Posts Tagged ‘ race ’

Pointing at the UNSW students

Yesterday was graduation day at UNSW for the Faculty of Built Environment. I had two or three hours between my class and the ceremony so I went to the library to borrow some books I might not actually have the time to read. At the machine thing that legitimises one’s ability to take the books away from the library, I overheard a woman’s voice:

This university accepts more international students than any other university. So if you’re going to sit there and point at everyone who’s different, you’ll be pointing all day.

I turned around and saw a white women who looked to be in her late-forties talking to an older man sitting down who was probably her father or father-in-law, but I don’t want to assume.

In other news, my friend met an Egyptian guy at an event of some type. He had come to Australia with high hopes of immersing himself in “Australian culture”. Unfortunately, he arrived in Sydney to find that there’s a lot of Asians and Indians and Arabs and white people who aren’t “Australian” and that “Australian restaurants” don’t really exist because no sane person would be willing to sacrifice money for whatever gets passed as “Australian cuisine”. The story has a happy ending though: our Egyptian friend moved to Penrith and found the authentic Australian culture he was looking for.

Mahathir and becoming Malay

More support for my quest to become Malay. This time from the most Malay person ever, Dr Mahathir:

The Indians and the Arabs changed the pattern of trade in the old Malay sultanates. They not only traded, but some of them settled and married Malays close to the courts of the rajas. Because these merchants had to be astute in business and reasonably rich in order to trade so far from their homeland, it is not surprising that their abilities were soon recognised and utilised by the Malay rajas. They became influential in the Malay courts and were in time accepted as Malays. Quite naturally they became more and more involved in the commercial life of the country, but they were regarded by themselves not as foreigners but as Malays. Their business know-how and their contacts with the courts as well as with foreign merchants brought a new sophistication into Malay business. No longer were the rajas required to trade directly. Henceforth they, as well as the ra’ayat, were serviced by competent merchants and shopkeepers, whom they could still identify with their own race, even though the racial origins were different.

Mahathir bin Mohamad, The Malay Dilemma, p. 34

So, according to Mahathir, Indians and Arabs, some of whom were actually born in India and the Arab peninsula instead of being born in Malaysia or being “the issue of such a person”, were accepted as Malays, regarded themselves as Malays and had racial solidarity with actually Malay Malays?

Well if it makes sense to Mahathir, then that’s good enough for me. If my Indian and Arab brothers could do it, then what’s stopping a mat salleh like me?

Checklist For Becoming Melayu

Following in the footsteps of Jeane Abdullah, the Portuguese-Eurasian wife of Abdullah Badawi, and other non-Malays who have masuk melayu and in the spirit of trying to figure out if what we consider racial identity is just a little bit bullshit, I’m going to see if I can become Malay.

“Malay” means a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom and –

  • (a) was before Merdeka Day born in the Federation or in Singapore or born of parents one of whom was born in the Federation or in Singapore, or was on that day domiciled in the Federation or in Singapore; or
  • (b) is the issue of such a person;

No. 1: Professes the Religion of Islam

I’m practically straight-edge so I don’t drink alcohol or take any other haram intoxicants. I’m vegan so I don’t eat pigs. When I was a baby I kept getting infections and the easiest solution was circumcision. I can say “لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله” any time I want.

No. 2: Habitually Speaks the Malay Language

Tunggu lah! Kenapa tak sabar? Sikit-sikit lama-lama jadi bukit.

No. 3: Conforms to Malay Custom

I can play caklempong. I lepak at mamak restaurants late at night. I have at least two tablespoons of sugar with my tea. I don’t use toilet paper. I can sing along to Yuna’s Dan Sebenarnya, yet claim to not like Yuna’s music. I can grow one of those little beards, not too long though. I have really weird sleeping patterns that mean I spend most of my waking hours during the night. When I’m meant to meet my friends I tell them I’m already on the way, just before I have a shower, before I get changed, before I have something to eat, before I read a book, before I leave the house to catch the train which usually takes about half an hour. Lah.

No. 4 (a): was before Merdeka Day born in the Federation or in Singapore or born of parents one of whom was born in the Federation or in Singapore, or was on that day domiciled in the Federation or in Singapore; or

No, but….

No. 4 (b): is the issue of such a person

I don’t really know what that means, I’m not very good at legalspeak. But could I just get adopted by some old Malaysian people?