Monday, August 27, 2007

'Malaysia' Is An Autoimmune Disease?

The recent lift on monkey export ban by Malaysia has gained the attention of, and monkey-nationised by the geographically-challenged Yanks. By a random Google search:

Monday, August 27, 2007
Tsk, tsk, Malaysia is missing the obvious

By Scott Hollifield
Columnist

When I read in the newspaper that Malaysia was exporting monkeys for meat and research purposes, I had two questions: Who is this Malaysia and why does she hate monkeys?

Turns out that Malaysia isn’t a one-name pop star with her own private zoo but a country in Southeast Asia. It’s right there divided by the South China Sea on the globe I got for Christmas in 1978. You could hit it with a rock from Indonesia. (Malaysia, not my globe.)

I can hear all the geographically challenged skeptics out there: Malaysia? Come on, isn’t Malaysia actually an autoimmune disease closely related to chronic fatigue syndrome?

“Doc, I’m feeling tired and listless.”

“Sounds like Malaysia. But just to be sure, I’m going to order several thousand dollars worth of tests, including a 3-foot-long catheter with an extremely painful radioactive solution just approved by the FDA to rule out Yuengling’s syndrome, a condition so rare it’s only been observed in two people from rural Pennsylvania.”

“Is it serious, doc?”

“Yes, a 3-foot-long catheter is very serious.”

258,000 and counting

Malaysia is an actual country, and it has lifted a 23-year ban on exporting monkeys for meat and research, according to The Associated Press, the source I turn to for stories about rogue nations selling beloved animals to be sauteed and served on a plate with a side order of German potato salad, or having their skulls cracked open so scientists can gauge the effects of the latest erectile-dysfunction drug on the hypothalamus gland.

Malaysian officials see exporting the critters as a form of population control — more than 258,000 long-tail macaques are living in urban areas, raising a ruckus and stealing food from people, homes and gardens.

“The moment they have less food, they attack anybody,” said Azmi Khalid, the minister of natural resources and environment.

Training can be beneficial

While I understand Khalid’s concern, I believe that his country is taking the wrong approach by shipping the macaques off to become monkey nuggets or cloning specimens. Rather than an overpopulation problem, this is an education problem.

If TV and movies have taught us anything, it’s that monkeys have an amazing capacity to learn new skills. With the proper training, monkeys can ride shotgun on long-haul truck runs (B.J. and the Bear), caddy and drive golf course mowing equipment (The Little Rascals), befriend a sad-sack paleontologist (Friends), punch a biker in the face when an aging action star says “Right turn, Clyde,” (Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can) and, unfortunately, take over the world and enslave a bare-chested Charlton Heston (Planet of the Apes.) I believe that last one is an anomaly.

My newly hired monkey editorial assistant, Kevin, is even learning how to write this column. Go ahead, Kevin, take a crack at a sentence:

“Txy TGfd3 &7beer YTR.”

Good job, Kevin. It took me a while to get the hang of it, too.

As an expert in the field of human-monkey relations, I believe the United States must speak to this growing crisis in Malaysia to avoid a Planet of the Apes-like fiasco in the near future.

To do my part, I’ve offered my services as special monkey assistant to the U.S. ambassador to Malaysia, who, if I’m not mistaken, is also named Kevin. I will oversee the deployment of peacekeeping troops, head up diplomatic relations, manage the construction of monkey training academies and direct all aspects of the monkey re-education strategy.

Soon, Malaysia’s monkeys will go from violent thugs bound for dinner tables or science labs to trucker buddies, golf caddies, biker punchers and, yes, editorial assistants who will someday write columns while the boss naps under his desk.

And then Malaysia will not be mistaken for a one-named pop star or an autoimmune disease. It will be known as a utopia where monkey and man live in harmony. Right, Kevin?

“Txy TGfd 3&7beer YTR.”

■ Scott Hollifield is editor/general manager of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C. Contact him at P.O. Box 610, Marion, N.C. 28752 or e-mail

rhollifield@mcdowellnews.com.

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