Tuesday, October 29, 2013

MALAYSIA’S TOP SCHOLARS SIDELINED IN THE 2014 BUDGET.

…NO SPECIAL GRANTS TO ALLOW THEM TO ACHIEVE THEIR PERSONAL VISION AND TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO GET ATTACHMENTS IN BIGGER ORGANIZATIONS ABROAD, AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO HELP INTRODUCE NEW INDUSTRIES IN THE COUNTRY OR TO REDEVELOP AND EXPAND THE EXISTING ONES ESPECIALLY THE FILM INDUSTRY?
By Mansor Puteh



The 2014 Budget which prime minister, Najib Tun Razak presented in parliament this afternoon, is too general; it gives emphasis to the same areas that they have covered, which basically are those involving the industries and activities of all the ministries in the government.

It is described as a post-election budget. But it can also be seen as a pre-next election budget, whose aim is to appease the larger groups to reshape their thinking and personal or collective attitudes to override their personal emotions on a host of social, cultural, religious and pseudo-political views that were shaped by the incessant propaganda and protestations by the opposition political parties and other NGOs.

So the 2014 budget like the earlier budgets that had been presented in parliament, the larger groups are the main focus.

There is no special attention given to the scholars and experts that we have in the country; their numbers are small and often-times they are not represented.

The irony is that scholars and experts may act on their personal basis and individually, which is how scholars and experts and important entrepreneurs do, as in the case of the many known individuals who have caused the economy of America to evolve over the years, but in Malaysia, they are left to their own device.

Whereas they are the ones who can introduce or create or even expand the industries that we have using their personal vision and views to achieve that.

One industry that had been neglected by the government for too long is the film industry, which has been left to the device of the respective ministries and their officials.

This is one industry which can be further expanded, so that new Malaysian films can become the rage in all the Arab and Muslim countries and Malaysia can become the center for the production and promotion of films for the Entire Muslim World, which includes Muslim viewers in non-Muslim countries, an industry which can also have subsidiary effects in that it can cause the promotion of unity amongst the World Muslim Ummah, a strategy that has been used by those who had created and developed Hollywood so much so that the films they produce have become tools of propaganda.

Hundreds of millions of ringgit had been allocated by the government to help develop the industry, but without a clear vision on the real usefulness of the cinema, the film industry that we have today is stunted with the films produced to purely entertain the viewers, when they can do much more, whose industry can also involve the other sectors of the economy including the airline and tourism industries, etc.  

It could have become a better budget had Najib provided some direction as to why the country needs qualified Malaysians to come to the fore, and especially for those who are currently living and working abroad to return to the country to serve it, in any field they are in.

It is obvious that the government only thinks for the welfare and well-being of the larger groups of its citizens so that individuals with vision and views are often sidelines.

Whereas, the vision and views of the scholars and specialists are the ones which can open more avenues for the government to gain more revenue in the form of the expansion or even the introduction of new industries which they have till now not given any attention.

And what sort of programs can the government have for these scholars and experts? Grants to allow them to achieve their personal vision to prove of their worthiness and perhaps funding to allow and encourage them to get attachments at bigger organizations abroad in their chosen fields, so they can benefit the whole country upon their return.

They are scholars and experts, no doubt, so they should be treated like beggars.

On the contrary it is the government which must force them to contribute their brilliant ideas to the good of the nation since many of them have also become jaded and frustrated being pushed around so much so that most of the top scholars that we have in the country have become mere government servants.

So surely, the talk about encouraging Malaysians to pursue their education at some of the most prestigilous universities in the world, particularly the Ivy League and Oxbridge ones in America and the United Kingdom, respectively, is nothing but just talk.

The truth is that the government does not care for their personal well-being, and if their academic backgrounds and professional experiences in all the fields they are crucial and beneficial to the growth and expansion of the industries and hence economy of the country, then surely, they should be given special roles to play in the industries they are in.

Why then encourage the students to pursue their education at such universities when the government does not really know what to do with them?

The ministry of education is organizing some town hall-type of activities to encourage people to attend them and give their views on how to further improve the level of education in the country.

Yet, the same ministry does not even know who they are and where they can be found. Some of them are already in these universities with the many others who have already returned to the country, quietly and unannounced.

They are not like the sportsmen and women who habituatlly attend sports meets all over the world, and if they lose, they are not condemned. However, if they win, it becomes a media attraction.

Scholars who go abroad to study in such prestigious universities are hardly given any notice, and even when they return they are not welcome by the very ministries that should be first to embrace them, so that they are given the right treatment and posts in the ministries and agencies or other government-linked companies or GLCs to lead the departments which are suitable to them.

Some of them have wide professional experience, and they can easily be taken in as consultants to the government or the ministries so that they are not led by the same tired and jaded PTD officers who move from one agency to another agency without showing any real or personal conviction.

These officers who hold the posts of the deputy and secretary-generals of the ministries are the ones who are always in the way of progress, because most of them are not qualified, but who could assume the posts simply because they remain in the government service, so they could rise up the ladder to be what they are today, until they retire at the age of sixty, before they are given another post in other GLC.

No wonder some of the industries which the government is trying to develop cannot develop fully because they are held back because the ministries or agencies do not wish to have qualified persons messing around with them.

Malaysia cannot say that it has that many people who have academic qualification from the prestigious Ivy League and Oxbridge universities, and the few that we have must be utilized fully, or else, they would wither and not able to contribute much because the are not given the right jobs with the right tasks to perform.

