KLANG: During the Japanese Occupation, food was so scarce and poverty so widespread that the typical Malaysian survived on tapioca (ubi kayu) and suffered the consequences of malnutrition.
The Japanese occupiers are long gone and not many are left of the generation that lived through those lean years.
But even as our politicians speak of turning Malaysia into a high-income nation within a few years, there is a family in Kampung Delek, Klang, that has been surviving on tapioca for the last 20 years or so.
Kamariah Mohammad’s family has no stable source of income and struggles every day for even one decent meal.
“We plant tapioca around our house for food,” she told FMT. “We’ll eat anything we can find.”
Apparently, even eggs are a luxury.
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Kamariah, who is jobless, lives in a rundown home with her seven children, five of whom are still in school. Some years ago, her husband, a lorry driver, took a second wife and practically abandoned her and her children.
“He does visit us at times, but does not provide any material support,” she said.
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Time for another uncle story by kaytee's uncle, wakakaka. Unc chatted with me a while ago and related to me our family's tapioca years during the Japanese occupation of Penang and his personal experience with a university 'professor' during a forum which he attended as a delegate of his department.
Apparently, according to the professor, while he was conducting research along a Perak river in the deeper recess of the state, he came across a family like Kamariah Mohammad's, who ate tapioca for years without any access to rice, not unlike my family's experience during the Jap days though my family suffered the diet for only 5 years.
Worse, that Perak family possessed no plate, bowl or even a spoon. They ate off from either banana or yam leaves.
This was the part while shocked and then riled my uncle - the professor immediately launched into a lengthy railing, ranting and raving against Tunku Abdul Rahman as a 'useless' PM for allowing a Malay family to be in such a position where they didn't even own a basic plate or spoon in their shack by the river.
Before the end of the professor's railing, it became clear who was actually his real target, the Chinese Malaysians. His vitriolic rant against Tunku was based on his perception that Tunku helped only the Chinese and not the Malays.
From thence, his diatribe against Tunku slid seamlessly into one against the Chinese for 'robbing' the Malays like the riverine family of their basic needs (rice) and amenities (plate, spoon). Unc said even the Malay participants at the forum were embarrassed by the professor's very vocal racial prejudice, and many apologised to him for the racist rants.
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His invincible hatred for anything Chinese extended to the events leading to Malaya's independence movement and even unto the Sino-Vietnamese border war, one in which he praised the brave Vietnamese for thrashing the Chinese army kau kau. His sick mindset enjoying racist vengeance through surrogate targets was not unlike some Malaysian 'nons' who took delight in Israel bombing and killing the Palestinians - sad, sick and sorry people.
The above FMT story made my uncle wonder whether that professor is still alive, and if he is, whether he would be now blaming (in the absence of Tunku) the Chinese for Kamariah Mohammad & family's tapioca diet, or even her husband's abandonment of them for a second wife?
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