Thursday, April 23, 2009


I find this article by Dina Zaman quite interesting . .. . . . . . food for thought . . . .

Thursday April 23, 2009

Malay dilemma is electrifying

Money is the root of all evil, so says the old adage, and it’s still being played out in today’s materialistic society.



“Apasal la, kita orang Melayu ni dah hancur?”

“Mana la saya tahu. Saya ni bukan tukang tilik.”

ARSHAD the electrician and I had been trying to sort out the wiring of the apartment. He’s like a cab driver; he knows everything and everyone, but he’s funny as hell.

He always has an opinion – from food to marriage to ghosts and politics – and he’s very reasonable, budget wise.

He hopped off the chair and waved a pen at me.
“I think, kan,” he said as he munched on an energy bar I had given him, “I think kan, pasal kan, kita dah lupa darat. Kita fikir duit, duit, duit, duit. And kita tak nak susah.”

He told me about the kids he watched over in his neighbourhood. There was this young boy who had magical feet. He could be the next Maradona.

So Arshad told his parents to develop the boy’s talent, get him out of the ghetto where they lived, and he could be Malaysia’s David Beckham.
The parents told him to shut up, the boy was not his son, and besides, it was better he worked at odd jobs to make money for the family. What talent? Kicking a ball is a talent?

These days, Arshad told me, parents were just lazy. They gave their kids handphones, let them play out way into the night, let them wander around, just so they would not inconvenience their parents.

Even though these parents were working class, they would rather give the kids money so as not to be bothered. Money can do wonders, even make them disappear for a while. Why bother moulding a kid into a star?
This example, he stressed while gulping down a Milo Fuse which I had made, was the real root of the Malay Dilemma. Money.

It was not lack of religion or Malay values. It is all about money. Doesn’t matter how much or little you have, so long as you have it.

Kid passes an exam, you reward him RM50. You have no money to treat your kid, your kid may shoplift or become a GRO when an adult.

“Maybe it’s not about having money,” I said blearily. It was 7.45 in the morning. I had made the poor man come to sort out the wiring before I had to leave for work.

“Maybe it’s because the Malays have so little money that by acting that way it is as if they have money. Reverse and sadistic psychology. You know?

Law of Attraction?”

“Ha? Law amende tu? No, no, no. Masalah orang Melayu adalah ... financial.”

I was flapping about in the apartment, worried sick I’d be late for work. This wiring thing had taken too long. And Arshad had to talk about the Malay Dilemma now.

“Dina. Kalau kita tak de duit, moral kita terbang!”

Sure we can have religious principles and adapt, but when you don’t have money and you see bangang people getting projects when they are so stupid, what’s morals. Hello money, come to me!

Arshad was enjoying himself.

By now I was fretting. I was going to be late for work.
“Look. You can’t say that about the Malays,” I said. What about the Chinese and Indians and everyone else who are in the same poop?
Ah-ha. The Chinese and Indians have their support system. They band and work together in their communities. They have their churches and temples.

You can say anything about them, but they help their people. Look at our masjids. They are monuments to worship, not a community.
“Apa nak jadi kita orang Melayu ni, Dina?”

I knew one thing: if I were late, I’d end up as kebab.

He looked at the energy bar I gave him. “Mmm. Best jugak biskut ni. Patut kau ni kurus. Orang breakfast makan nasi lemak, roti canai.”

Whatever, whatever, I said, as I hurried him and myself out of the apartment.

“Nanti I SMS Dina quote wiring, okay?”

“Okay! Ciao Arshad!”


And that was how I spent my Wednesday morning. Never knew electricity and the Malay Dilemma would have something in common.

The writer’s idea of bliss is to pass out by the beach with her books literally on her.

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