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Sakmongkol ak 47

Sunday 12 September 2010

The acquisitive society

The Acquisitive society? 

" I think the Chinese getting food for their Bumi Latuk..who must jaga status..cannot Q & fight for food.So itu Cina tolong sama itu Latuk kasih cari makan"

Every year, we hear the same story about the ugly Malaysian. At open houses, people scrambled and dashed for the food. Adults behave like undisciplined children. If the PKR people think, they are immune from the ugly Malaysians, think again.
At the recent Hari Raya Open House at the IT City, there was the same mad scramble for food. You would think these people are starving refugees. My friend's children were queuing up for duit raya. Only to be told, we have no more money to give out. No surprise as adults too were lining up to get raya money.
But I will leave it to others who can tell better stories than I about the ugly Malaysian. As for me, I want to tell the story about people's acquisitive tendencies. Since it is commonly believed, that the basis of a prosperous society is an acquisitive society. A society that has a lower quotient of acquisitive tendencies will undergo a slower pace of economic advancement. It is further believed that the deficiency in acquisitive quotient can be corrected by cultural engineering.
Sometime ago, I read what a sociologist named Judith Djamour wrote about Malays. She did some research on Singapore Malays in the 1940s and 1950s. what she wrote was used by the Singapore government in devising policies to handle its Malay population.
Of particular interest was Djamour's interpretation on the differences between a Malay and a Chinese. The Chinese, says Djamour considers the acquisition of wealth as almost an end by itself. So he becomes an indefatigable worker and a keen businessmen.
So the Chinese is always in attack mode. Business, social interactions, competing for parking bays and eating.
The Malay on the other hand attached importance to easy and graceful living. He doesn't see the acquisition of wealth as an end by itself and so avoids becoming an unrelenting worker and a less keen businessman.
So the Malay is usually in a passive mode, diffident, hesitant and withdrawn.
It is only now that I can picture clearly the significance of these two different character types. I am not at all pleased with the implications of the picture above. I am asking myself, could the two differences cited by Djamour be reflected in the way we reach out for our food? Could it be, that a simple act of acquiring food in a competitive environment, where thousands and thousands of people are looking for the same thing, forces the basic acquisitive instincts to be put on display?
The Malay with one outstretched hand is less acquisitive than the Chinese with two outstretched hands?
Shall we say then, the Malay does value graceful living more and the Chinese aren't shy to show his acquisitive tendencies?
Further, how shall we Malays make the acquisitive tendencies our second nature?


Anonymous,  12 September 2010 at 20:40  


relek sikit lah....raya ni......

biarlah orang makan...biarlah mereka hulurkan satu tangan atau dua tangan.

satu tangan satu piring jadi dua tangan dua piring lebih cepat lah.

sebagai ibu yang ada 2 anak kecil, aku buat kerja yang jimat masa lah.
Jadi aku akan hulur dua tangan jugak.

Jangan terlalu baca gambar tu ya...

seorang ibu

schenker78 12 September 2010 at 20:43  

RPK wrote,

But don’t let this discourage you from your plan of making Malaysia your retirement home. As the Indonesians say: dalam kesempitan ada kesempatan. This can be translated to mean that there is opportunity in a crisis. The only thing is you should stay away until after the crisis and then go in for easy pickings.

I can still remember what Siew Nim Chee, the one-time economic adviser to Genting, once told me about the 13 May 1969 race riots. Chinese were dumping their assets and investments at fire-sale prices so that they could leave the country, said Nim Chee, and he bought them up very cheaply.

I asked him why he bought up everything when others were selling and he replied that he had been through WWII, which was worse than May 13, and the country bounced back after that. “So what is May 13 compared to WWII?” he said.

So, going by Nim Chee’s ‘philosophy’, the country may go broke and even go through a period of turmoil and civil commotion, but one day it will bounce back. The only thing is you and I may no longer be alive by then but at least our children and grandchildren will be able to see better days again.

I suppose, therefore, our struggle should not be about ourselves. Our days are numbered anyway and we shall, in a decade or so, be buried in the ground. But 20 or 30 years from now when we are no longer around our children and grandchildren will benefit. That should be our aim.

Anyway, Tony, I am rambling, so allow me to stop here and thank you once again for remembering me on this day called Hari Raya. Hari means day and Raya means celebration or festival. Honestly, I do not see what there is to celebrate with the country going to the dogs. Maybe it is just as well I no longer celebrate Hari Raya. It is like having a party during someone’s funeral. Would that not be in bad taste?

And please send my love to everyone at home and I pray we shall meet again one day soon.

Cheers mate.


schenker78 12 September 2010 at 20:54  

The facts you said about Chinaman is true, but on the Free food thing, I guess the malays and Chinaman behave the same...Chinaman will be a bot over the malays though...

