Antara Saudara Mara 5

Sorry Dr M

  1. You cant blame Myuhiddin for Najib’s comeback.
  2. Najib came back because you demurred on your promise to Anwar.
  3. Najib came back because of the weakness in Pakatan Harapan due to the originary fallacy that you and Anwar were united.
  4. Najib came back because you lost your channel to the Agong when you tried to usurp his role by announcing that vote of confidence on 2 March 2020, feigning that His Majesty had consented.
  5. Najib came back because you lost credibility and trust when you tried to form a parliamentary dictatorship that was not acceptable to anyone.
  6. Najib came back because you were working with PAS to while PAS was working with UMNO.
  7. Najib came back because of you!
  8. If you are unable to strike an honest and enduring alliance with Anwar, Najib will remain.

Still, we have to acknowledge that, right or wrong, Dr M’s way is a தனி வழி (one of SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth’s greatest punchlines is “En vazhi thani vazhi,”  which means, “My path is a unique path.”)

Indeed, in spite of all of the above intrigue and conflict, Anwar and Harapan still back Mahathir as their prime ministerial candidate. Even after a massive box office failure, the SUPERSTAR still remains the SUPERSTAR!

Image https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/03/01/as-muhyiddin-tastes-power-whos-the-biggest-loser-not-mahathir/

Image https://tamil.oneindia.com/news/tamilnadu/if-rajinikanth-comes-politics-will-he-speak-punch-dialogues/articlecontent-pf239800-283252.html

https://www.yosanaiputhusu.com/2019/09/11/yen-vazhi-thani-vazhi%E0%AE%8E%E0%AE%A9%E0%AF%8D-%E0%AE%B5%E0%AE%B4%E0%AE%BF-%E0%AE%A4%E0%AE%A9%E0%AE%BF-%E0%AE%B5%E0%AE%B4%E0%AE%BF/

Dari Pusat Tasek 30

In the Dari Pusat Tasek performance, I was assisted by Sang Nabil Utama who is musician, sound engineer, sonologist and a committed Malay culture activist. We were introduced by Azizan Paiman the afternoon before the event at which time we first discussed the underlying ideas and possible controversies of the performance. We refined and rehearsed the performance that night, and went on to execute the event the next afternoon (25 Dec 2019).

This intervention in the public space of the Lumut Waterfront, which was based on a Perak Malay cleansing ritual, was grounded and given poignancy by the fact that Sang Nabil Utama is a native orang Perak. It was also great working with Nabil as he showed great sensitivity to my approach and generously offered his own ideas about Malay ritual form in a way that brought the best out of the performance.

Dari Pusat Tasek 18

The Dari Pusat Tasek, exhibition at Percha Art Space runs till 19 JAN 2020.

The enormous tree at the centre the ‘Pusat Tasek’. is an known as the Pokok Pauh Janggi. While I have been insisting that this is a mango tree, I have to acknowledge that the more commonly held view is that it is a coco de mer palm. Still, pauh is the Malay word for ‘mango’ and as Paul Kekai Manansala suggests janggi, probably, derives from the Toroja word ‘djjandji’ which, like the Malay ‘buah’, means ‘fruit’.

The Toraja are a people from the Sulawesi island, to the Southeast of Borneo, whose ancestral myths seem to claim origins from an island somewhere to the north where there is a powerful current, which could possibly be the Pusat Tasek. In the Taroja language taripa djandji means ‘mango tree,’ where or taripa  means ‘mango’ and djandji , derived from djampu means ‘fruit’. In suggesting that the Toraja taripa djandji is the more original form of Pauh Janggi , Manansala points out that among the Bare’e people, also from Sulawesi, taripa djandji is the common way of saying ‘mango tree.’

Manasala also notes that Antonio Pigafetta, a mariner on Ferdinand Magellan’s  pioneering voyage of ‘discovery’ (1518-1522), mentions local tales of an island surrounded by whirlpools, somewhere north or south of Java Major (Borneo), called Puzathaer (Pusat air?) on which there was a very large tree in whose branches perch enormous birds called Garuda. The fruit of this tree was said to be ‘larger than a cucumber.’ This size comparison, which must surely be with the in terms of the chayote cucumber from the Americas, suggests that the tree concerned was, indeed, a mango tree. The nut of the coco de mer is very much larger.

