‘Ketuanan’ mentality must go, says cultural activist

Eddin Khoo, founder of the Pusaka group on Malay art forms. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Cultural activist Eddin Khoo has called for an end to the “ketuanan” (master) mentality of racial supremacy in order that Malaysian nation-building could move forward.

“There is no master on this earth. There is a defining culture and community but when there are conflicts among our “supremacy”, it will create a victim mentality and this is wounds Malaysia,” he said today at a forum on nation-building. “Every community assumes themselves as a victim of other community.”

He voiced his concern about Malays mostly only half aware of their culture and history, including the basic definition of what it means to be a Malay.

In deciding what was the defining culture, he said a basic question that needed to be answered was that of who is a Malay and what it means to be a Malay.

The definition of Malay was usually based on the constitutional definition. “Most Malay youth do not know what is Malay-ness except what is defined in the constitution.”

(The Federal Constitution defines a Malay as one who is a Muslim and habitually speaks the Malay language and adheres to Malay custom, and with family roots in Malaya or Singapore.)

Khoo said the issue lies with an increasingly rigid identity conflict and part of it is shaped by political beliefs.

The emergence of recent cultural issues, such as khat, vernacular schools, the status of the Malay language, recognition of UEC and others, stemmed from subliminal questions about identity.

“But we do not have a hold of our history to really address the various dimensions of the problems,” he said, and the situation was made worse by provocative comments on social media.

Khoo, who is the founder of Pusaka, a group working on the preservation of Malay cultural art forms, made his remarks in response to comments by panel moderator, Ashraff Mustaqim Badrul Munir of PPBM Youth.

Ashraff had suggested that national leaders had failed to address the issue of Malaysia’s defining culture, leading to the controversies over khat and status of the Malay language. He said: “Has the time come for us to once again discuss the issue of a defining race and who is the defining race? Are the Malays the defining race?”