Friday, March 21, 2008


Now we all know sweetie Helen Ang of Malaysiakini had posted an article on hartal, a call to boycott the mainstream media (MSM) for not only being the BN mouthpieces but also for their extraordinary creativity with facts.

For example, with a stroke of a pen, a crowd of 40,000 could be reported with a missing digit, reducing the staggering movement to only one-tenth of its actual size, implying the rally had been less significant and probably by a ‘lunatic fringe’ group.

Then, decent Hindraf activists could be portrayed as marauding Tamil Tigers from Trincomalee.

Did I heed the sweetie’s call to boycott the MSM? No, I didn’t ;-) not that I don't love her but because knowing what the MSM are, I can confidently factorise their bovine poo into some useable form of garden manure for my mother’s gerbera, gladioli and guava, while enjoying the international news and entertainment pieces.

Besides, it’ll be cruel to punish a host of economic dependents including paper boys (once a million years ago I was one selling the Star) who survive on the sales of the MSM.

While the word hartal is of Hindi origin, the English equivalent boycott originated from Ireland in 1880 – read here for more on boycott.

My uncle told me of the Chinese boycott of Malay goods shortly after the May 13 incident – stuff such as Malay food like fruits, durians, satay, herbs and even the wearing of sarong kebaya. Unfortunately they were hurting innocent traders, with the inevitable resentment growing against what was perceived as Chinese meanness. It was a lose-lose situation.

Another uncle - told a sweetie I have many ;-) – related the story of the mandarin orange boycott.

Many years ago a particular greedy person thought he would exploit the Chinese New Year spending binge on mandarin oranges, so he obtained (through his powerful connections) an import licence giving him sole rights to import the much desired citrus fruits from China and Taiwan.

Story went that he added insult to injury by imposing on retail traders a very high price, obviously to ramp up his expected profits – ‘twas a case of his arrogant ‘take it or leave it’, believing the Chinese just couldn't do without such a culturally vital item at the start of a new Lunar Year.

The Chinese did the unexpected and ‘left it’, forgoing its traditional ‘must have’ mandarin oranges for Chinese New Year. I am of course simplifying the story where prior to the boycott, acrimonious exchanges occurred, which were reported by a once freer press. The Chinese community by then were fairly primed up to take up the very difficult boycott of a once-a-year indispensible item. But they did it!

As the New Year approached, the bloke panicked and started to come down to earth with his price for the fruits. Still, a lesson had to be taught. The retailers continued to boycott him.

And no one bought anything even when he attempted to bypass the normal retailers by setting up his own retail stalls, presumably at some considerable costs.

He was left with thousands and thousands of crates of rapidly over-ripening kam on his by then shaking hands.

There was no relent even when he gave some away as a means of stimulating a return to the purchase of the fruits so that he could recoup his principal when he sold the remaining stock.

In the end he was left with zillions of rotting kam and a huge hole in his pocket. Mind you, those decomposing kams would have made excellent compose for my mum's gerbera, gladioli and guava.

Quite frankly I had agreed with my uncle the greedy bloke deserved being shafted for his attempt to exploit the retail traders. Unlike the unfortunate traders who lost business post May 13, this bloke earned the wrath of the consumers for subverting an open system through misuse of official connections for his avarice.

… which brings us to the current situation in Penang where the Star reported Hindraf coordinator R.S. Thanenthiran appealing to Penangites: Don’t boycott nasi kandar.

It seems that the hartal of nasi kandar came about because of the circulation of an SMS (purportedly from Hindraf) alleging that nasi kandar operators were involved in last Friday’s street protest at Komtar. The SMS even signed off with a cheeky ‘Makkal Sakti’.

Thanenthiran said the SMS was bullsh*t as Hindraf did not issue any such statement.

Unfortunately the boycott has began to bite in because business dropped by 10% to 15%.

I remember not too long ago there was another so-called boycott directed against Muslim restaurants by a Muslim body, calling for Muslims not to imbibe an American fizzy dark coloured drink ;-), because of American yadda yadda yadda. However, the boycott strangely targeted only one American drink but not another – ha ha ha!

Most people guessed it was more commercial sabotage rather than sincere boycott. Now, who‘s the naughty person responsible for the call to boycott nasi kandar? I'll be bloody annoyed if my favourite nasi kandar man in front of Mesjid Kapitan Kling has been affected.


  1. I have heard this story about the mandarin oranges before but can anyone tell me who was the person that got the sole agency for the mandarin oranges.

    i think the perception about the organiser of the rally in penang last friday was that he was of indian muslim origin. the boycott wasnt specifically against nasi kandar operators but of indian muslim bussinesses. i never received such an sms so i dont know for a fact but that was what i concluded from the disparate snippets of information that i heard

  2. Yeah, the mandarin orange boycott. I still remember it. The feel of teaching greedy people a lesson has filled up the slot of mandarin orange

    Another famous one are the Winston cigarette boycott. Some jokers in the tobaccos company irks the Chinese on the Chinese education issue, thus the sales hit rock bottom. I remember Dunhill start picking up after the boycott.

    Boycott on Nanyang Siang Pao after operasi lalang and MCA bought over has turn China Press circulation many times more than Nanyang. The boycott works because China press filled the vacuum.

    So the keyword of boycott are ALTERNATIVE. The person who call for the newspaper boycott should pay attention on alternative papers, perhaps lobby the BR government to allowed alternative printed press.

    I don't recall federal printing press can do anything on this if State government allow alternative press. And the newspaper man will love it.

  3. I received a chain forwarded SMS on the Nasi Kandar story, too.

    It was effective because there was a certain plausibility to it.

    Most of the faces in the "Malay" demonstration on the NEP looked more like a "Sub-Continent" origin if you know what I mean.