TV SMITH's Dua Sen: 2 Big 2 Small - The Great Malaysian Dream
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

Thrice a week, millions of Malaysians of all races, from all walks of life congregate in tiny 10 by 20 feet places. Men and women who will elbow you out of the way at train and bus stations, queue patiently at hundreds of betting shops scattered across the country. The KTM (Kuda Toto Magnum) shop is as ubiquitous as the neighborhood Seven Eleven, a theatre of dreams for the average Malaysian. Teenagers in shorts, yuppies with ties, women with hair dyed blond, policemen in uniform indulge in the great Malaysian tradition of betting on 4 digit numbers. It was speculated that our Formula One ace, Alexander Yoong fared miserably because he slowed down to look for debris with numerical significance whenever a fellow competitor crashes. Can't blame him though, his sponsor was after all Magnum, one of the leading gaming operators.

The other popular Malaysian preoccupation of setting senseless world records coexists happily with this national pastime. The patriotic desire to preserve Malaysia's record for having the world's highest incidence of road accidents provides punters with a limitless source of numbers and inspiration. If broken vehicle license plates are not available, Malaysians turn to the roadside "Datoks"; mythical shrines and statutes erected underneath trees and big rocks. Opportunists appeased the "Datoks" with ornaments of street worship and received spiritual predictions in return. Those blessed with winning numbers repay their benefactor with fruits, slaughtered chickens or a concrete shelter, depending on the size of the windfall. If venturing into the darkness is not appealing to you, "nombor" prediction is now available online 24/7 from the "E-Datok". Others, interpret their dreams with the help of the pinkish Dream Book. A picture book designed with the illiterate user in mind, it contrasts sharply with the higher tech statistical analysis software, books and websites currently available.

On draw days, near closing hours, you'll find a mess of triple parked cars and motorcycles slotted haphazardly into every available space outside the lottery shop. Oddly enough, there is courteous social interaction in 11th hour gambling. The encountered greetings are indicative of the individual's hopes and motivation. When you meet a Chinese acquaintance at the gaming shop, the likely greeting is an optimistic "Fatt Choy" (Prosper). The Malay hopeful, on the other hand, sheepishly explains his presence as "Berlabur" (Investing). The guilt of deviating from sanctioned investments is compounded by the ever present danger of encountering religious department officers on duty. The Indians would greet each other with a redundant Numberela?" (Buying Number?). A kind of mutual reaffirmation that they are both at the right place, at the right time.  
3 In 1
3 IN 1 STREET: A punter's paradise

Broken number plates often transformed into broken dreams. At coffeshops, the morning after, it's not uncommon to overhear someone cursing "Phui! Chou Hye!" (Smelly Female Genital!) when he discovers the winning number is 'terbalik' (reversed) that of his forecast. Undaunted, another intrepid gambler scans the results in the newspapers like a diligent proof reader. Headlines and front pages are ignored along with the fact that the odds are mathematically against him in this game of chance. For him, no odds are too big and no dreams too small.

An updated version of this article appears in the January 18 issue of StarMag (The Sunday Star).

© 2003 TV SMITH
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