Wednesday, June 28, 2006

4D - Instant path to Misery

KAU v. to cry
PEI n. father
BO n. a Kuching Hokkien variation, correct pronounciation Bu (boo), which means Mother

This is one of my early blog entries on Hokkien words. Thought of it after receiving this e-mail attachment...

Kau pei kau bo. This phrase is used to describe the state of continuous wailing and discontentment. Literally, it means cry to father, cry to mother. It is typically used in the second person (the addressee) and third person (anyone other than speaker and addressee). Please do not use this phrase to describe yourself, like something I heard not long ago:-

Damn soo-ku (stupid)! I kau pei kau bo when my teacher took my handphone away.

Not only is the usage completely wrong, it actually makes the speaker appears really soo-ku. In fact, serve him right, I hope the teacher also takes his brain away.

Kau pei kau bo really means to create a cacophony, to nag, to badger, to lament on and on about foregone matters or incidents, often very trivial. It should not be used in a serious context.

Example of wrong application:

Ah-Chee: I cannot believe it! What! You didn't buy the winning 4D ticket?!

Ah-Meng: Ah-Chee, don't kau pei kau bo ok, nothing I can do now. So what if it was first prize. I really forget to buy your 4D numbers.

Strictly speaking, this is not a correct use of the phrase. Why? Because it is not a foregone matter, Ah-Meng now owes Ah-Chee the winning prize of 2 grand, because not buying 4D lottery tickets in Kuching when promised is actually punishable by law. Furthermore, this is indeed a serious matter, so the phrase should not be used.

Example of correct application:

Ah-Chee: What! Again! You forgot to buy the winning ticket for the second time this week!

Ah-Meng: Ah-Chee, please don't kau pei kau bo. Too late now.

Ah-Chee: I am so su-koo for asking you again.

Serve him right for entrusting Ah-Meng again. This is an acceptable use of the phrase as stupidity is in fact, a forgone matter. And also punishable by law in Kuching.

Sisuahlai. Never kau pei kau bo.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Introducing Paolo Nutini to all Kuching, Malaysian listeners

SAO n. to kick the ball far far!

I have been busy with work and a police case. There will be infrequent entries until my assistance is no longer needed by them.
On a lighter note, let me introduce you to a new Scottish talent: Paolo Nutini. He is only 19 but sings like he has been battered, bruised, and then aged gloriously in life. I don't think you will find his CDs in Kuching, but they are available on his web-sites, free of charge (for now... so visit his site quick). His debut album is out in July but he has been hitting the headlines with his soulful voice. Some of his songs are now available on iTune UK. There is something James Blunt-ish about his music, and I hope he is a superior version of JB.

Have a good week. And good luck England. And Australia.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


LOOD v. (vulgar) to hit, to screw, synonym: kahn

A Kuching doctor and a KL lawyer were chatting at a party. Their conversation was constantly interrupted by people describing their ailments and asking the doctor for free medical advice. After an hour of this, the exasperated Kuching doctor asked the KL lawyer, "What do you do to stop people from asking you for legal advice when you're out of the office?"

"I give it to them," replied the lawyer," and then I send them a bill."

"Really lood them hard!" he added.

The doctor was shocked, but agreed to give it a try. The next day, still feeling slightly guilty, the doctor prepared the bills.

When he went to place them in his mailbox, he found a bill from the lawyer.

Sisuahlai says... lood responsibly.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Piano Lessons and the Chinese Family

KUA n. music

Another reader's e-mail.

Dear Sisuahlai,

What is it with Chinese families and piano lessons? I don't think piano lessons will make my son a genius (strangely, striving to be a genius is often regarded as a noble Chinese ambition, not child abuse), yet my wife kept insisting we send our 6-year-old to a music school. Help.

F., Sibu.

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Dear F.,

First of all, may I just say that I fully sympathise with your delicate position. Pleasing the wife is never easy, especially if she has an urban upbringing. (Ladies, before you start throwing your high-heels at me and calling me a chauvinist; let me offer you my sincere apologies and I beg that you read on before judging.)

Piano lessons for many urban Chinese families is almost like pang-sai (poo-poo, or No. 2 in Hokkien), it is compulsory to maintain a balanced physiological well-being. Kids have little say about this enforcement.

If the parents spot any unease when the child is sat on the piano chair, the first corrective measure is to deliver a psychological torment usually with words to the effect of "you don't know how hard we work to make money so that you have the chance to play music, don't disappoint us!"

