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Thursday, February 09, 2006

a bad start

About the story the other day of the Malay guy at the interview praising my Malay accent and slang, well, it wasn't exactly the first time that's happened. A couple of years ago, I went for a camp where most of the participants were Malays. Boy were they chuffed when I could understand their lingo and talk to them in perfect 'kampung accented' Malay. Then they got a right proper shock when I knew the lyrics to Sheila on 7's Dan.

"Mana ada orang Cina dengar lagu Sheila on 7??" dia tanya.

Well, actually there are quite a few I know. Not many, but certainly a few. Thing is, the guy who asked that question probably didn't know many Chinese himself. I was reading with interest this particular article written by Minishorts, highlighting the ignorance of many Malaysians with regards to other people's culture. In fact, let me be bold enough to admit that I just learned from one of the comments that Malaysian Indians mostly speak Tamil, and not Hindi.

But this says a lot of the country we grow up in. As for myself, I went to a primary and secondary school of which 90% of the students were Chinese. And in case you didn't know, kids too can be very racist. Having mostly Chinese friends in school, and being very ignorant in many many things, I grew up around people who complained of the NEP and the 'special rights' that we were not entitled to. I wasn't exactly a saint too. As a kid, right up to Form 5, we went around bitching about the other races, telling all sort of very racist jokes.

Of course, I would not be so foolish as to repeat the jokes exactly as I heard them so let's just create a fictional race. Heck, no. Let's just classify a group of people, any group in particular, of course one that you personally hate, and for the sake of political correctness, let's just call them 'Hobbits'.

Now with all that formalities settled and shoved out of the way, let's proceed to the jokes, shall we?

Q: What's the difference between a Hobbit and a bucket of shit?
A: The bucket.

Q: What do you call a Hobbit driving a Mercedes?
A: A thief.

Q: How long does it take a female Hobbit to shit?
A: 9 months.

In fact, I dare challenge any fellow Chinese (I wouldn't know about the rest, I didn't have many other friends when I was a kid, remember?) to honestly swear that they never heard any such joke in school.

It wasn't much of a difference in college. It was there that I heard the infamous 'Row row row your boat' joke, which along with the 9 months joke rates among the worst of the lot. And the scary part was that we told these jokes without a care in the world. To us, they were extremely funny. In fact, if this furore with the caricatures had happened back then, I would have been the first to jump up and asked, "What the heck is all the fuss about?"

Studying overseas exposes you to a foreign culture and if you are open to it, you get to learn things that you won't otherwise learn. Ironically, it was also in the UK that I learned more about Malaysian culture (in particular, Malays) than I did in the first 17 years of my life. I never knew that there was such a thing as non-halal chicken and beef. I never knew women didn't go to mosques for Friday prayers and I certainly had never had ayam masak merah till I went there.

I would like to think that I have learned a lot and opened my eyes to understanding the behaviour of our fellow Malaysians. It does help that my best friend in the UK is a Muslim and the Chinese guys I were close to came from areas with high Malay population. The guys, especially helped me understand many things from the perspective of the common village folk. The importance of the 'special rights issue', which I could never understand in the past became crsytal clear while we were bersembanging one night. Ironically, it was the first day Chinese New Year.

Once that puzzle fell into place, everything else made sense. Agreeing with something is inconsequencial. Liking someone's actions is a secondary issue. What is of utmost importance should be our ability to understand how things work and why they work as they do. You would be surprised how understanding someones culture goes a long way to promote racial harmony. Not mere racial tolerence, but racial harmony. I use to word harmony, because that is what it should be - a harmonious co-existance.

Of course, what changed me only served to infuriate people more. There are countless numbers of people (sadly, mostly Chinese) who go abroad, and suddenly forget everything about home. They forget why things work like they do, and they start to hate things more than they originally did. Many of my friends returned home after their studies and say they can't get used to how things work back here. Culture shock, they say. Often, I shake my head and question, "How on earth is it even possible to be shocked by a culture you grew up in?"

Nevertheless, it all starts with understanding the situation. Acceptance and agreement can come later. Let's take things one step at a time. We have to learn about each other's practices and more importantly, we have to learn to respect them. Many a time, my Chinese friends complain of the loud hailer coming from the mosque every morning. An alarm clock, they call it. But these are the same guys who burn gold paper and leave offerings by the roadside. These are the same people who insist it is 'tradition' and 'culture' to burn firecrackers at midnight and insist that the government are racist to ban them.

Things like these start from the kids. With my story of the jokes in schools, you have to wonder where the kids heard those jokes from. Their parents? Their older siblings? Heck, that is a question I do not wish to hear the answer to. Maybe it would be a great idea to force kids to read the Bible, the Koran, the Buddhist scriptures and (forgive my ignorance again, but I do not know what the Hindu holy litreature is called). Maybe then, we can look forward to a whole new generation of Bangsa Malaysia.


