Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sivaji Ganesan & The Sadists.

Note 1: This is a lighthearted piece, so take it easy NT fans.

Note 2: There are many films that need to be cited here. Feel free if you like to include your examples.

We all know what a great onscreen performer Sivaji Ganesan was. Having played many roles in films directed by directors so many, it is easy to assume that Sivaji or Nadigar Thilagam (loosely translated as Greatest Actor & abbreviated in online forums as NT) seriously requires many entries in the Guinness World Book of Records. As such, I want to put claim to the amount of sadistic physical & emotional torture his characters had to endure in that list…while at the same time put the directors responsible in the stand.

Let’s start with his first film itself, Parasakthi, directed by Krishnan Panju team. As soon as the rich, beaming youthful and very handsome NT finds himself in the home soil of Chennai, he was duped, robbed rendered penniless and later became mentally unsound. The final blow came when he had to attack the temple priest. If the conscientious torture of having committed a crime is not enough, he had to be brought to the court and in that famous moment, he had to recount the entire incident again to the bemused judge and crowd. NT was only 24 at that time.

I don’t think any Tamizh film other stars have had their characters endure such a predicament in the first role itself. Well, Rajini comes close. In Apoorva Raganggal, he appears towards the end in an extended guest role as a leukaemia patient who returns only to see his former wife frolicking with a dude much younger than hotter looking than him. Also, he dies standing.

In his first leading role afterwards, Mundru Mudhichu, he successfully becomes the killer, indirectly, of the same younger hotter looking dude to reclaim his girl only to find that she got married to his own dad. Poor bloke.

As a matter of fact, this was not the first time we got such a plot. The first victim of that nefarious plot of having your hot chick getting hitched by your daddy was none other than….yes, Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Ganesan. Ethirparaathathu was an experimental flick written by maverick filmmaker, Sridhar. And he had to get NT’s girl married to his dad, played by Nagaiyah who always seemed like he would anytime keel over clutching his heart. Sridhar’s atonement would be to put NT in an action flick, Sivantha Man. Safe and sound this time, except when NT was shot at, almost maimed, had fisticuff with various henchmen and was almost ran over by helicopter. But that’s another story.

When the filmmakers decide to go extra creative and borrow from elsewhere, they can find rich resources in the classic plays and novels from the west. Both MGR and NT hijacked Alexandra Dumas’ tales in the successful Nadodi Mannan and Uthama Puthiran, the latter which saw the second NT’s head caged in metal mask.

But before those hits, the producers decided to have our own version of Hamlet and chose to film the hit play Manohara. Playing the title character, NT was brooding, in conflict with the palace authorities & towards the climax he has to be chained like a dog and listen to P. Kannama over emote. Well, at least it was not Vijaya Kumari.

Anyway, those are just few of what happened to NT. I would like to pin the directors down in this article. Let’s pick a fight with B.R. Bandhulu first. With humble beginning as small time hack director, Bandhulu took the whole world (yes, the world) by storm when he directed Veera Pandiya Kattabomman (VPK) that earned NT best actor award in an Afro-Asia Film Festival held in Egypt. Kattabomman, the role that many swear was NT’s best, constantly had to fight verbally and physically with white faced fellow Indian actors and deliver some ear shattering heart pounding dialogues, the delivery alone more powerful than the swords he swished. Now, how does Bandhulu end this film? With the hanging scene of course.

Fresh from the success of VPK, Bandhulu directed Karnan, a single viewpoint piece taken from the epic myth, Mahabaratha. NT’s title character gets dumped in the river as a baby, grows up to be a warrior under a horse rider’s tutelage, gets humiliated at a royal court, end up being pally with someone you don’t even want to have tea with, fight against his own brothers, and end up getting killed. This is not after he had to cut off the very things that will protect his life, his ear ring (more elaborate type) and body shield….yes, they were attached to his body. During the climactic battle scene, he had about three hundred gazillions of arrow struck on him. Geez. When one of his brothers from the opposite camp, Arjunan, comes running along crying that he had murdered his own brother, his aide/Chariot Rider/mentor Lord Krisha smirks and tells Arjunan something to this effect: “Dude, your brother was, like, dead several scenes ago?? Halloo?”. Thanks Bandhulu.

