Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Hero or Villain

RPK posed an interesting question on two historically legendary Malays, in a post titled

Jebat - hero or villain?

Aiseh, I know some of you won't visit his blog so I have re-posted here my comments made at his mentioned post, with some judicious editing to (hopefully) improve on my original but hurried comments(s):

hoever wrote Hikayat Hang Tuah was brilliant in posing this question via the tragedy in the minds of readers, namely: Was Tuah the better person for his absolute blind obedience to his liege lord but with lamentable disregard for his loyalty to his blood/sworn "brother", or was it Jebat for his deep sense of fraternal love and loyalty but lack of traditional absolute allegiance to his liege lord?

It's the eternal agonising yin-yang story, worthy of serious study as per some of the Greek tragedies like the saga of Jason & Medea, ...

Jason & Medea
(portrayed instead in Roman style)

... or that of ginormous confronting contradictions to be found in the Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata where so-called heroes like Rama in the former and Arjuna in the latter appeared to be treacherous underhanded villainous cads while supposedly arch villains like Ravana in the Ramayana and Karna in the Mahabharata appeared as chivalrous & righteous heroes.

And then there was the story of Ekalavya in the Mahabharata which troubled me as much as the story of Hang Tuah unjustly (or stupidly) killing his best friend and sworn brother-in-arms (and that by deceit too) on the say-so of the Sultan whose unjust persecution of Tuah had ironically been the very reason for Jebat rebelling against the tyrannical ruler.

Ekalavya idolised Drona, who was the ultimate sifu who had taught martial arts and magic to both the Pandava and their cousins the Kaurava, the two principal warring foes in the epic. But Drona refused to accept Ekalavya as his student because the latter was a low caste person. Yes, the Mahabharata reeks of despicable caste discrimination and class snobbery.

righteous (but stupid) Ekalavya giving his right thumb to a caste-conscious discriminatory and sinister Drona

Yet Ekalavya despite his low caste disadvantage practised diligently by himself with only Drona as his inspiration, becoming the best archer in the epic. But Drona was out to get him as he subsequently revealed his sinister upper caste discriminatory reason to his fave student Arjuna on why he had Ekalavya cut off the latter's own thumb:

"What would happen to society if the lower castes start learning the martial arts reserved for Kshatrias? I had to do this to preserve stability and social order. My goal is to make you the best archer in the world and remove all barriers towards that goal."

You may want to know why Ekalavya willingly cut off his own thumb to give it to an asshole like Drona even if that act caused the silly bloke to lose his supreme skills in archery? Well, that's almost the same question you would ask on why Tuah killed his best mate Jebat for a tyrannical ruler.

We see the same troubling injustice in the Old Testament where modern biblical scholars have been re-evaluating the now-apparent villainous deeds of an unscrupulous murderous and adulterous King David against the equally now-apparent exemplary kingly conduct and performance of King Saul, a role reversal that certainly won't appeal to the "faithful".

In the above last phrase, to wit "... won't appeal to the faithful", I believe I might have stumbled upon the clue to the answer for our agonising question, in that the "faithfuls" would naturally think differently to the "discerning", a case of faith versus scholarship.

Mind, that question posed (not directly of course, or even not intended) by the author(s) of Hikayat Hang Tuah didn't arise in Malay minds (at least publicly) until Kassim Ahmad wrote his dissertation "Perwatakan Hang Tuah" in 1950. In that paper Kassim saw Jebat as the real hero for standing up to tyranny while he considered Tuah as a palace sycophant.

Kassim's character analysis of the two Malay warriors was radical thinking in a then Malay world where absolute loyalty to a Malay ruler was automatic, expected, and without question. Kassim provided the spark that gave rise to a virtually virgin perspective for Malay thinking about their allegiance to cruel repressive rulers, where Jebat himself was reputed to have said:

"Raja adil raja disembah, raja zalim raja disanggah."

... which means "A fair king is a king to salute, a cruel king is a king to rebel against"..

And regardless of how Kassim Ahmad may be regarded by Malay monarchists, he certainly has earned his redoubtable title as Malaysia's foremost intellectual.


  1. Kassim can always ask Madhater to bail him out


    Hahahahaha.........According to Kassim Ahmad, this is what should be done to Anwar Ibrahim

  3. one was an asshole while the other practiced nepotism. cerita dongeng.

  4. ‘Raja adil raja disembah, raja zalim raja disanggah’

    a quote, supposedly to come out from the perjanjian Demang Lebar Daun dengan Sri Teri Buana, which could be considered as the most important source of the adat Melayu as listed under the Sejarah Melayu (Asal-Usul Raja-Raja).

