Thursday, January 09, 2020

I’m A Malay, Therefore I’m Jawi But I Feel Malaysian

A Kadir Jasin

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

PREAMBLE: Views expressed herein are entirely mine. I am writing in my personal capacity as a blogger. It has nothing to do with whatever position I may hold.

Jawi script does no harm to this well-known restaurant. It flourishes
WE are shaped and guided by our life experiences. The more that we go through them, the richer our lives becomes. We will be less easily agitated and provoked.

That’s one of the reasons why I do not say much about the Jawi or any other communally-motivated issue, and the agitations that follow.

To me Jawi is part of my existence. Like the shirt I wear or the food I eat. I learned to write and read Jawi the way Malays of my generation would; through the Quranic class and formal schooling at the Sekolah Melayu – the Malay School – in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Jawi is derived from the Arabic script with a few additional letters and was widely used for Malay language writing before the Rumi (Roman) alphabets became popular.

The Arabic script used in Malaysia, Brunei and some parts of Sumatera is known as Jawi. In Aceh it is called Jawoe and Pattani Yawi.

To many people, Jawi is more than just a form of writing. In our part of the world, it is synonymous with the Malays and Muslims. In many instances, Jawi is used as a synonym to the Malay race.

For example, Malays of Indian Muslim descend called themselves “Jawi Peranakan”. They were products of marriages between Indian Muslim immigrants and the local Malay women.

Incidentally, this group of Malay people were among the earliest to articulate issues relating to ethnicity and statehood.

Using their mercantile wealth and better education, they started the first Malay newspaper in Singapore in 1888 called “Jawi Peranakan”.

Many old Malay texts were in Jawi. Early correspondence and agreements between the Malay Rulers and the European powers were in Jawi. Jawi is an integral part of the Malay history.

But Jawi was superseded by Rumi as Western-type education become widespread in the early 20th century. The Jawi usage is now limited to the teaching and learning of the Quran, and on signboards.


When I started schooling in 1954 at the Sekolah Melayu Pendang (the Pendang Malay School) in Kedah, we learned both Rumi and Jawi.

Jawi formed part of the curriculum. I was acceptably good at it and can still write and read Jawi to this day but with some difficulty because the spelling system had been changed some years ago.

The Jawi-script Utusan Melayu was my basic reading until the Rumi-script Berita Harian was introduced in 1957 and Utusan Malaysia 10 years later.

Utusan Melayu was my early introduction to knowledge
I also read the Penang-based Warta Negara and the Straits Echo, the Singapore-owned Straits Times and later the Kuala Lumpur-based New Straits Times.

I remember the many hours of sheer ecstasy I had reading the lurid details of sexual relationship among the beautiful teenage model Christine Keeler, the British War Minister, Lord Profumo, and the Russian spy, Yevgeni Ivanov in the Utusan Melayu.

Thanks to my Jawi proficiency and the liberalism of the Utusan Melayu at that time – 1963 if my memory serves me right – I had many hours of excitement and gratification.

Christine Keeler in later years
In the pre-independence days, schooling was not mandatory, and schools were few and far apart.

There wasn’t a common education system. There were the government- and church-sponsored English schools, the government-aided Sekolah Melayu, the community-built Sekolah Ra’ayat (the people’s school), the China and Tamil schools and the pondok schools.

The latter were exclusively for the teaching and learning Islamic religious knowledge. The northern states of Kedah, Penang, Perlis and Kelantan were known for their sprawling pondok communities.

The Sekolah Melayu later became Sekolah Umum (general school) and later still Sekolah Kebangsaan or the National School. The Chinese and Tamil Schools became the Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (National Type Schools).

English Schooling

From the Sekolah Melayu Pendang, I went to the Saint Michael Primary School in Alor Setar via the Special Malay Class (SMC).

The SMC was a two-year conversion course where Malay boys and girls were converted from the Malay to English medium learning.

You can say that I don’t have problem with learning a language that isn’t my mother tongue and accepting people who are not of my race and religion.