If you think that I am being unfair to Bandhulu wait till I tell you a tale of comedy. Yes, comedy. Bandhulu decides to make a comedy and you all know how brilliantly funny Bale Pandiya was. Think again. First time we see NT, he is about to commit suicide from a tower. And then, you get a second attempt, only to be saved by the super gorgeous Devika. If you think things are safe for this NT, wait till you learn what awaits the villain NT (three roles remember?). The Maruthu character hardly moves, if so he just walks towards the camera, adjusts his lungi and smokes his beedi. That’s it. He hardly does anything, unlike the notorious MR Radha character, his boss. What happens to this NT? Of course, he got shot at the end. Comedy.

Here’s more about getting shot, with bullets since they deposited all the arrows they had in Karnan. Director T.R. Ramanna will forever be remembered for bringing both MGR and NT together in Koondu Kili, where naturally the first scene was that of NT attempting to commit suicide. But that’s another story. Well, Ramanna resurfaced a decade later when he directed NT in Tannga Churanggam. This film was his answer to the spy flick craze that was hitting worldwide thanks to the success of James Bond films. NT gave our own OO7, Jai Shanker, a run for his bullets, appearing cool, stylish but not without some emotional moments. Just when you thought all would be safe, he is given electricity jolt halfway, and worst, at the time when singing duet mean open space and beautiful garden, our man was given only a small water well to have a duet with his date. Then, all seemed to be safe and sound till the climax. When NT hunts down the bad guy (Ramdass) in a church…of all place…he gets shot at both his hands AND legs. Hey, even Hollywood make do with a single shot in either the hero’s leg or arm, for Eastwood’s sake.

Well, similar slug-related fate naturally awaited NT when he was cast in multiple roles. This time in a beautiful film called Navarathiri, directed by the gifted director A.P. Nagarajan, NT was made to take on 9 roles and the cruel thing was no rubber prosthetics was involved. Kidding. Well most characters are well and healthy; we then meet the brutish NT with a rifle, sling belt full of bullets, really looking very fiery and what happens to him? He gets shot and takes a really long time to die, trashing his feet about till they slowly stopped. Gruesome scene. I bet Savithiri was genuinely horrified that moment. Then, we meet few more NTs till towards the end when here comes crawling, literally on his four a leper. Who played this leper? Your guess is as good as mine. But that’s another story.

Single role or multiple role, number does not matter. All has to suffer. Just ask director A.C. Thirulogachander. Remember Bheem Singh’s plot twist involving acid thrown at NT’s face in Pava Manippu and permanently scarring it? (It also had Nagaiyah playing NT’s forster dad who stilllooked like he would keel over clutching his heart, except that he was propped to the wall by a humongous Quran) Well, inspired ACT had not one, but two NT’s in Deiva Magan to have a really brutish nasty facial scar. Given away to orphanage as a child and originally intended to be killed by the scarfaced dad, NT Jr had to endure enough psychological trauma before at the climax where even the director felt enough is enough and had him take in more than one slug in his belly. Oh, Nagaiah again plays NT’s foster dad and this time dies without keeling over and clutching his heart.

Another director not a stranger to onscreen gunshot wound is P. Madhavan. How can we forget the unnecessary death of the lead character in Rajapart Ranggathurai, where someone puts in real bullet in the gun used for a stage play in which NT, as stage actor Ranggathurai, plays a freedom fighter. Yes, P. Madhavan was also the director of Tanggapathakkam, in which NT plays Inspector Chowdary, whose defiant son goes to the other side of the fence, leaving him with a crippled wife who dies heartbroken. This time it is not NT, but his onscreen son Srikanth who gets the bullet. Who does the shooting? NT of course, but his own son…the trauma he has to live through is worst than death. It should be noted that Nagaiyah did not play NT’s foster or real dad but he must have keeled over clutching his heart somewhere.

