Melaka Gateway Debacle

1 Malaca Malaca

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.

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Jingkli Nona

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.

The Discoveries!

“To celebrate the men who achieved great deeds for the nation, it is also necessary to celebrate the mothers who carried in their arms the children killed by the men who achieved great deeds for the nation.” This photo performance at the site of the Monument to the Discoveries in Belem, Lisboa presents the award winning show Aurora Negra which will run between September 3 and 14, at the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, Lisboa.

The Koboi Project intervened at this same site in 2018 as part of a set of photo-performative street actions, which resulted in the series Kaza Nunteng Porta (House Without a Door).

Kaza Nunteng Porta

After my Dari Pusat Tasek performance in Lumut, Perak, I went to meet Sara Frederica Santa Maria in the Kampung Portuguese Settlement, Melaka. We are planning to work together as a part of my Kaza Nunteng Porta performance series which links the Settlement with Lisbon, Portugal. We are planning to create an engagement on the street and perhaps on stage in Lisbon, bringin the Kristang language, music, dance and food home to Belem, the harbour district from which the Portuguese mariners set sail on their adventures of discovery and conquest.

‘Kaza Nunteng Porta’ is Kristang (Melaka Portuguese) for ‘House Without a Door’. It is the title of the 9th series of Koboi Project which addresses notions imperialism, globalization, migration, miscegenation and tourism as a part of the wider Koboi Narrative. The project is ongoing and thus far impromptu photo-performances have been held at the Alfonso De Albuquerque Monument and the Discoveries Monument in Belem, in 2018 and 2019.

Malaca Malaca!

Please visit Koboi Project series  – Kaza Nunteng Porta.

This painting is a part of a set by Andre Reinoso (and his collaborators) which is displayed in the sacristy of the Church of Sao Roque in Lisbon. It portrays the historical  event (in the Portuguese record) of the invasion of Malacca by Achenese pirates in 1547. Saint Francis Xavier, who was there at the time, is shown praying for Portuguese troops to repulse the invasion. The scene involves a multitude of Achenese fighters (pirates or otherwise!) holding their flags and trying to attack the Portuguese citadel! It is noted in the descriptive panel for this set of paintings that it was commissioned according to a clear iconographic programme designed by the Jesuits of Portugal in order to promote the canonization of the Saint. The paintings were installed in 1619 and and st Francis Xavier was canonized in 1622. This image is titled. ‘St. Francis Xavier tries to halt the invasion of Achenese pirates in Malacca.’ It is the Malacca Malacca evoked by Fausto (after Fernao Mendes Pinto) in his song A Guerra e a Guerra

Koboi Project: Belem

lisbon postcard

Estou em Lisboa para apresentar um trabalho intitulado The Koboi Project: Desenvolvendo Engajamentos Transloculares nas Arenas de Arte Transnacionais na 14ª Conferência Internacional sobre as Artes da Sociedade, Lisboa, junho de 2019. Neste artigo, discuto uma obra intitulad ‘Kaza Nunteng Porta.’ Também estarei realizando uma série de intervenções de rua improvisadas em Belém. Fique atento para o Koboi no e Jardim da Praça Afonso de Albuquerque e ao redor do Monumento aos Descobrimentos entre 22 e 30 de junho de 2019.

I am in Lisbon to present a paper titled The Koboi Project: Developing Translocal Engagements within Transnational Art Arenas at the 14th International Conference on The Arts in Society, Lisbon, June 2019. In this paper I discuss a work titled ‘Kaza Nunteng Porta. I will also be performing a series of impromptu street interventions in Belem. Watch out for the Koboi at the e Jardim da Praça Afonso de Albuquerque and around the Monument to the Discoveries between 22nd and 30th June 2019.

A Praça Afonso de Albuquerque está localizada próxima ao Palácio de Belém, em Lisboa. Ela celebra Afonso de Albuquerque, o segundo Governador do Estado da Índia e conquistador de Malaca. No centro da praça há um monumento imponente, concluído em 1902, com quatro baixos relevos no pedestal, um deles representando a queda de Malaca. Não muito longe desta praça, o colossal Padrão dos Descobrimentos comemora a aventura e poder marítimo dos portugueses. Construído como estrutura temporária para a Exposição do Mundo Português de 1940, se tornou um monumento permanente em 1960

Afonso de Albuquerque square is located close to the Belém Palace in Lisbon. It commemorates Afonso de Albuquerque, the Second Governor of Portuguese India and the conqueror of Melaka. At the centre of the square is an impressive monument completed in 1902 with four reliefs on the pedestal, one of which represents the fall of Malacca. Not far from this square is the gargantuan Monument to the Discoveries which celebrates Portuguese marine adventure and power. Built as a temporary structure for the Portuguese World exhibition of 1940, it was realized as a permanent monument in 1960. 

Ulagam Ulagam

discoverydetailUPCOMING: The next Koboi performance will take place at the Discovery monument in Belem, Lisbon between 5.30pm and 7pm, 8th July 2018. For details please visit

 In this  performance I will attempt to find an image, provisonally titled Ulagam Ulagam. I make reference to another representation of mastery over the world by way of a song from MGR’s Ulagam Suthum Valiban (World Perambulating Young Man), a blockbuster of Tamil cinema from 1973. In the performance I will raise my Pazaham Neeyappa banner with its image of Tamil movie SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth at the sites of the monuments. The audio component of the performance will include Fausto’s A Guerra é a Guerra [fromthe 1982 album Por Este Rio Acima.(Up this River), the Ulagam Ulagam soundtrack, a cello rendition of Jinkli Nona by Tara Rajah, and verses from Kalau Roboh Kota Melaka and Ulagam Ulagam spoken in Portuguese by Hugo Moss. Jane Frankish will read selections from her Poems on the megaphone. Cards presenting the state flag of Melaka will be distributed.

 Ulagam Ulagam

Azhagu kalaigalin surangam
Paruva chilaigalin arangam
Kaalamey odivaa
Kaadhaley thedivaa

A cavern of beautiful art
A hall of youthful forms
Time … advance on me
Love … come seek me

Uma caverna de arte bela
Um salão de formas joviais
Tempo… avança em mim
Amor…venha me procurar

அழகு கலைகளின் சுரங்கம்
பருவசிலைகளின் அரங்கம்
காலமே ஓடிவா
காதலே தேடிவா


Papan Jawa

DSC_0040resizeThe 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


Roboh Kota Melaka

papan dijawa

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

For more information please visit