Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Tapioca Tale

FMT - Surviving on tapioca, decades after Merdeka

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.

poor Malaysia?

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.

Raya buffet feast at KL hotel

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.

Raya buffet feast at KL hotel

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.

Khir Toyo's 'Bali Palace'

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?

'Satay King Palace', Klang


  1. Dear KT…

    We cannot blame if the Professor that your uncle knew has such an attitude can we?

    “Tunku’s idyllic picture was partly influenced by the colonial myth of the lazy native. He overlooked the sufferings of the masses under the centuries of feudalism and colonial capitalism… “ [Shaharuddin b Maaruf – Malay Ideas on Development: From Feudal Lord to Capitalist – Page 122]

    Tunku Abdul Rahman encouraged/helped Boon Siew to set up his Honda Cub/Kapcai business. Boon Siew “was a trusted friend of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Malaysian premier…” [Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew: The Life and Times of a Fire Dragon – Page 83]

    “…. Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first prime minister, helps to expand The Star newspaper with Boon Siew.. [Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew: The Life and Times of a Fire Dragon – Page 191]


    1. Yeah, when you read of these, plus the more recent episodes of DrM-Vincent Tan-Ananda Krishnan kind of buddy-buddy relationships, you can't help thinking of the remarks of a much reviled 19th century German philosopher who said that the state is in cahoots with the capitalist class.

    2. Do you know where is Tunku Abdul Rahman's grave? I want to piss on him! That shows how much I like this bastard!

  2. Growing up years
    Tapioca was a diet in the food
    I ate a lot those years
    It was sometimes given free

    I used to chop woods in the secondary forest
    Along the way back home I would stop for rest
    There was this old woman who was kind to me
    Instead of selling her tapioca she gave me free

    It helped the family
    To fill the stomachs those poor years ago
    The years of hardship the family tried to improve
    Tapioca was a stable diet when money was hard to come by

    Living those years in Klang
    Remembering those years ago
    Now seeing the wastage of food
    The present generation wasted it away

    Now tapioca is quite an expensive item to buy
    In the market it isn't a food nobody wants
    It has evolved into many cakes out of it
    The creation of the pastry chef....

    When I buy one to eat
    It always reminds me of those years ago
    Living on tapioca when life was hard
    Now I can eat anything I want

  3. Maybe this is why Malaysia is a great place to live like the States - where dreams are made and come to pass.

    A lowly railway gate keeper owns a palatial istana; an ordinary dentist becomes head broom sweeper.

    Whereas, in some parts lurk darkness:

    And many thought the toilet-canteen was a big issue... while others just can't figure why there was an overall tsunami of dissatisfaction to the point of giving DSAI a vote although general distrust for the man.

    Maybe the "Half-Century Race" article by SinChew Daily reproduced in MT best sums up the topioca dilemma.

  4. Recently we are faced with one controversy after another that relates to some alleged infringement of racial or religious sensitivity - conversion bill, halal bak-kut-teh, burning bibles, washroom-canteen ...

    Another one now ongoing is the alleged racist doctors in government hospitals in Penang. Shouldn't it be proper that this alleged racism be brought to the relevant hospital authorities, and shouldn't it be under the purview of the Ministry of Health ? It is expected that the Ministry of Health investigate and clear the air, rather than this issue becoming a debate in the Penang DUN. And now Health Minister is blaming the Penang DUN for not providing details of the complaint.

    Furthermore, Selangor police says it is seditious to spread the photos of the washroom-canteen...

  5. There is no doubt a relatively small number of wealthy Malays, but the undeniable fact is one minority group owns a massively disproportionate portion of Malaysia's assets - and that is the Chinese.

    When one group corners such a large part of the wealth, it is very difficult for the members of the group to honestly defend that they are not somewhere effectively stealing from the majority poor.

    Tanah Melayu

    1. " group corners such a large part of the wealth... somewhere effectively stealing from the majority poor."