And so we saw all that from the 50s to the end of 70s, NT was blinded, half blinded, crippled, shot at, attacked, made to be alcoholics, given various psychological trauma, not forgetting silly costumes (late 70s and preposterous wigs, and other horrific stuff like being paired with Sri Priya. It’s staggering that NT the person remained a sane intelligent man right till the end.

One could go on and recall onscreen traumas mentioned above. But it is perhaps having been through these predicaments throughout the entire 50s, 60s & 70s, that the immune audience failed to give proper emotional response to NT in his 80s films, even though he suffered regularly onscreen, with his characters having multiple heart attacks, dying conveniently to spruce up bad script or sharing the screen with nightmare child Baby Shalini. But history is there to show the sadistic directors and scriptwriters had in their hand a brilliant artist who was willing to suffer in front of the camera. And being fans of this magnificent actor, we too are perhaps, equally, sadistic. But that’s another story.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Unnai Pool Oruvan: A Review

This film is a remake of a hit Hindi language thriller, A Wednesday. A lot has been said about the original, especially the plot, the script, the performance and the overall gritty realistic feel. I haven’t seen it.

But judging from what I have seen here, it’s safe to say that the original is not that original at all. If you have seen the Die Hard films and the films that novelist James Ellroy has been involved in (L.A Confidential, Dark Blue, etc), you know what to expect. Just switch the political viewpoint according to the geography and you can something fresh. A pal of mine who watched this with me keep telling me that there is an interesting twist towards the end of the film that I sort of watched it with twisted mind and came out not surprised at all.

Anyway, to the film. The title roughly means “SomeoneLike You” that means a commoner which the protagonist supposed to be. Played by uber cool Kamal, he is no way a commoner. During the title scene he is shown making a bomb. And during the conversations with the commissioner (Mohanlal), he appears to be intelligent, witty, and man with tremendous knowledge who doesn’t mix his facts. Oh, and he handles a revolver like a pro. Nope, not a commoner. In fact, we got ourselves the super cool Kamal that we know from way back in the 80s. Cunning, shrewd & a masterplanning avenger, this is an updated version of Kamal in Oru Kaithiyin Diary (the daddy).

So, the rough outline of the plot. Kamal plants bomb all over the city and calls up Commisioner threatening him to release four terrorists or else…. So, its cat & mouse game and lots of politics is thrown in, and if you are Indian you are going to relate a lot to what is happening in that country, especially in Chennai (more meaningful in Bomb prone Mumbai, though).

So, you have lots of phone conversation between Kamal and Mohanlal (think In Line of Fire & Die Hard 3), and the frantic Mohanlal issuing orders around to get things under control, but ultimately giving in to the callers instruction which I felt a bit too simplistic. Sure, he gets his team to investigate the caller and has two men on the field to investigate, but he gives in anyway…too soon that is.

But that is the scripts fault. I leave that to Bollywood pundits to beat each other to pulp to figure out whether or not the script is brilliant. I smell Hollywood, that’s all.

Now performance. As I said, Kamal is cool. All he has to do is sit in front of the laptop and talk to his Bluetooth earpiece most of the time and issue instruction, stretch himself like a satisfied cat, stand by the edge of the still-under-construction building and give that demeanour of a man under control. He breaks down towards the end of the film, and wipes the tears with his revolver. Now, how cool is that?

Supporting performances were good too. Lakshmi as Chief Secretary is the typical Hollywood jurisdiction debating authority, crossing sword with the hapless Commissioner. Standing out is one Ganesh Venkatraman (I had to look him up in the internet) who plays Task Force officer, but more of a cop-beater if you ask me. Tall, well built & very good looking (had man crush myself), his could-have-been-cute-face has permanent scowl in it and he didn’t have to beat people up to scare them as we get to see in one interrogation scene. Like Madhavan, here’s another good Tamil actor who will not be appreciated here and is going to have glorious career in Bollywood.

