Beyond The Echo Chamber

Month: January 2017

Do we really know what is Chinese New Year?


Chinese New Year

1.) “Happy Chinese New Year”

Among the 1.2 billion Native Chinese Speakers in the world (Chinese language reference at Ethnologue (16th ed, 2009) , FEW would actually use the phrase “CHINESE NEW YEAR” to greet/resemble the celebration. The “Chinese” new year phrase is very much a “western” product to facilitate racial profiling, capitalising on the celebration of Spring Festival. If same logics were to be applied to similiar celebrations for other cultures/ethincs, you will have the following celebrations

– Happy Malay / Arab New Year for Maal Hijrah
– Happy Indian / Tamil New Year for Ponggal or equivalent for other races
– Happy Kadazan / Dusun New Year for Kaamatan or Gawai
– Happy Caucasian New Year for 1st of January
– Happy Japanese New year for 1st of January

which doesn’t make sense.

How do Chinese Native speakers then refer to this celebration/ festival as?

1.) 春节快乐 – Happy Spring Festival
2.) 农历新年 – Happy Peasantry/Farmer Calendric New year (Note that the Calender that chinese uses places emphasis on the 24 节气 or 24 seggregation/categorization of “seasons” which is the point of reference for our ancestors (Mainly peasantry farmers) pertaining farming.
3.) 阴历新年 - Happy Lunar New Year
4.) 新春快乐 - Happy New/Arrival of the Spring
5.) 年节 - Festival of “year”/Nian
6.) 过年 - “Passing” of the “Year”/ “nian”

none, literally, of the chinese / mandarin / verbal / lingual connotation of the festival would have anything to do with the “Race”. the chinese’s 5000 years old ancestry root that celebrate this festival probably didn’t even know that they are called “Chinese”.

I think this is why we have to resume to the proper name of the festival. I would urge everyone to use the greeting of

HAPPY SPRING FESTIVAL. it means the same thing to chinese people, and it becomes less “racially exclusive”. The Koreans celebrates the spring festival too on the same day as the chinese. you don’t greet them “Happy Korean New Year” right 🙂


2.) The history on the “DATE”of “Spring Festival”.

First, your average Chinese- Malaysian friend will tell you that the Spring Festival starts on the 1st day of the Lunar Calendar used by ancient Chinese. Whilst it is true today, that wasn’t really the case in the past.

in “Shang 商” Dynasty, the “celebration of Spring Festival/new year” was on the first day of ” la 腊 “ month (12th month) , which is the month before current “first month”.

in Zhou 周 and Qin 秦 Dynasty, the celebration of new year was on the first day of the 10th month and 11th month respectively.

It is not until the Han 汗 Dynasty that the Celebration of New year / spring festival was celebrated on the 1st day of the “YUAN” month, or the “First month”. this is reflecting the concept of 行夏之時 – Xing Xia period by the Confusianists. this date was carried on for all dynasties until today.


3.) The GREAT CONFUSION on the “Celebration of Spring Festival” and the story of “Rituals of Fire crackers and wearing Red”

If you call up a Chinese Malaysian friend, and ask them the “History of Celebrating the Spring Festival”, they will tell you the story of “NIAN Monster”.

The story of Nian goes like this : Every Winter-Spring, a monster by the name of “Nian” (now resemble “year”) comes out from the mountain/forest/jungle to kill/eat/destroy villagers and their properties. The villagers in China were so fearful of the Nian Monsters but none knows what to do about it. One day, when the Nian Monster attacked a village, one villager hit the wok with a spoon and the monster was frigthened by it. They also realize that the monster is afraid of RED colour stuffs. villagers then gathered to hit and make noise, including firing fire crackers to chase the Nian Monster away, at the sametime decorated everything in RED to scare the monsters further. after which, the elder would give the younger money 压岁钱 as “blessings” for surviving the monster attack, and young would stay awake throughout the night to “protect” the elders against the attack of “monsters” 守岁 . and of course, wearing brilliant and bright red.

however, this story is NOT the story of the celebration of Spring Festival. This is just the story/origin of the “playing fire crackers” and “wearing red colour stuff”.

