On 1st of June, the state of Sarawak, fondly known as “The Land of Hornbills”, celebrated its anual festival called Hari Gawai by the Dayak community. Gawai, which means festival, is celebrated to mark the harvesting period with the abundant yield of crop. The celebration is followed by spiritual blessings and rituals to thank God for safeguarding the crop throughout the rice growing season. In addition, traditional dance such as tarian ngajat is performed and traditional drink called tuak is drank during the festival. Likewise in neighbouring Sabah, which is known as “The Land Below the Wind”, celebrated her harvesting festival named Pesta Kaamatan on 31st of May. Pesta Kaamatan is celebrated among the Kadazan community and is followed by traditional dance such as tarian Sumazau and people will enjoy a drink of air tapai.
Both Sarawak and Sabah are located in the island of Borneo, East of Malaysia. Both states officially became a part of Malaysia in 16 September, 1963. Some of the indigenous people in Sarawak are Iban, Melanau, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu. In Sabah, the ethnic groups consists of Kadazan-Dusun, Murut, Bajau. In total, there are more than 50 native ethnic groups in Sarawak and Sabah.
Diversity of cultures in Malaysia is something that all Malaysians are really proud of. The multicultural society in which all people respect each other’s differences and live in harmony is what makes Malaysia unique in the eyes of the world. Apart from that, there is one other thing that I believe sets Malaysia apart with other countries.
Going back along the line of Malaya’s rich history in Southeast Asia, the modern-day countries in the region are rooted from the formation of ancient governments ruled by kings. The concept of Raja (kings) as leaders of kingdoms can be traced to the Hindu cultures that are brought from a region now called India. A few hundred years later, the influence of Islam is ‘shipped’ to the southernmost region of Asia through trading with the Arab Peninsula, bringing with them teachers who spread Islamic teachings to the kings and the people. Since then, the kings are called Sultan and all people followed suit and embraced Islam.
A few years later, the colonization era rises when strong European countries start sailing to other parts of the world in a quest to take over lands in Asian, African and American continents and assert dominance. Malaya has since been conquered by the Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese and British. The latter has changed the political landscape of the Malayan Peninsula 180 degrees. The most prominent change would be the limitation of Sultanate power in certain aspects and the creation of the Constitution of Malaysia. Now, Malaysia adheres to the system of parliamentary democracy under constitutional monarchy, led by Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Many questions the relevance of having a Sultan which some Malaysians think has limited power to only Islamic and cultural affairs. However, His Majesty’s role in the government is much more than that. One of the Sultanate power is the appointments of high-ranking office holders in Malaysia such as the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Chief Secretary to the Government), Commissions, Judges, Senators, and State Governors.
The responsibility mentioned above is deemed essential in maintaining the harmony of Malaysia. In February 2020, a political turmoil was ignited when some of the members of BERSATU decided to leave the Pakatan Harapan alliance (which holds the government at that time) and create a new alliance with the oppositions called Perikatan Nasional, thus automatically gaining the majority in the Parliament. This change was sudden, and some citizens believed that the move threatened the democracy by forming a new government not voted by the people. The possibility of the imminence of uproar was high in this particular setting however the Sultan exercised his power in the election of new officials. His Majesty interviewed every member of the Parliament to seek clarification on which alliances each of them belongs and considered every aspect of the government before making thorough decisions. With His Grace, a new government was formed without any major uproar that could destabilize the country.
I would say that I am proud to present the uniqueness of the system of Constitutional Monarchy in Malaysia to everyone because Malaysia is one of 44 countries that adopt this system. This country also exercises the system in a slightly different way than the others to accommodate the pre-existing systems dated way before the formation of Malaysia. This preservation of the Sultanate power is what contributes to a stable and harmonious Malaysia. Specifically to Malaysians out there, I believe there is a need to be more knowledgeable about the institution that the country adheres to to become a more responsible citizen.
