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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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."