Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Annoying misconceptions about Sabahans


Fact: Most people from the Peninsular don't know nuts about Sabah and Sarawak, AND they always, always can't differentiate between the two states - just like your sirih sucking nenek at your kampung who thinks the whole peninsular is just one big long state made up of that big, evil city that makes their children who goes there to study or work adopt that cringe worthy Semenanjung accent when they come back, called Kuala Lumpur.

I'm not saying ALL Peninsular people are ignorant. 'Most' refers to the group who have never met Borneo people, what more befriending them and those who never drop by for budget cuti-cuti. Hence the total, utterly annoying ignorance.

I'm also not here to bash the Peninsular people - heck, KL is awesome and so are my Peninsular friends.

But this is just something that I've seen and experienced throughout my stay on the 'other side', and the things that irked me. And of course, just to clear up a few misconceptions.

First of all, Sabah and Sarawak ARE TWO DIFFERENT STATES. Yes, the two states plus Brunei and Kalimantan makes Borneo, but nevertheless, THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT STATES. You might think I'm insulting their intelligence, but really, there ARE people who can't tell the difference.

And one of those people is my own Masters degree holder TESL lecturer. She's our tutor, so she's supposed to be like a mum to us. Even after almost six years being under her wing, every time we came back from our holidays, she'd always ask me, "How's your flight from Sarawak?" At one point I'd just answer her, "My flight from Kuching was okay."

And there's one time that made me really wonder whether she is blonde under that sparkly tudung of hers. We were gonna have a Raya party, and bring food from home.
And no surprise there when she asked me, "Amanda, can you bring those kek lapis Sarawak?" And I answered her, "But we don't have kek lapis Sarawak in Sabah."
"You don't?" she asked, looking genuinely shocked.
"Yeaah...we don't."
"But I thought it's the same?" she asked, sounded slightly disappointed.
"See, Sabah and Sarawak are two different states?" I said with hand gestures to clarify my point.
I waited for her to blast me with the you-think-I-don't-know-that come back.
She just said, "Oh."

Point proven.

Another thing that annoys me is that, when Peninsular people found out that I'm Sabahan, they'd ask me, "Naik belon ke datang sini?"

I wish I could tell them, no, saya naik kapal terbang, because only the Sarawakians refer airplane as belon.

And sometimes I just feel like punching their teeth into their skulls.

Secondly, our Sabahan accented Bahasa Melayu DOESN'T SOUND LIKE THE INDONESIAN LANGUAGE. AND NO, I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT THE ACTORS ARE TALKING ABOUT IN AN INDONESIAN MOVIE WITHOUT READING THE ENGLISH SUBS. I have nothing against the Indonesians, heck, they are people of nation too just like us, but since they make up more than 80% of the rough labor force here, and sometimes they do things that are illegal here causing an unintentional prejudice against them, it is insulting when the Peninsular people keep insisting that we do sound like Indonesians. We fucking don't.

Besides that, there are real idiots out there who think we still live on trees and wear barks and leaves to cover our privates. Seriously?

An ex-roomate didn't think I still live on trees, but she did think I live in a long house. I said I stay in a terrace house. And she made a really surprised face. What the what.

Another thing that they always get confused is our status as Bumiputeras. People have asked me before, "Do the Bumiputeras back at Sabah fast during fasting month too?". "Uh, yeah, those who are Muslims do." "So they are those who don't fast?" Duh. It is one concept they can't grasp - that they are Bumiputeras who are non-Muslims. Lots of 'em, in Sabah and Sarawak. They just couldn't fathom that.

I guess you can't really hate them for their misconceptions. They're just...uninformed? You can only be irritated by their purely innocent ignorance.

And oh, radio lady commentating about the Pesta Kaamatan? It's pronounced as it is spelled. Stop saying KEAMATAN. Can't you read?

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

nicely done..that should open those "genius" eyes

Momo said...

I really can't stand the withstanding stupid joke they-think-it-is-so-funny-they-just-have-to-ask-you:
"Jadi korang duduk kat atas pokok la ek?"

To which, I answered:
"Yep, that's why we have our own elevator in every house".

Urgh... they think we so 'kampung', coming from Sabah when in fact, they're so stupid, they don't even know that they can just google Sabah and spare themselves, no, US! the stupidity.

Dierdre said...

My friend was holidaying at Langkawi recently and she kc cerita lah that the hawkers would usually do small talk to them and one of them is something like this:

"Dari mane? Vietnam? Thailand? Philippines?"

"Huh? Dari Sabah."

"Oh, Sabah.. Welcome to Malaysia!!!"

Tu baru lah.. The existence of Sabah pun tia tau!

Shamimi Haniza said...

'tutor' kita tu mmg contoh terbaik seorang yg ignorance or i must say x amek tau lgsg? =P

sheen said...

errmm.. am i one of em? =]

Amanda Christine Wong said...

