The Country in My Blood

Alvin Teoh, Executive Creative Director of NagaDDB, shares with us a Malaysia we can hopefully still remember in the years to come.

I love Malaysia. I mean, I could do with some nice, cool San Francisco weather sometimes, but yeah, I love this lady because she’s such a part of me.

Recently, I joined an international community of Catholics on the net. I thought it’d be cool to exchange views of our universal faith with people from all over the world. (Having the occasional fight online is exciting, too). But one thing about the community stood out. Amazing and learned as some of them were, I did find some of their points of view a tad narrow. Not so much because of the faith, but more so, I feel, because of their monolithic culture.

Quite unlike our rojak one, hor?

Over the years, I am blessed to have met Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Protestants, Agnostics, Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, ‘Bananas’, ‘Chindians’, ‘Mat-Salleh Celups’, ‘Rockers’, ‘Jinjang-Joes’, ‘Diskangs’, and those categorised as ‘Dan lain-lain’.

Different colour, different faiths, same mischievousness | Photo by Alvin Teoh

My first real friend was a John Skelchy. He was as Eurasian as they come. We met in kindergarten when we were 5. From him I learnt that boys have penises and girls, something different altogether. One day, our teacher caught us comparing private parts. Our parents were called, and so, they too became friends. This Skelchy fellow was my classmate all the way to form 5.

In Standard 1, I met Sheik Faizal. He didn’t look like the average Malay boy. I have to admit he was rather good looking. I wonder if he had Arab blood. He was a great artist; he could do caricatures. And he did a mean pencil sketch of characters from ‘Planet of the Apes’. We hung out all the way through Standard 6. He was a very deep and intense sort of fellow. He wrote in my book:

Allah gave you wings to fly, so fly high.  Don’t let Satan’s arrows shoot you down.

Other friends I hung out with during those days were Julian Hassan, Lim Hong Bok and Jaswinder Singh. Julian Hassan (mum: British, dad: Malay) taught me how to eat rice with tomato sauce. I loved it. Meanwhile, Hong Bok taught me how to write mystery stories. We’d find some flattened patch of grass in a field or an abandoned house to do this. Occasionally, we felt certain we’d chanced upon a crop circle formed by aliens, or an evil house haunted by some creepy entity. We would then ‘investigate’ these ‘phenomena’ and record them in our journals. It was classic Hardy Boys sort of stuff.

As for Jaswinder Singh – well, Jaswinder had a habit of snatching our journals and reading them aloud for all to hear, laughing his head off as he debunked each mystery with great pleasure. This always became an exercise of epic embarrassment for Hong Bok and me. Then Jaswinder would finish with a flourish: “What the fuck is this all about?”

I suppose I should mention that this Singh taught me how to expand my vocabulary. From hanging around him, I learnt to pepper every sentence with the word ‘fuck’. It was cool to say ‘fuck’. For a while anyway.

Hong Bok and I were in the Boy Scout Troop together, too. From this group, we learnt the art of shoplifting and we performed this feat with another kid we called KKK. We were quite good at it, I must say. Our prize was always some Airfix model plane or Matchbox model tank. We shoplifted from Standards 4 till 6 until some plainclothes detectives finally caught us. Our lookout, KKK, fled the scene at our hour of need. Thanks bro.

[Just so you know, I was caught in my scout uniform. During interrogation, I peed in my pants. The Indian interrogator then told me he’d pull out all my fingernails and cut off all my hair, then use them to make soup for my dinner in jail. When you’re 11, you tend to believe these sorts of things.]

From KKK, I learnt the jentik game. You open a page from your textbook and add the numerals in the page number. For example, page 35 meant 3+5. If you lose, your finger gets flicked by the winner’s, hence jentik. Now, KKK had rather large fingers. I was amazed that our fingers didn’t break under the pressure of his. I still remember the sound…thok, thok, thok. From our fingers being jentik-ed, we progressed to having our manhood being treated in the same manner. I am amazed I managed to have children later in life.

