Category Archives: The Malaysian Insider

If you care for the Malays, don’t confuse them


Members of PVTN and Pekida shouting slogans opposing free sex

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If you care for the Malays, don’t confuse them
By Zan Azlee

Many people believe that to create a united Malaysia, one of the main tools is language. And that is why we have an official national language which is Bahasa Malaysia.

It is the medium used in our national schools and also the official language in all of our government offices. Every citizen understands it so they all can communicate with each other.

This is not much of a problem for the Malays because Bahasa Malaysia seems to be their mother tongue anyway and it is spoken at home among family members.

For many minorities in the country (obviously the Chinese and Indians), it may not be the first language they learn because their mother tongue would probably be something else.

So they learn it as soon they start going to school. They have to anyway as it is a requirement if they want to pass the national exams and qualify for university.

Oh yeah, I am sure it is also because they want to integrate into the rest of the society and, well, be united as a nation, as citizens who share a country.

So Bahasa Malaysia is really a unifying language that can bring everyone together. That is the noble intention, I guess. But is it really true?

Well, that is what they want you to believe. Do not be fooled. Bahasa Malaysia is really a language just for the Malays, and the Malay Muslims to be more specific.

Bahasa Malaysia when spoken among the Malays is fine. They use it casually with friends and family, officially at work and spiritually when praying. No problems there.

The trouble only starts when people from other races and religions start speaking Bahasa Malaysia. That is when all hell starts to break loose. And I really do mean hell.

The Malays start getting confused because they now do not know who is Malay and who is not. They will not be able to tell others apart and in turn forget who they are.

“Whoa! That guy has really small slit eyes and he is speaking Bahasa Malaysia! Is he Malay? Wait a minute! Am I Malay? Am I not? Arghhh!” [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

The day we become a single Malaysian race


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The day we become a single Malaysian race
By Zan Azlee

I have celebrated Chinese New Year my entire life. And being a Malay Muslim and living in Malaysia, I feel myself very unique and special for doing so.

It is not hard to understand why. I have Chinese and Malay blood in me. My grandmother on my mother’s side is Chinese and the ethnic influence is very strong.

My brothers and I all speak Cantonese (however poor our pronunciation is) and when we speak English, we are very easily mistaken for being Chinese because of our accent.

When I was in primary school, some Malay classmates would tease me and say that I am committing a sin by celebrating Chinese New Year and collecting ang pows.
At first I was confused, but very quickly I realised that they were all just stupid and did not know what they were talking about. I was proud of that.

Of course, our family celebrated Hari Raya too and so did all our Chinese relatives who would gather at our house every single year without even needing an invitation.

And as how life naturally is, my Chinese grandmother eventually died and this year is the second Chinese New Year without her being with us.

So now, during Chinese New Year’s eve, we joke that we are really just a bunch of Malays flipping salmon in plum sauce with chopsticks and gulping down “chai choy” without any real reason to do so!

The pure Chinese immediate family member is gone. But it is alright. We have her blood running in our veins. And we still celebrate the first and second day with the entire Ang clan. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Can’t we put our own house in order?


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Can’t we put our own house in order?
By Zan Azlee

So a petition was raised on the US White House website calling for President Barack Obama’s attention to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s rejected appeal on his sodomy conviction and his five-year jail sentence.

Then there was another petition raised on the same website calling for the US government to respect the sovereignty of Malaysia and its people and not interfere in internal affairs.

And as expected, there are supporters of both petitions. As for me, I think I’m a little torn between the two because both petitions have their merits or justifications.

If a gross injustice happens, calling for international attention and condemnation is one way to pressure those in charge to actually do something to address it.

That is the reason the international press wields so much influence. They highlight issues of concern so that people will pay attention and take appropriate action.

But I also believe that what has happened in our country is something that needs to be addressed by our own people without the interference of others. We can keep our own house in order.

So it is funny to see how the US government has been trying to handle the situation with our little country Malaysia as delicately as they can.

In a recent commentary in the Washington Post, staff columnist Al Kamen awarded US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki with the “on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand” award. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Lessons to learn from Harper Lee


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Lessons to learn from Harper Lee
By Zan Azlee

ou don’t have to be an ardent literature nut to know about one of the contemporary world’s most popular novels ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee.

An American who grew up in the southern state of Alabama during the years of the civil rights movement, she constantly wrote about racial injustice even before her debut novel in 1960.

Of course, her debut novel eventually became her one and only novel and she famously became a recluse, never giving another media interview after 1964.

I read this book as an English class school assignment when I was 12 years old and it has become one of my favourite fictional books. I am reminded of it because of two reasons.

The first is because the book dealt with racial injustice. Although it talked about a period in history of the United States, I feel I can draw paralels with the situation in Malaysia.

Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ set during the Great Depression, tells the story about siblings six-year-old Scout and ten-year-old Jem Finch, their friend Dill and lawyer father Atticus.

Atticus is appointed to defend a black man who is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. Due to that, the two children are constantly made fun of by their peers.

The accused black man is eventually found guilty in court and this badly affects the faith in equality that the whole family shares. Of course, drama ensues after all this.

Although comparing Malaysia today with the situation in the United States in the early and mid 1900s would be carrying it a little too extremely, we can still learn lessons from it.

Systematic racism is something that should not exist for the good of people and humanity. When it is instilled into government policy, it will only cause injustice and breed contempt. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Writers should not be threatened with police reports


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Writers should not be threatened by police reports
By Zan Azlee

The recent police report made by a chairman of an NGO against online columnist Mariam Mokhtar for an opinion piece she wrote is a worrying precedence.

As is the case in Malaysia, every single expression that could slightly offend someone can be made into a police report in order to intimidate the person making that expression.

For someone to have to resort to making a police report over a piece of writing, it just goes to show that he does not have the ability to engage with the writer in the most appropriate way.

Personally, I have read many things that I find offensive written by many people (such as Ridhuan Tee and the likes) in many publications, online and in print.
But I do not make police reports against these writers because I believe that they have a right to express whatever their thoughts and opinions are, no matter how absurd.

But what I would do, and have done many times, is to engage writers by writing my own thoughts and opinions to counter what I disagree with.

In fact, there have been times where another writer and I had a go for several weeks criticising and having a blow with each other in our weekly columns. No reports were made.

And that is exactly how it should be because that is what a rational discourse is supposed to be like, with the public chipping in and making up their own minds as well.

No good ever comes from shutting people up through force rather than logic and reasoning. And that is why I will continue to advocate for no censorship.

If police reports are continuously made against writers because of their writing, then it would be a matter of time before there will no longer be thought-provoking writing to push society. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]