Recent incidents involving physical fracas in full public view raise the question of whether the Malays have evolved from a people that observe the highest standard of good mannerism (berbudi bahasa) to an angst-ridden, angry, unforgiving, judgemental and violent people.
In recent weeks we read about a 12 year old losing his life after allegedly being physically punished in a tahfiz. Just a few days ago an ustaz wrestled with his student in yet another tahfiz.
We saw videos of student gansterism. We saw school girls fighting. Actresses squabbling over an ex-husband.
Then we saw the now infamous traffic cone bashing of a man over a traffic squabble just after a Friday prayer session.
Latest, of course, is the slap received by a certain Dato’ by a certain comedian right in front of the Prime Minister!
Quite disconcerting really. I mean as a Malay myself I begin to wonder why, suddenly, the Malays are reacting to a set of circumstance this way. It is as if we have eschewed all civility that we are well known for in favour of violence as a reaction to a set of circumstance.
If so, the next question is why?
One thing that I observe is our propensity for and inclination toward describing anything that requires competition as a “battle” or a “war.” (If you have read some Malay erotica, even sexual acts are described as “perjuangan” where in the end the girl would “terkulai dalam kekalahan” due to the awesomeness of the man!)
While others do things for the betterment of the society, we, over here, would “perjuangkan” this and that. We have never stopped to “berjuang” to “memurtabadkan” this, that or the other. Our opponents must be “ganyang” or crushed. Our constituency must be “pertahankan sehingga titisan darah yang terakhir.” Our resolve to “pertahankan” our constituency or our stance is premised upon the phrase ” kita tidak rela musuh kita menjajah kawasan kita”.
All these, mind you, are not utterred at a battleground in front of our troop who are facing marauding Mongolians led by the Khan himself. These are utterred in an air-conditioned hall bedecked with large framed photographs of our former leaders while the audience were busy whatsapping each other and taking selfies after a heavy breakfast.
Of course in recent months or even years we have also seen groups of people in uniformed t-shirts harrassing people on the streets and even in shopping complexes. They even got physical at times. We also have had the benefit of public display of martial arts and the inexplicable strength of some people being whacked with plank of woods on their bare back while some others were scratching the ground like very very angry tigers.
And all these were designed to show superiority, either as an instrument of arrogance or fear. Or perhaps even both.
The perception is, rightly or wrongly, that all these are state-condoned. If not state-organised.
I can’t help but wonder whether all these have at least contributed to the sudden change in our behaviour.
I mean, if I slap my wife everyday in front of my son, wouldn’t my son grow up thinking that it is okay for a man to slap a woman?
Just a thought. After yet another sleepless night.