Yeah, I had a healthy and happy childhood.

No handphone or i-pad but no boredom either | Photo by Alvin Teoh

My neighbour was a Malay boy. All the boys in Ampang Jaya were mostly Malays, really. Anyway, I called this boy Boy because his mum called him that, too. Thanks to Boy, my spoken Bahasa Malaysia improved a lot. We played catch and football, climbed trees and plucked cherries for our cherry guns and shot paper bullets at goat’s balls – they were large and hard to miss.

From Boy, I learnt the word dosa. So whenever the occasion arose, I’d tell the other Malay kids, “Hei, jangan buat ‘gitu…dosa lah!” Their response? “Ha? Cina pun ada dosa ke?” Ha-ha.

Opposite my house lived a ‘Chindian’ family. They had a daughter my age named Tina. She was my first crush. One day, when I was coming back from school on a bus, she ran out of the house and after the bus yelling my name, “Alvin…Alvin…Alvin!” That was the happiest day of my life. (Yeah, I’m big on cheap thrills.)

By the time I entered Secondary School, most of my friends had changed.  Most of the Malay kids went to the asrama and most of the Chinese ones became gangsters. And the Indian boys? Most of them became Catholics for reasons unknown to me.

During these years, I learnt a new lesson: it’s possible to fail seven subjects at a time. Most of my classmates failed above 5 subjects. In my class, that was a badge of honour, like a Purple Heart. Well, you had to be brave to fail that many subjects! But yeah, in reality, we were pretty hopeless.

These years were also a time when I joined the Scout Troop. It was a whole different world. In the initial years there, I grew close to one John Williams. If you see that name in the West, he’d be a white dude. But in Malaysia, you can bet he’d be Indian. John was our scoutmaster and he, God bless him, introduced me to the fabulous world of Indian food.

Manna from Heaven modelled by Machas from Kelana Jaya | Photo by Alvin Teoh

I first tasted thosai in 1982 after a fishing trip near Bukit Takun. We were at Lebuh Ampang and my God, did that stuff taste like heaven! I remember it was a masala thosai and I still recall my fingers surveying the brittle surface and coming into contact with hot chunks of potato and beans in some yellow sauce. Topped off with dhal and chutney, then mashed up with crushed vadai and Lord, you’d died and gone to Heaven, like, maybe twice.

Many times, I could be found in John’s house, and Edwin’s (another scout) house and having these unreal Indian lunches. Lovely!

Original finger-licking good food of the gods | Photo by Alvin Teoh

From my Indians friends, I learnt another new word – mutal – which means ‘stupid’. Now, mutal went with another word – Malayali.  I soon found out that Tamils and Malayalis didn’t get along. Or at least, pretended they didn’t get along. I had both Tamil and Malayali friends and they called each other, yup, mutal. And they could do this the whole day, too. (Yes, there was a lot of love in the air.)

It was during these times too that I met some Orang Asli and Kampung folks. Twice a week, a few of my friends and I would find ourselves in Hulu Langat. In fact, it was there that I met and befriended one Encik Zainal. He was in his 40s and he looked after the mini hydroelectric dam in Pansoon.

Happiness is... | Photo by Alvin Teoh

He’d take us trekking up Gunung Nuang, and then we’d swim in the dam at Lolo, at the waterfalls at Lepuh and also Upper Ponsoon. Through him, us Chinese city dwellers met other Kampung folk. I remember a heavy bamboo-grass smoking old gentleman called Mat Katun. I challenged him to a sport of tree-climbing halfway up Nuang. I managed to ascend 20 feet and was quite pleased till I looked back: Mat Katun was already 10 above me and he was, like, 60 years old, too!

From Encik Zainal and his family, I picked up a thing or two about the Kampung life and also life as a simple and humble Muslim. He also regaled us with Pontianak stories when we got lost after a hike to Latar Siak. I learnt later that ‘Latar’ was the old word for air terjun.

