Sunday, March 16, 2008

RM90 million leap to a dream ... feast?

I learnt in school that frogs are members of the zoological class called Amphibia. They are cold-blooded or poikilothermic vertebrate animals. In Bahasa … er … (is it now Malaysia or Melayu?), frogs are called katak. Our southern neighbours refer to the creatures as kodok.

Hokkien Penangites called these creatures … er ... well, this is where I get confused over possible terminological pedantry.

For Penangites, the local convention is that a toad is usually referred to as 'katak-puroo' (derived no doubt from Bahasa … er …?), ...

reminds me of someone in Kelantan, wakakaka

... while a frog would be distinguished by the term ‘chooi-kay’ or water fowl, indicating the frogs taste like chicken - yummy, my memory brings forth scenes from Gurun, Kedah.

The Hokkien word for chook, ‘kay’, is also a Chinese colloquialism for ‘prostitute’ ...

… which takes us to some frog facts a friend has recently revealed to me.

Very quickly now - the biggest type of frog is the Goliath frog (Conraua goliath) from Cameroon, West Africa where its body can reach the size of 30 cm long and weigh about 3 and one-half kilos, like a huge housecat! Thus its legs are also around 30 cm long - eat your hearts froggie legs out, Gurun ;-)

Forget about the smallest frog because there are two still battling for that title, with one discovered only in recent times, thus not even having a (common) name other than a scientific one in Latin.

But what thrilled me was the discovery that the most expensive katak or 'chooi KAY' in the world costs RM3 mil each. And these lompat-ish slimy amphibians are found in East Malaysia. Amazing!

So RM90 mil will get you 30, and that’s considered cheap in every sense of the word – ‘cheap’ as of shoddy value or very low class, that is! Wakakaka.

So if you want a …. er … wait, what does one call a group of katak or frogs?

Well, I knew that a group of lions is called a ‘pride’ but that’s not a word I thought would be used here in this particular post, when we have been more familiar with, say, a 'nest' of vipers.

Hmmm, I didn’t realise we have a ‘cackle’ of hyenas ..... perhaps because they cackle rather than laugh?

Hyenas! Aisehman, what sort of mental associations those cackling beasts evoke in us? Craven coward scavengers, sneaky treacherous predators, etc?

Then .... hey, when I read about a ‘streak’ of tigers, I thought I might have a handle on how these group descriptors were originally arrived at Indeed, who else is streaky but Sang Belang!

Perhaps ‘leap’ then for frogs?

But no, I was informed that we couldn't have a ‘leap’ of frogs but a ‘leap’ of leopards – you know, those critters which don’t/can’t change their spots. Like their cousins, the Tok Belang’s, they’re carnivorous, dangerously sneaky and unlikely to be vegetarians herbivorous.

But anyway, I eventually arrived at the sought-after answers - a group of toads is a ‘knot’ while a group of frogs is an ‘army’!

Yes, RM90 mil for an army of 30 East Malaysian kataks or chooi KAY’s.

Now, I'm afraid one of my kampung (village) uncles is not very literate but quite naughtily humorous, so I fear he is likely to translate an army of 30 chooi KAY’s into an army of 'water prostitutes' or less literally and more correctly, 30 'prostitutes from across the sea'. Naughty Unc ;-)

'K lah, 'nuff of kataks, my friend and I then invariably moved on to the elections where we continued our post mortem ;-) of erstwhile MCA and Gerakan lawmakers.

It suddenly dawned on us how close the DAP-PKR-PAS group was to winning a simple majority, to form government ... gasp!

Oh BTW, what does one call a group of parliamentarians?

If one group descriptor for cats, yes, the smaller cousin of the leopards, is a 'parliament' (with wild cats, it's appropriately a 'destruction'), then perhaps we may get a ... hmmm ... er ... 'treachery' of parliamentarians?

Ridiculous? Not so, when we have a 'murder' of crows, a 'shrewdness' of apes, a 'stubbornness' of rhinos, an 'obstinacy' of buffaloes, an 'unkindness' of ravens (I wonder how this one came about), and I even found another besides 'streak' for Pak Belang, an 'ambush'!

OK, back to politics - There are 222 seats in federal parliament. Therefore a simple majority is 112.

DAP-PKR-PAS combined won 82, just a few ... gasp again ... seats short of 112.

