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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How to confuse Arab tourists

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Related posts from elsewhere (as of the time of posting):
] Aarvidi’s Weblog:
Simple Mind Stupid Answers
] The Sensintrovert:
'KL Jawi Road Signs Part of Islam Hadhari'
] Somebody Has To Say It:
Jawi = Islam?

That dreaded mental disease of Arab-is-Islam-itis seems to have struck once more - this time in the nation's capital, Kuala Lumpur. Aparently, City Hall has this idea that putting Jawi versions of street names (currently in Bahasa Malaysia.. well, almost) is in keeping with Islam Hadhari. Uh huh... okay...

Nevermind the potholes that need fixing, the road signs must have Jawi equivalents! To attract Arab tourists... Okay, hold that thought while you read this snippet from an article in The Sun, as quoted by buddy blogger Howsy. You can download a PDF copy of page 4, where the artilce appears here.

Image hosting by PhotobucketThe article in The Sun - January 11, 2008 (courtesy of Howsy)

Road signs in Kuala Lumpur have started including directions in Jawi as part of the government's effort to promote Islam Hadhari (civilizational Islam) and tourism.

"This will help tourists from the Middle East identify places in the city. But we're not confining the new signage to tourist spots alone," said City Hall (DBKL) public works director Siti Saffur Mansor yesterday.

"It's also a chance for non-Muslims to know and learn Jawi," she said.

She was responding to complaints by some residents and the Opposition over the change in signage in certain areas.

Siti Saffur said the plans and budget for the new signages were approved by City Hall.

The conversion, to be done in phases, has already been completed in Bandar Tun Razak, Taman Seputeh and Taman Yew Lai while Jinjang is currently undergoing the change.

Ah yes, Jinjang. That must-go, must-see destination for every Arab tourist to Kuala Lumpur...

Question: Why the fuck would Arab tourists want to visit the back alleys of Jinjang? Or did someone proclaim 2008 to be Visit Jinjang Year, and forgot to tell Walski?
(Jawi ain't even Arabic, and more, in the full post)

Now, don't get Walski wrong - he's got nothing against Jinjang. In fact, he lives not far from that very suburb of Kuala Lumpur. He also has nothing whatsoever against Jawi

It's the stupidity of this Siti what's-her-face, and the sheer wastefulness of DBKL, that is Walski's real beef.

First of all - Jawi. What does Jawi have to do with Islam? To put it simply - not a whole hell of a lot. Apart from the fact that it is written in the same script that Islam's holy scripture, the Quran, is written in - Arabic. Jawi, as a matter of fact, is the Malay language (and a few other regional ones) written in Arabic script. No, correction - Jawi is only 82.4% Arabic. Jawi has 34 characters - 28 of which are Arabic, 1 borrowed from Persian, and 5 uniquely Jawi characters. In the Malay language, only 33 characters are commonly used. And how does knowing Jawi allow one to learn about Islam? Your guess is as good as Walski's.

Second - despite the fact that it is written in a modified Arabic, an Arab would have to know the Malay language to make any sense of what is written. So, how does having road names written in Jawi help the lost Arab tourist. Apart from confusing said lost Arab tourist, it does not help one bit.

Okay, Walski will admit that there are certain situations where providing Jawi equivalents to certain words can come in handy for Arab tourists. Come to think of it, the Malay language can't even be written properly in standard Arabic. Here are some examples:

  1. Proton - without the Jawi alphabet Pa (ڤ), the standard Arabic equivalent would sound like Frutun
  2. Cendol - and what a shame, too. one of the best Malaysian desserts. Without the Jawi alphabet Cha (چ), the standard Arabic equivalent would sound like Shendool. And the Arab tourists would be deprived from learning such colorful Malaysian colloquialisms like "ana caya sama ente".
  3. Bangang - which means "dense" (as in how dense this whole Jawi thing is). Without the Jawi alphabet Nga (ڠ), Walski won't even try to guess what the word written in standard Arabic would sound like.
  4. Goblok - although not strictly Malay, but Javanese in origin, ZAM's favorite word, without the benefit of the hard-G sounding Jawi alphabet Ga (ڬ) simply wouldn't sound as cool written with standard Arabic. And finally,
  5. Penyamun - which literally means "bandit", without the benefit of the Jawi alphabet Nya (ڽ), simply doesn't have that same oomph, if written in standard Arabic. Probably would sound like bin Yamoon, or something equally terroristy.