And oh, Zainal had a daughter. My God, I could not stop staring at her. My friend Benson, a Chinese-speaking Eurasian who looks Indian described her as a ‘natural beauty’. He intended to introduce himself to her this way: “Me Tarzan. You Jane.” It was the lamest thing I’d ever heard so I stopped him.

From the Orang Asli, I discovered that one could pick amber with one’s bare hands. They’d even asked us to try. Now, I know I failed seven subjects in school, but I wasn’t that stupid. From these warm, earnest people, I also learnt to trek jungles carrying very little with me. That a small piece of newspaper placed over a leech bite could stop bleeding quite effectively.

Thanks to them, I was introduced to the magical world of glowing plants, too, just like the ones in the movie, ‘Avatar’. They were little mushrooms and fungus-like plants that thrived under rotten leaves and damp tree barks. It was an amazing sight, one that could not be described with words

Little fellow had style & a pet hornbill, cool or what? | Photo by Alvin Teoh

These are all the experiences I’ve enjoyed in the first 22 years of my life. This is the Malaysia I remember and the Malaysia I cherish. The excitement and beauty I experienced during these years stem from a life thrown into and shaped by a mix of many cultures and faiths. And I’m rich beyond measure because of it.

Muslim grave site next to Buddhist temple | Photo by Alvin Teoh

Today, I see a different Malaysia. I see fear, insecurity, suspicion and anger. There seems to be a lot of sentiments of frustration boiling under a seemingly harmonious surface. And I blame self-serving community leaders for this. While I see our diversity as a blessing, many of these fellows seem to look at it as a threat. They don’t see that we’re a blessing to each other. They don’t see that we have much to gain from each other. They don’t see that we can be good together. In fact, we are good because we are together.

Instead of celebrating our diversity, they’ve turned it into something divisive, raising one race above another, and causing each one to be suspicious of the other. Essentially, they’ve turned a blessing into a self-inflicted curse. After all, our diversity is our gift from God, yet look at what we’ve done to this gift!

A Hindu deity hangs out at a Chinese altar with Jesus | Photo by Alvin Teoh

My plea to all who’re reading this is that we may stand together and deny these small-minded and irresponsible people as well as their goal of dividing to conquer us. If this spirit of bigotry is in us to some degree because we’ve been contaminated by their sickness, let’s cast it out. It’s never too late. Don’t let their darkness overcome our light.

I say to all Malays, Indians, Sikhs, Chinese, Eurasians, Bananas, Orang Asli and Orang Asal, DLLs, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists and Agnostics: we’re all beautiful. We’re all unique. We’re all special.  We’ve so much to share with each other. Don’t let a bunch of idiots rob us of who we truly are or perverse the Malaysian in us. Don’t let them steal the blessing of being a rojak culture.  Let us fight to keep Malaysia beautiful. So that when our time here on Earth comes to an end, we can go knowing that our children – and their children – will experience the kind of Malaysia we experienced as a child. The Malaysia in our blood.

Masjid Keling amidst Chinese shops; a beautiful sight | Photo by Alvin Teoh

 


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Posts by Alvin Teoh

Alvin Teoh is a father of 3, husband of 1. Also owns, 1 Great Dane, 2 Tortoises, about 100 guppies. Loves God. Well, I do try. Loves advertising. Loves to paint, shoot and write stuff. Hates cats and most politicians. Believes that change is possible.

Posted on 2 February 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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88 Responses to The Country in My Blood

  1. Mazita

    Thank you Alvin Teoh for sharing this with us. Our politicians are tearing Malaysia and Malaysians apart in their greedy quest to be in power… It is clear how they are doing it.. DIVIDE AND CONQUER…And I pray and hope the whole nation will too… that they will never succeed in tearing us Malaysians apart

  2. Azlan A. Aziz

    (Continued)

    I went to La Salle PJ and regularly shared my huge F&N bottle of orange squash with the whole class after PE class, as well as a stick of Dunhill during Geography class. My good buddy Ganesh and Chong Yin shared my passion for Man United, which led to many animated discussions on the previous nights Road to Wembley game.

