K is for Kisona

Please lah Ker! … No need to forgive so quickly … learn the F___ ing lesson first !

“Let us together cultivate unity and friendship with the aim of Keluarga Malaysia. Reject prejudice and misconceptions or racial resentment. To err is human, to forgive, divine.”

Image https://varnam.my/news/2021/43785/s-kisona-clinches-the-spanish-international-title-last-saturday/

https://www.msn.com/en-my/news/other/citing-e2-80-98keluarga-malaysia-e2-80-99-deputy-minister-wants-bersatu-man-forgiven-for-insulting-shuttler-s-kisona/ar-AAP6O8J

Bunuh Keling

Malaysiakini

According to Yahoo News A Ganapathy died in hospital on April 18 2021 from injuries allegedly sustained while in police custody. He was arrested on Feb 24 in connection with investigations into his brother who is wanted by the police. He was released and admitted to Selayang Hospital on March 8th. Ganapathy was an Malaysian Indian trader who had earned his living selling cow’s milk. He leaves behind two children aged five and seven. This is the latest in an ongoing series of such incidents in Malaysia wherein Indians have died amidst allegations of police brutality and custodial killing.

Annie Dorol notes, in an article in Living that, while the government acknowledges that 284 detainees have died while in police custody between 2000 and 2016 (more current statistic being unavailable), news portal MalaysiaKini and Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) found that custodial deaths are under-reported, with only 1 in 4 deaths actually publicized. Further, ethnic Indians, who make up less than 7% of Malaysia’s population, account for almost a quarter (23%) of officially reported deaths in police custody. However, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), estimates that the actual figure could be as high as 55%.

There is a Malay expression that pits the threat of an ‘Indian’ against that of a ‘snake.’ In its most extreme form, it goes like this, “kalau bertemu ular dengan keling, bunuh keling dulu”. Sadly, it seems that more and more snakes are getting away ….

https://malaysia.news.yahoo.com/autopsy-confirms-ganapathy-died-severe-234200624.html

https://www.therakyatpost.com/2020/06/04/indian-malaysians-are-over-represented-in-police-custody-deaths/

https://falsafah-tunsheikh.blogspot.com/2009/10/pemikiran-falsafah-adat.html

Keling Pariah

This is a super exposition on the Keling word on A Daview Originals. Although there are errors, for example, according to the Malay Concordance Project, in the 1963 edition of Cherita Jenaka, orang Keling  was changed to orang India and not, as the presenter claims, the other way around. Sorry lah it is in Tamil!

https://www.youtube.com/c/DaViewProduction/videos

http://mcp.anu.edu.au/N/CJen_bib.html

A Keling Lexicon Q – Z

Telinga Keling, Silver Halide Print, Niranjan Rajah, 1999. Permanent Collection of the National Visual Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur

A Keling Lexicon A – J
A Keling Lexicon K – P

Q
R
Raja Keling
Rakyat Keling
Rama Keling
Rojak Keling
Roti Keling
Rendang Keling
S
Sembah Keling
Sembang Keling
Sireh Keling
(Kayu) Sono Keling
Subang Keling
Sungai Keling
T
Tanah Keling
Tanjung Keling
Taubat Keling
Telinga Keling
Temberang Keling
Terup Keling
U
Ubi Keling
Ugut Keling
Usada (Pengubatan) Keling
V
W

Wayang Keling
X
Y
Z

Addendum: Keling words with no Indian reference (happy to be corrected)
Keling Gawai
Paku Keling
Pasang Keling


A Keling Lexicon K – P

Telinga Keling, Silver Halide Print, Niranjan Rajah, 1999. Permanent Collection of the National Visual Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur

A Keling Lexicon A – J
A Keling Lexicon Q – Z

K
Kacang Keling
Kain Keling
Kampung Keling
Kapal Keling
Kapitan Keling
Keling Karam
Kecamatan Keling
Keling Kelate
Kemudi Keling
(Jika Perak) Kerani Keling
(Ikan) Kerapu Keling
Keris (Sempana) Keling
Kesumba Keling
Ketuk Keling (Dulu)
(Darah) Keturunan Keling
Koboi Keling
Kote Keling
Kuli Keling
L
Lidah Keling
Lorong (Samat) Keling
M
Keling Mabuk (Todi)
Mamu Keling
Keling Maya
Keling Mabuk (Todi)
Melayu Keling
Mengkuang Keling
N
Negeri Keling
O

P
Pacar Keling (Surabaya)
Pahlawan Keling
Pandai Keling
(Corak) Parang Keling
Peguam Keling
Pendekar Keling
Penulis Keling
Keling Pariah
Keling Pelikat
Penulis Keling
Pisang (Abu) Keling
Pisang (Kelat) Keling
Pukul Keling (Dulu)
Pusing Keling
Putar Keling

A Keling Lexicon A – J

Telinga Keling, Silver Halide Print, Niranjan Rajah, 1999. Permanent Collection of the National Visual Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur

