How was Raslan presenting "the other" in Confessions of an Old Boy?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One distinct way in which Kam Raslan showed "the other" in Dato' Hamid's adventures is through the wise "outsider."  Hamid is shown as one who has a wealth of experiences, and has seen much in his native "Malaya," or Malaysia. It is this point of view that makes him uniquely different, constructing him as "the other" to the established narrative of the Status Quo:  "Although I’m retired now I still think about Malaysia and could  be of invaluable service to the nation. Unfortunately, everyone  is so fixated with youth that we people with experience become ignored. And I have seen everything."  Raslan is able to establish Hamid as "the other" through age and experience.  The established narrative of the Status Quo is one of youth, materialism, and social acceptance. It is for this reason that Hamid is "the other."  He is the voice of the outsider, able to articulate a condition that is not entirely accepted by the established narrative.  An example of this is when Hamid rails against men with long hair, reflecting a state as "the other."  Hamid is "the other" because of his belief that his age and condition enables him to better understand what defines the essence of Malaysia, something that is lost in the accepted vision of discourse:

My generation is more in touch with all the various races  that make up Malaya. I mean Malaysia. For instance, Yusof  Embong is from Perlis and Syed Yaacob regularly chats with a  Chinese shopkeeper in Muar. We understand the complexities  of Malaya. I mean Malaysia. We are a culturally sophisticated  bunch which is made evident by the fact that almost all of us,  including myself, have European wives.

Hamid is "the other" because of his belief that he is more "in touch" with what defines Malaysia.  Raslan establishes "the other" as someone who is on the outside looking in, a voice that is not necessarily validated.  Hamid is "the other" because he articulates a condition that goes against that which is considered "the same."

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