And now let me talk about Mohanlal, or Lal-ettan as his fans call him. Unlike Kamal’s character who speaks to only him most of the time, Lal has to deal with lots of people and that’s not an easy task. The abovementioned Chief of Secretary, issuing orders around, dealing with an ethical hacker (his reaction to this scene is priceless), Lal’s Commissioner Maraar is the epitome of cool amidst explosion, control amidst chaos & bringer of humour amidst the tension that is thrown in our direction. And I mean laugh out loud moments. Such a treasure this man is.

Moving on. The pace seemed fast at the beginning but during the third quarter of the film I started to get dozy. The race and religion politics behind the script felt a bit tame, for if they had been more to the point the controversy itself could elevate the tension and hey, sell the movie. The right wing message of “an eye for an eye” is not new in any film industry, just ask Dirty Harry.

Oh, the background score. Handled by Kamal’s daughter, Shruti Haasan, they hardly register. In fact, the film could have benefited a lot more with very minimalist score, instead of the usual bombastic stuff you expect from Indian films.

Nothing much about cinematography which is very apt at times, and very showy in other times. Also, nothing much to say how much the director contributed, seeing he had a “good” script in his hand.

All in all, a good entertaining flick that will not disappoint Tamil film and Kamal Haasan fans. My favourite moment in that movie has shades of my favourite film comedian Goundamani’s trademark dialogues. When the commissioner asks for guarantee, Kamal responds, “Intha guarantee, warranty kodukkurathukku naan enna pressure cooker-ah?” LOL.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Malaysian Indians: Definitive Definition.

An ad agency babe whom sometimes I freelance with gave me a buzz and mailed me a query on a Deepavali ad layout they have been working on. The note from the client goes:

“Check the word 'Hindu' coz I believe should be Indian friends.

Hindu is only targeted to Singh/ Punjabi?”

It’s mind-boggling because the ad clearly belongs to a Malaysian company and I wonder which cave the knucklehead has been living in and how long since his ancestors stopped evolving. But then, there might be more of them and I guess it’s my duty being a Malaysian born of Indian extract to define what a Malaysian Indian is.

But before that I need a few drinks first.

Phew. Anyway, Malaysian Indians are also known as Indian Malaysians as they are born in Malaysia but are of Indian origin. For example, my grandfather is from Kerala, India, who left his family and joined the Indian national army (1940s) and got himself here, married my grandmother, sired my father who sired me, who at this very moment is annoying you with grandpa stories.

Malaysian Indians, henceforth to be known as MI (I know, it’s also acronym for Mission: Impossible, but we were first, Tom) are mostly Hindu and the Hindus don’t always go to the same temple, they go to 3 billion temples in the country (including the little altars by trees). Apart from Hindus there are Punjabis who are Sikhs who goes with the name Singh a lot and have for long time suffered from the butt end of Sardharji jokes. Then, you have the Christians, but wait! Not only there are MI Christians, but they are divided by two main denominations, mainly the Catholics and the Protestants. The latter is further divided by the Methodists & various organisations with titles like Church of Heaven’s Gate or something. Then, there are Buddhist MIs, Baha’ian MIs and I am not sure, but the possibility of Scientologists and some could even be members of the Raëlian cult. There are of course, atheists, agnostics and freethinkers among them. Also not to mention lawyers who are often associated with different animal category altogether, namely reptile.

That’s religion. What about the language MIs speak? Well, majority are Tamil speaking folks, and some who call themselves a Tamil can’t speak one and when they do attempt to speak you feel like slamming them with folded chair. Then, there are the Malayalees, the Singhalese, the Tamil Ceylonese, and despite the fact that the three names rhyme, put them together they will not be able to understand each other even with sign languages especially as it might end up showing only one finger. The descendents are all from southern part of Indian, and I’ve missed Telugus whose language sound like Tamil amidst crunching Murukkus.

Then of course there are those who’s descendents from other part of India, namely the abovementioned Punjabis, Gujaratis and Sindhis and possibly Bigfoot seeing that the latter is supposedly tall and hairy too. Okay, I was kidding. A word about Punjabis. They are often referred to as Banggali here by other Indians, which really miffs our turbaned friends. Banggali is a modified version of Benggali, most of whom populate Bangladesh and here in KLCC during public holidays. Punjabis should be correctly referred to as Bhayee.

