Sunday, June 8, 2008

Songkok: To wear or not to wear?

Updates: June 10 - Guan Eng says CEC has no objection over songkok

The songkok is different from the purdah, burqa, serban or telekung. A person wearing the songkok is not making a religious statement. A songkok is simply a Malay head gear. Wearing a songkok does not change a person's religion, race or make a religious stand. Selangor DAP politicians used to make a fuss over the songkok, with some refusing to wear the songkok at palace functions, until they became part of the state government. Suddenly, the biggest critics of the songkok are wearing them. See what positions can do. Now, we read that the Johor DAP state assemblymen are facing problems from the central executive committee over the issue. Ironically, some of the top leaders in the CEC are holding state government positions. In Perak, DAP state assemblymen has been wearing the songkok when they have an audience with the Sultan. In Penang, Lim Guan Eng and his exco members would have to make the official white uniforms which comes with a songkok and the state emblems soon. During Chinese New Year and Deepavali, many of our Malay friends sportingly wear the Chinese and Indian costumes because they are not religious outfits. The tudung or serbans are totally different from the songkoks. It might be popular for the DAP to stand up against the wearing of the songkok during the 60s but Malaysians have moved on. Similarly race politics won't score points either now. The songkok is a non issue, really.


Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...

It was an old belief that before wearing the songkok
One must make a very special trip first to Bangkok
But when it is considered as merely a local headwear
Then there's no need to worry more than normal wear and tear

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 080608
Sat. 8th June 2008.

Anonymous said...

You must be wearing a songkok even as you are writing this opinion piece,right?

Meiyen said...

Recently, Rachel Ray, a celebrity chef was criticized by a commentator for appearing in a Dunkin’ Donut advertisement wearing a black and white scarf. The commentator wrote in her column that the scarf looked like a keffiyeh, which according to the critic, “was a symbolic support of Muslim extremism and terrorism”. She went on to say that “the keffiyeh has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad popularized by Yasser Arafat who had worn the scarf, a regular adornment of terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos."

Go to '" for the rest of 'Limbo rockin' with the songkok'

Anonymous said...

Dato, postings like songkoks and Turkish delights make for interesting little debates. But since you are the head honcho of STAR, we need you to put focus on burning issues that seem to be forgotten in the hoohah of the petrol price. Still outstanding are so many unresolved scams, like the land scam in Penang. The attempt by BN to set up a parallel network of village heads at the expense of the people's tax money, the attempts by Azalina to bypass the states and treating our tax money like it belongs to BN, etc. HOw about using your STAR paper and your blog to make sure such issues are not forgotten or buried by UMNO.

Ah Beng Crosby said...

If the report is true, then I have to say this is so stupid. Songkok is nothing but a headgear and has nothing to do with religion. And if the DAP insist on not wearing the songkok just to state their stand, the it is very stupid and a no brainer.

Anonymous said...

I agree with ah beng crosby, that you have much more better& important issues to take on. The good news is you have made some changes in your opinion especially after 12th GE. Keep up the good work. Make the STAR shine again.

KONAKON said...

No wonder malaysian people are considered THIRD WORLD

We can't be a First World country and having a THIRD WORLD(retard) mentality!

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of the comments. Such cute blog posts. How about addressing the UMNO leadership crisis -- will Pak Lah go? Why OKT no Tan Sri but Chan Khong Choy got although so many got? Public transport -- read the Star, good one but I think the writer (or editor) is not from KL and dun take public transport 'cos if he is KLite, he would know about the happening BAS MINI in the 90s. 50 cents from Jaya to Klang Bus Stand. One BUS. Can't beat that for covenience. Oh yeah, no air con..And then the blue buses, Sri something, quite good routes too -- mostly taken over by Rapid KL with its irritating ticketing structure though the buses are more frequent and much cleaner.

Anonymous said...

There must be some major efforts at revisionism, because growing up and attending Kebangsaan schools for my primary and secondary school education in the 90s, I definitely remember the songkok being a Muslim headgear, as my Malay friends told me so and that most of them would only wear their songkoks whenever they attended Muslim prayers at the school surau.

So come on, if you want to say the songkok is non-Muslim, please publish some extensive research on the history of the songkok in the Star newspaper. Surely you can assign a few reporters and investigate the historical roots of the songkok to once and for all, resolve this issue?

And if you now want to say the songkok is non-Muslim, then please get the govt to gazette it as such.

