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An Utterly Shameful Representation Of The Malays? – OpEd

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For a related article read: A Piece Of Advice After Malaysia’s Bersih Rally Five – OpEd

Analysing the events that happened — the humiliation of peaceful protesters, harassment, intimidation, terroristic-threats — leading to the 60,000-Yellow Shirt-BERSIH-Rally strong that ended peacefully in Kuala Lumpur, I have this to say about those who are out to misrepresent the Malays:

Aren’t Malaysians tired of seeing the Malays being represented as buffoons, stupid, amok-prone, close-minded, rempits, kris-kissing fools, AliBaba forty-thieves, rejects, religious fanatics, red-shirts, whatever shirts… it is a clever production and reproduction of the Malay ruling class, both feudal and wannabe-feudal… so that the Jebat aspect of the Malay – the amuck, the wannabe-sultan, the misogynic, the sex-maniac-royal groper and rapist of ancient Malacca, the royal-jet-setting-good-for-nothing-ancient-kings, the hedonistic, the grotesque epicure, the gangster, the absurd –is pushed forward and propagated to strengthen the Tuah aspect – the fool that followed the foolish orders of the foolish and idiotic Malacca sultan, the womaniser-cum-religious leader – the bad hombre of Malay culture – these are the twin representation of the Malays.

A laughing stock – the Malays are made to become.

This is what the ruling class wants to use as ‘Hitlerian Youth’. This image must be destroyed. For way too long the image of the Malay as wise, learned, philosophical, tassauwuf/sufistic being, the communicatively competent , the Old School pre-Merdeka Johor type, the prudent, the proverb-loving, the artistic, the high-cultured, a nation of high intellect and Jawi-literate Malay, the deeply perceptive and reflective, the viewer of materialism both as “rezeki/god’s bounty” to be careful with and to not let it be a corrupter of the soul, the Raja Haji-type of Malay (warrior who fought against the Dutch with bravery and with philosophy… where are you now, these Malays?

Aren’t we sick of the red-shirts’ antics and their representation of the Malays? a representation that has also been used successfully by the non-Malays – through the power of discourse of a newer Malay fascism hegemonising national perceptions?

Then there is the display of silat to ineffectively and hilariously scare people off.

Malays don’t need this representation as well. It was useful as a way for good, morally upright warriors of the 15th.century to kill their sultans, such as in the famous story of the death of the pervert and womanising and power-drunk sultan, Mahmud of Kota Tinggi, Johor. He was killed by his own Laksamana Megat Seri Rama while he was carried by his serfs on his mobile-throne, the ‘julang’, hence the story Mahmud Mangkat di Julang.

That evil-fool called a sultan killed the laksamana’s wife Dang Anum simply because she ate a piece of jackfruit (sebiji buah nangka) from the Raja’s orchard – because she was craving for it. She was pregnant. The raja ordered her stomach to be cut open to retrieve the jackfruit. That was the story of the Malay sultan worshipped by his people.

Laksamana Megat Seri Rama, skilled in silat, had to put the fool to death. Good for the sultan. That’s how a good silat man or woman ought to do – get rid of tyrants when while they are on their throne.

But strangeness we are seeing in the use of the Malay art of self-defense. Lost is the meaning of SILAT as I understood it – ‘silatur-rahim’ or to make peaceful connections with other human beings – with Chinese, Indians, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Martians, Jupiterians, Robots and Androids… or even Trump-supporters. SILATUR_RAHIM that is what it means. Some Malays don’t even understand the simple meaning of a Malay word.

Read… read… read…

If only each family inculcate the love of reading, of wisdom, of humility, of perspective-taking, of respecting others, of appreciating and learning from the arts, sciences, world music, and become a good global citizen – we will not need to do this in public: Beat each other up with planks while doing the breakdance. READ… READ… READ… in the name of thy Lord who created thee… that foundational verse “Iqra bismi rab bikal lazee khalaq”.

I’d say: stay home, take off your colored shirt, wear your singlet and your sarong/kain pelikat if you are still feeling hot and angry, help mum bake cookies, and read and read, read and be more intelligent in understanding what is ailing our society.

