December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Esteemed readers and friends,

A Happy New Year to all of you! Thank you for all the support, criticism and encouragement. Here's to new beginnings and a stronger resolve.

Let 2009 be the year that we set out to become all that we can be.

Yours faithfully,

B.H.

December 24, 2008

#52 Celebrating Western Holidays

Given the melting pot of races that form Malaysia's population, it's not uncommon for a copious amount of festive celebrations to occur in a calendar year. In fact, any excuse to celebrate an occasion will be well received by Malaysian people.

You would think that the festivals specifically inherent to the major ethnicities would suffice, but no, Malaysians are all too willing to celebrate Western holidays as well.

Although most will just revel in the respite that a holiday provides without actually celebrating it, you shouldn't mention this. It won't hurt their feelings but Malaysians aren't fond of being confronted with the truth. Instead, just note how cultured and considerate they are to acknowledge holidays that aren't related to them.

The celebration of Western holidays like Halloween or Christmas or even St. Patrick's Day brings great joy to Malaysians as they get to explore different facets of their personalities, celebrate-binge or partake in mass consumerism under the pretext of spreading festive cheer. Expect to find places like shopping malls, clubs or pubs fully patronised by Malaysians looking to usher in some merriment.

For you foreigners who are missing out on these celebrations as they take place back home in your own country, this is a perfect opportunity to impress your Malaysian friends. Note how appreciative you are that Malaysians have an outlet for you to express your specific religion based holiday.

Then explain the roots and history of this holiday and point out the differences and mistakes Malaysians have made in the process of interpreting it. This will cause some guilt for your Malaysian consorts and they'll endeavour to better appropriate and adapt the holiday in future. In the meantime, you can use this guilt to garner favours, holiday gifts and invites to house parties.

December 18, 2008

#51 Socialite Status

The list so far has covered things and ways in which you can endear yourself to average, normal Malaysian people. But even those Malaysian people sometimes long for a life less ordinary and wish they were in the upper echelon of Malaysian society. Some Malaysians are fortunate to be born into such legacies while the rest sadly, will have to socialise their way to the top.

In their efforts to achieve a sense of self-actualization and achievement, Malaysian people would like nothing more than to be recognized as a person (and a name) around town. Someone with impeccable taste, elegance and sophistication. Someone who is a part of high society and indulges in decadent dinners and attends perennial parties. One can see how such an opulent lifestyle would prove more appealing than weekly excursions to the Pasar Malam and meals at the Mamak stall.

So for those cursed with working class backgrounds and surnames that don't open doors, there's a lot of work to be done in attaining a socialite's status (if not the wealth). The first is to be pervasively present at any event held in town. An aspiring socialite must be able to find his/her way into any occasion that has the creme de la creme of Malaysian society attending. This can be done by way of maintaining an inscrutable veneer of pretense and pretending to love everyone even though names have long since vanished from memory. When you love everyone, everyone will love you. And then you rein in the favours.

Next, it is crucial that you not only be seen but also remembered. This is simple and should be second nature to Malaysians; photography. To be a successful socialite, one must constantly be seen in pictures. Anyone, anytime, anywhere. Simple probability will tell you that the chances of you appearing in Tatler or other forms of venerable media will increase with the more pictures you appear in. Remember to have a forced smile on at all times just in case someone sneaks a picture of you while you aren't looking!

To really sell your product (you), one must fully exploit the platform that is the Web. Start a blog. If you're feeling particularly confident, start your own website. But regardless, the aim is to endlessly promote your activities and endeavours to the cyberworld at large. Post those pictures! Drop those names! In no time you'll be the It Girl/Guy of KL and everyone will want to be you (if not, beat you). You might even carve a career out of it and build a legion of admirers and groupies. Ain't life grand?

However, once you've achieved ascension of that social ladder, you'll have plenty of enemies and detractors. So you just be the cat by the bar toasting to the good life, ignore the haters and posers trying to pull you back, right? After all this social manoeuvreing, there is a chance that you will emerge a changed person. You might not like the person you've become, but at least everyone else will!

December 10, 2008

#50 Pasar Malam

In your endeavours to befriend Malaysian people, you will encounter them in a myriad of places such as clubs, mamak stalls or shopping malls. However, one place which brings out some of the best qualities in Malaysians is the Pasar Malam, otherwise known as a night market.

In contrast with morning markets, the Pasar Malam draws a much more diverse crowd and allows for a colorful display of Malaysian mannerisms. The Pasar Malam is a purveyor of things such as pirated goods, raw food and vegetables, clothing, shoes, reading material, confectionary products, etc. The mass provision of such wares therefore warrants a large crowd and demonstrates that traffic congestion doesn't just apply to the roads and highways of Malaysia.

Pasar Malams are one of the places where you will witness a distinctive Malaysian trait: haggling. Malaysian people will never agree on a price for a good or product if they haven't haggled and bargained for it. The rule of thumb is to counter offer the initial price with an absurdly low amount, then work to the middle. Even if the item's price isn't negotiable, Malaysian people still get a sense of satisfaction out of prolonging the purchase process and proving that they're nobody's fool.

Most of the time, Malaysians head to the Pasar Malam even if they don't really need anything from it. It's just the Malaysian need to wander aimlessly and peruse stuff to occupy themselves. So the next time you're at a Pasar Malam, strike up a conversation with a Malaysian person about the DVD movies you bought or the delectable hawker food by the monsoon drain. Your enthusiasm for Malaysian nightlife will be well received and they might take you on a tour of the other Pasar Malams in the vicinity.

December 5, 2008

Malaysianspeak- Can Or Not?

Definition:

A question pertaining the feasibility of a situation or to ascertain the possibility of an occurence.

Malaysian Definition:

i) Are you sure?
ii) Can it be done?
iii) To punctuate sentences
iv) To make a rhetoric statement
v) Yes or no?
vi) Please
vii) May I?

Example:

a) Naga : Let's go karaoke this weekend. I've been practising and I think I can hit those high octaves on that Bon Jovi song we always sing.
Nivel : Huh. Can or not.

b) Queenie : Sweetheart, I thought of what you could get me for Christmas. A new grand piano! Can or not?
Kingston : Cannot.

Conclusion

Can or not is one of the more common phrases you will find being used in the average Malaysian's vernacular. Its uniqueness is that it can be a question, punctuation mark, rhetoric or replacement for outdated terms like please, could or may.

November 28, 2008

#49 Avoiding Confrontation

Malaysian people are not fond of confrontation. You could say that they take passive-aggression to whole new stratospheres. There's something uniquely Malaysian about this trait of beating around the bush and delaying the inevitable that coincides with that other Malaysian pastime of complaining but not doing anything about it.

Malaysian people will go to great lengths to avoid incidents or encounters that force them to express feelings of discomfort or displeasure. If you have committed a transgression against your Malaysian friend, rest assured you won't hear about it from them. You will hear about it from another friend, your neighbour, your colleague, MSN Messenger statuses, Facebook or a blog but you will not be confronted by the person you've offended.

If you're wondering why Malaysian people would rather take this merry-go-round method than confront the source of dissatisfaction, you probably neglected the fact that this is part and parcel of Malaysian congeniality. It's true. Malaysians are far too polite to tell you about it to your face. Which is why they'll relieve their emotional burden by telling everyone else. If you're one of those in the loop, be prepared to hear the phrase "Don't tell him/her I said this but.."

