Paedophiles’ predators using apps in phone to find and groom potential victims


https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/nu_WnaEzw-E

Hunters hunted: R.AGE journalists went undercover as 15-year-old girls to meet up with online sex predators who target teenagers. Watch the videos at rage.com.my/predator:

This was among the material gathered by The Star’s R.AGE journalists who went undercover for these meetings.

Six months before paedophile Huckle made global headlines, the R.AGE team had already started its undercover sting operation against sex predators.

During the period, R.AGE compiled material that included obscene images, inappropriate messages and hidden camera footage of the undercover journalists at work.

Malaysia does not have laws against “sexual grooming”, which refers to the process of gaining a child’s trust for future sexual exploitation, even though statistics show it has been on the rise.

Mobile chat apps (WhatsApp, WeChat, BeeTalk, Facebook Messenger, etc.) seem to
have become the most popular tools for sex predators in Malaysia, based on Bukit Aman’s statistics.

Since 2015, a whopping 80% of reported rape cases involved sex predators who started out online.

During a sting, R.AGE confronted one such predator, who was propositioning the undercover journalist on WeChat and sending photos of his penis.

“It’s a numbers game,” said the 28-year-old postgraduate student who is a self-confessed sex addict.

“On WeChat and BeeTalk, you can search for people nearby, and filter them based on gender. After I filter out all the men, I just send messages to as many girls as possible.”

The predators then start grooming those who reply to them. They would earn the trust of these children and gradually introduce sex into the conversations.

Another man claimed he is “an expert in massages” and that he had done it on at least two other girls below 15.

The situation has long weighed on Assistant Commissioner Ong Chin Lan, the Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division (D11) assistant principal director.

“If we had grooming laws, the authorities might be able to arrest predators like Huckle early on,” said Ong.

“We need to empower our law enforcement agencies.”

Sources: The Star http://rage.com.my/Predator/; http://rage.com.my/catching-sex-predators/

Related posts:

Huckle pleaded guilty to 71 charges of sexual offences against 23 children aged between six months and 13 years from an impoverished
Chris…
PEDOPHILIA is not a new sex crime. What is new is the attention that it is getting in the public arena in Malaysia especially after the cas…

The affliction that feeds on children


PEDOPHILIA is not a new sex crime. What is new is the attention that it is getting in the public arena in Malaysia especially after the case of Huckle (pic). In fact pedophilia has developed into the hot topic in Criminology.

A pedophile is an individual who prefers to have sex with children. They have an abnormal and an unnatural desire and attraction for sexual relations only with children.

Sexual abuse of the children can begin without people recognizing it because it can be a small act in everyday life.

Pedophiles come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. They are normally male, from any race, educated or uneducated, young or old, rich or poor, employed or unemployed. They can be religious or non-religious, a father, family member or trusted coworker or professional.

Just as Huckle used” wealth and status as Westerner” to exploit children, pedophiles hide behind the cloak of normality, morality and respectability within the community. Research revealed that nine out of ten are close to their mothers.

One of the most popular criminological theories is the notion that criminal behavior is learned in association with those who have criminal attitudes and values.

The majority of criminologists believe that the behavior of a pedophile is caused by environmental factors (nurture), involving upbringing and life experience of the individual. Furthermore, perpetrators confess that they themselves were child victims of sexual abuse.

However, recent studies revealed that individuals suffering from pedophilia are also fostered by genetic or biological traits which eventually lead to criminal behavior.

Colleen Berryessa, a Criminologist, stated that a 2014 Korean report on monozygotic twins with pedophilia, concluded that genetic influences appeared to be more important to the causes and development of pedophilia than environmental factors, including childhood abuse.

But there seems to be little or no agreement about what conclusively makes an individual cause pedophilia.

Experts also believe that there is no permanent treatment to cure pedophiles but some claim therapy treatment can work but is a challenge. Since pedophiles are sociopaths whose behavior is antisocial, lack sense of empathy and moral responsibility for their victims, the disorder is chronic and lifelong.

Studies show that pedophiles are repeat offenders after imprisonment or treatment.

The criminogenic asymmetries factor such as relaxed atmosphere, weaknesses in laws and enforcement produce criminal opportunity, motive for foreign pedophiles like Huckle himself to took advantage of the weak internal controls in a country to find victims. The penalty in their home country is normally more severe.

