Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two Malays fighting over a future ideological legacy

How might the British thinker Terry Eagleton analyze the scene and dialogue below?





EXCERPT FROM A PREVIOUS ESSAY...

"Who writes Malaysian history?"

The intelligentsia of the ruling class who had the means of producing history wrote Malaysian history. Marx was partly correct - the history of any nation is… the history of the ruling class. Those who owns the pen writes and as the hand writes, nothing is erased. The feudal Malay and Javanese kings had their court historians who produced historical ‘facts’ on batu bersurat (talking stones) on which ideologies were inscribed.

The Hindu kingdoms from antiquity had their Valmiki to write about the story of Prince Rama, and the blind poet Vyasa to narrate the history of the great war of Mahabharatha. The Japanese Shogunate had Lady Murasaki to write the ‘Genji Monogatari’ (The Tale of Genji), and the Malays had their Tun Sri Lanang to write about the glory of Malay feudalism. The British East India Company probably had a stable of historians, including Stamford Raffles who is said to have “founded Singapore” even though there were already natives living happily under tyrannical traditional rulers. Richard O Winstedt was certainly playing the quadro-hybrid role of historian-apologist-propagandist-Otherist of the dying British Empire.

The Malacca Sultanate too probably had a stable of oral and print historians who craft selected memories for the future generations so that the legacy of the Sultanate would continue; legacies that produce the signs, symbols, signification, and representation of feudalism that have neatly evolve into this cybernetic-neo-corporate-crony-capitalistic-feudalism which legitimises the sustaining of an economic order based on the feudal system of profits through patronage. Tun Sri Lanang was the quintessential historian-apologist-propagandist-Otherist of the dying Malacca Kingdom; one that succumbed to the might of the technologies of guns, guts and glory of the Portugese.

In Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), this court historian’s name is inscribed on its main library. ‘Naming’ is history’s political tool in which inscriptions become institutions that produce and reproduce ideologies. Revise everything If we wish to have a people’s history of Malaysia, we must do two things: rewrite history and teach our children multiple perspectives in historicising. After 50 years, the state of Israel is having a problem holding on to Zionist interpretation of history.

What is happening now is a continuing fallout of the dangers of selective historicising, especially when such as history is produced as a biblical truth, grounded in 2,000 years of ‘memory’ etched in passages of the Old Testament. After 200 years of American Independence, high school textbooks had to be constantly revised to accommodate newer interpretations of multi-culturalism; one that takes into consideration the contributions of groups, peoples, and nations that helped build America. The idea of inclusive historicising guides textbook writers to produce historical ‘facts’ that speak to the masses more than propagate post-colonial propaganda.

America was an ex-colony and a nation in which no group can claim the land as theirs. Perhaps this explained the popular slogan of post-9/11 America which consoles the nation as ‘Home of the Brave, Land of the Free’; a slogan that reminds Americans to be ‘patriotic’ (a foreign word in the American psyche). After almost 50 years of Merdeka and if we are to survive like the 200-year-old America, we must question authority, including ‘authoritative sources’ in history. The modern owners of the means of producing history lies in the ‘panel of experts’ whose consciousness that help them do history is limited to the dictates of the ideology of post-colonial Malaya.

The curriculum in textbooks and teaching manuals are not neutral artifacts; they are political tools for psycho-social reproduction. It must have been difficult for historians of Universiti Putra Malaysia, UKM or even Universiti Malaya to understand the wave of post-structuralism and counter-factual historicism as spectres that are haunting the way we ought to revise history. Old way of looking at events in history and propagating them as truths may no longer work with this generation of Malaysians that are tired of the lies their history teachers told them. The new generation of Malaysians want to read about the sufferings of the peasants under the Malay feudal lords; the dehumanisation of Indian rubber-tappers under the British colonialists; and the hardship of living in slums and dwellings in tin mines.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Malays?

I thought these two "Hangs" were Chinese!

amoker said...

History is written by the winners.. or bigots. kekek

Nora said...

Somebody asked me once : The Fight between Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat, who represent the Truth...

I think the truth is "Who is more Powerful at that particular moment in time"

telur dua said...

The truth shall set you free, but in Malaysia it will lead you to free board and lodging in Kamunting.

Remember, BN/UMNO has a monopoly on the truth and what's good for the country. No one, no one should question that even it means dragging the country back 50 years.

History is always written by the victor.

Anonymous said...

Nobody, since I was small that can confirmed these two "HANGS' and even now the story is still a hangover that I dare not discuss with my two sons as both of them will chop me off with sarcasm for the facts that their dad is the recipient of an award befits one of the "HANG" and they will put the final blow with such word-otiose and zilch!!!
So Dr, do you know the truth?
Anyway, its trendy that "two Malays fighting over a future ideological legacy" is norm in Politik Malaysia and will never end until a deep change has occurred in the Malay mind.
All the best.

themalaypress said...

Hikayat Hang Tuah was mere illusion. Written by 'nobody', approved by Windsted...subscribed by malay scholars...

Nora said...

As a Malay Literature Student in Singapore, I spend hours debating with my fellow friends about this. Hang Tuah seen as the "embodiment of truth.....protecting and preserving the monarchy etc..." At certain moment in time, its right to see it that way... but now with the coming of newer generation with new ideas, such are not acceptable anymore. Hang Jebat became the favorite ... the rebellious one... the upholder of justice... against the cruel and evil monarch.

I remember reading somewhere that the real battle is between Hang Tuah and Hang Kasturi. Somehow the whole story got twisted, and Hang Jebat came into the picture instead. Why? Are these two figures mere symbolic figure? Hang Tuah represent devotion and preservation, bind by vow made by a true warrior, while Hang Jebat is the upholder of justice. Both are warriors in their own way and react as expected of them.

If we look within our self we are constantly challenge with these two aspect…the winner depend on who is much stronger in that particular moment in time.

Revisiting the two hangs remind me of the battle between Romulus and Remus.

Nora said...

"Hikayat Hang Tuah was mere illusion. Written by 'nobody', approved by Windsted...subscribed by malay scholars..."

This is the same as saying the Malay Annals too are an illusion written by deluded group of people. So also means the malays are also an illusionate people who are a nobody... no history of their own and no culture?

komando said...

hang tuah - hng tu ah
hang lekiu - hng le kew
hang jebat - hng je fatt
hang lekir - hng lee keat

so when hang kasturi came into the picture, he was a good friend to the the hang'S

kasturi is malay, the rest china man lor!

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