    Like you Alvin, I miss what we once were. Malaysia was actually a nice place to live in, where everyone accepted other people for who they are, no matter what colour their skin was, or which religion they profess to. Alas, that is no more. I can sense a deep sense of mistrust, jealousy, anger, frustration and downright agression towards people from other races, especially from my own people, Malays like me.

    My sincere hope is that sometime in my lifetime, Malaysians will vote using their heads and ensure the Malaysia that we bequeth to our children and their childrens children will be a much better one than the one we currently live in, insyallah. Bless us all.

  3. Azlan A. Aziz

    Alvin, I was born an army brat in 1968 and was brought up all over Msia. My eventful childhood kicked off at Madelein Kindergarten in PJ Old Town, then to Methodist Primary School behind the EPF Building on Jln Gasing. My brother went to La Salle, while both my sisters were Assuntarians. We eventually moved into our own home in SS2/77 circa 1977 where we were 1 of only 3 Malay families on our tree-less street.

    SS2 back then had a community spirit where I didn't think twice about jumping into my Chinese neighbours compound to water their plants when they balik kampung to Kampar, and they reciprocated when we balik Batu Pahat. I was also the captain of my football team comprising of chinese dudes, and I guess my ability to curse them in cantonese got me the captains armband.

  4. Kalidas

    Hi Alvin,

    I can relate to your stories as well. During my school days it was just friendship and race and religion does not matter but now it is all about your race and religion. Over the last 22 years people changes partly due to politics and policies that divide the races in Malaysia. Nevertheless we can still live in harmony by taking to first step to bring down the invisible wall that we have build over the years.I had my Malay friends knocking at my door during Deepavali to have feats of Thosai & Idili with curry and stay on for lunch for briyani.

    • Alvin Teoh

      Don't let the small minded people stop you from believing in all that is good in our us. Don't underestimate how much good one person can do. So yeah, keep talking, keep sharing, keep reminding everyone, there is so much potential to be good in all people:)

  5. Melayu (campur Arab sikit, Mamak sikit).

    Thank you for writing this..reading the article and the responses just made me smile. I remember back in my primary school days, and was in charge of sweeping the classroom for the day, a chinese class-mate cursed me for sweeping her feet, I didn’t understand what the problem was..I was only kidding around with her. And then another time when I attended a funeral of an Indian class-mate, I was advised to not touch another person’s skin as it was considered bad luck. I found it all very interesting. I didn’t understand certain things other races did, but it was never a problem to me, it just made life more colourful. Our country has got to be one of the most culturally-rich nations in the world, and cultures have continued to fascinate me to this day. There is a reason why God makes human beings different from one another. We’re all supposed to complement each other with our respective strengths and weaknesses. I don’t think Malaysia could be where it is today if it wasn’t as racially mixed as it is. No one race can claim that it has contributed more to the nation, cause we all contributed, in one way or another. It hurt me when a Chinese friend in my standard 2 class loudly exclaimed ‘if it wasn’t for us Chinese, you Malays would be in a worst-off position’. It wasn’t her fault, she couldn’t have come up with this herself, it must have been her upbringing. And so everyday I remind myself of what she said, and make sure that I bring up my daughter right. Notice how your little kids don’t differentiate their friends by their race? To my daughter, they’re all ‘kawan’ – one simple noun, or make that kata nama :p. This country has so much to offer, and it just kills me to see how some quarters are constantly playing the race card to get support and causing so much distrust. A cab driver recently told me ‘dulu Dr M mungkin boleh tipu u punya bangsa, tapi dia tak boleh tipu saya punya bangsa’. Wow, where do you think he got that from? I work in an office and live in a neighbourhood of Malays, Chinese, Indians, Chindians and a retired German (see, even other people want to come live here), I don’t see us fighting. We smile and greet each other, we look out for the kids playing in the street. And if any of them need my help, I’m there…and I sure hope they feel the same way too. At the very least, look at how many public holidays we have? You won’t get that elsewhere :D hehe….sorry la, panjang sangat..just my random thoughts :).