Maybe they berebut2 because the open House is paid by them, the tax Payers not by najib or selangor state government....

I have seen such KIASU attitude before on food...but I never been to any Open Houses held by any governments.

I dont know how Sporeans behave, maybe most of their middle class and poor behave the same way as Malaysians.

I have seen in KL area where those charity Vans distribute Free food for Poors, Homeless and Drug Addict on the street... the well to do also line up to get those Free Food... so disgusting. Sometime i feel like Slapping these fellas.

Its come back to the way parents teach their children good behavior. Most malaysia parents just buat Bodoh and dont bring up their Children properly.

Anonymous,  12 September 2010 at 21:38  

Salam Dato'

I believe this boils them to the value system of the Malay vs Chinese. We believe in the hereafter while the Chinese value system do believe in the next world, the system dictates they must acquire as much worldly items to carry over to the next. My observation is based on the ritual of burning wordly items as companion to the next ie. paper houses, cars, money etc.

For the Malays whom I am going to assume being Muslims in faith at this time has been indoctrinated that the only "things" that they will bring to the next world is the own individual amal(solat, zakat etc), amal jariah (charitable deeds) and prayers of filial children. Don't forget this is the hisab part of the Islamic value system. On top of the tendency to attribute their station in life is part of their fate (qada' n qadar)

This is base on my observation and questioning the Chinese that I come across through my consulting profession. Now, The Christian Chinese will carry a different value system, however it does not negate their overall cultural undertones of acquiring wordly items.

I may be wrong in interpreting my observations; this is based on what I consider as observable behaviour and conversations that I have had.

Keturunan Jebat

Yop Pengkor,  12 September 2010 at 22:14  

Dear Sak,

This is seriously lawak stuff for the Raya occasion.

A good one.

FYI, I only clicked to your blog when I see the picture. Everything else you said is unimportant.

Yeop Pengkor

Anonymous,  12 September 2010 at 22:17  

Hahaha...a picture paints a thousand words..even how mischievous it is.

The truth though;the guy & lady with the two plates each are apparently getting the food for four handicapped wheel chair bound guests (whom they have never met before).The Malay is the culprit,selfishly cutting the queue.

Truth is only a figment of one's own imagination.

Ariff Sabri 12 September 2010 at 22:34  

relax lah.
gambar itu untuk gloss over the point i am talking about. saya sudah agak dah. ada orang kata, sebab ini taxpayers bayar, jadi bapak dia punya makanan lah. saya juga sudah agak, mesti ada orang kata dia ambik untuk kanak2 atau orang cacat. awak tak pernah pergi makan tempat macam ini ke? kalau cacat atau kanak2 ada tempat khas.
sure, lu boleh kata itu Melayu cut the cue. orang un boleh kata itu dua cina mahu sapu semua.

relax bro/sister.

OneMalaysian,  12 September 2010 at 22:35  

Dear Sakmongkol

You are quite observant. I saw the same picture in Malaysiakini fleetingly, but I didn’t focus on it beyond thinking, well that was just another typical Hari Raya Open House scene. But what you say about that picture has deeper meanings and implications for our society.

No doubt the Chinese are much more acquisitive of money and material things. What may be the reasons? It is not genetic for sure. I think all immigrant societies exhibit this tendency. Sociologists may tell you that immigrants are predisposed to be a bit more aggressive and hard working – that was precisely why they got away from their mother countries taking quite a lot of risks in a foreign country to get a better life for themselves and their families. So hard work and appetite for risks are ingrained through personal histories and then fixed by traditions that formed from the early experiences. The locals are more easy-going because they already live in a country of plenty – they need not have to struggle to get by. We can deduce this from the simple fact that if the place to migrate to is worse off than the mother country why bother? You migrate to find three meals a day when you have two; but you don’t do it if you have two, and the new place only promises one.

As for the Chinese in particular, they came from a very poor and oppressive environment where they toiled for just 1 or 2 meals a day on land that they rent at exorbitant prices from cruel landlords. The government was corrupt, and the common people expected nothing from it. Hence over the millenniums the Chinese have learned to be self-reliant. They brought these attributes to Malaysia and found that hard work, self-reliance, sacrifice, and risk-taking could in many cases in a generation or two alleviate them from poverty to middle class or even extreme wealth.


Anonymous,  12 September 2010 at 22:38  

Dato', the truth is Malaysians are all "buruk lantak" and pasal makan ni mereka tak peduli, when they see food then they behave as though they have not eaten for many days.
Typical Malaysians, be it Malay, Chinese, Indians and others as happily uttered by my Thai friend "same same" so it is not so much of acquisitive society per se but the "buruk perangai" society, senang cerita tamak ma....and what make things worst, they will fill up their plates with everything almost the height of mount Kinabalu and left most of it as a waste.
Hari Raya Tok, bila lagi nak dapat PM belanja. Still a long way to go and not so much related to the study conducted by that Djamour fella. Perangai buruk orang Malaysia. Always ugly..... it doesn't matter which party they belong to.
Salam eid...maaf zahir batin.

