I snapped this photo because the Jalur Gemilang, Penang flag and the signboard ‘Pasar Air Itam’ Laksa RM2.20 all line up side by side, with the same glory and honour. This stall is located in one of the busiest road, against the wall of a stinky wet market and perch on the brink of a dirty drain. Yet, this stall has drawn lots of laksa lovers. (If you do not know what laksa is, then you definitely can’t stomach the taste.) Another reason I snapped this photo is to ‘torture’ those Malaysians and Penangites whom are craving for a taste of laksa.
But something just snapped in my mind. I have had enough of the media screaming for Penang to clean up, ‘buffer the lustre of the pearl’ (or some stupid headlines like such) and also stumbling on many people blogging about it. Oh come on! Shaddap! Just because some big shots in The Star brought this up, everyone is following the chants. The Star’s editors are mostly Penangites. Just because one or two hot shots bumped into some rats while supper-ing or had ‘lau sai/cirit-birit’ after pigging out on our wonderful food, they went back and abused their high power and ask the whole island to clean up pulak. Chey… bo ah kai eh. Chiak pa bo su choh.
How can you take away the filth, disorganised road systems, dipilated buildings, stinky toilets, taxi sapus, ‘entertainers’ (beggars and mental patients) on the road,cut-throat shopowners, rude locals, pickpockets and still expect Penang to be unique? You can’t! Just like you can’t take away the ‘heh koh’ (some very black, stinky prawn paste) from the laksa and expect it to be tasty.
I don’t want my island to become like soul-less kiasuland or even KL. Where everything is too orderly. I want my island to remain like Rome, Florence, Venice and all those quaint Italian cities and even Paris. They have pickpockets, lots of dog and cat shits on the road, cobble stones, uneven roads, blardy ‘lan si’ French people and blurry Italians who refused to speak English, ancient hotels with scary plumbing works (shower water that turned ice cold with just one toilet flush) and all its imperfections. If Venice is beautiful, so is Weld Quay and its’ mud. If Florence is captivating, so is Penang pre-war houses. The road in Rome is filled with dusts and shits, so is Penang. If these French and Italian cities are world landmarks, why can’t Penang?
So, please leave my island alone. I want it to remain as it is. Dirty or not, it is si peh shiok leh. But then, we have top guns who are like the donkey, farmer and son story. You know, one day, the farmer and his son were pulling the donkey to the market to sell. On the way, they met a man who laughed at the farmer and asked why didn’t he let his son ride the donkey. The farmer followed the idea. Then, they met a lau ee and asked why the son is so unfilial and let his poor father walked. So, son got down and let father ride. Then, someone else scold the father for being so cruel to let the poor boy walked. So, both ride. Then, another makcik shouted at them that they are so cruel to torture the poor donkey with heavy burden. So, the farmer and his son decided to kandar (carry) the donkey by tying the animal legs and hang on a pole. On the way to the market, they cross a bridge. The donkey saw his own reflections in the water and panicked. It struggled and broke free but fell into the river and died.
Moral of the story : Our Penang big guns listen to the media, big people in KL, the locals, those nothing better to do passionate heritage lovers and in the end, the whole island also tenggelam.