To fight this crime we need legislative changes, more effective laws, intelligence gathering and sharing, technology such as facial recognition and enhance investigation capabilities by training specialists.

Huckle operates a website called The Love Zone (TLZ) on the Dark Web, a hidden network used to maintain anonymity. His site consisted of photos of the children he abused and shared with other members.

The web is accessible only with specialized software or conducting deep web analysis. To make it more complicated; cybercriminals are often using encryption to protect their malicious data and communications.

There should also be increased focus on proper enforcement and skill level in conducting cybercrime investigations in order to reduce the use of the Dark Web in committing child sexual activities.

Crime prevention should be the priority for police but that should not be their sole responsibility. To prevent crime is the obligation of everyone in society and parents, schools and families have responsibility to ensure children are safe.

They must also instill in children a strong appreciation of right and wrong.

Parents, being the most important people in their children’s lives, must make sure children are not exposed to situations where irresponsible people can take advantage of them.

They must pay attention and respond when any adult seems overly focused on befriending a child, make a spot check on child nurseries and babysitters and do not allow a child to go alone on vacation or spend the night with someone other than those proven to be trustworthy and reliable.

Certainly do not assume that a person is reliable because of position, status, title or working in a place where children commonly gather.

At this point, our country still does not have a central registry for child abusers and pedophiles. The data is very important as it would contain the particulars of sex offenders, allowing law enforcement agencies to keep track and monitor the child sexual activities in our community. We need to protect our children.

By DATUK AKHBAR SATAR

Institute of Crime & Criminology, HELP University

Related:

Cops to identify other victims

NGO: Hard to catch predators

Preying on the faithful – Watching The World

Protect our children from sex offenders 

http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/focus/2016/06/10/protect-our-children-from-sex-offenders-malaysia-cannot-be-perceived-as-a-paradise-for-child-abusers/


The dynamics of elder abuse is different from child or domestic abuse. There needs to be specific laws that protect the elderly and safeguard their interests.

Change needs to happen to protect seniors from being abused

Related post:

This British monster paedophile defiled Malaysia’s kids

Huckle pleaded guilty to 71 charges of sexual offences against 23 children aged between six months and 13 years from an impoverished
Chris…

Everybody wins when the world invests in girls and women!


A good economy starts with healthy girls

Among the many provocative ideas that emerged from last week’s “Women Deliver” conference in Copenhagen, perhaps the most memorable was the concept that today’s most significant development is not taking the form of superhighways, skyscrapers and other massive structures, but rather the health and well-being of girls and women. And yet, it was stressed, much more development is needed in this regard.

The slogan for the gathering in Denmark – the biggest global conference on women’s health and rights in a decade – was “When the world invests in girls and women, everybody wins!”

In a video address opening the meeting, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared, “It is time to put women and girls at the heart of development.”

That’s part and parcel of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals approved by world leaders last year, aimed at ending extreme poverty and shrinking inequality.

In the modern age, women’s rights have been mooted, debated and battled over for more than a century and shared centre stage during the democratic revolution of the 1960s and early ’70s, but only now is the movement’s rhetoric – so often unintentionally exclusive to women – being replaced with a message that embraces all of society.

As Princess Mary of Denmark pointed out at the conference, the “women’s agenda” is in fact a united and unifying agenda of benefit to humanity as a whole.

And this, added World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim, is why governments should not balk at investing money in the wellbeing of girls and women.

They are forever seeking World Bank loans to build infrastructure, he noted, and yet women “are their most precious infrastructure”.

There are good arguments backing up this claim. As an example, it is frequently overlooked that countries with more women in the workforce enjoy or are closer to achieving sustainable development. A study by McKinsey Global concluded that having as many women as men in the workforce would |add US$28 trillion to the world’s |gross domestic product every year.

Men nevertheless remain dominant in the workforce, the result of patriarchal tradition that erects barriers to full economic participation for millions of women around the planet. In underdeveloped regions the disparity routinely leads to tragic consequences, such as preventable deaths.