Anonymous: they gotta know sometimes...

Momo: that has always been a good come back kan...haha...i'd like to think of it as ignorance...but maybe stupidity does fall somewhere between the line :/

Dierdre: hah! i think did meet people who said something like that, like, "First time in Malaysia? What the what?!

Shamimi Haniza: dua2 kot...sedih i :/

Sheen: are you one of em? hmm...

Jessica_Lyne said...

"saya orang sabah"
"oh, dah brapa tahun kat Malaysia?"
"...."
If that's a joke, I didn't get it. Some people are just uninformed ~sigh~

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, their superior ego far more greater than their brain.. as what in malay call “bodoh sombong” (its funny that they intend to chew on their own words)
Talking to this ignorance scum are like talking to a dead wood

Daniel Chiam said...

I LOVE YOU AMANDA! Haha, I have so much to share about this, might even cause a flooding alert followed by kick ban action (mirc talk -_-)

The 1st day at KLIA when I was picked up by a senior from the college, he ask me how do I go to school. I said 'by bus' and he was so surprise that we have bus! haha he said 'i thought you all have your own sampan'.

from there on I just know how clueless they are about the Borneo :D

I'm a guy that can lied with a straight face and I'll be honest that I enjoyed telling them we still live on a tree and we manage to build an elevator to go up the tree. I even have a pet monkey name Raja to 'kipas' me when the weather is hot :D

Yes we wear nothing but some tree bark or leaves to cover up our private part. Its not until I reached KL that I discover this thing called t-shirt and jeans.

In their mind, Sabah is still an undeveloped state. Which I totally agree because if we are an Independent State of Sabah we could have grown more rapidly than what we are now.

Okay enough said, the Borneo really rocks their socks off! Haha!

♥ AnnieMing ♥ said...

some of them are very sensitive over sabahan names too. like me, i have a 'binti' in my mykad & i think it's normal for bmiputras in sabah to have it in their names, regardless of their religion. when i was in uitm, there was a lecturer who are VEEERYYYY concern over names, races, and religions. when she saw my name in d attendance form, she asked "why ur name have a 'binti' there? u convert eh?" i said no, and i did explain her lah about sabah2 & binti2. then i dunno from where, she knew my mum's name.. mum's name ada 'siti' juga, but bukan convert punya. ask my grandparents why they name mum after that name.. tus d lecturer makin menyibuk ni. and she almost don't believe it when i insisted that we're pure +, bukan convert2 punya.. atukkk saya bilang.. bikin sot kalau menjawab soalan2 curious dr dia. mcm yg dia mau gotcha sa ni supaya sa terus mengaku "..iyaa, kami sekeluarga convert". hmm..

CynthD said...

Oh, I enjoy receiving stares during Ramadhan.

It makes me feel like a celebrity!

Eric Constantine said...

Harsh truth that opens the blinded mind...

i was in KL 2 weeks ago. Biasalah kena cakap orang Indon..lol. Lepas tu dorang ingat sia filipino...

love this post. :p happy holiday...

Amanda Christine Wong said...

Jessica_Lyne: That would probably the most shocking thing ever compared to the rest of the misconceptions. don't they go to school?!

Anonymous: In all of that, I bet they do feel much superior than us, which is a sad thing.

Daniel Chiam: HAHA! layan ja ba kan...hehe. you know what, i think we should blame the tourism ads - coz they always show sabah's nature and village and people wearing traditional clothes, and the tree barks for the male dancers. that's where they get the idea, i think.

AnnieMing: oh yeah! i forgot to mention about the binti2 thing...thanks for mentioning and sharing about it. It makes things really complicated kan? Susah betul mau buat bisnes once they see the binti and you are not muslim.

CynthD: I like to pretend to be one sometimes just to spite them :D

Amanda Christine Wong said...

Eric Constantine: Someone's gotta do it! mabuhai! :D

merry xmas!

Melancholic Fool said...

Huh... I think everyone who are in the minority would feel like how u feel Amanda,,, but the thing is, we are not minority... haih... i wanna comment... but i dunno where to start...

1. There are just some people who likes to make some patronizing remarks to those who are unfamiliar to them... thus the joke;
'Korg dok atas pokok?'
They sibuk ajar sejarah at school and telling us all about those 'white man's burden thing' but they themselves buat macam org putih gak, bajet hebat...
as for me, i grew up with the word 'keling' in substitute for my own name 'azhar'. You see, how much respect diorg bagi kat we indians?

They are just afraid of those who they are not familiar with... Including you who hails from a very mysterious island... so they say...

2. They are really ignorant people, they are just stupid, it is like they grew up in this really secluded place where information about the country mmg not available to them... sometimes i pity them... thats is why la sometimes the bumiputera sabah and sarawak is gawked at masa ramadhan in semenanjung...

