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Tuesday, November 01, 2011


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Gee, can I decipher the Manglish phrases? I'll try. Maybe it's good for a laugh for you...I use this same process with German and that seems to make my inlaws laugh...

1. Mana ada. If you try one more time, sure can one.

I have no clue about the first sentence, but I'm betting the whole thing is between friends and means something like "just try again, this time you'll make it."

2. Macha, borrow me five ringgit can ah? I forgot to bring my wallet.

This one I get - Macha is some kind of endearment, and clearly the mooch wants to borrow five bucks from his friend.

3. Dei, you sure ah? If you sure, I bantai only la.

Again I don't know, Dei sounds like a name or an exclamation. (In Latin it means God but I'm sure it doesn't mean that here...I think...) I don't know the significance of ah and la at the end of a sentence so I tend to assume they are there to be linguistically comfortable, the way an Italian accent will put "a" on the ends of English words that would be feminine in Italian. But without knowing what bantai means I can't figure the rest out. I would Google bantai if this was a tense moment in the story, but if it wasn't I would try to guess from context. If this was real life I would be nodding and smiling like an idiot and trying to decide whether I just did anything rude that I needed to apologize for.

Honesty, from a very western Westerner.

What can I say, your video about the education system is correct. ;)

Good post, by the way - and your stories are the only way I can afford to go to Malaysia at the moment, so please don't start setting them in Detroit. I don't want to go to Detroit.

Fadzlishah Johanabas


1. 'Mana ada' is Malay, with its Manglish version 'Where got', roughly translated to 'no way'. You got the right interpretation.

2. 'Macha' is Indian (Tamil, I think) for 'dude' or 'bro'. The Chinese in Malaysia loves to end question-sentences with 'ah?'. Or is it derived from the Malay suffix -kah that's used with adjectives/verbs in a question-sentence...not quite sure about that. Yeah, it's a straight forward sentence.

3. 'Dei' is Tamil for 'hey'. 'La' is the Malay suffix for verbs. 'Bantai' is Malay for 'beat up', but it can also be used for 'just go ahead with it'. Rough translation of the sentence: Are you sure? If you are, I'm going ahead with it.

You see, Manglish is literally Mangled English. We throw in Malay, Chinese and Indian words and suffixes, sometimes even Sabahan/Sarawakian.


Well, so at least I didn't take anyone's declaration of undying affection and assume it meant they were asking for more salad. Or, like my mother trying to say "good night" in German, say "good naked". :D

Cheap uggs

That difference continued as my wife Yukari Watanabe Scott and I checked in and explored the property. It seemed so perfect that we had to find out why. So we met with Ana Maria Nordgren and Oliver Geldner to learn more.

John Ling


Do you think you're luckier than your predecessors because of the way social networking has put you in touch with the international writing community? Would be interested to hear your thoughts.

John Ling

It's not really Malaysian readers who discriminate, but, rather, the gatekeepers.

I have a Muslim friend who published two books with a local publisher before he had the courage to come out as being gay. He decided to do it in his next book, which was based on his experiences.

Unfortunately, his publisher dropped him immediately after he submitted the manuscript. Homosexuality is, after all, illegal in Malaysia.

So, in this instance, no, I don't think Malaysian readers are even in a position to discriminate. For one thing, they won't be able to find his work on Malaysian bookshelves.

Fadzlishah Johanabas

Dear John,

You're right; the internet and social networking has played a vital role in my writing efforts. Without the internet, I wouldn't have joined a worldwide online writing community where a particular group has pushed me to publication. Without social networking, Sharon Bakar and Amir Muhammad would not have found me.

More important, without any of these, I wouldn't have been able to publish at all. Malaysian-English publication scene itself is abysmal. I write plenty of genre fiction, and it has no market here. Back then my only option would be to attempt publication in Singapore, but even there things are not that encouraging. Maybe I would have to migrate overseas to be able to publish. But now, with the internet and social networking, I can be based locally to make a name internationally. So yes, I'm seriously lucky.

However, at the risk of sounding arrogant, luck and providence took me only so far. If my works weren't any good, I wouldn't have been able to publish at all, much less almsot all stories I sent out.

As for gatekeepers, Malaysian publishers have a certain taste in stories. They somehow prefer stories with a twist (but hanging) ending, stories that subtly highlight how rotten people are, stories that make a parody of the local political scene. More important, stories that are safe.

There is a publisher who's bold enough to take the heat when it comes to LGBT: Amir Muhammad. He's published "Body2Body" and "Orang Macam Kita", and he's encouraging open-mindedness for his FIXI novels. He's not only taking the heat, he's been bombarded with hatred as well. As secular as I am, I cannot throw out my religious values. I cannot abandon my faith, no matter how flimsy it is. I may not wholeheartedly agree with flaunting LGBT values among the Muslims, but people have to be educated that homosexuality is not a choice. Some people are born preferring the same sex (or both, or none). It is everyone's right to be happy, but what if that happiness causes disturbance for countless others?

John Ling


My friend is actually considering submitting to Amir once he gains a bit more stability in his life. We'll see what happens.

Do you think gay couples should be allowed to marry?

Fadzlishah Johanabas

I'm doing a roundabout here as I gather my thoughts.

There is no argument about things like murder and theft; all religions across the globe are against these, and so are all human laws. These things directly hurt others. However, among these people who commit such crimes, there is a small percentage who are born with such urges. They can't help themselves; they have to end a life to be able to move on with their lives. They have to steal to be able to taste that sense of happiness. If they can control the urges, they won't be labeled as murderers or theives. But they'll lead miserable lives as they have to constantly battle with these urges. If they commit the crimes, they'll be much happier, but at what cost?

In all major religions, extramarital sex is strictly prohibited. For obvious reasons, this is to protect both parties and the children they produce. But what we see now is teenage pregnancy, abandoned newborns, people condoning termination of otherwise healthy babies/fetuses, simply because the parents are not ready to be parents. They shouldn't have sex in the first place if they're not ready to take responsibility to be parents.

Also, all major religions prohibit homosexuality. There has to be a vital reason why God bestows the ability to carry a child for women only, and that they need a man's seed to produce a child. Sure, with technological advancement, people don't have to get married to do this. Still, a man's seed is required to mate with a woman's, and a woman's womb is still needed to shelter the developing baby. And brilliant people have a higher chance to beget even more brilliant children. That is how the human race gets stronger and brighter with each generation. What happens if all intellectuals are homosexual and have no children from their own seeds? Within three or four generations, the world will be managed by idiots. I can't tell for sure if idiots aren't running the world as it is, but hey.

Islam, Judaism and Christianity are what we call 'agama kitab/wahyu', where we actually pray to the same God regardless what people say. Whatever it is, the values taught by these religions have kept us civilized for over 2000 years. There has to be wisdom in the prohibition of homosexuality.

Think about this: if gay marriages should be legalized because it's a human's right to be happy, then should we also legalize murder for people who are born with the urge to kill? Should we legalize rape for people who are born with the urge to do it? Gay marriages do not hurt the parties involved, but the act hurts people who hold dear to religious values.

John Ling

Have you read the Torah and Bible, by any chance?

Fadzlishah Johanabas

John, I haven't even finished reading the Quran! But I have read the Bible some, when I got bored at hotels. Never had the chance to read a copy of the Torah, though.


Well, unless you really, really want to read it in Hebrew, you can get a two-for with the Torah and the Bible, since the Torah is the first five books of the Old Testament in the Bible--the ones that Judaism agrees are inspired. (Genesis through Deuteronomy.) The Talmud, which is sort of a commentary on the Torah, is a different thing and very difficult to get through--it takes rabbinical scholars years of doing nothing else to make sense of it.

(I'm a two-for too--a Jew who is a Christian, hey hey! :) )

John Ling

Good on you, Fadz. Gideon Bibles are always a great way to kill some time.

What do you think of the government's decision to ban the Queer Without Fear festival, by the way? Is it justified?

Fadzlishah Johanabas

Sorry for the late reply. I've done one better. I wrote a full post on it.

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