Friday, 17 May 2013

The Chinese I Know

Everywhere I turn to look, I see a Chinese. But what I do not know is that Chinese I see is a child of a Malay couple! What is happening? Yes, Malays have always adopted Chinese children from before Merdeka. There are so many of these adopted Chinese children that sometimes I wonder what has happened to the Chinese family system.

The Chinese families that I know, have many children. But know the Chinese family is only with 2 kids. So the Chinese nuclear family is only 4 people - father, mother, son and daughter. What happened? Why has the Chinese family size contracted?

Malay families who adopt Chinese children do so out of pity. Malays are known to be soft people - they cannot bear to see others suffer. So Malay families adopt and look after Chinese children as if they were their own. They go to the extent of changing the child's name to a Malay name and use their name for surname (which is forbidden in Islam). That's why we see Chinese children with Malay names and with Malay foster parents. It is a common phenomenon even today.

Why are Chinese children preferred over other races? Chinese are fair, Indians are dark. Between the two, the Malays prefer the Chinese child. Only in Kelantan today do we hear about and see childless Malay families adopting Rohingya newborns. This is a new phenomenon.

Back to the Chinese issue, is it worth adopting Chinese children? What happens to these children in the long run? Some have made it fine, some are left alone. If these adopted Chinese children grow up and live within a good Malay community, she will survive and be happy. She will still suffer being outcast at times but it is still livable. There are instances of adopted Chinese children who grow up to be happy and fine but they are lonely in old age. They are outcast by their Chinese features even though they are fluent Malay speakers. What's wrong? It is not easy integrating into a Malay community in old age.

Sitting on my Chinese maid's lap when I was still a baby in cloth nappies in Petaling Jaya, 1958.

Che-cheh when she was young ... she was my grandfather's maid after WWII and for her entire life, until she left to go to the kongsi in her old age and she died there. 1958 photo.

My grandfather's second wife, a Chinese lady.