But one of my uncles did. He was mortified upon learning that I had gone to an English school. He was certain that I would become a "kafir" in no time and pleaded with my father to take me out.

Additionally, I grew up in a multi-cultural environment. We had Chinese, Indian and Thai neighbours.

My maternal grandmother spoke the Thai dialect commonly used among the Malaysian-Thai border. Even the Malay language was heavily influenced by the Thai slang.

Our Chinese neighbours were traders and part time farmers. Their pigs, chicken and ducks were free-ranging. We didn’t mind if the animals occasionally strayed into our compounds for as long as they didn’t dig up the ground or defecate as they liked.

We predicated the names and identities of our Chinese neighbours with the word “Cina” – Cina Ah Kow, Cina panjang (the tall Chinese), Cina ayan (the Chinese ironsmith), Cina ikan (the Chinese fishmonger) and so on.

Our Indian neighbours who were mostly barbers, cloths merchants, restaurant operators and odd-jobbers freely referred to themselves as “Keling”. The term is still commonly used in the northern states. Nothing derogatory. It had its origin in the Hindu Empire of Kalinga in India and Jawa.

Some years ago, while admiring my old former Volkswagen Beetle car in Alor Star, an Indian man approached me. He asked if I recognized him. I said sorry I did not and he happily introduced himself as “anak Keling Mydin” (the son of Mydin the Keling).

Keling Mydin was my father’s friend. He operated a coffee shop in Tanah Merah, Pendang, where our family house is located.

His daughter continues the business until today and one Keling Mydin’s sons went on to become a very senior police officer – Datuk Ayob Khan bin Mydin Pitchay – the anti-terrorism chief.

Note the “bin” in his name. Only in Malaysia a Keling could transform into a Malay or a Jawi!

Stop The Slugfests

Fast forward to the 21st century and to the Chinese fear of the Jawi script, the Malays' growing objection to the Chinese schools and the Indians’ absolute no-no to the word Keling.

I am sorry if I am not keen to participate in their slugfests. I’m used to being accused of not being Malay enough. Maybe I’m not. I am proud being a Malay although I feel better being a Malaysian or simply a human being.

I have five children. Four of them are married and two have non-Malay spouses – a Chinese and a Swiss German. I am ok with that. I love all of them.

I am fine with Jawi. I am ok with Rumi. I don’t speak Chinese, Tamil or Arabic but I am ok if you want to learn Chinese, Urdu, Tamil, Hindustani, Arabic, Amharic, Swahili, Bengali, German, Indonesian, Russian, Talalog, French, Mongolian – you name it.

Go to Petaling Street and you will find that most of these languages and much more are already being spoken.

Malaysia is not just Asia. It is the world. And young Malay-speaking Malays are today crazy about K-pop and the older ones are hooked on Korean dramas.

Soon many more Chinese and Indians will come as tourists without visas, melt into the Malaysian milieu and never to be found. A few years down the road some may even become Jawi.

I just wish for one thing. Stop quarreling. Stop debasing yourself. Stop degrading your dignity. Stop being slaves to bankrupt politicians.

Go ahead and be proud of your Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban and Kadazan identities but let us live in peace as Malaysians.

Thank you.


OKJ said...

Salam Dato Kadir’

Pertamanya, Dato’ kena ingat Malaysia mendapat kemerdekaan atas dasar KONTRAK SOCIAL. Sekarang Dato’ suruh Melayu beralah lagi ke? Inike standard pemimpin BERSATU sekarang yg kononnya kata nak jadi tunjang Melayu. Saya rasa eloklah Dato’ dan Tun pencen jelah lebih baik.

Kedua, dulu ketua polis negara kata akan cari Jho Low sampai ke lubang cacing. Tapi sampai sekarang bayang pun tak dapat. Sedangkan Jho Low siap boleh buat interview lagi. Cakapje besar dia ni. Satu lagi, Yusuf Rawter dipanggil buat ujian menipu tapi Anwar tak perlu pulak. Inike standard keadilan sekarang dibawah BERSATU???

