Joined together by more than a causeway

Diterbitkan: Jumaat, 14 November 2008 12:00 AM

(Ubah saiz teks)

LAST weekend, 12 Malaysian golfing journalists took on their Singaporean counterparts at the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club in Nusajaya for the inaugural Causeway Cup.

Although the main intention behind the tournament was fellowship and interaction, it was still a competitive affair, especially when both sides were playing for national pride.

Throughout the game, the two sides poked fun at each other by retelling stereotype jokes of the other’s nationality and well-known quirks, and no offence was taken at the jibes.

However, the most telling thing was that both Malaysians as well as Singaporeans also poked fun at themselves.

Coincidentally, on Monday I received an email from a Singaporean friend based in Hong Kong and it contained what I consider to be the best Singaporean joke about Malaysians.

It was entitled “What makes a Malaysian a Malaysian” (I have edited it slightly because The Star is a family newspaper but have left the language structure as it is as it is so obviously Sing-lish).

What makes a Malaysian a Malaysian:

1. You can name all the players from the English Premier League, but ask you to name one football player from Malaysia, one name also cannot come out.

2. When StreamyX come, you complain StreamyX too slow. When MaxisBroadband come, you complain Maxis Broadband always disconnects. When WiMaxcome, you complain WiMax too expensive. In the end, you say StreamyX still the best lah.

3. When toll prices increase, you complain. When petrol prices increase, you complain. When you go Starbucks buy RM10 coffee, no complaints.

4. When you cannot find parking in a shopping mall and have to walk very far, you complain. When you go inside the shopping mall and there’s a SALE, run from one end of 1Utama to the other also no complaints.

5. You are always late. And the excuse you give when you’re late is always either: (a) traffic jam (b) no transport or (c) cannot find parking.

6. You complain against the government in kopitiam, you talk loud, loud. Leave anonymous comments on blogs, you also talk loud, loud. Attend ceramah by DAP, you shout loud, loud. Then when Opposition organises a protest and asks you to go, you don’t want to because scared later kena tangkap under ISA.

7. Every year on April 30, you are one of the people queuing up last minute to submit your tax returns at the IRB.

8. When an ang moh (Caucasian in Hokkien) stranger kisses you on the cheek to say hello, you very happy. When a Malaysian guy kisses you on the cheek to say hello, you slap him.

In the same vein, this is my favourite Malaysian joke about Singapore. It was, in fact, told to me by a Singaporean.

One day, a Singaporean Indian named Lingam, an engineer, applied for permanent status in Malaysia and planned to move his family there.

The Singapore Cabinet, shocked upon hearing this, set up a two-man task force comprising of two ministers to investigate why Lingam was migrating to Malaysia.

The interview went something like this:

Minister 1: “Are you unhappy with your job?”

Lingam: “No, I have no complaints.”

Minister 2: “Are you unhappy with the salary you are getting?”

Lingam: “No, I have no complaints.”

Minister 1: “Is your wife unhappy with the HDB housing you got?”

Lingam: “No, I have no complaints.”

Minister 2: “Are you unhappy with the school your two children go to?”

Lingam: “No, I have no complaints.”

Minister 1: “If you have no complaints then why are you migrating to Malaysia?”

Lingam: “Ah ... there I can complain.”

The Singaporean golfing journalists also found the joke as funny as I did.

While we often run down, and talk bad about our southern neighbours (and I am sure they do the same about us), the truth is that we get along very well.

We speak the same three languages, and our localised English (Singlish and Manglish) is almost similar.

Also, many Malaysians and Singaporeans are related, and many of us have spent many holidays in each other’s country.

We have so many similarities that it would fill this entire newspaper if I were to list them down.

Why then do the two countries have such contentious diplomatic relations?

I guess it must be the historical baggage – water supply, bridges, land reclamation, border disputes, ownership of islands and railway lines, etc – which many of us ordinary folks no longer care about.

However, to politicians, these issues are about questions of national integrity, sovereignty, political plus points and one-up-manship.

Politicans from both sides often choose to turn the other country into a bogeyman in an attempt to inspire their countrymen.

Competitiveness among close neighbouring states is a common thing worldwide and running each other down is an international sport.

Just ask any Swede about Denmark and vice versa or ask any Canadian about the United States and so on. The list is endless.

However, unlike these neighbouring nations, the competitiveness between Malaysians and Singaporeans among the common folks goes only so far.

Many a time, while overseas, I have seen Malaysians and Singaporeans gathering under one banner (whether as an association or club) and fending off critics together.

This, I believe, is because the people of the two nations have more in common than there are politically-created differences.

And why not?

Malaysia and Singapore are not separated by a straits but rather joined together by its people and a Causeway.

Deputy Executive Editor Wong Sai Wan wants to put on record that the Malaysian team played their hearts out but still lost narrowly to the semi-professional Singaporean team in the Causeway Cup.

iklan

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