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Sakmongkol ak 47

Sunday 28 December 2008

Apocryphalist's Rudolf, Kiasu, Ah Beng and Lala Zhai

Next: a rejoinder to the cryptic Apocryphalist.

But first, I would like to thank him for posting a snippet from one of SBJ’s poem, from SBJ’s “Dendang si Tegang Pulang” Poems Sacred and Profane, p.67.

Aku Salleh Ben Joned anak bertuah

dijadikan dalam kubang di luar nikah
Lalang biak merata menarikan mimpi liarku,
kerbau balar dara tunggang pertamaku

Apocryphalist’s posting as a comment to my article:-

Tumpang simpan barang sekejap boleh tak dato'? Hamba ni dahlah dagang merempat takder blog tetap so nak laa taruh a bit of my tots kat dalam ni haaa... Its not about melayu, tapi maybe ada related kot. Alaaa... ‘Tis the season to be Merry laa dato': So let’s all rehat sekejap and hear about:-Rudolf The Red-nosed, slitty-eyed Reindeer: An Apocryphal Tale for our Christian Friends.Rudolf wasn’t always Rudolf. His original name was quite unpronounceable. Well wait I take that back. In fact Rudolf’s original name was perhaps too pronounceable that he became embarrassed by it. For if you go around any corner or block, you’d mistaken any sound that results from a crashing vase, a fallen china, a dropped kitchen utensil, to be his name. So after a while he took it upon his life’s crusade to find himself a good name.
“U gotta have a good name if you wanna be part of Santa’s circus”, said a colleague, Prancer. Peter, Paul, Mike --- they were too mundane a name and too ordinary. So together with his friends, he gathered up a slew of non-ordinary but nevertheless cool sounding names:

Kerson., Acson, Hacken. Bracken, Jet, Jackie.

Irrespective of that last one was actually a girl’s name but what the heck? He’s a lapp, for chrissake, not a true blue westerner. How would he know?It is no secret that despite cool, western-sounding names like all of Rudolf’s friends and cousins, he doesn’t really have faith in Santa. In fact, Rudolf is no believer at all. He just needs a job is what he is. He’d sooner off sell his mother than believe that some kind of virgin woman in some far-away middle-eastern land gave birth to a baby boy a coupla thousand years ago and his boss Mr. Kringle is here to enliven up the spirit of that birth. In fact Comet, another reindeer whom Rudolf disliked immensely, complained to Santa that once, while flying over a Lapp cemetery that housed Rudolf’s ancient families and relatives, he swore that he saw Rudolf clasped both hands together, closed his eyes, and prayed, as was the custom of most infidelous Lapp society, worshipping the deceased that they bury with paper houses and expensive sleds. But hey! You gotta go where the money flows. So switching faiths when needed is the least of his problems. He still remembers the first day he donned that official Santa Sled Troupe attire.” Take it off. You look ridiculous. You’re from Lapp, for Chrissake”, his mother, another slitty-eyed but more traditional reindeer commented.

His sister added that he couldn’t even speak English with correct grammar so what the hell is he doing acting like one for? All these were unimportant to Rudolf. For when he looks into the mirror, he doesn’t see a Lapp, he sees Britney Spears. He sees Robbie Williams. He sees Bill Gates. He sees George Dubya Bush. He sees people whom he thinks represent what advancement in the material world is all about. And he sees himself in this crowd. And suddenly, to disown his own family, culture, name --- seems more obvious and easy to do. He suddenly feels a sense of belonging. Slitty eyed and all.Deep in his heart, he still feels kiasued by the other original reindeers in Mr. Kringle’s group. But in actuality, Rudolf hates them all: the whole lot of them: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, Blixem. Rudolf is a closet unbeliever, but during carols, his voice is usually the loudest to be heard.He couldn’t understand their jokes, couldn’t respond to their linguistic acrobatics and verbal innuendos. But whenever he is around HIS own people, the Kiasu is his. He looks down upon his friends and cousins and those surrounding him as not … modern enough. And once in a while, when no one was looking, he sips in a cup of Lapp tea and downs a bowl of Mee Curry.