If the child shows more signs of resistance, the piano is promptly traded in for a violin. In other words, the parents always win and the child almost always ended up sulking in a major beh-song way.

F., like you, I fail to appreciate this piano lessons culture . It is definitely not to cultivate the love for music. Most middle-aged Chinese parents do not appreciate 50Cents, Eminem, and Three 6 Mafia. And these are seriously talented modern musicians. It is definitely not to bring the joy of music to the household, not many parents can tolerate repetitive Old Macdonalds.

So why piano lessons? Why not vocal lessons? What is wrong with karaoke culture?

I turn to social psychologists for the answer. Most middle-aged Chinese parents exhibit what psychologists call a "compensation syndrome."

According to a superbly written article by Todd Crowell and David Hsieh, in China, these parents attended political lectures instead of taking piano lessons. Universities were viewed as bastions of "bourgeois ideals" to be avoided rather than avenues of personal advancement to travel. Many look back sadly on their lost childhood and are determined to make sure their kids won't have to endure anything like those bleak years.

Now what about Chinese families in Malaysia? I believe that they still carry a huge cultural baggage, copied from their forefathers in China. Don't despair F., your kids are likely grow up with a different cultural aspiration. Unless of course, you continue to allow your wife to imprint this "compensation syndrome" on them.

It's not too late. Let's reason with her. You should tell your wife that the chance of your child (assuming he shows the normal mental tendencies for a 6-year-old, i.e. not autistic) turning into a musical genius is highly improbable. He can still enjoy and appreciate music without having to turn to piano-playing. They are other way to instil culture, going to library and sculpturing play-doh to name a few. And don't forget to tell her this: Bill Gates cannot play piano, and yet he is the richest man in the world.

Need more help?

Sisuahlai. (Now ladies, you can start throwing your high-heels...)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Fever Fever Fever

To all my readers, thank you for nominating this blog for The 2006 Asian Blog Awards (Malaysian Category): pai seh pai seh, this blog won't win, but if it did I will throw a big party in Kuching. And you're invited!

HUAT-SIYO n. fever

Another question for Sisuahlai.

Dear Sisuahlai,

How are you? Can you help me? I went to see my doctor and was charged RM40 for what he said was "simple flu". I went home with a bag of panadol and vitamin C. Have I paid the right price?

M------, Kuching.

Dear M.,

Quite honestly, I don't know why you saw the doctor in the first place. Maybe it was a frigtening season of kids falling ill, and some got admitted to hospital from a nasty virus. But I assume you are not under the age of 10, and therefore unlikely to have hand, foot and mouth disease.

If everyone pays to see the doctor for simple fever or a running nose, you will not only put the doctors' children through college and most probably churn out another doctor, but you are likely to be doing a disservice to the ill community. If a clinic is overwhelmed with trivial ailments, the likelihood of missing a more serious condition is much greater. (I am prepared to argue this point if any doctors disagree with me.)

RM40 (USD12) is a lot of money for a bag of panadol/paracetamol and vitamin C. But I do not disagree with this fee, because you are effectively wasting the doctor's time and therefore paying the fine. You are paying an amount equivalent of 0.001% of Malaysian per capita. A busy clinic sees 100 of such "trivial" cases per day, so a doctor needs only to work 10 days to accumulate a year's money of an average Malaysian worker. Is it any wonder then that your doctor is a rich man?

Empowered by the knowledge that you are not likely to fatally succumb from simple flu symptoms, are you still going to queue up to pay RM40 for panadol and vitamin C? Well, this is another matter if your company is paying your medical fee or you regard RM40 is cheap for 2 days sick-note.

Now, when is a simple flu symptoms not so simple (i.e when should you see a doctor)? This guide is intended for adults like M-----. Not for anyone under 16.

Symptoms that last for more than 10 days
Ear-ache or drainage from your ear
Severe pain in your face or forehead
Temperature above 102°F or 38°C
Shortness of breath
Hoarseness, sore throat or a cough that won't go away

Flu complications usually appear after you start feeling better. After a brief period of improvement, you may suddenly get these symptoms:

Persistent high fever
Shaking chills
Chest pain with each breath
Coughing that produces thick, yellow-greenish-coloured mucus

These could be signs of pneumonia (bacterial lung infection). Now this can be very serious and sometimes life-threatening. If you have any of these symptoms, you must see your doctor.

Going back to M's question: has he paid the right price? No. He should have paid more if indeed it was simple flu, because he didn't need to see the doctor in the first place!

You know you can be smarter than your doctor!