In case you have manufactured a situation of conflict-avoidance, you need to know how you can manage such situations and use them for your own advantage. The first approach is to, well, approach. "Hey Jason, I understand that you were slighted by my remark about your casual attitude towards piracy. I'm sorry." This move will gain you lots of guilt trip points which you can use for leverage in the future due to them having already badmouthed you to everyone up till the point you apologised.

The other technique you could employ is slightly risky and requires a thicker layer of epidermis. Knowing full well that your actions offend someone, continue doing it and take advantage while feigning ignorance. Your Malaysian friends will grumble and whine about your behaviour (but do nothing about it) for years. During this period, low expectations of you will have been set in place. All you have to do is every now and then, display that you are capable (nothing certain, just glimpses) of change. This will appease them greatly and they'll continue feeding on the false hope that you have fed them.

It really is that easy.

November 23, 2008

Malaysian People In The News- Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis Sues Petra And Tunku Imran
B.K. Sidhu
Business, The Star Online
22nd November 2008

Summary

Hollywood actor Bruce Willis has sued the Petra Group and its chairman, Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar, to recoup US$900,000 (RM3.1mil) of the US$2mil the actor invested in a “green rubber” venture.

Best Quotes

In his complaint filed in the federal court in Los Angeles yesterday, Willis said Petra chief executive officer Datuk Vinod B. Sekhar and Tunku Imran induced him to invest in a company that was developing a non-toxic and recyclable rubber in 2007, according to a Bloomberg report.

Willis, the star of the 1988 hit action film, Die Hard, accused the Petra Group and its executives of breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

In response to the suit, Vinod, who owns Petra Group, told StarBiz yesterday: “It is a minor shareholder issue and we are surprised as we already agreed to take care of it. The current market softening is making people react.’’

While Willis wants his money back, Gibson was quoted in the Petra Group statement as saying: “When you make investments in companies that have the potential to have such a significant positive impact on the world, you do it for the long-term gains and not for quick return. I am in it for the long term.”

Efforts to call Tunku Imran were not successful.

Stuff Mentioned

November 18, 2008

#48 Elaborate Wedding Dinners

There comes a time in a Malaysian person's life when they take the next step and venture into that foreign realm the rest of us call matrimony.

The process is more or less the same as it would be in your country except that customs and tradition run rampant and the emphasis is placed on the wedding as opposed to the marriage itself.

The wedding dinner is much more than a celebration of two people's union, it is a momentous occasion in which the couple and their family announce to the world that they are happy, successful, accomplished and basically everything you are not.

You will witness an indulgent and decadent display of extravagance as well as nauseating sentiment. You will bear witness to the couple's lives unfolding and converging through a professional and calculated slideshow presentation. You will have more than your fair share of alcohol and food to compensate for the token of appreciation you parted with at the welcoming/cashier counter.

Throughout the night, you will be sufficiently entertained. The obligatory website/movie inspired wedding vows, grudging speeches from both sets of parents and a performance from a drunk relative or two. And that's not even the singing on stage part.

If you should be so fortunate as to be at a wedding dinner with someone you have not pledged your undying love to, you will at least be able to share the awkward silence on the ride home followed by an inevitable guilt trip in the months to come. But let's dispense with all this cynicism, one should be merry and rejoice in the infinite possibilities and symbols of hope that weddings accord. Don't worry, it won't be long before you have your bride and gloom.

November 11, 2008

#47 Piracy

If you've been on holiday to Malaysia or had the delightful experience of living here, you will have surely come across a facet of it's culture that is illegal yet polarising.

Given Malaysian people's affinity for all things foreign, it's only natural for them to want to propagate such influences and disseminate them to the general public. And how do Malaysian people do this, you ask? Why, it's quite simple. All one needs to adhere to is the old adage, "If you can't make it, fake it."

When you consider the practical and reverent nature of Malaysians, it therefore makes sense to pay tribute to the things you love by acquiring them illegally for a fraction of the actual price. That way, everyone gets to share the same experience affordably and without guilt, because everyone's doing it!

If there's a market for it, there'll be a pirated version out on the streets in no time. The latest Hollywood movies on DVD? Check. Designer clothes and accessories? Available. Copyright infringement and zero compunction? Absolutely.

Having this knowledge however, does not mean you should preach the values of purchasing original goods and services to your Malaysian friends. Any attempt to do so will result in a spiel that will be 30 minutes of your life you will never get back. First, they will tell you that this illegal and early acquisition of the material will enable them to form an informed opinion, thereby justifying their recommendations to others. This increases the exposure and awareness of the material in question. So in actuality, their illegal activities are spurring the industry on.

What you say following this is very important. While it would be natural to point out that they're still depriving the source of royalties as well as acquiring illegal and cheap goods, you must refrain. Instead, ask them what movies or music they would recommend. This will give them a sense of pride that they are your resident pop culture expert. It also allows them to feel vindicated that their inappropriate activities are part of a larger cultural advancement exercise and not just piracy.

This will please them greatly and you should expect an invitation to movie night or a listening session for the bootleg Linkin Park album.

November 6, 2008

#46 Barack Obama

On the surface, it may be hard to fathom how Malaysian people feel such an affinity for the President of a country whose citizens assume Malaysia is either a viral tropical disease or the capital of Singapore.

But yet, Malaysian people have taken to Barack Obama as if he was a political bastion of hope in their own country and followed his progress to the White House with great relish.

It would hardly be a shock to see Malaysian people having more knowledge of the U.S. elections than the local political climate. You could attribute this irony to apathy for the domestic political scene but it is more a statement of faith.

Such is the reverence Malaysian people have for Obama that they have gone to great lengths to find a link between Obama and Malaysia. Local politicians have followed his campaign fervently and even incorporated the need for Change into their own rhetoric. But I digress.

Malaysian people love Barack Obama because he represents everything that Malaysia claims to stand for: Justice, Democracy, Progress and Equality. Malaysia is a little short on some of those claims but who's counting. Obama, with his policies and administration will affect more than Malaysia's relations with the States and the struggling economy. Obama, to Malaysian people is a beacon of Hope, that one day Malaysia too can proudly say "Yes We Boleh."

October 30, 2008

#45 Sexposé

It's no secret that Malaysian people are more reserved and reticent when it comes to matters involving sex. In fact, Malaysia ranks as one of the least developed countries when it comes to sexual experiences and education.

On paper, it seems that Malaysian people are uptight and sexually unadventurous. This is where they have you fooled. Malaysian people love sex and its intimate intricacies as much as the next person. They're just more coy about it. It's amusing but it's part of the Malaysian hypocrisy that passes itself off as allure and mystery. Yesterday's mystery however, quickly turns into tomorrow's history.

A cursory scan of the internet will reveal that Malaysian people are not quite the prudes you thought they were. Sex scandals, from politicians to math geniuses to professional foosball players are quickly becoming commonplace. Due to an exhibitionist (and opportunist) streak that strikes the once sexually repressed, home videos and illicit images are making their way onto the internet and DVD collections. What better way to make one's introduction to Malaysian society than to go down in infamy and be the purveyor of pleasure to thousands? Some of these sexhibitions would even put Paris Hilton to shame. Not that she would feel any, but you catch my drift.

These sexperiences that have become ice breakers and water cooler talk also allow us to examine public perception with regard to gender equality. While the male protagonists of such sexploits suffer temporary embarrassment, their virile displays are secretly the envy of Malaysian men and pique the curiousity of the fairer sex. However,the females depicted in these displays of debauchery receive stern admonishment and societal shunning. So you see, being screwed takes on more than just a literal meaning.