Merry Christmas Everyone! Apocryphalist

I cannot pretend to correctly understand what Apocryhalist wants to say. Nevertheless I will interpret it as follows:-

One can still progress while retaining the essence our own culture. Its all a world of make believe. Hence looking at the mirror, Rudolf sees Miss Spears, Mr Williams, Mr Gates or even a Mr Bush. One can be all these as a form of image projection but still retain one’s true cultural self. We don’t have to love them. We want to emulate the west in certain things but we can also retain our identity. Adopting their behaviour does not mean the wholesale surrender of our true identity. The Japanese are very good at this. They have progressed far ahead in material terms, but retains the essence of Japanese culture. Indeed thy have managed to Nippon-Ise economic advancement. Morale of the story. We can all modernise bur remain who we are culturally.

The danger is that even though our Rudolf does not actually like the other original reindeers, he has acquired their condescending attitude. This is almost a Franz Fannonesque assimilation of the oppressive culture that the oppressed despised but once they became liberated, become the oppressors themselves. Hence our Rudolf hates the original but acquired the habits of looking down on his own race. Succeed by all means, but don’t disown your own.

But the other point which Apocryphalist mentions- but I am not sure whether its usage forms a central part of his very teasing comment is his employ of the term kiasu. As everyone knows, the word means fear of losing- hence the very uncouth behaviour of piling up food at buffets for fearing there wont be any food left later. Or the way of eating furiously fast shown by the Chinese. The individual kiasu in turn has led to the emergence of an Ah Beng Culture or the Lala zhai characters.

And perhaps overzealous need to push the Malays can also push them to acquire negative kiasu habits. Or perhaps, that has already occurred. Pushed to the extreme can result in a lala zhai culture. For example:-

Ah Bengs are normally Chinese men in their early teens to late 20s, seen hanging out in groups and typically speaking in local slang, which is Hokkien or Cantonese mixed with English and Malay. Their English level is limited to simple English word and incorrect grammar. When having a conversation, Ah Beng like to curse in their daily speech. Cantonese words such as " Tiu Lei Ke Ma Chau Hai", " Ma Hai" and " Tiu Lei Ke Fa Hai" is commonly uttered by them.

Ah Beng's fashion come in several stereotype. One stereotype perceive Ah Bengs wearing flamboyant shirts such as colorful decoration especially dragon, tight jeans and constantly carrying plastic combs. Another stereotype perceive Ah Bengs trying to follow Japanese fashion, with spiky and dyed hair, metallic ornaments, leather jackets, belts and pants. Ah Bengs are normally found gathering in the busier and more developed parts of the city or at shopping complexes. Ah Bengs typically come from the lower class or middle class families. Ah Beng is also known as lala zai. 'Lala' has no actual meaning in itself, while 'zai' (pronounced 'chai') means 'boy'. 'Lala zai' refers to individuals who speak Manglish and possess a strong preference for gaudy fashions or hairstyles.

The only misgiving I have with this scenario, is this. The Chinese can ‘afford’ to have this social ‘collateral damage’ as their economic eminence makes them bemusingly absorbable. On the other hand, the Malays are slower in gaining economic prominence but faster in absorbing the collateral damage. The Chinese Ah Bengs will do all sorts of shenanigans, but they get back as mechanics, foremen, painters, bricklayers and ride on their motorbikes/cars to pakto. The Malay Ah Bengs do all the nonsensical stuff and yet rely on the government to take them on welfare or impose their Ah Beng culture on their already impoverished parents.


