Friday, July 16, 2010

Tree people from the east

Disclaimer: This post is merely the superior opinions of the mind-bogglingly talented author (hyuk hyuk), at times exaggerated, to satiate the readers' appetite for anything moderately appealing to read on the internet which nowadays can amazingly contain so many endless pages of mundane nonsense about nothing in particular. (FYI, I'm rambling cos I'm bored) 
It is not the intention of the author to provoke or offend anyone, especially West Malaysians, unless of course you still think we live on trees... 

This post was inspired by a recent chat on FB with my secondary school classmates. We were reminiscing the good old days and happened to recall an encounter with a substitute teacher from West Malaysia. It was so hilarious I decided to write a whole post on this issue.

Okay, so here's some history and geography. On the left side, we have West Malaysia, consisting of 11 states (12 plus Wilayah Persekutuan?) and on the right side, we have East Malaysia, consisting of just two states, Sarawak and Sabah. My beautiful hometown of Kuching is in Sarawak, and Sarawak is almost as big as the whole of West Malaysia put together. So West Malaysia + East Malaysia = Malaysia, or One Malaysia as everyone likes to call it nowadays!

So the history part: it started off as Malaya first. West Malaysia gained independence from the British and formed a country, Malaya, on 31st August, 1957. (This is the only historical date I can remember, thanks to Sudirman!: ~Tanggal tiga puluh satu... bulan lapan, lima puluh tujuh... Merdeka, merdeka, dadada... dadada...~)

Some years later (when I said the only historical date, I was serious), Sabah and Sarawak decided to join in the party. So, we formed Malaysia. Now, the general sentiment is that we got duped, (and Singapore very clever) because we are the ones rich in natural resources, like timber and petroleum and West Malaysia only has empty tin mines and pineapples in Johor or something like that? (never paid attention during geography either) So, East Malaysians are resentful that West Malaysians have super highways from top to bottom and billion dollar buildings in Putra Jaya, while we still have people with no access to piped water and electricity here. (I'm merely stating facts for the sole purpose of enlightenment here, so don't kill the messenger mmkay?)

Anyway, don't get us wrong, we love Malaysia, the country and the people, minus the politicians. So, all this resentment is exacerbated when West Malaysians don't consider East Malaysia as part of Malaysia! Or, they are so ignorant about the other half of their country that they think we still live on trees!

Okay, to be fair, this was more like 10 years ago. I think with the advent of affordable air travel and border-less communication and internet access, most West Malaysians have already travelled to East Malaysia or at least know that we don't go running about in loincloths, indiscriminately chopping off people's heads! So, note that the following encounters are from 10-20 years ago.

To give you an idea of what I mean, my sister told me that when she was studying in the UK, her friend from Kuala Lumpur asked if we used the same currency as them! Perhaps she was imagining gold coins and seashells?? hehehehe...

It's one thing for a European from a whole different continent to fancy us as butt naked savages from the mythical island of Borneo, but for a fellow Malaysian, it is pretty sad.

When I went to KL to study, I lived with my Aunt's family. They were really generous to have me for 2-3 years. I remember the day I arrived, my cousin Tanya was out but kindly left me a note saying: "Welcome to Malaysia!" though I've lived in Malaysia my whole life! (You're a dear Tanya, thanks for putting up with me as a roomie!)

I remember going to KL for a Leo Club convention with a few of my secondary school friends. There were Leos from schools all throughout Malaysia at that convention which was held at Genting Highlands. When we told people where we were from, the most common question was how we got there!! The audacity of that question merited an equally ridiculous response. Being the cheeky teens we were then, we told them we had to row a sampan (small wooden boat) over and started out about a month before!! hahahaha! And most of them actually didn't know whether to believe us or not!

My mum (she was a nurse) also told me of a case where a junior doctor from West Malaysia was posted to Kuching to work. His mum made him bring over a whole box of Maggi Mee!! :)

Okay, back to that substitute teacher. I think we were in Form 4, so that made us around 16 years old. One day we got this guy substitute teacher from either Kelantan or Terengganu. He must have been fresh out of teachers' college, the poor sod.

So he introduced himself, talking in loud, slow, monosyllables like we were slow in the head or something.

He said, "Na-ma... sa-ya... xxxxx..., sa-ya... da-tang... da-ri... Ke-lan-tan... de-ngan... me-nai-ki... ka-pal... ter...?" (my name is xxx, I came from Kelantan, by aero...?)

He actually expected us to say aloud the last missing syllable like in primary school!!! I can't remember if we actually did, for fun, or just sat in shocked, open-mouthed silence!

The second we registered that he was an idiot, we began to have fun with him!

We were going like, "Wow! Aeroplane??!!" etc...

We told him stuff like he'd better not go out at night cos there were still headhunters on the loose and not to mention man-eating crocodiles everywhere. Also there was petroleum in my backyard and we'd never seen aeroplanes... or something to that extent!

