Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This is the only nation on earth where the Head of Government and his cabinet play host to thousands of complete strangers in a uniquely Malaysian phenomenon known as the "Open House." An offshoot of traditional Malay festive hospitality, the Malaysian Cabinet's annual Hari Raya Aidil-Fitri "Open House" at the Putra World Trade Centre welcomes anyone who would care to wade through the sea of humanity and wait patiently in line to be personally greeted by the Prime Minister and his Muslim cabinet ministers. Then you can have your fill of Malaysia's varied cuisine prepared by 45 chefs and go home with a full belly and lots of talking points. Many will do this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetimes and will talk about it for years, embellishing the lore through time.

This year's Open House attracted almost 200,000 people.

But something else happened this time. Between 300-1,000 (depending on who's reporting) Hindraf sympathisers clad in bright orange t-shirts pushed and shoved their way into the PWTC hall amidst noise, mayhem and confusion. Between 40-70 (again, differs among reports) of them met Pak Lah and demanded the release of the five Hindraf leaders held under the ISA.

The Star quoted K. Shanti, the wife of exiled Hindraf chairman P. Waythamoorthy, as saying:-

“Our message is that we want our heroes released. It is an open house and we can come as we want. During Hari Raya, you are supposed to ask for forgiveness. So we forgive Umno’s sins against the Indian community. We just want the detainees released.”


Let me go direct to the points :-

- When you attend a Hari Raya (... or for that matter, Lunar New Year, Deepavali, Christmas, Gawai Dayak, Hanukkah, or whatever) Open House, you go there as a GUEST -- a tetamu.

- Guests do not embarrass and insult the host, the tuan rumah. When you do that, you are not a guest. You are a trespasser.

- Hari Raya is the one day where people put aside politics and life's ills to celebrate the occasion with family, friends, neighbours and guests, the tetamu.

- Even Unker Kit Siang put on his best clothes and behave himself amidst the throngs of other tetamus. Indeed, Unker Kit Siang and assorted DAP Ah Peks, Ah Sohs, Ah Mois and Leng Chais always behave impeccably in PWTC during Hari Raya Open Houses through the years.

- It is extremely bad manners -- biadap, kurang ajar -- for you to go to an Open House as a tetamu and insult and embarrass the tuan rumah.

- When you embarrass the tuan rumah, you are also insulting the other tetamus.

What's this? "Revenge of the Nerds"?
A handful of RPK supporters turned up as well to
jatuhkan the air muka of the tuan rumah.

For god's sake, this is Hari Raya lah ané! You don't go to people's Hari Raya Open House and do this. It's unthinkable. Jatuh air muka tuan rumah. I don't think Malays like their air muka to jatuh. If you want respect and justice, you must first respect others, not least their happiest day of the year. I suggest you relearn Malay culture and by extension Malaysian cultural norms.

You must first and foremost be a good tetamu to the tuan rumah. Jangan biadap, jangan kurang ajar. This is the first step in solving a lot of issues in the rumah called Malaysia.

Pictures: © Andrew Ong, Malaysiakini