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MALAY FAMILY VALUES May 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — yaacob @ 1:41 pm

MALAY FAMILY VALUES

Yaacob Harun

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 INTRODUCTION

Strong  family   units  can be formed,  if  members  of society   were to fall back to  traditional  family  values,  and  to  continuously realize  their  impor­tance  in  family  lives.  In Malay society, these  traditional  family values,   among others,  emphasize   solidarity,  authority, fidelity, love,   companionship,   respect, rights,     duties   and obligations,  and   mutual help.   It  is  believed,  strong socio-psychological  basis    for  a  unified  and   stable society  can be provided for if these  values   were  firmly held   by  family   members, and were  constantly  instilled  into  the  young  minds  right  from   the  early  years  of   socialization.

This paper discusses dominant family  values in Malay society which are  expressed and  manifested in the various aspects of  the family life.  These may include subjects pertaining to marriage,  family structure and family functions, the roles of family members,  family relationships and a myriad of others which involve the family as  the basic institution in society.

MARRIAGE AS THE BASIS FOR FAMILY FORMATION

No  civilized  human  society  allows  illicit   sexual relations  outside  the  family or  outside  marriage.  Pre-marital  sex,  adultery  and  extra-marital  activities  are always  regarded as taboos, and to some cultures  as  sinful activi­ties.  These  taboos are still  operative  in  eastern societies.  Any  deviation  from the  established  norms  of sexual behaviour is subject to contempt and ridicule.

In  Malay society, it is always despicable for  couples to engage in sexual activities outside marriage. If they are caught,  they  will be compelled to marry  with  or  without their  families’ consent. The religious authority  in  every state  will monitor and subsequently will  take  appropriate action  on  any  case that involved illicit  sexual  affairs between  unmarried couples.  In the cities, raids are often made on  massage parlours, hotels and private houses, and those found  guilty will be fined.

Malay parents will theoretically disown their  children who  bring  shame  to  the family by  their  act  of  sexual misbehaviour. Such misbehaviour by the children is expressed in  a  saying,  “menconteng  arang ke  muka  ibu  bapa”  (to scribble  charcoal  on the parents’ faces). As a  result  of which, the family will  be in disgrace.  It is  even worse if an unmarried girl ever   gets pregnant for its effect could never be kept away from public knowledge.  As the adage says, “bangkai gajah tidak boleh ditutup dengan nyiru, ” which literally means ” the corpse of an elephant can never be hidden under a sieve”.

In  the past, a newly solemnized marriage will  end  in divorce for the married couples if the husband, on the first night  of  their being together, finds out his  wife  is  no longer  a  virgin. He can also claim for the dowry to be fully returned to him.  If the marriage is prolonged, his social standing and honour would be at stake.

To the Malays, a girl who  has  lost  her virginity  by way of having sex before marriage is  regarded as “kelapa telah ditebuk tupai” (A coconut which is  spoiled by the squirrel’s bite). Such a “spoiled” girl is no  longer worthy to be taken as a wife by any man of virtue.  In view of this, parents are always on the alert of their daughter’s whereabout, for  it has been the general opinion that “to take care of a daughter is a much harder task than to take care of a herd of buffaloes” (menjaga anak gadis seorang lebih susah daripada menjaga sekandang kerbau). The boh-sia phenomenon which is prevalent in the major cities of Malaysia today  emanates partly from  disorganized  family  units  where  parents  are   too preoccupied with their day-to-day affairs leaving little  or no time at all to be with their children, and what more,  to check on their activities.

Like in most societies, incest and sex outside marriage are regarded as taboos by  the Malays. They are against the teachings of Islam and Malay cus­toms which form the core elements in Malay culture. A person who committs adultery is bound to put his or her marriage on the rock. Most likely it will end up in divorce. A husband is considered “dayus” (not man enough) to have  an unfaithful wife around. Nevertheless,  the society is less stringent  on the husband  if he were found out to be the guilty partner. This is probably linked to the idea that males by nature are  more promiscuous than females.

