Columnist

Erna Mahyuni

Native Sabahan Erna is (not) Malay but loves Malay literature. Her hobbies: cats/gaming/blogging at ernamerin.com/Tweeting at @ernamh.

When our future doctors know nothing

JUNE 12 — Believe it or not, there are people who do not know a tuberculosis vaccine exists. Unfortunately for us, one of them is a future... READ MORE

The slow, sad death of Bahasa Malaysia

JUNE 5 ― RIP Bahasa Malaysia. Despite Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka’s (DBP) best efforts, the language is slowly evolving into Bahasa Englayu. DBP has... READ MORE

Where is the Malaysian Dream?

MAY 29 ― “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” I still get the shivers when I hear that old Star Trek line. Looking back, things we take... READ MORE

Malaysia: Moving forward while walking backwards

MAY 22 — Reform. Reconciliation. Those are the words our government throws out and yet beneath all that still simmers other words. Resentment.... READ MORE

The time for raging has passed

MAY 15 ― Help! The armchair political analysts have staged a hostile takeover of my social media feeds. The nation, I think, needs a break from... READ MORE

Don’t blame the East Malaysians for your mistakes

MAY 8 — Again, some people on this side of the country have been blaming Sabah and Sarawak for Barisan Nasional winning the election. Someone on... READ MORE

Sabah 2013: Where everyone’s a loser

MAY 1 — Sabah voters will have quite a headache on May 5 what with all the multi-corner fighting. “Sepa bah ni urang?” (Who is this?) I can imagine... READ MORE

Sabah 2013: Opposition making same mistakes

APRIL 24 — Sabah politics is, as I keep repeating, complicated. But as the next general election comes around, Barisan Nasional’s “fixed deposit”... READ MORE

GE13 wishlist: For a safer Malaysia

APRIL 17 — Whoever wins the upcoming general election, I hope there will be measures to make our country safer. As a Sabahan, I would like to be... READ MORE

When children are the third parents

APRIL 10 — There’s nothing quite like a baby who likes schedules. It was a good thing Sarah was one of them. She’d had her bottle, a diaper change... READ MORE

Why so afraid of the Christians and Jews?

APRIL 3 ― For a Muslim-majority country, it is unsettling how much fear and ignorance abounds about the other Abrahamic faiths. Every other day,... READ MORE

How not to be the customer from hell

MARCH 27 — Macarons and social media usually go together like wine and cheese but judging from recent events, that is not always the case. No, I am... READ MORE

We, the peasants

MARCH 20 — It has become increasingly clear that many of our leaders are out of touch with the realities of everyday living for the less... READ MORE

Shooting the carrier pigeons

MARCH 13 — Malaysians seem to have a knack for self-censorship. The last couple of weeks have seen plenty of that in both the mainstream news and... READ MORE

Sabah: Mahathir’s failed attempt at social engineering

MARCH 6 — To paint the Sabah situation as “virtuous Sabah natives” against “invading foreign terrorists” is far too simplistic. The reality is as... READ MORE

Putrajaya welcomes all comers to Lahad Datu!

FEB 27 ― Welcome to Lahad Datu, where you do not need a passport so long as you carry a gun and a dubious claim to Sabah! You will be greeted by... READ MORE

Sabah for Sabahans?

FEB 20 ― Before you send me to Kamunting, realise I am not advocating Sabah leaving Malaysia. But I think it is high time Sabahans have a good,... READ MORE

Time we stopped rejecting Bahasa Malaysia

FEB 13 ― It strikes me as ridiculous that more than 50 years on, Malaysians still can’t come to terms with our supposed “national... READ MORE

Darah Cina, darah kamu juga

6 FEB ― Sebenarnya amat kekok rasanya setiap kali cuba menukil madah dalam bahasa kebangsaan. Namun saya cuba kerana mungkin ini saja cara saya... READ MORE

On being called an ‘ungrateful Malay’

JAN 30 -- A “cybertrooper” sent me an email response to last week’s column. To assuage your curiosity, I’ll let you read it: (swear words censored... READ MORE

We are all ‘pendatang,’ Dr M

JAN 23 ― Sometimes, I think the nation would be better served if Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s vocal chords took a trip to Siberia. After all, few... READ MORE

If the government would just ‘listen’

JAN 16 ― When my social media was filled with exhortations to “listen”, I wondered if we’d somehow become Beyoncé-land. I’d rather not say... READ MORE

On being an Apple cultist

JAN 9 ― “Repent ye, sinner!” The way friends react when I mention my using Apple products befuddles me. The only thing possibly more annoying... READ MORE

Starting over as a country

JAN 2 ― Starting over is a scary thing. The idea of reinventing ourselves, of picking ourselves up from the bottom and restarting the slow, long... READ MORE