The mortality rate among women giving birth in Africa is one in six, compared to one in 9,000 in Europe. One African woman dies every two minutes due to preventable complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

Every year around the world 15 millions girls become child brides and as such are denied education and job opportunities. Thus they too cannot contribute to the economy.

The solution, said Jim and other global leaders speaking in Copenhagen, lies in investing in women and girls, a strategy that is crucial to meeting those Sustainable Development Goals that will benefit the entire human race. “It starts with a healthy girl,” he said, making the message as plain as could be.

Healthy girls are better equipped for education and work. Healthy young women have healthy pregnancies and are better able to be good mothers.

The simplicity of the notion doesn’t disguise the scale of the challenge beyond birth. Access to healthcare, including the full range of sexual- and reproductive-health services, must be financed and delivered. In 2014 around the world 22,000 women died while having unsafe abortions, and 80 per cent of those pregnancies resulted from lack of contraception. This too was preventable.

If women, and particularly teenage girls, can avoid unwanted pregnancy, the positive impact on their lives and thus on society is profound. Gone is a major obstacle to proper education, better economic opportunities and healthier lives. The same applies to child marriage.

Policymakers have to stop overlooking such proven arguments. Investment in the welfare of girls and women must continue to grow, especially in the areas of education and adolescent health. The return on the investment will extend beyond economic prosperity, to the happiness of society in general.

Source: The Nation/Asia News Network

Parents opt for daycare centres with no live-in maids now


The decline in the number – and the rising cost – of domestic maids has forced more young, working parents to send their children to daycare centres.

Daycare Centre

Chris Hong, who runs two kindergartens-cum-daycare centres in Subang Jaya, said she and her staff looked after 40 to 50 children from 8am to 7pm daily.

The centres, which only cater for two-month-old babies to children aged six, provide lunch, homework coaching and other activities in the afternoon after the kindergarten session.

“There are even parents-to-be who register at the centre even when they are in the early stages of pregnancy.

“There is very high demand now and parents are looking for safe and trustable daycare centres,” said Hong, adding that she did not plan to set up more daycare centres as she wanted sufficient quality time with her three children.

A daycare centre operator on Penang island, who wanted to be known only as Sarah, said she and her partner were planning to set up two more centres on the mainland.

She added that she had received many enquiries for her services in Butterworth.

“We’re now working out the extra costs we have to bear for hiring more people and rental,” she said.

Technical services manager M. Manimaran felt that increasing the number of daycare centres was an effective alternative for the shortage of maids.

“After all, parents are looking for a safe and good daycare centre which can work around our working hours.

“The place I send my son to even provides transportation from his school to the centre.He gets proper meals and time to do some reading or his homework.

“We have no worries, even during the school holidays,” Manimaran said, adding that he received constant updates about the whereabouts and condition of his 10-year-old son from the daycare centre through WhatsApp.

Working mum Lim Lee, 46, said she would opt to send her child to a daycare centre and hire a part-time maid if her Indonesian maid could not multi-task.

“There is no way I can afford to get two maids,” she said.

Malaysian Maid Employers Association president (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein urged the Government to encourage more nurseries or daycare centres run by properly trained and certified Malaysians.

Such facilities, he said, would not only ease the burden of having to pay for maids but would also give parents peace of mind while they were at work.

Engku Ahmad Fauzi said the expense of using these centres should be tax deductible, adding that it was the Government’s responsibility to solve over-reliance on foreign workers.

These centres, he added, would also provide the local workforce with jobs, ensuring less capital flight from the country.

Ny Royce Tan The Star

Working mums ‘maid’ to pay sky-high fees for childcare

 

Back-up plan: With maids becoming a scarce commodity, more are turning to childcare centres

PETALING JAYA: Dr Subhashini Jahanath is highly educated, hard-­working and does 11 calls a month.

Like many other working mothers, she is now facing the added frustration of sky-high fees for domestic help.

“It’s the childcare that’s difficult – what happens if I get called up in the middle of the night? At the same time, I just cannot afford the fees for a new maid,” she said.

Even then, Dr Subhashini, 35, is one of the lucky ones as she can call on her family for help.

The Miri-based doctor’s father has flown in from Selangor to help take care of her four-year-old son Harraen.

“On days he has to go back to Selangor, I have to send Harraen along with him, which means increased cost and Harraen missing school. But it’s the only way.”

Lawyer V. Shoba, 37, is also blessed with parents who help look after her seven-year-old twins, but still needs a maid to help them.

“My parents are both in their early 70s and need some help with the kids. Having domestic help is not a luxury,” she said.

In 2009, she paid RM6,000 in agency fees and a monthly salary of RM650 for her first Sri Lankan helper.

“In 2011, I got another Sri Lankan maid. The agency fee was RM7,500 and monthly salary was RM850. In 2013, I got a Filipino maid. The agency fee was RM9,900 and the monthly salary was RM1,200,” she said.

The agency fee, she added, has now gone up to RM12,000 and the monthly salary to RM1,500.

“I also have to pay for her toiletries, food and utilities used. That is a chunk of money that could be used for education or even holidays.

For those who are away from their families, babysitters and part-time house help provide alternatives.

Not everyone can call in the grandparent squad, and some parents feel that childcare options out there are not good enough to make them viable alternatives to live-in domestic help.

Corporate communications manager Sonia Gomez, 30, said she could not find any childcare options that were both good and affordable.

“Independent babysitters aren’t regulated, so it would be very tough to cope without my helper, Lia. She is reliable and has a very strong bond with my son,” she said.

Some mothers are opting out of the workforce entirely to take care of their kids.

Stay-at-home mum Evelyn Thong, 37, said she had heard too many daycare horror stories to consider it.

“It’s also too much money to risk. If your maid runs away, you cannot recover your money,” she said.

By Suzanne Lazaroo The Star

Maids for specific tasks only 

 

PETALING JAYA: The days of having a multi-tasking maid who does everything from cooking and washing to caring for the baby and the elderly and even washing the car is as good as gone.

Malaysians must now be prepared to pay more for specialised help.

Source countries such as Indo­nesia want to send upskilled helpers for specific jobs like caregiver, babysitter or nanny, and not the traditional domestic maid.

Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) president Jeffrey Foo said all that was needed now was a mechanism to ensure these helpers were properly trained and certified.

Foo said Papa was ready to work with the source countries to create a win-win situation.

“Local employers will be satisfied if they get what they are paying for, which are skilled helpers who can do the task they are hired for,” he said.

The Star reported yesterday that Malaysia is in a fix because neighbouring countries are not in favour of sending domestic help here.

Foo said Indonesia, where most of the foreign maids are from, is not closing the door entirely.

Instead, it is adopting a more professional approach with its policy to stop sending live-in maids from next year.

A possible solution, according to Foo, is for the Government to license companies to supply part-time domestic maids to households who need them.

These companies could take care of the maids’ lodging and food but this would require a shift in government policy.

Foo pointed out that foreign workers brought in as cleaners were not supposed to be sent to work as domestic maids at individual homes.

Malaysian Maid Employers Association president (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein pointed out that the current system of having maids stay under the same roof as their employers for two years was not always ideal.

“If you’re lucky, there’s harmony. Otherwise, you get two years of disharmony,” he said.

He echoed the view for local agencies to be allowed a supply of part-time maids.

Engku Ahmad Fauzi said there were currently different expectations between local employers and source countries such as Indonesia.

In Indonesia, helpers are hired and trained as caregivers to take care of infants, children and the elderly or as domestic workers who cook, clean and tidy.

M. Sarkuna, a 40-year-old Indonesian maid working here, said those who took care of babies, children and the elderly earned at least RM800 in Jakarta, while those who cooked could take home about RM700.

“The starting pay for those who do household work is only RM500,” she said.

In Malaysia, Engku Ahmad Fauzi said employers often took for granted that maids had to multi-task.

He said the best and most well-trained helpers were not sent here, yet “Malaysian employers want to pay the lowest for the best”.

The way forward, at least in the short term, was to hire maids from cheaper and better source countries besides Indonesia and Philippines, he said.

“But Malaysians need to stop depending on domestic maids in the long run,” he added.

By Neville Spykerman The Star

Leftover women and men: the sheng nu and sheng nan (guang gun)


http://t.cn/RqKJeMK

Pro-singledom ad goes viral

Women in China who don’t get married after a certain age
are often called ‘leftover women’. By telling what many of these single
women are really thinking, a cosmetics ad has gone viral.

http://t.cn/RqoWcGm

Studio interview: Leftover women a popular label in China

 Now for more discussion, we are joined in the studio by social affairs critic Han Hua. Ms.

Marriage isn’t the only path to bliss

“I AM a sheng nu,” Jenny Yan, 30, proclaimed.

The car sales executive has been single for about a year after breaking up with her boyfriend of three years.

“I am now searching for my life partner with the frame of min

d of a sheng nu,” she said.

Literally “leftover women”, sheng nu is a derogatory term in China for single women who, in the eyes of society, have passed the ideal time to get married and still remain unattached in their late 20s and beyond.

The term sheng nu suggests that Chinese society sees the singletons as undesirable, almost like the coarser particles that are left on a sieve.

Single men, on the other hand, are known as sheng nan (leftover men) or guang gun (bare sticks).

The situation seems to be more dire for men, as they will outnumber women by 24 million by 2020 due to the country’s gender imbalance, but they are less stigmatised than single ladies in the patriarchal society.

While Yan said her parents look forward to her settling down, they are not putting too much pressure on her. She is taking the initiative to search for a suitor.

“When I was in my 20s, I relied solely on feelings and paid no heed to all the realistic factors, but now I won’t have too much expectations,” Yan said.

“To create more chances for myself, I’ll agree to meet and get to know the other person whenever friends recommend possible suitors to me.”

The stigma surrounding sheng nu often leads to heated discussions, with single ladies determined to shake off the shame and outdated judgment that society forces on them.

A recent advertisement by Japanese beauty products brand SK-II rightly triggered a flood of support from women in China.

Themed “Change Destiny”, the four-minute long clip walked viewers through the humiliation single ladies faced in China, which more often than not resulted in self-doubt and self-criticism.

“Maybe I should give up on someone I love for someone who’s suitable,” one of the ladies said to the camera, dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

Their parents were a major source of pressure, urging them to stop being so choosy and quickly settle down. Instead of being supportive, they were critical of their daughters.

“I used to think my daughter has great personality.

“She is not too pretty, just average. That’s why she is a leftover,” a mother said with a light chuckle, while her daughter, who was sitting next to her, tried hard to contain her tears.

A father said: “As long as you are not married, I cannot die in peace.”

One of the single women featured in the advertisement said remaining single is considered not filial in China.

“Maybe I am being selfish. I want to say sorry to them,” she said, breaking down in sobs.

In the advertisement, the ladies decided to attend the Shanghai Marriage Market, a weekend fair at the People’s Park where parents “promote” their single and available daughters and sons with details such as age, height, profession, income and assets.

In a turn of events, it was revealed that the ladies were not there to look for partners but to tell their parents that marriage isn’t the only path to happiness.

Professional portraits which depicted them as confident and glowing women were exhibited in the park, along with a personal message.

“I don’t want to get married just for the sake of marriage. I won’t live happily that way,” one of them, identified as Li Yuxuan, 33, said.

Another lady, whose mother has previously dismissed her as just average-looking, said to the camera: “Even if I am alone, I can be happy, confident and have a good life.”

Since it was posted on SK-II’s official Weibo account, the video has recorded two million views and was shared 25,000 times.

Sindy Huang, 36, said she was touched by the advertisement.

“The details in the advertisement were moving, such as their skin condition, their sleep-deprived look, and the helplessness in their eyes. I feel like I am watching myself,” she said.

The Beijing-based journalist who hailed from Zhejiang province said Chinese society has the tendency to sympathise with single ladies.

“Many people think sheng nu is the main cause of an unstable society, and parents are desperate for us to get married because they don’t want us to grow old alone,” she said.

Both Yan and Huang said while they yearn for true love and a family of their own, they would not rush into a relationship and preferred to wait for the right person to come along.

Huang said girls have to have a strong inner centre to help them face the pressure from society.

When ridiculed by married friends, she said she would retort by asking them if they are in a state of perfect happiness.

“That shuts them up. Some of them even conceded that I was right,” she added.

However, not everyone held the SK-II advertisement in high regard.

Some were in the opinion that the short film has exploited single women’s weaknesses to boost views.

A writer identified as Gu Yingying likened the advert to “a bottle of dirty water splashing onto (women’s) independence and confidence”.

Towards the end of the short film, one of the mothers exclaimed, “Sheng nu should be proud!”

In taking an apparent jab at this particular line, Gu wrote on her WeChat official account: “Sheng nu is not an honour, and neither is marriage. This is just a life choice and has nothing to do with honour.”

She said the women yearned for marriage and love but had to emphasise, with teary eyes, in front of the camera that they are okay being single.

Huang disagreed with the comments that dolling the ladies up in the advertisement is just a typical way to confront the dominant ideology of patriarchy.

“There isn’t anything wrong with dressing up. Those who are not sheng nu will never understand the pain of singletons.

“I am okay with the creative execution of the advertisement. It isn’t targeted at men or housewives, after all,” she said.

As for Yan, she said she won’t search blindly, but she won’t slack either in finding a suitor.

“Since I have reached the appropriate age to get married and get pregnant, I should be more proactive,” she said.

“I am planning to participate in mass dating events. Let’s see how it goes.”

By Tho Zin Yi Check-in China

Old and ageing abused by their own Children


PETALING JAYA: When his son left him at a bus station, John (not his real name) waited patiently for him to return. Five hours later, he was still waiting. Passers-by noticed him and called the police.

The 72-year-old man has dementia and was sent to hospital. Medical social workers managed to get him to recall his son’s telephone number.

When they called John’s son, he did not want to take his father home.

People like John are vulnerable to abuse and neglect, and he is not eligible for government shelter for the elderly because he still has a family.

John is among many Malaysian elderly folk who are facing abuse and neglect. According to a study, one in 10 urban elderly Malaysian is abused, with financial abuse being the most common.

The survey by a team of researchers from the Department of Social and Preventative Medicine under Universiti Malaya’s Medical Faculty said psychological abuse was the next most common followed by physical abuse.

“A pilot survey was done among the urban poor in Kuala Lumpur in 2012 involving 291 individuals above the age of 60. There were elders living in low-cost government-subsidised flats. Of the total, 9.6% said they experienced one or more forms of abuse within the last 12 months of the survey,” said Dr Noran Naqiah Hairi.

By S. Indramalar The Star/Asia News Network

Related Story:

You really should know what it feels like to grow old 

Dr Noran is leading the Prevent Elder Abuse and Neglect Initiative (Peace) with her colleague Dr Clare Choo.

The team also found that one in 20 rural elders have experienced abuse based on a survey they did among 2,000 respondents in Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan.

The most common abuse reported among rural elders is psychological followed by financial.

Anita (not her real name) is a subject of financial abuse. As she has arthritis, she found it difficult to go to the bank. Her son persuaded the 68-year-old retired clerk to give him the authority to handle her finances.

Soon after, he got his widowed mother to sign over her house to him.

“I didn’t want to, but I was bullied into signing my house over. He kept accusing me of not trusting him.

“At first, everything was all right. But then he began investing my money in all kinds of ventures. I have no say in what he does with my money. When I ask him, it gets unpleasant.

“But I am worried what will happen when my money runs out,” laments Anita, who lives with her son in Petaling Jaya.

Still, she would never report her son because elder abuse is not a topic Malaysians discuss openly.

Deputy Women, Family and Com­munity Development Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun admits that reported figures do not paint the actual picture.

“These are only the cases that come to us. There may be more that we do not know of,” she said.

Most of elder abuse cases go unreported as many see it as a “family problem” which can be dealt with behind closed doors.

Only 23 cases of elder abuse and neglect were reported in the past three years, according to statistics from the ministry.

The study, however, shows it is far more prevalent.

“The Peace study is the first of its kind in Malaysia and it corroborates prevalence rates of elder abuse and neglect in other Asian countries which range from 14% to 27.5%,” added Dr Noran.

Related stories:

Urgent need to address elder abuse

Old mums face wrath of addict children

Aging in agony

Chinese New Year Reunion 2016


‘Falling’ in love: A screengrab of Mah Sing Group’s Chinese New Year video that is going viral on social media.

 

Another year, another reunion

The modern Malaysian Chinese family has come a long way. Many practices have been ‘adjusted’ but some things never change.

