Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Arabisation of Malays makes Malays less Malay?

Years ago, before I went to Australia to work, I recall the ‘waktu sembahyang’ on Friday noon when my Muslim mateys had to go to mosque to perform their Islamic obligations, in far more self voluntary fashion than young British Christian soldiers in colonial Malaya being forcefully marched to church on Sunday morning by their parade sergeants to attend religious services [as told to me by my uncles, wakakaka].

But some years later when I returned to Malaysia for holidays I encountered a new word called ‘solat’ being mentioned frequently by Malays, a word admittedly unknown to me before I departed for Down-Under.

I wondered what it was until I subsequently discovered it meant/means exactly ‘sembahyang’. Hmmm, will 'sembahyang' be used again?

There were more new words for me to find out their ‘old’ Malay meaning such as Eid al-Fitr (Hari Raya), iftar (buka puasa), Sanah Helwah (Selamat Hari Lahir), etc. 

So this brings me to CK, my hot-tempered visitor, wakakaka, who was damn annoyed that I criticized only the hallelujah-ing Christians from Calvary Life Assembly Chinese Church (CLAC) for being gullible guppies (naïve morons) in stupidly believing the Golden Jubilee (50 years) celebration of Jerusalem has something to do with Christianity while not saying anything about the Arabisation of Malays in our country.

Well, CK has been incorrect because I have posted articles on the Arabisation of Malays on:

11 May 2014 titled Being Fair (1),

17 July 2015 
titled ISMA and Tabarruj,

and many many more.

There’s no necessity to read the above-mentioned posts (unless you want to) as I’ll be re-producing most of their contents in this post for dear CK’s syiok sendiri ... I mean ... sake, wakakaka, so as to pacify his humongous aggrievement against inequality in Malaysia.

I have to admit CK might have a point on this as most of which, namely the inequality, were a result of Mahathir’s BTN-isation, Ketuanan Melayu-isation and 929 & 617 Declarations.

The last opened the Islamic Pandora Box forevermore, and at its time were severely criticized in written form by none other than, wakakaka, Lim Kit Siang, who might have now forgotten all about those Declarations - hmmm, bukan saja Melayu yang mudah lupa, wakakaka.

Those Declarations have comfort, encouragement and motivation to the ulama and ultra conservative Muslims and which in turn spurred on the Arabisation process of Malays which already started in 1981.

On the gradual erosion of Malay culture by an increasing and relentless Arabisation process favoured by some conservative Malays, The Malaysian Digest in March last year (2016) reported:

… the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar pointed out that Malays should stop doing so.

“If there are some of you who wish to be an Arab and practise Arab culture, and do not wish to follow our Malay customs and traditions, that is up to you,” the Ruler said, highlighting how these days, Malays preferred using terms like ‘Eid al-Fitr’ instead of ‘Hari Raya’ and iftar instead of ‘buka puasa’.

The same was also pointed out by forthright social activist, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, who spoke against “Arabisation” which she claimed seems to be taking root in Malaysia. “This is just Arabisation. Our culture — it’s colonialism, Arab colonialism,” she remarked.

In April (just 2 months ago), Johan Jaafar of the Star Online wrote:

I have said it many times: as the Malays become more Muslim, they become less Malay

They are discarding almost everything that they perceive as positing “Malayness” and embraced what they believe to be “Islamic.”

In doing so they are losing their real identity by trying to be what they are not. 

There is a real issue pertaining to identity struggle and contestation among the Malays today. In the name of religion, they are questioning not only how they look but their tradition, even folktales and performing arts.

Islamisation is not about Arabisation. You don’t need to be an Arab to be a Muslim.

But what we are seeing in this country today is the process of Arabisation of the Malays. The Malays have never been as confused in manifesting their true identity as they are now. […]

But propagating a notion of one’s race as superior to others is not acceptable. In short, there is nothing with wrong with manifesting one’s race and at the same time professing the religion. […]

The fault lines were established. It is like telling the world that one needs to “look Muslim” to be one. To “look Muslim” is by imitating the Arabs.

