Forms of Government

5 Bahang Panas, Koboi Balik Kampung, 2015

20. Katakcracy: A form of government (not unlike Hypocracy)

19. Kleptocracy: A form of government (sebahagian kena tangkap dan yang lain tak nampak).

18. WEocracy: A form of government (specifically in Canada).

17. Politocracy: A form of government (di mana segala perjuangan rakyat diperalatkan oleh golongan politikus).

16. Wokeocracy: A form of government (not necessarily consonant with critical thinking).

15. Gerontocracy: A form of government (which, as Malaysians know, gives mixed results).

14. Thanatocracy: A form of government (justified by the monumentalization or erasure of genocide).

13. Xerocracy: A form of government (rule by leaflet … surat layang lah).

12. Economocracy: A form of government (sublimating private interests in public policy).

11. Albocracy: A form of government (underpinning the All Lives Matter ethos).

10. Lamacracy: A form of government (applying the middle way).

9. Democracy: A form of government (a modern ideal, a postmodern illusion).

8. Theocracy: A form of government (perhaps making a comeback near you).

7. Plutocracy: A form of government (as exercised by the 1%).

6. Idiocracy: A form of government (perhaps in a country near you).

5. Meritocracy: A form of government (a fallacy without equal opportunity).

4. Infocracy: A form of government (You know … Facebook, Google, Amazon …).

3. Hypnocracy: A form of government (proposed by Mark Parlett).

2. Ethnocracy: A form of government (more widespread than you might think).

1. Hypocracy: A form of government.

Canadian Genocide 2

In 2016, a spate of teenage suicides on the remote native reserve of Attawapiskat shocked the nation and, as the news spread widely, the world. This newsworthy spate of suicides must be set within what the Suicide among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit (2011-2016): Findings from the 2011 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort (CanCHEC) describes as the “historical and ongoing impacts of colonization.” This report highlights the following act of colonization – “forced placement of Indigenous children in residential schools in the 19th and 20th centuries, removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities during the “Sixties scoop” and the forced relocation of communities” and links them causally to the resulting “breakdown of families, communities, political and economic structures; loss of language, culture and traditions; exposure to abuse; intergenerational transmission of trauma; and marginalization,” suggesting that these might indeed be linked to “the high rates of suicide.” 

At the height of the crisis in 2016, a state of emergency was declared (the 6th since 2006) and this tragic phenomenon occupied news headlines next to an equally visible celebration Canada’s generosity to Syrian immigrants as exemplified in Kareem El-Assal’s article in The Conference Board of Canada website titled 2016: A Record-Setting Year for Refugee Resettlement in Canada? As an immigrant myself, I can vouch for this nation’s generosity to and inclusion of newcomers regardless of race, religion or any other aspect of difference, still, this juxtaposition of images – the picture of indigenous damnation, on the one hand, and that of immigrant salvation, on the other, strikes me like a freight train. It brings to the surface a deep sense of unease – the sense that I have made my Canadian home by displacing someone else form theirs. This deep awareness in me rises up to the surface, along with a vivid replay an impression from my youth – the opening of the Sex Pistols’ Holidays In The Sun where, Johnny Rotten slurs out “A cheap holiday in other people’s misery!”

I wonder if this is ultimately what it means to be a Canadian, on this here Turtle Island. Are we all building our good lives “in other people’s misery.” In seeking mitigation for this horrific remembrance, I reflect on the fact that the supplanting of some people by others is the the very stuff of nation, the historical reality of all nations. There is, however, a difference, an uncomfortably contemporaneous quality to this displacive aspect of nationhood, here, in Canada (as, I imagine, there is in all other settler states). As I contemplate this presence, a deep malaise comes over me, with respect to my own life and livelihood on this land. Returning to the aforementioned tragedy of teenage indigenous suicide in my new home, I cannot but conclude that it is a continuation of a founding genocide. The contemporary nation’s failure to mitigate this endemic and often epidemic condition seems, to me, to be a recurring trope of the original genocide. All Canadians are complicit in the travesty of disproportionate indigenous teenage suicide and we are all responsible for ensuring its abatement.