And it is also odd for Malaysia not to have anyone with degrees from these universities who are vice-chancellors or deans of the universities, when they are supposed to be the top brains, who must personally endeavor to excel in their education so that they can then look at the students in their respective universities to become good examples to them.

Malaysians who are teaching at the public or state universities are generally not so well-educated; they only have a string of degrees because they are paid to study and to get degrees.

So they normally go to non-competitive universities and worked on researches that are not relevant to the needs of the country, because their main reason to pursue their education is to get a better post with a better pay later. It is not for them to excel in their education to become internationally-recognized scholars or academics.

There is one so-called professor of rural poverty who lives in the city and who does not want to sit in the warungs or mix with the poor in the pasar malam. Yet, he had the audacity to claim to be an expert in rural poverty.

This explains why the so-called scholars that we have in the country are really not scholars in the right sense of the word, but officers of the universities, so their comments and views on anything are so general.

And when they retire from the universities, some go into politics or disappear. Some gang-up to form associations whose main intention is to ensure that they are remembered as former vice-chancellors or senior army officers and senior government servants, and so on, where they will use this vehicle to trust themselves by screaming themselves coarse in public forums without ever benefiting the very persons they claim to benefit. 



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

HUDUD LAWS, BRUNEI AND MALAYSIA, AND THE ARAB SPRING, PART I.

…AND HOW BRUNEI AND THE MELYU-MUSLIMS AIM TO TEACH THE ARABS AND THE WHOLE WORLD, A LESSON ISLAM.
By Mansor Puteh



It is stunning how from out of the blue, the Sultan of Brunei announced on live television in the country, wearing black baju Melayu how the country will be adopting the Syariah Laws.

It is stunning how this could happen amidst the chaos in the Arab countries and controversies surrounding this matter.

The announcement which was reported in some newspapers in Malaysia today came out of the blue, when everybody was looking elsewhere and doing other things, with the Arab and other so-called Muslim countries trying to make a sense of who they are and what they have become, while counting the many of their relatives and friends who have been bombed dead or to smithereens.

That the Arab World is in shambles is not an understatement. It happened simply because the Arabs had neglected to appreciate the real and true teachings of Islam.  

Brunei, therefore, can be said and admitted to be taking the lead in this regard for the other Muslim and Arab countries to follow.

It is a shame to all the Arab countries including those which are said to be the most orthodox, yet, which is slowly trying to lift the veil from the faces of their women, simply because there are some countries in the west which are forcing them to do it.

And can one even dare to venture to ask what if Syariah or Hudud Laws had been implemented in full force in all the Arab countries and other Muslim countries, that the Arab Spring I would not have happened.

And if with such laws in place, all the Arab and Muslim countries too would become the most developed in the world today?

This can happen.

But who does not want to let it happen?

And how long must the old Arab Spring I must be allowed to continue on which has so far caused massive destruction in all the Arab countries concerned?

Surely, there must be a good and valid reason for the Sultan of Brunei to make the stunning announcement that his country the Islamic and Melayu Kingdom of Brunei or Negara Brunei Darussalam would become the first Muslim country in recent history to adopt such a legal system.

It is a shame for the other Muslim and Arab countries, for not considering such Laws in the first place, with Malaysia mulling over it.

The only problem Malaysia has is that it has a strong and confused non-Muslim majority which is fast shrinking.

And the more the population of such people continues to shrink, the more some of them will become noisy and restless.

If Malaysia were a Melayu and Muslim majority country whose population is eighty percent of the total population, then surely this problem would not have happened.

The Melayu must not be fractured by insider politickering and politicking, which only helped the cause of the enemies of Islam and the Melayu.

But despite that, the situation can change for the better with the timely exit of Nik Aziz from PAS and national politics, whose long reign in politics has caused the Melayu and Muslims in the country to be unnecessarily fractured.

But there is no fracturing of the Muslims in Brunei; so that was the reason why this country could become a showcase Islamic state, which does not fear implementing the Hudud Laws, as it was the will of Allah for all Muslim countries to do so.

The importance of such laws and its effectiveness has never been acknowledged, simply because the real and unseen enemies of Islam wanted to make sure that they are condemned no matter what.

It is also ironic that the Sultan of Brunei would make the announcement when most of the Arab countries have been destroyed internally.

It is proof that the non-adherence of Islamic laws and principles and way of life, has caused massive damage to the countries concerned.

There is no need to prove how without the implementation of such laws, that these Arab and so-called Muslim countries have been destroyed with hundreds of thousands of the Arabs killed and maimed.

Which other Arab and Muslim country will follow in the footsteps of Brunei to implement such laws?

When will the Arab leaders smarten up to realize that their only salvation is in the full implementation of such laws, as enshrined in the Holy Koran.

Why was the Holy Koran written in Arabic, is something that no Arab leader or ulama has ever tried to digress.

It’s probably the Arabs were some of the most backward people on earth, that the Holy Book had to be written in this language so that they could read it better, and perhaps understand what is written in it better too.

But this did not happen. Many Arabs can read the Holy Koran and recite it by heart, but not many of them could understand it fully to realize the important things that are said in it, and to benefit from it.

So no wonder, the Arab countries, which are also blessed with OIL, could not be developed; with some having become lackeys of the very enemies of Islam, without them realizing it or knowingly aware of it.

The wealthier Arab countries only know how to channel funds to redevelop some of the Arab cities and countries that have been demolished and destroyed by their unseen and known enemies, but they do not know how to develop them by making sure that whatever development that had happened in their countries could be sustained, without them being destroyed again and again, each time after they were redeveloped, as in the case of Baghdad and Gaza.  

And without such laws, their countries have regressed with many of the Arab leaders losing their way, thus allowing the unseen enemies of Islam to create confusion amongst them and then total destruction.

It will take a long while before the Arab leaders realize their own folly in ‘rejecting’ Islamic Laws or the Hudud Laws, which affect all of them, regardless of who commits crimes.





Saturday, October 19, 2013

WHY WAS THE FILM ‘KL GANGSTER 2’ NOT BANNED?

By Mansor Puteh



I did not see ‘KL Gangster’ when it was released few years ago, which went on to collect a dozen million ringgit at the local box office. It appealed to the puerile tastes and it does not show regard to the more noble values many in the country still hold.

When ‘K L Ganster 2’ appeared, I thought this was too much. Never mind how the film was made available by unknown sources on YouTube and in pirated DVDs in the pasar malam.

But what shocked me the most is why didn’t Lembaga Penapisan Filem or LPF ban this film altogether? And where are the many well-meaning Melayu and Muslim groups on this matter?

They were very vocal when it concerned some other films which they deemed to be superfluous and which had demeaned the country, Melayu and also Islam.

‘KL Gangster 2’ also does similar things, and worse, because it was produced by the Melayu and Muslims themselves.

And I do not plan to see this film, after seeing the trailer and a bit of the documentary on the making of it on television, which is repulsive enough.

It is clear that the director and producer have misused the art of the cinema, created by the many others before them and the others who are trying to create a semblance of a national cinema for the country.

‘KL Gangster 2’ has everything that one does not need to have in the creation of such a cinema.

This film does not deserved to be shown in the country at all. There is no justification for it to be shown even when it could attract the attention of many cinema-goers in the country.

It should not have been made at all, in the first place, if the proper checks and balance have been put in place.

It does not show any respect to the people it portrays and the city of Kuala Lumpur it is set in.

Worse, it is also a crime that the Royal Malaysian Police have not bothered to register their disgust on this film, which in more ways than one insinuate how inefficient they are and how unlawful Kuala Lumpur is.

There has never been at any time or episode in the history of the Old Malayan Cinema and the Malaysian Cinema, when films of this type have been produced.

Most of the producers and also studios then knew the parameters that they had bound themselves in, and beyond which they frown, even when they all knew how films that deal with the superfluous can bring in the profits.

They had the temerity to go beyond personal ideas and deal with the ideals of the race, country and values of their religion.

If they had not bothered to be petty they would have come up with films which are far worse than ‘KL Gangster 2’, especially now with the availability of the computer generated imaging, that allows the imagination to run wild.

But filmmaking in Malaysia is not about letting the imagination to run wild.

In the Malaysian context especially of today, a filmmaker will be better respected and recognized if he chooses to record the moments in the exciting development of the country, recording for prosperity.

So no wonder many of P. Ramlee’s films are still being shown on television again and again, because they have these values which record moments in the early development of the country.

This also explains why of the many films and also television dramas that have been produced over the last few decades, not many are being remembered. 

Surely, the director and producer of ‘KL Gangster 2’ should have known better not to produce such a film, despite it being able to attract the viewers.

The truth is that it belittles almost everything about Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Melayu and also Islam.

Unfortunately, the film does not care; it deals with the crudest form of entertainment which was inspired by earlier films produced by Hollywood and also Hong Kong and later on by Thailand.

And how could any want to allow groups of Melayu gangsters prowling the streets of Kuala Lumpur and getting embroiled in gang fights, and not in some unknown roads, but Jalan Petaling.

Where are the police?

It is also ironic how ‘KL Ganster 2’ could open at the time when Ops Cantas is underway, when more and more members of the illegal groups or Triads and other gang groups are being hounded?

What is ‘KL Gangster 2’ trying to say here?

Can they hide their guilt behind the ‘denoument’, and the adage that ‘crime does not pay’ which is made available at the very end of the film?

If ‘KL Ganster’ and its sequel ‘KL Gangster 2’ were made by foreign film companies which had wanted to come to Kuala Lumpur to work on such films, chances are they would not have been allowed to do so.

The authorities would reject their application when the screenplay was submitted for study.

However, since these two films were not made by foreign companies, but a local one, they could bypass such a procedure, and complete their films and got the LPF to issue screening permits, even if they are rated 13, meaning only those age thirteen and above are allowed to see the films.

In these two films, Kuala Lumpur is seen to be a wild place, with gangsters hanging everywhere.

And there is lawlessness with the police nowhere to be seen, that had allowed the gangs to do as they please.

Three is no justification for these to be allowed to be inferred, even if the makers of the film cry ‘creative freedom’ or ‘artistic license’.

They must realize that these two concepts were introduced to allow those who are not interested to be bound by the laws of the country and deal with realistic issues and realism would want to scream those phrases.

Can we expect the producers of such films to be more discerning and show more tact in producing films in the near future, so that they can develop a certain degree of self-respect as filmmakers so that they can get mutual respect from their viewers and public?

The producers of this film can indeed benefit much from the cinema, but the Malaysian cinema cannot benefit much from this film.  



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

CHRIS ANGEL’S MINDFREAK…AND MAGIC TRICKS EXPOSED!

