Mahathir’s Error on the Jews

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s reputation for being ‘antisemitic’, was recently brought to mind by the problems experienced by his family in the movie business (in the context of investments made in the production of the film Dr Strange). In the interest of the truth, of his legacy, and perhaps even of his family’s business interests, I urge him to make one specific correction in his world Jewry rhetoric. As evidenced by the Senator Ilhan Omar affair, there is an urgent need to cleave in two the confused referent/s of these signifiers  –  ‘Jew’ and ‘Zionist.’  In fact, as explained by Rabbi Dovid Weiss in the Al Jazeera interview above, the conflation of these signs serves the cause of Zionism. Haderim (Ultra-Orthodox) Jews are amongst the firmest and truest defenders of Palestine and Palestinians. Many Muslim nations, communities and leaders have been fair weather friends of the Palestinians, but not these gentle, archaic and God fearing Jews. Just listen to the humility, clarity, love and courage expressed by the Rabbi, bearing in mind that his people resist Zionism from communities across the world and even, at great risk, from the within the heart of Israel (Haderim Jews constituted over 12% of Israel’s population in 2017). While I am tickled by the reflexive candour of Mahathir’s taxonomy of noses and comprehend the political expediency revealed in his explanation that ‘the people’  will understand better if he says ‘Yahudi‘ (Jews) instead of ‘Zionist’, I am nevertheless perplexed by, even ashamed of, his  perpetuation of this Zionist conflation, not least because it obscures the diversity of  positions held by the Jewish peoples, amongst whom are these staunch allies of Palestine! I hope that the good Dr. will be more nuanced in his use of the terms ‘Jewish’, ‘Zionist’ and even ‘Israeli’ before he ends his time on the world’s stage.

Maksud saya Yahudi bukan semestinya Zionis. Sila rujuk kepada – Yahudi yang Anti-Zionis, Yahudi yang Pro-Palestina)

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUppu2OHVTY&feature=youtu.be&t=98

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-politics-mahathir-jews/back-to-old-habits-malaysias-mahathir-calls-jews-hook-nosed-idUSKCN1MC15T

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/468898

https://intpolicydigest.org/2019/03/15/on-ilhan-omar-and-anti-semitism/

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/240041

https://youtu.be/IDfpOdu8Bdc?t=171

https://tirto.id/yahudi-yang-anti-zionis-yahudi-yang-pro-palestina-cAYY

the Neoliberal Economy Stupid

4 Tunai itu RajaIn the run-up to Malaysia’s 14th General Elections, 2018, Machiavellian maestro Mahathir Mohamad deployed the slogan Cash is King! to devastating effect against then incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak, imbricating him in a narrative of shameless corruption. While the matter of Najib’s corruption is yet to be heard in law, it has been decided in public opinion, as Mahathir has now, at 92 years of age, returned as the oldest serving Prime Minister in the world. Mahathir’s meme imprinted in popular Malaysian consciousness the sense (regardless of veracity) that Najib’s corruption was qualitatively worse that anything that had transpired before, much of which had happened under Mahathir’s own watch.

The question of corruption is also currently under the spotlight in Canada by way the ongoing SNC Lavalin affair, in which it is alleged that the Prime Minister’s Office’s (PMO) put pressure upon the Attorney General of Canada to act in the interest of the said corporation in a criminal matter. (Please see my previous post for a Key to the SNC Lavalin Affair) The question at hand is whether this pressure was exerted on the  Attorney General, in an improper manner, vis-a-vis the ‘Rule of Law.’ The stakes, for the time being, appear to be ‘merely’ political.  Whether or not this pressure broke federal obstruction-of-justice laws is not as yet in question. It appears, however, that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been urged to begin criminal investigations by five former Federal and Provincial Attorney’s General. Equally it appears that, it could be argued that in terms of the rules and values of our system there is no illegality, not even a scandal, just another Wilson-Raybould storm in another Trudeau teacup. This seems to be what seasoned commentator Bsuggests in her article, “Look Away. There’s no scandal here with SNC-Lavalin”  … just business as usual in accord with the norms of Canadian governance.

The point is that corruption is not confined to its legal definition. It arises within and operates through legitimate transactions of all kinds. In writing about bribery, law and morality, John Thomas Noonan has said that “the common good of any society consists not only in its material possessions but in its shared ideals. When these ideals are betrayed, … the common good, … suffers injury.” I suggest, with reference to Marx and Hugo, that it is the unbridled annexation of common material possessions as private property that constitutes the betrayal of the shared ideals and injures the common good. This is the corruption that is enshrined in the laws that uphold neoliberalism. Indeed, regardless of illegality, the effect of the unmitigated monetization of common possessions is degrading to our humanity.

The legality or propriety of a particular exertion of pressure or proffering of inducement, critical though it is in terms of the workings of a given society, is trivial in the face of the bending of governance, the making of laws included, to the will of a powerful section of actors. What good is the adherence to the Rule of Law, if the laws, whose rule is upheld, engender a stilted and degenerate social order …  Here in Canada and throughout the world, this seems to be the default operating mode of the neoliberal political economy – wherein, by fair means or foul, the monetization of common possessions reigns over the common good … but there are exceptions  …  There are indeed, some striking instances of resistance to the all enticing ‘Cash.’ … In 2015 Malaysian Oil and Gas giant PETRONAS offered the tiny Lax Kw’alaams community $1.15 billion in exchange for their support for the building of an LNG terminal on Lelu Island in the Skeena watershed, but the community categorically declined the offer. They refused to convert the common possessions into ‘Cash,’ showing British Columbians and Malaysians alike, that there are, indeed, alternative values and alternative ways.