In Malay, of course, Pokok Pauh Janggi refers only to the mythical tree. A quotidian Mango tree would be pokok pauh and the coco de mer is referred as kelapa laut. While none of this is conclusive, in my understanding of language and of myth, the fact that, even when the signifier ‘Pauh Janggi‘, is understood as an index for the signified ‘coco de mer‘, the fact that it is indexed via the word ‘pauh‘, confirms that the root of chain of signifieds or similes is, indeed, the ‘mango’.

http://sambali.blogspot.com/2008/04/kuroshio-current-and-navel-of-sea.html

Dari Pusat Tasek 12

In connection with my show at Percha Artspace titled Dari Pusat Tasek, which runs till 5 Jan 2020, I ask the obvious question – where is the Pusat Tasek Pauh Janggi (Navel of the Seas)? The performance carried out on the Lumut Waterfront was based on a Perak Malay cleansing ritual that purports to wash all the sial jambalang (ill luck and malevolent spirits) away to the Navel of the Seas.. Many sources on the location of the Pusat Tasek place it somewhere in the South China Sea or Southwest thereof. According to Antonio Pigafetta, a mariner on Ferdinand Magellan’s pioneering voyage of ‘discovery’ (1518-1522), there were local tales of an island surrounded by whirlpools, somewhere north or south of Java Major (Borneo), called Puzathaer  (Pusat air?) .​ The location of this Pusat Tasek varies, however, with the source of the myth. According to a Perak legend associated with the installation of its first Sultan, Mudzaffar Shah I, the Pusat Tasek is located somewhere off the mouth of the Perak river, beyond the extensive sandbanks there. This area, named Beting Beras Basah or Beras Basah Sandbank, is known as a deeply magical place – one filled with all manner of makhluk ghaib (supernatural beings).

http://sambali.blogspot.com/2008/04/kuroshio-current-and-navel-of-sea.html

http://catatanberkat.blogspot.com/2015/05/rahsia-beting-bersah.html

Dari Pusat Tasek 7

Melayang Kueh Pauh Dilayang!

The Dari Pusat Tasek show runs at the Percha Art Space in Lumut till the 5th Jan 2020 (EXTENDED TILL 19 JAN 2020) .

In the Hikayat Jaya Langkara, a quest for the healing saffron flower leads the Princess Ratna Kasina to a mountain at the pusat tasek where the rising tide brings the miraculous flower up within her reach. While there is no mention of the Pokok Pauh Janggi in this fable, the buah Pauh appears twice in the list of similes used to extoll the beauty of Princess. Princess Ratna Kasina is said to have cheeks like sliced mango (pipi-nya saperti pauh di-layang), and heels like turned (or peeled) mango (tumit-nya saperti pauh di-larek).

For the opening reception of the show at Percha Art Space, Percha Director, Suhaila Hashim, steamed her first Kueh Pauh Dilayang after experimenting with recipes found online. The cake was sliced (dilayang) and served to locate the mango within Malay mythology and aesthetics, and to articulate the core symbolism of the Dari Pusat Tasek happening which includes –

  1. a performance based the mythic realities of the ‘navel of the seas’ or the Pusat Tasik Pauh Janggi.
  2. a gallery installation featuring the Koboi Balik Kampung series of 12 photographic prints and presents an autobiographical take on the complexities of contemporary Malaysian art and society.
  3. and the serving of this rare Kelantan sweet – the Kueh Pauh Dilayang.

Dari Pusat Tasek 6

The Dari Pusat Tasek performance (View my draft for the 13th Koboi series DARI TUBUH NEGARA) was held at the Lumut Waterfront, under the auspices of Percha Art Space at 5pm on the 25th December 2019. The exhibition will run till 5 Jan 2020 (EXTENDED TILL 19 JAN 2020) . The Naan Anaiyttal flag presents an image that was shot in Kampung Indian Settlement, Batu Caves, in the wake of Malaysia’s 14th General Elections. The Koboi stands before a 12.2 m hoarding of the once jailed politician who is now Malaysia’s prime minister in waiting, Anwar Ibrahim. This flag was raised on a portable flag stand, accompanied by a performance based on a Perak Malay cleansing ritual performed with cut lime.

