Are you familiar with the term “ffk” a.k.a. “Fong Fei Kei”? Or if the Cantonese version doesn’t ring a bell, how about “Let go airplane” or, more precisely, “letting go of a kite”? Simply put, “ffk” means, “to stand someone up,” or to “break a promise.”
Urban Dictionary explains it this way: “Making a promise with a friend is similar to railing out a kite. If you keep your promise, you rail back your kite hence keeping your friendship. To break a promise, is like cutting the line of the kite and it will fly away, similar to losing a friend.”
It takes a substantial frequency of a certain phenomenon to happen before a culture derives a customized acronym for that specific occurrence. The fact that ffk is recognized on the Internet as a Malaysian slang speaks volumes of how loosely our society throws around appointments and promises with no intention of keeping them.
Which begs the question, “How true are you to your word?” We often laugh about how we like to say, we’re “On the way, on the way!” when in reality we’re only just sitting down to eat or climbing out of bed. How about how we actually seem to take pride in boasting about how Malaysians are always late?
Wedding invitation says dinner is at 7:30pm. “Aiya, they won’t start until 8:30 wan la. We leave at 8.” Did it ever occur to you that maybe they can’t start until 8:30 because of people like you? And what about when it becomes apparent that you kept everyone waiting for a half hour? The convenient, sheepish answer which usually follows goes something like, “Eh sorry ah. Jam la.”
While Malaysians are generally rather accommodating and laid back people who would more likely wave off the offense than hold a grudge, we also need to realize that seemingly trivial things like being truthful about actually being on the way, or showing up (on time) for an appointment, reflects on our very character as a person.
Unfortunate as it is true, the word integrity is not quite as popular in our current Malaysian society as compared to ffk. A person of integrity possesses “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness” (google.com).
True, integrity is not all about keeping one’s word, but it certainly stems from trustworthiness. If a person cannot even be trusted to follow through with something that came from his own mouth, what confidence can others have in him to follow through with anything else?
The Bible talks about “swearing and the making of oaths” in Matthew 5:33-37 and again in James 5:12. Both passages speak strongly against swearing so that the name of the Lord is not dishonored. In Matthew 5:37, Jesus tells the crowd that was following Him: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil,” and James puts it this way: “let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.”
Matthew Henry explains this second half of James 5:12 in his commentary with much precision:
But let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; lest you fall into condemnation; that is, “let it suffice you to affirm or deny a thing as there is occasion, and be sure to stand to your word, and be true to it, so as to give no occasion for your being suspected of falsehood; and then you will be kept from the condemnation of backing what you say or promise by rash oaths, and from profaning the name of God to justify yourselves. It is being suspected of falsehood that leads men to swearing. Let it be known that you keep to truth, and are firm to your word, and by this means you will find there is no need to swear to what you say. Thus shall you escape the condemnation which is expressly annexed to the third commandment: The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”
In other words, when we consistently prove true to our word, it gives our friends, family, colleagues, bosses, etc. no reason to ever doubt us. It gives them confidence to believe in us and to count on us when they need us. The need to swear becomes non-existent simply because validation is not necessary. A person who means what he says and remains true to the simplest ‘yes’ or ‘no’ establishes his position as one who “boleh diharapkan”— which, directly translated from Malay, means “one who can be ‘hoped’ in, or one in whom you can trust/place your hopes.”
Is that not what you would call a person of integrity? It’s difficult to trust someone you wouldn’t exactly call a liar, yet constantly disappoints you. However, a person who never goes back on his word is more likely to be true to his morals and principles as well.
Ffk-ing may not seem like a serious misdemeanor, but it has lasting negative effects in the long run. If you were in a crisis, would you rather call on the person who is “running late” when he really actually forgot he had an appointment in the first place and “on the way” when he’s really only just ironing his shirt? Or on the person who is there when he says he’ll be there and is actually on the way when he says he’s on the way?
And what about you? Which person would you rather be? The person that people can count on without question, or the person who has been labeled as “the fella who always ffk”? Think about the kind of society we would have if integrity overtook ffk’s popularity. It is very much up to us to change those tides, and it all starts from simply letting our “yes” be yes, and our “no” be no.
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