By Mansor Puteh


What can you say of Chris Angel’s Mindfreak program? His acts are convincing. But are they really convincing?

How do you know if his acts are not freak shows?

Didn’t he know that there is a program on American television which exposes tricks by those who claim to be able to perform wonders, making things disappear and making other things appear from thin air, to floating in the air and walking on water in a swimming pool in a hotel.

No, they do not show a magician walking on water in the sea or river. This would be technically impossible.

Chris Angel looks convincing as a magician. But he is mostly a street magician. And the equipments he uses are video cameras, which one can use in many ways, to help the magician to create his wonders. He is far from being an illusionist.

And the crowd of people who happen to be where they are may not be there without a purpose; they are mostly there to be there, to make the viewers of the tricks think and feel that they are indeed watching a magic trick which has never been performed before and it is not staged.

It is far from not being staged. It is staged.

I saw some tricks exposed on another program, and anti-magician program which exposed those tricks which other earlier magicians had performed elsewhere.

Yet, Chris would do it, and I could see the same tricks being done or created by him without him realizing how I also knew how they could be done.

I had seen how a man who shows how he could levitate, with his feet hanging.

Chris does it differently. He takes his act to the elevator.

He walks on a moving elevator and then raises both his feet and he is floating in space.

And then a couple who are walking down the other side of the elevator notices the trick and they are amazed. They looked like they were there pretending to see it happen until it did.

I was not amazed by the trick, because I know how it was done.

The man in the magic tricks exposed program, showed how the trick is done, when he slips one of his legs through a hole in the pants, with the shoes which he had sewed on to that side of the pants hanging together with the other shoe, which shows that the legs are dangling in the air.

The truth is that both of the man’s feet are now stepping on the stair. So he is not levitating, but his body is being held by the legs while the trick pants and shoes are dangling behind him so that the viewers do not see where his legs are.

And he would slip his leg into the holes in the pants and then walk.

The viewers cannot see the hole in the pants. So they think that the legs were dangling when they were not.

Yet, Chris wants us to believe that he could levitate.

But why is he levitating with his whole body being taken by the elevator with it.

If he is indeed suspending his body in space, then surely, it would be static with the elevator doing what it does, by moving upwards.

So clearly, the couple who noticed the act or trick must be decoys who are there to pretend to be unknown individuals.

Chris suspends himself in the air. This is done by his body being tied to a thin cable which is being pulled up by a tall crane.

The line can be seen with the naked eye, but not when the act is shown on television as it is done outdoors and in bright lights which cleared off the line altogether.

Chris pulls something from behind a window which is covered by a glass. The glass is not rigid. It can be moved. It’s just that there is a sticker which is placed in front of the glass which does not move which to the viewers look like the glass is also not moving when it does.

This trick was exposed in the other program which unfortunately for him, he has not realized or seen, and none of those who are around him in his program has also not seen or bothered to see.

Chris pulls out objects from window panes, an act which has been exposed in YouTube to be from a magician from Japan, who pulls out burgers from posters advertising them.

The worse thing that a magician can do or that can happen to a magician or any magician worth his trick is how his acts are exposed, not after he had done the acts, but before he did it.

Worse still, is when the magician still goes on with showing more tricks which have also been exposed earlier in another program, by claiming to be originally his own act, thus exposing his own stupidity, and putting himself to ridicule.

Therefore, I find Chris Angel’s Mindfreak to be a freak show, of copycat ideas and acts, which unfortunately, many have seen them earlier in an another show which aims to expose the tricks in the first place.

And once you have seen how these tricks are done, you feel sorry for the other magician for showing off the same tricks by repeating in almost the same way as the tricks which were exposed earlier.

Chris had the audacity to inform his viewers how the posting on YouTube of his act of walking on water had attracted a lot of hits, which also prompted him to stretch his act, by performing it again, this time in a swimming pool of a hotel, before people who happen to be there in the vicinity.

They were all actors who were put there to be witnesses to an act which is crass as well as crude; they pretend to be there, when they were all paid to be there.

Even when he stops strangers in the supermarkets or the streets and ask them to write something on a piece of paper, so he can tell them what they had written, by reading their minds, you can bet, the strangers are no strangers at all, and the things that they wrote are the things they were asked to read in the first place.

Recording such acts using video cameras can allow him or anyone a lot of leeway, that he can stop recording and change the scenario and setting, which one cannot do if the shows are performed before a live audience with no camera tricks.

My advise to Chris Angel is to find another job. He cannot go on pretending to be performing original acts anymore when most of what he had shown on his program have already been shown much earlier in other programs which exposed those so-called magic tricks that he is proud to show.

His is definitely a pitiful act for anyone to follow…













Friday, October 11, 2013

PRODUCING ‘DANCING TO THE BEAT OF HISTORY… AND RETURNING TO LISBON, PORTUGAL AFTER TWENTY-THREE YEARS, IN AUGUST, 2013.

By Mansor Puteh



One thing I liked about being able to work on this documentary is that I was able to find the right excuse to return to Lisbon and Portugal after my first visit there in April, 1990.

I was in Lisbon for the first time in April, 1990 when my feature film, ‘Seman: A Lost Hero’ was selected for the Figueira da Foz Film Festival where I found out that it was nominated for best film.

It was also in London then when I had tried to pitch for my documentary at a film production company which in the end did not take it for a series of programs they were producing for a local television station.

Unfortunately, the program also did not go on very far, and the few documentaries that they had commission were also not so well distributed in film festivals or discussed. 

