Saturday, January 19, 2008

Stereotyping in Malaysia Part 1

Growing up in basically one place and not attending a boarding school (SBP), I didn’t really get to meet kids from the other states in Malaysia until I went to college. It was then I realized people expect you to act a certain way just because you came from a certain place. Does this sound familiar to you:

Oh…kau dari [insert state here] ek? Patutla kau [insert stereotype here].

Honestly, I never liked these stereotypes. Most people find stereotyping funny as long as they’re not the ones being stereotyped. Not only are some stereotypes plain offensive, they’re not even that funny. These are some of the examples I’ve heard over the past few years, I’m sure others have heard many more, so do enlighten me. Starting with…

Terengganu :

You end every word that ends with an ‘n’ with a ‘g’. All of you live by the sea, most of you are fisherman and you eat keropok lekor all the time. Everyone knows about Rantau Abang because apparently that’s where all the turtles go when they want to lay eggs. Sad to say that you won’t find those turtles anymore because everyone steals those eggs for the purpose of selling or eating. I’m curious about those Muslims who have eaten turtle eggs. Are you allowed to eat their eggs? Because I thought turtles were haiwan dua alam. Plus, there’s always that stereotype that all orang Pantai Timur are warak. Anyway, you can test the ‘g’ stereotype when you go to a warung in Terengganu and asked them what sort of fried foods they offer. You’d probably imagine the menu goes something like this:

“Ayam gorenggg, telur gorenggg, nasik gorenggg, mi gorenggg, ikangg gorenggg,...“

Only 7 species of turtles exist in this world, and 4 of them lay eggs in Malaysia and are endangered species.

Clockwise from top: Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael.

The way the kids would sound like in school:

elekteghonggs = electrons

the ghoad not takenggg = the road not taken

Ready to avenge those who steal their eggs.


Even though brochures and the media like to portray Sarawakians as Orang Aslis who run around wearing rainbow coloured cawats and chandelier headdresses, please don’t be disappointed when you step off the plane and discover that the people there actually wear jeans and T-shirts. Everyone assumes Sarawakians live on trees and eat animals that they hunted in the jungle. The Sarawakians are forced to hear things like this constantly:

“You’re from Sarawak? You live in a rumah panjang, right?” with a beaming shit ass face that’s so proud to be able to apply what he/she remembered from Standard 6 Kajian Tempatan. The Ibans live in rumah panjang. The Melanaus live in rumah tinggi.

And although this might be beyond your comprehension, some Sarawakians actually live in bungalows and drive Mercedes. And why not? They certainly travel around by planes.

Bohemian dress or a dress inspired by the Sarawak traditional costume? Hmm. Using Sienna Miller to launch that trend? Very smart, Hollywood.


I think the biggest misconception about Penang is that everyone in Penang has a curry face (muka kari = anak mami/mamak). Do you know why I call it a misconception? Because Penang has a higher percentage of Chinese than Malays living in it. Apart from that, it is also the state has the lowest amount of Malays or Muslims in Peninsular Malaysia. People also assume you eat nasi kandar, rojak and laksa penang everyday.

Non-Penangite: Hari ni ko makan nasi kandar ek?

Penangite : Tak, nasi putih je.

Non-Penangite: Kat Penang ade nasi selain nasi kandar ke?[shocked expression, just discovered something that has never occurred to him/her before.]

I guess this is partly to blame because of movies like Anak Mami or Mami Jarum. While some might argue that the movie pretty much describes the mentality of Penangites accurately, I find that sort of hard to believe. How can Penang be the 3rd most economically advanced country in Malaysia if all of the them are super kepo with a ‘jaga tepi kain orang 24 jam sehari’ attitude and the biggest concern in their lives is finding a suitable partner for their unmarried daughters?


If you say you’re from Pahang, people will always imagine you live in the middle of a hutan, befriend orang utans or that you are an Orang Asli. The Pahangians are most unfortunate in being bombarded with questions like these and such:

“Ko duduk dalam hutan eh?Monyet curi spende ko tak bile ko sidai kat luar?”

“Lepas kelas ko nak pegi menyumpit ke?“

Possible basis for this stereotype? A famous Pahangian with her Orang Asli friend hanging out in a coffee place in the middle of a hutan.

