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KUALA LUMPUR – The centres for Malay civilisation studies have been called upon to ensure the revival of the Malay Archipelago’s
socio-culture.

Socio-cultural affairs advisor to the Malaysian government, Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim said such centres at the tertiary education institutions in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei should be able to suggest what should be done to preserve the Malay socio-cultural characteristics in their respective countries.

“This is because currently, there are worrying drastic socio-cultural changes within these Malay communities,” he said in his speech at the Malay World Conference in London on Monday.

The text of his address titled “The Challenges of Malay World and Islamic Civilisation Studies”, was issued here today.

The Conference was organised by the School of Oriental and African Studies London, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and International Islamic University Malaysia.

Rais said most obvious were the effects of the social media as well as foreign entertainment and socio-culture on the young generation of Malays in the region, resulting in them discarding local values.

“Will their Islamic faith, for instance, be able to withstand the onslaught and parasitic nature of the western media? Will the English language eventually be the number one language of knowledge, commerce and communication in the Malay world?” he asked.

Rais suggested that the Malay study centres in Malaysia pay serious attention to matters pertaining to Malay culture and civilisation through elements of re-training.

“Our young need to know and practise Malay customs and courtesies as learned by the British colonialists,” he said.

Rais said in pre-independence Malaya, each of the British colonial officers like Frank Swettenham, Hugh Clifford and Richard Windstedt learned, among others things as administrators, the do’s and don’ts in Malay culture, village customs and way of life, besides the Malay language and royal court protocol.

He regretted that the Malays now lagged behind in these aspects as part of their identity and cultural values, hence the Malay study centres needed to conduct research to find out how these could be revived.

Rais said this was important as the Malays in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, southern Thailand and southern Philippines made up 330 million of the world’s population and almost 53 per cent of the population in the ASEAN region.

He also suggested that Malay Studies be renamed Malay World Studies, saying there were so many aspects of the Malay World and Malay Archilepago to be studied in depth, including the history, culture, economy, maritime life and diplomacy for the benefit of current and future generations. – BERNAMA

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