Apocryphalist 28 December 2008 at 13:18  

I never thought Dato’ Sak could have this degree of japery. Your definition of Ah Beng is hilarious. Here we call them Jinjang Joes or Jinjang Jins: you know --- whose handphones glitter in the dark with marching-ant lights and whose modifications to their mini sedans cost more than the car itself. But you are right. If the malays act like that, or whenever you see a group of malay skinheads or punks with spikey coiffures, one tends to get nauseated quickly. That, and the rempit culture. Elsewhere in this blog MissSleepyHead points this anomalous rempit behaviour as being due to the some kind of “economic complacency” and well-being of the parents. While it is true that it is an anomaly, her conclusion is entirely untrue. Rempits mainly came from families who could not afford cars for their kids and are generally too absorbed in their kais-pagi-kais-petang routine that they could not care less what their kids do. In fact, by having their teenage after-schoolers having some kind of transportation like that, bringing a few ringgits extra at the end of the day after a hard day’s despatching or pizza-delivering is a big relief on the burdens of these parents, if only they could realize what they do after hours, whizzing along the Kesas Highway against each other at break-neck speeds. Oh did you know that some of these junior Knievels are rewarded with an amorous nite with some amoys if they win? And they are what --- 16, 17 years old, some of them?

Now this thing about anomaly: Perhaps we could proudly register in this rempiting as the third of our race’s contribution towards the global vocabulary of sui generis socio-anthropoligical trait, together with Amok and Latah? Seriously, I know of no other nation who has this … destructive behaviour and then loving it!

Dato’, Kiasu could be as what you defined but its extrapolatory derivatives are seen everyday and everywhere: whenever your queue is cut in that long line at the Post Office by you-know-who, or they barge into the lift even before you have the chance to get out, there’s Kiasu there working for you. It’s a feeling of… “I am better than anyone else, my needs are more important and I should be given more attention than everyone else”. The malays do not have this. At least not in a grand scale and not before other cultures have permeated into the kinetics of his everyday routines in such a way that he HAS to be swept along in this rawdy behaviour, or else be forever introverted in his own country. But then do you know that there is such a thing as an “Intra-Kiasu” also? I have been told that the Singaporean Chinese has this feeling towards the Malaysian Chinese in general. And perhaps both of them have some kind of equivalent feeling towards the Taiwanese or the Mainland inhabitants as well.


Anonymous,  28 December 2008 at 15:02  

Dato Sak and Apo Sir,

Just like you pointed out the handphone and car mods, despite its pointlessness, are money churning cottage industries in itself. Malays must quickly realize the economic potential of 'everything' and evolve from the 'pisang goreng' and 'burger warung' model of business. Economic prowess also means leaving no crevice unfilled and making money out of everything.

On the rempit issue, it is this moving up the economic ladder that I was trying to point out. The same scenario happened with Chinese youth in the 90s - riding in packs in their modified motorcycles going to discos and such, but the phase was over, and in some way they moved on to modifying cars as Proton Wajas became affordable. Economic success and the goal of earning lots of money are still in the back of every Ah Beng and Jinjang Joes' minds despite their shimmery appearance. That probably separates them from their rempit peers whose sole aim is probably just misplaced heroics on the highway.

Sure, we can all laught at Jackie the red-nosed reindeer trying hard to fit in but his effort also most likely paid off in opening up the global market for sinocinema, reviving old kungfu flicks as far back as the 60s for DVD reissues.

Saya... 28 December 2008 at 17:05  

The rempit culture is now moving from being a mere nuisance/irritant to a clear and present danger where kids are actually terrorizing, stealing and killing, running over people!

My friends in Wangsa Maju were terrorized by these gangs who padlocked the residents' grilles and proceeded to smash and grab items from their vehicles under their noses and anyone who dared peek out had bricks thrown through their windows. And the pillion riders of these gangs were young girls! Not 16 or 17, Apo, much younger, believe me. By 17, these girls are already like kuaci eating prostitutes having disinterested sex, much like performing any other bodily function like defecating. If you look at the videos being passed around in schools, you can see the looks on these kids faces that it all means NOTHING to them. God only knows why they do it.

This is beginning to be a deadly serious problem affecting our youth that is actually being encouraged by recognition from the likes of the ruling party youth groups. They should not be recognized, they should be put behind bars!

These kids are no different actually from the gangs in the US and the reasons are basically the same:

- Poverty/Low economic status
- Low educational aspirations
- Effects of the media
- Lack of a support network,ie parents struggling to put food on the table as mentioned by Apo.

