Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Malaysian Delimma



I've always wondered at what seemed like a travesty of fate that the hottest Malay girls in Malaysia seemed not only supercalifragilistically exotic BUT were also from extremely well to do families, while their country/kampung kin were the exact opposite, short, dark and normally working as a bored sales girl in a department store.

It always seemed like the rich were born from some fashion magazine.

OK, so I am not the smartest pea in the pod, maybe some of you already realized this but I only came to this conclusion reading the good doctor's controversial book from the '70s.

During the British Occupation Malays in general were not an adventurous race. Keeping to their 'kampungs' and making a living mainly as farmers and fishermen.

In the 40's and 50's where the Chinese immigrants controlled almost all the trade in the country there were a tiny group of Malays who sought to seek a living in the towns and cities. These Malays were integrated with the other nationalities who populated the larger cities. Thus in the view of the political tensions in the late 50's and 60's the British moved many Malays into senior civil service positions which would normally be the now more educated city Malays who would have wed foreign wives.

And now my theory, if you were a civil servant in the 60's there is ample time for your many generations to move up the political food chain. So now you're into the Ringos, hot kids who look like they could have come from any where in the world and now you're sitting pretty in that ten story bungalow in Ampang while your village relatives seemed to just stay home and um... get hitched to your cousin, sisters cousin, aunty or well... whatever. There were no not much roads into the interior then and travel was mainly by river. SO, if you were an unadventurous man back in the day, your choice of spouse would be limited to whoever was confined to your little village in the jungle. (am tempted to say give or take a monkey or two for a laugh but since social satire on the internet is going to be banned in Malaysia soon I SHALL REFRAIN from using these childish metaphors)

Anyway, trust me to only be concerned about the origin of moneyed babelicious hotness when reading one of our nations most open books about race relations in our melting pot of a nation.

The good doctor does tend to get long winded but you take away so many points written by a political rebel in his time:

1. The efficient and almost ruthless Chinese trading practices that enabled them to control almost all the trade in Malaya. The bribes to British civil servants, the freezing out of Malay competition, etc

2. Why land in Malay settlements are lower and Chinese areas

3. How the Malays laid back attitude was exploited by the English and the Chinese, etc

Things have changed of course over time. We are more integrated now in some ways except when politicians use us against one another for their own means. But it gives us an insight into racial divides, political manipulation and clannish trading practices that could conquer nations in an era not that far removed from now.

This is a good read for any of us who wishes to know at least some of the building blocks of human history that made up this nation before we think that Malaysia was made up dodgy local cars, Catherine Zeta Jones' ass hanging from the Petronas Twin Towers or colorful Visit Malaysia ads.

2 comments:

Josie said...

eh, you got the book ah? pinjam.

Chindiana said...

boleh I pass you Thursday.