Thursday, June 28, 2007

Baffling Malaysian attitudes

Reading this post reminded me of 2 incidents which happened more than 2 years ago.

My niece and a group of her school friends were doing their rounds around my neighbourhood collecting donations for their school's Red Crescent Society.

I invited them in for a drink as it was a very hot day. Among her friends were one Indian girl and a Malay girl. As I served them orange juice and some biscuits, I noticed that the Malay girl did not touch her drink nor help herself to the biscuits.

While the girls chatted happily amongst themselves, the Malay girl shifted uncomfortably in her seat all the while. I asked her if she's tired from walking around in the hot sun and she shook her head. I invited her to have her drink but she just smiled and told me she had her water bottle with her. By the time the girls left the house, her glass remain untouched.

It was then that I wondered whether I should have stocked some canned drinks in my house for special guests.

The other incident happened when the proprietor of a furniture shop, a Malay lady, accompanied her workers to deliver some teak furniture which I ordered.

As she stood outside my house, we engaged in small talk and she complimented me on my nice garden while the men unloaded the furniture. She wondered aloud that the interior of my house must be equally beautiful and cheerfully asked if she could take some pictures.

She proceeded to follow her workers into the house when all of a sudden, she stopped in her tracks near the front door. I invited her in but she gave me an embarrassed smile as she replied, "Tak apalah. Saya tunggu di sini saja." (Translation: "It's okay, I'll just wait outside.")

I noticed that she was feeling uncomfortable which made me felt a tad confused and uncomfortable too. As I supervised the workers, I wondered if the rather large wooden carving of a smiling Buddha sitting near the front door had anything to do with her discomfort.

Do you think I am being too sensitive about their behaviour in both instances?

After I read the letter published in Mr Lim's post, I wonder if all of us non-Muslims must walk on our toes in dealing with the heightened sensitivities of our fellow Malaysians.

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Blogger Maverick SM said...

Belief and ideology is individuated.

I would just let those who "pantang" be it and we just go on in life.

Each individual has the choice and right to be what they want to be and we should just respect that while it isn't necessary for us to be extremely careful and sensitive to others just because they had some type or kind of behavior.

I would behave what I want to behave so long as what I do would be enforcing my behavior unto others which would require affirmative or positive actions from the other person. Individuals should not have such unreasonable expectation that others are required to behave in a specific personalised manner wanted in order to achieve their personal and unreasonable standards.

28/6/07 14:30  
Blogger pablopabla said...

Men are becoming more irrational the more learned they become.

28/6/07 14:54  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Mave: Soooo deep ... that first sentence in 2nd para rather confusing. The 2nd line makes better sense but perhaps some people in power rather choose to be unreasonable in their conduct, no?

Pablopabla: I think the problem lies in the sort of "learning" they have been exposed to. Or is it indoctrination?

28/6/07 17:59  
Blogger Helen said...

Agree with Maverick.

We can only be responsible for our own actions or inactions. Say, you've taken all necessary care not to offend another's belief, that's good enough. In a multi racial country like Malaysia, everybody has a part to play to meet others halfway if they're serious about racial unity.

Many times, it is a personal choice. No, the person may not be wrong ie. choosing not to go into a room with idols. It is his personal choice and we just got to respect that. Respect his right to have his personal choice. :-)

Many Christians dare not take food offered to idols for prayer. Is that right or wrong? Many times, it's not what the bible says, it's the choices we make as an individual. It's "I can but I chose not to.."

28/6/07 19:39  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Helen: I can certainly respect that ... :-D

28/6/07 21:39  
Blogger zewt said...

i think the heart overrules everything... one can do this and dont do that... but if the heart is not pure... it's futile.

28/6/07 21:59  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

That's another good point, Zewt! But I suppose each have their own path to take to meet their spiritual goals.

28/6/07 22:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are certianly two blaffling point of views, whether we are:

(1) Spiritual beings on a human journey or

(2) Human beings on a spiritual journey?

But the world as blaffling as it is, probably also means that there are:

(3) Evil human beings on an evil journey.

29/6/07 15:19  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Anon: Are you blaffling? LOL!!

29/6/07 15:37  
Blogger |dAia| said...

you're right about the learning they're brought differs from one person to another.although for me,i would have responded differently but i think the best way is to leave it be.

29/6/07 21:56  
Blogger desiderata said...

mave and helen: SENSible views which I concur. And it's knot Cos this Furonmg hoRst is making herself scarce. She stood me down/up at MengKee and I had to eat CON BF al1, two helpings which does no good to my equatorially expanding wasteline.
But AM maketh goode reading sop I won't blow her cover now that we have her daughter's PORTRAIT!:) Tks. Now how about a photo session?

How about organising a durian partee atthy orchard AM? I'll bring tehtarik n Rut Bir!:) Mave, helen and Howsy of travel south for durian runtuh!

30/6/07 13:13  
Anonymous mott said...

Heloo..I popped over becoz of the Award Helen awarded you..hee hee.

Anyway, I have many a times, stepped into houses with beautiful artwork of the Quran's teachings(?)..never batted an eyelid about it being offensive. I was lucky to go to a school that was multicultural and multireligious. Where has all the muhibbah spirit gone?

21/7/07 20:38  
Blogger Billy said...

How can the Muslims in this country hope to move forward when they are so strapped up in their own relgious and cultural straight jacket. The problem is when they fall behind others, the non-Malays, especially the Chinese will be scapegoated. What a pity!

10/9/07 15:54  
Anonymous Silencers said...

As a Malay muslim I'm quite proud to be able to see things from the outside inwards, and inside outwards.

Malaysian Malay Muslims are being constantly fed with paranoia and conspiracy theories, that everyone else is 'out to get them'. This paranoia has driven a lot of things. Simply hanging out with other non-muslims will make the typical malay muslim think that you've 'strayed away from the path'. I have personally experienced this firsthand, and it gets worse when I fluently speak the language of 'orang kafir'.

A common stereotype that you can see in most typical Malay families [I have personally oberserved this among my members of my extended family] is that you can trust most Indian food, but you should ALWAYS be wary of Chinese food because "they like pork and liquor and use them in everything they eat". It's a significant stereotype to take notice because it's what they see, it's what they've been taught, and it's what they've been told to believe.

Paranoia also led them to believe that it's wrong to participate [and god forbid] listen to choirs. It also led them to believe that touching the Bible or a buddha statue would be heresy and/or apostasy.

I would place the blame on the informal education, and the misdirected, paranoid approaches of the present system of Islamic education. I'm not saying that teaching Islam in school is wrong, but I honestly do believe that it's not done properly, and is going to set down undesirable foundations in the minds of young muslim malays.

4/10/07 23:27  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Thanks for sharing your insight here, Fazri.

Sometimes, the actions of a few have such a huge impact on society simply because our govt choose to remain silent, thus giving the impression that it is condoned.

And that impression itself have moulded the intolerant society which we see today. And intolerance stemming from suspiciousness happens on both divides.

Sad, isn't it?

5/10/07 15:06  

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