Updated from a post made in April 2016


1 Kibaran Bendera

1 Kibaran Bendera, Panji Pauh Ulung, Koboi Project (currently in progress)

Anwar Ibrahim will have his audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the 13 October 2020, and, if he proves that he has the numbers to usurp the incumbent, he will at long last fulfill what has been, for him, a life-long quest for power. While I would not presume to celebrate this outcome as being for the good of nation, given that it will, after all be another ‘back-door’ government fomented in a cauldron of leaping ‘frogs’, I would, however, like to confess, before the outcome of this highly unpredictable scenario is known, that my own sympathies are with Anwar Ibrahim. I wish him godspeed in what is, potentially, a closing play in what has been a long game.

As a practitioner of the visual arts, essentially the art of signs, I can not but discern an aptness of symbolism in that, given the spectre of sodomy (a crime which , rightly or wrongly, he has been charged, convicted and pardoned) that hangs over Anwar, this perpetual challenger for the Malaysian premiership might, finally, attain his heart’s desire through the so called ‘back door’!

To mark a previous moment in this struggle, I presented the Dari Pusat Tasek  installation and performance at Percha Artspace, Lumut Perak Malaysia, which ran from December 2019 -January 2020. The photographs of this event, constitute a work tentatively titled Panji Pauh Ulung which is the 13th series of the Koboi Project. My essay contextualizing this project, The Koboi Project: diasporic Artist… diasporic Art, is included in Interlaced Journey: Diaspora and the Contemporary in Southeast Asian Art edited by Patrick D. Flores & Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani.

Canadian Genocide 1

Suicide is colonized and nothing more,
just another dead native on the floor.

Suicide is Genocide

Tamara Starblanket has been awarded the 2020 Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy for her book Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations and the Canadian State. In this book, Tamara makes a legal analysis of genocide, and argues convincingly that, according to international law, Canada has committed and continues to commit genocide against Indigenous Peoples. She demands, as noted in the announcement of the award on the SFU website, that a “comprehensive dialogue on Canada’s history and present be opened recognizing its culpability for the crime of genocide.”  

As I contemplate the disturbing idea of a Canadian Genocide, in terms of my own life and times, I am convinced that as human beings have an innate tendency to demonize and destroy each other. When we act this out collectively, against other collectives, this is when the what we mean by ‘genocide’. It seems to me that we are deluded as to our own actions and motivations of the moment. This is what enables us to disregard the sanctity and the inherent worth of others as we pursue our own group interests. Ultimately, given our common human being, this behaviour is self-destructive. In this series of posts, I will reflect on the the relationship between genocide and suicide from the perspective of an immigrant to Canada, who is domiciled in British Columbia.

Updated from a post made in April 2016


8 My Country

8 My Country, Dendang Koboi Gelap, 2016

With the coffin shaped sculpture, May 13, 1969 by Redza Piyadasa as a blurry backdrop, this image, titled 8 My Country, from the Dendang Koboi Gelap, 2016, raises the question of nation in the context of image making and art collecting in contemporary Southeast Asian art. It marks the irony that this work, one of the few art works that contemporaneously addressed our national tragedy, does not stand proudly and self-reflectively in the light of the Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Malaysia, but instead, presents itself nakedly to the gaze of others in the National Gallery of Singapore.

May 13, 1969 was remade in 2006, the original having been destroyed by the artist in a performative act.

Dendang Koboi Gelap, 2016 is the 4th series of the expansive Koboi Project.

Harapan 9

A is for Anwar! Make or break Anwar has called the scene … leaving others to fall in line … or not … Some might see this a an expression of a sense of entitlement but which leader achieved anything, even the position of leadership to begin with, without such a sense of rightness in him or herself … the outcome of course is always uncertain … we have to wait and see!

Anwar Shows Some Game!

“After three stints in prison and more than two decades of waiting, Anwar has had enough. He may have the number. He may not. But after Muhyiddin’s sickening betrayal, the prime minister has lost his right to condemn anyone of trying to topple his backdoor government. Even if the entire UMNO bloc shifts its support for Anwar, one should not be surprised at all.” So says FINANCE TWITTER as represented in the Malaysian Chronicle.

Make or break, for better or for worse, Anwar has made his play … the future is uncertain but the game goes on!