Tag Archives: malay

I’m Malay – can I succeed outside of Malaysia?


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I’m Malay – can I succeed outside of Malaysia?
By Zan Azlee

I’m a fiercely independent person. I like to be my own man and if I do anything, I like to believe that I did it on my own, because of my own capabilities and skills.

And that is the reason why I don’t play golf as a recreational sport. It’s because golf has a handicap system where people who are bad will be able to compete with even the best of them.

I believe that you have to work hard from wherever you are to be among the best and if you don’t, then you are not deserving to be among the best.

For example, when I first started working after graduating from university, my parents wanted to buy me a car. At first, I said okay and I got a car from them.

But then, I started feeling embarrassed driving it because, here I am, a grown up adult with a job, driving around in a car that my mummy and daddy gave me.

So I decided that I had to pay for it myself. I immediately took over the car loan that was under my mother’s name and serviced the instalments myself. I am my own man.

That’s why Dina Zaman’s latest article titled ‘Unappreciated in my own country’ where she talks about Malay professionals who moved away from Malaysia to ply their trade resonates with me.

They wanted to do well outside and be recognised for their capabilities and skills rather than because they were born of a certain race or the connections that they had.

Thinking back, the issue that Dina discusses in her column was one of the influencing factors why I decided to pursue my postgraduate degree overseas.

I wanted to see if I could hack it outside after graduating from a local public university in Malaysia. And I did it with flying colours.

I know my complaint might seem a tad ‘first-world’. But hear me out. I want to prove that I can do things on my own and not because I am of a particular race living in Malaysia.

When I wanted to pay for my own car, it was because it hurt my pride to think that people might be saying, “Oh, his parents bought it for him. No wonder!”.

And when I graduated from local university with my first degree, it also hurt my pride to think that people might be saying that, “Oh, he graduated from a public university. No wonder!”.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a big believer and advocate of inclusivity from the socio-economic point of view. We need to have social and economic fairness.

Those who are financially and economically less privileged need to be assisted so they can be on equal footing with the rest and so that social mobility is possible.

But it should be based on on the right criterias, and definitely not on race. Affirmative action should be in place for the less privileged all around and not just for the Malays.

Sometimes, I too do feel like moving overseas and seeing if I could actually thrive in my profession outside of Malaysia and not have this affirmative action issue over my head.

But thoughts like this make me nervous. What if it is true that I am in whatever position I am in now because of affirmative action?

What if my thoughts of people saying, “Of course Zan can do all this in Malaysia. No wonder!”, are true? What if these people are right and if I ply my profession outside, I might not make it?

Well, this is the exact mentality that we need to kill – I need to kill – so that my children will not be affected by it like how I am being affected by it.

Enough time has passed that Malays don’t need the crutches that have been helping them stand up all this while. It’s time to let them stand on their own.

Just like the game of golf, once you move out of the amateur zone and become a professional, all handicaps are done away with and it solely depends on how good you are.

And if I do play golf, I would much rather be playing it professionally.

[This article appeared originally at The Malaysian Insider]""

Malaysian Muslims seem to have very weak faith


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Malaysian Muslims seem to have very weak faith
By Zan Azlee

I have been fasting in full every Ramadan for many years now and I admit, I do feel hungry and thirsty during the day and it isn’t totally comfortable all of the time.

But of course, like anything you do, if you put your mind to it and persevere, it eventually stops being a problem.

You get used to fasting and it actually makes your body feel good. But I won’t be talking here about the benefits of fasting on your health and well being.

What I do want to talk about is the fact that there are so many weak Muslims in Malaysia who can’t take fasting. I’m usually not one to judge, but well, this time I am going to!

We have a teacher in a school who asks his non-Muslim students to go to the toilet to drink during Ramadan, just so Muslim students won’t see them drinking.

It is ridiculous how some school canteens are instructed to close during the fasting month because it would mean non-Muslim students eating in view of Muslim students.

This issue of non-Muslims having to go out of their way, in the name of being respectful to those who are fasting, crops up every time Ramadan comes around.

I don’t understand how this is respect. All I can conclude from this is that some Malaysian Muslims are just too weak, and when they see someone drink water, their will to fast disappears.

I have many non-Muslim friends and I accompany them for lunch or even just for a drink at the mamak, even when I’m fasting, just so we can hang out and have a chat.

