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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Songkok - Is it a Malay or Muslim Headgear?

Things are getting pretty interesting nowadays as more and more Malaysians are getting into the art of debating about just every subject under the sun.

Hot on the top list in our Malaysian cyberspace is the matter of the wearing the songkok by compulsion as in the case of the school prefects highlighted in Lim Kit Siang's blog and widely debated by his commentators there.

Frankly speaking, to me the songkok is a Malay headgear and used by those of us who are Muslims in prayer.

On a wider scale, we have to acknowledge that the Malay songkok is also a headgear worn by Malaysian Members of Parliament or when attending any royal function at the Royal Malay Sultanate's palaces.

When abroad, male Malaysian Ambassadors adorn the songkok as our national headgear and when officiating any function where protocol is being observed.

To wear a songkok to an official function is a necessity in the Malay traditions.

For a Malaysian to wear a songkok at an official function, does not connotate that the wearer is required to be a Muslim or a Malay.

Let's not start getting petty by questioning customs and habits which are part and parcel of our national identities.

We are Malaysians. Period. A potpourri of rich traditions and inherited cultures and heritage of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, , Orang Asli, Eurasian, etc. which we must appreciate and continue to observe with pride and honor.

It's not healthy or wise to dwell on what differentiates us especially in these turbulent moments in our nation's history.

I respect each and every Malaysian's ancestral legacy and appreciate all the respective traditions that we have inherited from our forefathers.

We do however need to take note that it is entirely up to the individual concerned as to whether he or she wants to carry on his or her forefather's practices in these times.

One needs to however remember that certain good values or traditions if discontinued will die away and disappear into the annals of time if not observed and kept alive.

To me, wearing a songkok means different things at different times and occasions.

A Malaysian Chinese wearing a songkok at the Istana doesn't turn into a Malay Muslim at that very moment.

He is just a Malaysian citizen who is showing his respect to the Malay Royalty present and observing protocol.

A non Malay Malaysian of whatever ethnicity who wears the songkok at an official function remains whoever he is and his creed is not in any danger.

He is showing himself to be a Malaysian. Period.

We need to respect such wearing of the songkok as a symbol of our nation's identity. The songkok is a traditional Malay headgear worn throughout Nusantara as an identity of the Malays.

If you choose not to wear it, so be it. No one's forcing you.

In the case of the headmaster having forced the wearing of the songkok in his school by even the Non Malay students, it is an isolated case.

We learn that the said headmaster has since withdrawn that ruling following protests by the students or their concerned parents.

We have to acknowledge that we will always have our differences and if dwelt upon such cases, it can and will be a cancer that eats away into our national unity.

Learn to exercise caution when deliberating about such sensitive matters for we are all fellow Malaysians who deserve to be accorded respect and sincere considerations in going about our daily life's.

Mutual respect and courtesy can make this unity amongst us a thing to be proud of and prove to our nation's envier's that Malaysians will forever remain strong and as one people.

Don't let the matter of the songkok drive us apart!

We are surely much more mature today having survived all the turbulent years of before.

You not keen on wearing the songkok? No worries. Just be yourself.

Apart from the Sikhs who wear the turban, all other Malaysians can just wear what they like but need to follow or respect the traditions and protocols of the Royal Malay Sultanates when you are in the presence of Their Highnesses failing which you'll just stick out like a sore thumb among the dignitaries.

Isn't that so? So many issues, so many dissatisfactions running wild in the cyberspace especially in sites such as Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today.

If I didn't know better, I'd think that our nation is going to the dogs if I were to be a foreigner, reading up about Malaysia from these and other sites? Pretty scary, huh?

I now wonder whether Kit Siang or Karpal Singh will refuse a Datukship if offered and stand their grounds of not wanting to kowtow to the Malay Sultans by wearing a songkok, IF Offered?

Would they or wouldn't they is just my wondering out loud??? Hehehehehe!

What do you folks think they would do?