Tuesday, 5 April 2011

KL Malays

KL Malays are a mixed kettle. There are many types and they cross-breed and inbreed so much so that the family trees are so entangled and some with missing links.

One type is the pure Malays who inbreed and don't out-marry, to keep wealth within controllable loops (my term is guni perang or tempayan tutup). There are three types who fall into this category and it is hard to infiltrate these sub-groups.

One Malay group is a mix of Chinese-Malay and Indonesian ladies. These Malays are filthy rich and do good business. They have good networks that support their businesses. Another type is Indian-Malay and Indonesian ladies. Their sons are dark but their daughters are fair and mistaken for Arab ladies which is misleading. There are others but it is hard to tell as after many generations, they all look the same, neither Malay, Chinese nor Indian. Nak panggil apa pun tak tau! Let me just refer to them as the 'homogeneous Malay features', senang cerita!

The only reason we call them all Malay is they pronounce the Malay words properly and their sentence structure is acceptable to pass them as Malay. Otherwise I too don't know that they are indeed Malays.

Migration and immigration, transfers etc etc etc, they all result in people mobility and families are constantly on the move, some more frequent than others. The more frequent movers are usually the mixed breeds and they tend to out-marry, resulting in a further complicated mix that nobody wants to try classify their issues. What to do? The world seems so mixed. Lesson learned, if we want to try categorise people and classify them into rigid classes, it is not worth the effort. Natural tendency will always result in more and more complex mixes and we too have to keep creating more classes to fit everyone. So the word Malay should be able to take all those who THINK and WANT to be accepted as Malays. 

Dressing style is a difficult issue to tackle as Malaysian women go all the way out to get what beautiful dress they need and very often, dress to kill! Yes, they dress to kill! If your eyes don't pop out and your hearts don't quiver when you see these beautiful scantily dressed torsos, I think you might as well be dead! Just wait at any LRT station if you don't believe me. If it's not the top cleavage that's showing, then it's the other one that they try to show off. But that's being very Malay and Malay women in KL are best at it! There are no rules governing Malay dress when Malay females go public. But that shouldn't mean that Malay women in KL who wear revealing clothes are all prostitutes, often they are not. It's just their natural tendency for preferred way to dress in hot weather. Let's just assume that. Well, go ask them! No wonder ustaz and ustazah nowadays always say "Yang kakak pakai baju adik, yang adik telanjang bulat! Tarik atas nampak bawah, tarik bawah nampak atas!" What to do? Now even the navels are showing and these women decorate their navels with pierced rings and gemstones! Well, you doctors can collect the gemstones when they die but leave in the pierced ones. Better still, when you tie the umbilical cord in newborns, make sure you  also clip it to the abdominal wall so it doesn't invert and create a hole for them to stick in gemstones. Of course their families will curse you for such an innovation and the MMA will retract your APC! Well if you do nothing about Malay dress today, then I think soon you will see naked patients walk in to your clinics! Then your eyes will pop out like mata ikan tongkol.