Ketiga, Latefa Koya dan SPRM buat persidangan media semalam dan dedahkan rakaman percakapan Najib. Lepastu baru nak serahkan ke polis utk pastikan ianya tulen. Ini ke standard SPRM sekarang? Itu padahnya bagi orang politik jadi ketua SPRM. Hukum pakai tudung pun blur, ini suruh jadi ketua pulak. Rasanya eloklah dia ni dipecat dan dikenakan tindakan menghina mahkamah jika Tun betul-betul adillah. Sedangkan video semburit masih lagi tak tahu hujung pangkal, ini main rasa-rasa je, SPRM dedahkan ke seluruh dunia.

Akhir kata, saya cadangkan jika PRK Kimanis ni PH kalah lagi, eloklah Tun dan Dato’ kadir pencen, dan bubarkan parlimen utk laluan PRU yg baru. Kita pulangkan balik hak memilih kepada seluruh rakyat Malaysia. Setuju tak Dato’. Sekian TQ.

PeeJay said...

for once,I'm totally agreed with you. You're right about Cina and Keling. Tiada unsur unsur penghinaan bila disebut.

Budakboy said...

It's been a very long time since I posted my last comment in your blog Datuk. My experience growing up is very similar to yours. You can't get a more Malayan/Malaysian environment to grow up in than a mining kongsi in Batu Gajah, Perak.

I can't agree with you more when you wrote "Stop being slaves to bankrupt politicians." With no end in sight, I fear for the future of my 7 grandchildren.

May Allah grant you good health and lots of happiness.

Unknown said...

Well said Sir, if only other Malaysians are like you Malaysia will be a better to live. Thank you, Sir.

kusufian write said...

I'm a Chinese, 60 years old. Enrolled into a Malay medium school at standard 1 - 6.
Learning Jawi only made me a Muslim at 26 years old. How much i wanted, its never happened. I went to Church but God wants me to be a Muslim and it just happens...
We called it ' hidayah '
Like the Christian missionaries, the Muslims have too but its all about Qur'an, not Jawi..

Yuew Ming said...

You are right stop using racial sentiments in politics. Only the WISE not the racist -Stupid, should manage the country for a better future.

rainbow said...

Salute to You Sir Kadir...All of us must learn as you have blog. Where did we go wrong _ Yes, those Bankrupt Politicians. We allowed them to kacau n spill evil n we stand n watch jer!!

Unknown said...

You are so fortunate to have grown up in a multiracial setting....Unfortunately a lot of Kampong and even urban Malays did not have that opportunity and are now used as tool by racist politicians...

Unknown said...

You are so fortunate to have grown up in a multiracial setting....Unfortunately a lot of Kampong and even urban Malays did not have that opportunity and are now used as tool by racist politicians...

nor anita said...

At last..some sensible views on this issue. As if we do not have enough problems already. Stay calm and drink teh tarik.

Orang Kedah said...

Saya menghargai blogger yg menulis ttg sesuatu yg mendamaikan, menyeru kpd hbgn yg harmonis dan positif.

Aku said...

Kadiag, السلام عليكم -

Aku rasa dlm hang dok senarai sekolah2 di Malaya, hang tetinggai sekolah dewasa,
atau munkin laa ni tekenai, hase pengaruh filem ‘pendekag bujang lapok’
sebagai ‘sekolah umum buta huruf’ di Jalan Kampong Pinang Sebatang.
Hang munkin maglum dialog almarhum P. Ramlee dgn Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie yang ketika itu Menteri Kebudayaan dan Penerangan,
macam dicatit dlm buku ‘sasterawan negara’ Datuk Abdullah Hussain “Seniman Agung P Ramlee” terbitan Karangkraf (1984)

“ Ghazali: Tahulah, tapi macam mana you boleh menang dan macam mana juri dari Hong Kong, Jepun dan dua orang juri jemputan dari Australia boleh pilih filem you sedangkan mereka tak faham bahasa kita?