      These words are quite close to the writings of that famous 19th century German philosopher who claims that society's wealth is all the sweat of the labouring class, and capital-owning class have underpaid the labourers and thus siphoning off the surplus; and in time the accumulated loot have made the fabulously rich.

    2. There is a strong rumour that one ex PM has as much as 40 billion

      Even his fall-from-grace ex Deputy is rumoured to have stashed away several billions.

      Another money king is the white rajah...rumoured to be worth US 30 billion, having denuded more than half his country's hills and forest.

      Kenny Hill ( Bukit Tunku) is THE premier housing estate in KL and one real estate agent have compiled figures that borne out the rumour that Malays ownership of that prime housing estate is 85%. Each bungalow is going at RM 12 million on average.

      GLC, which is in the hands of the Malays, have cornered ALL the big industries but now, have even 'chased' after the ikan bilis biz too...hence the uproar. The rakyat is asking that the big boys leave the crumbs to the little people.

      Most of the non Malays who are cronies of the Malay politicians are actually proxies......they themselves most likely owned a fraction of the published wealth. When they have the contracts, it is definitely NOT out of pure love that their Malay masters gave the contracts to them for one famous Indian billionaire who told his son who had become a monk - don't expect any large inheritance from me, most of my wealth are actually NOT mine.

      Anyway....these cronies and the middle class non Malays have already planted new roots overseas for their future generations....and soon when the oil runs out and when the majority tax payers have disappeared too...then we can all go back to tapioca new meaning to what goes around come around, hehehe.

      And Ibrahim Ali asking for 67% share....he got the maths wrong ! The Malays already have 80%....he is so stupid wanting to reduce the amount...bodoh punya olang. Better he stick to raising the kris and make threatening remarks.

    3. Yes, definitely true in the context of his time - and I am definitely no communist.
      Capitalism as it existed in the 19th century was a positively bad system. The concept of fair wages and social justice did not exist in the minds of the robber barons of the time. Karl Marx's mistake was his failure to imagine there were integrative solutions other than violent revolution to create a fairer society.

      Universal suffrage, Trade Unions, Government-funded education for all, affirmative action for the underprivileged (Yes!), progressive income tax systems, many other measures - all helped to create a fairer society.
      Many of the measures were protested as unfair by the wealthy asset-owning classes at the time. In fact, over the long run, a growing middle-class with moderate purchasing power helped to increase the wealth of the rich. It was not a zero-sum game.

      In Malaysia, there is the added imperative to create a fairer society to remove the excessive correlation of asset ownership with one particular ethnic group - the Chinese.

    4. Anon 1035...

      Can you please survey how many Malays are struggling to have two meals a day, have to lower their standard of living and have to lower their children's standard of education? I will give you a clue, try go and visit all the BR1M recipients.


    5. "Karl Marx's mistake was his failure to imagine there were integrative solutions other than violent revolution to create a fairer society."

      Absolutely correct.

      Marxism is a system of belief, as Karl Marx said “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed culture and the soul of soulless conditions”. This is contrary to Islam and so is the Marxist-inspired subversion of bringing down not just dictators but to kill God as well.


    6. Re: Affirmative action for the underprivileged or NEP. When NEP was formulated during my growing years, we were looking at a new dawn where the 2 NEP prongs sets the ideals for uplifting the underprivileged irrespective of race.

      Sadly the practice have deviated and morphed into some kind of ketuanan entitlement : when rich Malays can get housing discounts for expensive homes, preference for scholarships, licences, university places etc over those poor nons, this is no longer affirmative action.