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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Coffee reduces alcohol-related liver disease (really?)

KOPI LUI n.,n. coffee-money (bribe)

BBC Online this week: A US study of 125,580 men and women (this is an impressively large study!) over 20 years found a 22% reduced risk of developing alcoholic cirrhosis for each cup of coffee drank per day. But tea was not associated with a reduced risk, indicating caffeine may not be the link, the study in Archives of Internal Medicine concluded.

I have a problem with the findings of this "coffee" research, which was published in an well-established medical journal. It is sending out a potentially dangerous message. The way to reduce alcohol-related liver damage is to avoid excessive amount of alcohol, not drinking a cup of coffee a day. And clearly, it is not just the caffeine that is implicated in the reduction of risk. So what is the active ingredient? This research has not identified any.
So what can we deduce from this study? To drink coffee or not to drink? If so, which type of coffee: Decaf? Kenyan? Instant? With milk and sugar (remember, obesity is strongly linked to liver cirrhosis!)?
I think we are missing the point here. I think we have to look beyond the science and the statistics. The coffee culture itself may offer some plausible explanation. Could it be that coffee-drinkers tend to be office workers, holding a 9-5 job, therefore responsibly limit their alcohol drinking? Could it be that coffee-drinkers use coffee as stimulant, therefore avoid excesssive alcohol which does the opposite?
I somehow feel that a sociological study will give us a better answer. Rather than some research conducted by medically-trained people!
Doctors these days, cheh! Mostly cons.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Germanic Influence

HUAT-SIYO WER-KAP n.,adj. world cup fever

The heat here in London (and quite possibly, in Frankfurt) is comparable to Kuching in August! I can understand if those footballers found themselves hot, bothered, unable to make simple passes and incapable of running for the ball. But if they were paid a 6-figure salary a week, quite frankly, I do expect them to run and run and run till the last whistle, without complaint.

England's excuse for dropping their performance in the second half against Paraguay because of heat is equivalent to someone who failed their exams and blamed the classroom for not having air-conditioner (i.e. me, in 1993, Additional Maths). The school didn't pay me a 6-figure salary, so shame on you.


Have the English upset the Germans with this announcement?

The European Commission have just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5 year phase in plan that would be known as "EuroEnglish":

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c".. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of the "k". This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with the "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e"'s in the languag is disgrasful, and they should go away.

By the 4th yer, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Politically blind?

CHE-MEH adj. blind

A popular British high-street chain (Burtons) is being sued by a shopper this week because she can't get into the store in her wheelchair! I love disabled people, but I don't sue the management team of Satok Plaza because I cannot find a parking space. I just find another plaza to shop. What do you think?

I heard a blind person was about to sue Playboy until...

I want to be politically-correct, without being politically-mad.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Loo economy

JAMBHAN n. (Malay) toilet

Dear Sisuahlai,

Should I leave the toilet seat down, as my live-in girlfriend demands? Or, should she be putting it down herself? Why the fuss? Can you help, so-called SOCIETY LITTLE HELPER?

Gobitiam "Ronaldo" Toni Adams.

Dear Gobitiam "Ronaldo" Toni Adams,

Through some extensive googling search, I think I have found your answer...

Jay Pil Choi, a (male) economist at Michigan State University, has demonstrated what men find obvious and women seem unable to grasp: that the “status quo” rule (leave it how it was when you finished) is more efficient than the “down” rule (put it down afterwards) under most plausible assumptions.

The reasoning is that the seat should be moved only when necessary - just before someone uses the lavatory.If a man visits the lavatory twice in a row, the “status quo” rule saves the cost of lowering the seat when leaving only to raise it when returning. Choi also shows, using some fancy maths, that the “status quo” rule is still superior even if the inconvenience cost to your wife of moving the seat is nearly three times the inconvenience cost to you.

Richard Harter, a (male) mathematician, has calculated the incremental costs of moving from bachelorhood or spinsterhood to connubial bliss. Since men sometimes need the seat down, they are used to bearing the cost of moving it. Women who live alone or with other women need never move the seat at all; therefore the incremental costs of moving to a mixed household are obvious.

Yet I feel that these thinkers have missed the bigger picture. Assume two types of man: the considerate gentleman and the selfish pig. It is famously difficult for women to distinguish them at first sight...

Up or Down? You decide. I believe that such argument is non-existent in a gay household. You also have this third option.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


LAK LAK LAK n.,n.,n. six six six

I love this google "intuitive" advertisement. You make a negative comment about something, and the next minute, you have an ad promoting that same item on your google ad banner.

