Friday, November 23, 2007

Are You A Tiewgai?

If Singaporeans are kiasu (afraid to loose, especially 'loose face' or be humbled), then what are Malaysians, or less sweepingly, Sabahans?

In Hakka, there's a term called tiewgai (literally stealing the chicken). I'm come to the conclusion that that's what we Sabahans/Malaysians are, a bunch of tiewgais, or people who consciously try to beat the system, or take short cuts, either to save time, money or work.

The most obvious thing they tiew/steal is traffic lights time. If the lights turn green, never go immediately if it's your turn. Never. There's sure to be at least 3 to 5 cars shooting past the red lights and you can almost feel their smugness as they make it across: There, I've tiew again today! I recently talked to the Chief of Traffic about this. A handsome, well-educated fella from West, he was attentive and soft-spoken (man, he should've been a psychiatrist!) but...well, at least he was good to look at. And he did give me a discount on my traffic summon. No, it wasn't for running a red. Apparently, here the authorities help you to tiewgai too. I was directed to see the Handsome Chief for a discount. Why? It was Operasi something, a campaign to promote safe driving. I thought that's when they should stand firm and show us they mean what they say! But hey, I shouldn't complain, I got to tiewgai.

Another common Sabahan habit: at wedding dinners, leave at the side doors before the party is over. Maybe it's a way to punish the hosts for starting dinner late (upto 1 1/2 hours late in a recent wedding dinner I attended, another peculiar Sabahan habit). The reason they always give is that they want to beat the traffic leaving the venue. Why bother to attend the function if you are more concerned about getting home early? This habit applies to watching the movies as well. Before The End, people are scrambling to get out. I used to think maybe they've all seen the movie except me, or maybe there was a fire outside. It has become such a common habit that now even I stand up before the credits roll.

Another tiewgai habit is when people are queueing. I've experienced it many, many times. Some man/woman will cut in and look like they have all the right. It's unbelievable. I have told people to get back so many times I'm afraid I'd get punched one day. I did once had my neck strangled by this guy who held up the line. I was studying for my SPM exams (Grade 10/ O Levels equivalent) in the British Council Library in town and I had to call home. The line was long and my friend Benny said the man in the telephone booth had talked for a long, long time. I went and knocked on the booth door. He came out later, asked who knocked and when I stepped forward, he said he was a CID man (plainsclothes policeman) and he could talk as long as he liked. I disagreed, and the next thing I knew, he reached out and squeezed my neck like I was a chicken. I reached back and squeezed the bully by his neck too but it was hard like a steel column! This was near KK's Central Market and I was just a schoolgirl still in school uniform for goodness sake! All the Chinese vendors called out for him to stop and for me to let go ("Ah moi, ng mou lau ge da loh!!"). When he finally let go, I was gasping and crying and saying I'm going to the police. You know what Benny reminded me? But that guy was the police! I harbored a vigilante kind of fantasy against policemen for a long time... Gosh, what was my point again?

Still not convinced? How about this? If your country doesn't have a certain x program, and sent a man to piggy-back on another country's, for a fee paid by all you hard-working taxpayers, then declared that it is now astronomically advanced, I'd call it tiewgai/short cut. Or when you think no one is looking and you want a certain position but don't want to work your way up, you give someone a call...ah ha, tiewgai again!

Come on, don't you agree that we are a bunch of tiewgais??

8 comments:

Denise said...

I want to share you a story.
Lately I been liasing with a lot of govt dept for my company's project.

So I called up this "Director" of this very important govt dept of Our country ok!.. asking for info, he said, Oh, Pls refer to my headquarter, Pls deal with my Headquarter, "Buk Yao lai Fan wo" (dont come and trouble me)

I get Upset & ANGRY when he says that to me!!! I don't mind when he's not offering help. But I get thoroughly disapppointed as he says "Dont trouble him"! Hey! what is this? U're not helpful and yet you're pushing off your responsibility???????

