12 April 2014

.... and to Think Malaysians are Inferior?



ALAYSIANS need to learn how to have confidence in their ability to go across the globe. We are capable. We must not be trapped in an "inferiority complex" that foreigners can do better than us. I know we can be at par (with foreigners) or even better. How do I know this? Because I have worked overseas and I have competed alongside foreigners. In some battles I did lose but in some others I won. The fact that I can win on a number of occasions means, I am at least on par, if not better.
Recently I saw a comment on a Facebook status of a friend whose name I shall not mention for obvious reason. It said:
"We (Malaysians) should probably agree that our creative industry do not have big talents particularly in literature, filming, theatre or even music. We are insignificant in the whole scheme of things relative to other countries (as far as creative industry in concerned)."  

How can we have such conclusion? Do we have any basis to support that conclusion in the first place? Without even being a nasionalist patriot and acting biased as a Malaysia, I sincerely believe that the statement lack realisation. We need to open our eyes and start realising and give credit to those Malaysians who have achieved world recognition. Naturally, based on the limited knowledge that I have (but sufficient), I responded by giving my comment for that particular facebook status as follows:
"Bro. Before making such conclusion, give yourself a chance. Go to Artcube Gallery at Intermark now showcasing Malaysian artists at world standard and go watch theatre at KLPAC this week entitled Sinbad. You must go to some shows at Istana Budaya as well. Our Mah Merri Orang Asli wood carvings at Pulau Carrie has achieved Unesco heritage recognition recently. Our fashion designers at international level includes Dato' Zhantoi, Dato' Jimmy Choo, Melinda Looi, Khoon Hooi, etc. Our Dato' Ramli Ibrahim won highest award in India for cultural contribution via India traditional dances. Miss Yuna now marketing her music recordings in the whole of USA. Our sessionist musicians like  does recording outside Malaysia, mostly in Indonesia. Buku Fixi, an independent book publisher just won publishing awards in England this week. War of the Worlds Goliath, a 3D stereoscopic animation movie produced by a Malaysian company, Tripod, now hitting retail stores in the USA. Many Malaysian animation companies are doing work for Japanese production houses but people don't know. Cakrasonic, a local Indian rapper is big in India. The Malaysians who were in Rhythm & Hues Malaysia stationed in Cyberjaya did 40% of Life of Pi (the tiger) and 60% of Snow White and the Huntsman. Suhaimi Fadzil and his contemporary artworks got selected by Saatchi MNC in London and now has studio in the USA. Sooshie Sulaiman and her art installation got highest fine arts awards at Documenta Germany, the equivalent of the Grammys but for art. Umi Baizurah and her sculptures gets Singapore recognition. Muthalib and his metal sculptures now erected at the Olympic Stadium in Beijing. Perfect Colour has the first global technology to do film colourisation using semi-automatic programming. Many more successes (Malaysians) can be mentioned but what I have stated so far will suffice. All that (successes) were achieved just within the past couple of years and hence, is pretty damn good for a country of 30 million population don't you think?"
I hope with my comments above other Malaysians will start to feel more positive in supporting our own people especially when they have indeed proven that they, or Malaysians, are capable of competing globally. We are only destroying our own country when we ourselves do not believe in our own country.

* kopihangtuah

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05 April 2014

Emily of Emerald Hill : The Journey of a Courageous Nyonya


Title: Emily of Emerald Hill
Type: Monologue Play
Genre: Drama
Year: April 2014
Length: 3 hours
Scriptwriter: Stella Kon
Association with: Chin San Sooi
Main Cast: Pearlly Chua

The splendour of the life of a rich Chinese family in Singapore during the British colonial days was appropriately portrayed

MILY is an epitome Nyonya lady that underwent all traditional male chauvinistic life during the 1950's. It was set in Singapore. Her character is profound that one can only relate to the lives of their grandmothers over half century ago particularly for the Peranakan stock. The creator, Stella, had magnificently wrote the play that not only achieve the highest level of performing art capability but also relate back to reality. A reality of life that everyone can compare to, for which, most of the sentiments that are apparent in those years, still exist today (in somewhat different perspectives). Whilst predominantly in English, the intertwining of Malay made it a lot more genuine and honest in its delivery. The splendour of the life of a rich Chinese family in Singapore during the British colonial days was appropriately portrayed by the use of elaborate antique oriental furniture in the virtual mansion of Emerald Hill, the richness of cultural touch in batik and kebayas as well as the composition of the household dignified by servants and butlers.

This is a monologue play. I was not so sure (initially) what it meant although literally I did suspect it is a one-man show,.... well, one-woman show. It is! It is a one-woman show. I had a somewhat awkward expectation anticipating what one single woman can do to entertain me for 3 hours (Don't be cheeky you bastards out there!). After all, she is not a stand up comedian. At first it was quite difficult to absorb as it appeared like a mad woman talking to herself in a Tanjung Rambutan ward. Gradually, the skillful acting by Pearlly Chua simply u-turned it into a fantastic performance. The agility of her acting covers a wide range of roles, namely, Emily the Young Girl, Emily the Middle Aged Women, Emily the Mistress of a Household and Emily the Melancholic Madame. The adaptation of the voice intonation (especially in singing) was superb looping from one age to another projecting the accuracy of how one (Emily) would progress in character building, courage and sufferings.

Her life was simply a journey of one sad chapter into another repeatedly until all courage is sucked out dry.

Emily is a story that represents many lives of Nyonyas back then. Being orphaned by a dead father, her mother abandoned her. She lived like an unwanted parasite moving from one relative to another until it was decided that she was to be married to a man twice her age. That sadness never really went away. Her life was simply a journey of one sad chapter into another repeatedly until all courage is sucked out dry. Anything bad that could happen, happened. A husband that neglects her and keeps sophisticated women as mistresses. A household full of in-laws who bullies a 14 year old girl that got married into it. Death of her first born and husband. Abandoned by her children. Such agonies were so unbearable that the script included her screaming, "What bad have I done to deserve all these mishappenings",.... something along that line. As you would imagine, the crying and sobbing parts were believeable. It was as if Pearlly cried for real feeling what Emily is feeling. After all, the story is based on a true story of the life of a Mrs Seow Poh Leng.
In every element in life God created its balancing act. Indeed He is merciful. Emily was not deprived of such balance. She looks for happiness and she did find happiness, in the mists of the surrounding grey saga. In the dark blue night sky, if you wait for the clouds to clear, the pale moonlight do shine. She takes joy in bringing up her children from babies, educating them in England and looking after her granndchildren. She takes pride managing the servants, maintaining the mansion and hosting parties upholding the dignity of the family. Keeping friends close and helping those in need was one of her virtues. From time to time she flashes back to her younger days reminiscing the troubles she endured as well as the joy of life she cherished. It is a story of many women, even the current days women - except that the surroundings and the materiality aspects are different. If there is one epitome message Emily of Emerald Hill can or should radiate, it would be the strength to gather courage and to continue the journey with hope in mind and faith at heart.
The show is still on at Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) until the end of April 2014, I think. Better catch it while they are still showing. I was told that they have played this over 200 times since 15 years ago. And guess what? it was Pearlly all these years who acted as Emily. Simply a must see and you'd be surprise how a genre you thought may not be to your liking enlightens you with delightful experience. Go experience it!

If there is one epitome message Emily of Emerald Hill can or should radiate, it would be the strength to gather courage and to continue the journey with hope in mind and faith at heart.

* kopihangtuah

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