The real story of Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year is VERY DULL AND DRY AND BORING. you can skip this part if you’re expecting something juicy or alluring. However if you wish to know more abotu the chinese culture on this festive season, read on :

Whilst it’s very hard to ascertain the real origin of the celerbation, Archeologist and Historians deduced that the celebration started during the Yin Shang dynastic period “殷商时期” (based on Si Ma Qian’s SHI JI 司馬遷. 《史记·殷本纪》)around 3700 years ago. It was the celebration to offer prayers to Deities, signifying the end and the beginning of the year “岁末年头祭神”, and prayers to the ancestors “祭祖活动(臘祭)”. The earliest legend of the celebration started since the time of “Yao Shun” 尧舜, who is on of the greatest general after the Yellow Emperor (黄帝) who is the first ancestor of the Han/Chinese race/ethnic. in the “Er Ya Shi Tian”, 《爾雅·釋天》, it is said that the celebration of a “year” periodic was named differently in different dynasty, and the “YEAR” word that we use today, which is “NIAN”, was used in the “ZHOU” 周 dynasty. “夏曰歲 in XIA dynasty, it’s called “SHUI”,商曰祀 in SHANG Dynasty, it’s called “SHI”,周曰年 in ZHOU Dynasty, its called “NIAN”。

Earlier Chinese Scripture of the word “NIAN”/Spring Festival/Year has the image (pictograph) of “ripe paddy”, which connotes the celebration of “harvest”. in the “Shuo Wen Zi JIe” or the record of explanation of Ancient Chinese word, it says that the word “Year/NIAN” means the ripen of Crops “《说文解字》:“年,谷熟也。从禾千声。”

Therefore, do not be confused by the story of NIAN monster and the story of Spring Festival Celebration. the logical deduction is, Chinese people celebrated the Spring Festival WAY WAY WAY before the appearance of the NIAN MONSTER story, or if it’s real, the NIAN MONSTER. the Nian Monster gave rise to the ritual of Celebrating Spring Festival through lighting up fire crackers, and wearing red, but it doesn’t explain the origin of the celebration of almost 4000 years old.


4.) ANG PAU? or the Red Packet.

The Story of Ang Pau is rather straight foward and simple : blessings from elderly to the younger through the giving of money sealed in red packet. there are many sayings and presumptions on how the traditions on this red packet are to be practiced, IE only the married are to give, and unmarried one to receive.

however, please be mindful that majority of the 1.5billion mandarin speakers don’t know what “Ang Pau” means. Ang Pau is the Hokkien word for “red packet”.

Among South East Asia Mandarin speakers, it’s called “Hong2 Bao1红包 ”
but in China and Mainland, it’s called “Ya1 Sui4 qian2 压岁钱 “,
in Hong Kong or Among the Cantonese, its called “Lai See ” 利事
Hokkien people call it “Ang Pau”.

The wide use of the word “ANG PAU” in Malaysia among other alternatives of the Red Packet is mainly attributed to the early infusion and assimiliation of the Peranakans in Melaka and Penang, who are mainly HOKKIENS. the Cantoneses Hakkas and others don’t call it “Ang Pau”. only the Hokkiens and Malays and None Mandarin / Dialect speaking Chinese in Malaysia (Bananas).


5.) Do you actually know what is the meaning of “Gong Xi Fa Chai (Mandarin)”, “Gong Hei Fat Choy (Cantonese)”, “Giong Hi Huat Chai (Hokkien)” etc? 恭喜发财 。

it literally means “Congratulation and Make more Money”. I think the Chinese might be the only ehtnic in this world that use the greeting of “make more money” as the primary greetings during the New Year / Spring celebration. Imagine during 1st January, westerner greet each other “Happy New Year! Make More money!” LOl. very uniquely chinese indeed I must say.


6.) the song “Gong Xi Ni’ 恭喜 恭喜 恭喜你 was not originally a New Year/ Spring Festival Song. It’s a Song commemorating Japanese Surrender post World War Two.

he song gong xi gong xi gong xi ni has nothing to do with spring festival or Chinese new year. ORIGINAL LYRICS was composed by 民国歌仙 陈歌辛 (a notable composer during min guo era , chen ge xian) in 1945 to commemorate the end of second sin o – Japanese war (WW2). it is only later on, that songstress Yao Li姚莉 and her brother, amended the second phase and fourth phase, which was ORIGINALLY written as WARFARE PROPAGANDA, into the chinese new year friendly ‘winter gone and spring came” phase. it was sang by the siblings without any heavy drums or percussions. just light music with only Guitar as accompaniment.


7.) The “Human” birthday on the 7th day of the new year

Many Chinese still celebrates the 7th day of new year as “human day”, signifying the day in which Human being were created by 女娲 Nu Wa the goddess. (note that the chinese believes on creationism was really really really mild – almost near none believe, unlike the Abrahamic followers’ believe on God’s creation of men).

Legend has it that Nu Wa first created Chicken on the First day, Dog on the second day, Pig on the Third day, Sheep on the Fourth day, Cow on the Fifth day, and Horse on the Sixth day. On the Seventh day, she created Mankind. Therefore Chinese people would celebrate the Seventh day as “Human day” and greet each other “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”.