Till then, here's a couple more riddles.

Q: What do you call a 1000 Hobbits chained to the bottom of the sea?
A: A good start.

Q: What do you call a 1000 Malaysians who aren't racist?
A: A VERY good start.

Labels:


Ramblings:
Hey Vincent..nice piece...The comment on minishorts was written by me. I too was shocked when I found out that most malaysians(since coming to Canada to study) did not know that. I always thought as Malaysians, we should take the effort to know about other races' cultures.

Anyway, the hindu religious scriptures are called the Vedas. I like reading your blog but have not commented until now...oh well...there's a first for everything.

 



I'd say more like 92, 93% Chinese, Vincent. Lol.

Sheila on 7's good. :) Not that I've listened to many of their songs, but the ones that I have, I like.

Never heard the jokes, but there was never a shortage of the racist snide comments.

 



Wonderful post. I agree that racism is prevailant in Malaysia. I grew up in a malay school, so I had malay, indian and chinese friends. Maybe that is why I'm not racist myself.

Students returning home and saying they experience a culture shock is total bullshit. I think what they meant was that they were shocked at the way things are being done in Malaysia. Thus they use the word 'culture shock' for the lack of a proper term.

After studying for a few years overseas, I'm still surprised at how unfriendly most salespeople (all races are guilty of this) are here. It's not culture shock, it's just plain old shock.

 



Everyone is racist, Malaysian or not, predujice is preformed in the human brain against anything/anyone that is different.

Surprised you didn't know most of the Indians here spoke Tamil though..It's because of the Sri Lankan origin, rather than from India.

Those you call 'Singhs' or 'Bhai' usually speak Hindi.

 



awesome post!... And the last riddles is just better!
 



i was in sk and smk so i grew up with friends of all races. we used to tell those jokes all the time, and no one got offended. which is the best, really. everyone should be able to poke fun at each other without making it a racist issue.

anyway, i know that's not the point of your post. whatever the point is, you drove it home.

 



Actually Shaolin..most Indians here are from Tamil Nadu(as well as other parts of South India) though there are indeed Sri Lankan Tamils here as well who migrated roughly the same time as Indians from South India.
 



Q: What do you call a hobbit holding a shotgun?
A: Sir.

Each country in the world has their own version of those racist jokes you highlighted. In fact, I first heard the bucket and mercedes ones Down Under.

 



well i know a friend who shouted to a angmoh walking about in the city , "why dont you fuck off home?" this was as he had received many such comments while overseas.
 



Those you call 'Singhs' or 'Bhai' usually speak Hindi.

Hmmm. I can't speak for the majority, but I grew up with a lot of close Punjabi friends, and while some speak a smattering of Hindi, they usually are more fluent in the Punjabi dialect.

 



lainie: i think punjabi is a variety of hindi. i suppose that line is acceptable if i choose to go around telling people that, well you see, 'those that you call cantonese or kong dong yan, speak chinese.'


vince: wtf are you talking about? hobbits come from that gondor place lah you dork!

 



suresh : Thanks for enlightening me. We learn something new everyday.

alynna : Hheheheh...something like that la

lishun : It speaks volumes that kids never get offended, but adults do. Maybe we should be kids for a bit.

tigerjoe : Me no understand.

minishorts : No la doink. Those hobbits come from Shire la, and they speak Elvish me thinks.

 



vince: neh? hobbit speak the comment speech lah.

elvish is for the elves. that's why is e-l-v-i-s-h you see, elvish = elves. geddit?

 



Nice one, man.
 



HOI. LAY OFF THER HOBBITS. THEY HAVE FEELINGS TOO YOU BLOODY HUMAN.
 



Calling a punjabi 'bhai' is actually rude as well unless you know the person fairly well.Don't go screaming 'bhai' freely whenever you meet a punjabi person.
 



come on la vincent....i can hav frens from any race but i will married a chinese only...becos im a chinese, is that also called racist meh?
 



if im a chinese and i dun even have freedom to choose my own race to married, then fuck u!

this aint abt racist, it is abt my respect to my own ancestors!!

 



V listen to SO7? Cool. Most Malays never thought that other races listen to malay/indon songs.Muslim women never go to Friday prayer and they "khatan" when they're still a baby unlike men. There's something call ayam masak merah and ayam masak hitam as well :D
 



applepie : Do me a favour, if you are like 13 years old and have bad english, please get out of my blog.
 



wow vince, you have pies for readers. i'm impressed. :P
 



apple_pie, dun waste ur time, if vincent wanna married malay gal, its his own funeral lah..

vincent, we dun wanna come to ur shitty blog also...and alot ppl dun like ur blog also as u can see only 3 ppl wish u happy new year on ur new yr post..HA HA HA

 



Well said Vincent. I'm supprised that you listen to SO7 as I'm my self do not listen to malay/indo song as much English songs. To Cholic - ayam masak hitam is ayam masak kicap ..hehehe
Fully agree with you..we should promote racial harmony..and since you're in angling fraternity..i'm invite you to joing malaysian fishing.net @ http://www.fishing.net.my/forum/ see u there..