    Whether Hang Jebat had authored it, is debatable & irrelevant as both the Sejarah Melayu & Hikayat Hang Tuah r just cerita dongeng – possibly written at about the same time period.

    In that hikayat, two personalities were been created to justify an implication of the dilemma of Tuah’s absolute blind obedience to a liege lord but with lamentable disregard for his loyalty to his blood/sworn "brother", or was it Jebat for his deep sense of fraternal love and loyalty but lack of traditional absolute allegiance to his liege lord.

    The key point here is NOT whose the hero was in real lives. Both Hang brothers were just court play of a feudalistic time. They were ONLY serving the interest of an elite class THAT lorded over the ordinary people, based on a set rule of unbending adat Melayu!

    Indirectly, Hang Tuah’s undying royalty becomes a virtually virgin perspective for Malay thinking about their allegiance to cruel repressive rulers! Meanwhile Hang Jebat becomes a forever penghianat bangsa. This story has such a direct influences on the REAL lives of the Malay society at large till NOW.

    Tuah’s unquestioning royalty to a cruel sultan was termed to be the ‘golden’ theme of that Malay adat that had been praised for century within the Malay psychic, while Jebat’s absolute sense of fraternal love to an equally cruel brother-in-arm was down-played & cursed for equally long.

    1of3 cont

  5. The question that should be asked is WHY the long delay (till 1950!!). Were there no other Malay intellectuals to dissect this dilemma then until Kassim comes along & thrown in his out-of-box interpretation, as wrote in his dissertation "Perwatakan Hang Tuah" in 1950.

    Here’s the REAL catch of the issue that both KT & RPK missed – the mis-play of the Malay adat.

    What's ‘adat’ BUT a set of man-made rules, kononnya been practiced by a group of people since masa nenek moyang.

    It's also within justification to say that these ‘adat’ changed/disappeared due to circumstances, again most likely man-made. Otherwise there would be many illogical & inconsequential ‘adat’ still been maintained now. Key examples would be the modified/removal of the old Hindus practices since the mass adaptation of Islam by the Malay masses.

    In the legend of the perjanjian Demang Lebar Daun dengan Sri Teri Buana, Demang Lebar Daun was brave & intelligent to challenge the old feudalistic norm of unquestioning obedience to Sri Teri Buana, who was then the alpha male of the tribe.

    He changed the unquestioning pledge of royalty to one of Quid pro quo – meaning in exchange for royalty, Sri Teri Buana must rule with justice & fairness to the populace.

    That’s was NEVER been done before – it’s against the old ‘adat’ to question & more so asking for something in return from the top elites!

    So, in that legend, our ancestors had shown their far-sightedness to go with the change of time & circumstances. They changed the old 'adat' with a more recent & fair one to reflect the needs of the circumstances!

    2of3 cont

  6. Thus, "Biar mati anak, asalkan jangan mati adat.", maksud apa????

    If Demang Lebar Daun held fast to that saying, then where was the need for the perjanjian. Don’t ask, don’t question - biarlah jadi hamba sh’ja!

    He didn’t, thus arise the often quoted saying of “Raja Adil Raja Disembah Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah“, which reflects the hidden gem of the bygone Malay intelligentsia.

    So, biar anak mati, even when that ‘adat’ has lost the shelf-life & essence in modern day living?

    Unlike in the case of the Hang’s brother, Demang Lebar Daun fights for the rights of the governed commoners in the face of a possible cruel sultan, by twisting an old adat into a justifiable royalty that we don’t see in both Tuah & Jebat’s famed struggle.

    Could this be a misplaced inspirational propaganda creates to syok-sendiri about a desired Malay champion, whose shadow we see everywhere nowadays within the current Malay society?

    Kassim is a class of his own within the current crop of Malay intellectual, which can safely claimed the less than 5% of those well-educated one. Unfortunately for Kassim, he was NOT appreciated for his brave re-interpretation of an adat, from an opposite but equally valid angle.

    This applied too, to his current fight with the interpretation of Islamic teaching, based solely on Quran.

    Kassim can proudly stands beside Demang Lebar Daun as the light of the bangsa Melayu. But Ksaaim is old & fragile, IS THERE ANY BRAVE NEW MELAYU who can take his shoes & soldier on?


    1. CK,
      Is that the reason why ktemoc supporting Kassim Ahmad?

      kaytee will never rest till this happens to Anwar Ibrahim

    2. Loose74,

      If Kassim is REALLY a straight Quranic follower, then he is no royalist.

      KT shares the same pant with his sifu, as far as monarchy goes, period.

      So, where that support goes, but a typical politician move!

      KT's hate for AI is multifold - one wonder whether what u'd indicated can extinguish that hatred!

