Friday, May 19, 2017

Hot dog issue has made Malaysia famous for the wrong reason: The Star columnist

May 18, 2017

Wong Chun Wai

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Looks like the monsoon season is starting soon. That is when it starts to rain cats and dogs. No, these animals will not fall from the skies, but it is best that Malaysians are well-prepared for the floods.

The authorities, we are very sure, will not let anyone be confused. Personnel from the Civil Defence Force and Fire Department are already on standby to face the wettest month of the year.

According to one report, tourists will almost certainly experience thunderstorms and floods - they have been predicted to take place on 83 per cent of the 25 days with rainfall. Light rain may also occur but is rare, being observed on only 11 per cent of those days.

This means our rescue teams can be expected to work really hard and as one will say - work like a dog.

But some will benefit from these heavy downpours. While some tourists would stay away from Malaysia during the wet season and with hotels in the east coast having already shut down ahead of the monsoon, there are tourists who come here for the rain!

These are people from countries with little or no rain, and standing in the rain can be a real joy for them.

The rain is loved by some because it is a sure escape from the sweltering heat. The expression "dog days of summer" refers to dogs seeking a shady spot to lie down and do nothing. Humans, of course, do the same and so, this expression became popular.

Well, luckily for us, this expression is not commonly used here because if it was, a confused Little Taliban, with his fiery determination to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state, would possibly ban its use in our school text books.

As one of my colleagues said, with such civil servants in our midst, we are no longer looking at creeping, but possibly galloping, Islamisation.

Some older Malaysians like me talk about times when there was much more openness in our society.

Many of us attended Catholic schools. To this day, most of us certainly did not convert and still kept our faith. Those were great days. In the early 1960s, we listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Deep Purple and even Three Dog Night.

Closer to home, remember the Singaporean band Black Dog Bone? They were real hot then with their best-selling albums, performing in the coolest discos and played to sold-out crowds in Singapore and Malaysia.

I loved the Malay version of Earth, Wind and Fire's Fantasy - it was called Khayalan. Many of you millennials don't know what you missed . Those guys were awesome!

This bunch of Malay and Chinese boys from Geylang made waves in Malaysia. Well, they are just a distant memory now. But as they say, every dog has its day. Okay, 15 minutes of fame, if you insist, in modern jargon.

Then, we had Lobo with his hit Me and You and A Dog Named Boo and of course, singer Anita Sarawak, who famously got into trouble in 1981 when she did a cover for the song and cuddled a dog in a video. It was too much for some people even then, but it blew over and Anita Sarawak survived.

If it had happened now, she could have been "culled". I remember meeting her for the first time and asked her about the controversy in an interview after a concert at Dewan Sri Pinang. The next day, I was invited for lunch by Sarawak and her manager for a big write-up. Those were the days.

Dogs were not the only "glamourous" ones. Cats were too. Penang produced its very own The Alleycats! Oh yes, David Arumugam and his brothers. Terima Kasihhhh! We knew they wouldn't be kuching kurap (insignificant) for long in tiny Penang but would become real big dogs in Kuala Lumpur. Big time. And they did make it big time.

But now, we are in an era where the mere mention of even "Barbie Doll" which sounds like babi (pig) can offend some, even though it has nothing to do with the animal.

I worry for rapper Snoop Dogg and actor Kevin Bacon, with names like that. I mean these guys don't know what they can get into. Didn't they think about the consequences? And what about the Shakespearean play, Hamlet? No ham, please.

Our authorities are a stressed out lot. They are worried that some Malaysians cannot tell that hot dogs are not actually made from dog's meat. It must be the deteriorating level of English among Malaysians. So, it is better to say hot sausages than hot dogs.

The director of the halal division from the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) Dr Sirajuddin Suhaimee said he was "quoted out of context" by the media.

He was earlier quoted as saying, via Whatsapp to the media, that "in Islam, dogs are considered unclean and the name cannot be related to halal certification," he reportedly said.

So, it has became the fault of the media, my friends - the media which try to spin and spin, just to sell news. You know, the media, especially the newspapers, are now under stress. Must compete. It's a dog-eat-dog business, you see.

Enough has been said over the issue, which has grabbed headlines around the world. Most Malaysians have suffered enough embarrassment.

That's the problem when someone decides to be an adviser in English when he should just be worried about certification and food products.

We don't want to see Malaysia going to the dogs because we really love this country. We need to stay moderate and stay rational.

Malaysians are really dog tired with the aimless petty squabbles, pointless rambling and the senseless din, which smacks of racism.

For Malaysians who believe in moderation, we must continue the cause with dogged determination. We shouldn't be easily intimidated, threatened and discouraged.

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