      As described in a govt. document :
      "... The implementation of affirmative action has propagated and embedded a distributive and entitlement culture and rentier behaviour. An insufficient number of qualified bumiputera firms with the requisite capital resources have encouraged the establishment of spurious fronts. Excessive use of ethnic quotas has descended into acceptance of less qualified recipients and bred inefficiency. Preferential pricing and quotas have led to rent-seeking market distortions or perversion of the objectives. Recipients of share capital sell off their allotments and reap unearned windfall benefits. Deserving entrepreneurs have been marginalised and have little access to finance. Rent-seekers do not really create wealth, or add to economic growth. Rent-seekers are engaged in unproductive activities and can add sizeably to the cost of doing business. They are closely
      associated with the growth of bribery and corruption in the economy..."

      As DrM said last week :
      ".... Kita cuba buat perubahan melalui DEB tetapi orang Melayu sendiri yang sabotaj DEB. Orang Melayu ini cuba nak buat untung awal dengan jual projek, lesen atau AP kepada bangsa lain. Jika semua orang Melayu belajar berniaga dan tidak terlalu mengejar keuntungan secara mudah saya fikir keadaan hari ini berbeza dan ada keseimbangan dari segi penguasaan ekonomi antara semua kaum. Orang Melayu juga salah dalam hal ini. Kita bagi peluang tapi mereka tidak memanfaatkan peluang dan sekarang ini semakin berpecah-belah
      dan berkelahi sesama sendiri. Ada pula orang yang masih bercita-cita nak jadi Perdana Menteri sehingga tidak peduli apa pun nak berlaku."

  6. There are still many such Professor mentality now, after 5 decades fact, these numbers with burning hatred have now multiplied, no thanks to BTN courses and the Untuk Agama, Bangsa dan Negara mantra. And of course not forgetting our revered ex PM with his ever so timely clarion calls to the Malays not be hoodwinked and cheated by the 'orang lain' and to be driven out from 'tanah Melayu kita sendiri'. Btw..... are the non Malays allowed to attend the BTN courses....not the 'watered down' ones but the 'full fledged' versions....where the attendants have their mobiles phones and recording devices confiscated during the duration of the course and where the sessions have attendants consisting of a particular race only. Perhaps Najib should had gone for such a refresher course to see what's happening before he crafted that 1Malaysia thingy.

  7. Put all the blames on the British and other European powers. The Chinese are here because of them.

    1. Must also put the blames on the Malay Malayan's attitude to life then.

      The Chinese & Indian r here, bcoz they were NEEDED.

      The resources, like land, mineral, crops, infrastructure,etc etc, need to be developed & enhanced. The country need money to grow, no doubt most of the financial returns at that time, were channeled back to England. There were still substantial residual improvements for the locals.

      & let us be honest, without the Chinese & Indian laborers then, not even the mighty Pommies could do anything. The Malay would most properly happy-go-lucky 'melayuing' with the grace of insaf Allah.

      So, why keep complaint when the Chinese/Indian r economically well-off? They paid with blood, sweat & tears, unlike some, who keep thinking of free durian runtuh!

      Fast forward to present day, the Chinese/Indian has keep this nation well up to this stage & no more, due to the prevailing rentier attitude of 'mine, mine mine' of the elite of the tongkat recipients..

      The engine of growth has stalled, due to the lower population number of these Chinese/Indian contributors.

      Everywhere one goes, signs of decaying is fast setting. Bureaucratic inefficiency, financial leakage, poor infrastructure planning & rising crime rate, still been disguised with numerical acrobat!

      Meanwhile, the number of tongkat recipients keep increases. With some of the new their 'instant populace' complete with low skillsets. The double whammy of poor quality selections & bad performance skills in key growth sectors set by this tongkat recipients would eventually tank & sink this country, never mind about the fact that in another 20 yrs, M'sia would be a truly Islamic country with 90% Muslim.

      M'sia will goes the way of Greece before it comes to that, u bet!!!!!!!

    2. No Chinese, no problem. This's heaven on Earth !

    3. no race especially a self proclaimed master-race, no problem. that'll be truly heaven

    4. No UMNO malays, no cry

    5. Anon 7:58 am

      I couldn't have put it better myself ! If only the 'real citizens of tanah melayu' are not so blinded by hatred, jealousy, greed and that unrealistic sense of unearned entitlement, these pampered bunch would not have this typical knee jerk reaction of unerringly going for the Chinese hide every time feel insecure or on the verge of losing power.

