I just attended Anugerah Mendaki to receive an award for my so-called stella performance during the A levels. Due to overwhelming feedback for a less serious, apolitical, non-academic approach to my posts, I shall attempt to describe what happened during the ceremony in the most relaxed tone possible.
I was initially very apprehensive about the whole event itself because no one I knew was going to attend the ceremony. But as I queued up to register, I saw Ashraf and Hirman, two RI friends who also had attended the previous Anugerah Mendaki after our PSLE (in 1999 if I remember correctly). It was immensely fun catching up with them and exchanging army experiences, with Ashraf being in OCS and Hirman being a Combat Medic. During the actual ceremony itself, I felt very nostalgic, looking at all the cherubic faces of the ignorant RI boys, just beginning their journey of rigour and competition in our “great” education system itself (I just had to emphasize this of course. :P) I could just remember the pride we felt, being the top few percent of our Malay cohort, who had done the community proud by doing well during the examinations.
However, I had a few reservations about the whole event itself. The lacklustre “curtain raiser”, as termed by the emcee, was a few classical pieces by a primary school string emsemble, which I felt was very out of place because it bear no relevance to the whole event itself. (There weren’t playing the Angklung and they weren’t made up of 36-odd Malay violinists and
cello-ists, if there is such a word cellists. And the closing performance by a Chinese Muslim from the Xinjiang province of China was simply weird, partly because it was a clash of culture between the Malays and Chinese, albeit the religious similarity. I can bet with you all the Makciks were horrified by the exposed yellow skin, swaying seductively to the beats of the Chinese song. And the emcee’s emphasis on her “joget-like” movements were simply hilarious!)
The question that remained in my mind as I left was what are we? What organisation is Mendaki? They say that they are a Malay/Muslim organisation but that covers a wide spectrum of mini-communities, each diametrically opposed culturally.
What I noticed first was distinct divide (or shall I say confusion) between the tudungs and non-tudungs. Some were dressed totally according to the Muslim protocal – tudung, baju kurung and some even wore the wrist extension things! While others were wearing tight shirts, skirts or pants – displaying a more secular and, some would say, modernised outlook. The guys of course mostly wore long-sleeved shirt and black pants, except for one or two who actually donned the baju kurung shirt.
Racially, it was a very diverse group, with many looking less Malay than the other. There were Indian-Muslims, Chinese-Muslims, Indian-Chinese-Muslims, Indian-Chinese-Malay-Muslims – you name the combo, we most probably had the mixture. (Putting this very very crassly of course! Those who have mixed heritage, please do not be offended by my cavalier approach to this issue. I am of Chinese and Malay heritage, with the my predominant Chinese features betraying my lack of Malay-ness)
Is this why we have Malay/Muslim rather than simply Malay because it would be a very miniscule elite community then? Or that Malay as a cultural definition has arbitrary boundaries that are easily moved across marriages, laws and geographical frontiers? I shall dwell on this issue in another post since I am supposed to keep this as non-academic as possible.
Its interesting to note how confused I felt after the ceremony, of how diverse our community has become. Betraying my cynicism and belief in the biological-determinist thesis by both Ms Lily Zubaidah and Dr Mahathir, I sincerely felt that without inter-racial marriages, our society would not have progressed as much. Noting the high percentage of award winners of mixed heritage, evident from their physical features or complex exotic names, portraying not even a single lingering sense of Malay-ness when their names are spoken, I really felt that these are telling signs.
Okay. I apologise. I have succumbed to temptation and covered something vaguely intellectual or seemingly GP-oriented.
On a more lighter note, I really thought the emcee was HOT! I must add one more essential characteristic that my future wife must – a nice sounding deejay voice! Okay does not sound very impressive but if you were there, you would have been awed by womanly tenor of her voice, seamlessly moving from Malay to English and back to Malay again. I can listen to her talk all night! OMG! And she was quite beautiful too! At least, even if I zone out all her rantings, I will be able to simply concentrate on her voice and be swept away into dream land. Sigh. Its extremely hard to effective swtich from English to Malay without sounding awkward or weird. She was simply perfect!
How was that for a “less serious, apolitical, non-academic approach”?