Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Malaysian Cutlure

Here is a photo of a boys choir from the local orphanage in Kota Kinabalu this past Christmas singing Christmas carols in reasonably intelligible English at the tree lighting in Sutera Habour Resort. They were adorable. I hope they are well-supported. The resort is owned by a Chinese-Singaporean and the Chinese are largely Christian in Malaysia, so resort management can get away with Christmas festivities, despite the Muslim government that dominates all other private life and culture in Malaysia. The Chinese tend to segregate themselves into gated subdivisions with modern homes. The gates are more than just for show and controlling vehicle traffic. The stone walls are often topped with sharp spikes or barbed wire to control pedestrians as well. Despite the fact that Malaysia is nominally a democracy, and the Chinese compose more than 50% of the population in Sabah, laws and enforcement are heavily skewed to muslims. Only muslims can hold government or oil-industry jobs. Chinese dominate nearly every other sector of the economy, including agriculture, commercial and residential real estate, banking, retail, and restaurants. I imagine the Chinese business and church community are the main benefactors for the local catholic orphanage where these boys came from.

The other two photos show how Malaysians and Filipinos dry fish in the sun covered with salt, to preserve them for selling at the market or eating at home. Ice doesn't last long in the tropics and most of the locals, especially in the water villages where the fishermen live, don't have a refrigerator or ice. And they tap into electrical power from street lights nearby without paying taxes or utility bills, since technically they live on the water (swamps, reefs, and ditches near the city) where you can't own the "land".

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