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Notes CHAPTER 1: RECLAIMING ADAT 1 For full details about Vision 2020, refer to Mahathir (1991, 2-4). 2 "Reality shows that what constitute [sic] adat and Islam actually varies according to time and place. A practice that was regarded as Islamic in the seventeenth century, such as saint worship, for instance, in the 19605, was classified as part of local adat. Similarly, what was thought of as an adat practice, such as the kenduri selamator communal feast, might incorporate Islamic elements" (Sharifah Zaleha 2000, 24). 3 Indeed Amir Muhammad's film Lips to Lips (2000) is an irreverent, almost schoolboyish, exploration of sex, food, and accidental deaths. The focus on sexuality and magic here has less to do with adat than with Western-style modernity. 4 Judith Nagata writes that Malaysian Islam too is constantly being reinterpreted and "reinvented" as the state leaders try to appear appropriately Islamic both to conservative PAS supporters and to more "secular" or "progressive" Muslims and overseas investors (Nagata 1997, 99). 5 Virginia Hooker's book Writing a New Society: Social Change through the Novel in Malay (2000) covers Malay novels up to 1980 only. See Gray (2002). 6 For the sake of argument, one might even characterize IT as a mark of postmodernity in the era of late capitalism. Rita Felski, in her discussion of gender in Western modernity, describes modernity as an epochal term that includes modernization ("the complex constellation of socioeconomic phenomena which originated in the context of Western development but which have since manifested themselves around the globe in various forms"), the artistic movement of modernism that arose in Europe and America about a century ago, and the French term modernite. Like modernism, French modernite, "while also concerned with a distinctively modern sense of dislocation and ambiguity , locates it in the more general experience of the aestheticization of everyday life, as exemplified in the ephemeral and transitory qualities of an urban culture shaped by the imperatives of fashion, consumerism, and constant innovation" (1995, 13). I would characterize Malaysian modernity as being quite close to Felski's definitions of Western modernity. Chapter 5 takes up the way in which resurgent Islam becomes one such "imperative" that defines, for example, the fashion and trend of modernity. 7 It was superseded by another building in Taipei in 2004. 8 The currency crisis began in mid-1997. By mid-1998, Malaysia had descended into a full economic recession. Prime Minister Mahathir's anti-George Soros rhetoric did little to stabilize the flailing stock market and Malaysians were filled with ambivalence over his nationalist and anti-Western position. Moreover, Malaysians worried whether the service at the newly opened KLIA was going to be efficient after initial problems with the operating systems, baggage transport, etc. during the first few weeks of its opening in July 1998. At the time of the Commonwealth Games, too, a political crisis arose within the Malay ruling party, UMNO, after the sacking of Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was leading street marches and speaking out about the corruption of the then government at large illegal rallies. Pro-Anwar street demonstrations led to heavy security measures when Queen Elizabeth attended the Games. There was also some speculation about a slump in the economy immediately after the Commonwealth Games, when the facilities, housing, hotels, etc. built especially for the event would be left largely unoccupied. 9 "Race" is a colonial construct/category but a ubiquitous category in Malaysian social discourse. I will substitute the word "ethnicity" where possible and appropriate. 10 Roughly,the ethnic percentages of the population of Malaysia today are: Malays (55percent), Chinese (30 percent), Indians (9 percent), and others (6 percent). These official racialized categories conveniently 218 Notes to pages 4-13 homogenize the dialect, linguistic, regional, and cultural differences within each "racial" category. For example, Indian Malaysians may include Tamils, Sikhs, Parsi, Indian Muslims originally from Kerala, and Sinhalese, etc. 11 An earlier precedent (1800-50) to the tension between modernity and feudal loyalties is provided by Malay scribe Munshi Abdullah's use of liberal European discourse to critique the Malay rulers. See Milner (1994). 12 Also see Rema Nambiar 1995; and Samy Vellu Meets Indian Gangsters 1997. 13 The bumiputera category includes all Malays (e.g., Bajau, Minangkabau) and the "indigenous" groups of East Malaysia as well as the Orang Asli in Peninsula Malaysia. However, despite the extension of the term bumiputera to encompass the "indigenous" peoples, the Orang Asli are not accorded the special privileges given...


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