You see, I have been terribly misled to think that Ah Bengs are totally uncool.
I confess I often make fun of them (together with their girl friends, the Ah Lians). I am wrong.
This is the revelation.
My regular Ah Beng DVD supplier knows more about foreign movies than me. In his bad english he raved and reviewed enthusiastically about Almodovar, Ko Ko Xi Li, Kieslowski, Bus 174, Todd Solonz, Kim Ki-duk. He made me pay for many movies which I have never heard of. (This is apparently the same Ah Beng who inspired Yasmin Ahmad’s Sepet).
My regular Ah Beng computer supplier knows more about technology than I do. Ask him anything about processor chips, SATA drives, bus speeds, 64-bit, 128-bit, AGP, PCI, etc etc and he would draw from an extensive knowledge bank to reply on what to buy.
The Malaysian Ah Beng pirates know far more sophisticated technology to hack movies off the net and mass produce DVDs with slick title screens, distribute them around the world faster than any movie power-house. The Ah Beng version of U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb was in the market 1 month before the official legal version appeared. The world bestowed recognition on them. Malaysian pirates are top on international piracy watchlist and every major magazine (Times, Newsweek, Economist) had reported about them.
While I am using my bare-bone Nokia 3120, the Ah Bengs are probably familiar with any leading hi-tech phones and PDAs that are available right now in the market. With a lap-top they could even setup stalls anywhere to provide ringtones and games downloads, and maybe, do a firmware upgrade for you if you asked.
Of course, they have always been in the car business. Any upgrades, any hacks, anything. I am sure the Ah Bengs have the solution to make your car look better, sound better, and perform better than how it was originally manufactured.
So they are pushing technology, selling super-cool hi-tech gadgets, controlling the entertainment market economy, producing cars that perform better than those from Proton factories. Intel needs them. Creative, BenQ, HP, Epson, nVidia needs them. Nokia, Samsung, SonyEricsson and Motorola needs them. Universal Pictures, Disney, Miramax and Sony-BMG can’t do anything to stop them. Even Proton, equipped with Lotus technology can’t make Satrias run faster than Ah Bengs’ upgrades.
So, who am I to say that they are not cool?
And behind every successful Ah Beng, there is a supportive Ah Lian.
For foreign readers: Introduction to Ah Bengs via Wikipedia.