This teaches us three very valuable lessons:

1. Protect yourself, because the penis mightier than the sword.

2. Always decline requests to star in amateur productions. 15 minutes of shame doesn't really count as acting experience.

3. Be a sex object. When asked for sex, object.

October 26, 2008

#44 Mobile Malaise

This post ties heavily into #25 but it's crucial that you understand how cell phone etiquette (or lack of it) is an important part of Malaysian culture.

The presence of cellphones has permeated Malaysian people's sense of being to the point that it is virtually an ancillary appendage. Regardless of age or gender, Malaysian people remain inseparable and dangerously dependent on what has evolved from a communication device into an expression of character.

The value of this character however, is a matter of taste. If you're fond of having your conversations interrupted by an intrusive but upbeat ringtone that inspires a sudden case of Tourette's, you might find such nuances appealing. Or if you're eager to drive with a heightened sense of caution because the driver of the car in front of you is prone to gesticulating wildly while conversing or texting with their one free hand, then yes, you will find such behaviour entirely charming.

When possessed by the cellphone's intoxicating influence, Malaysian people also seem to speak louder, be more inquisitive and express a plethora of emotions. Be prepared to hear the phrase "Where are you?" or "What are you doing?"as soon as you answer a call from your Malaysian friend. They don't mean to pry, it's just second nature to them. In any case, your standard response should be either "Busy lah" or "Nothing lah", followed by a succinct but cordial "What you want?".

This mobile misappropriation is endemic and can be easily observed at anyplace and anytime. Some Malaysians develop pathological dependencies on their mobile phones but so far any displays of violence have been contained except for the occasional emotional abuse that telco customer service officers suffer.

So if you're in a club or at a hawker stall or in the cinema, all you need to do to blend in is check your cellphone incessantly and occasionally field a phone call only to tell the caller how busy you are. They will understand, because they're doing the same thing.


Thanks to Alicia Goh for the entry suggestion.

October 22, 2008

Malaysian People In The News- Shah Rukh Khan

Bollywood Hunk Will Be In Malacca To Receive Award
Martin Carvalho
The Star Online
22nd October 2008

Summary

Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan has confirmed his acceptance of the Darjah Mulia Seri Melaka (DMSM) award which carries the title of Datuk from Malacca Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob next month.

Best Quotes

Mohd Ali was asked to comment on whether the state had any intention of retracting the award following protest from several quarters including the issue being raised in Parliament.

“No, there is no intention of retracting the award. How can you give something to a person and later ask it back.

“That’s called being a buruk siku (a Malay idiom to describe one who has given something but later asks for its return),” he said.

He also defended the state’s decision to confer a Datukship on the actor, saying that he (Shah Rukh) had helped promote Malacca to an international audience through the film One 2 Ka 4 and the song Don on one of his CDs.

"If the state wanted to get this sort of publicity on CNN, it would have to pay millions" he said, adding that the move to confer the award on the actor would prompt him to shoot more films here.

Stuff Mentioned

October 20, 2008

#43 Assessing Accidents

One thing Malaysian you must have noticed by now are the abominable traffic jams that plague the roads, highways and streets of Malaysia. Morning, noon or night, you can rest assured that you will encounter some form of congestion that will delay you from reaching your destination in time.

Now that you think about it, traffic jams are vital to the Malaysian cultural fabric because it gives credence to their chronic tardiness and penchant for complaining. But I digress.

Sometimes, you may be engaged in an hour long, bumper-to-bumper queue that will test your patience and sanity. More often than not, you will repress this rage and let it erupt somewhere down the road. Maybe at a Badminton game or political rally. If you are truly unfortunate, there may be no cause for the bottleneck or congestion at all and you will be left in a confused state of frustration and wonder.

More often than not though, the cause of this stagnancy is an accident; an unfortunate vehicular mishap that requires its drivers to stop in the middle of the road to converse and exchange pleasantries. An inexplicable state of voyeurism will possess other commuters as they slow down their vehicles to peruse and evaluate the damage that has been done to the vehicles involved. Everyone will have an opinion on it. Some will take pictures for the benefit of those of you who enjoy such vicarious experiences.

There will also be many concerned citizens who will commiserate, by stopping to assist and provide advice. Some of them may be car garage touts eager to haul said vehicles into their establishments but still, their intentions are sincere. Or so they insist. Almost instantaneously, you will see tow trucks appearing at the behest of imposing walkie-talkies and the vehicle owners will be spoilt for choice given the gallantry of such noble and entrepreneurial samaritans.

Should the situation be appearing to reach a resolution, you must act promptly and do what all other Malaysian witnesses have already done as soon as the accident happened: take the vehicle registration numbers down. No, it's not so you can provide the authorities with details as well as your first hand account of the incident. Taking down the numbers is a fiduciary responsibility you have to yourself.

These numbers, although procured at the expense of others' misfortune, are potentially prosperous as you can use them at the local Magnum or 4D shop. In case you are still groping in the dark, calamitous events such as accidents are crucial in sustaining the local gambling industry. While there has been no empirical evidence to suggest such an incident could lead to an inverse turn of fortune, it is still a time honored tradition that Malaysian people adhere to fastidiously.

So next time you see an accident on the road, remember that one person's misfortune could be your ticket to retirement.


Thanks to Aidan Oh for the topic suggestion.

October 14, 2008

#42 Club Culture

After a long week of slaving away for multinationals and complaining but doing nothing about it, there's nothing Malaysians love more than to hit the club scene and get their freak on, bust a move and get jiggy with it. Not necessarily in that outdated order but you know what I'm saying.

In Kuala Lumpur especially, where its denizens are awake at ungodly hours, clubs can be an interesting observation resource on the ways of Malaysian people. Typically, the revelry begins close to midnight and winds up at 3am but the real stories begin after they leave the premises. We will get to that later.

Preparation for a Malaysian club outing is simple but contains a few key areas. One thing to keep in mind is to be dressed to kill, which can sometimes yield a literal result but we won't dwell on that. Men will be dressed in expensive and identical striped shirts and enough hair product to tame a lion's mane. For the more flamboyant ones, a piece of winterwear is mandatory. Nothing screams sartorial suaveness like a scarf or sportscoat in a sweltering space designed to maximise opportunities for a meeting of minds and later, bodies. It could be the other way round but I'm pretty sure this is how it works.

In a hormonally charged environment such as this, you get to witness a lot of alpha male displays of superiority and peacock posturing. This element of pretense is necessary and an aphrodisiac to attract Malaysia's finest women. The alternative to competing is standing by the bar with the other males and ogling women until one of them responds with a terse "Not interested."

The process of selecting an outfit and final preparation for the fairer sex is a little more intricate. The overall image should symbolise class, with a hint of mischief and mystery but not be unapproachable. Yes, it's difficult but it's true, they go through this every time which is why you really need to compliment your Malaysian lady friends on their outfits to boost their infinite self esteem.

Of course, they will say that they dress for themselves and not to conform to media stereotypes or testosterone stimulant standards. As always, nod and smile politely. But the power of the right ensemble can't be denied, it could lead to a healthy relationship, everlasting love and an expense account. But you should not assume that some women are gold diggers. They're looking for something more substantial than that, like white gold. When Malaysian women reject male advances, it's nothing personal, it's just business.

There are basically two forms of activity that take place in a club. The first is drinking, which can lead to something more fruitful with the opposite sex but if it doesn't, you could always say you had a good time drinking with your buddies which is really, all you need. After saying it a few times, it gets easy. Like a spoonful of sugar, it really does make the medicine go down in a most delightful way!

Which brings us to the second activity, dancing. If your mutual intoxication results in a tete-a-tete with a Malaysian person, good for you! This up close and personal encounter will hopefully lead to something real, like a one month stand. If you're really lucky though, someday down the road you can gather your offspring and tell them why they were named Velvet and Euphoria.

In the midst of all these shenanigans, you mustn't forget to capture all these timeless moments in full photographic glory. The posterity of celluloid will supply you with endless amusement on Facebook or for slideshows at weddings. Maybe even provide those kids of yours with illustrations for the story you were telling of the night mommy and daddy first met which led to little Zouk being conceived.

At the end of the night, when the lights come on and all the drunken debaucheries and scandalous scintillations are brought into stark and often ugly reality, it doesn't mean Malaysian people will give up on the hope of having that one great night on which they'll meet a beautiful stranger and drive a foreign sports car off into the sunrise. It just means they'll have to try harder the following week. In the meantime, they'll need to recuperate from those hangovers, persistent eyebags and compromised principles. You know what they say, the night is always darkest just before the yawn.

October 11, 2008

Malaysianspeak- No Money

Definition:

Undergoing a fiscal deficit that prohibits one from further expenditure or precludes one from activities involving monetary exchange.

Malaysian Definition:

i) I don't want any part of whatever it is
ii) I have the funds but your suggestion is a waste of money
iii) Get lost
iv) My wife is in control of the family finances

Example:

Philip : There's this great insurance plan that my company recently introduced. It's a combination of comprehensive medical coverage and solid financial investment. Would you be interested in hearing more about it?
Victor : No money lah.

Conclusion

Given the precarious global economic climate, this phrase is all the more relevant. It can be applied in a multitude of circumstances and it is foolproof. Because no one will want to broach such a sensitive topic. Only probe the subject further if you aim to assist with a bailout.

Considering the recent changes in the Malaysian finance ministry, this phrase might reach endemic proportions.

October 9, 2008

#41 Free Stuff

Engrained deep in the psyche of Malaysian people is their love and obsession with free stuff. The term "free" triggers a psychological and physical reaction that is inexplicable and at the same time unstoppable.

There is an immense appeal about the notion of receiving something in exchange for nothing that brings out the best and worst in Malaysian people. This is why Malaysians are bombarded with the promise of free stuff which ultimately costs them more than they bargained for.

It's hard to explain but if you were to consider Darwin's theory of natural selection, you would see that Malaysians are exemplary practitioners when it comes to the fittest emerging triumphant with the spoils of war. The lesson here is: never get in the way of a Malaysian and free stuff, you can't defy the will of nature.

Perhaps you could attribute it to Asian values of prudence and thriftiness which often prevails when a Malaysian's true nature is challenged. These traits are also something Singaporeans have in common and one can only imagine the potential synergies that would result from Malaysian and Singaporean collaborative efforts to procure free offerings.

Malaysians do not discriminate when it comes to free items or intangibles. Even if the free offering is irrelevant to them, the knowledge that they could be missing out on something that others could profit from is enough to drive them to jump on the bandwagon.

One need not look very far in Malaysia for the promise of free food, products or services. However, one area in which it is conspicuously absent from is speech.

October 5, 2008

#40 Mamak Stalls

One of the most honest depictions of Malaysians in their natural element is the setting of a Mamak Stall. The Mamak stall is more than just a mere food and beverage establishment to the average Malaysian. To some, it almost constitutes a second home. The Mamak stall is the Malaysian equivalent of the Pub to the Americans. Except that not everybody knows your name.

One only need to observe a simple flow diagram to explain the Malaysian affinity for Mamak stalls:

Home ---> Work* ---> Mamak Stall

*In some instances, work is skipped altogether

Mamak stalls offer provisions and service standards in varying degrees but most of the time this does not matter to patrons. Convenience and proximity are the main criteria for Mamak stall selection. Cleanliness and hygiene standards are also not expected but must be concealed from public view. In fact, Malaysian people have built up a resistance towards unhealthy food because of years of patronizing Mamak stalls.

Mamak stall operators have been around for as long as anyone can remember because of the Malaysian propensity to stay up late, eat and talk at any hour. What's more interesting about Mamak stalls is that regardless of gender, race or creed, all differences are neutralized over a glass of tea. A wide range of conversational topics take place at Mamak stalls, from national issues to gossip to nocturnal antics. It is not uncommon for Mamak operators to offer valid opinions to patrons, especially regarding economics and politics.

All Mamak stalls have two traits in common: persistence and ubiquity. It is a natural occurence at some point in time for one stall to close but ten new ones will take its place in locations you least expect. Due to their relatively low costs and affordable provisions, Mamak stalls also function as a simplified version of the Consumer Price Index. Anytime commodity prices are raised, the price of Roti Canai or Teh Tarik will be brought up and compared.

October 1, 2008

Malaysianspeak- On The Way

This is a new section where we will be highlighting phrases and expressions commonly used by Malaysian people. You will come across these local parlances and therefore need to discern their true meaning. Let this be your guide to Malaysian vernacular.

On The Way

Definition:

In a state of movement, travelling to a predetermined destination. Yet to arrive, but arrival is impending.

Malaysian Definition:

i) I will be indeterminably late
ii) I am at home but am planning on leaving soon
iii) I am at another location but will drop by should the mood strike me
iv) I won't be coming at all

Example:

Neil : I'm already here, where are you?
Alan : Ah, I'm on the way, on the way. Will be there soon.

Conclusion:

As explained in post #17, being late is an inextricable part of Malaysian life. This phrase is indiscriminately used by Malaysian people regardless of the point they are at in their journey. You will hear this expression at least 10 times a day, the number is extrapolated by the fact that it is usually repeated with conviction.

There is a well known idiom that Malaysian people adhere to which states "Late is on time, on time is early and early is inconceivable."

September 27, 2008

#39 Corporations

You sold out.

Those three words are an affirmation for Malaysian people that they've made it in life. Nothing comes close to the euphoria of those three words. Except perhaps, for anything that is preceded by the term "free".

You may be wondering how compromising principles, material obsessions and being souled out can be a positive thing for anyone. This is where you must realign your thought process for things in Malaysia operate differently from what you may be used to.

You see in Malaysia, the barometer or litmus test if you will, of success is material wealth (Asians' obsession with numbers, go figure). And the most conventional and respectable way to acquire such financial gain is in the corporate sector. Therefore, the ultimate goal for any Malaysian is to acquire a place at a multinational company and proceed to grow their revenue stream whilst complaining about the long hours, endless work and petty politics. Any job that is outside of the corporate sector or not professional in nature is set to be societally condemned. There are no exceptions.

You must be aware that while Malaysian people dread the thought of working in companies that plunder the earth's resources and corrupt man's constitution, they will never admit this fact and instead spin stories of "the greater good" that their companies aspire to achieve in the long run. As usual when encountering such dubious claims, it is your duty to curtail any criticism you have and instead commend Malaysian people on the fine work they and their company are doing.

For added effect, relate a story of how a corporation saved you from going through life as an aimless hippie by giving you purpose, goals and a company car. This story will warm the hearts of your Malaysian friends on their nights and weekends at the office.


Note: Do not confuse multinationals with multi-level marketing. Those are the wrong type of Malaysian people to consort with.

September 23, 2008

#38 Japanese Cars

Besides having accents and reinventing their names, Malaysian people also display facets of their character with their choice of automobile. For Malaysian people, a Japanese car will convey all the things they'd like people to think about them: stylish but pragmatic, rich but not a show off and worldly, but still Asian at heart.

Japanese car manufacturers love Malaysia because they could pretty much stick one of their logos on a cardboard box with wheels and it would sell like hot cakes. It would not be an exaggeration to say that you could fit any demographic with a Japanese car. Yuppie sedan, family SUV, speed junkie souped-up sports car. They covered most of the bases so Malaysians can feel unique, but still under a homogenous Japanese consumerist umbrella.

No, it is not contradictory that Malaysians want to feel special but own the same car as everyone else. It's just that their sense of good taste is contagious. Nothing says you've worked your middle class ass off in a corporate drone job with mediocre pay more than an overpriced Japanese vehicle which will last you until the new version is released.

Owning a Japanese car is part and parcel of a Malaysian person's development. Much like bandwagonning or complaining and comparing Toyota to Honda. There are some Malaysian people who even go the whole nine yards in expressing how Malaysian they are, by driving their Japanese vehicle with one hand and complaining on their cell with another as they arrive late for an appointment at IKEA and proceed to double park. Incredible!

If you're wondering how you can use this information for your personal benefit, it's quite simple. The next time you're attending an event or a gathering, ask the owner of a Japanese car if you could take theirs, considering yours isn't fuel economic and that you feel insecure driving it. Presto, a free ride!


Note: You should never imply it is redundant to drive a Japanese sports car in a country whose speed limit is 110mph. They know this, but it was not a factor in the purchase decision.

September 22, 2008

Malaysian People In The News- Football Fans

Thrilling Time For Reds Fans
Metro, The Star Online
22nd September 2008

Summary

Three football fans win a trip to watch their favourite team, Liverpool in action live.

Best Quotes

“I guess I must have brought luck to Liverpool as we had failed to beat United in seven of our last eight EPL clashes!” said Bhoopathy.

For Tan, the trip to England was like a “double home-coming”.
“I studied in Manchester 10 years ago and it was great to return to my alma mater,” said Tan.

They also agreed that with the solid backing of the 40,000-odd Liverpool fans at Anfield, this could be the Reds’ year.

Conclusion

A free trip to watch a top game AND the opportunity to get nostalgic about studying abroad? Looks like Malaysian fairy tales get made after all.

Stuff Mentioned

September 18, 2008

#37 Penang

Malaysia is home to many colourful and quaint people but you should look no further than Penang if you're seeking to find out what it really means to be Malaysian. Of course, Penangites will contend that they are different and unlike the average Malaysian because of their many virtues. This should be expected, considering the fact that all Malaysians profess to be superior to the other.

Penang is a state in Malaysia that is divided into two sections: Penang Island and Province Wellesley (mainland). Whenever a Penangite tells you where they're from, you must ascertain which side they reside on. If they wince with their reply, you can take it as a sign that they're from the mainland. Islanders are proud of the fact that they live on the side that constitutes one of Malaysia's most attractive tourist destinations and the delusion that mainland Penangites envy them and their inflated property prices.

There are certain things you must know about Penang. The first is that the medium of communication in Penang is Hokkien. It is not an exaggeration to say that Hokkien is the only language you will need to use in Penang. Such is its ubiquity that even residents of Penang who aren't Chinese can speak it. It is best that you study it extensively should you choose to live in Penang. And yes, locals will be able to detect the slightest variance in your Hokkien dialect and increase prices in accordance with your linguistic faux pas.

There is also a stigma attached to Penang people, the notion that they are stingy with their money. This is not true. They're just miserly by nature. However this parsimoniousness has turned out to be a good thing for Penangites. The cost of living in the state is comparably lower than others by virtue of their tight fists and would probably remain unchanged if not for the laws of economics. To paint you a picture of the purported penuriousness of Penangites, consider this aphorism: "A fifty cent coin is as big as a bullock cart wheel to a Penangite".

Which brings us to what is arguably the most defining trait of Penang: its cuisine. The hawker food scene of Penang has always been touted (both by locals and Malaysians) to be the world's best. Normally, you would be advised to to take such grand claims from a Malaysian lightly but this is one occasion where it bears credence. Penang hawker food is of such fame that they have inspired generic gastronomic adaptations from Taipei to Cape Town. Foreigners from distant lands travel far and wide to personally experience the best of Penang's culinary offerings. It is of course hugely ironic that their palates, which have grown accustomed to the diluted version of the meal back home then find that the original is "not as good as expected".

In your endeavours to befriend a Penangite, commend them on their food and the warmth of their people. If by a slip of the tongue you were to mention the frugality of Penangites, there's no need to fret. They will thank you for the compliment.

September 15, 2008

#36 Russell Peters

Malaysian people love to laugh and have a good time, as long as it isn't at their expense. This is because Malaysian people do not believe in self-deprecating humor or jokes about themselves. If you must joke about Malaysian people in their presence, assure them that they are nothing like that, it's only the people you are poking fun of who act that way.

In Malaysia, it is also not alright to trade gags that are potentially unsettling which revolve around race, politics or religion. Cracking wise about any of those issues could get you locked up. This is why Malaysian people like Russell Peters.

Russell Peters is a Canadian comedian of Indian descent. His whole act is basically based on making fun of racial idiosyncrasies and differences in culture. As a comedian, he gets to explore race issues in a jocular context and say things that would be considered racist if they were uttered by anyone but him. Being an Asian himself, this further endears him to Malaysians as they really relate to his wisecracks and enthusiastically recycle his jokes in their everyday lives.

Malaysian people love his jokes for two reasons: one, because they are both offensive and funny at the same time and two, because by recycling his jokes they get to stealthily insult other races and blame it on him if it isn't received well. Although Russell Peters has not explored the peculiar antics of Malaysia as yet, it definitely would present him with a comic goldmine. The true measure of his success would then be determined by his presence being banned by Malaysian authorities due to him being a "disruptive social influence".


Note: If you have made a joke that is offensive to Malaysian people and need to conduct damage control, claim that you meant it in a historical context.

September 11, 2008

#35 Localized Reality Shows

Malaysian people take themselves seriously and need attention like John McCain needs the fountain of youth. But there isn't always an avenue or platform for them to show the world how talented, intelligent and charming they are. For this reason, Malaysian people decided to adapt foreign reality shows. You see, this is a win-win situation for Malaysian people, it takes both their liking for adapted foreign influences and self promotion and churns it into a half hour TV programme for mass consumption. This is a surefire way to propel someone normal and average into the public spotlight and add to the list of local celebrities Malaysians adore.

The type of reality shows Malaysia produce mostly revolve around dating, modelling, performing and even business ala The Apprentice. However the term "reality" on these shows is used very loosely since most of the participants are anything but real. However, any Malaysian reality programme produced must adhere strictly to the Three Malaysian Principles of Reality Programming:

1) Piracy - the concept which is borrowed and reinvented
2) Pretense - the prerequisite attitude of participants
3) "Perasan"- the Malay term which carries the connotation of being conceited

These three principles are key to ensuring the success of a Malaysian reality programme and in giving birth to the careers and prominence of more Malaysian talents. The path of a Malaysian reality TV star is one that is slowly gaining credence as it does not require any work or any skill as compared to a Badminton player or Politician but ensures a certain level of visibility.

If you should ever come across a Malaysian reality star, immediately acknowledge that they were your favourite contestant on the show and (if they didn't win) assure them that they were robbed of the win because of production politics, biased editing or technical voting errors. You will then be invited to their local theater debut or next showcase at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Thanks to Ms.Lime for advocating this piece.

September 8, 2008

Malaysian Problems- English Butchery

The Article:

"35% Of Teachers Lack Good Command Of English". R.S.N. Murali. The Star Online. September 4th 2008.

The Problem:

For as long as the English language has existed in Malaysia, Malaysian people have been butchering it mercilessly to the point that Manglish is now acknowledged as a language in its own right.

This also presents those with a copacetic grasp of English the opportunity to lord it over those less fluent and build themselves a reservoir of confidence that they are better than others who commit grammatical crimes and syntax sins.

The Solution:

Establish laws to punish crimes against the English language. Previously, perpetrators escaped with impunity but harsher enforcement must be taken to ensure that Malaysia is no longer mocked or derided over its language liberties. It would therefore be punishable by law to commit the following misdemeanors:

  1. wRiTinG LiKe tHis
  2. Writing. Like. This.
  3. Claiming to be an author or writer when only literary accomplishment is a blog
  4. Copious use of the term "no pun intended" or "wtf", "lol" and "omg"

Punishment and rehabilitation includes forced adoption of the Queen's English and excessive dictation as well as accent refinement.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Malaysian people who self-righteously demean and chide those they deem lesser than them for having poor English will be sentenced to teaching English without pay in rural schools, kindergartens and karaoke joints to learn empathy and humility.

Stuff Mentioned

Thanks to everyone who either mentioned, suggested or contributed to the elements mentioned in this post.

September 4, 2008

#34 Accents

It's amazing that it took us this long to get to accents but it is critical that you understand this Malaysian phenomenon. Although this post ties heavily into post #1 Studying Abroad and #26 Defying Ethnic Stereotypes, it definitely warrants its own entry as a Malaysian peculiarity that persists throughout time.

The faux accent is consistent with Malaysian people's love for all things foreign and Western. It would not be a cliche to use the saying, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If you're unsure what this accent sounds like, imagine a bad Michael Caine impressionist performing while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Generally, the Malaysian person develops an accent when returning from abroad or perhaps after one too many episodes of an American sitcom. The former is a common occurrence which explains the plethora of international accents you might hear rolling off Malaysian tongues. Be prepared to hear the excuse "I was there for so long, it's hard to just shake it off."

The average Malaysian is not able to discern between an English, American or Australian accent but just having one will sufficiently raise their social profile. It would not be an understatement to say that Malaysian people are fascinated by accents. Even a hypnotist would be hard pressed to produce anything close to this. In fact, Malaysian people in possession of accents receive better treatment from everyone and will even seem more attractive by virtue of their speech, regardless of their shortcomings. I know you're incredulous of this but believe me, it's true.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to developing an accent. Little things like grammatical deficiencies, illiteracy or lack of actual foreign experience can be discounted. All that matters is that the accent sounds different and affected. No one really knows what a genuine one sounds like anyway since they're all doing the same thing. To avoid being labelled pretentious, some Malaysian people occasionally use Manglish
terms to show that they have not completely abandoned their lingua franca.

Most of the time, Malaysian people speak Manglish but there are certain occasions or incidents which prompt them to change their inflection (if they aren't retaining it permanently already). One situation which calls for it is an encounter with you, the foreigner. You may wonder why your Malaysian friend has adopted a manner of speech so uncommon and awkward and you may even be a little offended. No, they're not making fun of your dulcet tones or your delightful lilt. They're being hospitable and trying to make you feel at home, silly! Make sure you indulge in this charade and show appreciation for their efforts.

Having an accent also helps impress newly-made acquaintances, as mentioned earlier.

"Hey, you know that guy who just came back from abroad?"

"Which one? There's so many of them."

"The one who has the cute British accent."

"Yeah, you should totally date him. It's a known fact that Brits are posh and sophisticated which by virtue of his accent, means he is too. It's the theory of relativity. You can't fight science."

Malaysian people will sometimes erroneously refer to an accent as "slang". You must excuse this for it is just as common for them to confuse terminology as they confuse people with their accents. But you must remember never to imply that a Malaysian person's accent is false or fabricated. This will lead to a long argument that will leave you questioning the authenticity of your own accent.


Note: If you encounter a foreigner with a Malaysian accent, you must report it to the authorities immediately for posterity and further study. Such an incident has never been documented in history and would present academicians and anthropologists with groundbreaking research material.

August 31, 2008

#33 Public Protests

Malaysian people are collectivists by nature and aren't fond of straying from societal norms and conventional paradigms. This is why they indulge in communal activities like gathering or complaining.

A long time ago, a group of Malaysian people felt very strongly about an issue but didn't know how to channel their frustration. Then they had a brainstorm. They combined the Malaysian affinity for collectivism and complaining into a single activity, which is what we now know as a rally, demonstration or protest.

The Public Protest is the pinnacle of Malaysian discontent demonstration. Among the more prominent shows of dissatisfaction revolve around politicking, economic grouses, commodity hikes or even education policies. However, given the fact that Malaysian legislation prohibits gatherings of four or more people without police permits, most of these protests end in violence, more disgruntlement and neverending arguments on civil rights. The foreign press is fond of reporting on such Malaysian protestations because it allows them to remind their citizens that freedom of speech is a privilege, not a right.

Public protesting can sometimes start out as innocent community events. However, given the Malaysian penchant for grievances, this soon turns into a full blown show of dissatisfaction for policies, administrations or the most important cause of all: self cause. If you happen to witness a Malaysian protest in action, be careful who you side with. Historically, the administration being rebelled against would prevail indubitably and you would be advised to accept the status quo. But in the words of Sam Cooke, "a change is gonna come."

August 28, 2008

#32 Nipponophilia

Nipponophile- One who advocates Japanese thought and culture

Malaysian people are strangely attracted to Japanese culture and its influences. While it would be easy to assume that this phenomenon was established and sustained since the Japanese Occupation in the 1940s, this would not substantially validate it. But before we ascertain the rationale for this Nipponophilia, we must examine how it has weaved its place into Malaysia's cultural fabric.

If we look at the typical diet of a Malaysian person, it would consist of rice as a staple food. Therefore, it's easy to make a transitive relation that Sushi appeals to them unequivocally. Which explains the copious amount of Sushi and Japanese restaurants in Malaysia. If you are with a Malaysian person who orders food in Japanese, it means you are dealing with an advanced level Malaysian who considers himself to be a connoisseur. Be careful with what and how you place your order. Your social status could be compromised by asking for the crabstick.

Besides Japanese music and TV shows, the Japanese persuasion is also felt through manga, anime and cosplay. Gone are the days when people silently appreciated these artistic formats with repeat readings and obsessive collections. Now Malaysian people live out their fantasies in full costumed glory at conventions and gatherings. This appeals immensely to Malaysian people as they get to take on a personality or gender (crossplay) more desirable than their own and justify hundreds of dollars spent on theatrical obsessions that otherwise would have gone to therapy bills.

Of course, being Malaysians, there is the need to go more than the whole nine yards. Manga, anime and the like are child's play for Malaysians who practise the extreme art of Nipponophilia integration. Thus, much like the sushi connoisseur, you will encounter Malaysians who take their Nipponophilia very seriously. It is not enough for these Malaysian people to study Japanese language and culture, they also have Japanese names, act kawaii or wear "harajuku" clothes. Therefore you should appreciate the effort made by Yuki Minami aka Tan Mei Ching to inject some diversity into the Malaysian demographic by thanking them properly with Arigatou Gozaimasu.