    • Alvin Teoh

      I am so with you on everything, especially the public holidays, haha. But yeah, its so important to expose our kids to all the positive values and lessons of our different cultures. Sure, some small minded person will spread negativity, but it's so important we balance that with the good stuff. Judging from all the response here, there is hope. So yeah, keep believing and keep working for good lor….

  6. this is the Malaysia I remember…and should always be remembered…a Peranakan.

  7. malaygirl66

    This early morning, I'm among d lucky readers who gets to read your very truly touching real-life experience as a typical Malaysian child..of long time ago. Yes! We've been shaped into suspicious and weary Malaysians and the sentiments are supported by d system. My family and I are uprooting ourselves to a foreign soil this year due to d fact that my children can only be taught diversity in every aspect of life by living and studying elsewhere..so help us God. Thanks Alvin for giving us that hope that someday our younger generation would be able to brighten up the bleakness of today.

    • Alvin Teoh

      All the best to you and family. Remember us here and keep Malaysia always in your prayers:) God speed, malaygirl66

  8. nishicienjia

    stupid bangsar chinese article – puiiii to you

    • Adam

      Bless you. You need help.

    • Alvin Teoh

      Good morning my spitting friend. Thanks, you can spit on me anytime. I would like to share something with you though. I am not a Stupid Bangsar Chinese. I am a Stupid Kelana Jaya Chinese. So there, now you know:) Anyways, good day to you. Relax lar. So angry for what? I wish you and your family all the best. You take care ya? I'll try to remember your name so I can ad that to the list of people I pray for every now and then. May God bless you and keep you safe.

      • CheeWai

        Wah, Alvin. Your response to this made me speechless, and I am sure I am not the only one.

        I will work hard to copy your traits – like your Malay friends who might have shared with you – ambil yg jernih, buang yg keruh – and to learn to be able to still pray for people who spits on us.

        Haven’t reached that level yet, but will seriously continue practicing hard. After all, life is only a few short years on Earth (before we go to Heaven!! Yippeeee!!), so, why waste the years hating and cursing people who do us bad, hor? Better spend the years loving and caring for those who do us good. :)

  9. Anita Yusof

    Wowww…..this post is very inspiring. Kinda eye-opening esp to those who hv races-suspicious-minds….This post brought back sweet old memories. I also hv close friends from different races during my childhood until my secondary school times – Indians, Chinese & Eurasian, besides my own Malay friends…and thank god I still hv the same passion to befriend different races until now (45years already)…

  10. mansheel

    superb article alvin. Mansheel Kaur

  11. Syed Saiful Adzim

    Great Article bro, love it and u r right in every way, it's not like when we were young when all races are one. We are like brothers and sister. Nowadays, everybody is stepping on everybody to gain what they want. What happen to our peaceful country.

    Remember when those days, we can even leave our doors open all day, nothing would happen to us…
    Hmm.. wish those days don't pass that fast

    • Alvin Teoh

      If more and more people start to think like this, to go against the grain of racism and suspicion of each other, to share these sentiments in thought, word and deed, we can make it happen, one person at a time. Don't underestimate the light we have in us. One little light can shatter the darkness:) Take care bro. My warmest regards to you and family.

  12. joe

    what makes a nation? many elements but one of the foremost element is the language. without a common language there will be no malaysian nation. just finished reading imagined communities by ben anderson, one of the most important scholars in the subject of nation and nationalism. common language is the social glue that tied different communities into an entity called nation. nation is imagined through language. different language, different school system, different print and electronic media using different language creates different imagination of nation. malaysia's diversity without common language to mediate the differences and create the imagined community will forever be a state with many imagined nations competing with each other. malaysia's diversity is both blessed and cursed.

