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SRI LANKAN AUSTRALIAN MALAY ASSOCIATION

(Established on 19 September 1998)

 

It has been said that if you wish to know your future, then we should renew the past.

 

Time and again it has been proved that our memories, as human memories tends to be, are remarkably short when we desire to forget. In the interest of our younger generation it will no doubt be wise to recount the events and the object that led to the formation of a separate organization for the Sri Lanka Malays domiciled in Sydney, Australia.

 

At a function organized for the Sri Lanka Malay community by Nizar Sappideen and Razikin Dole during the latter part of 1997, at Reg Byrne Community Hall Wentworthville, the writer was invited to sing a few Malay songs at this get-together. With Ezmal Lye on the guitar popular Malay songs namely: - Rasa Sayange, Burung Ka-ka, Bengawan Solo and Suri Ram were sung with a lot of feelings and in harmony, which were well received by all those who attended the function. Following the success of this   function, a second one was organized at the Glendening Neighbourhood Centre. This function was well attended and afforded  an opportunity for the members of the Sri Lanka Malay community to meet and socialize in each  other’s company. At the end of the social a majority of those present posed the question “Why don’t we form our own Association so that we could all meet and pursue our cultural heritage”?

 

This suggestion was seriously considered. With the consent of Fayis Lye and Zeenia, singing practices took place at their residence in Glendenning, while the writer called on Yolande Koch and invited her to train some of our girls to dance a few traditional Malay dances. She readily agreed to help and soon after regular practices were held at the residence of Nizar Sappideen.

 

A meeting consisting of the following gentlemen was held on 6th June 1998 at the former residence of Nizar Sappideen located at 253 Caroline Chisholm Drive, Winston Hills.: -

 

Dr Ahamed Veerabangsa, Capt Anwar Dole, Bashur Musafer, Ezmal Lye, Razikin Dole, Al Haj P T Ousmand, Sameen Shaideen, Tony Sookoor and Nizar Sappideen (convener).

 

At the commencement of the meeting, Rizwan Miskin who was residing at Nizar Sappideen’s house was invited to the meeting. At this meeting it was unanimously agreed that an Association should be formed in Australia for the expatriate Sri Lanka Malays. The meeting also unanimously agreed that the new Association should be called “The Sri Lanka Malay Association of Australia” which was changed at the AGM of 1999 to SRI LANKAN AUSTRALIAN MALAY ASSOCIATION with a short title abbreviated to SLAMA. The Inaugural Meeting was tentatively fixed for 5th September 1998, which was changed to 19th September 1998 at a later date, to be held at Dundas Community Centre, Sturt Street, Telopea followed by a social and a variety entertainment.

 

After a week’s wet weather with torrential rain, gale force, winds and floods, Saturday 19th September 1998 turned out to be calm, bright and a sunny day. The Inaugural General Meeting took place at 6:30 p.m. on this day at which 48 families were present. The meeting was chaired by Capt Anwar Dole who was unanimously elected Pro-Tem Chairman. The election of 3 Patrons, Office Bearers and Members to the Executive Committee took place. Encik Nizar Sappideen who worked tirelessly with the co-operation and support from many Malay brothers and sisters was the popular choice for the much coveted post of President. It must be mentioned that he was President for the second time in 1999 and for the third time in 2006.

 

SLAMA is ever grateful to the following members for their valuable contributions:-

 

1)   Dr Ahamed Veerabangsa, who, devoted much of his time and careful research to produce the Logo for SLAMA which has been acclaimed as an admirable piece of work.

 

2)   M/s Zareena Jalill for composing the lyrics and music for SLAMA theme song ‘SLAMAT SLAMA’, which is rendered with much feelings and pride at all functions and on any important occasions organized by SLAMA.

 

3)   M/s Zareena Jalill for a thoughtful and meaningful ode to SLAMAT SLAMA.

 

4)   A special Committee consisting of the following members who drafted the constitution after many meeting and careful research:-

 

Professor Caroline Sappideen, Dr A Veerabangsa, Capt Anwar Dole, Encik Nizar Sappideen. M/s Shyama Dole attending to all secretarial work.

 

5)   Encik Fayis Lye for his tireless contributions to compose and provide music for all songs and dances since the inauguration of SLAMA.

 

6)   All past Presidents and members of the Executive and Sub-Committees for their dedication and valuable contributions in keeping with the objectives of SLAMA embodied in the constitution.