There is a new demand to be “more Muslim”, for example in attire. Gestures, too, matter.

And by being Islamic, one is also judged by the words one uses. It is no more Hari Raya but Eid Mubarak. It is no more Selamat Hari Lahir but Sanah Helwah. The term for the yearly Quran reading competition too has evolved to ensure its purity in Islamic terms: musabaqah, tilawah, ujian. […]

Earlier on, the then Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister, Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim, also spoke about the need for the Malays to put a stop to Arabisation of their own culture. “We are not Arabs,” he argued.

Lately the former Information Minister, Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin, in his controversial blog wrote about the danger of Malays unwittingly believing that what is Arab is Islam.

The debate will rage on. Sadly, despite a spirited effort by a few well-meaning and concerned Malay intellectuals, the voice of conservatism is suppressing all discourse of reason.

Religion is an emotive subject. As the result of the tyranny of the silent majority, pleas for reason are little heard these days.

The Malays have adapted well to other cultures, unashamedly embracing traits and characteristics from others. But they have been steadfast in protecting what they believe is their own culture and identity.

But Arabisation, in the name of religion, is changing all that. The entire culture (with a big “C”) is being challenged.


Something definitely is not right: the growing conservatism that comes with it. The Malays have always taken the position that adat (customs and rituals) and agama (religion), insofar as it is not against the teaching of Islam, should supplement each other.

Joining in the debate, journalist Amin Iskandar published initially in the now-defunct The Malaysian Insider and which article was picked up in 2015 by FMT, lamented at what he perceived as the 'Neo Talibanisation' and Arabisation of the Malay language and culture, the increasing popularity of the Arabic gown known as the 'jubah' and a corresponding decrease in the use of the traditional Malay baju kurung.

FMT continued: He also argued that there appeared to be an infiltration of Arabic words into the Malay language, with long-standing Malay words such as “buka puasa”, “doa” and “sembahyang” being replaced with words such as “iftar”, “dua” and “solat”, respectively.

Amin also pointed out that the Malay Archipelago had its own version of Islam, described by Indonesian President Joko Widodo as Islam Nusantara, which in Malaysia was rapidly being replaced by a more hard-line interpretation of the religion which was prevalent in the Middle East.

Then, PM Najib in his futuristic version of Wawasan 2020 but now called TN50 discussed a future Malay icon or hero by the Arabic name of Firdaus Imtiaz.

Steven Sim, the MP for Bukit Mertajam and a director of Penang Institute, informed us that said hero is identical to an Arabised Hang Tuah.

Why then not continue to call Hang Tuah simply Hang Tuah?

Sim informs us that unlike the historical or mythical heroic Hang Tuah, the typical Malay today suffers from anxiety and fears about his own privileged position, and develops a psyche that is predisposed towards frequent calls for 'Malays to unite' even under leaders accused of corruption and abuses of powers.

'Malays to unite' is a fave chant of politicians from PAS and UMNO, and now Pribumi.

Since 1981, there seems to be a deliberate official indoctrination of the Malays to be less confident so that they would rely heavily on the Malay nationalist political party.

Thus many Malays have become less confident and less secure, and live life with a constant siege mentality.

To compensate for their mental insecurity, many compensate by turning to more complex religious involvement and consequently develop the inclination to be more Arab-like so as to become superior Muslims.

Can we blame them especially if the ultra conservative political Muslim ulama also encourage them towards such Arabisation for their (ulama's) political gains.

So it’s not just CK who has been annoyed by Arabisation as we see today’s Malays walking around Malaysia in thobe, the jubah that Amin Iskandar just mentioned and with some ladies even adorning the niqab (face veil).

In October 2016, Syed Farid Alatas, writing in the Edge Malaysia, narrated (extracts):

What is referred to as Arabisation today is in fact a worrying trend. This is because the adoption by some Malays of certain elements of Arab culture would result in the gradual erosion of Malay culture and practices.