  13. Amir

    Thanks refresh me my golden time during childwood

  14. adrian

    Niamah!!! for someone who holds the record of failing all 7 subjects, you sure f##king know how to write a great piece!! What you penned down is exactly what so many of us went thru…so lets sent a volley of cheers on high and shake down the thunder and make Malaysia what it should be…..All for one, one for all!!!

  15. Amarjit Singh

    Great write up bro…. :)

  16. Jahabar Sadiq

    Cheer cheer and courage display, bro!

  17. Lima Whiskey

    Thanks for writing this article…I just love it, a good read about the sweet Malaysia that once was. Back then, 1Malaysia was not spoken or branded. It just happens and we could live and feel it. I wish the best for this country and the people who fight to put the nation's priorities first instead of their own.

  18. KokHian Tiga Nama

    An enjoyable read. Well written. It conveys the complexity and greater goods of a multicultural society very well. Where did you learn to write so well, Alvin? In Malaysia? What influences shaped your trajectory into a writer/contributor that you are today?

    • Alvin Teoh

      Hi Kok Hian,

      Thank you for your comment on my article. Where did I learn to write?

      From everywhere I suppose. I wrote logbooks when I was a boy scout. Wrote spiritual journals when I rediscovered my faith. And wrote scripts and copy for ads even though I am an art director. All in Malaysia. Maybe reading a lot helps.

      What influences? My parents taught me about faith, relationships, life, and made me think and think and think about all sorts of stuff. My Church taught me about social justice, human dignity, the pursuit of truth, sacrificlal love, etc. and made me think and think and think.

      Both my parents and my faith showed me the value of contemplation and reflection. And quite naturally, I wrote all that I felt and started to enjoy it.

      So, that’s kinda it.

  19. Nostalgia 1966

    This is a great article and I can relate so much to it…. I left Malayia when I was 15 years old and had not really missed it until I read your article here. I must say that I had some great times in Malaysia and if it was more like the good old days,I would return but unfortunately, I'm not as optimistic as you.

    The brain drain from Malaysia will continue until these politicians stop using religion and race as a trump card to fill their own pockets and give back to the people. It's amazing how the cost of living continues to rise but the standard of living remains something to be desired. The fat cats continue to get fatter while the rest remain the same! Truly a sad state Malaysia has descended to… I wish Malaysia well but I'm not that hopeful with the current crop of leaders.

  20. vanaja

    hope that malaysia will return once bn is gone. make sure you vote to make that difference

  21. yayaa

    Beautiful point of view

  22. Nasi Campur Chopstik

    I was born in 1986. im quarter chinese and balance is malay. your write up here truly touches me. I can relate most of your experience.. those were the golden days.. May god bless Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku.

  23. Reza Bahari

    What we all must learn and understand is not every one has issues with one another…just because a few Malay's or Chinese and Indians behave badly or have caused harm to others, they are the minority few who simply hate other people or race. Send your kids to Kebangsaan school and let them mingle when they are small and give them the chance to grow together rather than apart.

  24. Leanne

    Lovely article Alvin. Brings back so much memories. I too had my moments of craziness with friends from different race, colour and creed. It seems so much easier then and so much harder now. It's sad to see that we are in many ways affected by the propaganda, fear and suspicion spouted by the politicians. I sincerely hope one day we could go back to those wonderful years.

  25. This article brought back the memories of the times we spent trekking and camping into the deep of Templar Park, riding our 'basikal tua' through the backway of Taman Beringin through old Selayang to Batu Caves (stopping at Gauthaman's place to surreptitiously flick through his dad's copies of Playboy) and through sharing and dipping our roti chanais in the same curry sauce at the mamak stall, never once thinking that we were this bangsa or that bangsa, but conscious that we are to respect each other's customs. Semangat muhibbah most memorably memorialised in Lat's cartoons that I hope will never be lost from this tanah Malaysia (and I still don't think that 'it' has been lost).