The image above, titled  7 Cash is King!, is a visualization for a photograph that will be a part of the Berhijrah (Migration) Series of my Koboi Project. This image is being developed as a remix of Mahathir’s political slogan, Zig Zag’s powerful political cartoon and my own apolitical ‘black hat’ Cowboy.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2015/06/13/dr-m-najib-told-me-cash-is-king/914991

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/mahathir-sworn-in-as-7th-malaysian-pm

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2019/03/01/5-ex-attorneys-general-call-for-rcmp-probe-into-snc-lavalin-affair_a_23681656/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IchVHyfBO9Y

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-look-away-theres-no-scandal-here/

http://blogs.worldbank.org/futuredevelopment/moral-dimensions-corruption

https://pressprogress.ca/near-monopoly-canadas-economy-is-dominated-by-a-small-handful-of-corporations-experts-warn/

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/sep/12/global-justice-now-study-multinational-businesses-walmart-apple-shell

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2016/mar/20/by-rejecting-1-billion-for-a-pipeline-a-first-nation-has-put-justin-trudeaus-climate-plan-on-trial

https://warriorpublications.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/indian-act-chiefs-and-idle-no-more-snakes-in-the-grassroots/

 

 

 

 

 

 

PETRONAS Canada

petronas-canada

In an earlier post I had noted how on July 13 2018, LNG Canada formally welcomed PETRONAS as their fifth Joint Venture participant and how this investment was connected with TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline that is building to transport the natural gas from Dawson Creek to the LNG Canada terminal in Kitimat.  Much of the gas to be transported to market via the pipeline and terminal will , of course, come from  PETRONAS owned Progress Energy’s own gas fields in the North Montney area. On November 22, 2018 Progress Energy Canada Ltd. changed its name to  PETRONAS Energy Canada Ltd. (PETRONAS Canada). Mark Fitzgerald, President & CEO of PETRONAS Canada said, “The name change is a reflection of our parent company’s commitment to Canada and the strength of our business in the company’s overall portfolio.” Malaysian Crown corporation PETRONAS now not only owns one of the largest natural gas resources in the Montney basin, but is also a key player in getting Canadian LNG to market across the Pacific ocean.

Image: http://mole.my/petronas-jv-participants-reach-final-investment-decision-on-lng-canada/
https://www.energeticcity.ca/2018/07/petronas-now-officially-a-partner-in-lng-canada/
http://www.coastalgaslink.com
https://boereport.com/2018/11/23/progress-energy-changes-name-to-petronas-energy-canada/
https://www.petronascanada.com/

Performance Masterclass

vexillationOr perhaps ‘Post Photo-conceptual Performance’ … a tag I have been developing to locate my practice at the junction of photography and performance. While the tag needs much refinement, I think the praxis itself seems now, after 5 years of the Koboi Project, to be reasonably developed. I had the privilege of delivering a Masterclass in Performance Art as Faculty at the International Ismaili Diamond Jubilee Arts Festival in Lisbon, which ran from the 5-9 July 2018.
See https://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/nuntengporta/masterclass

In this class, I shared my preparations for two impromptu photo-performances that took place at the Alfonso De Albuquerque Monument and the Discoveries Monument in Belem on 7th and 8th July 2018, respectively. I took the workshop participants, who were amateur and professional artists from the global Ismaili diaspora through my preparations for the two street interventions. They participated in my search for a meaningful action. We began the class within the designated presentation space and finished outside absorbing the architecture Portugal Pavilion and the masterclass itself into the spectacle and symbol of the event. In the light of his exercise and the images it produced, I have clarified for myself the stations of my process and have articulated them in a set of 12 words and images.

Malaca Malaca

papan dijawaKoboi performance: 4.30 – 6.00pm will take place at the Alfonso De Albuquerque Square and the in Belem, Lisbon, 7th July 2018. For details please visit https://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/nuntengporta

The Alfonso de Albuquerque square is located in front of the Belém Palace in Belem Lisbon. Alburquerque the Second Governor of Portuguese India and the conqueror of the city of Melaka. AT the centre of the square is an impressive monument to the Governor by Silva Pinto and António Augusto da Costa Motta that was completed in 1902. The monument carries a bronze statue of Afonso de Albuquerque on a column with four reliefs on the pedestal. The four relief panels are – the defeat of the army of the king of Hormuz, the entrance of Albuquerque in Goa and the handing over of the city keys, the embassy to the king of Narcinga Lisboa and the taking of Malacca.

Jingkli Nona

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.

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Razaleigh_Muhamat_Kawangit/publication/301822512_Social_Integration_of_Kristang_People_in_Malaysia/links/5729d9bb08ae057b0a076189/Social-Integration-of-Kristang-People-in-Malaysia.pdf

SUPERSTAR CUTOUTS 2

skyharapanSometimes the quirks of life provide better expressions of truth then the constructs of the best artist. The job of the artist in such instances is to read and re-present these signs. The above image is a crop/edit from a larger image in the mass media that has been seen, by those who believe that the ruling party pulls the levers of the supposedly independent Elections Commision, as a counter productive attempt by Barisan to supress the images of the two main opposition leaders in the coming elections. Regardless of the independanceof the commision, I would take this analysis further in a most objective fashion – the excision of one of the leaders of the opposition from a hoarding turns the resulting lacuna into an image of both of them. Further, in this instance (and from this angle) it gives the public an image of the sky which carries all the possible connotations of ‘Hope’ or Harapan! I really do not think there will be many more instances of official iconoclasm of this kind ,if the government does indeed have a grip on the Elections Commision (and assuming, of course, that the party knows what it is doing)!

Image: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/05/02/liew-dismisses-viral-video-accusing-him-of-sabotaging-pakatan/

https://koboikembaralagi.wordpress.com/2018/04/26/superstar-cutouts/