Being a Director of this Ministry! and his attitude is like *#($#* ? and worse, he's a chinese!!!
I feel so Shame of Being a Malaysian Chinese lahhhhhhh!

Lately Malaysian Government is practising this VSS scheme to Govt staffs! who're not "performing"! Pls LEAVE! Oh well, I feel He should LEAVE!!!!!!!!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

denise;;;i hope u don't get into trouble for ur comment...i totally agree with u how things r out there. well, once in 4 yrs we can have a say, no matter how small tt say is. but then again we have smthing called 'phantom voters'...

Denise said...

Let me give you an award.
[Stress-Relief Article of the Month]
U know, I read ur "Are You A Tiewgai" during my lunch time, and I was laughing & almost got choked by my food!
now is 3pm, I can't concentrate on reading my articles on my desk! know why? cuz my mind still thinking of How you kena squeeze like a CHicken lah!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and I start laughing out again HAhahahHAhahahaha....
You're really GENG o! Dare to Counter back! HAHAHAHAHHAHHA

raina said...

Do you know how tough it is to suppress my dying-to-burst-out laughter?? Gosh, you told me the story about 'The Strangle' yrs back. Somehow, reading it again still makes me laugh, albeit very 'quietly'. Yes, you have my vote - we are a bunch of 'twiegais'.

A man (I think he's from China) cut into my queue at the airport recently. No matter how I tried to tell him including using sign language)that he should go to the back of the line, he just didn't budge. Major twiegai cos' there was like more than 10 persons after me.

Shan said...

Wah Terri good for you for standing up for yourself. I hate bullies or people who pick on the smaller or defenseless.

I witnessed this last night at Blue Note. I was there with a lot of friends and so was this jerk a few tables over who was drinking with his cousin. I really never liked this guy to begin with. A real Class A loser who thinks he's great simply because of daddy's money. You know the sort.

So anyway, it was really late and I'm guessing some people got drunk because suddenly the jerk started slapping his own cousin around for some silly reason, and the guy is a lot smaller.

My friend (who's like 6ft 2in - pretty tall for local standards) told him to calm down and stop it. The jerk got even more pissed off and told my friend to butt out and mind his own business otherwise he would be in trouble.

My friend was smiling as he asked the jerk "Do you really want to start with me?"

The fella didn't answer and just turned away. He looked nervous.

Nice! I like it when bullies get their comeuppance. And it's true, a lot of them really are big chickens if they're not in a gang.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

denise: if it makes u happier, i'll gladly accept the award :D but do try not to read this blog when u r eating bc i tend to write silly things sometimes.yes, i can also laugh about it now. i was 17, n fought back due to a primal 'survival of the fittest' reaction. i bet u see me in the air, feet dangling n kicking as i'm grabbed by the neck, which is not how it was cos the guy was too short to dangle me.

raina: maddening isn't it! it's called "ja soh tai sai" n it happened to me in China too when this guy lighted up, IN A CAVE. i told him not to, n he ignored me. it happened again in the upper enclosed deck of the cruise boat along tt Lijiang River in Quilin. grrr!

Shan: "this jerk started slapping his own cousin.." made me laugh so hard!i mean, what is it with ppl now?? we can't go out w/o getting strangled, slapped or smacked? (tho i can tell u some things have changed for the better. when i was very young, it was standard everyday fare to get ur buttocks pinched/molested when we walk by certain people in the street)

yea, thumbs up for the 6' 2" hunk!

bryan said...

Great story, and I agree with you completely. I just got back from Singapore and being there is always a rather stark reminder of the sad state of affairs we have here in Malaysia.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

bryan: yes, 1000% agree. even on a simple issue like trees - even my mom noticed on a recent visit tt "Spore is so pleasant with so many trees!"
How did Sabah, with the most resources in Msia, go from the richest to the poorest state in 40 years?btw, did u read tt criticizing the govt now can be considered seditious?? do they even know the meaning of the word??isn't the govt for the ppl n not the other way around?? who is more seditious - the ppl who make oppressive, destructive policies or ppl who speak out for constructive changes??

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