Now, let me go to politics. There are various parties representing the Malaysian Indians. There used to be a party called Malaysian Indian Congress, which was “killed” at the previous election and are now populated by Zombie members. They are still active for no apparent reasons but to be object of hatred by the entire Indian communities in Malaysia. Its president is so reviled that mention of his name, most MI’s would want to spit at both of your eyes, and yet he has been the leader of that party for more than two decades. That’s Malaysian Indian for you.

As to other parties, to make my job easier here, let me hijack a posting from my brother’s blog.

With the formation of Uthayakumar’s PAHAM (Parti Hak Asasi Manusia), Indian Malaysian votes are bound to be split further in terms of political allegiance. There are already substantial Indian Malaysians in MIC, PPP and Gerakan in BN, BN friendly IPF, MUIP, HINDRAF offshoot MMSP while also increasingly in PKR and DAP in Pakatan Rakyat and not to forget PR friendly PSM.

I suspect my brother did heavy boozing after writing that post, poor guy. Don’t laugh, that is a very serious post and I too have gone cross-eyed reading those acronyms. But the MIs, who are already divided by religions & languages swear their allegiance to any one of them…most of which are led by lawyers by the way. Of course there are some like yours truly who would rather impale ourselves rather than associating us with those knuckleheaded parties.

Let’s move on to the cultural side. Each languages mentioned above have its own cultural legacy, be it traditional ones and modern ones. Festivities celebrated differ depending on the religion and language. The most interesting is the date for New Year, whereby Tamils, Telugus and Malayalees all have different ones. The Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi on the same day as Tamil’s New Year, but you still call them Bhayee (okay, enough Bhayee ribbing, you should actually call them Banggaali).

Speaking of culture, the Tamil films (from India) rules supreme here. Well, not supreme but sometimes the collection is on par with Hollywood and Hong Kong films, considering that Indians are only around 8% of the total population and the Tamils are only part of that. Anyway, the Tamil films screened on both big & small screens all over Malaysia serve as important source to credit anytime someone, usually lawyers or politician or both gets jumpy about the high crime rate among MI’s.

So, I have covered roughly all you need to know about MIs. We are a nice bunch of people, keeping our head down, living a regular life, occasionally getting water cannoned and tear gassed for supporting organisations that last as long as a dung beetle, but nice nevertheless, being a good citizen of Malaysia. Unless, of course, if we’ve just watched a Tamil film….

Friday, September 11, 2009

Kota Tinggi: Tourism Haven Sans Haircut.

In one of today’s newspaper, the Johore Menteri Besar (chief minister) was reported as calling for more investment to boost tourism in two towns, namely Kota Tinggi and Mersing. I know these two place well, since Mersing is right next to my birthplace, Kluang and is gateway to Tioman Island and Kota Tinggi as our family was based there for a few years. Despite the fact that I have grouses about the whole money for tourism thingy, I have in my heart special place for one of these towns.

I hardly remember Mersing except for long narrow winding road where if you are not careful would be in a ditch probably face to face with a wild boar and trust me, at that moment, you will not be thinking of it prepared with dry chilly. Since Tioman is enough an attraction I would like to talk about Kota Tinggi.

My dad was and still is a plantation Field Conductor. No, he does not go to the field and sell buss tickets. Actually it’s an underpaid supervisory role in plantation where you get up five o’clock in the morning and face underpaid workers and sort out their underpaid chores and then report to the overpaid assistant managers who are a generation younger than my dad and are about as smart as the rhino beetles.

Anyway, we stayed in a plantation called Ladang Balau, later part of it was renamed Ladang Siang. This was about 40km from the Kota Tinggi town and it bordered various Felda plantations, where you have Felda Air Tawar 1, Felda Air Tawar 2, Felda Air Tawar 3: Revenge of The Sith, etc, I forgot some of the other ones. And everything there, almost, is about oil palm plantations.

