Antara Saudara Mara 13

Antara Saudara Mara (All in the Family) 13 is the last of a series of posts related to a performance/ installation titled Dari Pusat Tasek done at the Precha Art Space, Lumut in December, 2019.

The global resurgence of ethnocentric and theocentric tendencies makes it incumbent upon contemporary artists and theorists to engage respectfully with tradition. Conversely, it seems imperative that traditionalists reflect on how the resurgent mores are transformed in contemporary life. These Antara Saudara Mara blog posts are written from the premise that to comprehend contemporary phenomena meaningfully we have to address their traditional underpinnings. In such a ‘Post-traditionalapproach, religion, language, manners and other archaic forms are understood as being dominant constituents of the present.

Worldview 1: Anthony Giddens, Worldview 2: Niranjan Rajah

Dari Pusat Tasek and Antara Saudara Mara address the contemporary Malaysian socio-political situation in terms of myth (dongeng), magic (mentera), poetry (pantun), and idiomatic expressions (peribahasa). I begin this series of posts with the idiomatic expression carik carik bulu ayam, lama lama bercantum juga (a ruffled feather, will always regain its shape), which encapsulates perfectly, the internecine yet ever conciliatory nature of the ongoing Malay power-struggle. In the following post, I present, in the form of a newly minted teka teki or riddle, a summation of the peculiar Malaysian political scenario of the moment – Takut Anjing, Dimakan Buaya! Siapa? (Fearful of the dog, eaten by the crocodile! Who is it?). In the third post I use the vivid Malay proverb Bagai Mendukung Biawak Hidup (like cradling a live {monitor} lizard) to picture the burden shouldered by the rakyat (people) in supporting Malaysia’s neo-feudal elite.


Melayu dan Islam satu persamaan,
tiada yang kafir dan tiada yang bukan;
Tetapi hakikat yang wajar dilayan,
Malaysia merangkumi bermacam insan.

The pantun above, Habri (Enemy), posits a fundamental equation in my reading of the contemporary Malay polity, Malay = Muslim, an equation that has implications for Malaysia as a whole. It is one of 8 such pantun, in which I imbricate political commentary with traditional Malay idioms and expressions. Please excuse (minta maaf) any inadequacies in language (kekurangan berbahasa) and manners (kekurangan beradab) displayed (yang terpapar) in this effort (dalam usaha ini).

Pantun ‘pascha tradisi merujuk kepada bunga-bunga bahasa dan peradaban Melayu asli –
1. Kafir Habri
2. Layanan Mesra