The misery of Les Misérables

DEC 26 – I write this having just returned from watching the Tom Hooper-directed film version of Les Misérables. Oh, dear God in heaven. I wanted... READ MORE

Politics and education don’t mix

DEC 19 — There was a lot of outrage over Malaysia’s scores in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011. But why was... READ MORE

All the world’s a stage

DEC 12 — Looking at the various characters that people our political landscape, I cannot help but be reminded of Shakespeare. An old man, once in... READ MORE

On Sabah’s ‘racism’

DEC 5 ― “So it strikes me to ask, is Sabah as racism-free as it seems?” That’s what a LoyarBurok columnist asked, after a (brief) visit to Sabah... READ MORE

The women haters in Parliament

NOV 28 — So, we now have rules in Parliament to stop lawmakers from saying sexist things. You can stop them saying sexist things but it doesn’t... READ MORE

The spoon-fed generation

NOV 21 ― Dear parents: Please stop making it easier for your kids. I mean it. Not that I’m advocating spanking and depriving them of dinner, but... READ MORE

Speak no evil?

NOV 14 — It’s been interesting watching as Nurul Izzah Anwar was publicly ‘flogged’ for ‘insulting Islam’. So much self-righteousness! I... READ MORE

Sabah’s ‘development or else’

NOV 7 — A long time ago, Sabah was like the miserable child in a messy custody battle. Custody battles are hard. It’s not easy for a judge to rule... READ MORE

Who do you call?

OCT 31 ― “Kami polis. Kami boleh tanya, tahan dan tangkap siapa saja.” (We’re policemen. We can interrogate, detain and arrest whomever.) All M... READ MORE

The ridiculous Malaysian obsession with Jews

OCT 24 ― Malaysians are a funny lot. In Selangor it’s easier to find someone who knows more about Israel’s political situation than that of Sabah... READ MORE

Why RM1m isn’t enough for good translations

OCT 17 — Our deputy prime minister has announced a RM1 million scheme to encourage more translators to go full-time instead of part-time. Here’s... READ MORE

The culture of language shaming

Oct 10 — If I’d been a little more thin-skinned growing up, I might not be writing this column today. My fluency in English is an asset for me now,... READ MORE

No quick fix for East Malaysia

OCT 3 ― “All you East Malaysians need to do is vote out BN!” I hear that time and time again from various people in Peninsular Malaysia and it’s... READ MORE

Nobody loves you, Syria

SEPT 26 ― I had mixed feelings about last week’s demonstrations. While I support demonstrations as a necessary and democratic right, the... READ MORE

In defence of grammar

SEPT 19 ― Sitting with a group of young university students, one of them said, “I don’t see why we need grammar. So long as people understand... READ MORE

Don’t give men permission to be creeps

SEPT 12 ― I wish men wouldn’t get defensive when women talk about being sexually harassed or assaulted. “You could have just said no.” The truth... READ MORE

When bored, create manifestos

AUG 22 — Listening to what passes off as political discourse in this country is dangerous. Dangerous for your sanity, I mean. On one extreme, you... READ MORE

Why Dr M is Umno’s (and Anwar’s) fault

AUG 15 ― “But don’t you think (Tun Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) should be condemned for all he’s done?” So asked a young, idealistic undergrad over... READ MORE

Why Sabah must take itself back… without PKR

AUG 1 ― Somewhere in Putrajaya, the damage control machinery is going into overdrive. It would explain why Barisan Nasional (BN) was desperate... READ MORE

Workplaces need to accommodate fathers, too

JULY 25 ― It’s a pity workplaces aren’t more parent-friendly. I remember going to job interviews and being grilled about my marriage plans, with... READ MORE

We can’t all be superheroes, minister

JULY 11 — It is easy to interpret Datuk Seri Utama Rais Yatim’s call to martial arts practitioners to help fight crime as a veiled acceptance of... READ MORE

A film worth Brave-ing the cinema… with your mother

JULY 4 — Note: This is spoiler-free commentary so read on without fear! Reading the reviews of Pixar’s new film “Brave”, I suspect the people... READ MORE

Don’t blame your police, blame your government

JUNE 27 — I am tired of Pemandu making the media its scapegoat for the “perception” of crime in this country. Crime is a problem in this country... READ MORE

I can see Russia from Putrajaya

JUNE 20 — The more I read the news, the more I wonder why we’re devolving into Russia. Both the Russia of today and the Russia when they threw... READ MORE

Remembering what matters

JUNE 13 — A friend lost her brother, some days past. I spoke of her loss with another mutual friend and the latter asked me, “Why?” Death should be... READ MORE