Aside: Oil palm is the tree. Palm oil is the oil. Confuse this in front of my dad; the mild mannered man will become a raging bull. You have been warned. End of aside.

But let’s talk about tourism. It is probably the only place we lived and yet acted like tourists in most of the weekends. So much fun we had. For one, there was this beach, Tanjung Balau just few kilometres away which also had a fishing village. Tanjung Balau coastline actually extends to the famous Desaru beach resort.

Speaking of which, when we moved in, we heard that a Japanese tourist was killed by a shark in Desaru. It could have been rumour for all we knew, till one day we come across a shark caught by the fisherman in Tanjung Balau. It happened to be a combination of the most goofiest looking fish and the most dangerous shark of them all – the hammer head. So there story about the Japanese could have been true. As a matter of fact, that could be the very shark that gobbled up the Jap.

So, we’d have picnic and swim in the beach now and then. Our estate (plantation is known as “estate” here) would organise beach side parties. Freshly caught sea creatures are grilled, barbecued and the memory of a live, clawing crabs lowered to a boiling pot of sea water is still fresh in my mind. And so does that goofy looking hammer head shark. Brr...

Here’s what my younger brother, Shubash, who has a memory of an elephant, unlike me, who have a memory of a gecko lizard, has to say about the beach which he visited recently:

“There are now a lot of chalets and resorts at Tanjung Balau. The Fishing village doesn’t exist anymore. Now they have laid tar road and the journey now only takes 10 minutes from the main road (Kota Tinggi to Bandar Penawar road). Previously it took 20 minutes …A lot of food outlets are opened to public. Last time there was none. Yet we still have some fisherman families living nearby and we had the chance to get fresh fishes there.”

That will give you a good picture how it was then. Raw. Untouched. And we were privileged to experience the beach before the invasion of tourists. Shubash also reminded me of the half sunk ship that used to linger sometimes near the beach and sometimes in the distance. It’s no longer there it seems. How I would have loved to see it now? Then, I was a kid and I’d have preferred a half sunk Fighter Jet and would have tried to find out the aircraft type (F16?) and where from (preferably Singapore). Not only no sunken ship now, I also haven’t heard of reports of tourists eaten by sharks. Usually they are ripped off by retailers, but not by sharks as of recent.

Moving on. Kota Tinggi is also the home of that famous water fall. We have been there few times, though not as often as the beach. I recall my dad warning us to be careful as to watch out for “floating Goreng Pisang (Banana Fritters)”, if you know what he means. Nature is not limited to excremental rights.

The Kota Tinggi town itself is not as huge as that dark, evil dungeon called Johore Bahru, nearby but is pretty complete as a supplier of human needs, as we used to go there once a month to buy our groceries and for us boys to get haircuts. I highly recommend it for any of your needs…except haircuts of course which I recall was done by some ancient Indian barber who once got me back in the chair again after I was done, because he got my sideburns shaved wrong and blamed it on some astrological bodies. Really, not kidding here. So, Kota Tinggi sucked in hair-trimming industry.

Now do not confine yourself to the Kota Tinggi town and Desaru. You also have smaller towns like Telok Sengat and Sungai Papan which I recall were known for their seafood. I am sure there seafood restaurants are still around offering fresh seafood like claypot hammer head shark. Kidding.

Recently it was prominent in the newspaper headlines for the wrong reason: flooding. It really suffered heavily about a few years back, but they managed to get back on their foot. Poor folks must have had many “floating Goreng Pisang”s to manage. So, please visit Kota Tinggi and visit those towns and don’t forget the Tanjung Balau beach. While frolicking be sure to say hi to Mr. Hammer Head.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

1Malaysia: The Other Ones.

When I read my cousin’s blog Eastern Prism recently asking what the heck 1Malaysia concept is exactly, and I must say that I am baffled too. I told him it’s basically old shoe, patched and polished and worn again. But I have to think deeper than the current cobbler-esque level.

Aside: Before visiting my cousin’s blog, don’t go with one mind set. The feller’s subject varies from criticising the government to the recipe of making mutton varuval. They do share something though – it involves frying. End of aside.