These kids who usually fall through the cracks of a lethargic and disinterested educational system/educators/parents, feel a sense of hopelessness and joining these rempit "gangs" offer a sense of identity, self-worth, power, excitement, acceptance, love, companionship (thus the bohsias and bohjans)and belonging.

I'm wondering why the chinese Ah Bengs who probably face the same issues at home and in school end up with at least that common goal of making money, supporting themselves through whatever business opportunities as mspleepyhead pointed out, while the malays end up just being a menace.

What is the root of the problem here?

Why are the Malays, who are supposed to be tuans, behaving in a disenfranchised manner as the gangs in the US who are made up of minorities and face racism amongst other issues?

If we seriously want to address this problem, we have to revamp the educational system, get the parents involved in working with the educators, offer outlets for these kids - sports, after school activities, volunteering, part-time jobs, clubs, usrah groups etc. We seriously need to take care of our teachers, because a sense of attachment to the teachers and to the joys of learning, open up minds and encourage dreams and offer hope.

I think Rakan Muda used to do pretty well before but it needs a major overhaul too, and be constantly aware of the changing needs of youth and how capture their attention and redirect their energies in an ever changing and challenging environment.

If the government does not have the will to do it or will not for the sake of maintaining the status quo to protect their own interests,then we have to do it.

Reclaim our schools, our teachers, start getting involved, encourage parents to participate, identify the weaknesses, potential waywards, pull them back before they slide into the abyss. We, as the parents should start a concerted campaign for all our children.

Once we push, and move forward, the tide can't be stopped. But we have to unite and be prepared for some sacrifice.

Anonymous,  28 December 2008 at 21:18  

Guys & gals hi

Listen to them carefully and i'm sure you will be amused to hear them eksyen speak posh Benglish in usual syntax with Fake/Mixed up Aussie/Yankie slang to his open jaw blinking girlfriend that his

"jinjang house near kepong is next door to damansara close to mont kiara one leh..."

"You never come so see how to find out?"

That's how they go nowadays - but yet our Malay kids schooled by MWTC alumni in SRK/SMK are too shy to blurt out their thoughts in proper structured English that sounds a bit better than Siti's Winnie the PO-OH faux pax


Anonymous,  28 December 2008 at 21:45  

Ha ha... Apocryphalist, you are such a talented writer. If you are a malay, you probably can't see the message. From the chinese perspective I can see what Apocryphalist trying to tell (in cynical and yet hilarious way).

It is about the plight of the chinese community, particularly the post independence generation. The plight for their obsession with everything western that they adopt everything kwai low (mat salleh) from name to religious ceremony without really knowing or believing in what ever they actually mean. They simply do it because they think this is the in thing to do and look down upon those who do not follow their footstep.

It is not about "progress while retaining the essence our own culture", but its about blind imitation to what they think is the symbol of success.

What Apocryphalist has written is indeed so true. Almost every chinese new born carries a "Santa Circus Name" although many of them do not even believe in Santa.

Apocryphalist 28 December 2008 at 23:12  

The Apocryphalist Blog Prayer
(for 1430AH/2009M)

Oh Lord! Please give Long life to bloggers and their commenters. And to Anonymous contributors too, though not as much as the two aforementioned people.

Please let not IJN be sold to anybody. In fact better still, please reduce the number of IJN patients this year.

Please let Adik Sharlinie find her way back home, but do not let Chin Peng find his.

Please Lord do not let this metamorphose into Pek Ha.

And help those with
THIS problem, won’t you Lord? That we may all be fruitful and multiply as you had wanted us to?

Please do not let Malaysian Tigress keep on erasing her comments. And yes, grant her new children in 2009 too. Or at least, instill in her and family not to tutup kedai yet.

And that goes for Dato’ Sakmongkol and Datin Mamasita as well. I don’t care if it is politically incorrect: You have done it with Prophet Ibrahim and Sarah before, and these two aren’t even half as old.