CHOICE OF MARRIAGE PARTNERS

Traditionally, the Malays prefer their sons or daughters to  choose their  life  partners among those group of people who  share with   them  many similar  characteristics on the  bases  of status group, economic position,  religion, cus­toms,  ethnic  group,   and state  of  origin.  The popular adage,   “pipit  sama   pipit,  enggang  sama enggang” (birds  of  a  feather flock   together),  is   taken   seriously as  an  important  beacon  in  choosing  partners in marriage.  To the Malays, a    marriage  is  not only  contracted  between two individuals, but  also  between two family groups. Here, compatibility   and suitability  of   the  marriage partners is of equal importance to that of  compatibility and  suitability  of co-parents  or  of    two   family  groups.

It  is  believed,  if couples  come  from  different  family backgrounds  , they would have nobody  to fall back to   for support,  especially  in the crucial years of  marriage.  To rely solely on the strength of their romantic love, however, is  not really a  guarantee  for  a  stable  marriage.   The  support   system provided  for  by  parents and   by  family groups   from   both  sides,  is just as  important  as  the marriage itself.  On  this account, therefore, it not is surprising   to  find that,  elements   of  intervention  by  parents   in   their children’s  love-marriage  families   do   occur,  sometimes  even   in  delicate family  matters.  

AGE AT MARRIAGE

The  relatively  longer time  taken by  a  person  to  equip himself  or  her­self with the necessary  qualifications  and  relevant  skills required by the job market,  would lead  to the situation where marriage is  postponed.  Young Malay men and women today, seldom marry before they could secure  jobs in the labour market. The marriage age is normally   between 25 and 30 years old for males, and between  23 and 27  years old  for females. 

In the past, a girl who reached  the age of 25 years old and was  still un­married,  was  branded, “andartu”  (old  maid). To   Malay   parents,  there   is always a cause for  worry  if  they  have  daughters of marrying age, who are still  single.  To   have an  “andartu”    in  the family,  is   a   burden,  or  most appro­priate,  a  psychological burden for the  parents.   An  “old”  unmarried  daughter  is   often  labeled  “tak  laku” (  literally, not salable). This  is reflective,  either  of  the  girl herself,  who is  really “old”  to  the  extent   of  her  being  labeled as such,   or  of  her character,    bad enough to shun  potential suitors.   

A  point  to  ponder  here, is a   report  by  The  National Population    and  Family  Development    Board,    Malaysia  (LPPKN),  which shows that in 1991,  more than 60,000  Malay females  around the age of 30 were  unmarried, 10 per­cent of them  belong   to  30-34   years  age  cohort.   The  writer believes,   if these “andartus”  were to get married,  there is   always  a   tendency   for   them    to   break   other  marriages,  or  to shatter  the lives of other families   by their   act   of  “stealing”   other  peoples’  husbands  or fathers  away.    The   idea of   their  marrying    younger husbands  is  quelled, as  it  is very   unlikely   for  any parents to allow  their  young  sons marrying  “andartus”.

CHILDREN IN THE FAMILY

Contraceptives  and abortion are the inventions of  the 20th  century to avoid unwanted pregnancies  resulting  from sex (outside marriage). But as mentioned above, illicit  sex in  eastern  society is sinful and  it is very  much  to  be despised. In Malay society, children born outside  marriage, theoretically,  have  no  family to turn  to  for  emotional support  and companionship, and  have no legal right to  any property  belonging to their biological parents. It is  thus through  legalized  sexual  union  and  within  the   family institution that children are to be born and raised up.

To the Malays, children are the most valuable assets to the  family. The more children a family has, the  more  they are  cherished  for,  as children are “gifts”  from  God.  A family  with many children is a “prosperous” family,  though poor  economically. Thus, family planning practices and  the use   of   contraceptives  which  is  prevalent   in   other communities, is less practised by the Malays.

On  the  other  hand, a marriage  without  children  is doomed  to  shatter. A man will always have  the  excuse  to divorce his wife or to marry again if his wife fails to bear him children. A childless family is subject to all kinds  of gossips  and  comments,  the  popular  one  being,  “seperti rambutan jantan, orang berbunga dia berbunga, orang  berbuah dia  tidak”, (Like a male rambutan tree, others  flower,  it also flowers, but others bear fruit, it bears nothing). This shows  how important it is for a family to   have  children, which by their pres­ence, will not only provide at atmosphere of  familiness  in  the  home,  but  most  importantly  will strengthen the marital  bond between the spouses.

