Sunday, 15 June 2008


As a child, we were always being reminded to respect others, be it our peers, our older siblings and especially our elders.
Raised in a Malay family, my siblings and me have been thought on desirable behaviour when we were outside of the house, at functions and gatherings or while in public.

I remember, one good example of the Malay fine custom.
It is the way the younger one walk in the presence of their elders.
It is expected that whenever you walk passing by an elderly person or a group of elderly people in your own home or in some gatherings(in a malay house, when there's special occasions or perhaps just a thanks giving ceremony, people are often seated down on carpets), we have to slightly bend our body,and walk modestly.
There shouldn't be any running about in front of the elders.

We are also thought to be restricted with our opinion or i would say "complaints' whenever something that is not up to our pleasure cropped up.
I remember one incident when i was about eight or nine years old.
My parents took me and my sister to a wedding ceremony in one relatives house.
Due to all the long winded process, the lunch started quite late and i got very hungry.
Once they are done, all guests started to eat. As most children favourite, fried chicken wasn't there. It was not in the menu thus my mother ask me to eat what ever been given.
Without any reservation, i loudly proclaim one of the dish as "tak sedap" (ie not nice).
My mom immediately gave me one good secret pinch and the mark stays on for a couple of days.
That, is one of the way to teach the children to behave; verbally or physically.

Somehow, as time goes by, most these attributes no longer takes helm in some of Malay families now. They are more free and open. For instant, the walking with slightly bending your body in front of the elders.
Most of the children nowadays are not thought these good value.
I find it very unpleasant and disturbing when you're having a conversation with several people in a social gathering, some of the kids will be running up your face screaming and ignoring request for them to settle down. The most interesting part is the parent(s) would not even bothered to intervene or stop them from being such a hooligans.

On the other hand, the custom to remain quiet, not to interject when adults are talking among themselves and to be more subtle and not to voice ones dissatisfaction are still quite strong in most of the Malay families.

It is due to several reasons;

1) It isn't nice to tell people of their shortcoming

2) It is quite disrespectful to complaint about something that someone has put some effort in doing so

3)It is better to just accept than criticize people, hoping that they would sooner or later realise their mistakes especially when it comes to an elderly person

There are in fact few saying on this practice.
One of them is "satu jari menunding kesalahan orang, empat jari menunding diri sendiri" (or similiar to that).
The meaning is; If you point at one person's weakness or mistakes(hypothetically speaking with your index finger) you are infact actually pointing the weakness of yourself (the other four fingers is pointing back at you so to say).

I, on the other hand, find this quite insignificant.
I don't hold responsible to the person(s) who came out with this phrases, but it is, already the custom of the Malays, or perhaps majority of Asian that respecting someone who is older than you is something desirable in nature.

I personally have come across few instances, whereby i am advised to not be too vocal on certain matters, or i just have to keep silence on instances that requires me to point out my dissatisfaction during business negotiations.

This is a dilemma.

It should be dealt with accordingly.

Again, i am not saying that in every circumstances, one should be hypocritical or too opinionated, but just to be at least able to voice one own personal opinion and the listener should take to it gracefully.

It is perturbing to see that an elderly person, or bosses, and even leaders of a country cannot accept other people suggestion or opinion just because of superiority, or age factor.

Hence, despite all good about some customs of some races, one should always remind the younger generations on respecting peers and someone elder should also come with responsibility to acknowledge and be willing to correct the incorrect.
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