In The Spirit Of Air Lanas

On the 23 August 2012, I wrote the following:

This was the way the British divided and ruled. Eventually, swayed by the profit they were earning from the Malay States that they forgot their promise to the Sultans which was to protect the interest and welfare of the Malays. The bulk of the Malays lived in rural areas and they had very minimal contact with the other races, the Chinese were basically in towns and tin mines, while the Indians were in rubber plantations. The effect to this was that the Malays remained backwards and were told to stay as peasants or tillers of the soil, the Chinese inherited all the tradings in the Malay States and became the richest residents, and the Indians remained as rubber-tappers without proper infrastructure. The Malays, according to Chai Hon-Chan:
“…merely retreated from the tide of commercial activity and material prosperity…whereas the British, Europeans, Chinese and Indians had the lion share of the country’s wealth…”
As a result, the Malays who were given land to cultivate, forced by economic disadvantages, began charging or creating a lien (collateral) over their land to the Chettiars. The Malays, already in a disadvantaged position, cried foul and started the “Malaya for Malays” movement in the late 1800s. EW Birch, the 8th British Resident of Perak, recognized this dire situation and quickly proposed a policy of preserving the Malay land. The only way to him to preserve the Malay race was to “free them from the clutches of those people who now remit to Indian large sums of money, which they bleed from the (Malay) people.”

The Malays were in a very disadvantageous position just before Merdeka, one of the reasons the Malayan Union was rejected so as to protect the rights and position of the Malays then.

FELDA was created 60 years ago to provide organised smallholders farming through resettlement of rural Malay poor who did not own any land. A year later Tunku Abdul Rahman launched the first settlement in Air Lanas, Kelantan where 400 settlers were relocated.

FELDA has grown into a very respectable organisation and has diversified its activities. FELDA Global Ventures, although separated in terms of its structure, is the third largest palm oil company in the world by acreage that also has downstream activities in oleochemicals.

Of late, FGV has not been performing well. Being in Malaysia, the government gets the blame although FGV has its own board. And the Opposition pins the blame on one person and one person only: Najib Razak.

Reading Raja Petra’s latest instalment does make me wonder if Isa Samad who is both the Chairman of FELDA and FGV is aware of the damage FELDA is causing to UMNO.

The allegations that Isa Samad and family is using FELDA/FGV as personal treasure chests is not something new. My only question is why is this cancer not nipped in the bud? 

It is still not too late for Najib Razak to act, and act he must! It would be sad to see a legacy left by his late father and the Tunku before that, that started in Air Lanas, be ruined by greed and irresponsible behaviours.

And what more if it is true as Raja Petra alleged that FELDA is being used to destroy UMNO in the upcoming general elections.

I can only echo a post on Facebook by Azmi Arshad – act now and save FELDA!

Chow Kit Road! Chow Kit Road! The Musical – A Reflection Of Malaysians

The late Dato Sudirman Haji Arshad would have been proud to see that 20 of his songs have made it to the stage of the Istana Budaya, thank you to Producer Sabera Shaik and Masakini Theater. It would have made a good 59th birthday present for the well-known versatile entertainer from Temerloh, Pahang whose birthday falls on the 29th of May. Sadly, he left us 21 years ago.

The cast of Chow Kit Road! Chow Kit Road! the Musical include famous names like Adibah Noor, Tony Eusoff, Junji Delfino, Shanthini Venugopal, Anding and Nadia Aqilah. Written by Amri Ruhayat and directed by Saw Teong Hin, it tells the story of Ilham, the son of a prostitute whose dream was to become someone and live a life outside Chow Kit Road where he has spent his entire life.

Having been to Broadway and West End shows as well as several other local productions (my first exposure to the local theatre scene was “Hang Tuah” starring Datuk Rahim Razali back in 1977) I would opine that this has been the best, if not among the best and I will tell you why later as I go along.

“Ku menyusuri jalan berliku…”

That line from the second verse of Sudirman’s song “Merisik Khabar” aptly describes the trials and tribulations of Sabera Shaik and the cast and crew. Having corporate sponsors pulling out in the middle of the preparation period almost torpedoed this musical. While other plays had to give up due to similar problem, this came as a test of the CKR team’s perseverance. Thanks to the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture, corporate sponsors such as the Utusan group, Sri Kulai, Sogo, Suria FM and one hair and make-up academy (forgive me for not being able to recall the name of all the sponsors) for believing in the production team and lending their support.

I was also made aware of individuals who came and gave as much as they could afford to, to help with the budget so on and so forth. One particular moment that moved me was when the producer had a meal at a family restaurant and the owner said to her, “I heard that Chow Kit Road! Chow Kit Road! is facing problems. You don’t have to pay for this meal.” And this spirit is reflected well in CKR the Musical. This is why I said that Masakini has done very well; with limited budget, evident in some scenes where the props were a wee bit too bare especially in the ballroom scene, they have pulled off one of the most entertaining plays I have ever watched. And the way Jamie Wilson arranged Sudirman’s songs was absolutely fantastic.

Having seen how big corporations rush to sponsor foreign artistes and plays, it is shameful to hear that sponsors cannot even spend a small fraction of what they would normally pay for foreign stars on local productions such as this. Yet they have the cheek to advertise themselves to the world as corporations with the human touch; this just reeks of the same absurdity some so-called human rights activists in Malaysia do, tweeting about having coffee at Starbucks while the hundreds of people they incited to riot were getting beaten and arrested by the police who were trying to maintain law and public order. To quote a line from Tokoo, a character from CRK the Musical:

“Kemanusiaan konon…ini semua hipokrit!”

Maybe they ought to watch Chow Kit Road! Chow Kit Road! the Musical and learn a thing or two about being human.

Chow Kit Road! Chow Kit Road! the Musical is definitely a must-watch not just or theatre-lovers or fans of the late Sudirman, but by all Malaysians as this is a play that involves different ethnicities playing out issues that our society often turns a blind eye to. The show ends on Sunday, 26th May 2013. Grab your tickets now and be truly entertained!

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