P Ramlee: Filem dan lagu tidak memerlukan bahasa yang khusus. Seni adalah bahasa universal.. Gua (saya) hasilkan seni dari gua untuk masyarakat dan daripada masyarakat untuk gua. Ada nasihat ada sindiran dan teguran agar masyarakat boleh berfikir... Gua pun kutuk lu punya geng juga.. (sambil ketawa).

Ghazali: You kutuk apa? I tak nampak pun..

P. Ramlee: Alif mim nun wau tu lu punya geng la...

Ghazali: Hah.. I tak faham la..

P Ramlee: Alif itu akal, wau itu ugama. Alif tendang wau - sarkis, bermakna akal tendang (tolak) agama maka manusia akan menjadi seperti binatang-binatang sarkis, hidup tanpa agama ini hanya layak untuk (makhluk) bukan manusia saja. Alif min nun wau, kan bunyinya Umno.”

Mintak maghap no,

herman adnan said...

"Go ahead and be proud of your Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban and Kadazan identities but let us live in peace as Malaysians."


Unknown said...

Hats off to you Sir..

Unknown said...

👍, What you have wrote apply to the whole world. Bagus Pak!!

OKJ said...

Salam Dato Kadir’

Minta beri laluan untuk saya tambah sikit lagi ye.

Semalam AG kata video semburit tu tak berapa clear, jadi semua pelakonnya lepas. Najib kata kalau macam tu mungkin Haziq (yg dah mengaku pun) bersama dengan hantu raya la kot. Najib tanya lagi kenapa tak tengok CCTV hotel, tanya pekerja hotel, buat ujian menipu dan sebagainya. Saya bukannya suka Najib ni tapi betulla apa yg dia cakap tu.

Sekarang susahnya lah nak cari pemimpin Malaysia yg betul-betul jujur dan beriman, tahu tanggungjawab sebagai pemimpin, anggap kuasa itu adalah amanah dari Allah dan takut akan azab Allah di akhirat nanti kalau menipu dan mengambil kesempatan. Dulu tuduh Najib songlap duit dan Tun kata kita akan memerintah ikut “rule of law”. Sekarang macam macam alasan dibuatnya untuk menegakkan benang yg basah.

Pepatah melayu ada kata; “Siakap senohong gelama ikan duri, bercakap bohong lama-lama mencuri”. Sekian TQ.

Unknown said...

Sir you are great.

Jeev said...

Have you forgotten want scripts the malays used before jawi?

Law and justice said...

it's been officially announced Tun Mahathir will be acting Minister of Education with the full consensus of the cabinet and his team.
This is a good and smart move, let tensions calm and good sense prevail.
Nevertheless you will find that not all will be pleased, cannot please everyone all the time, some of the time can and some of the time cannot.
It's easy and cheap to talk and point fingers by the armchair critics, but hand them the job and they run away.
We know Tun will not run away and we wait to see how he will remake and redo the policies Mazlee put into place when he went against Tun and the cabinet.
As Tun said, not all the policies by Mazlee were wrong, give him his due, but when Mazlee decided to play the Lone Ranger he was writing his own downfall.
If only, if only he was advised correctly, but time does not wait.

buta tuli said...

I think half of those above the age of 50 have this experience and cherish it. This regardless of of skin.

I was a village boy. In the mukim ada 4 solok but only 3 sekolah (kebangsaan), 1 sekolah Cina and 1 sekolah Tamil. Somehow my oldman enrolled me in a English school (later SRJK(I) & today just SK) 11 miles from where we live. For a boy it was no fun having to be up at 5am to go to school. In this school we we knew no skin; Melayu, Cina, India, Kristang interact with one another and we keep in touch until today.

