Is the rotan still relevant among Malaysian parents?

ASK any Malaysian aged over 40 about being caned as a child and they will probably regale you with tales of hijinks and mischief, and ultimately comeuppance in the form of the slim but always deadly rotan (rattan).

It was a completely normal sight to see several rotans casually hung in “strategic” locations in almost every home. In fact, it was de rigueur for Malaysians if they wanted to be taken seriously as parents and not some radical hippie hell bent on raising spoilt brats.

A recent post on popular Facebook site – Meanwhile in Malaysia – asked if parents today still resorted to the good old rotan to discipline their kids. Some said that parents these days lacked the nerve to wield such a heavy weapon.

Hafriz Hamdan duly said that parents these days lack the necessary chutzpah to wield the rotan while Elis Ohalila Yap observed that buying the rotan these days would invite dirty stares (kena jeling macam macam).

Sharon Lee commented that caning a child would see a parent “sent straight to lokap (lock-up) for abuse”.

Those comments aside, however, it would appear that a large number still firmly believed in NOT sparing the rod and that the good old rotan was still an effective and acceptable way to bring their offspring (and even students) into line.


Some even had names for their trusty weapons as exemplified by Carlson who wrote: “I have one at home. Even name it Excalibur since all my sons are named after the English kings. Any misbehaviour shall be strucked (sic) with Excalibur till kingdom come. I wield it, they all yield.”

Nicole Nadia is an obvious fan and has sets of two tied together with rubber bands for maximum effectiveness.

“I’m using it now. Tied two in a set. In a car one set, at home one set,” she wrote, saying that she was asked by coppers about it in which she explained it was a road safety device as she can’t drive when the kids misbehave in the vehicle.

Most recalled how they scurried away in pure horror as children whenever they heard their parents thwacking the thin rods against a hard surface, denoting some painful punishment was due to be handed out.

Caning is permissible in schools but must adhere to proper guidelines (Pic credit: The Viral News)

The humorous tone of the many comments would suggest they thought being caned certainly held them in good stead.

One teacher stated that he was confronted with a standard three student who couldn’t read. The threat of corporal punishment miraculously turned said student into an avid reader inside a fortnight.

It would appear from the many comments that Malaysians have not moved with rest of the world in viewing caning as a form of child abuse. Some have even upgraded their weapons of choice to include clothes hangers and balloon holders with the latter being highly recommended as they don’t split!

Best recommendation on the effectiveness of the good old rotan came from Park So Yeon who said: “My mother still use it to ugut (threaten) me. P.S.: I’m 30 this year.”

What say you – spare the rod and spoil the child? – Aug 15, 2023

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