Teo Apologises & Says 'Lahabau Melaka' Photo Blunder Was Taken From A Facebook 'Frame'

While the word 'lahabau' means 'useless' or 'unreliable' in the Kamus Dewan Bahasa, some people often use the word similarly to 'apa khabar' (how are you) in Melaka.

Cover image via Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini & MalaysiaGazette

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Kulai member of Parliament (MP) Teo Nie Ching has apologised for a Facebook profile photo blunder that contained a derogatory Bahasa Melayu term

In a Facebook post published yesterday, 8 November, Teo said she is sorry for the language error.

The MP of a Johor constituency said many Pakatan Harapan (PH) workers, especially those from DAP, are losing sleep to prepare campaign material for the Melaka state election.

She explained that campaign activities have to be conducted online due to the strict physical campaign ban.

"However, human beings are never free from mistakes, including me," said Teo, who is the former deputy education minister.

"There was an embarrassing language error on social media. I just wanted to campaign through free frames that can be found on Facebook without understanding the true meaning of the word."

"I humbly apologise for the mistake of preparing and uploading the campaign material that misused the language. I promise to be more careful after this in uploading social media material for the Melaka state election."

On Monday, Teo received flak for changing her Facebook page profile picture to a photo that included the word 'lahabau'

"Lahabau Melaka, jom undi (let's vote)," the copy on the profile photo read.

According to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 'lahabau' means 'useless' or 'unreliable'.

However, Free Malaysia Today reported that the word is often used similarly to 'apa khabar' (how are you) in Melaka.

A quick Google search found many blog posts explaining the origin of the term 'lahabau'. One common definition found on multiple sites explains that the word can be traced back to the Melaka Malay Sultanate era.

"Lahanat, Lahabau, and Sial Lahanat and lahabau originated from a mixture of Arab culture in Melaka since the time of the Malay Sultanate of Melaka. For example, lakh khabar — which eventually became lakhabau — it means 'did not hear from you'," the definition read.

"(Using) it in a sentence is easy: Usin lahabau kau, ingat dah mati. It means 'Usin has not heard from you for a long time, thought you were dead."
The definition is listed under "popular Melaka language".

Image via My Melaka

The definition was also shared by Saya Anak Malaka Facebook page about a decade ago. The page boasts more than 120,000 followers today.

Meanwhile, SAYS tried to look for the profile photo frame with the word 'lahabau' on Facebook and did not manage to find it

According to Facebook Developers, the social media giant is now "limiting the ability to create profile frames to organizations that are included in one of our information centers".

When this SAYS writer tried to create a Facebook frame, the platform barred us from proceeding.

Therefore, it is uncertain when the controversial frame was created and whether it is still available on Facebook.

Recently, a BN candidate for the Melaka state election went viral for allegedly having a poor command of Bahasa Melayu:

Catch up on Melaka state election news on SAYS: