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,


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?


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?


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.


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.