Nov 20, 2006

Research proves that "Amok" is in the blood of Malays?

Interesting article that is backed with references to statements made by foreigners regarding Malays. So the question is whether it's still relevant for the present Malays society. I guess we can find more answers from the recent UMNO general assembly?.

Words of Frank Swettenham who described this as the land of the amok. In his words:

‘Malaya, land of the pirate and the amok, your secrets have been well guarded, but the enemy has at last passed your gate, and soon the irresistible juggernaut of Progress will have penetrated to your remotest fastness, ‘civilised’ your people, and stamped them with the seal of a higher morality’.


As Alatas (1977) and Winzeler (1990) have shown, colonial studies of Malay characteristics and cultural practices were often used to provide the basis of justification for the paternalistic attitude towards the colonised Malay subjects. Malay cultural traits such as amok, latah and others were superficially studied and documented, with undue emphasis on the more sensational aspects of the phenomenon(3). Such studies were also used to further consolidate the belief that the Malays, as a people, were culturally and genetically inferior to their western rulers due to their weak character. The stereotype of the child-like, unstable and unreliable Malay was thus developed on all possible levels and in all possible spheres: from orientalist literature to ‘serious’ academic studies, from the field of health and welfare to public housing and town planning. So pervasive and influential were the beliefs regarding the culturally and environmentally-determined defects of the Malays that they would endure even up to the postcolonial era in the perceptions of Europeans and Asians alike.

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