      At the rate things are progressing in this country, the prognosis is not good, as any good doctor would declare if a patient is showing all the signs of having 3rd stage cancer. If one is optimistic, the minority races (especially the Chinese) have about 10 to 12 more years of relative peace before the sh*t really hit the fan.

  8. Hmmm, this story has an ulterior motive to drive a wedge between Malays and Malays. That there's one section of rich Malays and the rest of us are poor. Dirt poor. And your commentators have a field day bringing down the Malays.
    In the process of denigrating the UMNO-led government, the article is a slap in the face for PKR's Selangor Govt. That the poor family is staying in Klang, so near Shah Alam, the administrative capital of Selangor.
    Hahaha, this is so apt with the Malay proverb menepis air di dulang, terpercik ke muka sendiri.

    1. read FMT article which says "... there is a family in Kampung Delek, Klang, that has been surviving on tapioca for the last 20 years or so."

      Last 20 years or so - wasn't UMNO in charge then?

  9. The writer has mischievously turned his uncle's personal experience into a blame game of one race against another. The comments above clearly show that he has succeeded.

  10. Facts mah, or should it be considered 'seditious' like photos of the toilet-canteen at Sekolah Seri Pristana?elangor, attributed to acting police chief Datuk A. Thaiveegan by Utusan but now denied by the state police chief, meaning Utusan was bullshitting (again - that's sedition)

  11. Interesting comments... like "wealth in the hands of the Chinese at the detriment of others" or like "this posting is to solicit a negative view etc." Don't believe the Forbes 20 riches in Malaysia. A lot of the super rich will never want to be highlighted in Forbes for whatever reason but you can be assured, the "hidden" list needs closer examination.

    But back to the responses. Does this mean that despite the NEP the Chinese control everything? Therefore, ultra's proport for the NEP for another 50 years.. meaning its doomed since it remains in its present form. Short of a progrom or serious overhaul of this policy, Kak Kamariah grandchildren will still be eating topioca!! There is a serious disappropriation of the NEP leading to one minority segment being rich and the rest left behind. One cannot argue that the 'nons' are to be blamed since the NEP is a direct catalyst to "assist" the Malay community. Therefore, there is an internal disconnect in the argument. However, recent comments such as from a certain MB that openly states that they will enrich those who "keep them in power" may be reason for the breakdown in the NEP, even in whatever form it takes.

    This would definetly be a Marxist-Freudian nightmare.

    Second, Dina Zaman's article in today's Malay Mail (she mentions you KTee in the article and adds your link there) mentions globalization having a direct impact on the Malays. The internet and shared knowledge cannot reverse the order and keep people in the dark ages unlike before.

    However, to add to her discussion, modernization & globalization makes borders more fluid. America cannot speak of a "white" nation anymore where mass immigration over the centuries have developed new layers of culture, where the socio-political landscape has changed so much so a black can be president and there is talk of a hispanic hopeful in the future. Intermarriage has made America even more diversified.

    Therefore, can Malaysia still hold on to its distinctive Malay culture or even Malaysian culture in the next century especially with the influx of new immigrants and pervasive cultures like Arabization (as per Dina's article)?

  12. Majulah Malaysia12:13 pm, July 26, 2013

    I work in Singapore during weekdays and keep my home in Malaysia (mainly weekends). I can't help contrasting the two countries.

    Singapore's government is intensely focused on economic performance and government delivery.
    Malaysia is focused on Race, Religion, Race, Religion, Race, Religion, every day.

    In fact, if you go below the surface, Singapore faces very similar issues of Race and Religion to Malaysia. Their social fabric is as flawed, like any other country, I suppose.
    However, their society's development is such that the issues mainly stay at a low, underground level.