Apart from that, most people don’t really know other places in Pahang besides Kuantan and Bentong. I don’t really know much about Pahang myself except once I heard Pulau Tioman looks like a chicken drumstick when viewed from above. And that even though Tioman is on the border of Johor and Pahang, it belongs to Pahang. And oh yeah, if I was Pahang, I wouldn’t say anything at all. People who stepped on my land and insulted me will mysteriously be disumpit by darts that magically shoot up from the ground.

The resemblance is uncanny.


The “Perlis is sooo small that…” jokes.

“Don’t blink when you’re driving past Kulim or you might miss Perlis.”

“Perlis is like Labuan… the only difference is, you can see Labuan on the map.”

Honestly, the way people talk it’s as if whole state has a population of only 200 people. So I decided to wiki Perlis. A rough amount of 215,000 people reside in Perlis as of the year 2007. I also discovered that one of the four main sugar factories in Malaysia is located in Perlis (Kilang Gula Felda Perlis).

If Perlis was human and that human was me, I’d be like, “You insulted me, asshole? How dare you call me kecik and everyone in me kampong? Well don’t touch my beras and gula. Go enjoy your sugarless Teh Tarik. Apa! Kau ada susu cap junjung? Fine. Pegi buat Apam Gula Hangus kau tanpa gula.”

Special bonding moment between a kid and his pet snake. Snakes are said to be ‘tetamu khas’ in Perlis homes.


Most people would say the stereotypes about the Kelantanese are the most controversial. I disagree. I find stereotypes being made about the people from Negeri Sembilan are far worse. However, I do think that the Kelantanese are the most stereotyped people in Malaysia. In fact, there are so many stereotypes about them that I have to list them in bullet forms.

  • All Kelantanese food are sweet, even the lauk pauk. They eat nasi kerabu, nasi dagang, budu and ayam percik all the time. Kelantanese can’t handle eating spicy food. Tidak boleh sama sekali.
  • They don’t like to mingle with other people from other states. If you want to join their conversation, they will kecek Kelate so that you will not be able to.
  • They don’t like non-Kelantanese people to kecek Kelate because they feel you will do a shitty job of it and murder their language.
  • Semua orang Kelantan sokong PAS and are very religious. However lately, that stereotype has taken an opposite direction when videos of the Kelantanese youth doing immoral things on Youtube surfaced.
  • Their parents don’t approve their children of marrying people from other states. If their child is a female, then it is discouraged but still acceptable to marry a male from another state. If their child is a male, the mother will forbid him to marry a girl who is not a Kelantanese.
  • All the makciks either work in a kilang batik or songket.
  • For some reason, Kelantanese have a reputation for being lazy and messy, even the women.
  • The men like to criticize people, especially from the physical aspects.
  • Kelantan women are the best looking women in Malaysia, especially those from Pasir Mas, where their beauty is legendary.

I’m starting to believe that last stereotype although I have never set a foot in Kelantan because:

Me : Cantiknye pompuan tu.

Kelantanese : Haa tu la, ko tak tau, muka macam tu kat Kelantan banyak je kat tepi pasar.

Me : [Astounded]

It isn’t really that suprising actually. Pasir Mas women are renowned for their Tok Seh (Middle Eastern) looks and fair skin. I read that this is partly due to their mixed heritage, some are descendants of Afghans and Pakistanis who were traders and merchants who came to Kelantan to set up their businesses in the early days [source: NST 31 Oct 2006 by Syed Umar Ariff]. I also heard that lots of Kelantanese (not only from Pasir Mas) have Japanese, Arabic and Thai blood in them.Not to say that Kelantan doesn’t have its fair share of ugly women.

One of my closest friends is from Kelantan, and she could eat food that’s spicier than anything I could ever handle. As far as supporting PAS, I’ve met stronger supporters from KL.

As far as stereotyping goes, it’s a case of the blind leading the blind. One idiot decides it would be fun to start it, and the rest follows. There’s only one problem – generalization is never a good idea and most of the time, there’s no basis in these accusations. It’s like expecting all the children to look identical because they came from the same womb. Take note that I do not in any way believe or support these stereotypes.

Coming soon: stereotypes about the other states in
Malaysia that I haven’t mentioned.


Anonymous said...

haha. tajuk yg aku tunggu dh kluar. good siap ber part2 lg

Anonymous said...

hahha...rajin btol ko
aku nak cakap satu je..telur penyu tu boleh je makan..
yg tak boleh makan tu penyu..telur die boleh...hahhaa
ustat aku ckp sme telur boleh telur manusia aku xtau ar...hahahha

Anonymous said...

