SALLEH BEN JONED was a Colombo Plan scholar sent to Australia to study English and ended up spending 10 years there. He became a student of the late James McAuley, one of Australia’s major poets, at the University of Tasmania. He came back to Malaysia in 1973 and joined the English Department of the University of Malaya which he quit in 1983 to become a freelance writer. Sajak Sajak Saleh/Poems Sacred and Profane was published in 1987 and As I Please, a collection of prose writing, in 1994. His second collection of prose pieces Nothing is Sacred was published in 2003. He launched his new collection of Poems called Adam’s Dream during the Citigroup Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival 2004.
In his poem, “Malchin Testament”, the persona is showing the scenario of the community in Malaysia on how they use English language and he criticizes the Malaysians in that sense. In the other sides, this poem shows how the Malaysian wants to be totally free. They want to make English as their own and try to build up their own identity and nation. That’s why they did not really care if there’re complains about how they use English. After being colonized for years, the Malaysian tries to build up its own identity whereas they want to be free from any colonization. They hated colonizer but at the same time still use their language. We can see the evidence in stanza two and three: ..“stress put in all the wrong places, we say ‘cool’ eeben wen it’s hot lah, we hate the mat saleh races, but hijack deh lingo lah!..(Stanza 2) and “we true malaysians, you no, we pree people, you no: pree, to make english not English, but our very own, you see”.. It shows that a new vision of Malaysian had emerged in all their blessed arrogance and freedom.
“Malchin” is a hybrid language which is the combination of the first syllable of the words “Malay” and “Chinese”. The way of how this poem is written shows that the persona is totally celebrating Malaysian cultures. He writes about the issue of “Malayness” and “Nation” identity in such a way as to break down stereotypes. Identity and “Nation” was therefore continually subject to tensions and contestations which resist state-proffered categories. Obviously, the persona has abrogated the grammar and he did it with full of conscious. The point is to mock the Malaysians who totally speak broken English and seem to take it as there’s nothing wrong with that and they are freely to make the language as their own and speak it as the way of they speak of their own. Despite they came from different backgrounds and beliefs – that’s the point that reunited them as Malaysian community with multicultural background that repress divergent views on identity, community and belonging. The persona is proud with Malaysian culture, which shows that he is celebrating the Malaysian culture using a specific style of writing, behold to his identity of a Malaysian poet.