Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Self-incriminating action surely? (Malaysia / North Korea)

Metro 23 Feb 2017:  QUOTE Two women suspected of killing the half-brother of North Korea’s leader in Malaysia were trained to coat their hands with toxic chemicals then wipe them on his face, a police chief said yesterday.  They had practised the attack at two Kuala Lumpur shopping centres before targeting Kim Jong-nam at the city’s airport last week claimed Khalid Abu Bakar.  He said CCTV showed them keeping their hands away from their bodies after the fatal poisoning, then going to the toilets to wash.  North Korea — whose ruler Kim Jong-un is suspected of ordering the hit on his sibling — ridiculed the police claims.  It demanded the immediate release of the two ‘innocent women’, Doah Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam and Siti Aisyah, 25, from Indonesia.  UNQUOTE
I can understand the "ridiculed the police claims" bit (an act of immediate self defence when accused).  But why should North Korea demand the immediate release of the two suspects when they aren't even N.Korean citizens?  Also, how did they come to the conclusion that they are innocent?  Finally, they're not even saying the women should be released; they are DEMANDING their IMMEDIATE release.  Self-incriminating surely?  

(Malaysia / North Korea, 2017)

Monday, 13 February 2017

Chinese traditions: Bride Price (Singapore)

In the old days, when matchmaking was the standard way of pairing up couples, once the man’s family had picked a girl for their son (very rarely the other way round), they’d send a matchmaker over with an offering.  This was often, but not exclusively, in the form of a sum of money.  

Even numbers are auspicious, as the hope is that happy events will be repeated, so the bride price figure would be an even number.  (By the same but reverse-significance token, contributions towards funerals would be in odd numbers.)

If the girl’s family was financially on a par with the boy’s, the bride price would be even more of a mere ritual.  They’d accept a token even-number figure and return the rest (also as an even number).  For example, the boy’s family would send over a bride price of $800, the girl’s family would keep $200, and send back $600, which are both even numbers.

When my mother’s cousin and his girlfriend decided to get married, they still observed the tradition of having a matchmaker go round to the girl’s family with an offering, even though this was Singapore in the late 1960s and it was not an arranged marriage.

The girl’s family is from the Hakka (客家 kèjiā / “guest family”) dialect group.  To the Hakkas, the number 9 is auspicious (along with “dog” as it sounds like 9 in their dialect).  If a boy child is born at 9 o’clock on the 9th day of the 9th month (and a dog is barking outside at the same time), the child will be sure to have a great future.

Given this background, my mother’s cousin sent over a bride price of S$999.99.  The girl’s family kept the whole sum, to retain the maximum number of 9s.  When the matchmaker came back with an empty basket, the family said to him, “Why couldn’t you have fallen in love with someone from a different dialect group?  At least we would’ve got some change back!”

(Singapore, 1960s)

* Hakka |ˈhakə|
noun (pl.same or Hakkas)
1 a member of a people of SE China who migrated from the north during the 12th century.
2 [ mass noun ] the dialect of Chinese spoken by the Hakka, with about 27 million speakers. Also called Kejia.
relating to the Hakka or their language. the Hakka language and culture.
from Chinese (Cantonese dialect) haàk ka ‘stranger’.