Monday, October 13, 2014

The Malays too, suffered.

By: Choo Sing Chye

When an  analyst  from Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) postulated that the Malays were bullied by non Malays, especially the Chinese, it changes the dynamics of the Malaysian history.  

This likened him to contortionists who are able to squeeze their bodies into very tight spaces.  Similarly, the Isma's analyst  is doing the same by cramming  volumes of historical facts into one  word -  bullying.  

The so-called historical  analyst conveniently left out a huge chunk of facts concerning the Siamese interferences, 'bullying' and wars with the Malay states from 1402 to 1909. Five hundred years worth of facts were strangely not included in his research?

The Isma's analyst   must  understand that HISTORY must be written as it was and not what it should be,  eventhough it is painful to write.   In history, there were no heroes or crooks; they were just either the victors or the vanquished.   

I concur with the Isma's analyst  that  ordinary Malays had without doubt suffered tremendously through the course of its 500 over years history but not on the  assigning of blame. 

Here is one incident which illustrates the callous way unfortunate Malay slaves were treated which was witnessed by Frank Swettenham while he was staying in Langat, Selangor.   He penned it in his book, ‘The Real Malay’:  

My nearest neighbour was a raja, who shortly before my arrival had constituted himself the tracker, captor accuser, and judge of three debt-slaves, who had run away from the house of the Sultan of the country.   The system of debt-slavery (a position of serfdom entailed by inability to pay a real or imaginary debt to some powerful chief) used to be a great institution in Malaya, and the tortures suffered by the unhappy victims were almost incredible. Three so-called debt-slaves – a boy and two girls, all under 20 years of age – had escaped from the house and custody of the Sultan, and runaway.   They were pursued and caught by my neighbour, who brought them back to his own hut on the river bank, a hundred yards above my dwelling.

The boy was taken into a field and krised, i.e. stabbed to death with wavy snake-like kris.It was not the custom to kris girls, so my neighbour’s wife called the 2 runaways to accompany her to the river, where she was going to bathe.  They did so, and followed her on to a log, which stretched from the shore out into the stream.  There they were seized, and one was held, while a retainer took the other by the hair, pushed her into the river, and, still, holding here hair, pressed her head under water with his foot until she was drowned.    The other girl, a compulsory spectator of the scene, was similarly treated, as soon as they had time to attend to her.   The corpses were left lying on the muddy bank, till friends came and removed them. 

I was told that my neighbour went to the Sultan, and sought credit for his zeal saying, ‘I have got rid of those children who ran away.’   But the Sultan expressed his displeasure, and my neighbour, a man of rank and authority, in a fit of disgust and unwonted generosity, provided winding-sheets for the corpses.”    (Malaya Through Four Centuries – An Anthology 1500 – 1900, N.J.Ryan) 

Without doubt  ordinary Malays, Chinese coolies and Indians rubber tapers  collectively suffered in the 18th and the 19th  Century.  

There is no contention about this fact. No local historians had denied this, but not with the politicians and NGOs be they, the Malays, the Chinese or the Indians.

ISMA ARTICLE - get here

Mohd Zul Fahmi Md Bahrudin, an analyst of Malaysian history and constitution under Isma-linked Institut Kajian Arus Baru Malaysia.