After a long pause, here's the final part to my treatise on Keagungan Melayu. Keagungan Melayu is my answer to the racist rhetoric of Ketuanan Melayu. Whereas Ketuanan Melayu emphasises the outward expressions of “master-hood” such as privileges and special positions, Keagungan Melayu emphasises the mastery of the self which then leads to the mastery of the world around the self. I have presented 4 points previously, this is my 5th and last point on this concept of Keagungan Melayu.
In warrior cultures, the sword is the weapon that is usually revered. Many swords have gone down in legend – Excalibur of King Arthur of England, Green Dragon Crescent Blade wielded by Guan Yu the legendary general of China, and Zulfiqar the sword gifted from God to the noble Imam Ali are but some of the blades that have gained legendary status. But among swords, the keris stands alone in its uniqueness.
More of that later. First...
Swords are held in high esteem not only for their craftsmanship, but they are also given significance by their maker and their wielder. A sword is made legendary first when it is forged with some special quality. The swordsmith invests an exceptional effort into the sword in terms of the material used, design of the sword or the spiritual values the sword is intended to represent. That's why an exceptional sword must have an equally worthy owner (giving rise to legends like Excalibur which found only Arthur worthy to wield it).
Thus, the significance of a weapon is in its inherent qualities. It does not lie in its ability to kill – otherwise a butcher's knife would be the greatest weapon of all for the sheer number of lives it takes! The wielder of the sword must reflect the intended values expressed within the sword.
The keris is unique among sword cultures because it does not have the versatility, reach or attack/defense capabilities of a sword. The keris is basically a stabbing weapon – its entire design concept is to be effective only at that range. It cannot be used from a distance like a sword – it can only be used when two warriors are toe-to-toe in battle.
And therein lies the greatest significance of the keris – because it is born from a certain kind of quality: fearlessness.
One would have to be fearless to wield a weapon such as the keris. Unlike a sword which you can kill while still beyond the reach of an enemy's arms and legs, the only way to kill with a keris is when you are right next to him. You would have to grapple with him, using all your skill to get close to him - blocking his attacks and overcoming his defenses – and finally, seeing an opening, to stab him. The blade itself is a work of art in its effectiveness – the waves designed to produce maximum damage with just one thrust.
Taken as an allegorical representation of the Malay spirit, the keris signifies a fearless willingness to face up to any situation and not to back down or avoid. To grapple with them, using all one's mastery of skills gained from hard training and discipline. To identify opportunities and capitalise on them. To confront and overcome circumstances with an iron will to succeed. To design solutions that maximise effectiveness. This is Keagungan Melayu as expressed by the keris.
Whereas the legendary swords are individually significant, the whole CONCEPT of the keris itself is significant. And since the keris is one of the highest expressions of Malay culture, it follows that the keris signifies the worthiness of the entire culture – the Malays.
But UMNO's Ketuanan Melayu has dirtied the mighty symbolism of the keris, by claiming the sole right to represent the Malays yet wielding it with their twisted sense of values.
Above that, Keagungan Melayu sees the keris as a representation of the Malays' greatness as a culture and a race, a culture that is able to succeed on its own merits with its own strengths.
At its core, Ketuanan Melayu sells the nonsense that Malays are inherently “weak” and have no choice but to seek “protection” from the government. It perpetuates individual weaknesses by telling its subscribers that they must relinquish their power to the government. And the government extends its "protection" of the Malays on external structures such as laws, quotas and politics to attempt to create a master race. But is this true power? What if the structures fail? Where would the Malays be then?
Whereas Keagungan Melayu is a call to rediscover the inherent strengths of the Malay psyche and to achieve progress driven by an independent self-confidence. It is a call to rise up and succeed by their own inherent strengths, instead of being convinced that the entire race's fate is to remain in a socio-economic wheelchair and depending on govt crutches and welfare.
The Malays are not like that! The Malays are already powerful! The Malays are majestic! The Malays are fierce! The Malays are masters of their own destiny because they are masters of themselves! These traits are already inherent in Malay culture and the Malay psyche as it has been embodied in the keris.
But the Malays have forgotten...It's high time to remember!