  26. Love this article Alvin!:D

  27. Alvin Teoh

    Thank you everyone for all your comments. It touches me to see so many feel the same way as I do. I've yet to meet a Malaysian who hates Malaysia. What we hate are the leaders who play the racial card, then hide behind their race or religion thus making it a sensitive issue.

    It's encouraging to know that there is an awakening among Malaysians of all races and ages. It's wonderful cause for the first time in a very long time, I have hope. Reading all your comments, I have hope. You guys are great. Let your voice be heard. Spread the word. Work for change. God bless everyone.

    Sherry, I was 14 in 1982. And I had my Thosai right after rock climbing in Bukit Takun. I remember it like it was yesterday:)

    • aris

      Thank you so much Alvin for reminding us. You are absolutely right. keep on writing

    • Jenny

      Hi Alvin I can truly connect with your article – those were the days. Even as a girl growing up in Petaling Jaya and having my best friends – Mahes and Roziah we were so muhibbah then. Thank you for your article and the comments – there is a glitter of hope for all of us and it has to start from us and not to be influenced by the leaders who is all out to destroy this "unique" bond that we had for each other then.
      God Bless you and your family!

    • zool raimy

      Think our leaders should have a their meeting in a mamak shop! :-p

      They should not play the racial card at all. They should only ask one question. Are you Malaysian?

  28. Sherry

    Nice. It is indeed sad to see the divide the powers that are be are creating when there is none. First thosai in 1982?? How old were you then!!

  29. Suatie10

    nicely written alvin. nice pix of my beautiful hometown too!

  30. samantha

    thank you for this timely reminder that we are all really one. I am a Malaysian based in the US and can't say Msian politics interest me all that much because it is farcical. What bothers me, however, is that politicians try to drive this racial wedge between us Malaysians – a wedge that I never felt. It is like someone insisting you are sick and adamantly prescribing medication when you know you are perfectly well.

  31. Bunnies

    yes.. that's the Malaysia I know.. grew up with… and it breaks my heart to know that it's slowly fading away and the ugliness of supermacy is taking over. I dont think it's so easy to clear or heal the country.. the divide has gone one too deep and far..

  32. Wan Suhaimi

    Yes, I'm 44, of mixed chinese-malay parentage and I could relate the same experience that the article described. Ahhh those beautiful years growing up immerse in such diversity. But sadly our children (my son especially) could not relate to it because of the increasing divide that we experience now thanks to those self-serving leaders and politicians.

    • Alvin Teoh

      I hear you. But you know what? It is our duty to talk to our children about these things. To help them see the beauty in all people so they won't have fear or prejudice. It's not easy of course, but it is not impossible.

  33. I'm malaysian

    Such a beautiful article. Very true indeed. I get your message and hoping all Malaysian get the message as well. ;)

  34. Love malaysia

    Yeah, that WAS Malaysia….but its dying….how sad::(( , those who have lived during the fifties, sixties or even seventies wud have recalled some of those sweet memories or experiences…..( hmm…any politicians can do anything to salvage the current situation or each having their own agenda………..) the 1 malaysia concept seems to hv a lot of monetary content but can't feel or see the spirit or soul of 1 malaysia

  35. Brings back poignant memories of Malaysia of yesteryears. I celebrate Malaysia's diversity. Great friendships were forged with the Ahmads, Ah Chongs & Muthus. Was married to an Ahmad, myself. My kids are of mixed–parentage…Malay/Arab & Chinese/Baba Nyonya. By virtue of a less conservative outlook, they also grew up being cruelly told by some that they will be called last during Judgement Day because they don’t have proper Muslim names. There is definitely no such thing as a Muslim name. You can be named Mohamed or Fatimah and still be a Christian. Unless the government uphold the true essence of democracy and we understand and accept with open hearts and minds that we are diverse in terms of beliefs, race, gender, we will not see the Malaysia we all used to know. I dream and hope I’ll live to see that people no longer fear and discriminate against each other, but to embrace that we are all one and the same.

