January 13, 2018

Sibu Tales : Popiah skin

Every year when the Chinese New Year is near I would think of the Hokkien man sitting at the corner of Tai Lung at High Street, quietly making popiah skins. In those days in the 60's there were fewer people in Sibu , so there was not much of a queue.

Apek is not a derogative term for in Hokkien Apek means an uncle who is older than your father and it is a very honorable way of calling a good man. Somehow in Malaysia the terms has become a little loose to mean a shabby looking Chinese man, an uneducated man with poor manners, a poor looking man,etc. Can we restore a word to its original high standing?
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home made style popiah skin
The Hokkien Apek would stack up the skins in the tray in tens or twenties. To me, his popiah skins, were elegant, thin, and perfect!! No one had inherited his skills and after his passing, that special corner of Tai Lung forever lost the Popiah Skin Apek.

The Chinese festive season would never be the same again.

It is strange how one person can miss that social scenario. And it is strange how I can never bring myself to make popiah with supermarket popiah skin.
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We make big and fat popiah this way. Hokkien style. The Fujian Legacy.

I have not tried to make the popiah skins myself although I obtained a recipe recently.

May be you could try to make some.

The dough starts out as a thick batter. The ingredients for the batter are
1 kg flour
4-1/2 cups water
1 Tsp salt
2 Tbsp tapioca flour
You mix all the ingredients together until they make a lumpy batter. You use a non stick frying pan.

The Apek had a special flat pan, like that of a canai pan and he would sit in front of his stove on a stool which was the same height as his stove.


Anonymous said...


History has come full circle. Now, Europe represents the past, South-east Asia the future.
I spent the first 15 years of my life, from 1948 to 1963, in a British colony. Like many in my generation, we were both politically and mentally colonised. None of us questioned this deeply ingrained assumption: The West was best. I will never forget a conversation with a primary school classmate, Morgan. I asked him where he would like to go when he grew up. He replied: "London." I asked: "Why London?" He replied: "Because in London, the streets are paved with gold."
There is only one multi-civilisational laboratory in the world: South-east Asia. This is why when you visit London and Paris and send postcards, you are sending postcards from a once-glorious past. However, if you visit Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City, or Yangon or Bangkok, you are sending postcards from the future. South-east Asia is the go-to place to understand the new 21st century world.

Anonymous said...


The End of Pax Americana: How Western Decline Became Inevitable
The Euro-Atlantic world had a long run of global dominance, but it is coming to an end.

The signs of the emerging new world order are many. First, there is China's astonishingly rapid rise to great-power status, both militarily and economically. In the economic realm, the International Monetary Fund forecasts that China's share of world GDP (15 percent) will draw nearly even with the U.S. share (18 percent) by 2014. (The U.S. share at the end of World War II was nearly 50 percent.) This is particularly startling given that China's share of world GDP was only 2 percent in 1980 and 6 percent as recently as 1995. Moreover, China is on course to overtake the United States as the world's largest economy (measured by market exchange rate) sometime this decade. And, as argued by economists like Arvind Subramanian, measured by purchasing-power parity, China's GDP may already be greater than that of the United States.

Until the late 1960s, the United States was the world's dominant manufacturing power. Today, it has become essentially a rentier economy, while China is the world's leading manufacturing nation. A study recently reported in the Financial Times indicates that 58 percent of total income in America now comes from dividends and interest payments.

The Constellation of world power is changing, and U.S. grand strategy will have to change with it. American elites must come to grips with the fact that the West does not enjoy a predestined supremacy in international politics that is locked into the future for an indeterminate period of time. The Euro-Atlantic world had a long run of global dominance, but it is coming to an end. The future is more likely to be shaped by the East.

At the same time, Pax Americana also is winding down. The United States can manage this relative decline effectively over the next couple of decades only if it first acknowledges the fundamental reality of decline. The problem is that many Americans, particularly among the elites, have embraced the notion of American exceptionalism with such fervor that they can't discern the world transformation occurring before their eyes.

