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Thursday, December 22, 2005

I was amused by Minishorts' entry in response to an offhand comment of mine about Ma-laysia, and even more so by some of the vehement responses and comments by her fellow Malaysians.

Bashing the other country is a time-honoured tradition in the Malay Peninsula - attribute it to the trauma of Separation; to Singaporeans, I think comparing their country to and making light of Malaysia is a mere parlor game, obligatorily indulged in every now and then out of boredom. Malaysians, however, seem to take it very seriously and readily spring to the defence of their beloved homeland, with everyone jumping on the bandwagon. More generally, Singaporean (usually "heartlanders") like to proclaim that their country is better than anywhere else regardless of what they are comparing it to. Malaysians seem to confine their breast-beating to trying to show Singapore up - they must always be better than adik.

Perhaps Malaysians are defending their National Pride, and probably their own too - being known for clogging the World's arteries with Palm Oil is no mean feat, as is having the man who walked backwards, the woman who lived in a room with snakes or having their very own "Malaysia Book of Records" because the Guinness one (you know - the one the rest of the world uses) doesn't accept that Malaysia's oldest man is older than the World's oldest man due to a lack of documentation. Or perhaps it is jealousy, as geekgeek speculates ("I'm Sorry =("), since Malaysia is the land of low quality products, where people drink Kordial instead of Jus (100% Jus, not "Nature-Identical" Jus, I might add), a fact which even cats recognise (my brother-in-law tried to feed his pussy cat food from a Malaysian tin complete with a tudung woman on it, but the cat refused to eat the food, even when he sneakily mixed it with premium British wet cat food; it just picked out the good stuff for itself).

Malaysians come up with reflexive, visceral slurs that don't always make sense. Whereas Singaporeans point to Malaysia being crime-ridden (especially JB), dirty, smelly, a place where no one speaks English if you look Malaysian (or Singaporean, for that matter) and an uncivilised Third World country, at least they have reasonable grounds for doing so. What do Malaysians come up with? They parochially lament that we don't know how to make Hokkien Mee (this is like someone from Penang claiming that those in Sarawak don't know how to make Laksa), we erroneously call Canai Prata (yes, and we can't refer to Holland as the Netherlands either), or that we have such a travesty as Wanton mee with ketchup, as if they would be force-fed such if they paddled down on their sampans (maybe they fear culinary choice, and so would rather not have it for their own good, lest they be tempted to stray beyond the familiar and predictable).

Perhaps the abang mentality that their politicians hold has filtered down to the populace at large. But then it seems only Malaysian Chinese react so intensely. Maybe they feel jealous and discriminated against and thus have to assert their superiority to Singaporean Chinese so they feel they've got the better deal overall. Insecurity, in a word. Or maybe me and my friends just don't know many Malaysian Malays, and almost none of us speak Malay (corroboration on this point by those who do would be welcome).

I am sure people will respond to this with a litany of "Why Ma-laysia rules", including such things as political choice, better food, a less stressful system of education and the like, but then that'd be missing the point, of course. [Addendum: I forgot about the people who would respond with non-sequiturs and ad hominem arguments. If you want to make a point, at least make a valid one instead of waving your hands around and proclaiming how stupid, narrow-minded, bigoted or intolerant I am (not that these points are supported in any way beyond mere assertion in the first pace).

A: South Africa has the highest rape rate in the world.
B: You're racist/rude/narrow-minded! / You have a brain the size of a pea! / You're trying to undermine South Africa! / South Africa bashing! / Your country sucks too! / Have you ever been overseas? / You're saying that all blacks are rapists!]

Someone: "i think they are proud of their dirtier toilets, street stands, even of their corruption.... they are saying, look at us, for we have not sacrificed our humanity for earthly rewards.

less stress, then they come to singapore and study in NUS for fuck? and take our taxpayer money as their scholarship! fuck off lah!

they like to come to singapore and then complain that it is not like home... then go home, loh! no one is holding a gun to your green passport. [Ed: So many Malaysians work in Singapore, many of them commuting for insanely amounts of time, but how many Singaporeans work in Malaysia aside from the Singaporean managers at the resorts?"]

Someone else: "and their trilingualism. don't forget their trilingualism
it's very important to them that not only do they speak better mandarin, they speak one more language than singaporeans [Ed: Malaysian English is even worse than Singaporean, and that's saying something!]

"The only reason singaporeans visit malaysia is to stay at the singaporean-owned/run resorts!"

nice conciliatory gesture. suggest that the malaysian edition of Fear Factor feature that sort of food [wanton mee with ketchup]"
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