Keeping a bird in a cage was a very popular hobby among many of the menfolk in Malaysia in the kampongs and smaller towns in the olden days, and probably the hobby might have gone the way of the dodo in modern times – or so I thought.
I was surprised when I moved to Singapore in 1984 and saw that this pastime was very much flapping and alive. Even today, the government has allocated specific corners of HDB void decks, and playing fields for enthusiasts to hang up their feathered captives, and hear them sing (or maybe cry) and gossip about their unfeathered captors.
Oh yes, these birds are not cheap! The record price stands at S$96,000 for a super merbok that could out-croon anything with wings. So much truth in that age-old proverb !