Jumaat, 31 Mei 2013

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The problem with '1Malaysia': A musical-historical perspective

Posted: 30 May 2013 04:50 PM PDT


'majmuk': terdiri daripada beberapa bahagian yang bersatu; terdiri atau terbentuk daripada beberapa bahagian dan sebagainya tetapi merupakan kesatuan

'pluralism': composed of many parts that are united; inclusive or formed from many parts but of a unified whole

(translated from Kamus Dewan Online)

Music, history and pluralism in the Malay Peninsula

In my studies of Malay music history, I have observed that it is impossible to define a specific 'Malay' musical tradition. This is not due to an 'absence' of culture or a precedent of 'stealing' or 'borrowing' of other musical cultures as some falsely believe. Malay musical tradition is undefinable because it is so immensely diverse and varied. In short, Malay musical tradition is a majmuk tradition.

Like our pluralistic society, Malay music culture is a sum composed of many intertwining parts. Some of the styles of music include the inang, joget, zapin, asli, dondang sayang, and even the Javanese keroncong. Of course, local university syllabi on traditional music would include all of these styles under a general 'umbrella' of Malay traditional music, but I strongly reject this gross simplification.

This is because throughout history and across education systems, there is a myth of subsuming unity in culture or ethnicity. The truth is, all our cultures are complex and interwoven through complex processes of change throughout space and time. The Malaysian Archipelago or Nusantara is a beautiful example of pluralistic exchange across and within diverse cultures.

Prior to the colonisation of European Empires, Melaka was a centre of cultural interaction between Chinese, Indian, Arabic and Southeast Asian peoples. Aside from precious spices, technologies such as musical instruments were traded while languages and religious ideas were shared. Skilled traders spoke in many tongues; while Malay was a dominant lingua franca across the Indian Ocean.

In short, our rich cultural history indicates that it is impossible to pin down one specific or pure Malaysian 'tradition'. Our cultural history is rich and pluralistic and the character of the Malay Peninsula should be understood as such.

So, what is my problem with '1Malaysia'?

This is a concept that completely ignores our rich and diverse history in the region while undermining the unique balance of differences that we share in contemporary Malaysian society. The '1 Malaysia' slogan is merely a corporate branding exercise that desperately tried to fit all Malaysians into an artifical 'box' of national identity.

I don't even need to talk about non-Malays to discuss cultural diversity in our country.

Let us focus on the 'ethnic' group that I come from: 'The Malays'. In my study of Malay culture and history, I have found our understanding of Malay ethnicity to be very misguided.

First, the Malay community is a post-colonial construct. Prior to colonial rule, the Malays identified themselves in relation to the numerous Sultanates (eg. Perak, Johor, Pahang). You were either an 'orang Johor' or 'orang Perak'; not an 'orang Melayu'. There wasn't any concept of 'bangsa' or 'race' the way we experience it today. You would have been asked what kampung or community you came from rather than your 'race' or 'nationality'.

Second, people considered 'Malay' today can trace their ancestry to many ethnic groups across the Malay Archipelago, eg. Bugis, Minangkabau, Java, Aceh, Orang Laut and some can even be traced to Arab communities like the Hadramaut. One shining example is Parameswara, the founder of the glorious Malay sultanate of Melaka who came from the kingdom of Palembang in Sumatra.

Third, for current-day Malays; aren't we all individuals with different cultural lifestyles and political beliefs? Let us not even talk about the supposed 'urban-rural' divide. In the cities, there are Malays who are devout and there are some who are moderately religious. There are Malays who support Umno and some who support DAP. Some believe in a neoliberal free market economy and some believe in an Islamic-welfare state. Some like tempoyak and some like 'chicken chop'. Some absolutely love durian but some absolutely, hands-down, hate durian. Historically, I can say the same about music taste; some preferred keroncong over joget, while some loved both equally.

If we all ate nasi lemak three times a day, 365-days a year, we would be absolutely bored of nasi lemak. So, as Malaysians, we are blessed with a plethora of choices such as roti canai, chicken chop, char koay teow – and for our health, the occasional ulam!