After my body was ritually rubbed with lime, I faced the East and spit seven times. I then threw the remains of the limes in the Westerly direction  saying, Pergi-lah semua sial jambalang dari badan aku, dan dari pada tubuh negara; pergi lah ke Pusat Pasek Paujangi, (‘Misfortune and spirits of evil begone from my body, and from the corpus of the nation, begone to the whirlpool of the of the Pusat Pasek Paujangi!) Water was then poured over me to complete the cleansing. All the waters of the world are ultimately received at the Pusat Tasek, bringing to its swirl all of the flotsam, jetsam and refuse of the world. The Pusat Tasek of myth seems to coincide with the contemporary swirl of the North Pacific Gyre – a place at which the worst of our contemporary sial jambalang reside.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/47873/47873-h/47873-h.htm

On Being Malaysian Tamil 6

Despite my origins in Jaffna, I am far removed from the Tamils of Sri Lanka in my lived identity. I am a Malaysian first and, as a Malaysian, my ethnic identification is with the wider group of Malaysian Indians. Historically Ceylonese Tamils have tried to preserve a distinct identity as Malaysians and officially we are not classified as Indians. Nevertheless, I believe that it is appropriate and meaningful that, to the extent that the Indians will accept us, Ceylon Tamils should join Indian Tamils and be absorbed into the identity of ‘Malaysian Indian’. I do not renounce my Jaffna background. Rather, I feel it should be integrated into the wider Malaysian Indian mosaic. With my recent immigration to British Columbia, I am even further removed from my Sri Lankan Tamil identity.

The LTTE fought a vicious war for a Tamil homeland. They exchanged terror for terror with the Sri Lankan state actors and proxies,. They valiantly fought the mighty Indian army. They even set up and ran up a de facto state but in the end they seemed to have pitted themselves against the whole world. They were utterly defeated and now the ordinary Tamil people are picking up the pieces after an alleged genocide, under the demeaning conditions of a Sinhala occupation. Although I have relatives (my mother’s family) who were directly impacted by this war, I have generally lived my own life beyond the reach of the emotions raised by this communal tragedy. Nevertheless, I have followed the situation and when I reflect upon it closely, I feel the pain of my kith and kin!

Meanwhile the ongoing Malaysian LTTE fiasco seems quite perverse and unrelated to the Sri Lankan Tamil realities. So, I wonder, what does the LTTE signify in the Malaysian political scenario? Indian Tamils in Malaysia are mainly descendants of indentured labourers brought over to work in the rubber estates. Their fellows worked on tea estates in Sri Lanka. I must note, not without a sense of shame, that the Ceylon Tamils have set themselves apart from the estate Indians in Malaysia. In Sri Lanka we let the estate Indians down over the issue of citizenship in the early post-independence decades. Nevertheless, the Elam struggle has been a potent signifier and catalyst of a cogent Tamil identity within Dravidian politics of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Tamil ethno-nationalists, have hoisted the Elam flag as their own. Their sense of Dravidian pride was invested in the Elam struggle and, one could say that with the LTTE destroyed, they have stolen its fire for their own political engines.

Now, in Malaysia the Indians are a minority. One that is caught within the discriminations of a postcolonial communalism. They are diminished in political agency vis a vis the Malay majority and even the Chinese minority. They have been, in the last decades seeking catalysts for a vigorous political mobilization. For instance, the Hindraf agitation centred around Hindu identity and temple demolition. Perhaps the symbols of the LTTE play a similar moral boosting and formenting role in Malaysian Indian politics. The ethos of the LTTE may have had its origins in a just cause in Sri Lanka but its xtreme violence is disproportionate to the situation faced by Indians in Malaysia.

With regard to the 12 Malaysian Indians recently arrested and charged with terrorism related offences, while their allegedly excessive engagement with LTTE symbols might reasonably raise the government’s concern, there has as yet been no charge that clearly suggests a resurgent global LTTE. Nor is there any sign in the charges of a Malaysian based LTTE organization being set up. The possession of LTTE paraphernalia, the promotion of the defunkt LTTE cause on social media and the commemoration of dead LTTE heroes do not, in my view, suggest anything more than an entanglement with Tamil pride, Tamil sorrow and Tamil myth. The suggestion by the PDRM (police) of massive financial movements, which might by indicative of an imminent LTTE revival has not been actualized by way a related charge against even one of the 12 detainees. ,,, More in On Being a Malaysian Tamil 7