Malacca Malays

Malacca Malays fall into a few distinct types. Most are mixes and they live in towns (urbanised). The pure Malays are usually of Bugis descent and often of dark complexion.  They live is far out villages and some are farmers. Their counterparts are Bugis of fair complexion and can be found in the far reaches of rivers of Terengganu, Pahang and Selangor (most are sea-farers and they travel by sea or river). The mixed Malays are distinct but can be confusing trying to discern where they actually belong. The Indian-Portuguese mixes are dark and they can be found in the Portuguese Settlement. I've found some who even migrated as far as Sabah, Borneo island. The Chinese-Portuguese mixes are often tan and they may also live in the Settlement. The Malay-Portuguese are very rare because they cannot marry on religious grounds. The Chinese can be pure bred and they inbreed to keep wealth within limits. However, some do marry outside the clan, and they give rise to the Malay Nyonya & Malay Baba. These people look Chinese and often have fair complexion. They speak Malay and dress like Malay kampung folks. They speak Nyonya-Baba Malay which is very distinct and only they speak this type of Malay. When they speak, they also joke, and when it's really a big joke, they laugh so loud (boleh pecah rumah). Another type of mixed Malays are the Arab-Malays. They are usually dark but after many generations of marrying to the Chinese, they can become fair but not as fair as the pure bred Chinese. They do have slant eyes but they speak very good Malay. They can be called Baba-Nyonya but often they are regarded as orang atas (big people) and given some high status in society. Thus, they go by salutation and when you hear the salutation, you know their status within their community. The most noticeable salutation is Inche which became Enchik for males and now Encik. When the salutation is used, the maiden name is automatically dropped and never asked, and usually nobody knows the real names of such women. There are many women in Malacca who are known by a single syllable and nothing else! There is another group of Malays who are very dark and their nose and cheeks very prominent. These are the Chetty people. Their women dress in tight small kebaya. Another group of Malays is the Malay mixes with Chinese and who may have slant eyes or normal eyes but they dress in long loose kebaya panjang. These elegant women are from the higher class and usually their fathers or relatives work for the Malay Sultans in nearby Malay states. These ladies have Chinese call names and Malay full names. Often the full Malay names are unknown and they go by just the call names. They usually work/exist in a group of related individuals of three (don't ask me why three). There is a group of Malays in Malacca who have natural tight curly orange hair and blue irises. These are Malays from Cocos Keeling island of Australia. They are Malay and speak Malay but sometimes they can't understand what we say in Malay. They are the result of inbreeding which went on on Cocos Keeling island long ago. I can't recall the inbreeding anymore. You may be able to dig up old history books for that. The White man who owned the Malay slaves needed manual labour to farm the island so inbreeding was done (don't ask me how but there's only one way). The Malay slaves were paid shells. I have seen them and they have rosy cheeks and freckles. If only one Malay was there and the White man was master, and the slave raped, of course every child will bear the features of the White master. That's history.

Overall, I think the Malacca Malays are most complicated but most fascinating of all the Malays in this big Malay Archipelago.  I'm not from Cocos Keeling island. I'm from the Malacca Malays and have been mistaken for a Portuguese or Eurasian and such weird mixes.

Kelantan Malays & SKMK

The pure Kelantan Malays are tan to dark. But with the influx of refugees and other racial groups, today's Kelantan Malays vary in appearance and complexion. The Malay-Chinese mixes are generally fair, sometimes pale white or rosy. The Malay-Indian mixes are either fair or tan, sometimes quite dark, and some can resemble Blacks. 

Inbreeding is popular to keep wealth within the families and relatives. Quite a number of conditions are seen as a result of cousin marriages. The most obvious is the one without a normal skin, just a transparent hard/tough scaly skin that is both itchy and purulent from ceaseless scratching. I will refer to the skin condition as dragon skin without pigment. I've seen two cases myself, one at KB Mall and another on campus. Since ladies here cover themselves, the skin is not seen. Therefore, such conditions go undetected unless one takes a close look at the hands and feet. Most shy away from going to hospital and prefer conservative treatment for the itchiness. No amount of cooling cream can take away the itchiness. 

Otherwise Kelantan ladies are a delight. As the Kelantan people usually say to visitors, "Sampai Kelantan mesti kahwin!" or SKMK (literally, you must marry when you reach Kelantan). This charm has worked for most Kelantan beauties. I think most men who marry to Kelantan beauties have no regrets. There may be a few unfortunate cases but that's life.

Will photoshoot later.

Izrin Muaz bin Md Adnan

Izrin Muaz is a researcher at CenPRIS in USM.

LL.B (UiTM) MA (Strategy and Diplomacy) (UKM),
Ext     : 4538 / 5013
Email : izrinmuaz@usm.myThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
International Relations, Separatist Conflicts, Regional Security, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Islam in Southeast Asia
Link to Izrin Muaz


Telephone: 04 - 6532047
Fax: 04 - 6591624

Penang Malays

This is USM research about Penang Malays and who discovered Penang. It covers the Masjid Melayu (Jamek) Lebuh Aceh. There are many useful links for archeologists and for those who are interested in what Tanah Melayu/Malaya was like before Sir Francis Light came  to Penang.

Penang Malays

Here are some photos related to Penang Malays or Malays found in Penang, their homes and mosques.