..tula ko xtau.muke mcm (insert name here) tu jual kaen je kt pasar.hahaha

Anonymous said...

more Perlis stereotypes:
1.We can visit Thailand (or at least the southern part) easily and we always go there
2.We can speak or understand (some)Thai language - just like others i only know the 'Sawadikap'greeting (and maybe other 'kap,kap' jokes we made..sawadikap,makan ikan siakap,masuk ikot pintu..keluar ikut tingkap.:P)

Anonymous said...

3.The state and the population is so small that all the people somehow related to each other - this is ridiculous! ( but Dawa and I are cousin,and Wadi ALG6 and I are also cousin..ok..this is special case la)
4.People in Perlis practice another Mazhab called Wahabi - This is suprising bcos we in perlis never heard the name Wahabi before and people from other states actually know more about it! No,like everybody else we take the Mazhab Syafie.
5.Most parents work in paddy field or other work related to paddy- of course we have other jobs! i also know nothing about the paddy/rice. (but my father is a pensioner from Bernas and Dawa's father owns a rice factory..errr..another special case!)

Anonymous said...

stereotype people from other states to northern States:
It's easy to speak 'utara'..just add 'k' or 'q' at the end of every word - no,we don't blindly do that! Otherwise this sentence 'Ang nak pi mana?' would become 'Ang nak pik manak?' (which surprisingly what people from other states always do..)..Although it's funny,it's sometimes annoying (mcm org sarawak plak bunyinya..ops..<--is this another streotyping..haha..i give up)

Shahril said...

apai is here...
balaq maner ler dgn si fazura paraok btul...memang tak sepadan. well the cawatness aka ketidaktamadunan of sarawak proved with the pictures...hehehehe

Anonymous said...

Stereotyping in Western:
one of the example,

"Where is Malaysia? Do u live in jungle or on the tree? do you have elephants or tigers or snakes in your house?"

Anonymous said...

The Japanese proud to wear their Kimono but they still modern n civilised. We are also proud to wear our Ethnic Costume n continue to be more civilised. N tak semua org swak pakai cawat hehe .(Streotype glerlah :p)
Well, we (Sarawakians) have what West Malaysian do NOT hehe:
1.Sarawak is the LARGEST state in Malaysia. The land mass itself is bigger than the whole of West Malaysia.
2.We have the second largest international airport in Malaysia while others might not even have any. We have FIVE major airports while others might not even have ONE!
3.We are one of the largest petroleum source in Malaysia.
4. We have TWO official cities, Kuching and Miri, and soon Sibu, while other states might only have A town.
5.We are still the main reason why tourists come to Malaysia, for our Mulu Caves.International Jazz Festival n International Rainforest Music Festival are held annually in Sarawak.-

6.Two out of the popular singers based in Taiwan are from Sarawak, Nicholas Teo and Lim Yu Zhong (not to mention Jason Lo from and Rashid Salleh from Kopitiam)
7.The most air travelers in Malaysia are from Sarawak. Almost all Sarawakians have at least traveled once or twice with airplane compared to the West Malaysians.
8.We have our own daily newspaper: The Borneo Post, International Times, etc
9.We live in harmony, not just with Malay, Chinese and some Indians but also with Iban, Melanau, Bidayuh, Kelabit, Kenyah, Penan, Punan, Sungai, Lunbawang, etc.. The term “Sarawak truly Asia” is more like it.
10.First ‘Amazing Race’ ever was held in Kuching, Sarawak.
11.Most of us Sarawakians speak at least 4 different languages.
12.MAS CEO is from Sarawak, Sin Chew daily (the biggest newspaper company in Malaysia) news’ founder is also from Sarawak.
13.We are one of the states with the largest and thickest jungle which produces valuable wood, while some other states are already BOTAK.
14.Our air and water is among the cleanest in Malaysia, and we do not even need any water or air purifier.
15.Sarawak has houses way bigger than houses in West Malaysia. We do not live in condominiums because they are so small and uncomfortable. We live in big, detach or semi-detach houses.
16.We speak better English than most people in Malaysia.
17. We have Puteri Santubong

Proud to be Sarawakian n Malaysian :)

Anonymous said...