More information on this topic here.

Thanks to Synical for the idea behind this post.

August 26, 2008

Malaysian Problems- Foreign Artist Concerts

The Article:

"Avril Lavigne's Show Goes On in Malaysia". Jovie Baclayon. E! Online. August 24th 2008.

The Problem:

Foreign music artists whose personas and stage presence are deemed provocative and culturally contradicting by certain Malaysian groups face opposition when seeking to perform in the country.

The Solution:

Foreign artists should embrace Malaysian culture and traditions by toning down their attitudes and performances to suit the conservative local palate.

One way of incorporating local influences is for foreign artists to don the traditional garbs of Malaysian ethnicities. For instance, Avril Lavigne should employ a costume change that sees her perform in the Baju Kurung, Cheongsam and Sari. This will greatly endear her to Malalysians, even the more staunch traditionalists.

Foreign artists can also learn the local lingo and use it in their songs. For example, "Hey, hey, you, you I tak suka your girlfriend lah". If possible, they should also sing duets with local artists in an attempt to converge Western and Asian influences. An Avril and Mawi duet anyone?

Stuff Mentioned:

Thanks to Skim for strongly suggesting this piece.

August 24, 2008

Malaysian People In The News- 24th August 2008

Chong Wei ‘Manipulated’ By BN, Says Guan Eng
By Sim Leoi Leoi
The Star Online
21st August 2008

DEWAN DISPATCHES: Lee Chong Wei Becomes Permatang Pauh Fodder
By Azmi Anshar
The New Straits Times Online
19th August 2008

Summary

Malaysian Badminton hero Lee Chong Wei sees his horizons widen as a result of his Olympic exploits. He is provided with an opportunity to contribute to the Government and his state of origin, Penang.

Best Passage

NST Online:

At Parliament House today, the Malaysian Olympic silver medalist cosied up with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister where he enthralled attendees with his winning exploits against his wily opponents, shuttlers leading up to the semis, though it was likely that his anecdotes against the great Lin Dan was minimal. It was already a known fact that coming in second in any Olympic sport meant a RM300,000 cash reward and a RM3,000 lifetime monthly pension, so we know Chong Wei will soon be, deservedly, filthily loaded.

What was NOT known was that the reward presentation will fortuitously be held in Penang tomorrow night. "Since he is a Penang boy, we've decided to have a cheque presentation in the state,” Datuk Seri Najib Razak said after a 10-minute meeting with Lee at his Parliament office.

The Star Online:

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said there was no need to send Lee back to Permatang Pauh using an airplane provided by the Defence Ministry and landing at an airforce base for the purpose of the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign.

"It's quite clear that he's been manipulated and Barisan is using the ceremony to their advantage for the campaign."

Asked about the conferment by Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas of the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) award on Lee on Aug 30, which carries the title "Datuk", Lim said the ceremony would take place after the polling date in Permatang Pauh.

"This is because we don't want to be seen as taking advantage of him," he said.

Stuff Mentioned

August 22, 2008

#31 Badminton

Malaysia is not known for its prowess as a sporting nation. In fact, it’s pretty hard to root for Malaysian athletes because you don’t get to see them progressing very far in tournaments or winning accolades. This is why Malaysian people watch foreign football leagues as opposed to the domestic one. But there is one sport where Malaysian people excel in and support fervently: Badminton.

Believe me when I say every Malaysian person ever born has tried their hand at Badminton at least once. There’s something inexplicable that draws Malaysian people to Badminton at an early age and inspires some to pursue professional careers. It could be the fact Badminton is easier to play and is less physically demanding than contact sports. Or perhaps it’s because deep down in the heart of each Malaysian parent lies the hope that their child could be the next great Malaysian Badminton player. Although Badminton may not be as athletically revered as Track & Field or Swimming, Malaysians have stuck with it and over the decades have produced a throng of Badminton prodigies who perplexingly burn out in their mid-twenties.

You might contend that Badminton is equally popular in Indonesia, China and maybe even Denmark, but I assure you no other country has as many aspiring Badminton players as Malaysia. For evidence of this, observe the burgeoning young talents who play Badminton with their neighbours over the fence or the out of shape average joe who fuels his Badminton fantasies every weekend at the neighbourhood court.

The recent Badminton Olympic final represented the pinnacle of Malaysian Badminton achievement. The nation rejoiced in anticipation of a long awaited Gold medal and the hype surrounding the event brought out the best in Malaysian people. Unfortunately, the final did not have a fairytale ending and this inevitably brought out the worst in Malaysian people. Cue the complaining and short term memory loss.

Nevertheless, being a professional Badminton player will always be on most Malaysian people’s dream job list along with Local Celebrity and Politician. In fact, being a successful Badminton player could pave a path into both those careers.

August 20, 2008

#30 Reinventing Their Names

What’s in a name? For Malaysian people, a lot. When you next talk to your Malaysian friend, try asking them about their name and its origins. There is probably a deep seated meaning and history behind their name but unfortunately, you’ll never find out what it is because Malaysian people adopt new monikers or alter their names as soon as they develop social awareness.

Malaysian people are aware that their names are not just a string of alphabets thrown together. Names reflect their personalities and background. Therefore they take great steps to alter their names to convey the sort of persona they desire. For some Malaysian people who were given more conservative and ethnically influenced names, it is a good idea to shorten them or perhaps add an English name. For instance; a name like Katijah could be shortened to "Kat" or maybe even “K”. Another example would be someone with the name Chong Ah Kow repackaging himself as Engelbert Chong to project maturity and sophistication.

For some Malaysian people who lack imagination, they simply form an acronym with their initials; Palanivel Janarthanan would henceforth be known as “PJ”. There are also some who deem their names not rexotic or unique enough and thus find solace in names such as Nanako or Ferrari. Once in awhile, you might encounter a Malaysian with a name like Sarah Dominique Lee. Notice that it contains only an ambiguous surname, a middle name and betrays no sign of the ethnicity. This is a well planned and foresightful method to naming children. A Malaysian person with this form of name at birth will have a head start in life.

The subtle changes made to their names ensure the Malaysian person’s desired personality is effectively communicated (pronunciation and spelling is arbitrary). However, given the inherent Malaysian need to one-up others, many have begun resorting to more extreme measures, resulting in names that have yet to appear on any birth certificate in history (Million, Celestial, Che Gustafa, Zique, Rikosama, Xobile!).

If you come across such colorful Malaysians, you must first smile and nod in quiet appreciation of their creativity in coining such a semantic symphony. Next, ask them what it means. Their answer is likely to be trifle but that doesn’t matter. The point is that you gave them a chance to talk about themselves which will sufficiently endear you to them. To seal the deal, stare admiringly at them and say, "Whoa. That is so deep."

August 18, 2008

Malaysian Problems- Sexual Identity

The Article:

"Sex On Demand". Focus. The Star Online. June 15 2008.

The Problem:

Malaysian people are slowly achieving sexual liberation. This is a good thing.

But, how do you tell which team that guy/girl plays for? Are they double agents?

The Scenario:


You see a girl you like in the club. She's attractive, fun, carefree. You approach her with designs on whispering sweet nothings in her ear and sweeping her off her feet. Hold up, cowboy. Someone ran interference on your game. Some girl, to be specific. Are those your sirens wailing?

Malaysian women are fond of talking about their "lesbian partners" in attempts to appear edgy and progressive. They upped their ante, son. It isn't just talk anymore. Is the game over for you? Not quite.