But history moves forward with an inexorable force, and it does not stop to grant special exemptions to nations based on past good works or the restrained exercise of power during times of hegemony. So is it with the United States. The world has changed since those heady days following World War II, when the United States picked up the mantle of world leadership and fashioned a world system durable enough to last nearly 70 years. It has also changed significantly since those remarkable times from 1989 to 1991, when the Soviet Union imploded and its ashes filled the American consciousness with powerful notions of national exceptionalism and the infinite unipolar moment of everlasting U.S. hegemony.

But most discerning Americans know that history never ends, that change is always inevitable, that nations and civilizations rise and fall, that no era can last forever. Now it can be seen that the post-World War II era, romanticized as it has been in the minds of so many Americans, is the Old Order--and it is an Old Order in crisis, which means it is nearing its end. History, as always, is moving forward.

Anonymous said...

"In the longer run, I think China will emerge as a global power. Its economic rise remains extraordinary and is happening much quicker than people projected, as indeed the decline of the US is happening much more quickly than people assumed would be the case. I think that we'll see China becoming increasingly a global power, but I don't think we should think of China as the same kind of global power as the US, I think it will be very different."
"China has become the most important economic partner of most of these countries. The result of that has also been that, at least in Southeast Asia, countries by and large have moved closer to China and have tended to move away from the US."

"What we've seen since Duterte's move in the Philippines, is a major shift in the region towards China. I think that American policy under Obama is in deep trouble in Southeast Asia and I think that there is a growing accommodation between China and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries."

This photo taken on May 10, 2016 shows crew members of China's South Sea Fleet taking part in a logistics supply drill near the James Shoal area on South China Sea
© AFP 2018/ STR
Beijing Outmaneuvering US Navy in South China Sea
In the Philippines, President Duterte has announced a "separation" from the US and expressed a desire to build ties with China and Russia. Singapore and Thailand, which don’t have a military alliance with the US but have historically leaned toward Washington, are also building economic ties with China.

Anonymous said...

Why China might be a better superpower

and wish to postpone the day of that rise." - Rabindranath Tagore, 1915

Until the mid-20th century, China suffered what has been termed as the "Century of Humiliation" - a period of subjugation and oppression by Western military powers (as well as the Japanese). During this time Western imperialists flooded the country with drugs, raped and murdered its subjects with impunity and - due to both insatiable greed and abject ignorance to concepts such as culture and history - wantonly desecrated the priceless monuments of ancient Chinese civilisation.

At the outset of this period - when hordes of English soldiers destroyed Beijing's ancient Summer Palace in an orgy of looting and arson - Major General Charles Gordon said, "You can scarcely imagine the beauty and magnificence of the places we burnt" - which in many ways was emblematic of the entire carnivorous project of Western imperialism in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Today, however, Rabindranath Tagore's prophecy about China seems to have come to fruition, and the modern heirs to rapacious criminals such as Gordon now openly lament their fear of rising Chinese power.


Anonymous said...

ur myopic model of modernity means we have yet to grasp not just that the future will be Chinese but how very Chinese it will be
Tue 23 Jun 2009 16.14 BST First published on Tue 23 Jun 2009 16.14 BST
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There is a growing recognition that China's economic rise will change the world. But that change is still seen in narrowly economic terms. There is an assumption that the political and cultural effects of China's rise will not be that great. This is profoundly wrong. The political and cultural impact will be at least as great as the economic.

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There is always a time-lag in these matters but, as Paul Kennedy argues in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, economic ascendancy is a pre-condition for broader political and cultural influence. I suspect the reason for this tunnel vision is western hubris: a belief that our modernity is the only conceivable one, that our political and cultural arrangements will ultimately be adopted by everyone else. This is an extremely provincial mentality. Modernity is not simply a product of the market and technology, but is shaped by history and culture.

In a world where many developing countries are in the process of rapid economic transformation, we are witnessing the birth of diverse modernities. The idea that China, a huge country with a very long history, will somehow be "like the west", a clone of us, is an illusion.

Anonymous said...

Yuan is the 3rd most powerful currency in the IMF basket, what next?
December 10, 2015 12:50 IST
One can expect that within a decade, global commodity markets will be priced in the yuan - today they are all dollar-denominated, says AV Rajwade.


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