This is the first of a series of notes about living in Malaysia. Love it, hate it, whatever, this Saturday Living In Malaysia series is just one opinion. You can leave brickbats and comments in the comment section.
Today Elaine said to me, "You know what really annoys me? I go to this restaurant for years and get nothing extra but the first time I bring an orang puteh (Malay for White Person) there, a real blonde, blue-eyed woman, she gets served quicker than me AND she gets this extra water melon. It's just not fair!"
I am orang puteh, hell, even my NAME is Whyte!,and I have lived in Malaysia for 14 years. What Elaine says is true. We do get served before others.
Some think it's a hangover from Colonial times - although I don't really see how on earth someone can hold on to this 50 years after the end of that time. I think it's because Western people tip and Malaysians don't.
Anyhow, if there's a crowd, we tend to get served first. But what Elaine doesn't see is the bill. Orang puteh also get to pay double, triple and even more. Unless I stick to my favourite stalls at my wet market, I have to pay double what the others pay - and that's after being a regular customer there for 8 years.
My other friend Emanar tells me she was asked to pay RM8000 for some plumbing when her orang puteh friend was in the house instead of the RM1000 the job was worth.
I call this "skin tax". Now ask yourself: do you want to be served first, and pay double or what?