People with strange names

Recent article in the Star and clarifications by the Election Commission that these people are really registered really piqued me. Confused.? Try looking for names like Jamban Melayu, Puting, and  Lantak.  Their names were verified by the Registration department. What prompted the clarification by the EC was numerous jibes that they received from the opposition parties blaming them of cooking up the electoral roll with fictional people. You may not believe it but my experience teaching in Sarawak and being a descendant from Indonesian ethnic tribe taught me not to scoff at names such as Hitler, Jepun, Tepijalan, PuTing, CT Neon, Alifrazier, or even Ceper or Jamban Melayu. My grand mother was Posah, which I suppose an affectionate version of Hafsah, in the Rawa dialect. In those days, most parents were illiterate and birth registration was done at the local police stations. More often than not the constables on duty were not quite educated either, so they had to rely on how the name were pronounced by the reporting fathers. That was how, I reckon you got the name Mat Saja, or Md Nor Ajala. Some parents in those days also like to name their children the opposite of what they want them to be. If they want their child to be clever, they would name her/him as Lembab (slow) or if they perceived him/her to be beautiful you would see the child being registered as Burok (ugly). They believed that by doing so, the child would grow to be clever or pretty. It has to do, I think, with the psyche of the Malays being modest. It is considered arrogant to show off. So, I reckon that’s how you get names like Fakir, Miskin, Lembut, etc. But then again you may come across the name Jantan but I am yet to see somebody named Betina. Bettina yes but not Betina.

The Star also reported that some parents like to name their children after the areas or places they were born. Just like the Red Indians in North America who named their children after the event that happened during their birth. You get names like Running Water, Two Dogs Fighting, Falling Leaves or Sitting Bull,  I assumed that was how people like Tepi Jalan or Jamban Melayu were named. Back in 80s and 70s before the trend of naming people with Arabic/islamic nuances became vogue, parents had a penchant of naming their children with a concoction of husband and wives’s names, which can be quite elegant. Salmah and Azmi may give Salmi or Shamsuddin and Zakiah may produce Shaza. But it can be quite disastrous too!  But how can you explain somebody with a name like Kum Boo Toh or Kontol or Berak or Cangkul. Poor sods

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