By Dr MUSTAFA K ANUAR
The recent Bersih 3.0 is a loud
indication that many things aren't right in Malaysia, particularly the
alleged unclean electoral roll and procedures, the weakened democratic
institutions and the shackled media.
And in many ways, things haven't changed much since Bersih 2.0 that was
held last year despite the much-touted reform initiatives taken by the
is why the section on ‘Bersih 2.0 and All That Dirt' among other
matters in Kee Thuan Chye's latest book ‘No More Bullshit, Please, We're
All Malaysians', serves as a grim reminder as well as a useful
documentation of things that have gone awry in our beloved country.
But this 404-page book is more than just a mere observation of things
that matter to this political commentator-
journalist-playwright-dramatist-actor. It's a no-nonsense commentary
that lends voice to other patriotic Malaysians who are equally concerned
about the roller-coaster journey that the Malaysian society has been
subjected to over the years.
This explains why Kee delves deeply - judging by the number of pieces
placed in the section on ‘Najib the Salesman and Flip-Flopper'- into the
issue of governance under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Mentioning a few examples of his pieces here in this section would give
us an inkling of how troubled author Kee is about what he sees as the
mismanagement of the country as a whole: ‘Peanuts, Not Sweeping
Reforms'; ‘Are We Stupid Enough to Fall for the Same Scam?'; ‘Just One
Empty Slogan?'; ‘Najib Speaks With Forked Tongue'; ‘Anti-Extremism
Begins at Home'; and ‘Can Umno Change or Cows Fly?'.
Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad isn't spared Kee's sharp end of his
pen either, metaphorically speaking that is (given the digital age that
we're living in).
In fact, Kee was scathing in his remarks pertaining to Mahathir, whom he
considers as the one person "who has done the most damage to the
country" (p.39), and his past policies and actions particularly in the
section called ‘Mahathir the Mess-Maker'.
Kee categorically blames Mahathir for having created a culture of fear
among Malaysians, especially since the Operation Lallang of 1987 that
resulted in more than 100 people being detained.
That fear, although has subsided especially in these Bersih days, still lurks in the minds of many Malaysians.
Dream of getting an even chance
Kee's outpouring in this volume, which is a collection of his
incisive commentaries, poems, plays and interviews, is by and large it
seems to me, predicated upon his desire, his hope, his dream of being
given an "even chance" as a bona fide Malaysian citizen - as it is
lucidly explained in the first piece of the book, which is an excerpt
from an article originally published in the New Sunday Times on May 14, 1989: ‘All we want is an even chance'.
Being someone with a keen interest in the arts, Kee obviously is more
than miffed with the censorship that had been imposed by the authorities
on his staged plays and other art forms such as films of other people.
In the third piece in this collection, ‘Freedom of expression and
culture in Malaysia: Telling you what you already know', Kee expresses
his outrage over the fact that certain ideas that are dear to him cannot
be shared with fellow Malaysians through various media, including the
stage, such as the productions of ‘The Coffin is Too Big for the Hole'
and ‘The Vagina Monologues'.
While censorship had been vigorously employed by the authorities against
certain plays, films and even cartoon books over the years, certain
sleazy videos had found their way into the public domain unhindered.
In particular, Kee is perturbed by the fanfare accompanying the screening of a sex video by the ‘Datuk T; trio (left) purportedly incriminating someone who looked like Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
In the section of the volume ‘Sex, Lies and Videotapes', Kee poses the
question of immorality of the very act of exposing illicit sex "for an
And the question posed by Kee remains relevant till this day as certain
mainstream newspapers have already come on board in their attempt to
throw mud at certain opposition politicians, using sleaze and sex to
smudge their reputation.
As rightly implied by Kee, such a low-down tactic makes a mockery of
Islam (to be sure not Scientology) as the country's official religion.
Isn't slander considered heinous by Islam and other revealed religions
Very much a Malaysian at heart, Kee is patently agitated by certain
actions taken by government leaders as well as right-wing groups like
Perkasa that smack of racism and religious bigotry.
Order to censor two videos
In the section entitled ‘Race and Religion Rumbles' the author recalls,
among other things, the infamous cow-head incident in Shah Alam where
Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein instead came to the defence of the
this regard, Kee also takes exception to the action taken by the
Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for having
instructed news portal Malaysiakini to remove (in other words
censor) "two videos from its archives - the cow-head protest itself and
of Hishammuddin's shameful press conference (where he defended the
In the piece entitled ‘I am Malaysian First' of the same section of the
volume, Kee also lambasts the deputy prime minister for having
difficulty in acknowledging "that he is Malaysian first and Malay
As if this isn't enough to disconcert him, there is the incident of the
principal of a secondary school in Kulai who allegedly made racist
remarks during the Merdeka celebrations in her school.
To quote Kee, the principal "is alleged to have said that Chinese
students are not needed in the school and can go back to China or
Sekolah Foon Yew (a private Chinese school in Johor), and that the
prayer strings Indian students wear on their neck and wrist make them
look like dogs, and only dogs would be tied this way". (p.163).
Kee's irritation about such matters is understandable given that he is
so committed to the notion of Bangsa Malaysia that he assigned
"Malaysian names" to his two children, bearing Malay, Indian and Chinese
names (p.182). In short, racism is a no-go zone for him.
But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Although racism has
reared its ugly head from time to time, one however can argue that
Malaysians, especially the rational ones, should be commended for having
the tenacity to withstand or resist the temptation of "promoting" and
"protecting" the vested interests of one's community against those of
This was made evident, for instance, by the actions of many members of
Bersih 2.0 and especially Bersih 3.0, irrespective of their ethnicity
and faith who were and remain united around a common purpose of
achieving clean, free and fair elections - and by extension, a better
future for Malaysia.
In the section ‘March 8 and More' Kee also makes an interesting
assessment of political developments since the watershed general
election of 2008 where he looks at the performances of both Barisan
Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.
Kee also allocates enough space in this volume to take a swipe at
‘Tweedledee MCA' and ‘Tweedledum MIC' that have lost their political
shine ever since the setback in 2008.
Another BN component party Gerakan isn't spared either. Here the author
poses some hard questions to the party pertaining to its uncertain
future in Penang and nationwide politics.
In the section ‘The Other Side' Kee assigns some space for the
discussion of the parties in the Pakatan, especially PAS. Here he
interrogates nagging questions such as the "Islamic state" as propounded
Given that this volume is a collection of the things mentioned above, it
could do with a substantial introductory chapter so as to help the
reader, especially the uninitiated to connect the dots. The short
preface in the beginning of the book is well, too short.
Additionally, an issue that is important and should have been allocated a
section in this book is corruption, which has pervaded all levels of
society and torn its moral fabric.
Despite this shortcoming, however, this volume which is published by
Marshall Cavendish makes a compelling read for Malaysians who love their
Dr MUSTAFA K ANUAR, who teaches communication studies at a local public university, doesn't like to receive bull either.
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