Archive for November, 2006

Pity the Poor Keris: How a Universal Symbol became a tool for Racial Politics

Monday, November 27th, 2006

“Elle est belle, elle est tres feminine”. (“She is beautiful. She is so feminine.)
I recall the words of my friend Nadia when I first showed a keris to her, as we sat on the verandah of my friend’s wooden house in the village of Bacok, Kelantan.
The keris, she remarked, was a beautiful object: Graceful, elegant [...]

015: Munshi Abdullah (Part III)

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Munshi Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir and the predicament of the Modern Colonial Subject (Part III)
The Munshi’s modern critique: Knowledge as Power.
‘Ada-lah suatu hairan, lagi terchengang aku sebab melihatkan dan memikirkan hal orang Melayu ini, belum sedar akan diri-nya, ia tinggal dalam bodoh-nya itu… Maka mustahil pada akal, ada-kah orang yang tiada [...]

014: Munshi Abdullah (Part II)

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Munshi Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir and the predicament of the Modern Colonial Subject (Part II)
The Charms of (Secular) Modernity: Munshi Abdullah’s Modern Malacca
Change was not something new to Munshi Abdullah and his world. The Malay archipelago had experienced change for centuries, long before the arrival of the Western powers [...]

“Amok” Season Again: How We Perpetuate The Myths Of Empire

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

Ho hum… Another day, another amok.
Perhaps it is no longer possible for us to wish for an UMNO General Assembly where the delegates would refrain from uttering the same lamentable slogan of ‘Malays in danger’. Perhaps it is too late for us to imagine of an UMNO assembly where the keris [...]

Those are Malaysian Temples We Are Destroying

Friday, November 17th, 2006

A nation is as rich as its geography; and geography is enriched when it is overdetermined. In this respect, we in Malaysia are – or were – rich indeed. Rich because of the fact that being located as we are at the crossroads of Asia this patch of earth was the [...]

There Can Only Be A “Pivotal” Malaysian Nation

Friday, November 10th, 2006

With the UMNO General Assembly just around the corner, it is clear that the race for leverage and pole position within the party has already begun. UMNO being what it is – an ethno-nationalist party with a political agenda based primarily on a race-based form of communitarian politics – it would hardly be a surprise [...]

Homeliness and Comfort

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

Malaysians seem to be in a particularly irritable mood of late. Its not as if our deplorable lack of manners while driving has worsened overnight; or that we are even more inclined to cut the queue than before. Everywhere around us it seems as if our levels of tolerance have dropped significantly. In less than [...]

013: Munshi Abdullah (Part I)

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

Munshi Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir and the predicament of the Modern Colonial Subject (Part I)
‘…Aku memikirkan maka sekian-lah lama-nya umur-ku yang telah lalu itu telah beberapa banyak ajaib dan beberapa peridaran dunia, dan adat, dan perkara yang tidak pernah didengar dan dilihat oleh nenek-moyangku, sekian itu telah ku lihat-lah’.(1)
Munshi Abdullah,
Hikayat Munshi Abdullah
Modern-day Malaysia [...]