A Keling Lexicon K – P
A Keling Lexicon Q – Z

A
Akal Keling
Anak Keling (Bermain Api)
Auta Keling
Ayam Keling
B
Babi Keling
Keling Balik (India)
Keling Bang (Azan)
Bawang (Merah) Keling
Belanga Keling
Benua Keling
Beras Keling
(Sang) Bhramana Keling
Keling Bodoh
(Anak-putu) Bono Keling
Keling Botol
Bukit Keling (Johor)
Bunuh Keling
Butuh Keling
C
Cempaka Keling
Cakap (Macam) Keling
Cucak Keling
D
Doktor Keling
E
F
G
(Ikan) Gelama Keling
Gelung Keling
Gempar Keling
Gendang Keling
Gertak Keling
Gerantang Keling
(Kerja) Golok Keling
Gulai Keling
(Tari) Keling Gunojoyo
Gunting (Rambut) Keling
H
Hulubalang Keling
Keling Hindu
I
Keling Islam
J
Jambu Keling
Janji Keling
Keling (Teater) Jikey

Towards A Keling Lexicon

Telinga Keling, Silver Halide Print, Niranjan Rajah, 1999. Permanent Collection of the National Visual Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur

KELING dan MELAYU tak dapat dipisahkan,
Sejarah dan keturunanpun ada kesinambungan.
Persuratan mulia Makkal tak rasa,
Kerana memaki namanya sudahpun berleluasa.

RIP Jeganathan Ramachandran 3

Although we have communicated over the Internet quite recently, the last time I saw Jega in person was about 20 years ago! I remember visiting his place with my wife, Jane. We had a great conversation about art, religion and culture. Jega told us about his time in India, inspiring stories about learning from masters of traditional arts and sciences as well as demoralizing tales about Indian attitudes and customs around caste. We spoke on the metaphysical understanding of the world from an Indian perspective and also of the social conditions and the position of Indians in Malaysia.

We spoke of the extrinsic oppressions experienced by Indians in the Malaysian political equation and of the detriments that are inherent within the community. It is in this light that I want to highlight the work pictured above titled ‘The House Slave’ (2001) that was included in Bara Hati Bahang Jiwa. This image was painted in response to the suffering experienced by an Indian woman, a friend of Jega’s, who was caught in an abusive domestic situation. It serves as a symbolic reflection on the plight of women caught in the patriarchal failings of Malaysian Indian society. Many Malaysian Indian women suffer a threefold oppression – those of race, class (or caste) and gender. It is as revealing of Jega’s broad and polyvalent practice, as it is of the sacred ontology that, while he operated within the sacred Shiva/ Shakti tradition, his art was most progressive in its representations of gender in secular society.

On a more mystical or uncanny note, I recall how he quietly did reading of Jane’s face (Samudrigham) during our visit, and then, suddenly came out with a statement that she was a very healing person. There was some literal truth in this observation as, while it had been a long time before, Jane had worked as a nurse but we did not take this to be what he meant. As I had felt before, when I received the portrait of me he had made using the same interpretive technique, I felt uncomfortable. While I live within deeply metaphysical sense of reality, and while I am critical of the narrow-minded scientism that dominates the contemporary scientific world-view, I look at all sacred, magical and mystical knowledge as interpretations of signs and symbols patent or latent in creation. I rarely take such propositions as “Jane is a healer” to be intrinsically or literally true. Still, as the years have gone by since our last meeting, and as I have continued to live my life with Jane, I can not deny that there was truth in Jega’s vision. Indeed, I no longer question the reality of what he saw and read at that moment!.

Rest in Peace Jega. Long may your spirit resonate!

Image: https://www.afkcollection.com/gallery/artist/jeganathan-ramachandram

RIP Jeganathan Ramachandran 2

In reflecting on my engagement with the art of Jeganathan Ramachandran, I clearly recall including his paintings in the exhibition I curated for the Balai Seni Lukis Negara in 2002 titled Bara Hati Bahang Jiwa. The exhibition was premised on the need to reconsider the established narrative on Expressionism in Malaysian art from the perspective of a post-colonial recovery. Skirting the pitfalls of essentialism and nationalism, I pitched the reconfiguration in terms of ethnic, ethnographic, regional and national considerations. I identified the underpinnings of a Malay approach to ‘expressionism’ and presented the representative artists this within a boarder national overview, placing the dominant Malay idiom within the wider pool of contemporary Malaysian expressions.

While my thesis was couched in the aesthetic and emotional proclivities of the Malays, I included Chinese and Indians artists even though they disrupted my neat Nusantara schematization which emphasized indigenous psychology and culture (amok, latah, adat and adab). I decided that I would try negotiate the essentially Malay aesthetics of my curatorial theme with the overarching multiethnic realities of the nation. The Indian and Chinese artists did not fit in neatly within my theme and, In this regard, I must acknowledge that, as a whole, Bara Hati Bahang Jiwa was somewhat unresolved, perhaps it was unresolvable by definition … as unresolvable as the idea of the Malaysian nation itself!