I had flown into the old airport from London where I had to wait for five hours before catching the Portuguese airline TAP flight to Lisbon.

Filming for the documentary also took me to Palembang, Jakarta, Macau, Hong Kong and Paris where I had thought of driving to Portugal from there during the last Ramadan.

But the plan was aborted and I got stuck in Paris for the whole week. I went to Lisbon from Kuala Lumpur a few days after Hari Raya Puasa.

This time it was easier as I did not have to get a visa to enter the country like I had to the first time.

I was lucky to be able to go to New Delhi for a seminar on Asian cinema, where I took the time to go to the Portuguese embassy to get it.

But the local Indian woman staff asked for some money before I was able to collect my international passport. And she would do it openly like it was not an offense.

Portugal did not have an embassy in Kuala Lumpur then as they still do now. The nearest embassy was in Bangkok and I did not want to have to send my passport there for them to give me the visa as it could be lost in the mail.

They now have a consulate, but they are not helpful in any way. 

Lisbon looks like the other cities in the European Union (EU). And Portugal is reported to be in economic dire straits, where the international news agencies like to report how thousands of the Portuguese often staged demonstrations with many of them not working and where the inflation rate is very high.

This could be the reason why some had to be pushed to walk the streets to become pushers of drugs, and they would do it so openly whether what they are doing is actually what they are doing.

Or if they are just trying to see who buys the drugs so the authorities could follow their tracks, and especially if they order a large consignment that the pushers say they can supply as I do not think there are that many people in Lisbon who consume the matter privately.

I did not see any of that. Maybe I had come to Lisbon when they had become tired of demonstrating and were now resting, before they take to the streets again.

And from what I could see there was no poverty there. The roads are clean and the drains not clogged like in Kuala Lumpur. The tourists flocking the Praca do Comercio looks local, but most of them are from the EU. Few are from elsewhere.

There are many Bangladeshis operating souvenir stalls and I also got to go to their area where they have a small masjid.

The Muslim population in Lisbon seems to be quite large or significant as I can see many men wearing the skull cap or ketayap and women covering their heads; they are mostly Africans who are probably from the former Portuguese colonies. 

However, I found out later that there is a much bigger masjid in the city when I was taking the tourist bus and also the bus taking me back to the airport.

I tried to look for the Rua Afonso de Albuquerque or Afonso de Albuquerque Road, and found it in my Tablet and in the process was accosted by the stone statue of Dom Manuel 1.

He was the King of Portugal in the Fifteenth Century who had ordered Portuguese fleet to sail the seas to reach Goa in India, Melaka in Tanah Melayu, Macau in China and Jakarta and Timor Timor in Indonesia, sitting outside of the Military Museum

But when I wanted to go there I could not find it. Even the locals who live and work near the road did not know about it.

The road must be so narrow and so hidden and so unimportant that they could not show me where it was.

I guessed it was near the old church where many tourists would flock to, but with so few of them actually praying.

At the side of the church building is a tram line where trams pass along taking passengers comprising of tourists mostly.

The locals do not need to take them as they do not run too fast, along the roads which look old and narrow as most of the old roads in the city are.

Most of the Portuguese would not know that their ancestors were formerly Muslims.

And it seems that most of them also do not know that they are Catholics, as much as the others in the west whose ancestors had gone on the crusade, which now does not mean much to them anymore, as one church after the other has been neglected and left to be sold off to some Muslims to be turned to masjids.   

There is a much larger masjid I saw as the bus was taking me back to the airport from the city. It looked new and was probably built by the Arab and other Muslim businessmen there.

I wish to go to Portugal for a return trip and if I get to do that, I will surely want to drive to the other cities including Porto and Figueira da Foz, and perhaps enter Spain to go to Malaga where a Malaysian friend is living.



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

DANCING TO THE BEAT OF HISTORY… OR ‘BERDANSA IKUT RENTAK SEJARAH…’ - A DOCUMENTARY ON THE PORTUGUESE IN MELAKA.

By Mansor Puteh



Some documentaries take a long time to be made; many others did not end up being made at all.

I was lucky that this documentary, ‘Berdansa ikut rentak Sejarah…’ or ‘Dancing to the beat of History…’ finally got made after so long.

And as it turned out, it is slightly different to the original version I had wanted to make.

The reason being the process itself is quite tedious and the documentary could go on different ways.

Even despite that no one had ever produced a documentary on the small Portuguese community in Melaka and in relations to their history, in this way before.

It would look even better if I had CGIs and be able to recreate some interesting historical scenes, which can cost a lot.

But if I had my way, I would not have been so direct; I would come up with a documentary which is more personal and subtle, unlike those programs on History and Discovery which are too direct and impersonal, which they call documentaries.

They are not; they are magazine programs or news or investigative reporting. They are also not creative since they use the same style for all their programs, using the narration as the strongest tool in their storytelling.  

And I was lucky or fortunate to be able to meet some persons and interesting information that allowed me to come up with this version, and one for Finas which is forty-five minutes and the other for the festivals which is fifty-six minutes long.

And surprisingly, editing was easy and it was done in no time, as everything flowed nicely from the first shot on, which I had to spend a bit of time searching for the right one as if it was not right, the whole documentary would also not look right. 

So that was why I had to wait a while before starting the editing, after I was done with the filming which started in May ending in August. 

It is a documentary I just produced for Finas, which will be shown later on RTM.

