Sunday, September 11, 2005

Of minah, amoi and kumari.

I did my primary schooling in Sarawak. Standard 1 to 4. My best friends were Kirenjit Kaur and Hasniza Hashim. We were always playing with our good friends, Jeremy Ong, Christopher Ong, K.Saravanan and Gomathy Shanti.

And then I moved to Johor. A school in a kampong. I was 10 years old.

My first day at school, they asked me, ‘what are you?’
‘orang lah (human of course)’ and they thought I was making fun of them. But I honestly didn’t know what they meant.
It turned out that they wanted to know, what type of Malay I was. Baffling, I know. First, I didn’t know that I was a Malay and that as a Malay I was ‘different’ from Chinese or Indian. And so after I got confirmation from my parents that I was indeed a Malay, I had to know what type of Malay was my Malay. I could be Jawa, Bugis, Banjar, Minang etc etc. My parents said, I was just a real Malay. And so the next day I told the kids at school that I was just - a real Malay.
‘How real?’ they asked. And so I went around the new school being introduced as Melayu Asli. An aborigine. Oh well. Best also.
Image hosted by Photobucket.comAnd so that was my first brush with racism if it can be called that. Is Johor more racial than Sarawak? Are nine year olds more aware of racial differences than younger children? I dont know. And i am not about to offer any opinion. I have none. And I am no social science scholar too.

But this much I learnt, that in a multi-racial world that i was in, a few rules must be observed.
First rule, identify which race you belong too. Define your self.
Second rule, wear the proper uniforms. I made the mistake of wearing JEANS (corduroy and bell bottom too, oh no), and so the kids found that confusing. Malay kids in the kampong must not wear jeans.

And as I grew older, to my confusion and horror, it just got uglier.

Yes, we don’t want May 13th to ever happen again. And yes we have been independent for so many years and yes we are now talking about having a Malaysian race. Yes the Malays are beginning to look like Chinese or Indian, and the Indians don’t look typical anymore and the Chinese now have large eyes and big bosom not like before. Sometimes people thought I am a Chinese, sometimes a Filipino. I thought my boss was Chinese but he was really an ahmad. You know, on the surface of things, we have I-love-you-and-you-love-me-we-are-a-happy-family nation. Great.

Then why is it that I still get,
‘don’t la buy from him, must buy from our people’
‘they are out to get us really, they want to take over our birth rights’
‘you know for a *certain race*, you are not that bad’
‘if we want to hire the *certain race*, we must hire ten for one post. Because ten of them will produce the amount of work of one *certain race* person’
‘my boss like that lah, you know what they are like lah’
‘the *certain race* is always playing politics ya? And actually give you service only when bribed’
the *certain race* if they are on motorbikes, you better avoid them. Sure gangster'
'the lowest paid is *certain race*, then *certain race*. pay the *certain race* more because they are worth it'

I don’t know about you. But I don’t think we should label people based on their kulit-ification. You can’t say this race that race is always lazy or sly or power hungry. You can’t generalize unless you have perhaps taken adequate sample size. For example, your encounter with a good representable percentage of the whole Malay population worldwide since their existence and continuously until they become extinct gives you the same observation. Then your conclusion is of worth. Otherwise, it has no statistical back up. It is just prejudice.

I can tell you I don’t like this particular Ah Lee and Senthil because they are crooks, but I wont say they represent the whole population of the Chinese and Indians. And I don’t like certain Ahmads as well because they are crooks too. There are bad apples everywhere. You have good and bad Indians and good and bad Chinese and good and bad Jews and good and bad Malays etc etc.. So why generalize?

We are not any better than the person sitting next to us just because our skin is of a different shade from them? I am not even talking about religion .. yet. Rapists and thieves and murderers are exactly that, rapist-thief-murderer no matter ‘what’ they are.

On a religious point of view, doesn’t Allah completely forbids racism? Yes, He created the human being, in a variety of colours and cultures. But despite the differences, every one of us is created equal. The only superiority one has over the other is the person’s character, morals and piety.

‘O Mankind! We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in Allah’s sight is the one with the most piety (who best performs his duty to Allah). Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.’
~ Al Hujurat: 13.

So who cares what race/religion label you carry? If you are a good person, honest, kind, well-mannered and a being made by the one and only God (how can anyone not be created by Him? You cant spontaneously be), I like you. Enough said.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

how come you dont know what tyuou are. how old are you..?
so all this time in your life, you never knew until yesterday??


