O CHILDREN of Adam! Beautify yourselves for every act of worship, and eat and drink [freely], but do not waste: verily, He does not love the wasteful!

Say: Who is there to forbid the beauty which God has brought forth for His creatures, and the good things from among the means of sustenance?”

Say: “They are [lawful] in the life of this world unto all who have attained to faith – to be theirs alone on Resurrection Day.”

Thus clearly do We spell out these messages unto people of [innate] knowledge! 

AL-A’RAF  (31 – 32)


It was painful, to say the least, to watch the Minangkabau chiefs crawling forward and backward up and down the narrow steps of the royal dais to kiss thrice the extended hand of the Tunku Ampuan Besar Negeri Sembilan at the special ceremony to mark Duli Yang Maha Mulia’s appointment and installation.

It must have been physically painful, too, for the protagonists especially the older and heavy-bodied among them to reenact the age-old Minangkabau adat of paying homage and pledging obedience to the official consort of their new Ruler, one of  the four royal chieftains chosen to represent them.

As I watched the pomp and ceremony shown live on national TV, I couldn’t help asking myself whether the rituals couldn’t have been simplified to represent the dignity of office – of  both the chiefs and their Ruler/ Ruler’s consort! Wouldn’t it have been more regal for the istana ritual to be less awkward and physically demanding?

What if one or more of the chiefs had stumbled down the steps?

Perhaps my Negeri Sembilan Bugis heritage has nurtured and inspired me to be more egalitarian in my approach to communal living!

Perhaps a democratic family upbringing in which no one is regarded more superior except in his or her educational achievements has made me less inclined towards outdated and unnecessary Malay rites and rituals! 

Which brings me to something less controversial – i.e. the pomp and ceremony of  public events and functions associated with government leaders!

I applaud the new Prime Minister’s call for less show and more sincerity when leaders go down to the ground to be with the people – something I wrote about in the 23 April 2001 NST article OF TITLES AND TRIMMINGS.

Yes,Dato’ Seri Najib! Reduce the wastage of red carpets and corsages and bunga manggar and bunga telur and door gifts… and whatever else the organisers think will make the occasion more “meaningful”!

And while you are trimming the social rites and rituals Sir – what about cutting short the miles and miles of salutation to the titled VIPs attending the function. Acknowledge the guest of honour and the patron and move on to the Tuan Tuan dan Puan Puan please Sir!  

I look forward to a Malaysia that is egalitarian and democratic within good reason, where not only colour and creed are indistinguishable but where social class and the ceremonies associated with it are diminished!

We must start with you and your Cabinet Sir!


2 Responses to “”

  1. April 16, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    good observation! as sensitive as these observations may be, the point made is crystal clear. perhaps it’s the traditional malay custom of hormat and adab which sometimes puts us all in varying compromising situations. on one hand we walk the extra mile to showcase such heritage (lapuk or not) but on the other hand we easily sweep under the carpet the other acts of hormat and adab in dealing with everyday affairs which is more symbolic of our own little civilization. we should do away with unnecessary acts for the globally more acceptable acts of merit and practicality. all will not be lost!

  2. 2 ninitalk
    April 17, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Yes cowboymalaysia – there is a place for the evolution of rites and rituals into practices that are relevant to the times!

    Here we are talking about an egalitarian, more equal n equitable society under the concept of One Malaysia, and there they are practising the rites and rituals of feudalism.

    I’m all for preserving our constitutional monarchy and all for perpetuating their honour and dignity!

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