The Moral Thought of the Malays: Feudalism & the Concept of Corruption Based on Selected Malay Texts


The evolving of the feudalism system of the Malay Sultanate during the pre-colonial era has marked the construction of Malays’ moral thought. During this period, the ideas of moral values were primarily constructed by the Malay ruler which was the raja or sultan who had the highest position in the feudalism system. Therefore, the king's practices often became the practice and culture of the common people. As the moral thought was perceived in a form of top-down approach, the construction of the concept of “corruption” also mainly relies upon the king's values. Absolute power does indeed corrupt absolutely as the king tend to confine the concept of corruption to a few malpractice acts that were considered against his power and authority including treachery and breach of trust by enforcing the punishment and the death penalty to such crimes. The common people tend to become more adaptive with the rules, thus unable to question the deviation made by the king. Thus, this article aims to investigate the understanding of the concept of corruption and how feudalism had shaped the conceptualization during the classical age in the Malay society. Is that true the comprehensive ideas of “corruption” merely a western adoption without any foundation in Malay tradition? This research is based on selected Malay manuscripts including Sulalatus Salatin and Sultan Abdul Hamid’s correspondence.

Author Information
Norizan Kadir, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2019
Stream: History

This paper is part of the ACAH2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon