Seeking the Malay DNA

The tanjak and tengkolok have becomevsymbols of Malayness for many. — Photos: The Star

MEETING and talking to Malay interest groups over the past few years have been enlightening, to say the least. While my work on identity has been going on for over 15 years, it was only in 2020 that I set forth to understand a certain demographic, which was inspired by my observations of the Tanjak Boys (young Malay men wearing the Malay traditional headgear) during the Anti-Icerd rally. This led to an article or two and a book in the making.

I chose to focus on the Tanjak Boys, and friends who practise silat (Malay Martial arts) and traditional Malay healing, because they were the “çlosest” to “Malayness” in the way they dressed and their ideological beliefs. When I announced this to other friends, they were stumped. Those Malays were supremacists, they said. But were they really?

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