July 28, 2005

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In Malaysia, You Are What You Eat

Today's Standard carries a fascinating story of Chinese tourists in Malaysia, a country where racial tension is always simmering just below the surface. About 600 tourists from Hong Kong and Mainland China were staying at the rather desperately named "First World Hotel" in the Genting Highlands, famous among Chinese visitors in particular for the casino facilities available in that resort area. It turns out the Malay staff at the hotel had issued check-in cards for all of the Chinese tourists complete with sketches of pigs.

The Chinese tourists then in protest began to sing the Chinese national anthem and demanded an apology. But the hotel then mustered 40 guards and broke out the guard dogs (wonder what Malaysian Chinese would think of that?) to quell what they regarded was a race riot in progress - which is when scuffling broke out. The ending of the article says it best:

Wang Qiang, a tourist from Sichuan province, where there has been an outbreak of swine fever, was irate.

``On our hotel cards are these cartoon drawings of pigs. Is this respect?'' Wang was quoted as saying.

Resorts World, the owner of the hotel, described the incident as "amicably resolved."

This incident does bring up a wider issue. A number of Southeast Asian countries have significant ethnic Chinese minorities that make up a disproportionate portion of the population. The indigenous populations of those countries have created a working equilibrium with these Chinese minorities, often by passing discriminatory laws against them, creating a racial modus operandi within the country. How will China's rise, and increasing numbers of mainland visitors that may not know the intricacies of these often delicate racial balances, change these countries?

posted by HK Dave on 07.28.05 at 08:55 AM in the


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I still don't know why islamic people hate pigs so much... anyway, this is really dirty...

posted by: lin on 07.28.05 at 11:32 AM [permalink]

Everything would be solved if only muslims simply got a taste of delicious barbeque jerked pork! My mouth is watering even now.

posted by: Jing on 07.28.05 at 07:23 PM [permalink]

This reminds me a little of the rugby sevens. Protests because they eat dog. Who are we to impose on anothers beliefs?

posted by: New Zealand on 07.28.05 at 09:39 PM [permalink]

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