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Book Review

21 sepember 2008 00:07

Constructive Criticism Over `Lazy` Riau Malay

Constructive Criticism Over `Lazy` Riau Malay

Syair Nasib Melayu
Tenas Effendy
The Center for Research and Development of Malay Culture in cooperation wit Adicita Publisher, Yogyakarta
1st edition, September 2005
xvi + 61 pages
12 x 18 cm

We all know Tenas Effendy is a figure who takes great concern on the development of Malay cultural heritage. His abundant contributions towards Malay cultural civilization are indubitable anymore. Endlessly he urges the Malay people to keep their identity as Malay by holding firmly Malay local wisdom, which is in-line with Islam.

The number of books written by this figure has been published, and most of them are used as references for those who are undertaking in depth research or study on Malay culture. Just mention some of his works such as Tunjuk Ajar, Pantun Melayu, and the latest one, Syair Nasib Melayu; we will find his savvy thoughts on Malay cultural civilization. Syair Nasib Melayu is one of those. It is a worth reading books for those who want to know his thoughts on modern Malay which is presented without leaving Malay history behind.

Modern reality, amongst the Malay people, has created complex problems, ranging from global capitalism, education quality, moral degradation, unemployment, environmental damage, and low attention on local culture. Too much complicated and hard to be solved, some people said when hearing the above facts. Unfortunately, most of the Malay people do not know what to do to solve those problems. Such phenomenon than makes Tenas Effendy to admit that the Malay people‘s points of view towards their culture and history have been deteriorating in the present.

Based on that stance, Syair Nasib Melayu was written out. This book contains Tenas‘s reflection on the above Malay‘s phenomenon and problem that still exist up to these days. In his book, he argues – in the form of poems – that the deterioration of modern Malay is a consequence of the Malay people‘s inclusiveness towards the developing modern knowledge. Read the following poem:

Di bumi Melayu pembangunan pesat
Baik di laut maupun di darat
Banyak peluang boleh didapat
Banyak usaha boleh dibuat
Tetapi karena ilmu tak ada
Peluang yang ada terbuang saja
Diisi orang awak menganga
Akhirnya duduk mengurut dada
Disinilah tempat Melayu jatuh
Karena banyak yang masih bodoh
Peluang yang dekat menjadi jauh
Nasib pun malang celaka tumbuh

Through the above poem Tenas seemingly wants to show the readers that the Malay people seem to move backward when other people move forward to the advancement of modern knowledge. Malay history, in fact, bears abundant values that can be used to set a better future. It is, likewise, a determinant factor for creating an open-minded and democratic Malay society.

However, the fact shows the contrary. The Riau Malay people tend to be close for the advancement and development of modern knowledge. They look to glorify their past glory rather than re-establishing their past glory in this modern world.

Tenas understand enough such character of the Malay people, which tend to be “lazy.” Their laziness, later on, may lead to the dark ages of Malay cultural civilization, which is far from modern knowledge hugely developing outside Riau. On his poem Tenas states:

Walau Melayu bertanah luas
Tetapi terlantar karena malas
Dimanfaatkan orang awak pun cemas
Lambat laun semua lepas.

At the end of his poem, Tenas clearly explicates other characters of the Riau Malay people. Citing the Head of the Center for Research and Development of Malay Culture (BKPBM), Mahyudin Al Mudra, Tenas Effendy – in this book, looks very honest to appraise the characters of the Riau Malay people.

Not only criticizes, but through this book, Tenas gives some suggestions to the youth generation of Riau Malay – for their status as the successors of Malay cultural heritages – as well. It can be seen from the poem below:

Ke generasi muda kita berharap
Kuatkan semangat betulkan sikap
Kokohkan iman tinggikan adab
Supaya Melayu berdiri tegap
Ke generasi muda kita berpesan
Hapuslan sifat malas dan segan
Isilah diri dengan ilmu pengetahuan
Supaya Melayu tidak ketinggalan

This book finished being written in 1991. No matter how the author wrote this book several years ago, the social situation described in this book is not different so much from the present. Through this book, Tenas portrayed social situation and cultural aspects of the Riau Malay society that was packed cleverly in high literature sense.

Tenas‘s high literature sense can be seen on the way he expresses his ideas using old literature writing style combined with modern literature writing style. The above poems may represent it.

Therefore, reading his works will not bring us to get easily bored with literary works, especially old literature. According to Al Azhar – in the preface of the book– states that the book is almost the same as some other poems categorized as “Lingkaran Penyengat” such as Lebai Guntur, Awai, and Kadamuddin. Such categorization, still according to Al Azhar, is based on the way its author expresses his social criticism.

Syair Nasib Melayu begins more important reference for those undertaking research or study on Malay culture since the book provides complete portrayal, but in brief, on the history and characteristic of Malay as well as the challenges of the Malay people in the future.

Abd. Rahman Mawazi

Translated by Irfan Nugroho (ter/58/09-08)       

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