But here's a street name Walski would love for DBKL to have the BM/Jawi dual-script sign for immediately.

Image hosting by PhotobucketRoughly translated to either, "Your Mother's Cunt Road",
or read another way, "Ulah's Mother's Cunt Road"
(picture taken from here)

If for no other reason, we can proudly claim to have taught the Arab tourists how to swear in the Malay language... you know, getting the full cultural experience and all... while we Malaysians have a grand time seeing the look of confusion on their faces, in the frucess process.

But seriously, t's pretty damn obvious that the reasons City Hall have given above are pretty bogus - unless DBKL actually believes what they've spun, in which case, they're total dumbass fucktards. And fortunately dumbass fucktard is actually someting you can spell in both standard Arabic and Jawi.

So, why has DBKL allocated resources on this foolish venture, the reasons for which even they themselves cannot properly (or intelligently) explain? As DAP Member of Parliament for Seputeh, Theresa Kok, stated in the same article from The Sun, these signs don't come cheap - RM 1,000 to RM 2,000 per sign. So why waste so much resources? Resources, a big chunk of which, come from the sorry-ass KL rate-payers themselves. For something the rate-payers don't even want, by the sound of it.

Walski can think of two possible reasons.

First, if you follow the money trail, and find out who DBKL's roadsign contractor is, in all likelihood you'll find a BN-crony involvement somewhere. Signboard changes are big business - remember when Bombay & Madras changed their names to Mumbai and Chennai, respectively? Walski's sure somebody made a bundle on all the signboards that required changing. Same difference here. Walski's not about to go and count how many road name signs there are in KL, but he's pretty certain that it would run into the thousands. Multiply that by RM 2k, and that's RM 2 Million per every 1,000 signs. Money that could have been better spent repairing the roads.

Second possible reason - another fucked up symptom of blind Islamization. Or as Walski calls it Arab-is-Islam-itis - anything Arab is equated to being Islamic - whether or not that assumption holds water or not upon closer scrutiny. And as a safety net, put the blame on Islam Hadhari, the common Malay/Muslim person's favorite punching bag. This lame excuse of "wanting to teach Jawi to the non-Muslims" is idiotic, because there are a lot of other ways to learn Jawi. Better and more cost-effective ways, even. But what's the big deal about Jawi anyway? It's basically the Malay language written in a different script - like Urdu, or Persian, or Uyghur - all of which can be written in different scripts, but with no difference language-wise.

English, for example, written in Braille is still English. A blind person reading Braille must first have a language reference - otherwise it would be like trying to read "ske pwdt ow nxmd smepolce". No, don't ask Walski what it means either.

But no... the geniuses at DBKL obviously think otherwise. They're the ones spending rate-payers' money with reckless abandon, and since the Mayor of KL is appointed, not elected, we cannot do one thing to remove the guy, if the guy warrants removal. It's not their own money out of their own personal pockets, so who gives a shit, right?

Well, it so happens the rate-payers do give a shit because it's their money.

In any case, since the money has been "budgetted" - the DBKL-bureaucrat's way of saying that they're not gonna change their minds on this, there's not much we can do, unfortunately. But this is one example why local government elections are just as important as state and national level elections. Without elections, there's no accountability.

And that, in the bigger picture, is what we're seeing here - zero accountability to ensure that rate-payer's hard earned money is well spent. And you still think you live in a democracy? Think again.

In the meantime, Walski looks forward to seeing road names like Jalan Hose, Jalan Ritchie, Jalan U Thant, and other non-Malay Jalan names get mangled when transcribed into Jawi. Mangled to the point that even Malaysians themselves get confused, in addition to the Arab tourists, for whom this idiotic exercise was designed to confuse in the first place.