20101026

I'm back!!!

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Its been like a zillion years ago since I last updated dis blog. Sometimes I do wonders whether I should shut this blog off or not(seriously I do feel like closing it off though). But now,here I am again!! I've decided to keep writing and publishing anything I wanna share with others in dis blog. So guys, keep updated!!!

20091219

The politics of sugar

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NEXT year, the government will possibly abolish the sugar subsidy. I'm personally all for that. For many years now, I've learnt to enjoy food and beverages without adding (or at least reducing the amount of) sugar. "Boss" at the mamak stall at first raised his eyebrows when I ordered "limau ais kosong". Now he's used to my request.

I notice too, that more people are forsaking sugar. It's still a class thing, though. After all, Equal sweetener is only for the privileged. In the homes of some friends, one kilogramme of brown sugar (not white, because it's more processed) can last for six months or more. But what about those who earn far less? For whom sweetened condensed creamer, another unhealthy price-controlled item, is mixed with water to feed their babies? For whom local biscuits made with subsidised sugar are a cheap treat to pacify crying children?

From a middle-class perspective and upwards, abolishing sugar subsidies should hardly be an electoral issue. Chances are, abolishing subsidies of any kind, while we will feel the pinch, will not put us out on the streets. People did learn to cope when the price of fuel went up to RM2.70 per litre.

Yet, come election time, it won't be surprising if the opposition adds the removal of subsidies to their basket of campaign issues. And it won't be surprising if the government backs down due to pressure.

The politics of cheap sweeteners


Subsidies, one of the many forms bribes can take
(© JadeGordon / sxc.hu)

So if food is metaphor, subsidised sugar for me has come to symbolise the rut our political culture is stuck in. That sugar is not a middle- to upper-class necessity gives us a glimpse into the ideological divide between the urban areas that swept opposition parties to power, and the rural heartland which kept Barisan Nasional intact.

That sugar is addictive shows the political immaturity of an electorate that has been conditioned to depend on elected representatives for handouts. Some tales in Ampersand by Petaling Jaya councillor KW Mak illustrate this.

Sugar also symbolises the government's failures to lead in citizen education and empowerment by perpetuating the subsidy mentality to ensure re-election, and in sugar-coating some hard facts about political risks to our collective health. One example is the continual stoking by some leaders of a false sense of racial superiority.


Vegetarian? Vegan? Is it organic?
(© Morgan Noguellou / sxc.hu)

Kicking the habit

I like looking at other people's shopping carts while standing in the hypermarket queue. You can guess a person's lifestyle based on his or her groceries.

If a cart contains skimmed milk, lean meat or an expensive fish like salmon, and a vegetable combo like zucchini, broccoli, peppers or asparagus, the shopper can likely afford the time and money for gym and outdoor hobbies. Is quite possibly single and can afford branded skin products.

Ikan kembung, cheap protein like taufoo and eggs, kang kung or choy sum, palm oil-based cooking oil (not sunflower or canola, not even olive), a bottle of Ribena or cordial, normally corresponds with a frazzled homemaker of a middle-income family. That's the lunch that will be cooked for the family's school-going children.

If tins of sweetened condensed creamer, sweet biscuits, junk food like little jellies or chocolate or strawberry-coated biscuit sticks are added to the above, I will expect the children to have weight issues. Evidence shortly comes in a troupe of rotund children who run up to their parents with more junk food or Vitagen in hand.

Now, don't think I'm a snob, but I think most families like these are from the lower-income group. The presence of cheap, sugary, calorie-laden snacks in the shopping cart is the basis for my assumption. It is usually the wealthier who have the knowledge and the disposable income to make healthier food choices.


Sweet calories (© Michael Lorenzo / sxc.hu)

But over-consumption of sugar because it's cheap has become a burden on the public healthcare system. An increasing number of Malaysians suffer from diabetes. In fact, diabetes is considered a greater potential threat than swine flu or HIV/AIDS, and Malaysia is regarded as being among the countries in the region that could lead Southeast Asia into a diabetes epidemic. Clearly, it's not just a disease of the poor. But the wealthy have the power of choice.

But making the right choices is also predicated on first of all having options, and then having the ability to choose a healthier option over others. That's no different from political choices.

If the electorate is only being offered super-sweet deals in the short term which are detrimental to the long-term health of democratic citizenship, we could end up with political diabetes. And as a society, which part of our body politic would we need to amputate in the future, once the damage is done, in order to ensure our survival?

But before citizens can make informed choices about the country's political health, what are we doing to ensure that they have more than one option? And what are we doing to ensure that they are empowered to make the healthier choice?

For 2010, let's resolve to live healthier. Physically and politically. Start with kicking the sugar habit. Sweet as it is, too much of it can kill.

-taken from www.thenutgraph.com-

20091210

Why Malay husbands are called ‘Abang’

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When I want to know what current Malaysia thinks I would go to the “kopitiam” at lowyat.net. It’s young, energetic, nerdy and generally racist. Under the mask of anonymity and pseudonyms people are more comfortable speaking out their mind. But all in all it is quite funny, amusing and raw, and like most things “Internet”, it’s quite harmless. Pretty much like Malaysians in general; we talk a lot of hot air at the mamak stall but in the end, just like the proverbial saying, they “talk cock only”.

