November 10, 2010

"Extra Tuition" In The Asia Mag!

Mental Torture in Malaysia
November 3, 2010

The exquisite, completely unnecessary practice favoured by parents in Malaysia known as extra tuition.

Malaysians are an enlightened lot. Such is the continuous need for edification that any Malaysian is readily available to absorb knowledge from the grapevine or the Internet as well as dispense expert advice to anyone willing to listen. The source of their information may not be completely legitimate but no one pores over tiny details like credence.

Continue reading here!

March 11, 2010

"Hating Singapore" Published In The Asia Mag!

Hating Singapore

Malaysia has a longstanding relationship filled with grudging tolerance and mutual animosity for its neighbouring country, Singapore. For the uninitiated, Singapore used to be a part of Malaysia a very long time ago. Some people still think it should be. But these are the same people who think divorce by SMS is perfectly legitimate.

Read the rest of the article here!

April 10, 2009

How Come, How Long

Dear readers,

First off, my apologies for the protracted absence. Due to certain commitments and material exhaustion, we haven't been able to update Malaysianisms as much as we normally would.

But fret not, we'll soon be back with a bang, bigger and better than before!

In the meantime, why not revisit some of your favorite posts and spread the word to your friends. We welcome fresh ideas and perspectives on Malaysian life from all of you!

Be well, see you soon.


February 24, 2009

#57 Extra Tuition

Malaysians are an enlightened lot. Such is the continuous need for edification that any Malaysian is readily available to absorb knowledge from the grapevine or the Internet as well as dispense expert advice to anyone willing to listen. The source of their information may not be completely legitimate but no one pores over tiny details like credence.

It is also a necessity to enrol Malaysian children in private or public tuition from ages as young as 7. You might think this is typical of demanding and pedantic, over-achieving parents but really, it's quite the norm for any Malaysian parent. Because Malaysians can't stand the fact that their kids aren't developing at the same rate as everyone else who's learning the same syllabus from the same materials taught by teachers from school at their after work jobs.

Public tuition centers cater to groups of students who attend classes in the evenings, absorbing expert insight and surveying their fellow classmates (this is a plus point of tuition centers if you're from an all boy/girl school). Public tuition centers boast experienced tutors who have lists of accolades and achievements unfamiliar to most but always profess to have tips on topics in the major exams. These claims are sometimes proven true due to the high probability of topics being repeated by exam preparators drawing inspiration from ancient and predictable syllabus material.

Parents who can afford to, spring for private tuition. Private tutors can leave a lasting image on their students. Some deliver results. Some deliver mediocrity. Some deliver beatings. Private tutors often do not come from educational backgrounds. They're normally comprised of overeducated but underpaid individuals looking to gain an extra buck and to impose their sanctimony on unsuspecting children. Occasionally these tutors will relate stories of their school days and missed opportunities which led them to where they currently are. This is a recommended form of punishment for students to be used by tutors who don't condone violence but wish to inflict narcolepsy through nostalgia trips.

The period in which major examination results are released is always an exciting time for everyone involved. This is when everyone gets to see the fruits of their labor. Tuition centers will be quick to publicise successful individuals in promotional materials or think of new ways to recruit students. Private tutors will either become elusive or increase their teaching rates. In the long run, it's all worth it because these extra classes, intensive tuition, mental torture and grade inflation all result in more and more educated individuals who eventually contribute to the country's brain drain or statistics of the national unemployment rate.

February 15, 2009

#56 Maggi Mee

Malaysia has been said (and self-proclaimed) to be a gourmet paradise by many a tourist, culinary expert and gourmand. It is therefore ironic that one particular dish stands out as a Malaysian trademark due to its ubiquity and omnipresence: Maggi Mee.

Maggi noodles
are a brand of instant noodles manufactured by the brand Nestle. However, given the pervasiveness of the Maggi brand, all kinds of instant noodles are known colloquially and collectively as Maggi Mee.

Much like Badminton is the unofficial national sport of Malaysia, it can be said that Maggi Mee is a national dish and anyone who is Malaysian has consumed Maggi Mee at least once in their lifetime. No single social stratum in Malaysia can be indifferent to the temptation of Maggi Mee. Given its instantaneous nature and convenience, Malaysians have come to accept Maggi Mee as a staple form of nourishment on account of its high Monosodium glutamate levels.