I see them eat and drink but I don’t get tempted. Sometimes, they tease me too and pretend to order for me a glass of teh ais and we all have a good laugh. But I still fast. No problems.

This fasting month, although only a week has gone by, I’ve even been accompanying my wife for lunch at restaurants whenever we are out and about.

She is in the final trimester of her second pregnancy and she needs the food and nutrition. So she doesn’t fast. We sit and chat as she has her meal and I still fast. No problems.

I’m not trying to say that I’m a perfect Muslim here. No way. I am far from that. What I am trying to say is that some Malaysian Muslims need to take a step back and look at their faith.

Fasting is an‘ibadah’and it is suppose to be challenging (although not torture!). And aren’t challenges suppose to make your faith and fast count for even more?

So technically, Malaysian Muslims should welcome people to eat and drink in front of them, and then resist, so they can collect more‘pahala’, right? Funny, isn’t it?

But no. Malaysian Muslims are just too weak. They fast but they can’t take it when they catch a glimpse of someone eating or drinking. Their faith starts to waver.

They can’t even take it when when non-Muslims use the word ‘Allah’ because they start getting confused and all with their own faith. Malaysian Muslims. What a weak bunch they are.

[This article originally appeared on English.AstroAwani.Com]

All I see is a champion athlete, what do you see?


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All I see is a champion athlete, what do you see?
By Zan Azlee

I tried very hard not to get sucked into writing about the debacle of the overzealous religious extremists in Malaysia and the national gymnast’s clothes.

Well, actually the gymnast never even got involved in the debacle. She merely shrugged off the comments by the overzealous religious extremists and continued on.

Self-assured and confident, all Farah Ann Abdul Hadi did was to post one tweet on her Twitter account – “Empty cans make the most noise.”

Enough said. She knows what she’s done (she won several medals at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore) and there isn’t a need to prove anything.

The overzealous religious extremists, on the other hand, got the support of an overzealous religious master in the form of Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs.

While Farah Ann had just did her best in doing Malaysia proud, the overzealous religious extremists obviously had other things on their mind when they saw her in her leotard.

They said that her clothing was too revealing and that she needs to cover her “aurat”. They even demanded that she repent before having to face the consequences.

Yes, they are ridiculous and Farah Ann knows that. And we all know that. It is because of the ridiculousness of the issue that I initially did not want to write about it.

But as ridiculous as they are, they are still loud and people can still hear them. Hence, I have to succumb to writing about it because something like this needs to be written and discussed about.

Although Farah Ann seems confident and mature enough to shrug it off, I think it is important that we still show our support and hopefully this will strengthen her courage.

It is also important to write about because we need to encourage others to also possess and display the kind of strength that Farah Ann has.

And, of course, it is important that we write and discuss about it so that the noise from the empty can will be drowned out and never heard from again.

The minister and those who like him need to assert their authority because it is the only way they know how to instil fear in people, hence become “needed” by them.

It seems so easy to convince Muslims that something is wrong because Islam says so. If you don’t do this, it is against Islam. If you do that, it is against Islam.

And for a Muslim, if you are being accused of doing something against Islam, there is nothing else you can say to explain it because of the way Islam is ingrained in our minds.

We are constantly taught to fear God, to fear the religion and to fear sin. We are scared into submission so much that love and compassion gets thrown out of the picture altogether.

Islam is not a simpleton religion. It is not as simple as merely an issue of covering your “aurat” or exposing it to differentiate between a good Muslim and a bad one.

And neither is it as simple for you to be considered a good Muslim just by judging and questioning someone’s faith publicly as if you are defending the honour of the religion.

Many Malaysians saw Farah Ann as a national athlete who did the country proud by giving her best and becoming the best in what she does.

As for those empty cans who were making so much noise, one piece of advice: look at yourselves first before criticising other people.

If you look hard enough, then maybe you will all discover why you saw Farah Ann as something different than what the rest of us saw.

[This article appeared originally at The Malaysian Insider]

Would Malaysian Muslims contribute towards building a church or temple?


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Would Malaysian Muslims contribute towards building a church or temple?
By Zan Azlee

I strongly disagree with Umno’s Kelantan liaison chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed when he claimed that the DAP’s intentions to build a mosque in Kelantan is an insult to Muslims.

He was reported to have said that a mosque is a sacred place of prayer for Muslims and that the funds for its building needs to be from a halal source.