OneMalaysian,  12 September 2010 at 22:38  


On the other hand the local population, that is the Malays, had quite a different value system and attitudes. A small population living in favorable climate free from natural disasters, with a soil in which virtually anything will grow, made life relatively easy. In such a society, before materialism based on the pursuit of all manner of goods arrived, survival did not require aggressive and risk-taking behaviour, hence the esay-going culture took hold. This would be true for all old agricultural societies in favourable climates that had not yet seen the materialistic society.

So your remarks are not quite so flippant after all, but reflect the differences in the core value systems of our society. The Chinese in the picture has two outstretched hands each holding an empty plate. The Malay extends only one hand. But does the Malay want to be more like the Chinese?

OneMalaysian,  12 September 2010 at 22:40  


This question deserves some thinking because it goes to the root of our political problem, that of the difference in wealth accumulation. The Chinese work harder because he is driven to succeed to make a better life for himself – he is told and retold stories of their family’s migration, and of their abject poverty, and this had gotten into his psyche. Some of them acquire more wealth than they actually need. At the philosophical level, this is not the smart thing to do because it came with too much sacrifice – family, personal health, children’s upbringing – and it sometimes brought out the worse qualities of humankind – greed, dishonesty, etc. But why do they still do it? One other reason is to satisfy the perceived sense of security that money brings. If you don’t have political power, then the next best thing is to have lots of money – politicians and favours can be bought.

Now the Malays are different culturally as I have already mentioned. On top of that they think the government is always there to hold out a safety net, now in the shape of the NEP. So they perhaps developed a false sense of security. Personal failures will be rescued by affirmative actions.

The current political environment continues to encourage Chinese acquisitive behaviour but do not courage Malay self-reliance. The gap can only grow, and with it more jealousy and unhappiness in the wealth difference. Beyond the reasonable expectation of a decent income and secure and comfortable lifestyle, excess wealth is not necessarily good. Should and would the Malays want to be exactly like the Chinese?

Ariff Sabri 12 September 2010 at 22:42  

one malaysian,

where's the 3/3 pls? yes, i wasnt being flippant at all. Lee Kuan Yew treated the cultural differences as a big issue. see LKY- The Man and His Ideas.

OneMalaysian,  12 September 2010 at 23:12  

Dear Sakmongkol

3/3 is there now. I have always wanted to discuss this behaviour difference between the Chinese and the Malays. These 2 societies have quite different expectations - money, power, and how they see themselves in society. Layer on top of this different religious beliefs and obligations, history, cultures, etc, then you begin to see we are like 2 people lying on the same bed but having quite different dreams. We cannot quite understand each other. That is why I welcome your article to begin a deeper exploration of our differences, which we paper over with simple stereotypical images - Chinese greedy, Malays lazy, etc. A deeper understanding will help us develop an enlightened NEP to deal with insecurity of the Chinese, and the need for the Malays to develop a new paradigm to move forward.

Ariff Sabri 12 September 2010 at 23:22  

i have said i am not at all pleased with the picture.

so, lets laugh at ourselves but at the same time, lets think of the cultural differences as One Malaysian suggested. perhaps its the cultural conditioning that result in different outcomes. the good thing is, if the differences are not due so much to nature as it is to nurture, then ALL of us can move forward.
i agree, during such an ocassion like an open house, everyone, Malays, Chinese and Indians display the same voracious attitude. but i cant avoid to not exploiting the picture. no offense intended.

Anonymous,  13 September 2010 at 00:00  

I think the Chinese getting food for their Bumi Latuk..who must jaga status..cannot Q & fight for food.So itu Cina tolong sama itu Latuk kasih cari makan.

Thats a possibility?
Itu Melayu potong stim must be orang PKR..kena cari makan sendiri lo.

Anonymous,  13 September 2010 at 00:06  


Judith Djamour's work should be compulsory reading for all Melayus in this country. Where can I get my copy?

Ahli Perkasa

Anonymous,  13 September 2010 at 00:26  

Hmmm……still talking from the viewpoint of migration / Malay vs Chinese when most of us born here? So SAK, we were given the prerogative to have our own interpretation with regards to the picture right? My take as follow:

The “consumer” emphasize on efficiency and productivity (they push and push and even make use of both hand, and don’t mind using their forehead as well if allowed) while the “producer” have no idea what is happening on the ground (see the “consumer” impatient and annoying look), they (the producer) continue to work at their own pace and perhaps busy setting aside some, and use up the time to complain to the “boss” there is insufficient of allocated resources. And as usual, the “boss” scream back, I get my accountant to get ready 30% more and still complain? The “producer” immediately presents a photo and tells his boss, did you see the greedy and acquisitive “consumer”? Ah, the “consumers” fault, again.


schenker78 13 September 2010 at 00:38  

Those Free Food Hunters make a big MOUNTAIN in their plates but end up not finishing it. Its just like rasuah too....they want millions and millions but even they cant outspend the money they STOLE, but still they want MORE....