What a waste of time some these Malays are doing harassing people on the streets, storming buildings, running after cars, yelling incomprehensibles – all in the name of truth? What truth then?

How much money is being given to the cause of the rebellion without a real cause? This is the puzzling aspect of the red-shirt movement – why are they harassing those who wants to see a better Malaysia? A cleaner society and one that is not only for the Malays, or for the Muslims, or exclusively for the Malay-Muslims but a Malaysia for all Malaysians. Is that not a simple concept of good citizenship to comprehend and to fight for? I don’t think it is.

The way these troubles are created seem troubling and ‘out of place’ in a Malaysia – a globalised Malaysia of the 21st century. It seemed like a very awkward, rude, uncouched, uncultured way of exercising free speech. It seemed like a well-paid job done without rhyme or reason or sincerity. But the worst part is that it is claimed to be one “defending the rights of the Malays” when the Malays in general do not wish to be defended as such. It is a shameful way.

What ought to be done is to stop these grotesque ways of behaving and start the work of helping the Mat and Minah Rempits, the single mothers, the youth who are about to go into the dungeons of drug addiction, and the Malays who think that Tanah Melayu is theirs alone and others are “intruders in history” and ought to be sent back to where they came from.

These are the Malays that need to be helped and their dignity restored. That would be a nobler job for the red-shirt gang or any gang wearing whatever shirt yelling for Malay Rights. That is the jihad of peace the Malays in general would agree to be associated with.

Not the run-amuck, latah, and drunken Jebat and foolish Tuah Malays we no longer wish to see.

Let us help destroy this image of the Malays. We are not fools. We have never been.

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books, namely Multiethnic Malaysia: Past, Present, Future (2009), Thesis on Cyberjaya: Hegemony and Utopianism in a Southeast Asian State (2012), The Allah Controversy and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity (2013), Dark Spring: Essays on the Ideological Roots of Malaysia's General Elections-13 (2013), a first Malay publication Kalimah Allah Milik Siapa?: Renungan dan Nukilan Tentang Malaysia di Era Pancaroba (2014), Controlled Chaos: Essays on Mahathirism, Multimedia Super Corridor and Malaysia's 'New Politics' (2014), and One Malaysia under God, Bipolar (2015). Five of the books are available here. He grew up in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and holds a doctorate in International Education Development from Columbia University in the City of New York, and Master's degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Columbia University chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. He currently teaches courses in Global Politics, Cross-Cultural Studies, and Sustainability, in the United States. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

40 thoughts on “An Utterly Shameful Representation Of The Malays? – OpEd

  • Avatar
    November 21, 2016 at 2:50 pm
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    An extremely well concieved. And written piece as I have ever read.You have certainly done all your homework.and then some. Brilliantly crafted , but understood by few.More please Dr.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      November 23, 2016 at 12:26 pm
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      Dr. Azli, it is so well written. I salute you!!
      Unfortunately it is not written in bahasa and those people who need to be awakened will have no chance to read your article.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    November 21, 2016 at 11:27 pm
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    If only he would write in Malay.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      November 24, 2016 at 7:41 am
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      No harm done writing in english, so that not only Malaysian people can read the article since english is an international language.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        January 3, 2017 at 9:23 am
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        Nothing wrong, only that it wouldn’t reach the crowd who need it most.

        Reply
  • Avatar
    November 21, 2016 at 11:41 pm
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    Sometimes what you virtually see is not what it is . Still waters runs deep

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 12:12 am
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    Dear Doctor
    Well written from a learned and well exposed person…
    Perhaps you must have written similar articles on the Malays thinking in bahasa but in anecdotes…..in ensuring wider readership
    Since we know our society doesn’t read but wannabes who would follow someone who knows slightly better than him…!!!
    I appreciate your contributions…which might not reach those who hunger for great leaders !!!! Terima kaseh

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 12:18 am
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    Well written, good read.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 12:54 am
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    Man of wisdom. World would be a better place with more man like Dr Azly. Respect.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 1:57 am
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    Well written piece Dr Azly. Though, for all intents and purposes, majority of the audience whom I presume you are addressing will not comprehend what you have just brilliantly shared. It should be asked that they baca baca baca…

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 2:11 am
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    Well thought out and written

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 2:27 am
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    Extremely well composed and conceived detailing the history tracks of behavioural nature and reality of the current issues that needed dead serious attention. Frank and on spot. Hope it opens up the eyes of our bunch of “Stevie Wonders” political leaders.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 2:36 am
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    A little too verbose. The word ‘uncouched’ or ‘uncouthed’ ?