Is it because the DAP is considered a Chinese political party and hence they cannot contribute towards building a mosque? As far as I know, there are Muslim party members too.

And, anyway, is there anywhere in the religion of Islam that states Muslims are not allowed to receive assistance and goodwill from those who are not of the same faith?

To prove my point, let’s go back into history, say around 50 years ago to the year 1965. This was the year when the National Mosque, or Masjid Negara was opened in Kuala Lumpur.

Every single Malaysian is familiar with the Masjid Negara. No one can deny that it is a national icon and landmark. Even many of those outside of Malaysia are familiar with it.

It was conceptualised a month before Merdeka and was supposed to symbolise how Malaysia was, and how Malaysia should be now and forever.

It was designed and built by a Brit and two Malaysians (Howard Ashley, Hisham Albakri and Baharuddin Kassim). Wait a minute! Non-Muslims were involved in designing it?

The building cost RM10 million and a bulk of it was donated from the non-Malay, non-Muslim, community, specifically the Chinese, Indian, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu community.

Wait a minute! Non-Muslims were involved in financing the building of the mosque? Can this actually be true? Well, go to the National Archives if you need convincing.

What are the chances of something like this happening today? Well, it looks like it would be a very rare chance seeing that when it does happen now, it gets criticised as an insult.

Now let me throw this question out there and see how people react to it. What are the chances of the Malay-Muslim community donating towards a church or temple? Unthinkable or possible?

It saddens me to see that, as the years go by since the establishment of Malaysia as a united country, we are seeing an increase in the polarisation of religion and race in Malaysia.

Why can’t we see the gesture of building a mosque just as a kind and respectful gesture? Oh, and it is the month of Ramadan right? Aren’t we Muslims suppose to be at our best selves?

But Ramadan or no Ramadan, Malaysians in general need to be more gracious and united. We’re suppose to progress as a society as the years go by. Not regress.

[This article originally appeared at English.AstroAwani.Com]

Is China still the ‘motherland’ for Chinese Malaysians?


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Is China still the ‘motherland’ for Chinese Malaysians?
By Zan Azlee

The Chinese can go back to China if they don’t like how things are in Malaysia. And the Indians can go back to India too if they are not happy.

It’s funny. I thought we had moved on from that particular issue and now we’re realising that Chinese Malaysians and Indian Malaysians are just as Malaysians as, well, Malaysians.

Then we have our good old Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor who still hasn’t seem to have gotten the memo that Malaysians are Malaysians.

Recently, he was reported to have publicly requested the Chinese government to advise Chinese Malaysians of all the contributions Putrajaya has made to the country for the past 57 years.

He made this comment during the opening ceremony of the China-Malaysia Friendship Garden and in attendance was China’s ambassador to Malaysia, Dr. Huang Huikang.

I wonder what is the logic for the minister to associate China with Chinese Malaysians? Okay, I can see that they have Chinese heritage, but that’s as far as it goes.

I remember my late grandmother telling me that when she was younger, a lot of Chinese Malaysians aspired to go back and visit the ‘motherland’.

They didn’t necessarily want to return and stay in China. All they wanted to do was to go back and visit it. They still saw Malaysia as their home country and where their family is.

I did ask my grandmother if she wanted to visit the ‘motherland’ (oh… did I forget to mention my grandmother is Chinese Malaysian and I am officially a Malay Malaysian?). She said no.

This was decades ago and now, none of my Chinese relatives or Chinese friends ever speaks of the ‘motherland’ anymore. Well, they never have spoken about it anyway.

Generations have gone by (even my grandmother was born in this country – Kuala Lumpur to be exact) and they all really have no connection with China.

But yes, they are all Malaysians. 100 percent pure Malaysians. You can check their identification cards if you don’t believe me and you would see that it is blue in colour.

I think it’s ridiculous for the minister to want to ask another government from another country to advise his own fellow citizens of his own contributions to the country. It’s sad actually.

And then there is me. I wonder who the minister would have to turn to if he wanted someone to explain to me how thankful I should be for what his political party has done for the country.

I’ve got a little bit of Chinese and a little bit of Malay in me, and since I don’t know much about the fidelity of my ancestors, I don’t know what other little bits are in me.

So good luck minister in your efforts to convince me.

[This article originally appeared at The Malaysian Insider]