Monday, June 15, 2009

Reaction to LKY's visit and Attitude of the Malays

LKY's visit to Malaysia had been a very successful one by any measure. More importantly, it makes a lot of waves among Malaysians, leaders and led alike. He was received, treated and respected like a 'Maharaja", even a "King of the Middle Kingdom", irrespective of what the motive for the visit was.

Surprised? Amused? Angered? Don't be. Malaysians are well-known for their hospitality. A failure to welcome a visitor to our home is like showing up our own lack of good-breeding and a blow on our own self-respect. What more if the visitor is a famous (and powerful) dignitary. To be visited (or consulted) by him is a great boost to one's own prestige.

But the visit shows that the attitude of the Malays ( and some non-Malays) has not changed much from pre-independent days. A foreign 'tuan' deserves all the respect, pomp and ceremony. A local 'tuan' deserves some, if he is a friend. Otherwise everything bad about him will be passed around while all the good things he has done will be forgotten (mudah lupa).

This basic attitude which can cause a potential leader, entrepreneur or businessman to fall is called "DENGKI". Not really "jealousy" or "envy" but just being unhappy to see someone achieving success. Being jealous or envious in quite good if it drives one to try and do better than the person concerned. But DENGKI drives one to just do something to bring the man down, for the pleasure of seeing him fall. Even when one gains nothing from it.

Interestingly, this attitude is not unleashed against foreigners or even locals of non-Malay origin. Thus a prosperous non-Malay shopkeeper in the kampung is well respected and his shop frequently visited by all. But a Malay shopkeeper will only be visited by his friends. Others will say and do anything to bring him down, especially if he has achieved some measure of properity. This attitude seems to live on and enter every sphere of the Bumis' endeavour towards progress. .

And when a prosperous or succesful man is brought down, those around him will laugh and even celebrate. Even if the one who falls could have been their savior. As such we can find many ex-Malay leaders( especially those who fell with some iota of disgrace) left alone in the ditch. And many currently powerful ones will join them sooner or later. The Malays don't celebrate and extoll their 'greats' until after their death. The late P. Ramlee is an example. After the golden era of Malay films ended, P Ramlee was ignored and even shunned. Only today the Malays hali him as a Seniman Agung. This has happily changed and more filmstars and singers are now decorated with Datukship and Tan Seriship than scholars and

When will the Malays change this attitude? Confucious for example taught: If you help a man up a hill you go along with him.
The Malays should realize the if you push a man down a hill, you might be pulled down along with him or someone else will push you down while you're celebrating your success. Another maxim the Malays should remember is: if you don't respect your own kind, who else will?

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