Eat little2, then tambah2 lah...

Its a joke to see people trave in cars to Putrajaya just for FREE FOOD. Its not economical to spend on the PETROL and TOLL MONEY.

PUTRAJAYA damn far away thanks to MAHA FIRAUN spending PETRONAS money like there's no tomorrow....Thanks Mahathir for the 4 cable stayed bridge on top of a MAN made LAKE and the almost completed CROOK Bridge in JB CAUSEWAY.

Anonymous,  13 September 2010 at 08:42  


Selamat Hari Raya.

My humble observations:-

1. Collecting food is serious business. Notice not one cheerful face.

2. That lady in red. Does she look Chinese or .........?

3. To the left of the lady in red; food is on the plate, yet plate is still asking for more.

4. I pity that lady at the back. As usual always crowded out.

5. This picture shows that Malaysians are rather disciplined when asking for makan.

Have a Happy Day, Sir.

Anonymous,  13 September 2010 at 08:56  

I beg to differ with all of you. There is no race or culture inviolved. You see all these open houses are finaced by the government in one way or other. When it comes to public dough everyting goes.Malay Indian Chinese will gasak.'It is free man and it is government let us take as much as we can.' You see this when it comes to projects financed by the government. Higher the prices the better it is.

In the 60s there was no such thing. Open house was by and large were financed by your hard earned money. We were very frugal and our guest were less hungry.And we took only what we needed and left the rest for the others. The same also happened in government. Yes some of them took bribes but did not 'gask'. And made suure they left something for the country.I still remember the The Late Father of our present PM. When asked on how fast projects should be implemented, he said, "if no money is involved implement the project immediately and if finance in involved think three times and cut once.

So in short somewhere along the way we lost our direction.We have to bring back Mr. Accountability and unleash the Auditor General who to date has been having a JOY RIDE.

Sealmat Hari Raya Idil Fitri.

Anonymous,  13 September 2010 at 13:01  

I have to agree Malays ain't as acquisitive as non-malays, but it doesn't mean their wants and needs are any different from the nons.

More often than not, Malays wait for their wants and needs to be delivered before them on a silver platter. While the nons work for it doubly hard, they are branded as greedy. And green-eyed monsters start appearing. See the fine line between hardworking and greediness...??

Come on sak, just admit it...the nons just can't win, can they?

flyer168 13 September 2010 at 18:21  


With what is happening in Bolehland now...

It is a Wonder they are "Reacting Mildly"...

Imagine if they were to "Arrive" & "Park" themselves in the "Host's" house, Living room, etc, etc, etc to say "Ini SEMUA Rayaat Punya"...Saya Rayaat juga! Lol!

What goes round will come around!

Isn't that what the "Ketuanan UMNOputras" FEAR?

Well, it will be the Ketuanan UMNOputras that will "Precipate" that "Phobia" into a "Reality" soon...

You be the judge.


hunter 13 September 2010 at 20:47  

They all look like some hungry " Hai E Nas"

justicenequality 13 September 2010 at 23:34  

Ha Ha Ha Malaysian have caught the "Singaporean" disease.

KIASU[Scare to Lose] attitude.

We use to laugh at them, now WHAT HAPPEN?

When you point one finger at them, you are pointing 3 fingers at yourself.

Anonymous,  14 September 2010 at 21:24  

yeah they are greedy (there I've said it for you)

kiasu and kiasi - negative aspects of "meritocracy"

you press the buttons for the lifts and they just rush in first and refuse to hold the open-door button for you

you browse clothes on a rack and ah moi just stretch her arm under yours to grab at a dress you were just about to pick

ah nya puts her bag on the seat next to hers depriving you of a seat

you bought hawker food, saw an empty table and sat down, only to be told it's booked by a tissue pack

sigh ... the list goes on - it is really demeaning and draining to watch all these happen like its OK

when you are brought up to observe social grace and etiquette, it's really testing your tolerance

Anonymous,  14 September 2010 at 21:26  

staff gathering - tick halal or non-halal

many chinese will tick non-halal as it is usually pricier

but on the day, they queue for halal food then queue for non-halal

the muslims will be left with crumbs

Anonymous,  17 September 2010 at 02:36  

We are what we eat.

They eat lots of pork. Thus for the behaviour.

Anonymous,  1 November 2010 at 20:53  

Very good post. Looking forward to the next.

Anonymous,  31 December 2010 at 19:52  

awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks. jasmin holzbauer

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