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.


Aidan said...

They should give out free karaoke sessions! =D

Anonymous said...

Haha, what? Free speech? Apa tu?

Aidan said...

Er. I think he meant freedom of speech. I think.

B.H. said...


Thank you for the suggestion. However, it is as likely as two strangers meeting in the rain and sharing a hotel room.

Also thanks for clarifying the closing punchline for anyone who may not have caught it.


Exactly. In this country it is still a myth.


Aidan said...

Two strangers meeting in the rain and sharing a hotel room -- sounds like All I Wanna Do by Heart.

You're most welcome, by the way.

Grace said...

I guilty of buying extra Darlie toothpastes for the free mug or plate.. haha, it's so "auntie"!!

synical said...

In Malaysia, anything free also can have except free speech. WTF.

Anyway, took you long enough to get to FREE stuff, haha.

B.H. said...


You're very perceptive. Yes, it was a deliberate dig at you.


At least you've advanced to the acceptance stage. Most people are stuck at denial.


The fact that I've succumbed to using this entry now is a sign. Foreshadowing...gasp.


Poppy said...

It's also very Malaysian to refer to a "free gift" in marketing exercises.

That's like saying, "edible food", or "sweet sugar", or "salty salt" or the all time favorite at Mamak sessions all over the country, "Milo Ais Tanpa Milo Tanpa Gula". "Shut up, you dickhead, why can't you ask for Ais Kosong like everyone else."

B.H. said...


Perhaps to stress the irony that the gift isn't free.

Now that you mention it, I have more of a bone to pick with people who use the term "sky juice". Although I would think it is a rather dated expression these days.


Etta said...

People should read this.