8.) Birthday of the Jade Emperor on the 9th day, and why you see the Hokkiens people burn their sugar Cane

Legend also has it that the 9th day of the New year is the birthday of the Jade Emperor, or 天公诞 / heavenly birthday. Mainland China would make prayers to the Jade Emperor in temple, while the HOKKIENS people would pray to the Jade Emperor with “Sugar Cane”.

Why Sugar Cane?

in Ming and Qing Dynasty, the Hokkien territories were always subjected to invasion by the Wo Kou倭寇 (Japanese Pirates). ever since the Ming Dynasties, Wo Kou / Japanese Pirates invade the Hokkien territories shores constantly.

in one particular year around 1500 ++, the Japanese Pirates launched a large scale invasion into the Hokkien Province. The Ming Court sent a large troop of army to fight off these pirates. Rest of the civilians and peasants ran off and hide inside a Sugar Cane forest and hide the for the night, from the first day of New Year until the 9th day. On the 9th day, the pirates were defeated and only then the civilians went back to celebrate their new year (hence, “little new year”). they also made this day the “birthday of Jade Emperor”, being the Patron Deity that they prayed for safe and security. As such, every 9th day of the new year, Hokkiens would prepare sumptious offerings and sugar cane to the Jade Emperor as gratitude for his blessings.


I hope this few points gave you a rather deeper and different understanding about the Spring Festival 🙂 it is afterall a celebration of 4000 years old and modifications / twisting of traiditons are inevitable. Nevertheless, the preservation of it’s spirit and essence for such long years deserve due recognition by the celebrators to it’s detail and history.


Tai Zee Kin

No Plastic Bag Selangor and How you should cope with it

The best thing that happened this first week of the year : Implementation of No-Plastic-Bag ruling in Selangor. A lot of retailers have enforced it. We all should applaud this policy.

If you do not want to pay for the extra RM 0.20 ( which, i hope can be increased to mandatory RM 1.00 as deterrent), please bring either your old used plastic bag, or a kain/reusable bag (you can get it at very low price in IKEA etc) when you’re out to shop. Also, you can consider bringing your own food container to dapao.
The environment is not for you to harm further for convenient sake. you are supposed to feel the little “inconvenience” because that is the price you are suppose to pay to help reduce harm towards our environment – you are still harming it! don’t stick gold to our face just yet, just that we are reducing the harm. We are not even rehabilitating or improving it yet.


Here are some ideas on how you can make your own “Reuseable bags” and save cost on plastic bags.


Tips on making your own bags :

1.) Using your own unused shirts :

2.) Using old pillow case :

3.) Sew it from Fabric (Beginner level)




RON 95 – Calculate the price yourself!

RON 95 went up by 20 sen over 2017 Near Year celebration in Malaysia. Once again, the new RON 95 pricing shocked and suprised the whole nation, and created another round of rage-suprise frenzy in social media and whatsapp.

The feeling was pretty bad indeed. How human nature works, is when you don't mentally prepare for bad things before it happens, the bad feeling that comes along become significantly worse off when it finally hits. However, if one was to thoroughly prepare for all the bad things that are about to come before it happens, the perception becomes relatively bearable when it happens. How bearable will that be, is highly dependable on how prudent you are in overestimating your cost.

So to save yourself from another potential rounds of rage, suprises and heart attacks over fuel prices, It's best that you start picking up on how to calculate RON 95 Prices. you can do so by the end of every month to predict the actual pricing.


1.) Ingredients to the Price/Cost


Sardine Bun : You bought a Sardine bun from Giant supermarket this morning, for RM 1.60. The RM 1.60 you paid for include the cost of, among others, Floor, Sugar, Baking Soda, Sardine, Seasoning of Sardine, Onions, Salt, Oil, Preservatives, Margin of the retailer, Transportation cost, Packaging etc. Each of these ingredients and element incurs certain amount of cost. If you want to know the detailed breakdown, you can always go to the manufacturer and retailer, befriend with their accountant, and ask for them to reveal their cost to you. Fortunately you dont have to befriend a retail oil company accountant to know your RON 95 pricing.

RON 95 PetrolYour litre of RON 95 include costing for the actual refined oil (based on MOPS pricing), alpha, operation cost, oil company margin, dealer's margin, and before 1st April 2015, Sales tax (Which is now abolished because RON 95 is not GST-taxable).

2.) How much is the cost of the individual item listed in RON 95 cost breakdown?

First we need to know, that these costings were done according to the Automatic Pricing Mechanism (APM) system implemented on 2nd April 1983. The Regulation implemented then in 1983, listed exactly how much these costings are, to the micro sen. or nano sen (whatever). Scroll down to the bottom of this post and refer to Appendix 1 if you want to read the actual APM document, released in 1983.

