Thursday, 12 February 2009

Malaysians and Stereotyping

From Wikipedia, Stereotyping means
A stereotype is a preconceived idea that attributes certain characteristics (in general) to all the members of class or set. The term is often used with a negative conotation when referring to an oversimplified, exaggerated, or demeaning assumption that a particular individual posseses the characteristics associated with the class due to his or her membership in it. Stereotypes can be used to deny individuals respect or legitimacy based on their membership in that group.
I've encountered many form of stereotyping in my life. And for me, I believe each person should be treated individually, and his/her attitude shouldn't be judged based on from which state they are from, their schools and etc. This is surely irritating to the other persons belong to that group and I myself feel irritated when people gave their initial judgment on me based on my background, school, and sex. Let me share with you some form of stereotyping that hit right on my nose or I heard myself:

Having Negeri Sembilan descent

My dad (with strong Javanese descent) told me his family's response when he had chosen my mom (she is from Negeri Sembilan) to be his wife:

My dad will lose right of ownership on properties like house, car and etc. Yes, Negeri Sembilan's law is of matrilineal law which on surface give priority and rights on female in every aspects including the division of properties when the parent died. But, if we dig deeper, this law of 'adat' is still relevant and in line with Islamic law. And I still don't see this as a problem as most of Negeri Sembilan peoples have adapted the adat law with Islamic law. They are not following blindly the adat law and this includes my grandparents in Negeri Sembilan. This misconception or rather lack of knowledge about this issue need to be ironed out from our society.

This is supposed to be a joke when outsiders want to marry Negeri Sembilan women, they have to be assimilated into Negeri Sembilan cultures and act like one in every aspect of life:

Uncle: Wah, kalau kau kena kahwin dengan orang Negeri Sembilan nanti, masuk suku la jawabnya.

Dad: Buat apa masuk suku, dah kahwin, masuk habis la.

And this is proven to be a misconception that needs to be eradicated. From my observation, neither my dad nor my mom have to be assimilated into their partner's culture. Like a Malay saying, "Di mana bumi dipijak, disitu langit dijunjung". I still know what is rewang, sinoman or kondangan (these are Javanese term regarding events) AND I still know what is mantai (Negeri Sembilan 'adat' for pre-festive celebration).

The Negeri Sembilan peoples are known to have loud voices and harsh language compared to the "softer" Javanese or Kelantanese. But if the person understand the culture, these Negeri Sembilan peoples are friendly and this is how they show the warmth towards others. It is just unfair to label them as bad since modesty and politeness is strictly on individual's characteristics.

Another occurence that happened to me regarding to this Javanese-Minang issues happened directly to myself. My very-very close 'friend' tell me her mother's concern about me being the 'hybrid' product of Negeri Sembilan and Selangor. She told me that her mother wondered whether I am more inclined to Minang culture or Javanese culture since I live in Banting, Selangor where most of them are Javanese and I am educated (Berilmu Untuk Berjasa!) and have 'kampung' in Negeri Sembilan. I told her nicely about this stereotyping things and she seemed to understand it. Hehehe~

Being a motorcyclist

Another streotyping I've encountered is when people know that I am riding motorcycle. They would label me as 'Mat Rempit' who ride like crazy and prone to accident. This is the mentality that Malaysians should avoid. Not all motorcyclists are 'Mat Rempits'. Can you label a 50 year-old motorcylist or an executive wearing suits on scooters as Mat Rempit? It is unfair to judge them on the vehicle they use on the road.

My uncle, owning a motorbike (Modenas Kriss 110cc) also keep Toyota Innova and Atos in his garage. But, he go to work everyday on motorcycle and he is an marketing executive in his company. Can you conclude that every motorcyclist is from low-income class? This is prejudice that most Malaysians have. Yes, there are Mat Rempits causing chaos on the road but there are motorcyclist who ride safely. Most of the accidents that happen to the motorcyclists are caused by arrogant drivers who mercilessly unaware of these small vehicles on the road and cost the motorcyclists their bikes and even worse, their lives. I am also driving car, I know most of the driver are unaware with the difficulty faced by this motorcyclists. So, when I am behind the wheels, I will put extra attention to them since I am a motorcyclist too. And please, don't look down to the motorcyclist. Not all of them are from lower social status, please respect all the motorcyclists.


Stereotyping is definitely unacceptable in this civilized society. The saying "Don't judge a book by it's cover" should be implanted in our head. Yes, you may have instinct, but please keep to yourself first until you have known the people very well. Every individual deserves to be evaluated fairly, not because of their background, sex and etc. If something goes wrong, please don't jump straight to conclusion saying "this fella is doing this because he is bla bla bla" or "orang pakai tudung sekarang pon buat bende x senonoh gak" and many more. Treat the person individually and don't generalize things. :)

p/s: I really appreciate comments and critiques :)


cikun said...

nice post!!

aku nak komen pasal 'having NS descent'..

aku rase la kan, ni rase je tau, ramai yg masih fikir kolot camtu datang nya dari kolongan veteran, ala-ala orang lama..

rase nye orang muda zaman sekarang mana ada sangat fikir macam tu...huhu

Muhammad Afiq bin Mohd Sadli said...

yup, stuju2, mmg byk melibatkan warge veteran saje smpi aku pon terkene tempias skali... demn~ tp bentok stereotyping yg laen tu stil xkire usie~ huhuh~

AISHAH roslan said...

salam. ade motor = mat rempit/minah rempit. ntah pape. btw, smlm masa call, aku x melalut pape kan? maklumla, tgh lalok. uhu.

Muhammad Afiq bin Mohd Sadli said...


tula, sunggoh xpatot mereke itu kan? err... byk je ko melalut pagi2 bute tu tp bia aku je la yg tau kan ape yg ko cakap, name sape yg ko sebot... hahahha~