 

7)   M/s Yolande Koch for training our girls to perform traditional Malay dances at the social functions in 1998 and 1999 and to all other participants at SLAMA Nite functions held each year since SLAMA was formed.

 

The formation of SLAMA reflects the great importance of maintaining the identity, history and culture of the Malays in Australia. It echoes the same need that our forebears felt, consequent to their exile to Sri Lanka from the Indonesian Archipelago, Malaysia and Singapore. We should for a moment pause and ask ourselves the question “what is it that we wish to hold to our hearts as part of what we are, of our shared inheritance”. The answer is the history of ourselves, our shared ideals, our wish to impart to our younger generation, the very best of what we have had, our cultural heritage reflected in music, dance and language.

 

The ultimate aim in the formation of SLAMA is to impart to the younger generation of Malays in Australia, the knowledge and experience that the elders have gained from their parents and ancestors.

 

In generation to come and in the years ahead, we shall pray and seek the Blessings of Almighty Allah that our children will cherish the tireless efforts of our members.

Long live SLAMA

 

Capt Anwar Dole, P.P.N. (Malaysia)    

 
 
 
 
Anzac Day – Lest we forget   by CAPT T.A. DOLE (Retd), P.P.N.

It is a spectacular event to witness the ANZAC DAY parade which is held annually on the 25th of April in Australia. This day is also declared a public holiday to enable the public to witness the parade and participate at the many events drawn up for the day. Various RSL clubs in the country have a programme for the day beginning with the Dawn Commemoration Service, laying of wreaths to honour the dead comrades who sacrificed their lives in the Gallipoli war, fellowship lunch, and screening of films taken during the horrifying battle which took place resulting in the loss of thousands of innocent young Australians, New Zealanders and British personnel belonging to the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (C.P.R.C)

The Gallipoli war is best described by C.J. Dennis in his poem "ANZAC". A few verses from "ANZAC" are reproduced below:

"ANZAC and War’s grim storm

The scream of a passing shell

Torn earth and a quiet form

Pass comrade, all is well.

Nay, but his spirit lives be very sure

Year follows year, and earthy things depart,

But what he, dying, gave us shall endure,

Now and forever in the Nation’s heart

Now and forever though the flesh be gone

Still shall that spirit bid us "Carry on".

ANZAC! The trump of marching feet

The toll of a passing bell

Bowed heads along a city street

Pass Soldier, all is well"

The parade is a lengthy one that goes on for over 2 ½ hours. It is composed of veterans of the first and second world wars and the war in Vietnam. In cases where veterans who are unable to march, they are conveyed in armed force vehicles, while some travel in their own vehicles and wheelchairs. Those veterans who have since passed away are well represented by their sons, grandsons or their next of kin. It is really a colourful march past with British Commonwealth and Allied Troops keeping step to the Regimental marches played by their Regimental Brass Bands, Scottish Bag Pipes and their Drum and Fife Bands. Martial Melodies such as "Colonel Bogey", "I am ninety five" etc., are haunting and brings back memories of by-gone days.

Sri Lanka too is represented in this wonderful parade by members of the Ceylon Ex-Servicemen’s Association, Australian Branch, Melbourne. Glancing through the records, it is revealed that on the 25th of April 1983, a group of 32 ex-servicemen under the leadership of a former Major Paddy Grozier took part in this memorable parade for the first time in Australia. Although the number of veterans is fast diminishing, up to now the Association in Melbourne has found it possible to muster the required number of ex-Servicemen to participate in this unique event.

Sri Lankans wherever they are and the members of the plantation sector in Sri Lanka in particular, should be grateful to know that the British Planters of the former C.P.R.C. (now defunct) are remembered by a group of loyal and dedicated veterans who themselves had served in the defence force of Ceylon during the second world war in the various volunteer units during mobilisation.

The Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (C.P.R.C.) became a volunteer unit of the Ceylon Defence Force contingent and was formed in 1900. The C.P.R.C. sent a contingent consisting of 8 officers and 229 other ranks under the command of Major J. Hall Brown, to Egypt by sea in 1914 to defend the Suez Canal. On arrival the C.P.R.C. contingent was attached to the Australian New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). In 1915, the troops of ANZAC, which included the C.P.R.C., were despatched to the ANZAC Cove and were positioned on the beach in the Gallipoli Peninsular. The C.P.R.C. was assigned for operational duties, initially as guards to ANZAC Headquarters and the Headquarters of the General Officer commanding ANZAC Troops, Lieut. General William Birdswood who remarked, "I have an excellent guard of Ceylon Planters who are such a nice lot of fellows."