  36. pinkflyingpig

    why you make me wanna cry so early in the morning?
    actually you made me laugh, too :) love your candid accounts of your childhood. damn funny. & touching.
    ever thought if running for prime minister, alvin? ;)

  37. lilyan

    Love this. Brought tears to my eyes.

  38. Kenui

    Reading your article nearly brought tears to my eyes. I can relate to so many of the experiences that you have told of in this piece. God bless you for reviving my faith in this land, and the hope that it will get better someday.

  39. Shafiq

    As the Muslims are taught.. unity in diversity.. not uniformity.. :)

  40. Jaime

    beautiful article

  41. kbguy

    Well written. So Malaysian. Remind me of my younger days..

  42. juz_a_typical_malay

    ur so lucky to grow up in such evironment..i really wished for that (well,i'd like to have a mixed malay-chinese child tho lol) but i dun see any chance… T_T my old environment is totally different from yours. now only i started to have such environment but at the age of 21…..sigh…rugi maa.. haha
    anyway, this is a nice post..really lookin forward to this kinda thing n it really exists.. we are and will always together peace =D

  43. pjamess aka chindian

    My cousin had a friend named John Skelchy.. and the way u described.. probably is the same person. hahaha. :D

    I too had an interesting upbringing and very happy to read ur article described as it is.. but i have found that my friends these days.. have become what as described as fear-bound by the powers that be..

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Alvin Teoh

      Omg. This John Skelchy is pretty famous. Yeah, he's probably the same guy. Who called me a few days ago about this article, haha.

  44. Sathiabamah

    Good write-up! Well written. Witty with a good message to deliver.

  45. yokeimm

    simply love the way you write. brilliant!

  46. rusheed

    This WAS Malaysia…It isn't anymore. No thanks to Ibrahim Perkosa and the likes. Curse them to hell!!!

  47. malaysian girl

    wow, reading this brought tears to my eyes. this cant be any further than the truth, and i totally can relate to this as most malaysians can too. good job with this writeup!

  48. anak celups

    naise wor your article but what is diskangs ah?

    • Alvin Teoh

      What are diskangs? Back in the 80's, Malays were Mat Rockers. And the Chinese, who took New Wave fashion too far became known as Jangs. In between, there were the Malays who were caught up with the whole British Invasion things and traded Scorpions for Duran Duran. Their fashion were an infusion of the Mat Rocks and New Wave thingies. And they looked good. These fellas were called Diskangs.

      • ahmad nazril

        During my time in the 90's diskang is still very much alive. I remember one mat diskang friend who were hiding his dahi jendol under his disc-kang hair style hehe

  49. JUJU

    Your article and captions for photos are moving. Never thought I could love Malaysia more. :')

  50. andrewteh

    I too had a classmate in school named John Skelchy.

    • Alvin Teoh

      He's probably the same person then. There is only one John Skelchy on the planet, lol.

      • Allan Goonting

        Bugger just got married last month…………..finally.

        Regards,

        Guy Goonting……….

        • Allan Goonting

          I will never forget November 1985, when we were all "lepaking" at the back of the class mid-way through our SPM exams.Into the classroom through the rear door dives my cousin John (Skelchy). Apparently diving for cover as he is closely followed in hot pursuit by Alvin Teoh (who else???) with rubber band spanning thumb and index finger and tightly made paper bullets drawn across the rubber-band trying to shoot John. Thems wuz the good ole days !!!

          • Alvin Teoh

            Yeah man. We had a healthy childhood haha!!! Great times. Now what isit about John getting married? Bugger didn't call me? Damn!!

    • Allan Goonting

      Bugger just got married last month…………..finally.