    When people have good jobs, decent housing, relatively safe streets and efficient and fair government services, Race and Religion tend to be very secondary concerns.

    Malaysia's Ruling class is trying to use Race and Religion as a substitute for clean and efficient government.

  13. Taikveegan is just another Mandore in the system-lah.

    Acting Selangor Police Chief trying very hard to show he is suitable to be confirmed as Ketua Polis Selangor. Doesn't realise he has the wrong Kulit-fication. THAT post is reserved for TUANS.
    A Mandore he will remain.

    I don't know which side is worse - if Taikveegan really made the Sedition Act threat or Utusan cooked up the story for shit-stirring purposes.

  14. Did you know that nutritionally, the starch in tapioca is really not inferior to the white rice that most people eat ? Both are mostly carbohydrates, lacking in many other vital nutrients.

    It just has a negative social connotation that's all.
    The problem is really the very poor have little or no access to other critical sources of nutrition for protein, vitamins and minerals.

  15. When the poor Malays could hardly have 3 square meals a day, who is to be blamed ? The Chinese of course. When the 50 years of NEP meant to help these poor masses fails, who is to be blamed ? Of course the Chinese again. That is why one commenter above said if there is no more Chinese in this country, tanah melayu will be like heaven on earth.

  16. “The real culprits for the present day distortion are the Malays who always blame the Chinese for their shortcomings, and the false Muslim preachers who teach the Muslims to have an all-consuming fear of God but then conveniently forget that Allah commands us to look after our fellow beings more than ourselves.

    What ails the country are these false teachings and false ideologies that are bereft of human decency and dignity, making meaningful relationships among the people of this country difficult to achieve......... the root cause of the abuses is the inclination of Malay/Muslim leaders to blame “the Chinese” for weaknesses in their own communities; it’s made worse by non-Malays/Muslims resorting to submission instead of respectful challenge."

    Guess which Malay citizen in this country made the above comment ?

    1. Anon 418... If I may add to what Zaid said, we are actually in conflict about the nature of the future that has ramifications for all Malaysians. The issues and alignment of opinions involved are not simple or straightforward, but they will have to be faced by all of us. Politicians should keep their mouth shut rather obfuscate the issues with their idiosyncratic and eccentric knee-jerk responses.

      Anon 341... I have not seen heaven and I do not know what is like. My religion also forbids me to see into the future. Thus, I want to make my future free and endlessly open to revision.


    2. If only these politicians are merely being 'eccentric' and 'idiosyncratic' with mere tendencies to 'obfuscate' issues !

      But the fact of the matter is that for too long, these are actually ruthless and cynical politicians who have no qualms bringing the country to the brink, pitting one race against the others for reasons we do not need to emphasise here again. They are not averse to bullying and threatening the minorities to get what they want.

      The time is way past for euphemism....let's just call a spade a spade. It is when we refuse to see a thing for what it actually is, then that is truly obfucation.

    3. Anon 810...

      Hemmmmh.. is asking the politicians to keep their mouth shut not dysphemism enough for you? Perhaps you want to me to use words such as inhuman or ethnocidal or herpes or any political pornographic words ? I tell you what I will save the best of me for last. Deal? You know something, the present scenario has not even come near my limits of forbearance.

      Hello Anon.. please use a handle or give yourself a moniker la, so it is easier for me to remember whom I am engaging with. Boleh?

      By the way where are Looes74 and HY? You see I can remember them.


    4. hehe...HY lost his heart when his AI tak jadi PM...poor chap. Now he is full time at elena ang abdullah, getting mauled by her hordes of disciples with her full blessing. Now that muppet will NEVER be called in for sedition...some people are so blessed in that sense.

  17. Yeah HY got mauled and seems to be keeping quiet. However the muppet herself seems to be somehow got entangled in her arguments and getting a taste of her on medicine, protesting that "... the accusations presently being hurled against me – this time by pro-establishment supporters – are unfair."