Given that I was going to include an Indian artist in the mix, regardless of the goodness of fit, I needed to identify an artist whose work exemplified and encapsulated contemporary Malaysian Indian expression on its own terms … Who would it be? ….. Jeganathan Ramachandran had been making his presence felt in the contemporary scene since the mid 1990’s, with his powerful figurative paintings. Having studied sculpture, woodcarving and painting from a traditional perspective, Jeganathan had been developing a direct and personal mode of expression that was nevertheless steeped in traditional Indian philosophy, psychology and science. I saw in his work the complete Malaysian Indian expression – religious, spiritual, mythical, metaphysical and, most importantly, social.

In a note sent to me in the course of our communication after the ASEAN Art Awards 1996 Jega had said, “I have always believed that art is not just a decorative medium but a powerful tool of expression and the deeper I looked within the Indian art context I saw the vast symbolic expressions that exist within the ‘rigid style’… Then I started painting in a narrative form much like the old times. Nearly every painting of mine had a story and every symbol I applied, new and old, further enhanced the story. During this time my involvement in spiritualism introduced me to many wondrous expressions and their visual impressions upon my mind took on new shapes and I started depicting them in my paintings.” Just as the Malay artists I had selected seemed to carry their particular traditions and psyche into the contemporary idiom of ‘Expressionism, Jega brought forth a deeply Indian expressiveness.

I included 4 of Jega’s works in Bara Hati Bahang Jiwa – ‘Invocation’ (2001) and ‘1 Tree = 40 Life Forms’ (2001) reflect this quest for a spiritual expression, with different degrees of reference to aspects of lived experience. ‘The House Slave’ (2001) is a response to the suffering of a friend in an abusive situation and a reflection on the plight of women caught within Indian social norms. Pictured above is the most expansive of the 4 works, both in scale and in thematic. It is titled ‘Fallout in the Garden of Life’ (1998). The artist has said “Kali is nature and she is fighting everything unnatural which has created imbalance on earth and all the people in the boat- like thing, that Noah’s Ark (my version). My belief is that nature will always protect those who are natural and the five hands represent the five elements (pancha butham). And notice the tree, that’s where it all starts.”

Rest in Peace Jega – Kali Kali Mahakali!

The above is a modified extract from my essay ‘Expression and Expressionism in Contemporary Malaysian Art’ published in 2002.

Reference:
Rajah, Bara Hati Bahang Jiwa: Expression and Expressionism in Contemporary Malaysian Art, Kuala Lumpur: Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 2002.

Image: http://www.sgm.org.my/en/?cur=page/page&id=154&title=Why_Art?_A_Public_Lecture_by_Zanita_Anuar

Pity the Stateless Children

I make this post in the wake of the recent policy reversal by the Malaysian government that requires adopted stateless children to the present of a passport in order to register for schooling. The specific issue of adopted children, cogent though it is in itself, brings forth the more general and much more important question of the state’s moral obligation to provide education to all children, stateless or otherwise, who live within its borders.

I ask the following questions, as an Indian and as a Malaysian –

First I ask, in the context if the statelessness of many Indians in our country, how can any person of Indian identity, holding Malaysian citizenship, fight for equality for themselves, without first embracing the fundamental struggle of our fellows who were brought to British Malaya as indentured laborers in the colonial political economy and then abandoned as the nation achieved independence? Do Indian Malaysians not have to fight for a parity of citizenship amongst out own people before we have the moral standing to question the injustices purportedly meted out to us in a Malaysia dominated by Malays who have, no doubt set their own postcolonial colonial reclamations and interests above all else in the nation.

According to the current UNHCR website ” the Malaysian Indian Community has faced challenges related to identity documentation and confirmation of Malaysian citizenship for many years” and in the estimation of Malaysian NGO, the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (DHRRA), there were 12,400 established stateless persons residing in West Malaysia as of the end of December 2017. The UNHCR notes that the documentation problems faced by stateless communities that might best be addressed by the Malaysian government at a policy level. (As an aside, the Pakatan Harapan GE 14 election campaign seems to have been hollow and hypocritical, if not downright dishonest in this its claims and promises on this matter)

Secondly, acknowledging that by no measure is the Indian community the only one facing the curse of statelessness, I ask, can any Malaysian meaningfully strive for anything else of moral worth in our nation, while accepting this denial of access to education to innocent children who are caught within its boarders, trapped in the administrative limbo of statelessness? Shame on Malaysian Indians when we cry louder about a lost Thaipusam holiday! Shame on all of us Malaysians who accept this situation!

Image: https://www.unhcr.org/ending-statelessness-in-malaysia.html

https://malaysia.news.yahoo.com/stateless-children-still-denied-access-015100401.html

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/01/21/mic-puts-heat-on-kedah-mb-over-cancelled-thaipusam-holiday/