Amanda, get this, at my Kampung, there was this one Sarawakian teacher yang dah kene pukul dah dgn pakcik kedai sebab nak makan nasi campur kat kedai pukul 1.oo p.m

I think kalau aku tulis panjang lagi la.. u will not have time to read... it is just that i get you... i understand... even when i do not come from Sabah or Sarawak, people around me still baffled about the language i speak, the dark skin that i have and religion which i believe and hold....

I think, you and i should be thankful that WE are like who WE are and come from the background where we come from...

If not, kita akan jadik ignorant macam diorg jugak...

Melancholic Fool said...

and im really2 sorry that some of you sampai been made to feel like an outsider...

sayang...

wordsonjpgs said...

Didn't know there are so many misconceptions about Sabahians and Sarawakians even among Malaysians.

On my side, the most commonly quoted anecdote is that some westerners, especially Americans, think Singapore is part of China.

And as for those who are already in Singapore, some try to add a 'lah' to the end of the sentence to make themselves more endearing. I have a newly-arrived foreign colleague who did it recently. I caught a slightly condescending note, but it just made me feel really embarrassed for her. Sheesh!

Bro Nudist said...

Haha...This is a great post. I think all of us Sabahans have their own version tho share.

Mine happened years ago when I 1st registered into a Uni in Shah Alam.

Waiting for my turn in line, I finally got attended to by some pegawai or senior. He looked at my documents & asked, "Eh? Sabah ada Melayu ke?"

And, kept mocking about it to his friend beside him while he processed my papers.

When he was done, he handed over my documents, & asked again in his Utara accent, " Betul ke awak ni Melayu? Sabah manada Melayu..."

To which I replied, "Apa pulak takde Melayu? Sekurang-kurangnya rupa & nama saya ada ciri-ciri Melayu. Tgk sendiri la rupa abg...rupa sah-sah keling. Lagi mau sibuk tanya kalau saya ni Melayu atau tidak..."

FYI...the guy was mamak from Penang...

zewt said...

your tutor eh... no disrespect but i wonder how qualified she is.

Amanda Christine Wong said...

Melancholic Fool: nice to know that u feel us man...and yeah, i guess it's fear? fear of the unknown, the different and the 'kacukan' like you. So they make stupid and sometimes downright offensive remarks. It's unbelievable that even you received racist remarks, even though you are a brother of muslim like your inflictors. as if the whole brotherhood thing is masked by your darker skin colour. Hey, i'm glad to be who I am, and where i'm from, coz i know we (u and i types) totally rock :D.

wordsonjpgs: yup, condescending's the word. i understand ur feelings. you know that sabahans like to use the word 'bah' in certain sentences, that it has become part of our identity? so most of the time when i just a met a peninsular person, he would always add the word 'bah', as if he knows how to use it, which is of course, totally painful just to listen to him make a fool out of himself.

Bro_Nudist: hence another story of ignorance...either he really is stupid, or he was just being mean. you can never tell.

zewt: oh my gawd zewt, if you've been in her class you'd wonder how she could've made it till here.

wordsonjpgs said...

Oh, I've a good friend from Brunei who taught me about 'bah'. But I wouldn't even think of putting it out there should I ever speak with another Bruneian. I might ask about how the word is used, but not test-drive it in an annoying, smarmy way!

deeyah said...

Ignorance is the most suitable word for them... but I prefer to call em... ESTUPIDO... hahaha

Amanda Christine Wong said...

wordsonjpgs: you said it!

deeyah: ok, ESTUPIDO!

Wiskies said...

An annoying question my x-housemate ever asked me: "Sabah ader keychap tak?" Gosh!!

And a funny question my x-classmate in uni ever asked me: "You are sino, you are chinese mix with dusun. So, let say chinese and dusun in Sabah get war, which 1 wil u support?" LOL!! Sabah have no racist ok!

Amanda Christine Wong said...

Wiskies: hi there! thanks for dropping by. Omaigod, that's just so funny! im a sino too, but mostly chinese, and i cant answer that question too! haha!

chegu carol said...

and these certain people will still be like how it was 20 years back, today or 20 years down the road until they come to Borneo and witness for themselves how maju we are now.

Zen said...

its like mistaking margarine for butter.

some people cant tell the difference.

Phoebe said...

I remembered an incident that happened when I was in form 5. In MRSM KK it was kind of compulsary for us to clim Mount Kinabalu. When MRSMs from other states got wind of our program they decided to embark on an expedition to Mount Kinabalu too. They stayed over at our hostels after their trip and some Malay boys approached me.
Them: Kampung katner?
Me: Keningau
Them: Oh ye ker? Brape kali naik sampan baru sampai?
I had to supress the urge to whack them over the head with my textbook. Instead...
Me: Oh, kami di Sabah ni guna jalan raya jak. Kenapa, di semenanjung tiada jalan raya kah?

Padan muka.. Gerigitan betul sia..