    3. just a minor (wakakaka) correction to your Myrmidon-ish perception about me hating Anwar (this torch was previously carried by Nat Tan but you have now taken over, wakakaka again), if I hate or hated him I wouldn't have defended him as I did in

      But I do admit I hate his deformasi bullshit such as 916 and when he was UMNO minister(s) in his 16 years of silent luxuriating in the apex of Malaysian politics (including his triggering of Ops lalang because of his Education Ministerial policy)

    4. A simple act of defensing AI about a particular incident IS not a show of yr indifference to yr deep-rooted hatred for AI.

      It's just that u r not as thick-skinned as yr sifu, in the face of indefensible allegations. That's a show of little self-pride - no more no less!

      Grouping me as AI's Myrmidon, same as that NOW childish but used-to-be naive Nat Tan, shows yr incapability of judging people u DONT like. Any wonder - WHY Loose74. or I - dont like yr bulls? There r more, judging from the other comments, which were not as persistent as both of us.

      Show proofs lah that I'm a die-hard AI ass-licker, THEN I cant quote MORE examples of my critical views about him than the pages of space than yr blog allowed.

      BTW, that's more than just ONE miserable article!

      Ooop... heard of Ad Hominem attack used by scoundrels? I believe u have mentioned it somewhere in yr blog for yr own vainglorious self-praise & defense!

    5. "A simple act of defensing AI about a particular incident IS not a show ..."

      Oh dear oh dearie me, the extent to which you would shamelessly wriggle, slither and weasel your way out of undeniable FACTS just to defend your indefensible arguments, wakakaka

    6. NOW...u r bordering on shaking off that thin trace of yr self-pride ....wakakakaka...sigh.

      could it be - what price is pride, when the fall is near?


      But I'm enjoying myself when u r so elegantly (learnt from ahjibgor & more likely sub-consciously) wrote: '...would shamelessly wriggle, slither and weasel your way out of undeniable FACTS just to defend your indefensible arguments, wakakaka'

      Bravo... must get top mark from yr sifu for this!

      Go buy a mirror to celebrate, too...sigh....

    7. wakakaka, you merit the title of 'kiasu' because you still wont accept you have no ground to stand on

    8. Hahahahahaha...u r right about me stand on no ground! Bcoz I'm cruising at cloud nine dealing with stubborn fool like u.

      Know what REAL 'kiasu' is?

      Iff u know that then HOW could u be the judge at the same time be one of the participant? Only a REAL 'kiasu' would try to exploit & twist such situation, hoping that others wouldnt see through yr game.

      Who's a kiasu IS not decided by u or me. The other commentators can read & be the judge. No?????

      U r, indeed, acting more & more like yr ahjibgor in a desperado attend to salvage yrself from the cesspool created by yrself!

      Classic example of claiming using falsified documents for blackmailing! See the false in such oxymoron action?

      Wakakakakaka...sigh.....a through & through kisau behavior!!!!!!

      Ooop... I shouldnt 'merit' u. That honor should be the choice of the other commentators.....wakakakaka....sigh...

    9. I'm ending this valueless disagreement with you. It's degenerating into pointless arguments. So unless you come up with some comments with added value I won't publish them

  7. Kalau betul pun Hang Tuah dan Hang Jebat ialah best friend forever kenapa Hang Jebat nak mengamok?

    Hang Jebat telah menceroboh masuk ke dalam Istana Raja dan bunuh pengawal-pengawal dan merogol dayang-dayang? Apakah itu perbuatan dan kelakuan seorang hero?

    Hang Tuah telah difitnah, maka itu kenapa Hang Jebat tidak investigate and check the fact dan mempersembahkan the logic and the truth kepada Raja, so that the Sultan would repent and the culprit could be caught, tried and punished?

    Hang Jebat should not follow his emotion and submit to his own reason and he should not have jumped the gun!

    Walauapapun Hang Jebat memang telah menderhaka kepada Sultan apabila dia mengamok di dalam Istana, membunuh dan merogol, dan oleh itu dia telah nekad dan dia pun tahu bahawasanya hukuman keatas tindakanya itu adalah hukuman mati jikalau dia tidak mati.

    Oleh sebab itu di suatu ketika di dalam pertempuran itu, Hang Jebat telah melalaikan dan merelakan dirinya untuk dibunuh oleh Hang Tuah. Hang Jebat lebih rela mati di tangan Hang Tuah daripada dihukum mati oleh Sultan.

    Hang Tuah sangat bersedih selepas membunuh Hang Jebat dan Hang Tuah kemudian telah menghilangkan diri.

    Nama Hang Tuah sebenar ialah Dahing Mempawah. Orang Bugis.

    1. the winners write the history lah

    2. You should have a cup of tea with your matey Virginia Matheson Hooker