Of irony and the Malay psyche

JUNE 6 — “Did you know,” a friend said to me, “There is no equivalent word in Bahasa Malaysia for ‘irony’?” He’s right. Check the woefully-outdated... READ MORE

Yang indah itu bahasa, yang hilang itu budi

30 MEI — Kebelakangan ini saya banyak menerima permintaan untuk menterjemahkan bahasa Inggeris ke bahasa Malaysia. Saya akui saya lebih senang... READ MORE

Our schools are commie factories

MAY 23 — I don’t understand why our government vilifies Chin Peng or brings up the communist threat every so often. After all, our schools aren’t... READ MORE

When being ‘nice’ accomplishes nothing

MAY 9 — An argument I find rather bewildering is the notion that demonstrations are “not the Malaysian way” and any problems we have with the... READ MORE

On being forced to vote for an idiot

MAY 2 — It’s no secret that most of our politicians are idiots. Exhibit A, for me, is a “gem” of a tweet from a PKR leader in which she basically... READ MORE

Borneo Tales: When you’re surrounded by illegals

APRIL 25 — One thing I find people here don’t seem to fathom is the illegal immigration problem in Sabah. It’s a problem that’s gone on for decades... READ MORE

Borneo Tales: What’s with Sabah/Sarawak Immigration?

APRIL 11 — There’s always this one burning question people from the Peninsula often ask. (No, it’s not “Why do you still support Barisan Nasional?”... READ MORE

Borneo Tales: Stuck in our own backyards

APRIL 4 — It’s been great hearing from you readers about what you’d like to see in this column. Some of your questions required a lot of thought... READ MORE

Let me tell you about Sabah

MARCH 28 — Dear reader, I would like to ask your assistance with something. ‘Something’ here being the subject matter of my column. We can safely... READ MORE

Making wise men out of court jesters

MARCH 21 — My current favourite Twitter hashtag is one started by radio staffer and Twitter personality, Zara Kahan: #LOLDewanRakyat. She uses it... READ MORE

Young, with a bad back — the new epidemic

MARCH 14 — I assumed, long ago, that bad backs were merely the problems of the middle-aged, old or manual labourers. I’ve been proven wrong.... READ MORE

What minimum wage opponents don’t get

MARCH 7 — Call this a broad, sweeping statement but anyone who opposes minimum wages has probably never had to support a family or live in the... READ MORE

Why Chinese schools aren’t always the answer

FEB 29 — “I regret sending my son to a Chinese school.” That was a statement I never expected to hear, especially coming from a Chinese mother. I... READ MORE

It’s not OK to tell people not to care

FEB 22 — Whenever a celebrity dies, along with the public outpouring of grief comes the vampires of empathy. This special group specialises in... READ MORE

A grandmother, a baby and Sabah’s poverty

FEB 15 — Waiting at the check-in lounge for my flight home to Kota Kinabalu, I saw a woman in her senior years looking rather forlorn. She looked... READ MORE

Why is the government raiding our piggy bank?

FEB 8 — I still remember the 80s recession for all the things my family lost. My father lost his job. We lost the house. Gone, too, was the money I... READ MORE

When poor English is a dangerous thing

FEB 1 — Think poor English standards aren’t a problem? Well, my sister almost wasn’t born… because our mother barely knew English. It’s almost... READ MORE

When the enemy is your friend

JAN 25 — The problem with corruption is that for some, it isn’t a problem. It’s their key to riches and comfort, which is why destroying the... READ MORE

Wanting a fair share doesn’t make you a commie

JAN 18 — I remember my heart breaking just a little bit when an Ayn Rand-loving friend declared the government shouldn’t be working on making... READ MORE

Celebrating the talentless

JAN 11 — We media folk are a gossipy bunch. Tea is served with a side of snarkiness and the news of who is going where or doing what. Once in... READ MORE

Making liars of heroes and truth-telling a crime

JAN 4 — Our government is very keen on making non-sanctioned demonstrations criminal. Yet our national language interprets demonstrations... READ MORE

On cow heads and easily-cowed Malaysians

DEC 28 — One very Malaysian trait, besides bringing tupperware to government open houses, is passivity. It has served us well in one regard,... READ MORE

Why can’t our politicians speak?

DEC 21 — If there is one thing that puzzles me about our politicians, it is their general lack of eloquence. The Umno assembly, for instance, is... READ MORE

CPB: Another case of listening to the clueless

DEC 14 — The Computing Professionals Bill 2011 was drafted by clueless people. That is the only conclusion I can make after reading MOSTI’s press... READ MORE

So you want to write for a living?