Given the creative nature of Malaysian food proprietors in Malaysia, Maggi Mee has evolved and now comes in several culinary forms. Among the most popular would be the Maggi Goreng; fried Maggi noodles which adorn the table of mamak stalls across the country. Some people apply their own form of inventiveness and preference by half-cooking their Maggi within half the recommended time. These experiments are brought on by acquired tastes and peculiar idiosyncrasies, to be sure. Such is the affinity Malaysian people have for Maggi Mee that they would pay money to enjoy this dish at eateries despite the ease of which they could prepare one at home themselves.

Maggi Mee is one of the few items that remain impervious and ever-present throughout economic uncertainty and cultural confluence. And if you ever run out of ideas for gifts for your Malaysian friends overseas, present them with a box of Maggi (must be made in Malaysia). They will be overjoyed and reminisce about their struggling days as a a student, surviving on a pack of Maggi a day and their attempts to beat the luggage weight limit at the airport because of the Maggi supply they attempted to lug back overseas.

If the Malaysian person you purvey the box of Maggi with is still indeed a student, you will be seen as a Messiah. This is because Maggi Mee takes on considerably more value (sale, barter trade with fellow students) on foreign soil. This act of grace can then be used to leverage favours for future benefit, such as asking them to transport items back to Malaysia for you during their semester break.

February 3, 2009

#55 Open House

One of the more charming Malaysian concepts is the "Open House" which is held during the various cultural or religious festivals held throughout the year. Basically it entails the host welcoming friends, family and freeloaders to visit and dine at their humble abode as a gesture of goodwill and to get into people's good graces.

Typically, Open Houses in Malaysia can be divided into two categories. One; is the layman's open house where the usual assortment of Malaysians attend and proceed to make small talk about the lack of traffic and the catered food. If the food is prepared personally by the host, this gives you another topic of conversation. It'll be the same stuff you encounter in other open houses but make sure you add some chutzpah to the compliments to really sell it. Alcohol, if served, will help facilitate the bland conversation and inspire a performance or two.

The second type of open house is of greater magnitude and draws a smorgasbord of visitors armed with tupperware eager to assist in adding to the merriment of the proceedings. These open houses are the ones held by public figures, specifically those in public service. Politicians far and wide hold these open houses to meet and greet the community which they so nobly serve and graciously remind them of such. The community, ever eager to repay the favour, will respond in kind by getting the most out the visit. Political ideologies or party allegiances are secondary when it comes to kiasuism, to be sure.

Whatever the case may be, it's always interesting to witness Malaysians in their natural element when you combine the elements of free food, scarcity and queueing. It's no wonder then that the open house is a unique and longstanding Malaysian tradition, it brings out the best in them.

January 28, 2009

Malaysian People In The News- Rihanna

PAS To Protest Against Rihanna Concert
The Star Online
25th January 2009


PAS remain persistent in their efforts to prevent popstar Rihanna from performing in Malaysia despite the Government's approval.

Best Quotes

PAS chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad said the demonstration would mainly be to exert pressure on the Government to show that the movement disapproved of such concerts, which it described as unsuitable for the country.

Kamaruzaman said he was upset with the government’s decision to reject their memorandum.

“Rihanna’s image including her dressing is not suitable for our culture,” he said.

“Even if she wore a headscarf here, we know it is not her real self because she performs differently in other places,” he said, adding that they had sent a memorandum to the Religious Affairs Department to have a standard guidelines for such concerts.


PAS are obsessive and aggressive when the thought of Rihanna comes up, stressing and incessantly pressing the issue of prohibition. Despite their best efforts, the Government doesn't see a reason to stop the music.

Stuff Mentioned

January 21, 2009

#54 Chinese New Year

It's that time of the year again when the Chinese people of Malaysia celebrate the Chinese New Year, the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar. The great thing about ethnic festivals in Malaysia is that regardless of your religious or spiritual persuasion, you won't feel left out during such festivities. And Chinese New Year is no exception. After all, everyone gets two days off work.

As opposed to other holidays that are religion-specific, Chinese New Year requires no such commitment to faith or belief. The only stipulation is that you be, well, Chinese. As with all things Chinese, the New Year will revolve around ideas of prosperity, wealth, good fortune, auspiciousness and health. And many, many time honored traditions and customs (you don't want to know).