12:08 AM  
Blogger OOD said...

dear strange,

i am ten years old. You didnt read past first paragraph meh? i said there what!

12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

adoi achi, very serious topic for a beautiful monday morning, though it is so gloomy here. (winter ke autumn ni hah???!!)

12:48 AM  
Blogger OOD said...

adoi meeenachi!
it is raining bumin tebabo cats and dogs and the whole safari here right now and it is a monday, and that is why lah!
i think i know who u are! :P

1:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was intentional. Eh some of your anonymous posts are pretty irritating, aren't they? But what to do, even in a basket of apples there are the bad ones and the goods ones. Bonne Week!

1:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

haiya...made a mistake earlier, not 'goods' but 'good'. That is why I should have concentrated in that typing class before. Recalled mum's "Do you think that you would score in your SPM? Asyik main sukan tak abis2" statement. Go and acquire a skill!" (pitman etc.) can't tag me since I am blogless..

1:31 AM  
Blogger OOD said...

dear un-tag-able blogless anonymous,

i always prefer mata kucing over apples! So have you acquired any goods skillses lately? hehehe..

2:45 AM  
Blogger faux diamante said...

uihh dark mood today huh? even in the comment box.

anyway, i think this is a topic a lot of ppl keep mum about, and i am proud of you for telling it like it is.
love ya oody..and we must chat soon!

2:57 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

I was teaching my son the concept of "heritage, roots and race". So I told him, YOU (Nasar) are Malay, Wee Kent is Chinese and Zachary is Indian.

He would not except it. Each time he says, I am NASAR not Malay, Wee Kent is Wee Kent not Chinese and Zachary is Zachary not Indian.

To kids, it doesn't matter. Friends are friends, regardless of race. If only adults could be as simple as that; we wouldn't label or have kulit-ism and we'd be happier and harmonious in the true sense and meaning of it! We are after all Malaysians first and foremost!

4:45 AM  
Blogger atenah said...

honestly the segregation in our school is seriously stupid. also this trend of all malays going to sek ren ugama, bila nak bercampor?

9:35 AM  
Blogger Kak Teh said...

one sad story before i go back to my books (konon) of our anak sedaras - like us , was very closed to her non malay friends and then she was chosen to go to mrsm!!! and protested why her non malay friends tak dapat peregi jugak..and nangis2 semua sebab old-old buddies separated this way. I too had and still have loads of old friends - tak kira bangsa dan agama!

5:31 PM  
Blogger Kak Teh said...

by the way - I was always the amoi rather than the minah!

5:32 PM  
Blogger OOD said...

i am bracing myself for the First Wave, if ever it comes my way. Sometimes i feel everybody claims they are NOT racist but most of the time they are. I check double check and check myself all the time too.

it doesnt matter to kids kan? Kalau kawan tu best, tak kesah lah 'what' he is. If only the adults are more tolerance to each other.
I am a hippie that way...make love not war! hawhawhaw.

now you have universities that seregate. So imagine dari tadika all through university being segregated, and then enter the 'real world', not quite able to adapt and live/work together. More prejudiced!

ah soh tay,
I AM proud of my heritage, of being born this color (although i do use fair and lovely when in the mood to look lighter and Copper sun tan when i want to look darker-sexier, hehe), and without wanting to sound riak, i dont evaluate people on their 'origin' as much as i hope people see me beyond my yellow tinged patchy and freckled skin.


8:22 PM  
Blogger MA said...

I only realised I was a Bumiputra when I masuk ITM !

2:46 AM  
Blogger Ely said...

ooops did i miss this? sorry dear took so long to comment. now now, the indentity crisis...that kinda tripped me to blog about it myself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8:19 AM  
Blogger OOD said...

oohhhh mak andeh pon itm product jugak!! Tabik senior!
i have a lot to say about itm dulu dan sekarang, but i better not, oh no.

oh ya? ok i am off to your spot now.

psst.. you know, this word verification is giving me problems, some times i cant make out the letters must refresh refresh to get new and more readable one! haiya!

7:02 PM  
Blogger Uja said...

I dont know if this is telepathy but I wrote abt a similar issue with Singapore Malays (more abt their detachment from being identified as a Malay) about the same time you post this - how coincidental! And I love the poem Nazrah wrote in the comment box.