DEC 7 — I am often amused when I meet yet another young hopeful, declaring his or her intention to either be a writer or a journalist. Some of you... READ MORE

Why talented Malaysians run away

NOV 30 — To be honest, some Malaysians who emigrate annoy me. You know the type. They stick their chests out, noses up in the air and talk about... READ MORE

Not Chinese enough

NOV 23 — I know a few sad bananas. No, I haven’t started talking to my food. I mean “bananas”: Chinese who can’t speak a Chinese dialect. My... READ MORE

The language that divides us

NOV 16 — Teaching science and maths in English was a bad idea from the start. Let’s be honest here; — half our teaching force, especially in the... READ MORE

Why can’t we just let everyone be fabulous?

NOV 9 — If metaphors became literal, I imagine most of us would be standing in broken glass. Stones scattered amongst the bewildered faces, people... READ MORE

Is heaven made of stupid people?

NOV 2 — I’m sure people had a field day laughing when the supposed Rapture didn’t happen May 21. But I have a hard time laughing when PAS Youth... READ MORE

What Malaysians can learn from theatre

OCT 26 — After spending the last few weeks directing a play for the Short + Sweet theatre festival, it got me thinking about theatre’s place in our... READ MORE

The conmen among us

OCT 19 — Walk along any street in Kuala Lumpur and you’ll probably pass a con. He or she could be in tattered rags or even a business suit.... READ MORE

Be Malaysian, embrace hypocrisy

OCT 12 — Showboating. Grandstanding. Both required skills for our politicians but, for once, I’ll give the poor chaps (and chap-ettes) a break. We... READ MORE

Why Malaysian kids can’t read

OCT 5 — Two journalists, a schoolteacher and afternoon tea. The teacher, she teaches literature. One journalist wants to know more. What books does... READ MORE

The pain of starter girlfriends

SEPT 28 — If there’s one term that indicates how little marriage is valued these days it’s “starter wife.” Or “starter husband” for that matter.... READ MORE

Bleeding hearts, empty minds

SEPT 23 — I am a little tired of NGOs who think journalists should go around wearing hypothetical capes in order to save the world. Take, for... READ MORE

Sayang Malaysia

SEPT 14 — It is fascinating how the Malay language has more than one word for “love.” “Kasih.” “Cinta.” And my personal favourite:... READ MORE

Now everyone can rage

SEPT 7 — Ah, comments. In the early days it gave me warm, fuzzy feelings to get comments on my blog posts. Now, I try not to read the responses as... READ MORE

Malaysia’s religion of ugly

AUG 31 — It seems that our Rukunegara is a lie. Malaysia as a country does not worship God. It worships ugliness. Ugliness is everywhere in this... READ MORE

Be Malaysian, love an idiot

AUG 24 — If there’s one thing we’re consistent about, it’s electing clowns into Parliament. For me, it is one of life’s mysteries, one other... READ MORE

Mana perginya budi bahasa?

17 OGOS — Saya memang jarang membaca blog tempatan, terutamanya yang menggunakan Bahasa Malaysia. Bukan apa, tetapi kebelakangan ini terlalu banyak... READ MORE

Of Christians, poor Muslims and kittens

AUG 10 — My attempt to sleep in one Saturday morning was foiled by the sound of plaintive mewling. It sounded like a kitten was stranded in my... READ MORE

God can take care of Himself

AUG 3 — In my last column, I talked about what I found ironic — that while denigrating religion, Anders Behring Breivik identified himself as... READ MORE

The Christian who never was

JULY 27 — I am a little tired of people making religion the scapegoat for the suffering of the world. Take the New York Times and its... READ MORE

Not on your side, but ours

JULY  20 — Politicians are sneaky, tricksy beasts. I like joking that entering the profession means having your spine surgically removed, though am... READ MORE

How democratic elections still failed Sabah

JULY 14 — “How can you say our elections are unfair when BN lost five states in 2008?” I hear that refrain over and over again to the point I want... READ MORE

The economics of compassion

JULY 6 — The ETP is meaningless. Or at least it is to the man on the street. “Where do they get the numbers from?” a fellow I know asks me. The... READ MORE

Quotas empower no one

JUNE 29 — It seems my government thinks I’m crippled. Why else would it be offering me, not to mention all the other women in Malaysia,... READ MORE

Killing the teachers, zombifying our children

JUNE 22 — There is only one thing our schools are good for these days: Creating the living dead. I don’t just mean our “national” schools but all... READ MORE

Why are dinosaurs championing the arts?

JUNE 15 — As anyone in the arts will tell you, the government has consistently failed both the arts and its practitioners. Take the recent debacle... READ MORE

When women are their own worst enemies

JUNE 8 — Women can often be vicious and unkind... to other women. The so-called Obedient Wives Club is just another example of women disempowering... READ MORE