Are Saudis better than Malays?

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When Najib Abdul Razak told Malaysians that he was aping former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s ‘Look East’ policy, another leader was also looking east. That person was the Saudi Arabian monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Saudi Arabia is our second largest trading partner in the Middle East, and around 60 percent of our exports comprise of palm oil-based products, processed food and machine parts.

With plunging oil prices, Salman knew he had to diversify his economy. With an increasing budget deficit, he turned towards the growing Asian market to tap into their emerging economies.

Trading with Saudi Arabia is fine, but there is one Saudi import that we can do without. Since the 1980s, the Saudis used their petrodollars to build mosques, madrasahs, Arabic language schools, fund religious clerics and buy religious textbooks; but the most damaging aspect was the ‘corruption’ of local culture by the Saudi Wahhabism ideology.

Look around you, many of the Malays refuse to shake your hand (if you are a woman), refuse to eat in your home (if you are non-Malay), and dress like an Arab. They are probably the by-products of an intolerant Islam. Were the Malays like this in your parents’ or grandparents’ time?

Once upon a time, Malay boys aspired to be doctors, lawyers, artists or engineers. Today, many want to become an ‘ustad’. They have few interests, especially as their parents, and community keep drilling into them the necessity to prepare for life after death.

The Malays of a generation ago were a different breed. They were fun-loving. They did not mind laughing at themselves. They counted many non-Malays amongst their friends. They took pride in their Malay culture, language, dress and food. They were not as sensitive as today’s lot.

With the creeping Arabisation, the rich Malay culture is almost unrecognisable. Malay children are given Arabic sounding names, many of which are unpronounceable and just as difficult to spell. From an early age, the girls are covered up and separated from the boys. They may not play together. We litter our conversation and speeches with Arabic phrases.

During Ramadan, today’s Malays will break their fast with dates, just because the Prophet did so. What happened to the traditional kueh and sirap bandung?...

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