The King and I

Growing up, I used to wonder why my parents really insisted on me speaking in Kelantanese dialect, even when I didn’t want to. Their reason was because the language was their mother tongue and they made it their responsibility to preserve it. They continuously persuaded me to speak and also taught my younger brother and sister, who can now speak the dialect fluently. I quote what my parents said:

“We would be proud to have a child that goes back to their home country and confidently speaks to the local people in their dialect. It would be rude to say ‘Oh sorry, love. I was born and bred in England and I can’t understand a word that you are saying or speak your language.’ And that, my child, is very disrespectful!”

Despite the endless support which was given by my parents, I used to hate meeting other Malaysians in the UK. They made fun of me when I spoke Malay because I was speaking in Kelantanese dialect. I am not talking about kids, I am talking about adults. Most of them had children the same age as me or even older. They laughed at each and every word that came out of my mouth. As a result of that, my confidence to continue speaking Malay was killed and that added to my refusal to speak the language. I questioned a lot, “Why did people make fun of Kelantanese dialect?” but the answer remained a mystery.

Time passed and now I am 10 years old. My parents didn’t stop telling me stories about Malaysia. One day, I heard my parents talking about His Majesty, the Sultan of Kelantan, Sultan Muhammad V. He sounded like an extremely humble, down-to-earth person. I heard many captivating stories about him and his virtuous qualities. He behaves like a common man and prefers to go out without any bodyguards. When a big flood hit Kelantan in 2014, His Majesty rushed out in his truck without anyone accompanying him and aided those in need. He is also occasionally seen voluntarily digging graves with common people. This marvellous Sultan regularly visits mosque and doesn’t claim a special place for himself in the front line. Sometimes, he even leads the prayer himself. He loves his people and wants to be close to their heart, especially on religious occasions. So for the last 10 nights of Ramadan, he opens his palace to the public to let people pray and read Quran all night long. And on Eid ul-Adha, he performs the slaughtering duties himself. To add to his brilliance, he changed the King’s regal salutation from ‘Daulat Tuanku’ (Long Live the King) to ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Great) as he is a religious man and strongly upholds his religion. He really is a modest, meek ruler who doesn’t mind to get his hands dirty and is caring about his people.

Finding out that he did all of these wonderful things made me adore him even more. I soon found out that His Majesty was going to be coronated as Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia (the King of Malaysia) and that made me look up to him even more! I was motivated and started to regain my confidence in speaking Malay. If the King of Malaysia can speak in Kelantanese dialect, then why can’t I? Thank you for inspiring me, Your Majesty, a boy in a foreign land! You are one in a million! So let His Majesty be an example to all of us! Be gratified of who you are, never be ashamed of your roots and your dialect but always remember to remain humble so that Together We Can Change The World! NOW I CAN SAY THAT MY NAME IS OMAR MUKHTAR BIN OMAR MUKHLIS AND I AM A PROUD KELANTANESE FROM MALAYSIA!

Written by The Pawsome Lion on 24/04/2017 in conjunction with the coronation of the country’s sovereign, Sultan of Kelantan, Sultan Muhammad V, as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.

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