Because I distinctly remember growing up that the songkok is a Muslim headgear, and one should respect the right of non-Muslims not to wear the religious attire of another religion as one would respect the right of Malaysians to freely practice their religion.

- Observer

Anonymous said...

As a foreigner, I read this topic with amusement and a chuckle. Here you have fully grown adults fervently and passionately debating over a headgear. Can it get more ridiculous?

It certainly appears to be racial in nature, where someone has to don a headgear that's traditionally worn by one particular race.

Anonymous said...

While the big issues are important to highlight in any newspaper or newsblog, one must also not ignore the little daily things that have a way of one day becoming a major issue. A example is in your neighbourhood, sometimes a snatch theft occurs and we all say never mind, small thing only. police also say no need to report, small matter. this only emboldens the thieves to become robbers and also because we do not report, the statistics in the balai show that all is fine in the neighbourhood. Carry on blogging in your unique way, Datuk. I am ok with songkok but I think tight skirts and revealing pants are no no.

Anonymous said...

I hate and despise the BN govt. especially UMNO. They are the ones who have destroyed Malaysia and if allowed to continue will eventually bleed Malaysia to death. However, the hesitation of the PKR reps to wear the songkok is a disappointment to me. It shows that they cannot tell the difference between a Malay cultural adornement versus a religious one. I think as Malaysians we should know some of the basic cultural features of each race.

Anonymous said...

This is what I have to say..

No matter how you want to interpret it, a songkok is a very malay thing and by having the songkok be part of the official dress code, it is tantamount to forcing some Malayness onto everyone irrespective whether you are a Malay or not.

To compound the problem, Malaysia is a secular state and being so, there should not be any religion or race influence in any official dress code or conduct. To have a specific religion/race influence in something like dress code is a direct conflict with our Constitution which specifically state that we are a Secular State.

Another thing that I notice is that perhaps these people who refuses to wear the songkok feels that if you give in to this once, it will snowball into something serious one day and by then, it will be too late to make any noise and enforce the fact that Malaysia is a Secular state. By then, the arguement would be why didnt you oppose such malay influence from the beginning?!

To begin with, I am in the opinion that all matters pertaining to official should not have any religion or race influence to apeace our multi-racial make up. Yes, respect works both ways. This way, no 1 race can feel superior to another by claiming that it is my race/religion that is recognised or enhanced.

I remember the police force fiasco some years back where even the non-malay policewomen were forced to wear tudung as it is part of the official dress code. Or some local universities that enforce certain dress code for all students and their convocation attire. When this happens, it is a violation of not just the fact that Malaysia is a Secular State but also, to individual human rights.

Think about it.. it is not a petty issue. If it rattles people's feelings than it has to be reconsidered.

Anonymous said...

the songkok may not be a religious statement but somewhat its a form of malay me at least. and its definitely not an appealing headgear At all. so not in.

Robert Teh said...

Chun Wai,

There are still some DAP dinosours around - so anti-establishment in thinking - to the extent that they view anything 'Malay', be it culturally, traditionally or socially-connected with 'Malayness', as totally alien or against everything they believe in. After living in this country for well over 2 or 3 (or more) generations, they are still 'racist' in view and outlook. If wearing a songkok during an official function, makes them less 'Chinese'(or is against their religion) please vacate your State Assembly seat, as you were voted in by Malaysians of all races.

And as for racists, I guess you find them in all races, not only amongst the Chinese. It's time we look at ourselves as Malaysians and get rid of our racist outlook and attitude.

Please don't let our children grow up to be bigots, in a Malaysia that's continually plagued with racist behaviour and thinking.

Anonymous said...

The people of Malaysia have been brain washed over many generations. First by the British who made Malaysians feel inferior, and that everything British was right and superior. Then we were brainwashed by politicians who stereo-typed all the various races to serve their own ends. The Japanese army put the British "superiority" in the dump during WW2. Then there is a bunch brainwashed by the Middle Eastern Arabs.
Why do some malaysians feel natural wearing cowboy hats? That's very red-neck American. Why do they feel natural wearing jeans? That's actually made for gold miners during the gold rush in America.
Why do some malaysians feel natural wearing Arab clothes? That has nothing to do with being Muslim, but purely being "Arabic".
Come on Malaysians of all races, wake up. Throw away the instigating and brain washing by politicians. Let us all be malaysians. It is OK to wear each other's traditional garb.

amoker said...