Written by, Adib Sulaiman Sports Officer PUMSA Purdue ME ’21
Recognized for his excellence in modern-style dancing, our main character Jim is one of the familiar faces signed under the performing arts studio, Ramlee Studios. On his journey to make this world his stage, he upholds the notion that the only way up as an artiste is anything but traditional.
Hani is the new dancer of Ramlee Studios who was recruited to replace a lead dancer who left the studio. She is a determined and confident persona whose passion lies in the performing arts. As she climbs the ladder of this cutthroat industry, Hani brought along her long-time mission to revive traditional components and cultural identity in today’s Malaysian entertainment.
A long-time friend and room mate to Jim. Extroverted and can be a little annoying. Zul is also a performer signed under Ramlee Studios though secretly he’s not that good at dancing. He causes more nuisance than sense to the group. His presence is disapproved by Nayli, the choreographer, who finds Zul’s antiques to be irritating at all times.
A dear friend to Hani. He supports Hani in whatever she does, no matter how ridiculous it may be. Keng Boon is Hani’s go-to person whenever she finds herself in rough waters or on cloud nine.
Nayli is infamously known as the hot-tempered and impatient lead choreographer of the dance group at Ramlee Studios. Due to her perfectionist nature to get their routine down to every step right, Nayli ensures that the team stick out for each other and give nothing but their best in every performance.
Huda is the assistant to Nayli. Her temperament is more relaxed as to that of Nayli’s and that makes her the “glue” to the big family of talents at Ramlee Studios. Huda is on neutral grounds on which specific form of performing arts is superior in today’s flavor but conflict arises when she upfrontly mentioned that the traditional cultural values Hani is seeking in this industry is a lost cause.
As a child, Faris has always been an admirer of Malaysia’s authentic traditional performing arts. Now with social influence and capital as the CEO of a multinational corporate company, he searches for new talents whom he refers to as “the great new generation of artists” to spearhead the noble cause of reviving and enriching Malaysia’s cultural identity.
Borak – Borak Indy is a casual discussion session among students which covers a variety of topics especially issues that are closely related with students’ lives. For those who do not know, it is actually a new and refreshing program organized by the Malaysian Students Association of IUPUI encourage students to not only give opinions about certain important issues and but also respect the voices of others. To get a clear idea, Borak – Borak Indy is almost a resemblance of Kopitiam Talk, a philosophical discussion organized by PUMSA, by which the first one is opened to students from Purdue University, IUPUI as well as Indiana University while the latter is targeted to students from only Purdue University. Overall, the program has served an eye-opening experience that the least can make us aware of the situations happening around us.
It’s the time of the year again!!!!! Being thousand of miles away from home does not mean we cannot celebrate the amazing lunar new year. As we the PUMSA acknowledged the fact that everyone was missing home, instead of letting you locking yourselves up in a room – alone, we organized a specially made cultural dinner. Rice Cafe had never disappointed us with the menus they served. Surprisingly, we received guests not only from Malaysia but also Singapore, China, Taiwan and America. Everyone was given color paper each to write about anything -feeling, fortune, wish, and was asked to put it in an ang pow envelope. It acted similarly with fortune cookies with a little bit of our touch. During the dinner, there were quizzes competition about traditional Chinese etiquette. Congratulations to all the winners.
On the February 11th, we hosted an annual sport event called Malaysia Indiana Games and it was held in France A Cordova Recreational Sports Center. There were three universities involved; Purdue University, Indiana University Bloomington as well as Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. We started off registration at 8.00 am and headed to Upper Gym court 3 for tournament with basketball being the first game followed by badminton, futsal, frisbee and dodgeball. Those who participated as volunteers and players were given free food and drinks specially made by us. The number of turnouts was beyond our expectations and everyone was so excited for the end results. This time, I would love to end this post with a meaningful sport quote ‘We are not a team because we work together. We are a team because we respect, trust and care for each other’.