The Malays, generally prefer  to have big families, gauged  by the number of children born in the  family units.   A   Malay  male, normally prefers to  marry  a  much younger  wife  who could   bear  the most number of children for the family. It is  then,  very unlikely, and at the same time,   very   risky   for   any   woman    to  fulfill  the family’s   dream  of having a  big family,   if she  happens to  be married   at the  very  late age  of  35 or so. There are   reported  cases  of  divorce  on  account  of  wife’s rejection  to  the husband’s request of marrying   a  second wife, most probably for the purpose of having  more children in the family.

CHILD UPBRINGING

The Malays place a very high value on proper upbringing of children. Instilling good and acceptable cultural values to a young child is not the responsibility of the immediate family members alone, but it has been the shared responsibility of other kin members. An obedient and well- behaved child is openly praised both by his own kinsmen and by neighbours and friends.  He is a “budak baik” (good child). (Djamour, 1965:104).

Traditionally, Malay parents have a lot to rely on other kin mem­bers in raising up their own children. Normally, the children are looked after by grandparents or by unmarried aunts when their own parents are out working. The services rendered by these relatives are, however, free of charge.

In the Malay villages of rural Malaysia, the process of socializa­tion within the  family also involves the teaching of  basic practical skills to prepare the children to take over adult male and female roles. The later is of great importance if the children were to continue staying in the villages and inherit their parents occupations.

 As one would noticed, in an agricultural community, fathers gradually teach their sons how to tap rubber trees and collect latex from them, as well as how to roll the latex into sheets. They also  teach their sons how to prepare fields for the planting of paddy seedlings and how to harvest the ripened plants (Banks,1973:131).  The transi­tion of women to adulthood involves a comparable transmission of responsibility from the mother. She also gradually teaches her daugh­ter to work in the fields, doing the lighter tasks. But most importantly, she teaches her daughter how to be a good homemaker who would be able to take up the tasks of a wife and a mother when she later marries.

 While agreeing to the fact that formal secular education is an effective means to socio-economic mobility, as it would help secure outside jobs for their children, some of the Malay parents feel that sons should be better educated than daughters. The majority of the Malays still cling to the idea that women should fully assumed the role of homemaker upon marriage. Much of the family problems with re­gards to child upbringing and management of family affairs could be effectively solved, if the wife-mother is always at home.

In conjunction to this, there is a growing trend among Malay women today to stop work, or to go for early retirement when the demands from the familial sector become stronger. Abdul Hamid Arshad (1988) points out, 44.1% out 943 Malay women interviewed, stopped work upon marriage on the basis of their husbands’ objection for them to continue with their jobs. 26.7% did so on account of taking care of the family, and 10.5% stopped work because of the pressure of child care.

THE POSITION OF WOMEN

Women  occupy  a    subordinate   and subservient   role   position in Malay society.  Tendencies of their being discriminated by  their  menfolk are more prevalent in traditional  (rural) families. There are cases  when husbands mistreat  their  wives  and singled them out in important family matters. There are also cases  when  parents give better preferences to  their  sons than to their daughters, for example  in matters  pertaining to education and job opportuni­ties outside the home.

Generally,  a  woman  is economically  dependent on a man – an unmar­ried girl on  her father, a wife on her husband, and an elderly mother on  her son. A divorced woman or a widow seldom lives alone with her young children,  but will  move  to  stay with her parents or  with  her  married brothers for a period of time until she is able to be on her own, or until she remarries. If she has grown up  sons who  can  take over the role of adult males, then  she  will continue staying with them, and help raise her grandchildren when the sons have a family of their own, later.