If more and more Malay men were to adopt the thobe, this would mean the marginalisation of the kain pelikat and baju Melayu and their possible demise as a cultural artifact. Indeed, it is already the case that there is hardly a Malaysian kain pelikat industry to speak of, as this is dominated by a few Indonesian manufacturers.

An even greater concern as far as the trend of Arabisation is concerned is the adoption of a way of life that is not only contrary to Malay culture but is also inappropriate for our society.

The example I have in mind is the adoption of the niqab, the part of the hijab that covers the face. The niqab is a tradition of many Arab societies but is foreign to Malay culture. Still, it is increasingly seen on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta. […]

Those Malays and Indonesians who adopt such ways perhaps imagine that they are practising a more authentic version of Islam. In doing so, they set themselves apart from the larger Malay society, contribute to the erosion of Malay traditions and practices, and could be a party to the infusion of extremist interpretations of Islam.

When Islam arrived in the Malay world centuries ago, it adapted itself to the culture of the region and did not marginalise the culture of its people.

Indeed, the above confirm suspicions even among the Malays themselves that those who have gone ‘Arab’ (the opposite of ‘gone native’, wakakaka) did/do so in their ‘belief’ they could become better or superior Muslims.

And Syed said sometime fundamentally important for Malays to consider, that “When Islam arrived in the Malay world centuries ago, it adapted itself to the culture of the region” and not the other way around as seen today, where the culture of the region abdicates to the growing dominance of the culture of the Arabs.

Years back when I haven’t yet departed for Australia, Malay sweeties were elegantly attired in baju kurung and sarong kebaya.

So perhaps it's time to ask what has happened to the lovely sarong kebaya?

Ironically, the kebaya originated in the royal courts of the Majapahit era when the Javanese nobility began adopting Islam as their religion.

The kebaya evolved or came into being so as to modify the traditional Javanese women's sexy Kemban (torso wrap, also known as Dhodot) into a modest dress more acceptable to the new religion of Islam.

sexy kemban (or dhodot) with sweet uncovered shoulders

That’s right, the kebaya was the Mahapahit people’s approach towards modifying their native Kemban into a less sexy attire, and they did so most elegantly to bless us with the elegant but very demure sarong kebaya. They did NOT rush into dicarding the Kamban and substituting it with a jubah.

That was exactly what Syed meant when he said that “When Islam arrived in the Malay world centuries ago, it adapted itself to the culture of the region” and not the other way around as seen today.

a semi-transparent brocade blouse to cover bare shoulders turned the sexy kemban into an Islam-halal kebaya

complete it with a selendang to cover the head and Buotros is your uncle

But today the kebaya, which as mentioned was ironically evolved to respect Islam, might have become non-halal in Malaysia. There seems to be a lack of respect or recollection for history, pious local cultural innovation, and a sad but complete disregard for Malay-ness.

However I believe we needn't worry too much at the potential loss of this beautiful Malay heritage as Chinese Malaysian sweeties love kebaya and will definitely maintain the gorgeous Malay dressing tradition, all complete with beautiful intricate kerongsang and silver or gold belt for the sarong, wakakaka.

Now, leaving aside mention of the PAS government’s prohibition of Mak Yong and Wayang Kulit in the Islamic Party’s relentless drive to abandon Malay culture and adat for those from the Middle-East, we are sad to say the Arabisation started in 1981 to the delight of the ulama and ultra conservative Muslims.

The Arabisation was given an additional fillip in 2001 and 2002 when Mahathir opened the Middle East Pandora Box for his own political brownie points.

Thus today, my dear CK and visitors, why should we be surprised if many Malays have in the majority discarded or abandoned their quintessentially tradisi Melayu to opt for an Arabic culture and lexicon in their anxious desire to be far superior Muslims.

Look, they need those to withstand the perils of the threatening World as constantly told to them by both UMNO and PAS, and now Pribumi.

Alhamdulillah for Ah Moi 

Soul of an airline plane

No matter what emergency exists on board an airline aeroplane in flight, the pilot of that plane does NOT, no, never ever tell the passengers on board to PRAY for a safe landing, be that done in a calm or joking or humorous or serious manner.

