On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Declaring Your Love Expensively

as the florists would like you to think, is still very much in the air.
Valentine's Day may be a week old but Chap Goh Meh, a milder Chinese
version of it on the last day of the Lunar New Year, was just two days

Trailers for mushy romance movies are still aired on television.

week, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs parliamentary secretary Datuk
Tan Chai Ho made a valid point when he said love should not be measured
by how many flowers a person sent.

At a department store in
Damansara Jaya, a stalk of rose was sold at RM49 each while restaurants
in Bangsar charged between RM100 and RM150 per person for a set
candle-light dinner.

And for RM35 each, you could buy red panties folded in the form of roses at a shopping complex in Penang.

Millions of ringgit must have been splashed by lovebirds that day on flowers, cards, dinners and advertisement messages.

CNN reported under the headline Valentine's Day Rip-off that a dozen
red roses were sold in London for 24 (RM96) a week before Feb 14 and
later shot up to 36 (RM144). In Singapore,Lianhe Zaobao reported that
giant roses were imported from South America and sold for a fortune.
They were twice as big, more pungent and last longer than ordinary

These roses, a columnist wrote, were stocked by mail order at a whopping S$138 (RM241) a dozen.

But this one tops it all. One Singapore hotel offered four Paris Romanticism packages at S$3,500++ (RM6,125) each.

packages included a cruise on a private yacht, a poolside dinner
serenaded by a strolling violinist, oysters by the jacuzzi and an
overnight stay at a secluded villa with a bed sprinkled with scented
rose petals.

It's unbelievable but someone took up the offer. Nothing was too much for him, I suppose.

expression of love is good but it's something else when commercialism
takes centrestage, with businessmen thinking up new, exhorbitant ways
for couples to declare their love for each other.

have not gone overboard yet in this celebration of love but more and
more young people feel that it is the right thing to do.

One local newspaper, quoting several celebrity interviewees, concluded that Malaysian men were mostly unromantic.

debatable.Like most of us, I have never seen my father, who is well
past 70 years old, kiss my mother on the cheek. I cannot recall hearing
him openly declare his love for her, let alone hug her in the presence
of their children.

They have been married for the past 48 years. It's the same with many arranged marriages involving our elders.

Westerners, we are told, are more romantic. After all, they introduced
candle-light dinners. We had candle-light dinners, too, when we were
young  we did not have electricity supply then.

It is
Western practice to send flowers and kiss in public but these same
spontaneous people are equally quick at giving up on marriages.

is definitely good but Malaysians should not spend too much money
declaring it, especially when you have Valentine's Day, Father's Day,
Mother's Day, Teacher's Day, Secretaries' Day and what not. The list
never seems to end.

Arguably, Malaysians are celebrating Valentine's Day elaborately now because they have become more affluent.

guess we have to come to terms with the fact that it is no longer 
practical for the unmarried to throw oranges on Chap Goh Meh in the
hope of getting suitors, however romantic it may be.

By the way,
I have another confession Feb 14 was also my wedding anniversary.
Again, it had nothing to do with me being romantic.

It's an
unpardonable crime to forget one's wedding anniversary. Nobody, even
someone as absent-minded as me, could miss this “double celebration''
of a Valentine's Day wedding anniversary.