PKR is of course the leader of the pack* with 31 federal seats, whilst DAP follows a close second with 28, and PAS wraps up the 82 with its 23.

* another group descriptor

By the by, how many of those 31 PKR federal seats are really held by PKR members?

Yes, how many had to contest under the PKR banner because their political parties haven’t been (weren't allowed to be) registered or who has no party to speak of prior to the election. A typical example of the second group would be former DAP member Wee.

The highest profile MP contesting under the PKR banner who isn't a PKR member is of course Dr Jeyakumar of PSM who toppled Humpty Dumpty in the latter’s once-impenetrable fortress of Sungai Siput.

I have read a Malaysiakini interview with Dr Jeya who clarified his unique position as a PSM candidate contesting under a PKR banner but I couldn’t find that article again. Damn!

Anyway ... maybe my next trip will be to Gurun for a plate of frog legs stir-fried in garlic, ginger and spring onions, all down with an aw kau (Guinness stout) - those poor kataks won't be leaping anywhere for sure.


  1. I bet frogs will protest if they are able speak ;)

    Poison dart frogs are one of the nature most lethal creatures.
    wikipedia :
    "They are the only animal in the world known to be able to kill a human by touch alone."

    It is rather sad most of our rice fields doesn't use frogs as pests controls than pesticide. I recall in the pass, Padi field even breed fishes as source of food and side income.

  2. The term 'katak puru' does exist in Bahasa Melayu (where the change was implicated in 1994). It refers to a common type of frogs, which personally I'm not really sure of.

    'Katak' and 'kodok' also both exist in BM, where respectively it refers to frogs and toads. So I'm a little confused by your saying that 'kodok' is a term used by our southern neighbour.

    As for the edible frogs, in Cantonese they're called 'tin kai'. Yup, the 'kai' also means chicken here, but I'm not sure whether the 'tin' refers to sky or something else.

    Thanks for the interesting frog trivia!

  3. Haiyah, East Malaysia politicians are famous for being kataka mah. 90mil is a small sum-lah. After all, they still remain in government. Anwar may be PM sooner than we think. ;)

  4. Don't the Cantonese also call the frog/toad, "Khum Khoi"? Maybe the edible ones are known as "Theen Kai"
    I was deep in the jungles of Kelantan when one of my buddy went up the waterfall rocks at nite to seek for the larger variety of edible frog known as " Sack Kharp " or 'rock frog' (pls do not be confused with the fish "Siakap") Boy these are huge! And beware, when you go looking for these, big cobras are always around! Wonder East Malaysia also got those 'political' cobras or not? ;-)

    Cheers and Regards
    Birds Talking

  5. Yeah, somebody is overseas right now making "arrangements".

    Yup RM 90 million is cheap to consign Barisan Najis to the Opposition bench...but I'm not sure we want that kind slimy katak...the ends don't justify the means.

    One of the main attractions PKR had for me was the people I met there - you may not believe it KT - lots of sincere idealists in the party. In fact if you believe in social justice, you would find many kindred minds there.

    Of course , I know you absolutely detest the err..defacto boss...

  6. Nooooo. No Katak even if there is a much needed change of government. The end does not justify the means.

    Sabah had suffered from this when some PBS assembly men lompak-ed.

    If they want to join the BR, let them seek re-election. That is much more adil to the rakyat... if adil is what PKR stands for.

    We do not need slimy greedy MPs out for their thirty pieces of silver.


  7. I agree with the other comments - the end does not justify the means.

    I think we do not want to start the new Malaysia tainted with easily bought slime bags.

  8. well said - we need to stand on higher moral grounds, though I am inclined to think kk46's de facto leader will believe the end justifies the means - frog hunting liao lah ;-)

  9. KT,

    I really hope Anwar has learnt his bitter lesson and does NOT mis-use the rakyat's faith in him to fulfil some ulterior personal agenda.

    I hope your opinion of Anwar is wrong lah - if right we all kena main.

  10. Katak puru is the ugly type who blows saxaphone during rainy nights. But I thought Anwar's principle is no corruption in his government? It's gonna be like "out of the frying pan into the fire"!

  11. While one is busy compensating the overseas frogs and coaxing them to leap into the de-facto pack, one should be wary of the local frogs leaping onto the dacing, thereby tilting the scales. That could be close to a whopping RM180 million paid for frogs, but we would be back to square one, with the naked emperor smiling whimsically as he nods off to into his slumber.