Saturday, May 20, 2006

more on komunis terakhir

life has been... nada. been staying at home everyday with short trips to wisma pkns, for reasons which i'm sick of explaining and would sooner forget. i'd forget this whole month of life if i could. but for my own reference: recurrent boils, and a patch of gauze in my fucking hair. which is all very depressing. i take it out on my piano.

moving on. with spreadout talks of the Great Semenanjung Road Trip in my nada life, i was suddenly tempted to start moving out and about. singapore is 300-odd kms away, much closer to kl than melbourne to warrnambool, Way closer than melbourne to sydney. it's not far! why singapore? maybe i could catch lelaki komunis terakhir there.

i've been reading up a lot on this issue, which is about the same here and there. jeering remarks, stupid retorts, unfair statements, criticism and counter criticism can only get so interesting. it's unproductive, people! (oh but hang on, i wanna do my share of slamming the govt: takes them 2 days to ban the film, and more than 2 weeks to say "let's watch it". bravo.) yes, it's unproductive! what do we achieve, where do we go from here?

but a few gems are littered in that sea of flames. here's an article by tan siok choo. i'm ashamed i did not know of her, and got a chiding from mom, although tan Is quite a rampant surname. granddaughter of tan cheng lock, she says, let's teach the US a lesson! a very fresh perspective, keeping the darurat relevant to iraq. wow, i Like!

and here are 2 letters from the same guy. the 1st is... stupid, to say the least. it's mostly about yasmin although it ends: "kita semua tahu perjuangan kemerdekaan bermula sejak kejatuhan melaka..." ya benar abang, tapi i fikir sejarah moden 60 tahun lalu lebih relevan berbanding 500 tahun lalu. dan juga, yang manakah lebih penting: permulaan perjuangan ataupun pengakhiran perjuangan? ekoran usaha pencapaian merdeka, iaitu matlamat segala perjuangan tu?

yes yes, this is counterproductive and i'm contradicting myself, so sorry. but it's his 2nd letter which made an impression. it started off with an observation of "less brilliant" malay and chinese kids (read it for yourself) but anyhow the gist of the letter is about the national language. i started to see things more in his light - that memang, bm is like a puppet national tongue.

to be honest, there are times i find malay beautiful. not the ultra english-assimilated bm, but the more er, classic language. with more proper malay words like b. indonesia does, which gives u a feeling it's a true, regional, native tongue, rooted here in this archipelago our home. maybe it's becoz i've always been struggling, and find an unusual satisfaction when i'm able to express myself in bm. or when i recall some nice strong vocab.

i've even thought of becoming a bm copywriter.

Friday, May 12, 2006

something powerful

enough to bring me out of blog stasis. (why do i love the word stasis?)

i read a hilarious page in nst one day. it was in fact the smallest article at the bottom corner which first caught my eye, "call to ban the da vinci code". then i read the next smallest article, "stewardess ignored for the 1000th time", and then the third and largest, something about sitcom-style laugh tracks to play during parliament proceedings. a big fat W-T-F fogged my brain and hung there, as my eye swivelled up to see the "prime news" heading... the writer and his photo... and down... where a little sentence in bold informed, lelaki komunis terakhir will be out may 19th. ah, a filmmaker - i looked back at his photo and thought he must be a satirist part-time - and a bloody good joker. his grin gave it away.

a whole page! this was no mere columnist with his measly column! i've been telling people i know, this stranger had become my hero of the day. amir muhammad. this fella had to be something, something powerful. not just that... a whole page of spoof comic writing! malaysia was opening up at last, we have a sense of humour! and i felt another something powerful, i felt true nationalist pride.

exactly one week later, it was yesterday. and i found out lelaki komunis terakhir was banned. at 6am, i chanced onto lastcommunist. 10 seconds to read the synopsis - it's about chin peng - and u're good to go. and 10 minutes later, i was reading it downside-up, every post in order, Every Goddamn Word. the film was given the go-ahead from the censorship board, but due to white noise from berita harian (or maybe just a certain akmal abdullah), the minister himself had to withdraw approval.

go. and. read.
just the 3 bh articles will do, u've to scroll further dooowwwn. but save it for later, i've not finished.

to cut very very long stories short, they cited issues of sensitivities (err oklah can Veeeery meen-keong accept), the rebirth of communist ideologies (now this is highly ironic, and i'll tell u at the end)... and the last reason, which will leave u gawking stupefied, becoz it is hard to fathom minds so small - is why a malay must shoot a film on a chinese subject. lebih prihatin tokoh bangsa sendiri ("can't u be more racist?")... but aren't we just One bangsa? all this and Nobody in bh had seen the film yet.

i went on to read yasminthestoryteller. there are truly sad revelations there, saddest being that local films featuring more than just the bm language will be considered foreign. ("chinese, tamil? u don't belong here!") and they're taxed as foreign films, which means - combined with ticketing sabotage for gubra - although dear yasmin gets her due recognition, she does not make the $$ she deserves. u simply gotta love her passion, and the muhibbah themes, and for her to be ploughing on with the muhibbah themes. i know i do, salutes.

i will not rant much here, plenty others are doing it. furthermore our arguments fall on deaf ears; even she seemed to have given up in one post: in a pre-screening discussion, all they could ask were the same shallow questions, which rendered her speechless, much as i, becoz it is hard to fathom minds so small. is there really no use our clamouring, no chance of civilised debate? although we still have a censor-free net, insya-allah (haha this sort of rubbed off)... so i read these 2 blogs and about 300 comments: 6 hours' worth. straight. then i went downstairs for lunch.

49 years is young for a nation, and this mindset simply stunts our growth. my mom agrees. she was looking forward to lelaki komunis herself. i've no doubt my uncle lee would agree, and he has seen first-hand the cpm terror, lived through the darurat years. this is just not the age for sensitivities. we have to learn history untampered, unlike what's in the school textbooks; even if this was not the case, here's what i learnt in uni: knowing more and more and still more, is what'll keep us ahead. of course, we first have to do away with the blinkers.

yes kids. censorship is not just the little voids where "fuck/shit/damn" or some cleavage should be. it's also there in your syllabus, along with the racism (pmr/spm registrations, kaum: 1 for melayu, 2 for lain-lain? and is there even one photo of chin peng in any text/refbook?) before the big screen or the small, it's already there in our newspapers. it's something Powerful - in the overt hands of higher-ups, manipulating the media, sowing a doctrine of segregation, which appears to me like - eh!... communist. spot on.