Anyway, I totally agree with you. Sometimes people forget that we are all Muslim first, and by that it means no colours involved .

7:32 PM  
Blogger OOD said...

i went to your spot immediately after reading your comment. Left a comment there. Nice piece, uja and nazrah!

telepathy me again! and i am sending some warm cuddly vibes over to you.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Uja said...

Ok lemme see...I start now ok....telepathyyyyy....telepathyyy....(dah start dapat rasa the Mee Siam I made today tak?! Btw, it is SUPER-masin!! Kalau anak dara mak dah kata, ni kes budak nak kahwin! hhehehhe)

Warm VIBES to you too - this is so uncanny (and CORNY of me) but I am about to go rebond my hair in 1 hour - and the salon is called VIBES Hairdressing. Muahahahah...telepathy again?! Heeee...

10:11 PM  
Blogger AuntyN said...

OOD : strangely my best friend is an Indian, so is my hubby's close friend. Although I went to all girls (99% Malays)school and to ITM as well, my friends now are mostly non-Malays. They treat me like their own and I don't discriminate my Non-Malay's subbordinate. I am though much more particular with Malay subordinates' performances in work, because I feel that if they don't perform I malu sesangat, so I tend to push them harder.

12:00 AM  
Anonymous hartini said...

Oh don't get me started with this racism thing. I'm a victim and so is everyone else who doesn't belong to the majority race. People will always discriminate others nomatter what. Even the Malays discriminate amongst ourselves - the Javanese don't like the Boyanese, the Malaysian Malays don't like the Singapore Malays [ni, pernah terjadi ahh, that's why I say]. I even witnessed one mother who let her 5 year old call an Indian lady "Ampuneh"! Macam nak sepak mak budak tu. If we really want to eradicate racism, we have to start by teaching our kids to respect others, their cultures... we also have to teach our kids who we are and be proud of our own roots and culture - jangan nanti macam ada budak2 ni grow up thinking they were born in a ghetto, they wear hip hop clothes and talk ebonics, tapi identity card kata dia punya race Boyan.

I can go on an on, but dah, nanti I fill up all your space here :D

4:47 AM  
Anonymous hartini said...

Uja (c/o Ood),

I noticed your comment "Sometimes people forget that we are all Muslim first, and by that it means no colours involved."

How I wish that was true because in the real world, Islam has many different sects [Ahmadiyah, Alawis, Sunni, Ismailis, etc etc]and please tell me if I'm wrong, but one sect will always say that the other sect is wrong. And we all know what's going on in the Middle East...

Just my 2 cents :)

4:53 AM  
Blogger Uja said...


As we all know, thats not what it is supposed to be between mazhabs- we are not suppose to say the other mazhab is wrong.Cos it is accepted that we have 4 learned imams.

But if it is between sects - Syiah vs Sunni, Sunni vs Salafis, Ismaili vs Bohras - my stand is at the end of the day their basic tenet is a firm believe in one God - Allah. I personally dont judge them, although I dont agree with how they interpret Islam.Many of the differences is cultural, rather than spiritual.

Not all in the Mid East are fighting each other too. Some are struggling to find harmony, and we are talking abt Sunnis and Syiahs here. Masya'allah!

Nanti one day I shall write about my 4 glorious days in Iran, and what it taught me big time - in finding one voice amongts Muslims.

Aiyyayyaya...dah terpanjang pulak! Ood! Sorry sista, tumpang lalu jap ajer k.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous hartini said...


Points taken. And you're right, no matter what sect we belong to, in the end, we all believe in 1 God - Allah. But it's just ridiculous what they're doing to each other right now... I mean, when can we find peace if we can't learn to love our neighbour? [[tak payah mushy love... respect je cukup :D ]] Ok, will be looking out for your post! :)

Thanks Ood for your space *hehehee*

8:44 AM  
Blogger OOD said...

good of you aunty N-17. We must all know that we represent something and responsible for it.A graduate for example will always represent her uni, her course, her race and whatever else. Dont give it a bad name lah.

Uja & Hartini,
i angguk2 geleng2. Kadang2 mengurut janggut dan menggaru kepala. Dan mengeluh dan senyum while the two of you were exchanging ideas. You must continue this conversation over masala tea and i wanna listen too!

So who do i bill ya?

6:25 PM  

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