Regardless of which political spectrum you may be in, BN, PR or the guy who complains a lot but doesn’t vote, we can all agree that we Malaysians should be more united. Being the BN/Umno fan boy that I am of course it would be obligatory for me to say that it is in everyone’s best interest for the 1 Malaysia concept to become a reality. Okay, so some of you almost puked on the keyboard, fine! Be it 1 Malaysia, Malaysia Malaysian, Harapan Baru untuk Rakyat, Merakyatkan Ekonomi, Negara Islam, Something-Something Rakyat, Wawasan 2020 or whatever that tickles your fancy, today let's focus on what we have in common rather on what we disagree on.

To help break down this barrier, I am going to start with something rather simple yet fundamental which is let's start with getting to know each other a little better, just that.

Someone in Lowyat started this thread called "Why do Malays call their husbands Abang?" He was just wondering why Malay women called their sweethearts "big brother". It sounded weird to him and quite incestous in a way.

Definition

"Abang" means older brother in Malay. It is often used in Malay families when one addresses their older male siblings. Malay families (mostly) find it rather disrespectful to address their older sibling by their first name alone. So as a sign of respect the word “abang” is usually placed before the person's name or nickname e.g. "Abang Zali” or “Abang Long"; for older female siblings the word "kakak" is used. Abang is also used in daily conversation, be it with strangers or acquaintances. People prefer to use the word abang to refer to their slightly older male counterparts or seniors as a sign of respect, a culture that one naturally carries from the family to office, university or school.

From asking for directions of a stranger to ordering drinks, abang is often used. This is because people like to introduce a feeling of respect, cordial and pleasantness into the conversation; it’s like every conversation is with a family member. Indeed this is something truly Malaysian that breaks through the racial boundary. There’s the saying that everyone in Malaysia is someone related to you, they're either an abang, kakak, uncle, auntie, macha or boss.

This is perhaps the first step into understanding why Malay women call their sweethearts “abang”. It's because it is a nickname that has a feeling of respect, adoration, closeness and, most importantly, love. She calls him “Abang” and he calls her “Sayang”. See it even rhymes nicely.

Psychology 101

When you watch “Young and Dangerous”, a Cantonese gangster movie starring Ekin Cheng, you notice that the gang bosses are called “Tai Lo” or big brother in Cantonese. Their Tai Lo, apart from being their boss, is at the same time their guide, protector and also someone the rest of the gang members look up to. Chan Ho Nam is the Tai Lo in “Hung-Hing”, meaning whenever there is trouble and people want to settle things they would call him to have a “slow talk”.

Now the same reasoning can be applied in the abang factor. It’s not saying that Malay families are run like gangsters, it’s just that women (no matter how modern) would always want their man to be their protector, the one who they can count on when there’s trouble. It’s like when girls are being bullied by the naughty neighbourhood kid, their big brothers would come and beat him up. So now their sweethearts will take the role of their older siblings. He’d come and beat up the jerk and whom she can depend on when things get rough. This is why he is called “abang” — he’s the new big brother, the new Tai Lo or in a more romantic sense, her knight in shining armour.

Pronunciation

When a cute female anime character calls a male character “Oni Chan” in an annoyingly cute high-pitched voice, their male fans would get all giddy and excite. When it comes to “abang” in Malay it’s all about how you pronounce it. There a difference between an “abang” the big brother, “abang teh o ais satu” and “abang sayang”.

When it comes to ordering “teh o ais” it’s fairly easy to do as no one says “abang teh o ais satu”. Since this is a rather mundane and short social interaction, usually people would use the more casual form which is “bang”. The same rule can be applied to other forms of “abang” usage in daily conversation.

But it gets tricky when it comes to husbands/boyfriends and the pronunciation depends on the situation. Remember this maxim it’s not what you say but how you say it. Generally there are three ways of saying “abang” to your loved ones

Abaang — The “A” slightly longer then the sibling “abang” and generally used in daily conversation. People can tell that you mean your husband by just listening to the way you pronounce it e.g. “Abaang, jom makan kat luar hari ni.” Or “Abaang jangan lupa beli beras.”

Abang! — The way you pronounce, it is “A”, slight pause, “Bang” and to be used when one is angry or annoyed e.g. “Abang! Siapa perempuan ni? Cakap!”

Abaaaaanngg — To be pronounced with a very long “A” and a fading effect on the “NG” sort of like purring. This is what one call as the “manja” (affectionate) “abang”. To be used during intimate moments or asking for a favour. Generally straight Malay men will melt when hearing this form of “abang” and this works all the time. Culturally this form is usually used on Friday nights, Islamic calendar of course.

Then there’s the naughty “abang” but since I have a word limit here so we’re going to skip that one. In case you’re wondering how to pronounce it, let’s just say it’s about the same as when one says “Papa Jahat!”

So to ‘/k @ lowyat.net’ (and my fellow readers) I hope you are enlightened on why the word abang is used. I started off with the definition, to the reasons and finally on how to say it and by now you should be a fine “abang” connoisseur.

Like I said before I’m not much of a social activist or an academician, I’m not into long-winded articles in explaining the definition of being Malaysian. I prefer to go into the fundamentals, the basic, to me if we want to be more united we ought to be closer and to be closer we got to know each other better. I hope my explanation today, which comes from no reference whatsoever except from my personal view, makes you understand a little bit more about why some people in Malaysia do certain things they do. Feel free to email me if you have any little questions and let’s get to know each other better.

So folks keep your ears open and try to guess which “abang” that “tudung” girl in office means when she’s talking on the phone.

-taken from www.lipassepi.blogspot.com-