Malay girl at Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang
Malay girl at Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang
A renovated old wooden house in the compound of Masjid Melayu (Jamek) Lebuh Aceh. This type of Malay house does not use nails and contains no nails. The doors use long wooden poles as locks.
Modern, beautifully-designed Malay townhouses in the grounds of Masjid Melayu (Jamek) Lebuh Aceh

Malay home in the compound of Masjid Melayu (Jamek) Lebuh Aceh. The house and masjid face each other.
Masjid Melayu (Jamek) Lebuh Aceh, Penang. This is a very beautiful Malay mosque. The cream and light blue colours are characteristic colours used for hospitals in Malaya.
Jalan Jelutong - Jalan Perak bifurcation (photo is blur as it's from a moving car and we weren't decided which road to take, left or right and almost crashed into the signboard!). Jelutong has a large community of the descendants of the early Hadrami Arabs in Penang, the same Arabs who went on to Malacca, and finally Singapore. The 9th, 10th and 11th generations should be around somewhere in the vicinity of Jelutong or outside Penang. Their mosque is Masjid Jelutong. Some may still speak Arabic. If you hear them calling sheikh, walid or ami, that's them. They comprise Al-Yamani clan.
Malay house in Kampung Dodol, Jalan Perak, Penang. The houses in this area are built high above ground to avoid the annual floods. The Masjid Wanchee Ariffin faces the junction to this village.
Masjid Jamek Hashim Yahaya, Jalan Perak, Penang. This area is dominated by Indian Muslims who speak Tamil and Jawi Peranakan of Punjabi/Bengal/Sindhi extract who speak Punjabi/Urdu/Hindustani. There are many Indian Muslim, Penang Malay, Jawi Pekan & Jawi Peranakan graves here. The older tombstones are wooden and the more recent ones are made of granite or marble. Datok Keramat is buried in this area.
Entrance to Makam Dato Keramat viewed from inside the roofed mausoleum.
Makam Dato Keramat has bright blue tombstones. Those of his family members are also inside the mausoluem which is closed to public.

Sejarah Datuk Keramat:

Memories of World War II - the pill-boxes

The pill-boxes (kubu pertahanan) are still around especially along roads in Penang and the East-West highway near Pulau Banding. I took a look inside one in Kota Bharu - it is really small inside, claustrophobic too. Sometimes I wonder whether we should build these pill boxes instead of the regular homes since WWIII is inevitable. The recent Japanese quake & tsunami should make us think. 

Back to WWII. From the stories told about these pill-boxes in Kelantan, the British filled these pill-boxes with Indian soldiers who were also chained so that they could not run away. These chained Indian soldiers did all the firing at the Japanese soldiers when they advanced on land and they died in the pill-boxes in Pantai Sabak while defending Kelantan. They ate whatever supplies they had and they peed and lived in their own cesspool. Nothing is written about these Indians who died in the pill-boxes. I don't have their names but I think we should all be thankful that they fought to defend our country. Only the people who chained them must answer why they resorted to such actions.

Jalan Dato Ismail Hashim
Pill-box at a T-junction in Jalan Dato Ismail Hashim, Bayan Baru, Penang

Pill-box in the open-air display at WWII Memorial in Kota Bharu, Kelantan

Memories of World War II in Kelantan

Kelantan experienced the worst attack as it was the first place where the Japanese army landed in Malaya. You can read about this particular war in Kelantan from books written by the British Army generals which are available cheaply from Muzium Kelantan office in Kota Bahru. The Japanese Army landed at Pantai Sabak in the heavy monsoon rain, and their advancement inland was made difficult by the marshes and nipah palms which grew aplenty by the creeks that led to the vast South China Sea. Today, the initial landing site is miles from the shore and lies submerged from aggressive erosion by strong undercurrents which are typical at Pantai Sabak (no swimming is allowed at this beach).

My two daughters inscribed this in the wet sand

Malay kampung at Pantai Sabak. That's my Kelisa.

This cenotaph has names of fallen WWI and WWII British staff

Australian WWII Memorial in Kota Bharu

Japanese army landing boat, more have been found abandoned in rivers

Views of North Bay, Penang - then and now

One small hill at the far end of the tanjung (promontory) has disappeared.

North Bay as it appears in Twentieth Century Impression of British Malaya, 1908.
North Bay viewed from Gurney Hotel, 18 December 2010. Courtesy of Faridah Abdul Rashid.