tok bat reply apai dgn 17 points!!hehe..jgn sapa2 kacau sarawak,nanti tok bat buat blog trus kat comment section ni..hehe

magenta said...

slacx:telur penyu tu aku xsure la,ade sesetgh pendpt ckp xleh,yg kata boleh tu juga berpendpt leh mkn penyu as long as dia disembelih dulu.psl leh mkn semua telur tu lg la musykil,cos telur buaya and ular leh mkn ke?pastu dgr cerita org mkn telur penyu sbb konon2 leh kuatkan tenaga ke?

anonymous:haha pasar ape?pasar siti kadijah ke?hehe

jipo & tok bat: tq for enlightening me and anyone reading.yes stereotyping can be extremely annoying.

Ingrid Dients said...

For God's sakes please don't eat penyus, halal ke idak! Mcm la takde mende lain nak makan kek mesia ni. Malaysia has the best and most varied menu in the world (says the Malaysian biasedly:P).

Btw you forgot to buat stereotype org KL..kata from KL je automatically those from certain states will assume we are rosak akhlak or just escaped a juvenile facility. Also, ALL KL-lites go clubbing, minum2 lepastu piss in the park. Hotak depa. Kebanyakan yg frequent clubs kat KL I think are rempits and ppl from other states yg wanna KL-ite themselves. Btw, we're PJ people. Laidback and way cooler than kampung KL..haha. We lepak at mamak that serve RM7 milo shakes..wahahaha. Not.

I stereotype Kelantan people, but only after masuk Uni. In TKC one of my best friend was a pure mek and she was super cool. I still blame weird things Kelantanese ppl do for their Thai blood..hahaha. Sifat kepuakkan tu susah nak deny..but I see that mostly among the men je, and not all men. Btw, I think org Kelantan paling tere berniaga and the women control the economy and household. I love budu but hate it when they make tom yam manis or add more than a teaspoon of sugar into their curry or savoury stuff. Never liked ayam percik cos it's slightly manis! Am a savoury person, thru and thru!

Anonymous said...

Allooo magenta sayang.

Menurut syarak, semua jenis telur boleh dimakan ( hah ! jangan pikir lain ! ), asalkan ia tidak beracun dan memudaratkan.

Sebab, telur termasuk dalam kategori tak berupa makhluk lagi. Maknanya, kalau telur ayam, tak ada rupa ayam lagi.

Bukan soal sembelih dan bukan gak soal haiwan dua alam ! Kalu soal sembelih, mampus laa nak kena sembelih dulu telur ayam !

Yang bab dua alam tuh, jika dia binatang hidup. Contohnye, macam penyu ( bukan telur aa ).


Tak cayer, yang ni saya jumper kat intenet ==>

magenta said...

Allooo Mek Timoh sayang:

Kalau ikut syarak kau sebut tu, maknanya hukum makan telur penyu adalah HARAM sebab dia memudaratkan.
Tak cayer, yang ni aku jumpe kat internet ==>

Oh dan lagi, bila masa aku cakap orang Kelantan tu orang Siam? Ada darah Siam hanya sekadar bermaksud mixed Siam, bukan jadi orang Siam. Aku juga cakap ada segelintir saja orang Kelantan berdarah Siam, bukan semua. Memang betul,kan?

Terima kasih berkongsi link.

Melayu Minimalis said...

haha i actually know that 'orang asli'. good friend of mine.. :)

magenta said...

MM: Haha kita semua sudah dewasa untuk sedar bahawa caption gambar itu bukan satu kutukan yang ditujukan kepada dia. For an 'orang asli' he sure has a nice T Shirt.

Bovril: Aiseh don't la spoil Stereotype part 2. I want to do on KL also but it's too long to fit in this entry.

"Btw, we're PJ people. Laidback and way cooler than kampung KL..haha. We lepak at mamak that serve RM7 milo shakes..wahahaha. Not."

-Hahahaha this is a good point I should include later. Not sure many will get it though.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post.Haha..yeah stereotypes are annoying.Read more.Watch more National Geographic.

Anonymous said...

Umm ....Can anyone of you guys show me some SINGLE MEN IBAN PICTURES i need them for my project ...

Nur Amira said...

hahha...lawaks..i agree about kelantanese..they always say their people paling pandai n terbaik..bluek..
may aunt kwen n org kelantanese..she was unfortunate later on get beaten up by her alhamdulillah dorg dh divorce