You'll also be seeing red, but in a good way, as Chinese recognize the color red as a symbolism of wealth, fortune and happiness. By now you would have identified the subtext of money and its importance to the Chinese but of course, one should never be so crude as to suggest CNY is a celebration of currency. It's really all about family and new beginnings. And prosperity.

The CNY festivities typically start with the Reunion Dinner whereby families near and far gather to have the meal on the Eve of the CNY. This normally sets the scene for reluctant reconciliation and temporary truces while each member compares their good fortune over the past year and compete to see who has accomplished more. It's also a good time to interrogate members of the family who are single and attempt to set them up with "someone nice". Following a meal that will entail plenty of jostling for food and biting criticism subsequently, there'll probably be a gambling session (notice the subtext again). Some people will observe superstitions such as washing hands of bad luck or donning lucky underwear.

On the First Day of the CNY, families visit their elders and each other's houses. Red packets will be exchanged. Children will sneak away to inspect the contents of said packets. Families resume eating traditional CNY meals and another round of gambling will take place. At night, there'll be a showcase of fireworks. The more ostentatious Chinese folk will purchase the loudest and most colorful fireworks displays to ring in the New Year (rule of thumb: big and loud is very CNY).

And then it goes on for another 14 days of pretty much the same thing happening but on an increasingly smaller scale as the celebrations dwindle and routine sets in. By then you'll have ODed on Mandarin oranges and peanuts, conducted your red packet balance sheet, gambled away a small fortune, watched a few lion dances and seen off annoying relatives until the following year. All in all, a very productive holiday.

Remember that this is a glorious opportunity to get in the good graces of your Chinese Malaysian friends. Wear lots of red, gush about the rich culture and traditions of CNY and lose some money to the host of the open house you're attending. Consider it your contribution to the sustenance of Chinese heritage.

January 16, 2009

Malaysianspeak- Lah


A Manglish particle used primarily at the end of sentences to affirm a point or statement. Also to add weight to a sentence not unlike an exclamation mark.

Malaysian Usage:

i) Ya lah
ii) No lah
iii) Economy bad lah
iv) Petrol price down lah
v) Go mamak lah
vi) Virtually with anything


a) He's getting married lah. No more crazy nights out already. It's parenthood and Pampers for him now lah!

b) Yeah lah, she's like that one. You can't save a damsel who likes her distress lah.

c) Your fault lah! Who asked you to come late?


Lah is ubiquitously used in the Malaysian lexicon. Much like other Malaysian phrases or colloquialisms, its usage can be varied to signify diverse emotions, connotations or expressions. If you are unfamiliar with the use of Lah, observe how real Malaysians incorporate it into daily conversations before attempting it. Otherwise you run the risk of sounding obnoxious. Or French. Same thing really.

January 7, 2009

#53 Has-Been Concerts At Genting Highlands

Malaysia has always been a veritable ground for foreign artistes looking to build and grow a solid fan base. Regardless of whoever the artist(s) is, rest assured that there will be a tweenybopper, emo teen, diva enthusiast or contemporary pop connoisseur here to welcome their idols with open arms and zero judgement.

However, there remains a niche market in Malaysia that foreign acts have identified and continued to exploit over the years. These artistes are those in the twilight of their careers, seeking a little nostalgia trip as well as a fiscal boost to their ailing royalties and to further fund their retirement plans.

The one place in Malaysia that hosts these memory lane moments is Genting Highlands; otherwise known for being a mountain resort, gambling den of decadence and the only place in Malaysia whose weather doesn't reduce you to a hot, sweaty mess.

Part of the reason why these concerts are held in Genting Highlands is because it's far enough from anyone you know, which spares you the embarrassment should you be caught indulging in corny, dated music performed by geriatric popstars. However, if you are below the age of 30 and are caught in such a compromising situation, just say that you're there to accompany your parent/uncle/auntie who begged you to drive them up the steep, winding mountain and attend the concert. Don't worry, the countless number of senior citizens there will assist in your charade.

But regardless of your age and mortifying taste in music, it's completely understandable and you shouldn't have to apologize. After all, it really is hard to say you're sorry for habits that are hard to break.