While having lunch with co-Bat this afternoon, we had our usual discussion topics: The economy, some politics, the latest in stem cell research, and of course, on society. Our discussion on society was rather thought-provoking and required further attention. Upon personal reflecting, I’ve made a somewhat personal revelation in the evolution and social mores in our society and culture.
Today, in Malaysia, there is no longer just the Chinese. Along the way, the Chinese people divided beyond dialects and religious faith. We now have denomination within the Chinese. The major three groups are Regular, Cina, and Ah Beng.
The Regular group is the minority, making up less than 20% of the Chinese people. This group has the following characteristics:
1. Speaks English as the first language.
2. Thinks the world owes them a living.
3. Uses the Internet more than the other two groups combined.
4. Loves the iPod and/or IKEA.
5. Watches one or more of the following TV series: “Sex And The City”, “Friends”, or “CSI.”
6. Thinks that the Regular group is way larger than it is and makes fun of the other groups, particularly the Ah Beng group. Why? Because it's fun.
Recent studies have also shown that there is a growing splinter group within the Regular group known as the CPWTTANC group. (CPWTTANC is short for Chinese People Who Think They Are Not Chinese.) This growing subgroup are considered elitist by some and are found making statements like “I wish I were in the U.S.” or “This never happened when I was studying in Australia.” They also tend to speak with an unidentifiable accent. The women may also prefer to date white men from foreign countries with the excuse that local men just "don't understand me" and have the secret desire to be taken away to the U.S. to live in a sitcom.
The second Chinese group, Cina make up approximately 55% of the Chinese community. (Cina is derived from the Malay word Cina which means Chinese and is pronounced “chee-na”. And you will have to say it in a condescending tone for effect.) This group is considered mainstream and contribute to the numbers that reflect development in the country. They are the masses in context of the Chinese community. In other words, if you want to sell something to the masses of Chinese people, the Cina is it.
The Cina are identified by the following traits:
1. Speaks Mandarin or Cantonese as the first language.
2. Generally quiet, self-effacing, and obliging but are actually shrewd and calculative.
3. Sees Taiwan as the place to be.
4. More likely to forward chain email to people in their address book.
5. Goes to Halo Café or Wow Wow Café BY CHOICE at least three times a year.
6. Has Astro hardwired to Wah Lai Toi.
7. Calls a music video an MTV instead of music video.
8. Knows all the dim sum dishes by name.
9. Seventy percent of lighting at home generated by flourescent lights.
The last group are known as the Ah Bengs . This term was probably made up by the Regulars in the early 80s during the cultural invasion that saw the mass import of music and movies from countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and to some extent, Japan. This phenomenon saw the more open-minded and runaway members of the Cina group defect into Ah Bengs and its feminine equivalent, Ah Lian. They just took their Alan Tam and Anita Mui a little too seriously.
Perhaps the most made-fun-of group not only by its own Chinese people but by people of other races, the Ah Bengs are often seen as people living on the edge and have more flamboyant tastes.
One may identify the Ah Beng by these tell-tale signs:
1. Built-in visual self-defense mechanism that keeps people away from them.
2. Have enough amplifiers in their one car to power speakers for six cars.
3. Hair not in their original colour.
4. Volume of voice is automatically five decibels higher than everyone else.
5. Excessive use of the phrase “Kan Ni Na Bu Ciao Chee Bai”. (Although, to be fair, some members of the Regular group have been reported to use the phrase on a daily basis as well.)
6. Once a fan of one of the following groups: Vengaboys, Dr Bombay, Aqua, or the Cheeky Girls.
7. Their Proton car does not look like a Proton car due to modifications.
8. For the Ah Lians, have at least one bag fashioned after a furry animal complete with the head.
With the new understanding of the Chinese people, it is the hope of this writer that we all get along and respect the differences of the groups within the Chinese community.
As a footnote to this study, the first group is called Regular because the writer of this document falls in this group. It also reinforces one of the characteristics of the group which is self-righteousness. If not, Regular could also befit the bowel activity of the writer given his excessive intake of fruits and vegetables.