There used to be a big huge war between those wearing songkok and kopiahs.

bla bla

I personally think that we are wasting public debate on a time-waster piece. Bigger issues please.

BlueMoon said...


Only the brainless Malays will work together with DAP. We have quite few of them in the PKR and they are the real traitors, not DAP. Looking at them in the newspapers make me wanting to throw out.

Simply Great Food said...

It's worst than pre-school thinking my elected politicians. Afterall it's only a simple headgear. How to be united and claim 'Bangsa Malaysia'. Grow up! Life here on earth is temporary only, let's together live with more understanding and make this world(Malaysia) a meaningful one.

Anonymous said...

Hey Robert,

Under Lim Guan Eng, the leadership and membership have been invigorated with young blood. He has managed to attract talent like Tony Pua and Jeff Ooi who appeal to professionals.

I agree that there are still dinosaurs in the party but you'll be surprised how much of it is just perception. Some of the old timers like Sim (Kota Melaka MP) may look old school but are progressive in their ideas and are open to new ones.

The songkok issue must be viewed from a historical context. At one time, the Chinese felf besieged and betrayed after the Merdeka constitution was systematically replaced by one that promotes ketuanan Melayu. Hence, I feel the songkok protest is just a reaction to the situation at that time.

If you wanna say DAP has dinosaurs or that wearing a songkok is a 'non-issue' then we should also look the BN. They too have racist dinosaurs. More worrying, young progressives in UMNO are playing up non-issues like Malay unity, etc to stay in power.

What I really admire about DAP politicians is their integrity -- very few will compromise their principles for a quick buck.

sinnersaint:saintsinner said...

Little things effect little Minds....

Who cares if one wares Songkok for official functions.... what we need is a "good head."

Stop wasting time deliberating on silly issues like Head Gears, we have more pressing issues ie How to mitigate the current fuel hike and how to resolve raising prices that effecting the Rakyat.

I sometime feel we have unsuitable MPs and MLAs representing The Rakyat. Its always about race and religious matters being debated.

Waste of energy and parliments time..... seriously please attend to the grave situation,
we all are about to experience ie multiple social and economical problems which i force see in the next 6 months.

My coffee lady was speechless when i asked her - apa macam minyak naik,
she said - banyak susah, orang sudah naik kan harga sayur, ikan,
tak tahu macam mana mau hidup, she cleans my office while having a full time job in another company.

God Bless us Malaysian.

Robert Teh said...

Hi! Jed,

I'm not questioning the integrity of DAP leaders whom I think have more integrity than most BN leaders. I have much respect for DAP leaders for their ideals, righteousness, principles and honesty - leadership traits you hardly find amongst current BN leaders.

I'm sore with some of the DAP leaders for their chauvinistic attitude - rejecting anything that's connected with 'Malayness' or even 'Non-Chineseness'. I, as a Chinese Malaysian, have even been discriminated against by my own race because I don't speak, read or write Mandarin - they call guys like us "Bananas", yellow on the outside, and white inside.

And Jed, I'm talking about racial or Malaysian unity here - why can't we wear the songkok (or any decent headgear for that matter) to show our love and loyalty to our King and Country, during official functions? What's so wrong to accept a symbol that's not in conflict with our religious beliefs?

But I would be the First to object to wearing the songkok, if all Malaysians must wear it everyday at work or when they leave the confines of their homes!

As for UMNO, I agree with you it is the most racist party in the country!

Bangsa Cina Malaysia said...

like i say they feel fine when wearing a tie and coat . i guess western fart is more fragrance to them.
a songkok is only a headgear and has been wearing my malay friends songkok since primary.( i am a chinese berugama Nasrani )
it will never make a chinese less chinese.
the DAP are full of narrow minded typical chinaman including teng chang khim an educated guy but jahil ( someone without knowledge ).
Hopefully YB lim guan eng will be able to filter out all these morons before
they create more damage.

Anonymous said...

People grow up and they mature, the DAP guys are also growing up and maturing.

Whay do we expect them to do - kick up a farce as they used to do in the past? Then, we can accuse them of being immature and childish?

This should be a non-issue, there are greater issues demanding or attention and energy.

Anonymous said...

If our leaders wear the songkok too, is it mean that his people also had to follow such act to wear it in all conditions if they are asked to do so????? Think about this....