Question My Patriotism, Not? (Part 1)
I used to remember the day before I fly to UK, many friends used to tell me this, ‘Dah dok lama kat nogori orang, kang bahasa Melayu pun dah lupo. Kang balik Malaysia, cakap slang cam mat salleh, BM pun dah tak reti.’ When I remember that, I used to smile to myself because I do prove them all wrong – totally wrong. Going abroad makes me feel more Malaysian than ever.
For me being Malaysian is proud of the ‘motherland’ where I was born, it has nothing to do with loving the government. When people ask me, ‘Ain’t both damn thing is still a bloody damn thing?’. No, I am very specific on this as adoration for the nation & government is two separate entity that cannot be mixed together. Since this is ‘bulan Merdeka’, I’m gonna be abit tactful & try my best not to ‘bash’ them….!!
Just like other ruling government, Malaysia is far from perfect but what makes me feel proud is the sense of belonging that Malaysia has provided me all these years (even not to the very best). At least being back at home I never experience direct harassment from yobs, drunkards, & redneck racists pigs like the one here. That shows at least, the politician did perform their job OK. We still got peace here, things are still under control despite the inflation that the nation has experienced recently. I still got the convenience to do things that I like, eat the cuisine I love with lots of variety to choose from & happily involved with my county’s’ scout activities whenever I wish..
Muhibbah is not an alien term to me. This is one factor that made me who I am today as I have no problems mingling around with people with different nationalities & races. My family are all a muhibbah bunch. My late grandad who owns a sundry shop speak very good Malay as he himself lived around Malay neighbourhood during the Japanese Occupation till the Communist insurgency years. During those days before the Communist insurgency, the Chinese lived in scattered areas near tin mines, rubber estates or neighbouring with Malay & Indian villages. Unsurprisingly, these sort of settlements does promote muhibbahness in a way that these communities who lived not far from each other will eventually interact with each other in a natural environment. Things change during the insurgency in the 60’s when Sir Harold Briggs execute the ‘Brigg’s Plan’ with the authorisation of his boss, Sir Gerald Templer to relocate all the Chinese who live in scattered area into a more centralised village so to cut-off the supplies of resources to the Communist guerrillas by their sympathisers who are majority Chinese. My grandparents wasn’t excluded from the Brigg’s Plan as they were also relocated from their Batu 6 Jalan Teluk Intan home to Belakang Pasar, which was a new village in the town centre.
He runs a sundry shop where his customers are made of all races. For the sake of maintaining his business well, he made full use of his language capabilities to entertain Malay customers with his Malay in Perakian slang & a bit of Tamil with his Indian customers. My grandmother who was assisting speak no less of Malay & her Perakian slang is no nonsense. I swear to God that if you hear her conversations from afar without knowing her at the first place, you might think she is a Malay makcik chit-chatting with their Malay counterparts. I admire their muhibbahness towards people of different races tremendously. I grew up living with them ever since I was born till I was 6. That was the time that I was ‘nurtured’ & learnt a lot the meaning of muhibbahness from them. At the age of 4, my mom, granny & some Malay makciks (family friend) thought me how to sing ‘Rasa Sayang’, & that was my very first Malay nursery rhyme that I ever mustered before anything else. Even before entering kindergarten, I could sing them with no difficulty at all.
I remember my granny used to bring me for a ride in the Malay kampungs to visit her friends on a baby saddle fixed at the back of her black old bicycle. She will bring me around & entertain the makciks with my debut in reciting Rasa Sayang to them. Haha. My uncle can speak damn good Malay & Tamil too, same as my dad & second uncle. They are adventurous bunch & that is why they learn a lot & make a lot of new acquaintances. My grandad used to ride on his motorbike to Malay villages & estates to get fruits or petais from the orchards. He is quite famous in my hometown as Chinese in town knows him, the Malay in villages befriend him, & the Indian in the estates recognised him. As I was growing up in my schooling days, I was known as ‘Cucu Ah Lim’ where ever I go.
Muhibbah Pays I
During my mid teens, muhibbahness paid the price when I was seen as an outcast by some fellow Chinese friends/classmates. This is because of my tendencies to mingle around with people who is not my skin colour. Is fun being different, but it isn’t fun being segregated by your own. My early primary was okay as we are still kids & don’t realise what racial issue means to us that time. We form gangs & played happily with each other without having those issues put in as a barrier to not to interact with each other. Things was a bit different in secondary school. The biggest difference is when I joined the scouts. For you all that doesn’t know, my school is a typical government national school. Therefore, a pattern existed in the domination of clubs, societies & uniformed groups at that moment. Majority of the Chinese students will join St.John Ambulance, the Malays will join either scouts or the Red Crescent & the Indians are a bit of both or in the Guides.
I realise those patterns existed but at that time, my personal interest is my main priority. I joined the Red Crescent in the beginning where the club is 95% are dominated by Malays. It is not a problem for me at that time, but after a month in the club, I quit because their syllabus suck. And they didn’t have a good & charismatic leader too. Their meetings are most of the time too casual, no uniformity, no clear aims & objectives in their programmes. Furthermore, the Red Crescent members are where all the troublemakers dwelled. It was the worst reputed society in school at that time. While contemplating to quit, the scouts caught my eyes. Their activities seem to be more fun as I saw them camping a lot, hiked a lot in their fancy uniform & badges. Their leaders are strict & charismatic & the society was manned like a military unit. I admire military stuff a lot, & that is why I eventually joined the scouts instead of joining a Chinese dominated club like the St.John.
Muhibbah – literally means national integration, a ‘brand’ name that Malaysian ruling government use to promote patriotism.
Merdeka – independence, actually referring to independence day (31st Aug) or ‘independence month’ that runs throughout the month of August.
Perakian – the Malay slang that originates from Perak state, one of the 14 states in Malaysia located at the west coast.
Kedahan – a neighbouring state of Perak in the northern part of Malaysia.
Cikgu – (school) teacher, a title.
Cucu – grandchild
Makcik(s) – A title used to address elderly Malay women.
Batu – mile/mileage
Jalan – road
Rasa Sayang – literally means ‘Feeling in Love’, is a traditional Malay nursery rhymes taught in Malaysian nurseries/kindergarten.