JOHOR BARU: Carpenter Mohlis Sudi is so madly in love with his four prized burung merbok that he even rejected a RM100,000 (S$33,600) offer for one of the singing birds.
The 40-year-old from Puchong said many of his friends thought that he had lost his mind when he turned down such a huge sum, especially when the merbok - also known as the zebra dove - only cost him a few thousand ringgit.
"This bird has brought me so much luck as I have won 31 singing competitions with it. No amount of money will be able to take my prized possession away," he said after triumphing in one such contest organised by Permas Lions Club here yesterday.
His rejection of the offer - from a wealthy businessman after he had won a tournament in Kuala Lumpur a few months ago - was even more astonishing considering no cash prizes are given out at these competitions.
"Most tournaments do not offer cash prizes to winners, only trophies. Thanks to my merbok, I managed to win a lot of these trophies," he said.
Despite his winning streak, however, Mohlis said he was a newcomer, having joined the circuit only about one and a half year ago.
"Many of those taking part have over 10 years of experience in raising and training their merbok and the competition is actually quite tough," he said.
Mohlis said he had become enchanted with the birds the moment he first heard them sing.
"They are well known for their pleasant, soft cooing calls ," he said.
He said he took care of his birds well and gave "voice training" every Tuesday and Thursday.
He said he fed them the best ground rice to maintain their voice.
Some 300 people took part in the contest.