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  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 3:28 am
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    Dear Dr Azly, I think we really need people like you, who are knowledgeable, intelligent & open minded to run the country. Most people, especially the Malay community are being led astray by the current government.Rather than focusing on how to move the country forward, empowering each and every one citizen in the country with knowledge and integrity, the authorities are scamming and cheating away just for the sake of their own interest. I can’t say that I am any better than them because I’m not. I’m still learning. But what I hope to see is, all of us growing & prosper together into the future. Praying for someone who is eligible and really put the people in their hearts to run the country.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 3:34 am
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    This is the view that represents the MAJORITY of the Malays

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 3:34 am
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    Aptly opined.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 3:56 am
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    I know in our crowd there is someone who is eloquent and intelligent enough to open the Malays eyes. As a Johorian i truly support your ideas. Tq.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 4:13 am
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    Assalamualaikum,

    Hopefully there are ways to impart this wisdom to every malaysians…

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 4:16 am
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    Thanks for the encouraging comments and appreciation. And apologies for the typo of the word “uncouthed”. Yes, the Malays are being shamefully represented of late — for a reason.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 4:21 am
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    Again, the same goes back to the writer and others. Where were you all when we need you the most ? Action is louder than the piece of message or write up soon to be forgotten. If we are righteous enough, all of you must come up and do something. Well no one is willing to sacrifice and that is why the future is bleak.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 4:56 am
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    SAMBUNGAN:

    Kita mesti mengajar murid-murid sekolah bagaimana untuk mendobrak rasa keunggulan ketuanan kaum itu, bukan saja dengan mengajar tolak ansur tetapi kesetaraan masyarakat – melalui strategi pendidikan kedamaian. Kita akan menuai hasilnya buat generasi akan datang

    WASSALAM
    — azly rahman

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 4:59 am
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    If only pieces of writing such as these very piece is truncated and disseminated to the right audiences (namely those in the rural and interior parts of the country)the effect would have been phenomenal. A well written piece.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 8:34 am
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    Linda Chong, yes you are seditious in nature.

    You forget thing like this happens any where, be in China or in India.. Or, any where on earth. We even read about people who abandoned their new born daughter in favor of the son which is inhumane.

    One question I like to ask you, would you think you will be what you are now if the Malays were not to be what you wrote, or having characters of selfishness? Do you think you could survive here by taking all the advantages of this Malay’s weaknesses?

    No. You should appreciate and be thankful instead of thinking the Malays are like what you have written.. God creats this human symbiosis and you should be humble enough and be thankful to the Malays. Do not look at the racial perspective negatively and laugh as what your parents did!

    Yes, only the Malays could argue amongst ourselves until the cows come home (if we like) about our weaknesses..

    Deep rooted mutual respect among the races and holding hands are some of the orders of the day if we wish to see our nation continue to be in harmony.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      January 3, 2017 at 9:30 am
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      Salam. I totally agree with you. Then again, you are totally missing the point. Your argument that it happens everywhere is as valid as my UMNO membership card. Two wrongs never make a right, though. Corrupt governments and seditious mentality exist the world over, that does not make it any better if we were to “join the club”. Turn the other cheek, let them hurl insults and pelt stones at us. Pray for their well-being, like we have been taught to by the holy scriptures. Yes, plural. Read them all. Iqra’. Wallahualam.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 2:26 pm
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    Well said but may I add that there is a particular political party that is currently propagating all these anti Chinese, anti Christian, anti opposition sentiments with the objective of staying in power through divisive scare tactics.