At the end of the Gallipoli War, it is revealed that the C.P.R.C. had sustained overall losses of 80 killed and 99 wounded.

C.P.R.C. has a proud record of service in Ceylon. Most of its officers were seconded for active service during the Second World War and held senior ranks in the various units of the Ceylon Defence Force such as the Ceylonese Royal Artillery, The Ceylon Light Infantry and the Ceylon Garrison Artillery.

On the formation of the Ceylon Army when Ceylon gained independence in 1949, the C.P.R.C. was disbanded

 

Sri Lanka Australian Malay Association (SLAMA) by Capt Anwar Dole 

The history of Sri Lankan abounds with reference to the presence of Malays in this country from the beginning of the Christian era. It is a historical fact that the Malays first set foot on Sri Lankan soil during the Empire of Sr Vijaya, which consisted of Southern Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Southern Philippines, many islands in the Pacific and the South China Seas.

A majority of Malays of Sri Lanka are of Javanese origin, while a considerable number came from the Indonesian Archipelago with Indonesian Political exiles and mercenaries comprising a significant portion of the early population. In addition there were also a small number who were banished to Sri Lanka and the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa from Malaysia which included members from the Malaysian Royal families. However, it was the Malay soldiers brought by the Dutch to garrison their strongholds who comprised the bulk of the Malay community. With the surrender of the Dutch to the British in 1796, the Majority of Malay soldiers were absorbed by the British, which led to the formation of the Ceylon Malay Regiment, later changed to the Ceylon Rifle Regiment. It could be said that the ancestors in most cases of the present generation Malay community served in this regiment which played a significant role in the military history of the country until its disbandment in 1873.

The Sri Lanka Malays by nature are a contended and a happy race and Almighty Allah in His Mercy has bestowed on them the ability to co-exist with their fellow citizens and their co-religionist, the Muslim community.

The religious zeal of the early Malays made a notable contribution to the Muslim community especially in Colombo. The Grand Mosque at New Moor Street where the Malay Saint Tuan Bagoos Balankaya is enshrined was designed and built by the Javanese architect Mohammed Balankaya.

Masjid-ul-Jamaya (Java Lane Mosque) built on donations from members of the famous Ceylon Rifle Regiment; Wekande Mosque built on the site gifted by Pandan Bali, a Javanese chieftain which was later transferred over to Malay Priest Saboo Latiff; Akbar Mosque, Mosques at Kurunegala, Kirinde, Kalpitiya, Nanu Oya and Kandapola; are all ample proof of the spiritual activities of the Malays.

In sports too, the Sri Lankan Malays have made a significant contribution. The Colombo Malay Cricket Club which is 130 years old, is the oldest cricket club in Sri Lanka and has produced cricketing stalwarts. Sri Lankan Malays have also figured prominently in other fields of sports.

During the latter part of 1960, when drastic changes were gradually taking place with signs of political unrest within the country, Sri Lankans in general were searching for greener pastures in other countries. Sri Lankan Malays in particular followed suit, and by early 1980, many Malay families had migrated to Australia.

In December 1996 two SriLankan Malays in Sydney namely, Nizar Sappideen and Razikin Dole organised a function to provide an opportunity for the Sri Lankan Malay community to meet and socialise. This function proved a grand success which ultimately led to the formation of the Sri Lankan Malay Association - SLAMA.

Since its inauguration, SLAMA has held several cultural  performances at which a revival of Malay cultural dances and Malay songs were successfully conducted. In order to teach the Malay language, Malay lessons were published in the SLAMA Newsletter "Suara Melayu Langkawi". In order to assist the children, Quran classes are being held regularly. SLAMA also conducts annual Rasool Mowlood recitals. An annual sports meet is organised for the benefit of the members and their children. 

Puan Zareena Jalill an ardent supporter of the association  composed the meaningful SLAMA anthem entitled "SLAMATH SLAMA" while Dr Ahamed Veerabangsa  designed a meaningful logo for SLAMA.

