On What Basis Should We Respect the Monarchy?
Bloggers like Raja Petra Kamaruddin seem to think that the DAP is being disrespectful to the various monarchies-that they are stuck with a vision of Chinese chauvinism, even if this is due to some of them stating they will not wear a songkok when in parliament. But why should we show respect to the monarchies of Malaysia?
1. Because the Sultans are head of states?
In this scenario we are hence respecting the office of the sultan on the basis that the sultan of a state is the head of state. Granted, but then let any show of disrespect be argued as being against the state and not the royal family, as after all the sultan is representing the state, and is not the state. As well, this is an office that many have no chance of achieving. Not just if you are female or non-Muslim, but because of your birth right. Not much of a legitimate office, in my eyes.
2. Because he is the Sultan
On this one, I vehemently disagree. On what basis should we show respect to a person, who due to their good fortune find themselves BORN into a family of privilege supported by taxpayers money? I will respect someone who deserves respect for their character and what they have achieved, not by their titles and family connections. Sure, some sultans are very capable people who have done a lot to help those less fortunate-I respect them, but not their unelected office. Gautama Bhuddha left his royal family did he not? Edward VIII abdicated so he could marry an American divorcee. They pursued their interests and gave up unelected, privileged office - that in my opinion, deserves RESPECT! If I have to meet the Sultan of Johore, rest assured I will not go on the basis that I have no respect for his past actions. Songkok or no songkok.
3. Due to Culture and History
We do not live in a time vacuum, so fair enough that most people show reverence to offices that stand the test of time. But time moves on; democracy has been embraced. Do these offices remain unadulterated? Believe it or not, there are some among us, including those in the DAP who believe we are all created equal. We should then show respect to someone who gained office due to birthright?! I think not, but we must be conscious of tradition-sometimes we think too much. Respecting culture that does not impinge on our fundamental human rights might just be something we have to swallow. The palace protocols have been in place for long before us, and will probably remain long after we are gone. For better or for worse. But traditions evolve over time, and maybe this will happen in this situation as well. In the meantime sit tight and I think, accept it with misgivings.
At the end of the day, irrespective of what anyone of us think, people do ultimately respect those who deserve respect. The Sultan of Perak is hugely respected; I suspect the Sultan of Johore is hugely feared. any member of the DAP who is behaving in a 'chinese chauvinistic' manner is an idiotic bigot-if they do not want to wear a songkok when meeting the Sultan because that is being 'Malay' or 'Islamic' then there are a right-royal jackass. But if it is due to them feeling that it is a question of equality, then I respect that, and I agree with that, for I feel that as well.
But are these people in DAP missing the point? Surely the songkok issue is neither about Malayness or Islam, or even equality. Surely it is about culture and history. It is done because that is how it has always been done-does not make it right but it is an issue of protocol. If it is just protocol, then WHO CARES? Agassi boycotted Wimbledon for 4 years because he felt their 'white-only' dress code was silly, but is that discriminatory? No, it is a silly rule, but it is their silly rule-if we want to play at Wimbledon, we have to follow their silly rules. Agassi soon realised that.
The songkok rule is an accident of culture and history-it is no more than that. People need to get over it. The world is full of symbolisms that have lost all their original meanings. It just is-as long as it does not impinge upon our civil right or fundamental human rights-WHO CARES?
However, I understand though that some foreign dignitaries do not wear the songkok when granted audiences with the sultans; if so there is no brouhaha-if what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, then surely it is either compulsory or not compulsory? We can't then have our own cake and eat it too. When people meet the British queen, some follow the traditional protocol. Others do not bow or curtsie however, and that is accepted. It seems that is also accepted in Malaysia but only if you are a foreign dignitary. And that is inconsistent....