In the village and pekan we referred to our counterparts of other skin in the same way DAKJ described. It was norm and was in no way meant to degrade. It was very tolerant society and almost every one knew each other by name. That was Malaysia 50 years ago. When did we begin to become very intolerant of those other ethnicity, I can't recall. Mayhe just maybe the overemphasis of the Ranchagan Malaysia Baru from RMK1 was the beginning. Come Mahathir ultra then come the pious acting Anwar and Malaysia social fabric koyak rabak. But this pair lifted up Malaysia in the eyes of the world.

Subsequently things continue to be worse.

We can Malaysia of those days today. The elements are taking shape in this Malaysia Baru. Tetapi pihak yang kalah meyalak tak berhenti menakut-nakut kan orang Melayu. Orang Melayu tak takut pun (takkan hilang majoriti Melayu), orang Melayu yang aktif politik sebenarnya yang takut dan suka menakut-nakut kan orang Melayu itu sendiri. Ini la dia reliti nya. Yang bukan Melayu memang dah muak dengan game played by the Malay politicians. They have been taken to limit.

On the ground, sekolah pasang tanglung pun boleh jadi major issue. Apa sampah ni ? Aku kecik2 suka main tanglung ni. Mak kau sat lagi sibuk la ni kueh bakul, bipang dah start sampai kat rumah (kena return gift); culai ramai.

wansee c said...

What an awesome piece of article. Truly get a thrill out of it. Spot on and bang on about the topic of Jawi without any vestige of boredom, from the title till the last full-stop. Wish that all Malaysians have the opportunity to experience living in such a simplistic and carefree way of life like the good old days as you had depicted. Too bad, now things have changed and so, the reality is something quite the opposite. We are constantly reminded to watch our tongue for fear of touching someone on the raw, even though sometimes sensitive 2R words unwittingly spiralling out of control, triggering off unwanted hurt and chaos.

Couldn't agree more the advice you offered soliciting the cease of all negativity which has caused much disturbance in the society. But, you seem to miss out one seriously critical nuisance, ie. to plead with those untamed and uncouth dogs to stop barking. Just yesterday, a narcissistic tubby bulldog was barking so rowdy and ear-deafening with warning bells ringing, gearing up to pounce and attack in no time. Mind them, who cares whoever will be our next PM or whenever it will happen. Whatever it is, it is all up to the God willing, isn't it? It is impossible to foresee what comes next. So, pls ask them to stop the irritating howling as we just want to have a peace of mind and live in peace while waiting for the nation to fully recover in Tun's capable hands. Don't disturb him as our genius is at work, now double work, the acting Education Minister to deal face to face with DZ.

Law and justice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wizard said...

Jawi get burn by tunglung. We all should learn how to build tunglung.

Law and justice said...

recent news on the takeover of PLUS make interesting reading.
Proposals have come and gone.

Putrajaya must stop playing games with the rakyat on PLUS.
The rakyat is already THE shareholder of PLUS through EPF, MOF and KNB.
What is all this circus and rigmarole about a fifth investor?
Don't expect the rakyat to pay all over again!


TAXPAYERS even have the veto power to voluntarily wind up and dissolve PLUS.
Why cannot the government issue special Highway Bonds for say RM30 billion or whatever. The bonds can have a tenure of 18 years. The government can use our TAX PAYMENTS and settle the Highway Bonds over the next 18 years.

Take the MONEY FROM THE Highway Bonds and pay off all of PLUS' RM32b debts plus the repayment of the "unrecovered portions" of EPF and KNB's original investment in PLUS

Then PLUS is fully settled.
With that just abolish the tolls.

Then go and voluntarily wind up PLUS.
Can the government do that?
Yes they can. Here is how :
government has golden share in PLUS through MoF
government veto power to wind up / dissolve PLUS

Transport is under Anthony Loke of DAP, Maria Chin Abdullah used to lead Bersih, now a PKR MP, what about the likes of Tony Pua, Wong Chin Huat and those DAP people who are supposed to be good with numbers? What about Jomo?
Are they advising the PM? We don't expect them to argue the issues publicly and cause more chaos, but they must bring up these concerns to the PM and cabinet. Act in the best interests of the rakyat, we are in no mood for pirates or pillagers.