What the AirAsia pilot did on the D7237 flight from Perth to (planned destination) KL before returning to Perth because of an engine vibration, that in asking the passengers to pray, was very very very UNPROFESSIONAL.

No professional airline pilot would or will ever do that.

The pilot should have just kept the passengers informed of the problem and his intentions, and with a calming assurance a safe secure landing (or even an emergency ditching) would be conducted on arrival at Perth.

Leave appeals for divine intervention to individuals and definitely out of the captain's briefing please.

Zaid Ibrahim was absolutely spot on in criticising the pilot for a most unprofessional conduct.

But because Zaid is from the DAP, Nik Abduh of PAS just has to jump up to defend the pilot.

Naturally you would expect the 'establishment', to wit, the Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, the AirAsia Bosses and even one or two clueless passengers who have no idea what the responsibilities of a plane or ship captain are, all to come out to defend the pilot's bizarre action.

We shouldn't expect Air Asia to ever admit the pilot's action had been unbecoming because that would be commercially damaging to its image.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Malaysian Evangelistic Christians almost celebrated murder of Jesus

On 06 June 2017 (3 weeks ago) I posted Jubilee or jubilant Israeli celebration? in which I wrote about the Jerusalem Golden Jubilee celebrations, that (extracts):

... it's a 50th anniversary celebration of Jerusalem, which if we count backwards, takes us to 1967 when Israel beat the Arabs in the 6-Day War and captured East Jerusalem from the Jordanians.

victorious Israeli soldiers in East Jerusalem 1967 

So the Golden Jubilee of Jerusalem is the celebration of the Israeli military conquest of East Jerusalem in 1967, allowing the government of Israel to 'unite' East and West Jerusalem into one.

It has nothing to do with Jesus Christ;
It has nothing to do with Christians;
It has nothing to do with known Christian celebrations or festivals;

It has nothing to do with Judaism;
(which considered Jesus as a heretic Jew)

It has nothing to do with Jews;
(there is a difference between a Jew, a race, and an Israeli, a nationality)

But it has EVERYTHING to do with Israelis, Israel and its 1967 military conquest of East Jerusalem from the Jordanians, and the Israelis' avowed intention to make Jerusalem its national capital and to build the Third Temple to YHWH there.

Even Bishop Jason Selvaraj of Christ Church described the action as utterly insensitive, promoting a Zionist celebration as a guise under a Malaysian Christian celebration.

DPM and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid has done the correct thing in banning the celebration as that has NOTHING to do with Christianity and EVERYTHING to do with Israeli sinister nationalism which is not our concern.

I have a good mind to include the Calvary Life Assembly Chinese Church (CLAC) in my series of Malaysian Morons, wakakaka.

Why morons? Because they wanted to celebrate an Israeli nationalist miliatry conquest, which has everything to do with a secular event and ironically a race whose ancestors killed the Christians' Jesus Christ.

Malaysian Christians celebrating with the race who forefathers killed Jesus? Isn't it now the appropriate time to swear "Jeez', wakakaka.

Many wrote in to chew me for being against Christians but read on, you moronic supporters of the murderers of Yehoshua ben Yosef (Jesus), wakakaka.


From The Times of Israel (05 March 2017) in full:

Culture minister insists on ‘liberation’ in Jerusalem 50th logo

Miri Regev says emblem for Jerusalem Day includes Israeli flag flying on Temple Mount, ‘tells true story’ of capital city

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev on Sunday unveiled the logo to be used in the upcoming celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli rule.

The logo that will feature on all official Jerusalem Day jubilee events in June, features an Israeli flag flying atop the old city walls and the Temple Mount and is accompanied by the slogan: “50 years since the liberation of Jerusalem.”

Culture Minister Miri Regev displays the logo to be used in official Jerusalem Day events, during a cabinet meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on March 5, 2017
(from The Times of Israel)

The gold and white stylized 50 emblem, with the five resembling the lion from the Jerusalem flag, was presented by Regev at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, and was met with widespread praise from fellow ministers.

