– PAKATAN | MAHATHIR | PERIKATAN – – The Good | the Bad | the Ugly! – – The Malaysian Standoff –
Depending on how old you are and perhaps on your gender, regardless of where in the world you grew up, you will probably be aware of the great cinematic artistry of the Spaghetti Western. My 1970s boyhood in St. Johns Primary involved regular collective viewings of violent and engaging cowboy films. There were no good guys, no bad guys – just guys you identified with – no matter if it was the Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach or Lee Van Cleef – we collectively learnt that there was small difference between the Good, the bad and the Ugly – In Malaysia, today we are having to learn that same lesson all over again, as adults! One classic plot device or trope in this Cowboy genre was the Mexican Standoff where parties face each other at gunpoint. There is an inability of any party to advance its position safely. At the same time no party has a safe way to withdraw from its position, thus making the standoff permanent, at least until there is an external event!
According to Malaysiakini, “the “Sheraton Move”, which refers to the gathering of rogue PKR MPs, Bersatu, BN, PAS, GPS and Warisan MPs at Sheraton Hotel, Petaling Jaya last Sunday night has “upended the conventional two-coalition political configuration in the country, fracturing Malaysian politics into three groups.”
I am happy and proud to declare that it was I, who nominated laureate Zainub Verjee for the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, 2020. Our relationship as individuals, which has been both personal and professional, embodies the contiguity of contemporary art across of the Pacific Rim, and it is the desire to signify and articulate this contiguity that set me on the path to making the nomination.
Here is an extract from my nomination of Zainub Verjee, “Working with as much regard for the centre as for the periphery, Verjee’s modus operandi has been one of developing platforms for the disparate constituents of the Canadian artistic community . . . throughout her career in arts administration, she has managed to leaven effective space for ‘wild’ innovation and ‘undisciplined’ dissent. She has channelled these disruptive energies towards achieving change at the heart of power, while maintaining some degree of functional harmony for the whole.”
I am delighted to note that according to Malaysiakini the Malaysian Attorney General has discontinued proceedings against the 12 Indians on trial for alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) with immediate effect.In his statement he reveals the poverty of reasoning behind the charges as follows, ” the common thread among all of them was that they simply had photos of slain LTTE leaders such as Velupillai Prabhakaran in their phones or Facebook accounts”, and quite rightly, if belatedly, he acknowledges that “If such conduct can constitute a criminal offence, it would bring the law into disrepute.” He has saved the nation’s legal system from the absurdity that was arising in the context of these charges against Indians for celebrating the cause of Tamil Elam and the defunkt Tamil Tigers! The Attorney General’s full statement is available here and is definitely worth a read!
As an aside, I can not help but speculate on the implications of the timing of this withdrawal of charges against the 12 Indians, which comes on the heels of the announcement of the transfer of the policeman responsible for these arrests, Malaysian counterterrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, to a new position as head the police force in Johor state.
Congratulations to the inimitable Zainub Verjee on being conferred the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts 2020. Eight laureates were honoured in recognition of their exceptional careers and their remarkable contributions to the visual arts, media arts and fine craft in Canada.