Saturday, October 20, 2007

Of muhibah, kampungs and the slow travelling movement

I don't normally do news round-ups - see Jeff Ooi for that - but a few things caught my eye today.

The first is Johan Jaaffar's lament on "Those long-gone days of muhibah in the kampung" in today's New Straits Times. Johan's point is not new: In the past, during more innocent times, before and just after Malaysia gained her independence in 1957, it was not unusual for families of various ethnicities to not only live cheek-by-jowl with each other, but have genuine interactions and friendship. This pining for the good old days is particularly prevalent among Malaysians of a certain vintage as well as politicians out to mask their tendency to fan ethnic chauvinism with empty rhetoric of multi-cultural harmony, or muhibah.

I highlight Johan's lament because my friend John is right now undertaking a ride across the country in search of that muhibah spirit, and is at this very moment, passing through Muar, the setting for Johan's commentary. What was remarkable about Johan's picture of an idyllic kampung was that "in 1948, the area surrounding my village was the scene of the worse racial turmoil the country had ever known."

Meanwhile, two Morrocan scouts are walking through Asia to promote "love, peace and tolerance", and has arrived in Malaysia. What is it about people taking the slow road to spread positive messages? Is it because the physically draining act of walking and cycling humbles a person and makes him or her more sensitive or self-aware? Is it that the slower pace allows one to truly appreciate the worth of every single human being one encounters? Or is one just too darned tired to argue?

Riding is of course an environmentally-friendly, low-impact way of playing tourist, as this feature on Pulau Ketam bike tours attests. My recent post on the charming island failed to include some of the nitty-gritty travel details that good, responsible bloggers are supposed to have provide. Oh well, *shrug*.

But I did have a pix of pepper crabs! :)

P.S. If any of the links to the articles become broken, leave a comment and I'll fix it!

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