The Melaka Gateway Project is cancelled again! According to the Edge Markets, the Melaka state government terminated their RM43 billion contract with KAJ Development Sdn Bhd. The Edge notes that this mega project had been cancelled before. In 2018, KAJ Development’ had their licence to operate the port and terminal revoked by the Federal Ministry of Transport, to be reinstated in 2019, following court proceedings. Curiouser than Alice’s Wonderland, FMT reports that Melaka Chief Minister Sulaiman Md Ali has, even after this second cancellation, pledged to continue the project, thereby providing the circumstances under which the project might be canceled yet again!
The Melaka Chief Minister is reported to have indicated that the project now falls under the state’s new economic corridor called the Melaka Waterfront Economic Zone. Sulaiman is supposed to have said, “The development will continue, but we have some technical issues that we need to fix,” which might be read as a criticism of KAJ Development. The Melaka Waterfront Economic Zone or M-WEZ which was announced on the 10th of October 2020 refers to a 15,000-acre sea reclamation area running from Umbai to Tanjung Bruas. This 22km stretch includes the area covered by the Melaka Gateway land reclamation.
The above image from the Kaza Nunteng Porta series was shot in the Portuguese Settlement, Melaka. I made my way out onto a rickety fishing jetty to raise my Rajinikanth flag with the Melaka Gateway development behind me, obscuring the horizon as well as the fishermen’s access to the sea. The rest of the series was shot in Belem, Lisbon at the sites of two monuments, one of which includes the depiction of the fall of Melaka to Alfonso de Albuquerque.
Agora vou realizar as intervenções de rua improvisadas em Belém, em torno do Monumento aos Descobrimentos, entre os dias 25 e 30 de junho de 2019.
I will now be performing the remaining impromptu street interventions in Belem around the Monument to the Discoveries between 25th to 30th June 2019.
Looks like I have done my last intervention at the Jardim da Praça Afonso de Albuquerque. Jane and I were stopped by the Police and the Presidential Palace guard. We were politely but firmly told that we would have to write in to the Palace for permission as we are operating within the Palace’s security perimeter. In the image above you can see the palace wall and police station (in pink), so it was bound to happen at some point.
‘Kaza Nunteng Porta’ is Kristang (Melaka Portugese) for ‘House Without a Door’. It is the title of the latest Koboi Project series shot in Belem, Lisboa. This series addresses notions imperialism, globalization, migration, miscegenation and tourism in the course of my expansive Koboi Narrative. In impromptu photo-performances that took place at the Alfonso De Albuquerque Monument and the Discoveries Monument in Belem, Lisbon on 7th and 8th July 2018 respectively, I recast two important Portuguese memorials to discovery and ascendancy in an allegory of diasporic identity. In the course of each performance I raised my Pazaham Neeyappa banner with its image of Tamil movie SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth and played audio clips on a megaphone. The audio included Fausto’s A Guerra é a Guerra and Soundararajan & Janaki’s Ulagam Ulagam and a rendition of Jingkli Nona on the cello by Tara Rajah. I also played verses from the Malay pantun (poem) Kalau Roboh Kota Melaka and the lyrics of Ulagam Ulagam spoken in Portuguese by Hugo Moss. At the heart of each street intervention was the convivial engagement with the passers-by. Cards presenting the state flag of Melaka were handed out.
The Papan Jawa photo-event took place on the 7th July at the Alfonso De Albuquerque Square and in Belem, Lisbon. In this impromptu performance In this performance I am attempt to find an image, provisionally titled Papan Jawa, that will recast the monumental representation of the ‘Fall of Malacca’ on the base of the Alfonso De Albuquerque monument within my own contemporary allegory of identity. For more images of the performance please visit https://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/nuntengporta
The next photo-event of the Koboi Project will be a series of street performances at the sites of various monuments to Portuguese marine adventure and imperialism in Belem, Lisbon. The performances will take place in the 2nd week of July 2018. For more information please visit https://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/nuntengporta
Jingli Nona is a song from a dance form know as Branyo. It epitomizes the Malacca Portuguese (Kristang) language, music and culture … In 1511, a Portuguese fleet under the command of Alfonso de Albuquerque assaulted Malacca and annexed the Malacca sezurinty. The Portuguese then ruled Malacca for the next 130 years and in this time, to facilitate settlement, the Portuguese Crown granted freeman status and exemption from taxes to Portuguese men who married Malaccan women. According to a citation in a paper by Razaleigh Muhamat Kawangit 200 such marriages were recorded by 1604. The contemporary Kristang are their descendants. They form a small but fundamental component of Modern Malaysian society.
Listen all the way to end of the video and you will hear the Malay Joget rhythm come forth … of course, the influence goes the other way too. Interestingly, I am familiar with this song from my own Malaysian childhood. My parents grew up in Sri Lanka, and there they imbibed the Sri Lankan Portuguese musical form known as the Baila. I remember singing a version of this tune as a child, even before hearing the Kristang version.
The fall of Melaka is depicted in a relief on the pedestal of the Alfonso De Albuquerque memorial in Belem, Lisbon. The next photo-event of the Koboi Project will be a series of street performances at the sites of various monuments to Portuguese marine adventurism and imperialism. This intervention attempts to mark, express and interpret the aggregation of memories, memoirs and memorials that I find at this junction of my own self and this deeply historic place – Belem. The performances will take place in the 2nd week of July 2018.
Kalau roboh Kota Melaka
Papan di Jawa hamba dirikan
Kalau sungguh bagai dikata
Nyawa dan badan hamba serahkan
If the city of Melaka has fallen
In Java shall I make my place
If I am true to the words I have spoken
Life and limb I shall give with grace
Se a cidade de Melaka cair
Vou me pousar então em Java
Se eu for leal às palavras ditas por mim
Oferecerei a minha vida toda com graça