The Way We Were by Yin

Although Islam had always been an important part of the Malay upbringing, there was acceptance of other races and religions. This was most evident pre 1970.  Then, there was a more liberal and laissez faire attitude among the Malays themselves towards religion and religious rituals. Many Malays (especially in the urban and semi-urban areas) went to Mission Schools and there was a greater mixing of the races. Malays visited their non-Malay friends in their house and partook of drinks and food, confident that their religious requirements were respected by their non-Muslim friends. Malays, Chinese and Indians ate together in coffeeshops.

Our first prime minister, Tunku, when criticized for drinking and going to the races, was said to have replied that he was answerable to Allah only. But the Tunku was not the only Malay who drank or went to the races.

There was even a Guinness Stout advertisement in the Malay Teachers Union magazine. Most Malay women did not wear the tudung and Malay girls played sports like girls from other communities. Religion was considered a private matter between the believer and his God – it was not imposed from without.

Today the Tunku would have been condemned as a bad person and prime minister. But did the Tunku steal from the country or recklessly squandered the country’s wealth on speculations and propping up failed companies of relatives and cronies?

For all their religious posturing, do our ministers today have more integrity than those in Tunku’s cabinet? And are the tudung clad women, and goateed men today, with all their outward observance of rituals, more pious than their grandmothers and grandfathers.

We used to be a liberal and tolerant country, so what happened? How did we become the narrow minded, intolerant, country we are?


By Yin

Ward 5, Tanjong Rambutan




  • kochidarma says:

    Yin, I am not surprised you are in Tanjong Rambutan. Looks like I will be joining you there soon. Life was so different in late 50s and 60s. Without any severe religious education the Malays, Chinese, Indians and others from East Malaysia knew what was right and decent and led harmonious life with healthy race relationships. Today right is wrong and the wrong is rewarded and glorified while the healthy multi-racial relationships has gone to the dogs and even the dogs have gone crazy with rabies! Be happy while you are there. I envy you!

  • Khairil Anwar says:

    We became Arab of the East by emulating the Arabs thinking that Arabs are the holiest among Muslims. What this Malays do not know is that Arabs are only holy in their own countries, once the are abroad the ugly truth start to show. MALAYS ARE ASHAME OF THEIR IDENTITY SO WE BORROW FROM THE ARABS. NO MORE BAJU MELAYU REPLACED BY JUBAHS NO MORE BAJU KURUNG REPLACED BY HIJABS. SOON NO MORE MALAYSIA MAYBE CHANGE TO ARABSIA. THAT WILL BE THE DAY……SAD SAD

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