With the formation of SLAMA, I am confident that the small Sri Lankan Malay community in Australia will organise themselves into a band of unity and solidarity. The ultimate aim is to impart the knowledge and experience that the elders have gained from their parents and ancestors, on to the younger generation of Malays in Australia.

In generations to come, and in the years ahead, we shall pray that our children will cherish the tireless efforts of our members.

Ameen


Brains, Braun & Beauty by Razikin Dole

The Malays though miniscule in numbers have made a mammoth contribution to the islands "Brains Braun & Beauty". The Malays whose stock came from royalty, warriors, soldiers from foreign climes have no doubt sewn the seeds of fame in the Sports, Academic, and the Arts. The Malays were real extroverts & fun loving. Socialising was a favourite pastime which contributed to the culinary prowess of the Malays. With spices & herbs freely available, the rich distinct flavour of the Malay cuisine is unforgettable & loved by the island populous.

Reputed for being gutsy, fearless, strong and smart they were easy recruits to the armed forces & police. They always excelled in their fields and made a tremendous impact on the rest of the group. Salleys, Jurampathys, Musafers, Doles, Abdeens, Rahims are some of the names that stand out.

In the academic field the Malays have proved that they are not all braun. The community has contributed a good share of Doctors, Solicitors, Professors, Engineers, Architects, Accountants etc. They have always excelled in their trade and ended up at the helm.

The women folk certainly complement the robust male with their resplendant beauty. Their natural beauty and gentle mannerism make them the cynosure of all eyes. Many a beauty contest have seen Malay lasses being crowned the queen. The Ahlip sisters Yasmin, Yoland and Mumtaz reached the pinnacle of beauty by taking the coveted Miss Ceylon title.

The list of accolades could go on and on. Extrapolating from the past however, the future does not paint as rosy a picture for the community which is seeing a flight of talent to all corners of the globe. At the very least the community has a legacy of a rich heritage.

Awake to the Crisis by AlHaj Thunku Ousmand

SLAMA was primarily organised to promote and preserve the social, cultural and religious welfare of the community. Fundamentally, these aspirations are the principle objectives laid out by the Association's constitution.

But in practice, whether at social gatherings or cultural functions, Malay is hardly the language spoken. Even Sinhalese has prominence and conversed in good measure. The majority of families seldom exchange words at home in Malay, so much so that most children born in Australia speak English and can hardly express in their mother tongue since their parents encourage them to converse in the English language. It is a fact that although we are referred to as Malays, this term is a misnomer when applied to people whose ancestors have mainly originated from the island of Java in Indonesia. Thus they are popularly known as "Jaa-Minissu" by the Sinhalese and "Jaava Mansen" by the Tamils. It is the British colonial administrators who persisted in referring to them as Malays which gained currency. The Sri Lankan Malays have themselves accepted this label, while conscious of their Indonesian origin. This is reflective of their lin-guistic background arising from the fact that they used among other people a lingua franca - "MALAY". It is sufficient that the word "MALAY" in the Sri Lankan context came to mean any Muslim settler from the Indonesian Malay peninsula area.

Inspite of the popular recognition given to them as a separate ethnic minority, it is not easy to apply simple racial or cultural criteria to distinguish a Malay from any other Sri Lankan. Though sometimes one may come across a person with typical Malay features, in general, Malays have scarcely retained any characteristic features. This fact was indeed noticed by Percival, a British military officer, who was very familiar with the Malays who remarked in 1803, that they intermarry with the Moors and other castes and thereby acquire a much darker colour than is natural to a Malay. For that matter, eating habits, dressing patterns and other lifestyles etc. have changed from their Malay character. There is however, a reliable cultural sign of self-identification as Malays and of alignment with a Malay social system.

The language spoken in Malay homes presently differs radically from the Malay spoken in Malay countries. Yet members of the community call it "Bahasa Melayu" when in fact it is a creolised version, having Malay as a source but heavily influenced by it's syntactic and semantic structure by Tamil and Sinhalese languages. It is primarily on the strength of this spoken tongue that the Sri Lankan Malays treat themselves as an exclusive community.

It would indeed be a sad day for us, Sri Lankan expatriates, when our grandchildren too will be integrated into the Australian mainstream without a language of their own and devoid of fostering the objectives we are striving to foster. Let us therefore make a concerted effort to preserve our language at home and within the community and adhere to the tradition and customs that we have professed to preserve in the SLAMA constitution.
 