Please instill to RPK that he should see the error of his ways, and would it be too much to ask, dear God, that after his repentance, to let him be a supporting commentator to the blog of Husin Lempoyang?

Please instill in the heart of the new Yam Tuan, whoever he should be, to do something about the Jeram Ulu Bendul toilet charge: It’s a bit too expensive. And then even there’s no toilet paper.

And that ticket I got for not using a handsfree phone last month between Jalan Empok and Jalan Indah, can you just make it … pooof! Disappear, dear Lord? I mean, wasn’t I pious enough to hold back from offering that cop some duit kopi?

Most important of all, please let us Malaysians all live in peace and harmony. And let Prosperity be realized too, instead of just being a name for a MacDonald Burger.


Saya... 29 December 2008 at 02:53  


Good one! And thank you for the doa.

But when cawangan Mydin terbaru, the cheap, crass superstore/super kedai is open already in Masjid Keling, who wants to frequent the local, quaint, quality Fazal Mohd Brothers shop have to bungkus/tutup kedai la ini macam...or maybe get gomen to gazette as National Heritage Site...then can launch nimr conservation programme?

Wait...should I erase this comment, ah?

Anonymous,  29 December 2008 at 09:50  

Wah Dato,

Hehe….You are a very brave man for using those Cantonese curse words ‘flowery manna crab’ & ‘your mother’s smelly shoes’ on your posting. Jaga nanti kena missus sent you to the doghouse like unker’s Ah Soh do each time I blurt out those colourful phases!

Now that you mentioned it, I think my honorary buddy ‘Nick Cage’ KM/DN is a closet Ah Beng too, especially when he swear like that. He also got all those other Ah Beng traits, like sipping his pina colada watching with his eyes wide opened all the Ah Lians from Ipaniamah ‘walk on by’ and oso by snapping his fingers to the beat of ‘hai, hai, hai ‘Beautiful Sunday’ and that classic ‘so long goodbye ‘Yellow Liver’ music belting out from his car stereo.

Poor KM must be feeling under the weather these days trying to shrug off that big EWOK monkey off his back. Better stop now else he belasah me big time. Cie la vie!

Anyway all the very best to you & the family for the New Year. I had great pleasure reading your postings & looking forward to more in the coming year.

Cheers from the Mother of All Ah Bengs,

Unker Tommy Yew.

Ariff Sabri 29 December 2008 at 10:09  

unker tommy,
i have more colorful swear words in cantonese that i picked up along the way. but their usage was just part of everyday language that one just laugh it off.
thank you for dropping by.

BaitiBadarudin 29 December 2008 at 10:59  

Salam ma'al hijrah; semoga 1430 membawa rahmat dan berkat pada semua.
In defense of SBJ, I personally think we need his type to cut through the crap and pretentiousness of the Peyadesas.
With regards to the issue of 'malaise', it may be based on impressionistic findings but perhaps it's high time that the Malay community instil diligence in BOTH boys and girls?
Lastly, it's really about time to consider a local and contemporary version of a Meiji Restoration and identify a visionary leader like Bismark who will take Malaysia to the same level as Germany and Japan , if being an industrialised nation is what we want.

Saya... 29 December 2008 at 11:36  

Sorry Dato, tumpang sekaki:

LOL, I read that Durex survey link, Apo...any news about Malays? I think Anwar epitomizes their problem, premature ejaculation.

Yes, Lord, give women a better deal next year too. Survey says THEY STILL HAVE TO DO ALL THE if housework isn't enough!

Wherever did you get that maid link? That woman is nuts. Pisang pun nak kira berapa maid dia makan...and she is afraid of karma?

Saya... 29 December 2008 at 14:44  

dato, nice read here if you are interested:

Ariff Sabri 29 December 2008 at 15:07  

al nimr- yes i downloaded the article by harun yahya. i hve read a few of his books actually. you have rekindled my interest there. thank you. mamasita cakap, you ni banyak tahu lah. syabas

Saya... 29 December 2008 at 15:19  


sebab banyak yang i tak tau la, sebab tu I kena cari...heheh

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