 



asswipe : happy new year to you too. unlike some losers, i have friends outside the internet that you very much. and why would it be my funeral, u pathetic 13 year old bimbo?


sebarau : Hhehehe...*malu*..that was my FIRST fishing trip. speaking of which, i lost a bloody sebarau that bit..hehehe..

 



Goodness, didn't I mention it somewhere that some Chinese are the most racist of them all racist lots.

Racial harmony is the way to go! What's wrong with having a damn muhibbah family. My family is a good example and I don't see anyone having any problem at all.

I love Sheila on 7 and you can throw me any Indonesian band and I'll love them all! They're so creative. I think I've been listening to Indonesian songs since I was a kid...ladida..

Like you, people always praise me when I speak BM. Heehee. And they sometimes get confused as to whether I'm Malay or Chinese or Lain-lain =P

 



read this book a while back by some Aussie on the demise of the 'brown' people. Of course, he backed his theory with other 'theories'. main argument was basically one of economics, where financial might will ultimately determine the composition of races. interesting.

i've been helping a friend research his book on the 'way we are' which traces the background of several adults to how malaysian they have become. Whats surprising is that, despite all the efforts on integrating the races, we're further removed from that than 2 generations ago.

why so garang one?

 



no wonder, UK doesnt wan a trash like u in their country becos ur fucken rude and cant even act civilized in giving answer but just shut ppl up by assuming abt ppls age, bimbo etc, u are wat ppl called "mo kar kau" "kiam ka-si" by ur parents...and then hor u use this blog to keep consoling and consoling ur self as nailed it by ST..ha ha ha
 



really? I thought people called me 'genius', 'awesome' and an array of other cool adjectives.

OH MY GOD my faith is shattered! People actually hate me.....shit......

 



i think V somewhat sounds cute even when he's being mean & rude :|
Reminds me of some ppl who have the same characteristic as you are. Are all guys like that?

 



hate?!?!?!no hate or war, make love....if u wan war..go to the iraq or africa~!~!~!
 



cholic : No no, not all guys. I am one of a kind.
 



A very thoughtful entry, man!

Unlike you however, I grew up amongst Malay, Chinese and Indian friends, and we were all very close friends (and are still close even until now) and we never gave a shit about anyone's race. Hell, we'd always make jokes about each other's races and we'd just laugh it off in a group. (Because we know the jokes were done in the spirit of jest, not seriousness, and because most jokes contain an underlying truth in the form of sarcasm, hehe.)

Even when I was in Australia studying last year I would rather hang out with groups of non-Malays + Malays rather than a group of Malays. Sure, there are differences, but you learn of tolerance and respect for one another, and that is what is most important, above everything else.

 



One of the kind huh? I see..
Anyway,I grew amongst Malay, Chinese & Indian. I'm a siamese btw and many ppl thought i'm from thailand but i'm not. It's great to befriends with other races and learn their cultures as well.

Back in high school I was a sch prefect. There was this one whole bunch of Chinese girls who always create problems in sch. They always fight with prefects for some reasons. I tried to talk to them but they ignored me and sometimes treat me badly coz they thought I'm a Malay (Malay ppl thought that I'm Chinese and Chinese ppl thought I'm Malay)

One day, during silence reading, we did spot check and they were talking bad about the prefects (foul words) and I talked back in Hokkien saying "You shouldnt say that coz some might know what you were talking about" and I walked off. I only know Hokkien a lil but at least it help me alot handling those girls at sch. Since then, they treated me well unlike before.

Now that I'm studying in uni, I have prob making friends with Chinese who speak Mandarin in their entire conversation coz I dont know any of it. They treated me "differently" compare to my Malay & Indians friends.
Being racist? Maybe...

 



Cholic : I think they're not being racist but inferior instead. It's because of the language barrier that they feel that way. I experienced what you did before but I tried learning their language and they learnt mine...soon, we blended in with each other well and spoke in both languages (rojak).
 



Adoi it's not easy to learn Mandarin.. Cantonese is still ok coz i watch lotsa canton drama and picked up some words/sentences. Maybe they're not being racist but still it's feel uncomfortable when they give me the weird look O.o
I tried to rent a room outside campus many times but got rejected coz they want only Chinese or Malay (depends if the whole house members either Chinese or Malay) I'm staying in hostel now but quite mafan coz the internet connection is pretty slow..

 



Totally agree wit u and a good post, V. It is not the skin tat matter is what's in the heart.
 



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