    Just when we think there’s a new low, another new low takes its place. Read yes definitely, but to most of the new Malays “listening” to fiery and divisive rhetoric is much easier. The answer: total dismantling of the current regime through demonstrations and votes. Once that happens God willing, we can start the education and unity from school level. Because that’s where the rot starts.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 3:51 pm
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    As Trump said, “I love the poorly educated”. As long as the education system is the pits, or kept at the pits I should say, the masses will not get your message and will happily accept handouts not realizing what they’re missing or what they’ve become.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 22, 2016 at 9:50 pm
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    you simply cannot generalize everyone under one word. in every country and their race there will always be the few percentage of evildoers. In America the Blacks and Latins are blame for everything, but 90% of mass shooting was carried out by white males. How about genocide in basically every country past and present…You don’t need a king/malay and ask what happen?? In china they eat baby fetus? Are you one of them since you are chinese? What is happening now is simply a matter of greed, and followers that wants a piece of the bounty. In every country in the world they will always be 2 or more groups…if this does not exist….then who would need to vote for which party since everyone is ok with everything. Education is also not the key…because most of the times “the educated are the villains”. what you want is human decency. And for whats it worth…religion. not that is the real topic you should look at. Because if pretty sure that none of the teaching in any religion says its ok to kill rape or steal. But people claim to follow a specific religion and either don’t follow or break every guideline and rules. But it’s not Malay issue or their religion.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      January 13, 2017 at 2:42 am
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      Well said Bro!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    November 23, 2016 at 12:27 am
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    No surprise your people had that kind of impression since 50 years ago and been keeping it to your generations. Now I know the truly kind of people you guys are. I must always being reminded of this forever.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 23, 2016 at 12:51 am
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    I’m not sure whether the etymology for silat comes from silaturrahim, as the latter is an Arabic term meaning “tie of the womb,” i.e. familial ties. I could be wrong though.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 23, 2016 at 5:31 am
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    No, they are not the representation of the Malays.

    Rest assured, the Red tshirts Malays were far outnumbered by the Yellow wearing Malays that day. I am sure the numbers will be dwindling too in the future as their boss pockets are running thin.
    Even those conservative Malays who chose to sit at home watching the demo from the comfort of their couch, don’t agree with the Red T-shirt clowns.

    So fret not, even if the media loves to show how stupid these red clowns are, most Malays residing in Malaysia are not in agreement with them not are we being insulted by their monkey moves.
    Being Malays who still upholding “adab tata susila”, we merely let them be because they will surely see for themselves how foolish their acts are in the eyes of others.
    Our time and effort are better spent on helping the grassroots (those unfortunates you have mentioned) than fighting against these monkeys who are just hungry for attention and RM50 pocket money.

    If one to spend some time searching, one would be proud to see how many Malays are doing awesome charitable work helping the single mothers, mat rempits, abandoned teens and the like.

    These are the work, worth highlighting. Not the insignificant few. Afterall, show to me please which race that doesn’t have a handful group that disgrace their own people?

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 23, 2016 at 11:02 am
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    Well written Doctor…more article like this are needed,so that the Malays who are majority here realised that they were being used to achieve some political means. If left untacle, there may be tension among races, which will harm Malaysia eventually.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 23, 2016 at 12:05 pm
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    …it is an unfair conclusion of the Malays… This is an opinion from one frustrated man… there are as many evident of shameful behavior of Chinese and Indians and all races and tribes be it from the people on the streets, politicians, monarchs etc .. so to single handedly labelling to the malays alone is ridiculous…

    tell me about the brutal history of indian mughal dynasty and the Chinese emperors… add the barbaric Mongol emperors if u consider them chinese and u see the Malays Monarch are just a minor bullies…

    Just go to a busy streets in mumbai and u will see the behavior and the conducts of many of them which even make the malays are perceived as god like creatures…