I seriously think he was unsure of what was happening! The poor guy was just grinning away!

Then he decided to go around the class and read our name tags out loud. Bad call. He was okay with the Chinese and Malay names. When he came across Christian names, his tongue was tied! Yvonne became "Wy-vonnie", Michelle became "Mik-kel"...

I think he darn near fainted when he got to Jacqueline! "Jak... Jak-koosh"!! Poor Jac, the name stuck for quite a while! :)

Who ever let this guy out into the world to teach our young should be shot in the head! Hahahaha! He was a real sport though. Either that or too stupid to know he was being made fun of! We were actually pretty mean. Once again... poor sod. 

To all West Malaysians: Aww... don't be angry... we still love ya!!


  1. Hi Priscilla, hey, never knew you from the East? And yes, there are today people who can't spell 'geography' well the thousands of West Malaysians visiting, knowing about China, Argentina, Timbuktu but not East Malaysia.

    And ignorant of the East. They sure miss something really beautiful and exciting.
    I love Sarawak and Sabah, and almost migrated there too....
    Enjoyed your ha ha, enlightenment here.
    Have a pleasant weekend, best regards, Lee.

  2. Funny and educational at the same time Priscilla. I didn't know Malaysia consists of two separate islands. When I was in high school, the substitute teacher was a white man in his mid-30s and he said that where he grew up (New Jersey, east coast of the U.S.) he had never seen Asians and Black people. He knew how Black people looked like from magazines and TV but had no idea what a Chinese person looked like. Well, arriving in San Francisco, where there's a huge Asian population, he said the first time he saw a Chinese man, he was in awe. I was like "wth" and pretty much the entire class which was comprised of 95% Asians.

  3. Just dropped say hello. By the way, if free drop by. Lee.

  4. Hi RoseBelle,
    Ya I know right? I think teachers should be more I dunno, aware or exposed? Are you Asian as well? I didn't know there's such a large Asian population there in San Francisco.

  5. Hi Uncle Lee.. Going to your pondok now!! :)

  6. Hi! I am a silent reader of urs. Absolutely love reading your entries. V entertaining. Anywaz, KUDOS for this post of urs.

    I remembered attending a Leo Club event in KL as well and these ppl were asking us the same questions. And being rascals we pulled their legs and they actually believed us.

    Ive to admit when ppl say 1 Malaysia, i wud scoff to myself. Wat a joke?! Correct me if I am wrong but half of org Malaya (West Msians) are ignorant of the East be it the correct location of Kuching or Kota Kinabalu, the races we have etc...

  7. Haha yea west msians could be really shallow sometimes..don't they study History and Geography in school as well? I just don't understand how come they are still shallow at times..(shakes head) 1malaysia I beleive, is only a slogan so widely used, but never really practises. cheers..I enjoy reading your blogs pris..

  8. Hi Kelly!

    Thanks for your compliments!

    You were a Leo too? Hahaha.. ya it's amazing how ignorant they are! How long ago was your encounter? Mine was in Form 4, so must be 17 years ago!! Ack!! I wonder if they are still as ignorant nowadays? Shouldn't be right?

    But I know sometimes they still don't know if KK or Kuching is in Sabah or Sarawak! :)One Malaysia indeed! Hahaha...

  9. Hi Belle!
    Yalo.. really sad ho? Never mind la actually I prefer that they are ignorant of us leave us alone also!! hehehe... Don't come and kacau our beautiful home! hehehe...

  10. Hi!

    Ure welcome! well deserved compliments. hehehehhe..

    Ya. I was a Leo and am a Lion now. *blush* I was 16 then Form 4 as well. I still get it now and then. U will b surprise how ignorant they r up till 2day and i am wondering y. Sometimes they would as if Swak is as backwards as presented on the telly. Or do we still have junglemen running ard half naked. once a client even pulled an east west malaysian joke. sigh.

    i agree with Belle that 1 Malaysia is merely a slogan which has yet to be fully implemented. there are very knowledgable west malaysians and there are some who refuse to be educated. No offence to all west malaysians out there but I reckon it will take at least another 10 yrs before the country can reflect the true meaning of a melting pot to the world.

    u noe once a sporean fren of mine askd me y do i refer to myself as swakian and not malaysian. and i told her, we are in fact swakian / ppl from the island of borneo. kakaakakkakaka....

  11. Wow, are some of them still as ignorant now? There is absolutely no excuse for that, now that we have such easy access to information and communication! sad...

    So you're a Lion now? That's great. My dad has been a Lion ever since I can remember!

    Ya even the PM said that Sarawak is the real 1Malaysia and it's the harmony we have here that he wants to achieve in the other states.

    Yes, I know a lot of Sarawakians (now including you) who are prouder to be "Sarawakian" than "Malaysian"! :)

  12. A malaysian from KL once asked me "can i go to kuching by boat?" wtf....*_*

  13. Hi Grace, I know right? It's just so sad...


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