Many of us know Kedah as the place where rice and belacan comes from, but apparently you can now add tea to the list. And we don’t mean BOH.
Kedah had been generating drama like nobody’s business lately, going from mining rare earths to being a racist uncle to threatening Penang with dry toilets, and their most recent drama involves a small, recently renovated stadium in the Padang Terap district. It had a… unique name.
Apparently if you reverse the order of the letters, you get the name of their District Officer, Hakim Ariff. After much memes and accusations of syok sendiri by the netizens, the DO himself came out and denied the allegations… and brought more tea to the party.
“It has nothing to do with my name. The name of this mini stadium has a deeper meaning. It was chosen and suggested in an administrative meeting. In Spanish or Greek, ‘Ffira‘ means something great, whereas ‘Mikah’ in Arabic pertains to an angelic name.” –
Ffira MikahHakim Ariff, translated from Sinar Harian.
That’s… interesting. We don’t know what kind of tea they’ve been serving in those meetings, but overall, it seems that people didn’t buy into that, and the statement was met with much mockery and sass by trolls and humble netizens alike. Even newspapers joined in the Ffira Fiesta.
If you’re as curious about this explanation as we were, you might have plugged Ffira Mikah into Google Translate and came up with squat. You might find that ‘Fira’ means ‘fair/festivity‘ in Catalan, or, if you’re creative enough and used Cyrillic letters, you might get ‘wastage/spoilage‘ in Bulgarian, adding more lulz to the situation. Regardless of that, the whole Greek/Spanish/Arabic explanation just doesn’t hold up.
We’re not going to comment on whether or not the D.O. really named a stadium after himself, because kinkshaming isn’t really our cup of tea. Rather, what we’re going to do today is pretend we’re part of the district office’s PR team and attempt to come up with four more believable reasons why the stadium got named Ffira Mikah. Starting with…
1. “We really thought Mikah meant angel. It’s a tech mistake.”
There’s something weird about the whole ‘Mikah’ being an Arabic angel part. We’re not experts on angels, but if there is an angel named ‘Mikah’, it’s very obscure. The closest thing we have is ‘Micah‘, which is either a minor prophet in Judaism, or a seemingly non-canon angel that we’re not even sure is legit. So maybe Mikah means angels in general, but the Arabic word for angel is something like ‘malak‘, so we’re at a loss… unless, of course, this is due to a mistake regarding Google Translate.
You can open up Google Translate in another tab to experiment, but we’ve found translating using it has several kinks. Remember the whole Cyrillic alphabet thing for ‘wastage’ in Bulgarian thing from earlier? For some languages, you have to type the word to be translated using their native script for it to work. The other kink is that you can type in a random string of characters, and it will suggest a translation closest to the spelling of what you’ve put in.
So when we set Translate to go from Arabic to English and enter the Arabic characters for ‘m’, ‘i’, ‘k’ and ‘a’…
It suggests the translation ‘An angel’, but you have to click on the translation to see the actual word, which is roughly ‘malak’. So ‘Mika’ in Arabic either means nothing or is a noun, but it’s definitely not ‘angel’.
Maybe a gomen intern needed to brush up on their Google skills. Maybe they really meant for the stadium to be called Great Angel in two languages, but they messed up the translating work. We’ve decided to believe in their well intentions in this article, however ludicrous they seem.
Because of that, we’ve came up with the next theory…
2. “We spelled Ffira like that because it’s old English style.”
Even if you discount the ‘Spanish or Greek‘ part (the two languages don’t have a common root) to explain ‘Ffira’, having a double ‘f’ at the start of the word is just weird… which is probably what tipped people off to the possibility of a reverse spelling in the first place. But what if it’s not a reverse spelling? What if it’s a style choice based on old English or Spanish scripts?
Some old spellings can seem whimsical – think of writing ‘ye’ instead of ‘the’ in ‘ye olde bowling alley’ – and names in old Spanish and English texts may sometimes start with a double f, for example, Edmund Ffoulkes, a British clergyman. Old Spanish scribes would sometimes write names beginning with ‘ff’ to differentiate between sounds. Taking the example of ‘Ffira’, written that way it would sound like ‘fee-ra’, whereas ‘Fira’ would sound more like ‘hee-ra’.
As for English, based on an explanation we’ve found, it seems that there’s no written form for a capital ‘F’ back in the day, so scribes doubled the first ‘f’s in people’s names to show that it’s capitalized, e.g. Robert de ffaryngton is actually Robert de Farryngton. In both English and Spanish cases, the sounds remain the same, it’s just a stylistic choice. In naming, style is important, and Ffira does have a certain attention-grabbing quaintness to it.
Who’d think the district office would research that far for a stadium name? Anyhoo, continuing our disregard for reality…
3. “We’re hinting at our future plans for robotic soccer in the stadium.”
[IMPORTANT: Kedah said nothing about this. This is just a theory we’re putting out there for fun.]
This one sounds so believable and PR-ish that we had to put the disclaimer on top. While some have noticed that ‘Fira‘ is the name of a city on the Greek island of Santorini, FIRA might actually be an acronym… for the Federation of International Robot-Soccer Association. Yep, it’s a body that involves robots playing soccer, so it kind of fits the whole mini football stadium thing.
FIRA is a yearly international tournament that basically uses sports as a way to advance research in robotics, by challenging people to design robots that can perform complex tasks like playing sports. Creating and programming robots to play soccer seems to be particularly challenging, so in the early days robotic soccer is the main thing in these events. Malaysia seems to have hosted and participated at least once, and we seem to have our own mini FIRA tournament among our polytechnic students.
While it’s not very likely that the mini soccer stadium in Kedah is named Ffira because they’re looking into robotic soccer, it would make one hell of a PR statement nevertheless. They can always justify the extra F at the start to include FIFA as well, showing their international aspirations, and slap together an acronym to justify the Mikah part. While none of these might be real, at least now you know that we have robotic soccer tournaments.
4. “It’s a Final Fantasy reference to symbolize our improvement.”
This is a stretch, but bear with us. Look at those double Fs at the start of the Ffira. What do most people think of when they hear ‘FF’? Why, Final Fantasy, of course!
For those of you not familiar with the series, it’s a role-playing game that spans several platforms, and one of the more memorable parts of it is some characters (mages) can learn magic. Basic black magic in the game comes in three flavors: Fire, Thunder, and Blizzard. These have several levels, and in the earlier games, the weakest Fire spell was called ‘Fire’, a slightly stronger version is called ‘Fira‘, and the strongest is called ‘Firaga’.
There are several characters called ‘Mikah’ in the games, but these can only be found in the later installations, like FFX or FFXIV. In these later games, the naming convention for the spells have also changed, from Fire, Fira and Firaga to Fire, Fire II, Fire III and so on. So based on these hints, it seems that naming the stadium ‘Fira’ with a double F at the beginning (to denote the FF series) plus a ‘Mikah’ (to denote the later installations) would point us to the stadium being Fire II, an improved version of Fire.
This falls in line with the stadium being recently improved through renovation, and it implies future plans for even more improvements in the future, presumably after which it will be named Ffiraga Mikah.
We dunno why we would associate a stadium with fire, but it seems that we’re falling more and more into weirdness here, so let’s get to the moral of the story…
If you try to spin hard enough, you can justify anything
This article might seem like it’s slowly going downhill from start to finish, but there’s a lesson to be learned from the Ffira Mikah blunder: if you want to do something audacious, you better have a solid explanation prepared. While D.O. Hakim Ariff tried to justify the name of the stadium by simply saying that they’re Greek/Spanish and Arabic words, perhaps his team forgot that everyone has Google Translate these days.
We dunno if any of the explanations we’ve came up with for the Ffira Mikah case are any more credible than what the D.O. came up with…
…but to be fair, all the research and spinning in the world may not help when you have a picture of the stadium’s name and the D.O.’s name in one tidy shot. Still, the person in question had denied any aspirations for glamour, so let’s leave it at that.
“I am not after glamour, I want Padang Terap to be cleaner and better, I don’t want the district to remain the same, they have made accusations without knowing the real story. I was the one that requested for an allocation of RM200,000 from the state government to upgrade the stadium that was dilapidated before this.” – Hakim Ariff, as reported by the Star.
Regardless of what the real story is, it seems that the name isn’t here to stay. Apparently, the naming was done without the knowledge of the state government, and they have since ordered for the name to be changed to something more appropriate. As of the time of writing, the stadium’s signage had been taken down, and until further notice, it will be known as Stadium Mini Kuala Nerang.
[We would like to thank Ddab Mikah, local amateur conspiracy theorist and former cybertrooper for his contributions to this article.]