Women’s economic dependency on  men is   prevalent  in  the  rural  society,   particularly   in situations   when   economic   activities    require   heavy utilization  of  manual labour. In Malay society, it is quite improper for a woman to be seen involving herself actively in the occupational sector doing the heavy tasks specifically reserved for men.  By so doing, she is often regarded as being “rough”, and “manly”. Her feminine image is affected. A woman with masculine character is often subject to ridicule and contempt.

The role of women as homemaker is almost universal, particularly in traditional cultures. Household chores like preparing meals for the family, cleaning, washing, ironing, and taking care of babies and children have always been regarded as women’s responsibility. The Malays regard the wife as “ibu rumah” or the nucleus of the family. The nickname of “orang rumah” or the per­son who manages the house given by the husband to his wife explicitly explains the expected role position a woman should undertake when she gets married.

Malay parents also give the nickname of “orang dapur”, or the person who manages the kitchen to their new-born baby girl, as opposed to the nickname of  “orang balai”, or the person who sits in the hall, given to their new-born baby boy. It has been the society’s perception that  a woman’s place is in the home. The notion, “no matter how educated a girl is, she eventually ends up in the kitchen’, had, at one time, greatly influenced the minds of the Malay parents, to the extent that daughters were deprived of their chances of getting good educa­tion. Only after Independence that more educational opportunities were ex­tended by the Malay parents to their daughters.

When a married woman assumes the role of homemaker, it does not mean that she is solely held responsible for the management of the family or of the house the family lives in. Tasks such as repairing the house, painting, fixing roof tiles, etc., still fall under husband’s responsibility. He is to be blamed if the house he and his family live in, is in a dilapidated state. In the eyes of the general public, it is a disgrace to see a woman climbing up to fix roofs, or taking up the tasks of house repair, even though help from her husband, or from any male member of the family is not readily available.

In Malay family system, the husband is the head of the family, a position which is sanctioned by both religion (Islam) and customary law (Adat). The wife, though occupies a subordinate position, also has her conjugal rights de­fined. The authority vested with the husband is not to be calibrated as absolute authority, to the extent of him being allowed to treat his wife as a servant, or at worse, as a slave.

Major family decisions are usually made by the husband, though, in real situation, such decisions are not made without prior consultation with the wife. David Banks (1983), for example, points out that, Malay women, through their passive role, have the prerogative of criticizing bad decisions made by their hus­bands, although they never do this in public.

The duties of a homemaker undertaken by the wife also includes management of family budget. In most cases, she acts as the banker for the family. This is pointed out by Rosemary Firth in her study (1966) among Malay housewives in a fishing community in the west coast state of Kelantan. Firth shows that, in any economic transaction, the husband would always refer to the wife.    Djamour (1959), also points out, bitter conjugal quarrels occurred if a man spent a large share of his earnings without his wife’s approval. Husbands who attempted to cheat by keeping some money for themselves were severely repri­manded by their wives for deceit and selfishness.

Though the Malays generally recognize the women’s position in the family, they still subscribe to the idea that a woman should not take over the role as the family head from her husband. With a social system inclined towards the patriarchal type, the Malay society still uphold the dominant position of the husband. A hen-pecked husband is always despised by the society, inasmuch as the society despises a woman who assumes the role of a matriarch in the family.

ROLE OF ELDERS

 Among  the  Malays, age and seniority are  two  important factors  which  determine the nature and patterns  of  their family  relationships. The elder  and senior members of the  family  are very  much  respected,  and it is the  elders  who  normally handle all important family matters. They are the source for advice as well as the place for the resolution of family conflicts. Major decisions will not be made until the senior members  of the family were consulted. 

Respect  shown  to the elders and senior family members may take  various  forms. They  include,  non-intervention  in  adult discussions,   obedience,  def­erence, proper  manners  and  body positions  in  the  company  of adults,  and  the usage of low-toned language.  It  is  always expected from the younger  family members to  make  the first  move  in  any form of interaction with  their  elders.  For example,  a nephew though occupies  a high  position in society, is the one who should  first  pay courtesy  calls  to  any of his uncles  and  not wait  for  the later to do so. Within the family  circle,  a person  is  respected  not on account  of  his  standing  in society,  but  on the basis of his social positions  in  the family.   

FAMILY COOPERATION AND SOLIDARITY

Cooperation among  family members  is one of the most cherished values in Malay society.  It can  be in the forms of mutual  help  and  services, collective ownership of property, sharing of family  income, maintaining  a  common budget, and financial support  and  remittances.  Basically, these  are,  but  some  of   the integrative elements found in the Malay family system  which help to bind its members  into cohesive units.

Production process in the peasant economic system  of  rural Malaysia until today relies heavily  on  family labour  (Kuchiba  et.  al,  1979).  Every   adult   member contributes  to the manpower needs of the family and  shares the  family  income. However, economic cooperation  of  this nature can be sustained when family property such as land is still  collectively  owned,  or when the  ownership  of  the property is still held by the parents.

In    Malay   society,   economic   cooperation   and interdependence is more obvious or more prominent among  the married couples. They involve all kinds of economic activities and processes  taken up by the family. Any form  of property acquired  after  marriage  will be re­garded as joint property, although the husband  is the   only  contributor.  When  they  divorce,  the   “harta sepencarian”  (acquired  property after  marriage)  will  be equally divided among the spouses.

However,  the  nature  of  economic  relationship   and economic  coopera­tion between husband and wife  in    modern Malay  family  today, is not the same as it was  years  ago. When  the  spouses  are  both working,  they  tend  to  have separate  budgets  and  maintain   separate  bank  accounts. Besides,  they could no longer help one another at  work  as both are involved in different occupations. Even if they are engaged  in  the  same  occupation,  their  respective  role positions would not be the same. In  cases  like  these, then it  is   worth  pondering, whether the changing conjugal roles in today’s family,  will lead to a better conjugal relationship between the  spouses, or  to  something that weakens their marital  bond.  

Modern  families,  particularly  those found in  the  cites,  are  mostly    conjugal nuclear families.  Since  they   are  quite   detached  from   extended   family  members,   these   family  units  have to  be self reliance, meeting   most  of  their  needs   by   themselves. Help  and  assistance   from  extended family  members who are mostly staying in the rural areas,  is  hard to come  by.  In  addition,    the   nature   of    urban    social   structure,      characterized     by heterogeneity,  individualism, indifference, and  impersonal relationships,   also   exert  great   pressure   on   these  “detached”   family  units. Cases of  child  abuse,    child neglect, and in extreme situation, family dissolution  would likely   be   the     resultant  effects.    In    Malaysia,   between 1985-1995,  a total of  1,440 cases of   child abuse were reported. These include,   physical abuse (735  cases), sexual  abuse  (284  cases),  and  neglected  children  (421 cases). A majority of these cases were committed by  natural parents. [New Straits Times, March 30, 1995].

Apart  from  the above,   emotional attachment, love  and  a host of other family obligations between members of conjugal nuclear   families and their relatives  seem  to  erode  and weaken  over the years. Grandparents   have   little  chance  to   talk,   to  cajole,  or to  express   their   love   to grandchildren.  Slowly, grandchildren tend to  regard  their grandparents  and  other extended family members  whom  they seldom   meet,   as  strangers,   having   little   respect,   and  harbouring   little   or  no  feeling   of   love   and  affection  towards  them.  The  absence  or  the   loss   of  love   to  and from grandparents, as well as  to   and  from other  close  relatives  is   one,  but the   biggest  price members  of the detached conjugal  nuclear family  have  to pay  under the name of development. 

FAMILY CHANGE: A THREAT TO TRADITIONAL VALUES

Unfavourable  events  and developments with  negative  value standards     occurring    in the West, which  are  exposed  and transmitted to us through the media, have impinged  upon most  of    our    family    values.  These  negative  value  standards   with damaging effects  have  slowly taken  roots in the minds of our young populace. 

A good example is the changing  role of women  which resulted  to  a  major change  in  the family system and to a  conflict  in  family values.  When women are found to be actively  involved    in the  labour market  outside  the  home alongside with   men,  the  outcome of which  would be as follows: the   husband is no longer the sole breadwinner  of  the family; there   is an increased voice of the wife in the  family on important family matters; the husband’s dominant position in the family  is  being challenged or lessened; the   wife  is no longer financially  de­pendent  on  the husband; there tends to exist an element of  competition  be­tween the husband and the wife; and, the   family  has  to   surrender  some  of  its   major functions,    particularly    the    economic    and     the  educational  functions,  to relevant  agencies  outside  the family.