[kaytee note: the lion was a symbol of the House of Judah. 99.99% of today's Israelis and Jews belong to the House of Judah]

Regev said her insistence on using the word “liberation” and not “reunification” in the logo’s design sought to counter efforts distort the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.

“This logo tells the true story of Jerusalem,” Regev told ministers at the start of the meeting. “If we are not able to say to ourselves that we liberated Jerusalem from generations of foreign occupation, how can we complain when the world does not?”

Jerusalem Day is a national holiday in Israel that marks the capture of East Jerusalem by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War. While Israel regards the parts of Jerusalem captured in that conflict as part of Israel proper, the land is widely seen internationally as occupied by Israel.

Part of the logo to be used in official 2016 Jerusalem Day events marking 50 years since the “liberation” of the city
(from The Times of Israel)

note 'Star of David', the symbol for modern-day nation of Israel

Regev also stressed that part of the image featured “an Israeli flag that has returned to fly above the old city walls, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount.”

The jubilee events will take place less than a year after the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) passed two resolutions that condemned Israel’s control of East Jerusalem and failed to mention any Jewish or Christian connections to the city.

One of the resolutions passed by UNESCO in October, referred to Jerusalem Temple Mount compound solely by its Muslim names, “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” defined it only as “a Muslim holy site of worship,” and accused Israel of various violations at the holy site.

The Western Wall, the outer retaining wall of the Second Jewish Temple, sits at the bottom of the Temple Mount and is Judaism’s holiest site.

The Temple Mount compound has been a repeated flash-point for clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces.

The resolutions were met with widespread condemnation in Israel, including from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who recalled the Israeli ambassador to UNESCO in protest.

Regev at the time castigated UNESCO for passing the resolutions she called “shameful and anti-Semitic.”


Whenever Israelis couldn't get their own way, they would condemn others (non-Israelis, non-Jews) as 'anti-Semitic', which BTW in lexicographical definition could also mean 'anti-Arabic', as the term 'Semitic' refers to Middle-East people who are Arabs, Hebrews (Israeli, Jew), Aramaic speaking Phoenicians (Lebanese,) Chaldeans (Iraqis), Judeans (Israelis), Assyrians (Iraqis, Turks, Iranians)), and Akkadians (Iraqis), etc.

But alas, that term 'anti-Semitic' has been stolen and monopolised by the Israelis as their unique own to the exclusion of everyone else, as they have stolen other Arabic properties and rights.

I hope in future Malaysian Christians will not be so idiotic as to celebrate a non-Christian but foreign country's secular nationalist event. Furthermore, read Matthew 27:19 - 26 (KJV):

While Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: "Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered terribly in a dream today because of Him."

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.

Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

They should not forget another reality, that their Christian brethren in the Middle East are the Arabs, especially Palestinians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians, Iraqis etc, and NOT the Israelis who are NOT Christians but in fact look upon Christians as goyim (inferior non-Jews or untermensch (sub-humans) and unclean pagans.

Oh, what will Jesus Christ say but probably Bodoh punya Malaysian Christians.

Duit raya

Wakakaka, one of my fave columnists FA Abdul of FMT penned a Hari Raya story on 'duit raya' titled appropriately Where’s my duit raya? (extracts follow):

“Kami datang bukan nak beraya, kami datang nak duit raya.” (We didn’t come to celebrate, we came for our duit Raya packet).

I still remember the kids who hopped around my grandpa’s village during Hari Raya in Kampung Rawana, Penang, happily muttering these words when they dropped by.

Dressed in their new baju melayu and baju kurung, they would present themselves at our doorstep with huge smiles plastered across their faces as they greeted “Selamat Hari Raya” to everyone at home.

However, when we invited them in for some kuih raya and dodol, they’d quickly save everyone’s time by making it crystal clear that all they wanted were the green packets consisting of money.

Those kids weren’t the exception, for the tradition of collecting duit raya is widely practised throughout the Muslim community in Malaysia, especially during Hari Raya.

