16 July, 2010

Going For Berok: Pig-Tailed Macaque

11th July 2010, Kemensah, Selangor.

Record shots of yet another species of primate  from Kemensah, the Pig-tailed Macaque ( local name: Berok, pronounced as Broke). Kelantanese would usually address them with their proper title ‘Baso Nnate Beghok’ . In Terengganu  they are called ‘Basse  Nnatang Berrok’. Sigh! it’s tough being a monkey. People keep reminding you that you are a bad monkey.

Have you heard  a story about ‘Berok Subsidi makan Tuan’ ( literal translation: ‘ subsidized monkey eats owner’.   Beroks were  at one time given by the government agency to the poor to help them make a living plucking coconuts). It was claimed that  Berok Subsidi had a very  bad reputation  due to their tendency to  attack and injure their  new owners, so when somebody refers to anything/ anyone as a Berok Subsidi, it shouldn’t be taken as a compliment.

There’s also the phrase ‘Berok Mat Yeh’ which I’m doing a bit of research on to find out it’s origin and true meaning. My current understanding of this phrase is when somebody is  bad, rowdy or lacking in proper manners. Maybe someone can enlighten me further on this.


They also reminded me of my school days when I was on the Kelantan State Softball team back in the mid 70’s. We had two American Peace Corps coaches, Mr Vincent Patrick Hall ( my Physics teacher at Sultan Ismail College, Kota Bharu, he’s from Kansas) and Mr John Brookes from another school. John had a  little mascot which he brought everywhere on the handle bar of his yellow racing bike, it was a little live ‘Berok’. And for us Kelantanese, renowned throughout Malaysia for speaking English in a rather unique way, I will leave it to your imagination as to how we would naturally pronounce his name. To this day I’m still wondering why ‘he had gone for  Berok’.

This is just my little trip down memory lane and it is not meant to be insensitive to anybody, especially to all Mr Brookes out there !

If I ‘were’ a Berok, which obviously I am not, I would say “ Why pick on us for all the bad things, why can’t we be  associated with some of  the better qualities such as   Dark & Handsome, obedient & incorruptible , playful, strong, hard working, disciplined, passionate,  fashionable &  ever trendy ( just look at that haircut)  etc.. etc…etc…!  How about telling a friend that he/ she is hardworking like a monkey, or intelligent like a monkey!. Hmm….Maybe I’m asking TOO MUCH here. And maybe this answers my question as to why Mr Brookes made that decision to have a monkey as a mascot, he was trying to highlight these positive points. Or on the other hand  the coach could be indirectly saying that we played like a bunch of monkeys!

To end this story, the softball team didn’t do well at national level, in fact we were not very good and we lost All our games. I’m wondering what happen to the Berok ,………………… probably banished to the thickest of   jungles in Kelantan!


 Famous Quotes: If it's not  Berok ( Baroque), don't fix it


  1. Interesting write up about 'Berok', ha ha ha. Agreed with your interpretation of 'berok mat yeh, more commonly used by northern people, I believe..

  2. Hmmm interesting stuffs about the macaque...
    We use them to pluck coconuts in Thailand as well, and yes, almost every proverb with the word 'monkey' has negative meaning in Thai language.