In  as  much as the women have achieved their  “freedom”  by taking   up employment  outside  the  home,  and   not   to continuously  succumb  to per­forming  their  oppressed  role  as wife-mother,  very  likely,    there is  bound  to  arise  a  conflict  of  values and a crisis  of  expectation  among  family  members   on  important  family  issues.   This is congruence with a statement made by Aida Tomeh (1983) which says, “Real barriers continue to exist for women in extra-familial roles because society still assigns them the primary activity for child care (and management of family affairs), and offers few available alternatives. Some families are designing their own adaptations by adopting marriage styles where husband and wife share home responsibilities and attempt a flexible approach to their occupational activities. However, translating egalitarian attitudes into behaviour poses a strain on the family in view of the stringent demands of the occupational sphere. Strain has also risen from the ambiguity created in men and women who are in the process of exchanging role expectations related to their own and others’ roles”.

For   the Malays,     it is    their  culture  and   reli­gion,    that   assign    their  womenfolk, the  primary  responsibility  of child  care, or  the  expressive  role  of homemaker.  If  a woman   is  not  neglectful  of these  duties,  or  she  has reliable  household  help  available   to  look  after   her children and relieve her some of her domestic work, while at the  same  time  she  needs  an  income  to  supplement  her husband’s  earning,  there is no objection in Islam  if  she goes out to work, but only with the consent of her  husband. However, the   jobs that she undertakes to do must be lawful from  the  point of view of Islam. She must not  work  as  a dancer,  a model, a barmaid, a waitress, a film  actress,  a musician, or a prostitute to sell her femininity in order to make money, even with the consent of her husband. (A. Rahman I. Doi, 1990:147). 

There  are many instances of Malay women    quitting   their  jobs  to  meet the  demands  of  the  family.   Abdul  Hamid Arshad  (1988)  reported that, out of 943   women   that  he interviewed,  44.1  percent of   them   stopped  work   upon  marriage  at  the request of their  husbands,   and  another 36.7 percent did so because of the pressure of child care.

Household  chores   including child care are  likely  to  be carried out by hired maids when  both  the  husband and  the wife  take  up   jobs  in  the labour   market.   There  are   instances   when   parents seldom have the chance  to  spend  quality    time    with   their   children.   Under    these  circumstances, the tendency   for the children, particularly the  youths, to  go out   to  be  in  the company of   their  peers,  is  strong.  It  is  not surprising,  therefore,  to find  Malaysian  youths  loitering and  loafing  around   in small   groups   after  school or during  weekends  at   the    supermarkets  and department stores in the  cities.     But,  most   alarming  is  the  increased    number   of    youths     in­volving  themselves  in   various   anti-social activities which  are detrimental not only to the family stability  but also  to  national  development.  

On  similar  ground,  there  exists   a   section   of   the population, particu­larly the proponents of  Marxist-feminist movement in the western countries, who regard the family  as  oppressive   and  repressive institution  for  women.  Their stand  is   based  on three  major  accounts,   namely:  the family’s  regula­tion of women’s labour through the housewife role; the  control  it  gives  men  over  women’s  sexuality   and  fertility;  and its structuring  of  gender  identities (Elliot, 1986:126-127).

It   is   argued,   the  priority  the   family   gives   to  household  role  over other roles for  women,  limits  their participation  in paid work outside the home.  Subsequently, it cuts them off from opportunities for self-realization and self-fulfillment,   makes  them  economically  dependent  on  men,  and    denies  them  a  say  in  the   allocation   of   public  resources.   The family is also accused  of  denying   women’s right to control access to their own bodies, as well as,   to control their own fertility. Women’s  sexuality  is said     to confine  only  to heterosexual marriage, and  as  such,   will always haunt  them by the ever-present risk  of pregnancy  and motherhood.   Lastly, the family is  regarded  as  containing and  sustaining  within it,  ideas of  female  nurturing  and male  bread winning  which  imprison both men  and  women  in particular gender identities.