Even the children of my relatives who visit us on Hari Raya, have a tendency to extend their hands, expecting something in return after giving salam. Some without any hesitance will ask straight faced: “Duit raya mana?”

Wakakaka again, though I wonder whether the 'duit raya' has been a cultural crossover from the Chinese who give children (and unmarried blokes and blokessses) angpow.

I note that the Muslims also have 'ch-air pow' (green packets, as different from the Chinese angpow or red packets).

But I have to say Chinese children in my time would NOT have dared to demand 'Where's my angpow' though I wonder whether that is still the case.

Maybe as FA Abdul said, "Sadly today, many of our younger generation grow up with a sense of entitlement thanks to traditions like the giving of duit raya during the month of Syawal."

Once I penned a post on angpow in my other blog Kongsamkok titled Secrets of Ang Pow's, which I reproduce below for your reading convenience. Cheers:


I wrote the ‘Secrets of Angpow’ two years ago after I read an article by Clara Chooi in the Star Online. This is an updated version to celebrate the Chinese New Year (of the Rat) in 2008.

Then Clara has written an informative piece on ang pows (red packets) - or as Americans termed them lucky money - that Chinese give on Chinese New Years. I expanded on that practice to include other auspicious occasions like weddings, birthdays, loved ones or close friends departing on a trip, even passing an important examination, etc.

On those other auspicious occasions, only the principal actors - namely the bride & groom, or birthday girl/boy, parents, uncles/aunties, elders, friends, or those who may be departing overseas for studies, or successful graduates, or those getting a (new) job, etc - get the red packets.

However, on Chinese New Year, everyone who isn’t married gets one or more from parents, married (even widowed) relatives and friends. The gift of an ang pow, whether on Chinese New Year or other occasions, symbolises the wishing (or blessing) of good luck, well-being and prosperity for the recipient.

On Chinese New Year, as long as one isn’t married, one may expect to receive ang pows regardless of age. Bachelor uncles are also entitled, even from married nephews or nieces.

Mind you, some Chinese community like the Sin-Nins (or T'oi Sarn) would still give ang pows to recently married couples but just for their 1st year of marriage. I suspect it may be a form of easing them into the frighteningly 'expensive' world of Chinese New Year ang pows ;-)

The valid period for giving and receiving Chinese New Year ang pows is, fortunately for the delighted kids but terrifying for the givers, a lengthy 15 days, starting from the New Moon to the Full Moon of the new lunar calendar. Newly married couples would find themselves propelled, either willingly or otherwise, into playing financial Santa Claus’s.

The rather lengthy period for giving ang pows will set them financially back somewhat, well, at least until they have children of their own to ‘retaliate’ and recoup back the financial outflow. But alas, when their children grow up and at the same time wise-up not to let mum ‘keep the money for them’ anymore, those pitiful couples would again be at the losing end, becoming (when they are alone together, and no 'face' would then be lost) grumpy Chinese Santa’s.

Usually the women would be the ones giving out the ang pows while their husbands look as if they don’t have any clue what’s going on, or more probably, how much cash to put in the red packets.

Deciding how much to place in an ang pow is an arcane art that only a woman with kids of her own can work out. Whether someone's kids deserve x, y or z dollars are either pre-planned or worked out ad hoc by the Cray supercomputer inside her head.

She would factor in considerations such as how well she likes the recipients (eg. like lovable kaytee), how much that kid's parents had given to her own children, the importance or family hierarchical position of the kid's parents, 'face', and various secrets that most men would have absolutely no idea about or prefer not to know.

There’s favouritism involved too because as a kid I discovered I received less than my sister from one auntie – yeah, that meanie, I never did like her anyway. As those ladies dole out the gifts, they would wish the recipients 'good luck', or'study well and get good grades’, or just 'be prosperous', etc.

As a kid, I naturally love ang pows, but when I passed the age of 20 I was terribly reluctant to accept them anymore, and in fact attempted to avoid situations where I would most likely receive them, not because I wasn’t needy of the extra cash (hey, who doesn’t need cash) but I truly dread the wishes that accompanied the ang pows.