NOT many families want to talk about it openly. But the all-important Chinese New Year reunion dinners have become more complicated and in recent years, more stressful for sure.

It is almost impossible and even unfair to expect the patriarch and matriarch of the family to cook the meal, traditionally sumptuous and heavy in some cases, especially when they are getting along in years.

Mum’s cooking sounds good everywhere but in many cases, this has become a fond but distant memory. The maid has taken over this role and of course, our expectations have also become more realistic.

The world has changed. The women family members, whether daughters or daughters-in-law, are part of the work force now.

It is wrong to expect them to take over the kitchen duties. In fact, don’t even expect them to do the dishes. Don’t even think about it if you know what’s good for you especially during the festive season.

Cleaning up the house after a feast is a daunting task. All of us understand and accept the fact that we cannot overwork the maid, who are already grumbling about the weaker ringgit.

So, the modern Malaysian Chinese family settles for a compromised position – have the reunion dinner at a hotel or restaurant. Never mind if the food might be crappy.

For a Penangite like me, where Perakanan dishes are compulsory in the reunion meal, I resign to the fact that I won’t find my favourite jiu hoo char (stir-fried turnip with dried cuttlefish) and lobak (meat rolls) at any hotel banquet.

But you know that’s not all. The family member – perceived to be the most successful in life – always ends up paying the hefty bill. It’s only expected.

And we all know that hotel food, like those served on planes, is bad. But telling the person footing the bill that the meal is “lousy” right after dinner is not exactly the appropriate CNY greeting ….

Next, the giving of ang pow for the kids. While no one wants to admit that the amount in these red packets matter, it does!

It’s not going to look too good on you if the ang pow is small – and I mean the money inside, not the size of the packet – and especially if you are perceived to be better off.

Then, the conversation after the reunion dinner. And that is the most sensitive which can cause friction and great unhappiness.

I am not talking about the 1MDB and the RM2.6bil donation issue but explosive questions to family members, who are past 30 and still unmarried.

Yes, these purportedly choosy types, who think their partner, especially if you are a woman, should have better degrees, bigger car, a house, a club membership, a steady job with hopes of further promotions and of course, good looks, a great sense of humour as well as soft skills. By this, I mean having the ability to appreciate fine food and wine.

For the guys, they expect their partners to be able to cook like their mothers, be as good looking and curvy as the celebrities they see in heavily photoshopped pictures in magazines and of course, have a good career to help pay for the household bills.

But that’s not the end of it. If you are married and have not started a family, you would be offered many unsolicited solutions from busybody aunties – from artificial insemination to eating bull’s penises. Of course, there are subtle accusations of dangerous liaisons in China, what with the frequent business trips there.

No wonder the Chinese population in Malaysia is shrinking fast. But of course, like many Chinese voters, the blame has to fall on the Government. Their failure, or inability or refusal, to start a family, is the fault of the government entirely.

And if you happen to work in the media, all eyes will be on you. In this case, it’s me. With Google and news portals with anti-government slants easily available these days, everyone is now an expert on every issue. We have all become instant analysts and opinion shapers.

Yes, yes, of course, Malaysia’s temperature during the CNY will drop to as low as 16°C and will be the coldest CNY ever.

“That’s what the social media said what, so must be true mah!”

But it’s a reunion dinner. After the interrogation of the poor singles, it undoubtedly has to come to politics. I am not sure if this is a Malaysian thing, like the open house, but do people in other countries whine too?

Probably they do, and by now politicians in modern democracies would have realised that they have to earn their respect.

Don’t expect the people to pay homage to you because no one told you to stand for election and for sure, don’t expect us to be eternally grateful to you because you came begging for our votes with plenty of promises.

They have to learn that they will be belittled, ridiculed and criticised. So don’t run to the powers that be to shut anyone up with sedition charges. Get used to it.

I expect the grumbling and cynical remarks to be louder this year at gatherings with family and friends. There are a lot of unhappy people around.

But politicians do not have to worry too much as the louder yam seng will drown the complaints. To all Malaysians celebrating Chinese New Year, I wish you all Gong Xi Fa Cai!

By Wong Chun Wai on the beat The Star

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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