The proponents of feminist movement are of the opinion, that the  psycho­logical  identification of  women  with  domestic world, denies  them  the needs, activities and relationships that are apart from, or may conflict with, their tradi­tional role   as  wife-mother.  As a way out for  women  from   the oppressive   and  repressive  situations   in   conventional  family   system,     radical   pro­posals    advocate    that   marriage    be  superseded  by a  range  of  options.  These include,    free-love-unions,    co-habitation,     same-sex  pairing    or    homosexual relationships,   celibacy,   and    that,  the  family  as   a child care  unit, be replaced  by communal    child-rearing   and   professional   parenthood. (Elliot, Ibid: 130).

Specifically,  the    range of marriage or  family   options listed  above,   contradicts  the teachings  of  Islam  that underlay    Malay  family  lives  and   values.   In   Malay  society, it is  strictly prohibited and despised for men and women  to engage  in sexual activities  outside    marriage.   Parents     will  theo­retically  disown their  children  who bring  shame  to   the  family   by  their  act  of   sexual misbehavior.  Children  born outside  marriage,  also   have  no  family   to   turn   to   for  emotional   support   and companionship,  and   have  no  legal right to any  property belonging to their biological parents. 

CONCLUSION

The  prevalence  of the numerous social problems  and  anti-social activi­ties, particularly among youths, is but only  a small reflection of value conflict in the family system. The young   generation,   being     vulnerable,    is     easily in­fluenced  by  the negative development in  the  west,  and  with  adoption of new (western) values,  they feel  they are  in confrontation with their parents who still cling  to  the   set   of   traditional   values.  The   nature    of    this confrontation  is  translated into, or is expressed  by  the youths  getting  themselves involved in a variety  of  anti-social activities mentioned earlier.

The present trend of development  among youths in  Malaysia, as   it was pointed out,  is a matter of grave concern   not only  to  parents and the general public, but  also  to  the government.   All   quarters feel  that,    problems   among youths   should  not  be  taken lightly,  but  have  to   be  redressed  before   things   get out  of  control.  On  that account,  the government has empowered  Ministry  of  Youths  and  Sports,  Ministry  of Education, Ministry   of   Social Welfare,  Ministry   of   National   Solidarity, as well  as National  Population  and  Family  Development  Board,   and  Parent-Teacher  Association to plan  development  strategies for  youths,  and to take  positive  measures   to   address  some  if  not  all, of the  social  problems  that  involved youths.  If  left  unchecked,   these  problems  will  bring  pernicious   effects to national development  and   national security.

To   the   pro-family  proponents who   feel   that   family institution   be maintained and family values   strengthened  even  in  the  present era of  rapid   social  change,  such earnest  effort   by   the government   to   address  social problems  and   a  variety  of anti-social  activities  that directly affect the family,  is much to be appreciated.  The writer is also of the  opinion, irrespective   of  the  pace  of   development,   the    family institution   has   to  be strengthened,    its    values   have   to   preserved   and instilled,  and  the justifications for its exis­tence  as  a functional unit in society, have to be constantly upheld  by society members.  The bad experience  the family  encounters in  the  West, which leads to its “demise”,  is a lesson  to  be  learnt  by  all members of society who still   place   a  high  value   on love, affection, companionship,   sense  of  self,  fidelity,   chastity,  cooperation,   mutual    help,   family protection,   and  a  host  of  others    which    no   other   institution   can   provide,   except   the   family institution.

As  for  the  Malays in Malaysia, they are   aware  of   the  changes   that  occur  around them,  and  of  the   negative impacts  such changes have  on their family system. However,  as devout Muslims, they always fall back  to  their re­ligion  for guidance. The writer feels, the majority of the   Malays are  not  easily influenced by  anti-family  movements  with their  radical  proposal  for family  alternatives  in   the  west.  They  are   also not   easy to fall prey  to   modern western  family values, which are mostly  in   contradiction  to  the teachings of Islam.

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