"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Experience and Identity Politics

"To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level." - Bertrand Russell


On Mata Hati, a play about sex and the Malay politician:

Sex and the politician
(Straits Times, 24th November)

"The question on some people's minds is, what is a Chinese playwright doing writing this play about Malay issues?

'You have no idea how much I have struggled with it' was Dr Loon's lightning-fast response, almost as though he had anticipated the question.

With a sigh, he says: 'I ask myself constantly, 'What right have you as someone coming from the Chinese majority to write about a minority issue?'

'I am constantly aware of my position and this was the hardest play I had to write. It was an interesting experience but not one I would like to repeat.'

To improve his knowledge of Malay issues and the history of Malay politicians in Singapore, he hired an assistant to research the background and speeches of post-1965 Malay leaders.

He also 'tried to balance the peculiarity of the racial issue into something more general'. 'The play isn't just about a Malay politician, but politicians in general. When happens when you get into office?'

Zizi also read his drafts and provided her input. She thinks the fact that it is a Chinese playwright tackling the material is 'inconsequential'.

'If we think that someone else of a different race cannot understand our situation, then I don't think we can be a society without borders.

'The fact that Robin is Chinese makes him more objective. Sometimes, we are afraid to face up to certain truths, or we are afraid of saying things that are controversial.'"
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