I had first tried to produce it for Channel Four of London in 1990 but it did not happen.

Fortunately, Finas agreed to finance the production of this 45-minute documentary which is basically on the San Pedro music group in Perkampung Portugis or the Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir in Melaka, headed by Joe Lazaroo.

But the documentary is also on the history of the Portuguese invasion of Melaka and the other countries in the region including Goa in India; Macau and Sunda Kelapa now Jakarta and also Timor Timor.

Filming for the documentary was done in many countries including Portugal which happened in August. I returned to Portugal for the filming there for the second time. I was there in 1990 when my film 'Seman' was selected for the Figueira da Foz Film Festival where it was nominated for best film.

Some fortunate incidents happened when during the filming of the San Pedro group was taking place earlier, the Director-General of Unesco, Mrs Erina Bukova made a visit to Melaka so we were able to include the happening around the remnants of the St. Paul's Church on St. Paul's Hills or Bukit Melaka and also at the Porta de Santiago or Kota Melaka.

And while in Jakarta to cover the small Portuguese community in Kampung Tugu, Jakarta celebrated the 486th anniversary of its founding where they had shows in Taman Fatahilah where the Dutch administrative building is, and they had a recreation of a march led by Imam Fatahilah who was on his way with his men to attack the Portuguese in 1527. Sunda Kelapa was the original name of Jakarta.

The Portuguese in Kampung Tugu has a keroncong music group headed by Andre Michiels, who explained how many young Portuguese men from Melaka were brought to Sunda Kepala which was renamed Jayakarta before it was renamed to Jakarta, to become slaves.

They were converted to the Protestant religion.

They hid themselves in Kampung Tugu in 1641 but was discovered in 1675 by the Dutch who also built a church for them to pray in, where they played keroncong music instead of using the organ for the services.

And they were the original people who introduced keroncong music that we know of today.

The Portuguese also had been to Aceh where they was a community of them who comprised of fishermen. Unfortunately, the fishing village off the coast of North Sumatera was swept in the Aceh Tsunami of 26 December, 2004.

So there are now so few of them left.

However, unlike the Portuguese in other countries, including in Jakarta, the ones in Aceh are Muslims.

I managed to get some friends in Aceh to take me to see one of the men who survived the Tsunami called Jamaluddin Puteh.

We met one of the young girl who happened to be there and was told she has Portuguese ancestry. Her hair is blonder.

The Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir was established during the British administration of Malaya in the 1930s when a priest proposed the idea to them, and they were given a piece of marsh land there where the state government built wooden houses for them to live in.

And most of the Portuguese in Melaka who were then living in Banda Hilir, Terengkerah and other areas in the state were brought there where the men mostly worked as fishermen.

Some of them are still catching fish in the Settlement till today, where there is now a Medan Portuguese or Portuguese Square where they are restaurants serving Portuguese-style food.

Michael Singho, the president of the Malacca Eurasian Association said the idea to create the square was Dr. Mahathir's idea. He had visited the settlement as prime minister and wanted the settlement to be a tourist attracting.

Joe Lazaroo says he is 73 years and he fears that the group he had started in 1973 might not be able to last since the young Portuguese are not inclined to perform. He trusts his son, Edmund who is also with the group to be able to take over from him. They have performed all over the country and also in Singapore and Macau on numerous occasions.





Saturday, October 5, 2013

NO ENGLISH, NO PROBLEM: MACAU AND HONG KONG CAN DO WITHOUT THE LANGUAGE.

. . . ‘SEKOLAH KEBANGSAAN’ CAN TEACH THE STUDENTS ENGLISH BETTER TOO, SO THERE IS NO NEED FOR MALAYSIA TO HAVE THE SCHOOLS WITH ENGLISH AS THE MAIN MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION AND HOW THE CHINESE LEFT HAD WEAKENED THEIR POLITICAL BARGAINING POWER.
By Mansor Puteh



The talk by some vocal Chinese in Malaysia about the importance of English as an international language is pure propaganda. It has not real basis.

The only reason why they want to use the language as the main medium of instruction in the schools in Malaysia is because they want to obliterate the use of the Melayu language, which they know most of them cannot master.

However, even if the Melayu are forced to study and speak in English, they will excel more than the Chinese who can never speak or write in it as well as the Melayu can.

In Chinese-dominated countries which were also under British rule, such as Hong Kong the Chinese there did not bother to study English and the main medium of instruction in the schools is still Chinese or Cantonese.

Even Singaporeans are speaking in Chinese more than English and all their major television and radio programs are also in this language instead of English.

Most of the Singaporeans speak English which is passable and not exactly perfect. And if they are interviewed on foreign television programs, chances are what they say has to be subtitled since they do not pronounce English words well.

The demand by the Melayu and other patriotic non-Melayu in Malaysia to have the ‘sekolah kebangsaan’ as the only school in the country has basis, and if the students are to be forced to master the English language, they can do it within this one education system.

Many workers from Bangladesh, Myanmar, India and other countries speak good Melayu which is a lot better than most of the Chinese despite them not studied Melayu formally.

The Mandarin and Tamil school systems have also not created the Chinese and Tamils who are proficient in English as much as they are in Melayu.

Since many of the Chinese and Tamil students drop out of the vernacular Mandarin and Tamil schools early, the level of their understanding of Mandarin and Tamil is very low.

It is also the same with the Melayu and the others who drop out of the ‘sekolah kebangsaan’ after Form Five, whose understanding of Melayu is also low that many cannot write in the language well.