Love it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Dark soya sauce anyone?

LIM SEE-IYOO v.,n. drink the "far eastern wine"

Drink it like wine? Err, you first...

Dark soya sauce better than wine? Only in their little research world!

GOON-DUK adj. Tamil word for schmuck (qualifies as a Kuching Hokkien word because I want it too)
REUTERS, the London based news service agency, are constantly looking for exclusive news story. Call or text them on +44 20 7250 1122 if you have any new gossip. This particularly Reuters scoop originated from the super-hip land of Singapore.

The headline reads: Dark soya sauce healthier than red wine

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Dark soya sauce, widely used in east Asia, may prove to be more effective than red wine and vitamin C in combating human cell damage,
researchers in Singapore said.
Scientists found that the sauce -- derived from fermented soya beans -- contains antioxidant properties about 10 times more effective than red wine and 150 times more potent than vitamin C.

Antioxidants -- found in red wine, fruits and vegetables -- counter the effects of free radicals, unstable atoms which attack human cells and tissues.

Free radicals have been linked to the aging process as well as a range of ailments including Parkinson's disease, cancer and heart disease. The National University of Singapore study also found that the sauce improved blood flow by as much as 50 percent in the hours after consumption.
I have a problem understanding the value of this research. NUS, one of the region most respected places for generating scandalous after-college student activities, have spent all those hours just to prove that (1) soya improved blood flow (allegedly to their heads also) and (2) it contains more potent anti-oxidant activities than wine, which surprisingly is not a major export products of the island country. I think this is a case of conducting a research purely for the sake of conducting a research, and not much else.
Knowing that dark soya sauce can deliver more blood volume to the heart and brain does not add anything to our eating culture. We will still use dark soya and we will still drink wine in the same manner as before. Dark soya can never be proven to be more effective than wine in combating human cell damage, for the simple reasons that no one, even NUS-trained people, will drink soya sauce in the same quantity as wine and no ethics committee will approve any experiment involving dark soya drinking versus wine-drinking. So we will never know.
Knowing that a certain chemical, in this case, dark soya sauce, contains x amount of right juice, i.e. anti-oxidant property, does not equate to good health or longevity. We all know that the key to good health has always been having a good balance of all the right juices: fruits, vegetables, exercise, nice loving spouse and a comprehensive medical insurance.
And please, do not take large amounts of dark soya sauce in your pursuit of gaining more anti-oxidant powers. The high salt content is not good for your hair and skin. Did someone say blood pressure also?
Sisuahlai rating for this dark soya sauce research: SCIENTIFIC VALUE 0, AMUSEMENT VALUE 8

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Friday, June 02, 2006

How ar? Am I hired or fired?

The Maldivian blog entry series have generated a lot of interest in this Island Republic. No, I am not employed or sponsored by the Maldives Tourism Board. But I am always glad to promote exotic places, especially those with growing GDP (and high GNH).

GNH is Gross National Happiness, a term suggested by the King of Bhutan, who said GNH is more important than gross national product. Hmm, hard to disagree with him.

Sarawak is definitely one place with growing GDP and very high GNH! Cannot wait to do a blog series on Sarawak. (I am still waiting for my appointment letter from the Sarawak Tourism Board.)

Selamat Hari Gawai to all Sarawakians and everyone celebrating this wondrous day! Gayu-guru, gerai-nyamai.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Grr... Disni-Malaysia

KHAO adj. enough

Alright, enough about the Maldives. Let's resume normal Sisuahlai activity.

Have you heard about the latest government project? The Malaysian government is in talks with Disney about building a theme park.

BBC reports: "It would also be a coup for Malaysia's tourism industry in its ongoing rivalry with neighbouring Singapore, which is banking on two giant casino resorts." Fight. Fight. Fight. I mean friendly competition.

"The site is near the location of a new bridge that would link Malaysia and Singapore, and would thus have good transport links throughout South-East Asia." Build it close to them, so they can see it.

"Successful negotiations would mean the creation of south-east Asia's first Disneyland, following in the footsteps of Tokyo and Hong Kong." Another First.

But if you want Sisuahlai's honest opinion, DISNEYLAND is no competition to TWO GIANT CASINO RESORTS. This is Asia. The whole continent are addicted to gambling. Besides, you would need to pay someone a lot of money to wear that Mickey Mouse suit in our cheery hot and humid weather!

Oh well, Singapore Economy 1 Malaysia Economy 0.

Read the BBC news article.
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