But they were all in words. So I made it easy for you by putting a table. Please do not share this table without my explicit permission because in the event I incurred any omission in this table, I do not want it to be mis-interpreted further. So here you go :-

APM calculation.png

So from this Table, you can see, that summing up point 2-5  you get a fixed cost of RM 0.32 (round up from RM 0.3173) per litre. IT MEANS that even if one day when Refined Fuel oil become FREE, you still have to pay RM 0.32 per litre for your RON 95.

IT's like, if one day FLOUR become free, you still have to pay for other cost of your Sardine bread too right? the sugar, packaging, transportation cost, retail shelf place etc.

So what you should have in your mind by now, is RON 95 Price is RM X (MOPS) + RM 0.3173


skip to point 5.) if you want to continue on the calculation. Stay on point 3.) and 4.) to understand a little bit more about MOPS


3.) MOPS - Means of Platts Singapore  - Why is it called "Platts"? Story Telling Session

in 1909, Mr Warren C. PLATT (1883-1963) published the "National Petroluem News", and lateron in 1923 he published the Newsletter "PLATTS OILGRAM" which was an influential reference for PETROLUEM PRICES.

The Company that Mr Warren C. PLATT formed to publish these Petroluem Prices, was McGraw-Hill, which lateron became S&P Global. the division/department within S&P Global that continues to publish commodities and energy prices, is now known as S&P Global Platts

So, in honour of Mr Platts, the Petroluem price circulation that he used to publish, is now named after him - PLATTS.

4.) What is the different between Pricing from Brent, West Texas, and Means of Platts?

Brent and West Texas are used to indicate CRUDE OIL price.

Means of Platts is used to indicate PREMIUM/REFINED OIL price. in our case, MOPS 95 for RON 95.

Think of Crude Oil, analogically, as your raw Chicken. The price of Raw Chicken, and cooked/treated chicken served on your plate in a restaurant is very different. Brent/WTI is used to measure the raw chicken price, while Means of Platts is used to measure the price of your Chicken Chop/ Chicken Maryland / KFC Spicy Dinner Plate. It is almost certain that the price of the latter is always higher than before.

So when you want to calculate the price of RON 95, which is refined for your car use, use the Means of Platts. They were used by most South East Asia country and also Australia.

However if your car runs on Crude unrefined oil, (maybe you have invented one in your garage. who knows?) then you can proceed to use Brent and WTI to calculate your RON 15 price. or RON 5. or RON8. i don't know the octane number for unrefined/Crude oil, or if there is any Octane number at all.

And if you are want understand how Platts calculate refined oil price, you can read them here.

5.) How do you calculate the MOPS cost in our Malaysia's RON 95?

First, you find out what is the current index of MOPs RON 95. I found one here, and you get something like this :-


once you get this graph, you have to start to do some home work. If you remember, our price (APM) is adjusted every month instead of everyday, and the price of the coming month is based on the average index of MOPS Ron 95 (Mogas 95) of the current month. So you will have to get the index quote for the whole month, add them up, divide by 30 to get the "Average" MOPs Price. Whatever number you get for the month, would be your amount RM X for the next month's RON 95.



IE, in the above graph, December's Average RON 95 MOGAS MOPS pricing will be the base RM X for January RON 95 price in Malaysia.

So to calculate January RON 95 Pricing, you find out the daily MOPS MOGAS 95 price, add them up and find the average. To ease your trouble, I've done that for you 

mops 4.jpg

Simple Excel work.

Cost per Barrel (USD)

So now, we have the average MOPS RON 95 cost per barrel for December 2016 : USD 66.553

Cost per Litre (MYR)

With that, lets first convert from barrel unit to Litre, which is what we use. The            Conversion ratio is, 1 barrel = 159 Litre . Also for December, the Exchange rate between USD and MYR was about USD 1 to MYR 4.49.

So, 159 litre of December RON 95, would cost you USD 66.553, or RM 298.923

and 1 litre of December RON 95, would cost you RM 1.87938 on MOPS alone.

6.) Adding up RM X (MOPS) and RM 0.32

now, you have managed to get hold of the MOPS pricing for december 2016 (RM 1.87938). So to calculate January 2017's RON 95 retail pricing in Malaysia, add up the MOPS average monthly price (RM 1.87938), and the abovementioned other costing (alpha, dealer/oil company margins, operation cost) of RM 0.32.

the Actual APM Retail price of RON 95 for January 2017 is around 

RM 2.19938 , or RM 2.20

currently, you are paying RM 2.10 for it because the Government "STILL" subsidize it. If not, based on APM, like what is adapted by most countries in the world, you would have to pay RM 2.20 instead.

Conclusion : be kind to your heart, and stop exposing it to shock and rage. Do some calculations and prepare for what is coming the next month ! You can predict the price and impress your friends by your prediction, because they are quite accurately reflected most of the time.

_________________________________________________________________APPENDIX 1


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