Malaysian-Chinese Stereotypes as Told by Mother


In the kitchen, a conversation and a surprise ending.


Ma, are there a lot of 潮州人 (Chaozhou people) in Malaysia?

(Without lifting eyes from newspaper) Yeah.

What does 潮州话 (Chaozhou language) sound like?

Ummm… it sounds like Hokkien.

What are Chaozhou people like?

They’re also like Hokkien!

“肉骨茶” (Bak Kut Teh) by Grace Kang
The English word for tea came from the Hokkien pronunciation ‘Teh’ of the word /tea. The Mandarin and Cantonese pronunciation is ‘Cha’ and ‘Ca’ respectively.
The famous Malaysian dish Bak Kut Teh is the Hokkien pronunciation of “肉骨茶” (meat bone tea).

Meaning?

Hokkien people are a little 吝啬 (linse) and 节俭 (thrifty).

What’s the meaning of 吝啬 (linse)?

They are very stingy. A Hokkien person will never treat you to lunch.

You mean they go Dutch?

Nooo. They won’t invite you to out to eat. A Hokkien person will drive a Mercedes, but invite them to Starbucks for coffee? “Too expensive.” … Lee Kuan Yew is Hokkien—

— I remember he was Hakka.

Are you sure? Hakka rarely have the Lee surname.

Forget it. What about Hokkien compared to Cantonese? (I’m rather enjoying this line of questioning).

“95" by Jon Siegel

Cantonese love to eat, that’s why they work hard! Just look at all the Hong Kongers here in Vancouver. Cantonese work to eat.

And Hakka then? (She’s Hakka herself).

Hakka are friendlier and more generous. They’re warmer, more welcoming. Hakka will treat you to lunch and invite you to eat with their family.

“Chop Chung Wah Hainanese Chicken Rice” by Biyu Lau

(Chuckles) Sure, sure … and Hainanese leh?

Hainanese… they say they are sôt (crazy).

(Laughter) Why do they say Hainanese are crazy?

I don’t know, people in Malaysia just say Hainanese are crazy!

(Laughter) Why did you marry Dad then?!

I didn’t know!!