So, that is my problem with '1Malaysia'. It is so far from the truth and so far from right. We, as a pluralistic or majmuk society, must embrace the differences and diversity of views and cultures that we have. This is something that is deeply embedded in the rich cultural history of this amazing peninsula. Malay musical 'tradition' is in fact, a direct reflection of this pluralism.

As a Malaysian youth, I hope to see a political future of not one but 'Many Malaysias' converging in a harmonious symphony of flavours and voices. In order to see that, we need to overhaul our deeply flawed electoral process to ensure a healthy democracy and a fair political system that doesn't reward a minority '1Malaysia government'. I know that most of us youth are sick and tired of the same old song. 

Read more here http://aliran.com/14128.html


Yes, let us demystify the majority popular votes

Posted: 30 May 2013 04:34 PM PDT

Here are some interesting figures.

Political parties, votes, vote distribution



No of seats


















Source: SPR

We have been told that UMNO has 3.2 million members. So how come it got only 3.2 million votes? Assuming all its members voted for their glorious party, then UMNO's votes came from its own members. It can't speak on behalf of the Malaysian people. It can't even speak on behalf of the 7.8 million Malays who voted on the 5th May 2013 election.

So where did the Perkasa guy get his figures when he declared that the UMNO government should be thankful to the Malays for voting in UMNO and keeping it in power. 4.6 million Malays chose not to vote for UMNO. Unless 4.6million is smaller than 3.2million.
We don't want to erase UMNO. UMNO can remain as it is- irrelevant and attracting the crass, crude and myopic leaders and adherents. The rest of the Malay race want to move forward. They only want to do so without UMNO.  

BN vs PR and vote distribution
















Source SPR

BN has more than 7 million members. It got only 5.24 million votes. 2 million BN members did not vote for BN. BN can't even speak for the Malaysian people.

It is clear PR got more popular votes but that success is negated by gerrymandering and the uneven distribution of voters per seat. PR has to contest in bigger populated areas which could accommodate more parliamentary and state seats. UMNO and BN represent seats which have less voice than the seats represented by PR. 1 seat contested by PR is equivalent to 2 seats won by BN.

But let us take on the Perkasa man on his declaration of Malay support to UMNO. UMNO got 3.2 million votes. While its candidates were all Malays, its voters were not. How many non-Malay voters voted for UMNO candidates on that 5th of May? Let's assume only 15%. That means 85% of the 3.2 million or 2.75 million voters who crossed X on the ballot papers were Malays. So, the non-Malays who voted for UMNO candidates amounted to nothing and instead were branded ingrates. So next time, don't vote for UMNO.

How many Malay voters came out to vote? 7.8million. what does this mean? It means 5 million Malays did not vote UMNO on the 5th of May.

Read more here:  http://sakmongkol.blogspot.de/2013/05/yes-let-us-demystify-majority-popular.html


Perkasa Shall Become a Political Party Representing Malays if BN Becomes Multi-Racial

Posted: 30 May 2013 10:59 AM PDT

Bad or good, the polemic on whether BN should be a one single party for all races draws lot of interests and this is good feedback for the nation.

Perkasa on the other hand, being a Malay NGO that was born when Umno was at its lowest ebb in 2009 has come out with its opinion.

Perkasa may become a political party and represent the Malays in their struggle if Umno is to be disbanded to allow Barisan Nasional (BN) to become a multi-racial party.

Joining in the polemic of whether BN should be become a party for all as suggested by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who added that the subject needed deeper research, Perkasa called on Umno leaders not to 'be jumpy and get caught by certain quarters who are looking for life buoy to survive.'

Perkasa president who is till on leave Ibrahim Ali said the issue was not relevant at present because Umno who represented the Malays had yet to succeed in positioning the community on par with other races in the country.

"This is especially so if compared with the Chinese in terms of economy and education.

"The gap in the distribution of national economic cake is far and wide and Umno has not completed its serious thrust in uplifting the economic status of the Malays of whom the majority is the pribumis.

"If BN is to be a multi-racial party as suggested, the voice of the Malays and bumiputra will be swallowed by the earth.

"In fact, even now the Malays cannot talk about Malay rights as stipulated in the Constitution because they will be termed racist," he added.



Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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