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Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Malaysian National Bird - NOT what you think it is

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Does anyone know, offhand, what the Malaysian national bird is? Don't blame you if you don't, really . But before we delve into this more, let's look at what's not the Malaysian bird.

Image hosting by PhotobucketNOT the Malaysian national bird

Contrary to what some may think, the Malaysian national bird is not Emeline Ng (despite being the reigning Miss Malaysia and all).

Also contrary to popular belief, the crow, too, is not the Malaysian national bird, despite at one time totally overrunning the town of Klang, and various other places nationwide.

Image hosting by PhotobucketAlso NOT the Malaysian national bird
(and you won't see this crow flying anywhere soon)

No, kiddos, based on what's been reported of late (particularly the Malay language media), the only plausible candidate for the Malaysian national bird has to be the Vulture - from the Cathartidae family of new world vultures.

More specfically, Walski's referring to the little known, but abundant Cathartidae Culturalis - probably more commonly known as the Culture Vulture.
(more carrion commentary in the full post)

Walski's literary aside: the term Culture Vulture is defined by as "an individual with a consuming or excessive interest in the arts". Walski, however, adds "for the wrong reasons" to this and uses the term to denote people exhibiting a form of cultural fascism.

And the latest Culture Vulture swarm has been observed in the wake of Gubra winning Best Picture at the 19th Festival Filem Malaysia (FFM19). These Culture Vultures have swooped in to really tear apart the success of Yasmin Ahmad, and to rip apart Sharifah Amani's faux pas during her acceptance speech for her Best Actress award.

Leading the assault has been the nest of mainstream media vultures Berita Harian, which is no big surprise, since it is the home of the head-honcho vulture himself, Jabba the Newsman (from whom, surprisingly, Walski's not heard a peep yet; only from his minions).

But equally as vocal has been alternative media outlet Harakah - culture vultures with religous talons. Here are some examples of headlines recently found at their online site (translation by myAsylum):
"Gubra didakwa 'hantar mesej' maksiat sebagai satu cara hidup" (Gubra accused of 'sending a message' of immorality as a way of life) - see related post on this article
"Gubra Yang Sesat Lagi Menyesatkan" (Gubra that's gone astray and misleading) - this article by Faisal Tehrani was originally published on April 28, and re-published on August 14. Originally from Faisal Tehrani's blog
"Kerajaan didesak haram Gubra, batal penganugerahan" (Government urged to ban Gubra, rescind awards)
"Kempen halus konsep pluralisme agama dalam Gubra" (Covert religious pluralism campaign in Gubra)

Have the shackles on our intellect been gripping so tightly that any challenge to convention is treated with such intense fear and paranoia? Can the Malay psyche not handle any criticism whatsoever?

And it's not just the mainstream, and not-so mainstream, Malay media that's been actively lambasting Gubra, its director Yasmin, and Sharifah Amani - the Malay language bloggers have been having a field day as well. Carrying out a Google blogsearch reveals some of the discussions ongoing - most of them either talking about what an insult Gubra is to Islam, or liberalism (which has become a 10-letter-word, if you catch Walski's drift), and other negative commentaries.

The hidden political and/or social agenda with these vultures seems to be that the Malay culture and Islam are, and must continue to be, beyond reproach. At least that's Walski's perception. The status quo, no matter how good or how bad, must never be questioned. And perhaps it's this thought process that continues to shackle the minds and intellect (what's left of it) of the Malay Muslims in this country.

It's difficult to change centuries of intellectual conditioning, and this one post doesn't even dream of trying to do that. Walski merely wants to call a spade a spade (but sometimes a shovel) - cultural chauvinism is alive and well, and will continue to thrive - any attempts to try changing mindsets will only result in more mudslinging and labelling.

And unfortunately, that's they way some people want things to remain - status quo and beyond reproach. Any attempts to challenge that will only attract the attention of the Malaysian national bird, the Culture Vulture...

Walski's factual addendum:

Image hosting by PhotobucketThe Malaysian National bird, in case you were wondering, is actually the Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros). This majestic bird, synonymous with the state of Sarawak in East Malaysia, thankfully, has no relationship whatsoever with the Vulture, cultural, otherwise. In addition to Walski, the Malaysian Nature Society is probably equally as thankful.

If you live in KL, or are planning to visit anytime soon, do include the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park as part of your jalan-jalan (excursion) plans. In it, you'll find a pair of beautiful hornbills. Seeing this magnificent creature first-hand gives you the appreciation of why it is the Malaysian national bird.

It will also give you an idea of why the Malaysian Culture Vulture isn't.