Purpose of Life – Islamic Perspective - Excerpts from a talk delivered by Muhammad Altaf 

Allah (the Glorified and Exalted) said to us in the Quran: 
Wa maa khalaqtul-Jinna wal-insa illaa liya-buduun. Chapter 51, Verse 56 
And I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me. 
This is what the Almighty said. 

Our purpose in life is to recognize our Creator, to be grateful to our Creator, to worship the Creator, to surrender ourselves to our Creator and to obey the laws that He has determined for us. In a nutshell it means Worship. This is our purpose in this life and whatever we do in the cause of this worship i.e. the system - eating, drinking, working, dressing, sleeping, the enjoin between life and death, all of these are just consequential, but we have been created for Worship, that is the purpose of our life. 
I don’t think that anyone who is scientific or analytical will have much argument with that purpose. They might have some alternate purpose within themselves, but that is something they will have to deal with, within themselves and Almighty Allah. 
I would now like to explain to you how I can Worship Allah, the Almighty God in my daily life. If I do my 5 daily prayers on time I am worshipping Allah. If I constantly try to remember Allah while on a bus or while walking down the road, I am worshipping Allah. If I don’t eat anything forbidden, don’t drink alcohol, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t involve in backbiting, unnecessary chit chat, office politics and so on, then I am worshipping Allah. If I lower my gaze when there are women around, I am worshipping Allah. If I look after my family by taking care of their necessities, respecting my parents, spending time with my wife and children, I am worshipping Allah. If I have good relationships with my neighbours, I am worshipping Allah. 

 



Sri Lanka Malays in focus

by Kalabooshana S. B. C. Halaldheen (Extracts from the article)

At present there are about 60,000 Malays in Sri Lanka. Although the Malays are a minority within a minority they have contributed their mite towards the development of Sri Lanka many serving in the armed services of Sri Lanka and in the Police Service. Some are in the clerical and administrative services of the government. Many serve as teachers and in various other professions such as accountants, doctors, engineers, etc. Some work in the tea and rubber plantations as superintendents, conductors or supervisors. A few of them are in the private sector or in the import/export trade.

The first Muslim to be elevated to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka was a Malay, Marhoom Justice M. T. Akbar. He was also the first Malay to serve in the legislature. He was responsible for the introduction of the first Muslim Marriage and Divorce ordinance and the Wakfs ordinance in Sri Lanka.

The first Muslim in the Cabinet of Ministers in Independent Sri Lanka was a Malay, Marhoom Dr. Tuan Burhanuddin Jayah. He passed away in the Holy city of Madinah in Saudi Arabia while he was on an official visit to set up the Sri Lanka Pilgrims House in Jeddah. He was buried at Jennathul Bakki in Medinah after Janaza prayers held both in Medinah and Mecca at the special request of the custodian of the two Holy Mosques, His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia.

Marhoom Dr. Jayah was also a diplomat and was also a pioneer in Muslim education. He was the Principal of Zahira College, Colombo for many years. It was during his period, many Muslim colleges were set up in the principal towns of Sri Lanka where there was a concentration of Muslims.

Even in the field of sports, the Malays of Sri Lanka are not second to anyone. Sri Lankan Malays formed the first cricket club in Sri Lanka 125 years ago and named it the Colombo Malay Cricket Club. This club is still going strong and is a regular meeting place for many sports enthusiasts.Eighty years ago i.e. in 1922, the members of the Colombo Malay Cricket Club and other Malays formed the All Ceylon Malay Association which is now known as Sri Lanka Malay Association (SLMA).

A social service arm of the SLMA named SLMA Rupee Fund was started during the time of Marhoom Zahiere Lye, and is doing yeoman service to the community.

All these three organisations commonly known as Padang Complex is situated at Jalan Padang, Kompannaveediya, Colombo 2. Incidentally, Jalan in Malay means Road. Jalan Padang means Padang Road or Mawatha. In order to honour the Malays, the Colombo Municipal Council agreed to use the name Jalan Padang instead of calling it Padang Mawatha or Padang Road. This is the first time that completely a Malay name Jalan Padang has been given to a road.

Malays in Sri Lanka are a peace loving and God fearing community. They built many mosques. Some of the well known Malay mosques are the Bogambara mosque in Kandy the Military mosque in Java Lane in Colombo and the Wekande mosque at Kompannaveediya.

(Courtesy of Island 02/2002)

 







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