    Not trying to be racist, but to attributedly single out one particular race wt a common misbehave is a utterly disgusting and disgraceful.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 24, 2016 at 3:40 am
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    As long there are humans around,there will be conflict no matter where you are,this is nature and only Allah knows better. The rest are all human brains that perceived things and interpret them in their own manner.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    December 6, 2016 at 1:17 am
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    Thank you Dr for sharing your thoughts. First I seek your forgiveness if my following comment hurts or offend anyone. I remember my younger days in Penang where we stay opposite the Government quarters. We have Indian, Bengali, Malays and Chineses as neighbors. We climb trees together, we give each other nicknames and we play games together. In the evening our parents would sit together in each other’s courtyard to fellowship. The best time of the year for kids like me were festive season of Deepavali, Hari Raya, CNY and Christmas. We may not be a rich neighbourhood, but we are rich in our own way as we see kids carrying tray of cookies and goodies to share with the houses in the neighbo hood. We, the receioent in return will give eggs or a spoon of sugar to show our appreciation and gratitude for the blessings of sharing and caring. Many grandmas who are uneducated will learn to speak Malaya so that we can build bridges with the other races. In some household, the non Chinese take the heart to learn and speak simple dialects to greet and build friendship. During times of need, we see everyone coming together to help each other. Through development and hectic lifestyle, we may not see this kind of community living again. But I know that we Malaysians are a bunch of loving, caring people and we believe in ‘SHARITY’. There may not be such as word as Sharity but it”s my own way of saying ‘Sharing with a heart of giving and gratitude of being able to share’. It does not matter who we are sharing wiith. My prayers is that God will unite our hearts together and we as Malaysians will understand that we are ONE NATION that have gone through thick and thin. We are going to stand strong together. We love this Nation , to love this Nation also means we start caring for each other as good neighbors and fellow citizen. Start by showing respect for each other and greeting each other. I see the need for me to discern and learn to tell my friends to stop sending ‘hate messages’ and making it viral. I start to pray for those hurt by such hate messages and ask God to fill their hearts with Love, Peace & Hope. Let’s put our hearts together ; starting with ourself and learn to truly love this Nation. Peace be with you

    Reply
  • Avatar
    December 7, 2016 at 2:21 am
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    As if Azly doesn’t know Bersih is being hijacked by DAP, and there’ll be countless more Bersih rallies until DAP gets what it wants. Just look at the protem committee members, half if them DAP and PKR, so you know what to expect, from demand for fair elections,realignation and undi hantu to anti Najib anti government, don’t know what’s next.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    January 4, 2017 at 1:10 am
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    A well written piece and yes, the more darker aspects of Malays have been far too generously illustrated for the world to see as of late. The levels of deception over generations have led the outcome we see today. Yet, the argument that reading (or the enlightened state gained from reading) would not press the Malays (or any race for that matter) to change the mental state that currently compels them to live in this way. The Malays of olden times practiced the notions of honor, chivalry and dignity to oneself and people. These ideals are taught from a societal aspect and later compounded with reading and education. An enlightened mind cannot see the horizon of wisdom without the instruction of a guiding hand. Though I may not be an expert in the full history of my own race, I was brought up with those very ideals whilst knowledge through reading made me realize at a very young age, that my people extend further than the heritage I was born into. My father often tells me, “The power of the word is useless if the heart cannot receive it.” Maybe we should start there.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    January 13, 2017 at 1:24 am
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    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
    Dear Dr Azli Abd Rahman,
    It was indeed a very well written, comprehensive, well-thought, frank, BRAVE and Bitter-to-swallow to the Red Shirters and of a kind……

    Shame on you, Linda Chong! You and the people around you with similar mindsets are now belonging to “An ENDANGERED SPECIE, on it’s way to EXTINCTION”

    Reply
  • Avatar
    January 13, 2017 at 10:06 am
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    Just as i thought; admin has decided not to post my comment because it us ‘seditious’ while anyone else like Linda Chong running down the Malays is allowed. Well done.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    January 14, 2017 at 1:36 am
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    My point is, this article is already a treatise on the weaknesses of the Malays that need to be rectified; it has been talked about quite a bit, but we’re NEVER allowed to mention the ‘weaknesses’ of the Chinese….heaven forbid.. .

    Reply

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