Yet, most of them can still pass their driving tests to get their driving licenses which is given in Melayu.

How on earth did the Chinese and Indian taxi-drivers and petty traders get their driving licenses when they do not speak or write well in Melayu? 

The other reason why the Chinese do not favor sending their children to the ‘sekolah kebangsaan’ is because of the strong emphasis on Islamic studies and Islam, so they feared their children could be compelled to revert to Islam.

The truth is most of the Chinese reverts to Islam are those with the vernacular Mandarin school backgrounds. Check with Perkim and watch their programs at 11.30 a.m. every Friday on TV2.

And if there are parents who could afford to send their children for ballet and piano lessons and excel in them, then surely they too could have sent their children to English lessons.

Why didn’t the Chinese parents demand the government also provided the children with those ballet and piano lessons too? 

Hong Kong was returned to China from Britain on 1 July, 1997 and Macau from Portugal two years later, after they were colonized by the two European superpowers of the day for so long.

They were under the colonization of Britain and Portugal for 99 years as opposed to Malaysia which was under them for a mere 176 years.

Britain benefited much from the colonization of Hong Kong and all the other more than fifty countries that provided the country with their natural resources while planting their social, cultural and not counting religious biases on the locals or natives.

Portugal on the other hand, was not so smart; while their country remained backward, Macau was able to develop.

Their experience in governing Macau for 99 years had caused Macau to be developed, but Portugal remained backward. And today even within the European Union, Portugal remains as one if not the most poorly developed country in the EU.

At the same time Portugal did not leave much legacy in Macau as did Britain in Hong Kong.

Portuguese may be the official language in Macau as does Mandarin, and English used to be the official language in Hong Kong as did Cantonese, yet, there is no loss for the locals that did not seem to favor these languages.

There was and also still is no clamor by the local Chinese to get their governments to have a single education system which uses only English or Portuguese as the medium of instruction.

The problem is that these countries are Chinese-dominated.

Whereas in Malaysia, the Melayu population is not yet overwhelming with the percentage of the Chinese which is still large enough to allow them to exert any demands on the Melayu who they have by design or by the mistake of the Melayu themselves, have been fractured to force them to be grouped into two or three groups, all of which clamor for the support from the Chinese who they have appointed to be the kingmakers of the country’s political system, which is sad.

Yet, at the same time, the propaganda some Chinese have been using to say that English is an international lingua franca which is integral to the further development of the country is nothing but propaganda.

Some Melayu have also swallowed such propaganda and have appointed themselves to be the unpaid and unofficial spokesmen for the British who do not care for their personal sentiments.

The truth however, the Chinese in Macau and also Hong Kong do not care for English.

And on my recent visit to the two countries I found it so difficult to find a Chinese who could speak English.

I was lucky to be able to see some Filipino maids or those working in the travel industry in the hotels who I could approach to seek information and direction.

Even the Chinese staff at the hotel and airport do not speak much English. If they do speak the language they do it in a thick Chinese accent.

No Chinese in Malaysia has ever compared to the situation in Malaysia and in those two countries, to see if English had become too instrumental in the economic development of the two countries.

Even when Hong Kong was under direct British rule for 99 years, the main school system was still Mandarin-based, so those who could speak English were so few.

And the number of the Chinese in Hong Kong who can speak in English today is even less, with the more Chinese from Mainland China who have come to seek a better livelihood had come to Hong Kong so in the end they are able to overwhelm the original inhabitants of the country who speak in Cantonese so much so that they too have to study Mandarin to be able to communicate with the Mainland Chinese.

Yet, both Hong Kong and Macau are countries which can be said to be developed economically with the people experiencing a modern lifestyle while speaking in Mandarin or Cantonese.

This goes to prove that the mastery of the English language does not automatically allow any country to become developed.

If this logic is good, then why is the Philippines still not at par with Hong Kong and Macau?

There are many Filipinos who are able to speak in English although they may do so with a thick Filipino accent which is influenced by the Spanish upbringing.

Being under American occupation for a while after the Spanish left, the Filipinos were able to study English, but their country is still not so developed.

And on a more personal level, why then are there so many African-Americans and also Native Americans who speak excellent English who can be considered to be economically backward compared to the Caucasian Americans?

Even Singapore which had stressed the importance of English has not proven to the world how the language could unite all Singaporeans, especially with the many Chinese who still prefer to use their mother tongue.

And the television programs especially the dramas and travelogues and magazine programs are all in Mandarin and not in English.

If the Singaporeans speak in English, it will have a strong alien accent and not in proper English that we know today, so much so that what they say in interviews is subtitled. And they are not the ordinary Singaporeans, but the professionals such as engineers.

There are not that many places in Singapore and also Malaysia where one can speak proper English.

So even if one can write well in the language, one can still speak in the language with some alien accent.

And it is not just accent which is wrong with Malaysians and Singaporeans when they speak in English; it involves a host of other issues relating to their social and cultural upbringing and historical influences that can cause them to behave like idiots if they confront true English men or women and if they are in England or any other English-speaking country.

So if there are some Chinese and also Melayu in Malaysia who think if the people are excellent in English, only then the country can fully develop, they can go to Macau and Hong Kong and see for themselves how this is not true.

The people of Macau and Hong Kong can do away with English and they can still develop their own countries as much as the other developed countries in Europe and Japan, South Korea and even China which sends their ‘taikonauts’ to space speaking in Mandarin.  