It is a strange phenomenon that Malaysian women only act out their lesbian fantasies in public places with an audience (mainly male). And somehow, this hot lesbian action is conveniently poised for maximum photographic exposure. Malaysian men say: How did I get so lucky? Malaysian women say: Hook, line and sinker!

The real Malaysian LGBT community would not condone deliberate acts of homosexualty for novelty purposes. Neither does the bonafide LGBT crowd have a penchant for public exhibitionism. The faux lesbian performance you witnessed last night while clubbing was a ruse. Choreographed to titilate your senses and give you false hope of sexual promiscuity. It will not happen. Instead you will be taken for a ride (not the kind you want).

The Solution:


Ignore the public display of a-fake-tion. It will do your dignity good and spur the aspiring actresses on to more fervent performances. Soon they'll start to feel silly and think of better ways to attract attention. Ways that benefit you of course. Enough with the Lindsay Lohan act, sweetheart. It's embarrassing.

Stuff Mentioned:

Thanks to Paul Tan for the topic suggestion.

August 14, 2008

#29 Football

Malaysian people love football (soccer, as some of you call it). It is a veritable pastime and for some, it practically constitutes a reason for living. A Malaysian person can spend hours watching back to back football games, yelling and gesticulating wildly at the TV screen whether he/she is alone or in a group, doing the same. But before you use this information for personal gain, let’s explore the mind of a Malaysian football fan.

The Malaysian football fan will first encounter football in his or her formative years as they watch Dad screaming at the guy on TV who’s running away with a ball being chased by 20 other guys. Soon, the Malaysian adolescent begins to develop a fascination for the strange spectacle and asks the father about it.

Boy : Dad, what’s football?
Dad : It’s a game, son.
Boy : Like hide and seek?
Dad : No, boy. Like life and death.

Once the seeds of football have been planted in the minds of impressionable young tykes, comes the crucial point in their lives; picking a team. This step is one that must be seriously thought over for the ramifications can be catastrophic. A Malaysian person must pick a team that will foreseeably be successful well into their adult life. If they pick a team that is a dud, they risk going through life being scorned by fans of better teams and watching their team languishing in mediocrity. Of course they have the option of switching allegiances to other teams, but this is tantamount to sin. This is why some people are called “Judas”.

Unfortunately, some Malaysian people had the choice of team made by their parent a long time ago and they might be supporting a mid-table or God forbid- non league team. But this can be used to their advantage as they can accuse other Malaysian people of being “Gloryhunters” or fair-weather fans. Gloryhunters will never admit that they are supporting a team just because they’re successful. You should never insinuate this for it could lead to them either ostracizing you or giving you a long lecture on their history as a fan of the club. Both outcomes are equally unpleasant.

A typical Saturday night for most football fans involves a crowded pub or mamak stall (future post), effusive fans and a large TV screen. Expect to hear many insults thrown at the referee or the fancy player who has a penchant for theatrics. Some fans may get violent, but you shouldn’t worry. It’s just their way of expressing themselves, like how cavemen used to bang their chests and yell a lot. Once the game is over, you might see some crestfallen fans who weep in disappointment at their vicarious dreams being shattered. This means they have to get back to the harsh realities of real life. This is something they do not want. But if their team should win, this would make their existence seem meaningful as they are part of something some group of people did in some land far away.

But the match does not end there. Malaysian people also feel the need to analyse, complain or gloat about the events post-match. For some, this is more important than the match itself as they get to imagine that they are sports commentators on a TV programme. A sports commentator position is one that Malaysians dream of as no other job pays you five figures to wax lyrical about 22 men fighting over a leather sphere. If you’re feeling particularly masochistic, you should ask a Malaysian person to explain to you how football leagues are secretly controlled by bookies and organized crime. Of course, Malaysian people also feel the need to supplement this passion for football with Futsal games. Futsal is essentially football but in a smaller court with less people that allows amateur players to feel like they are professionals.

The end of a football season triggers withdrawal symptoms in Malaysian people as they start to resemble an extra from a George A. Romero film. This can be a frightening sight for someone unaccustomed to it. It is necessary that you relate to their pain. However, once football season begins again, they’ll be back to themselves. Expect to hear the phrase “Now life has meaning again.”


Note: There are Malaysian people who wear football jerseys in non-football situations. This kind of Malaysian person must be handled carefully.

August 11, 2008

#28 Facebook

Living the life of a Malaysian person is never easy. Each new day is another struggle to prove that they are better than the next Malaysian. That is why social networking sites exist. In the past, Malaysians used Friendster or MySpace but slowly everyone gravitated towards Facebook. It was of course, unacceptable for Malaysian people to remain on old networks and thus started the Facebook era.

The power of Facebook in raising a Malaysian person’s social status in life cannot be underestimated, the profile page is very important in determining social desirability. The first thing a Malaysian person will look at (besides your self-photography) is the number of friends you have. A large number of friends is very crucial and a benchmark to one’s status in the social hierarchy. Anything less than a thousand friends could lead to you being labelled a social pariah. You do not want this.

The next indicative sign a Malaysian person will observe is personal information such as education, influences and basically what stereotype they can pigeonhole you into for future reference. The more astute Malaysian will list the most obscure (but foreign) elements in his/her profile. Western or European movies, books, philosophy, music and clichéd quotes are all acceptable to project that they are cultured and knowledgeable. It is also necessary for a Malaysian person to join as many celebrity (I Heart Brad Pitt), political (Obama for President) or social cause (1 Million Malaysians Against Fuel Hike) groups and applications to demonstrate their firm understanding of pop culture and the socio-political climate.

Another crucial element of the Malaysian Facebook dynamic is to constantly update their profile with updates on what they are doing or thinking to show how busy, popular or smart they are (“Andy. Is. So. Tired.”, “Sasha is excited about her trip to Melbourne, w00t!”, “Tiffany loves the romantic ambience of Starbucks..”, “George is pumped from his intense gym session!!”, “Mandy got 90% for her Macro Econs paper!”, “Lina is assignmenting..”). But it is not enough to constantly update a profile message, Malaysian people also need to photograph all the events that take place in their lives and compile them into a photo album. Malaysian people have a knack for making the mundane seem interesting and this is evident when you see those albums featuring them in a drunken stupor at a club or pictures of their half eaten dinners from the day before.

Facebook is also a credible source of information and news for Malaysian people. For example, reading the messages that people leave on friends’ walls (“Hey, I’ve been good. Hectic as usual but that’s me, busy busy busy!”). If a Malaysian person desires to find out more about that guy or girl they’re interested in, all they have to do is cybersquat on their Facebook page and watch their daily updates as well as admire the aesthetic nuances of that person’s pictures. This information they gain can then be conveniently used in future conversations (“I really enjoyed The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. No way, you too? We’re like soulmates, it’s insane!”). Even their friendships can be managed easier. All they have to do is leave a message on their acquaintances’ page once every six months or simply poke them. This shows the sincerity and fortitude of their relationship that extends to cyberspace.

Remember that a Malaysian person’s Facebook page is every bit as critical to their identity as their job, friends and living address. If eyes are the window to a person’s soul, Facebook is the door to a Malaysian person’s mind. Anything you can absorb and decipher from a Malaysian person’s page can be highly useful but at the same time highly deceptive. This is because none of the things they state were true to begin with. But they sure would like you to believe that it is.


Note: A Malaysian person who doesn’t have an account at any social networking site is either a Counterculturalist or does not own a computer. Both are equally dangerous.