busuk- busuk Durian pada Mat Saleh, sedap di mulut orang kita, siap buat tempoyak lagi’ <—- I made that up haha
See, that is one other thing that you don’t realize about the Malays, we never waste food in our cooking, left over fish or chicken from last night will be kept and made into fried rice for the morning. Most of our ingredients to cook contains onions, ginger and garlic which contain very good health benefits.
Onions is a natural antibiotic, ginger helps your stomach work better and brings out the winds in you, and garlic is an antioxidant that strengthens your immune system. Imagine that we have been taking health supplement without even taking any pills for hundreds and centuries ago?
And this is not something that only the Malays do but also other race in Malaysia for we share our recipes and mix around well with our neighbours, we exchange food during Buka Puasa, even outside Ramadhan month, we would remember to give some of the extra we have in our kitchen when we cook for the neighbours regardless who live next door. We used to look out for each other, if one of us goes back to our kampung or village, we will tell our neighbour to help us look out for our house or family when we are not around.
If you go down south, the Malays there would go for Marhaban, where young boysor girls and even the old folks will go around every house and read the Marhaban. When there are funeral, or feast like Aqiqah (feast to celebrate the new born) or Qurban and even weddings, we would go to the family who is celebrating and help out. Once a while, when there is wedding, the whole village will come down and help out for the wedding preparation before we then turn to caterings and most of our neighbour no longer working in kampungs but outside that somehow make the community culture of the neighbourhood somewhat lost.
RELA of the kampung used to consist of villagers, who takes turn to guard their own kampung, now we pay foreigners that we don’t know to guard our ‘kampung’ or apartment and such. So how do we expect to be able to trust each other when we put so much trust to the outsiders?
Trusting our children to the amah, bibik to take care of our children. Well, I know its hard to not take maid in our home, that too also indicate that the Malays can afford to pay for maids now that things have changed. We work so hard that we could afford to pay a maid or even more than one maid to take care of the house and do the house chores.
So who says we are lazy must be spending so much time looking at others and not their own life. As for the Malays, don’t take things for granted despite your own privilege, and don’t depend everything on the government benefits for you were once an independent, a brave traveller, and hard working nation.
Recommended book: The Mythy Of Lazy Nation, Syed Hussein AL Alattas
Note: The Malacca empire is not just the Malacca in the modern day, that is only where the Sultan of Malacca governs, the empire consist half of Malaysia now and half of the Sumatera back then. Meaning the Malays is not just those in Malaysia but also in Indonesia as well..we are both 🙂