Remember, the previous govt used to fool some people all the time, but the govt CANNOT FOOL ALL THE PEOPLE ALL THE TIME.
The rakyat has grown up. We want to help the govt save the economy and the country, but we don't want the govt to rip us all over again and enrich cronies. No more stupid schemes please.

9:02 PM Delete

Law and justice said...

the rakyat is fully behind and totally support Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Latheefa Koya following the commission’s disclosure of several telephone recordings involving high-ranking officials including former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife.

Her bravery and courage has not gone unnoticed and has invited a certain response from the people who we are fighting against, against corruption, bribery, subversion of law and order.

As reported in the STAR, Lateefa said: "It has now come to my knowledge that in reaction to my disclosure on Jan 8, a criminal plot has been set in motion to fabricate and distribute materials intended to cast a slur upon my personal reputation.
“I wish to send a clear message to those who are behind this, that I will not be threatened or intimidated from carrying out my duty as the Chief Commissioner of the MACC.
“We believe that a lawyer is among the culprits involved in this plot, ” she said in a statement Monday (Jan 13) night.

She added that a police report would be made Tuesday (Jan 14) and that she would not falter from discharging her duties as the country’s top graft buster.

The IGP and Deputy IGP must quickly get to the bottom of these criminals and threats and ensure the safety and security of Lateefa and MACC staff.

Bravo to Lateefa and the current MACC !! We are grateful to your efforts to root out and disclose the evil still prevalent in the country and threatening to corrupt the rakyat, top and bottom.
Carry on fighting for us.

Dr.Fauzi Mohamad said...

Salam Datuk Kadir dari Bumi Indonesia.Saya warganegara Malaysia and resides in Indonesia for 21 years.Istri sah saya warga negara Indonesia,tetangga saya di complex perumahan saya, tak pernah saya amb tahu dan tak pernah saya tanya ethnic apa mereka. Saya sebagai warga negara asing dan telah diberi status PR tak pernah di anggap orang asing (WNA/Warganegara Asing). Telah kembali ke rahmatulah beberapa warga di complex kami, jika yang muslim,yang melayat/menziarah setiap penghuni complex dan juga dari warga luar,saya tahu mereka yang melayat bukan dari muslim dari pakaian mereka,tapi ada juga dari mereka yang bantu.Di puncak,Bogor ada satu daerah yang dikenali sebagai 'Kampong Arab' kerana ramai orang dari Timur Tengah tinggal di situ,dan juga pelancong Timur Tengah yang bercuti panjang,ada juga yang dah buka toko/kedai dan papan tanda pernigaan/Sign Board ditulis dalam bahasa arab, 3 minggu yang lalu Bupati Bogor/Kepala Daerah arahkan turunkan papan tanda perniagaan dalam bahasa arab atau bahasa jawi dan di kehendaki ditulis dalam bahasa Indonesia. Tapi percayalah anak saya yang berumor 20 boleh membaca dan menjadi Khotib baca khutbah.Yang di utamakan di Indonesia adalah ekonomi Rakyat yang baik dan bagus, maka dengan demikian Indonesia telah dinobat sebagai 10 kuasa ekonomi dunia.Saya sebagai pembusiness lebih memilih 'Hujan Emas Di Negeri Orang'.

About Me

My photo
I was born in 1947 in Kedah. I came from a rice farming family. I have been a journalist since 1969. I am the Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. I was Group Editor NST Sdn Bhd and Group Editor-in-Chief of NSTP Bhd between 1988 and 2000. I write fortnightly column “Other Thots” in the Malaysian Business magazine, Kunta Kinte Original in Berita Harian and A Kadir Jasin Bercerita in Dewan Masyarakat. Books: Biar Putih Tulang (1998), Other Thots – Opinions & Observations 1992-2001 (2001), The Wings of an Eagle (2003), Mencari Dugalia Huso (2006), Damned That Thots (2006), Blogger (2006), PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran (2008), Komedi & Tragedi-Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics (2009) and Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena (2009).