PROGRESSIVE MALAY NATIONALISM VS COMPETING IDEOLOGIES
The Turban Issue A Case In Point
Secular-minded progressive malay nationalists have always tried to assimilate the best from external influences and reject what is percieved as against their interests. The Arabic turban is percieved as an ideologically driven external influence which undermines the long term development of the Islamic malay community. Islam in its moderate shape is a positive element in Malay nationalism. Identifying the turban as part of mainstream Islam would probably open the floodgates to other practices and beliefs which would challenge progressive malay nationalism. A closed and literalistic interpretation of the Quran according to the progressive Malay nationalist is harmful to Malaysia. In yesterday's New Straits Times, a female journalist (there was a picture of her without the tudung) did a column on a moderate Islam as opposed to the more fundamenalistic version as found in the middle east. Her piece was a classic example of progressive malay nationalism presenting its case. She reported on the very positive comments given by middle eastern muslim tourists; comments based on their exposure to the freedoms of muslim women in Malaysian society. Some of these tourists were hopeful that their countries would imitate the Malaysian example!! God Bless Malaysia!!
Yup..I'm stil in Penang enjoying the great food and the hospitality of its people.