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

CHIN PENG, BUDDHIST MILITANCY AND TIME MAGAZINE’S ‘THE FACE OF BUDDHIST MILITANCY’ CENSORED OR BANNED.

…AND WHO ARE STILL TRYING TO PURSUE HIS HIDDEN AGENDAS IN MALAYSIA TODAY?
By Mansor Puteh



Chin Peng died on 15 September, a day before Malaysia Day, a day which he did not want to see happen. If he had been successful in his military campaigns, Malaysia would not have been formed that day in 1963.

And chances are the Malaysia today would be a vassal state of China.

Malaysia was formed to thwart whatever intentions Communist China had on Tanah Melayu and the region.

They had willing supporters in Indonesia though but they were also thwarted. So Indonesia did not go down the China and Chin Peng way.

The last legacy which Chin Peng a.k.a. Ong Boon Hua revealed at his death can be seen in the way he was cremated – in the Buddhist way. So he died a Buddhist, a belief he had held all his life.

It is strange for communists to insist on being buried in the Buddhist way, when they are supposed to be atheists, so that the bodies of the top leaders are not cremated or buried, but embalmed like those of Mao Zedong, Chao Enlai, Lenin, Stalin and the other top Soviet leaders including those in North Korea.

But no one has ever talked about the ‘face of Buddhist militancy’ until Time Magazine highlighted the matter on the front-page of their magazine earlier this year.

Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, the issue of this magazine did not get to the shelves in the country.

The terror inflicted by Chin Peng and his men who also comprised of the Melayu cannot be described.

The reasons are also not defined.

If he had said what the real intentions of the Communist Party of Malaya or Parti Komunis Malaya (PKM) were, then surely, the Melayu who were in the movement would have fled.

But despite that there was one of their senior Melayu leaders who was still a Muslim and when he married a Chinese woman-comrade, he insisted that she reverted to Islam.

How could communism and Islam go hand in hand, even deep in the jungles? The Chinese woman even got a Melayu-Muslim name.

Maybe the Melayu man was not a real and dedicated communist but a severe critic of the Melayu government.

It is not the only irony concerning the PKM. They had tried to use Bahasa Melayu in their campaigns and also their radio broadcasts which were in this language so that they can reach the other Melayu.

The radio broadcasts were said to have been done from their stations in South China and South Thailand where many of them were hiding when they were being hounded by the armed forces of Tanah Melayu who comprised mostly of the Melayu so much so that there were no non-Melayu combatants who had to suffer under the hands of the Communists.

Chin Peng was a Buddhist. And Myanmar is a Buddhist country.

Myanmar is one of the most repressive countries in the world which has been tormenting and causing the destruction of properties and lives of the Rohingyas who are Muslims.

The Rohingya people had a state of their own, but it was seized by the Myanmar government. And they behave much like the Zionists against the hapless Palestinians.

But because America and the whole world do not care too much for the plight of the Rohingyas, the problems they face are not highlighted.

On the contrary, the leader of Myanmar, Thein Swein, has been given special treatment by the United Nations and other western leaders.

But what other legacies did Chin Peng leave behind that he had not managed or succeeded to pursue and achieve? Plenty.

He aimed to cause the obliteration of Bahasa Melayu, replacing it with Mandarin so that Tanah Melayu or Malaysia today will be much like Singapore.

Singapore, is ‘a red dot in the sea of green’ could see the use of Mandarin more and more with Melayu being replaced on the official levels and left with the Melayu to use on the daily basis.

Even he who used to speak good Melayu before is now not so fluent in the language which his parents who had come from Semarang in Jawa, Indonesia had used daily.

And in Malaysia there are also some people comprising of the non-Melayu and some Melayu who are also intent of replacing Melayu as an official language for daily use in all levels of communications with English.

They dared not suggest the use of Mandarin although the matter stays within the confines of the vernacular Mandarin schools, whose continued presence is due mostly to political pressure and arm-twisting by the Chinese groups some of which are chauvinist Chinese.

The chauvinist Chinese are those who insist on giving Mandarin a wider exposure, other than to increase the number of schools that teach in this language.

And they are also the type of Malaysians who say they are Malaysians but who do not seem to support the Malaysian Constitution.

They are not known to be mixing with the Melayu and other communities or take part in the Merdeka and Malaysia Day parades, or attend the national day celebrations with gusto.

They support the opposition despite the opposition not having done anything to prop up the status of the vernacular schools in the country, whose tasks were undertaken by the Chinese political parties within the Barisan National coalition.

But despite that the Chinese parties in Barisan were thrown out by the Chinese voters in the last general elections which is a watershed election that has caused the Chinese in the country to lose more political grounds with their chauvinist groups also losing their fangs along the way.

They are now voiceless. The Melayu and national activists have created a shock by demanding that the Chinese chauvinist groups be sidelined and marginalize since this was what they had wanted to do in Malaysia to be sidelined and marginalized.

The years ahead and the next fourteenth general elections will see the trouncing of the Chinese chauvinist groups who had had their stay extended because of the Melayu who are always accommodative and charitable.

Meanwhile, with Chin Peng having been cremated and no attempt has been made to bring his ashes into the country, it now seems that his dreams to create his own version of Malaysia has also gone to ashes.

He cannot depend on the chauvinists anymore except for the so-called Leftists and so-called Liberals and other Confused Melayu and other Malaysians to do his bidding.