For poor kaytee, my aunties and Mum’s close friends would push ang pows into my reluctant hands or shirt pocket, look at me mischievously and then wish for me to marry a good wife.

‘Twas a bloody hint too because they would follow that up smoothly with some recommendations of so-and-so’s daughters, who were all damn beautiful, excellent cooks, quiet and demure (didn't they realise I wanted hot wild babes?), all with a BA 1st Class Honours - aiyah from Cambridge University lah - or MSc from University of NSW etc, with cars of their own, blah blah blah – meat market advertising stuff.

I would usually keep very still and silent so as not to encourage them but wear a weak smile in order not to appear rude, while Mum would look on hopefully and egg on those busybody aunties who just couldn’t stand the thought of kaytee being a carefree bachelor.

Oh, those women! To them, a bachelor is a challenge to overcome, maybe a blasphemous sight, a ‘victim’ to be assigned to a lucky woman, an incomplete man, someone they want to sink their match-making claws into!

While I would sit very still in the hope I won’t attract any more attention, and that maybe they would go away and play their mahjong, they would, immediately after giving the ang pows and their life-style threatening wishes, start to dissect and discuss me, right in my presence as if I wasn’t around.

They would trash open my characteristics and qualities into minute details, analyse my needs (for and of a suitable wife) into micron-ic specifications, etc, but with mum providing the counter-balancing yin to their yang, namely all my bad points (me? bad points? sheesh, mum!).

Terrifying! And once I even received an ang pow with a name plus a phone number written on a red piece of paper - oh, those devious aunties! But I did keep the details in case of a rainy day.

Clara Chooi said “It is considered rude to open an ang pow publicly to check or reveal its contents, because the recipient would appear greedy for money, and secondly, it may embarrass the giver if the sum is small.”

It’s true that Chinese consider it really bad form (and of great embarrassment) to open a gift right in front of the giver, unlike Westerners who expect you to open their gifts in their presence so that you may express your delight with appropriate ooohs and aaahs. Samuel P. Huntingdon's 'Clash of civilisations'?

But my dear Clara, nowadays there’s no necessity to open the packets. Kids will do what I and several million other kids did – we would just feel the packets and silently categorise the giver as either a cheap skate or an AOK type of lady!

Hmmm, maybe we acquire that super-sensitive feel through mahjong ‘exercises’ where we were required to develop an acute sense of touch in order to keep or discard tiles we drew during the game without even looking at them, let alone examine each and every one with painful time-wasting scrutiny – the ‘bong’ (Penang Hokien) or ‘mor’ (Cantonese) technique.

But Clara was incorrect to say that an odd figure in the red packet is to be avoided as it is taboo. That might have been the case in earlier years, but the trend for the last twenty years has been to give an odd figure like, say 10 ringgit plus 10 sen or, another typical combination, RM 11.

Go ahead and make that RM101 if you like, but you better hope you don’t have 50 nephews and nieces ;-)

The extra 10 sen or 1 ringgit on top of the round figure of, say RM 10, in the ang pows symbolises ch’oot t’au, a Penang Hokkien term literally meaning to ‘protrude’, or more correctly, to ‘exceed'.

ch’oot t’au 

The implied wish is for the recipient to have assets, achievements, luck, fortune, cash, whatever, that 'exceed' his or her needs. In other words, it's like wishing someone "Here's wishing you will have everything you want and more."

My favourite auntie frowned half-heartedly before she broke into a wicked mischievous smile when I teased her whether her ch’oot t’au wish for me applied to how many girlfriends I could have (at the same time)?

Alas, on this last ch’oot t’au issue, so far for kaytee it has all been wishful fantasies rather than a wish fulfilled!

Anyway, Gong Xi Fa Cai or in Penang Hokkien, Keong Hee Huat Chye.


Well, my dear FA Abdul, I hope the Chinese ch’oot t’au policy in angpow does not crossover to the Malays' 'duit raya', wakakaka.