When the new prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (to non Malaysian readers the first two are his title, like “Sir”, “lord” “His Excellency” or “lunkhead”) took over the office from snoozemesiter Abdullah Badawi, he expounded on us the 1Malaysia. I said expounded because it sounds violent and the whole concept seemed heavy like the e.e.cuming’s poetry except 1Malaysia is even vaguer.

My cousin included an explanation from the PM’s website explaining it. Let me quote my cousin quoting the site: “1Malaysia’s goal is to preserve and enhance this unity in diversity which has always been our strength and remains our best hope for the future. … I encourage each of you to join me in defining our Malaysia and the role we must play in its future. Each of us — despite our differences — shares a desire for a better tomorrow. "

There. Can you understand anything? It looked like something that I would cut away when processing press releases during my journo days. Here’s what my brother has to say about it in his blog. “…1Malaysia is certainly not new, but an old wine in a new bottle”.

That’s right. We need something new. And what do you know? There are some others stuff that Malaysians are united about that Najib and the government has to harp on. There are lots of stuff that Malaysians share which makes us uniquely united & uniformly uncompromising when it comes to some of the things that I shall list below. And these are only few, you will get more idea later and please feel free to add in.

1Drive.

The drive here does not denote “determination” or “willpower to do something”. No, I am talking about plain driving. Like driving a car. Once Malaysians are behind the wheel, there is nothing to stop their sheer determination or “drive” to break every traffic rules. Whether its about not wearing safety belt, or on phone or text messaging, speeding, being non-compliant to the needs of the traffic light, Malaysians aspires to have “been there, done it all” credential in their mental resume, and they are willing to brag about it.

But wait, you say. Wouldn’t they be punished? As in, like getting summons. Well, let me put it this way, when Malaysians are not getting injured or dying on the road behind the wheels, one of their favourite past time is bribing the cop. Some of the rates are downright pathetic, as I have personally witnessed my friend managed to bargain and part with only RM10. For Malaysians, it can be “settled”. Right after “settling” with the cop, they’d go back to the comfort of their office and blog about how corrupt the government is.

1parking

Actually this should be grouped together with 1Drive, but it’s so unique that it deserves its own category. It’s amazing how much we Malaysians are so united when it comes to bad parking, double parking and are also enjoying the latest craze, triple parking.

I believe quadruple parking may have enjoyed brief fame, but since I don’t see it around I suspect these drivers were killed by the triple parkers.

But the amazing thing is, no matter how small the space is, and the possibility of blocking the road altogether, these parkers would be there, squeezing their SUVs in, and come out triumphant in managing to avoid paying few Ringgits if they had parked in actual parking and can quickly walk over to spend thousands on lottery or to indulge in all sort of seafood dishes in their favourite restaurant…which too can come to thousands of Ringgits.

1Punctuality

A punctual Malaysian is a rare Malaysian…someone should put these people in museum. Well, I am one such guilty party. Not being punctual is a mission statement held on to dearly by most Malaysians, even during the era of Tun. Dr. Mahathir, our former prime minister who was fiercely punctual. This was quickly corrected by his successor, the dozy Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who, while perfected the art of snoozing during parliamentary sessions, has successfully latched on the lack of punctuality culture. I recall being with other journalists waiting for his press conference for almost 2 hours! No wonder Dr. M hated his guts.

Malaysians who are punctual usually can be found being alone…waiting. Time and time again, my brother and I have made mistake of attending wedding receptions at the said time. When they say, “thence to a reception at 7.30pm”, you have to add minimum an hour. Like an idiot I recently appeared at the 7.30pm as mentioned in the invitation card to a colleague’s dinner reception. The event only started at around 9.45pm! And guess what, few guests even appeared 10.45pm. I felt like poking my eyes with the chopstick.


So, these are only few samples where Malaysians are united. Najib should be looking at these and promote them instead of talking about “friendship” “diversity” and all that politically correct stuff. Of course, there are Malaysians who are punctual, who drive safely and following the traffic rules and park their cars with consideration for others convenience and safety. Traitors!

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