The Fat Ladies Hath Spoken

I was not really awake when I read the papers yesterday morning and saw this headline

‘ S’pore clueless of where JI militant is’ .

Yawn. I remember doing that. And I also remember muttering ‘Ye lah tuuu’. And so I read on. And this was supposedly said by the PM at the forum with foreign correspondence. The first paragraph woke me up fully as I giggled to this ‘ Singapore does not know if the country’s most wanted man is still in the country more than nine months after he escaped from detention, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday’ and about two paragraphs down, there was a quote from the forum taken from the PM himself saying ‘ We don’t know, he could be here, he could be overseas’ Lee told the group of foreign correspondence.

Oh my, my… this is even funnier than Shah Rukh Khan wearing a Malay samping P. Ramlee style and getting a Dato’ ship.

First and foremost, as we all know, the island is but 647km2. The selat tebrau which separates it and Johor is, but a moat, so to speak. Once, I had followed an uncle to pump petrol in JB during the SARS outbreak. As civil servants, we were supposed to fill in the ‘leaving the country’ permission slip. I didn’t because I forgot and also because I thought it was only to JB and to pump petrol, get some groceries and back. But oh no… the next morning, I was called in by the principal and a full report of where I was, what time I left the checkpoint, the vehicle number I was in and what time I came back and who were in the car with me were all nicely printed from an email given to her, so she could take ‘disciplinary’ action upon me.

And now we are expected to believe that they do not know where a limping man guarded by Gurkhas under the ISA detention, ( without trial I may add ), is on the island? He must be damn powerful this Mas Selamat. Maybe the spirit of the Wali Songo was with him that he can poof here and there and everywhere, that all the police and Gurkhas hot on his heels, plus the 4 million people on the island who are on the look out for him cannot find him at all.

Hello, I paid taxes to be ‘goreng’ like this?

Anyway, we went to watch Gemuk Girls yesterday at KLPac, a play which I felt was meant for people like Mas Selamat. Staged by The Necessary Stage from Singapore, I felt the play was an awesome political play which discusses the issue of the ISA detainees, and also the domestic politics. Played by Alin Mosbit, Siti Khalijah and Najib Soiman, the play discusses the Machiavellianism theme in today’s politics and also the issues of the ISA detainees in Singapore who were tortured without trial.

Image taken from here.

The sypnosis of the Gemuk Girls introduced the Gemuk Girls as One is loud and overbearing, while the other is straitlaced and on the threshold of entering politics. Not quite your typical mother-daughter pair, Kartini and Juliana are the Gemuk Girls. And they’re proud of it too. One day, they receive shocking news about Kartini’s father, a photographer, had been arrested and detained in the 1960s under the ISA law, and suddenly the floodgates of the family’s emotional past are thrown open. Can a family survive as they struggle to reconcile the past with the present? Will Kartini and Juliana continue to be Gemuk Girls?
This bold and often darkly humorous look at family politics and the politics of the day’

But after watching it, Gemuk Girls was more than that. They powerfully discussed the ‘home’ issues that are close to me, about being the ‘minority on that island’, about ‘reading things from script’ in life, about being disgruntle with ‘MUIS and their road shows’, about ISA detainees going on for years without trial and also not knowing what they did wrong.

The audience, save from a handful of people from the island like myself generally didn’t understand the ‘insiders’ jokes which use the local jargons there. But it was good for me as all things familiar were laid out and I guffawed at the funny impersonation of some ministers ( which the Malaysian audience didn’t get but I did as it was really exact like the real person! ) and some home jokes like ‘ belajar kat University Changi’, and the ‘Chinese start sending their kids for tuition at 2 years old’

It was good, Alvin and Haresh. It was good Alin, Khalijah and Najib. You all were good. No, you all were fantastic. And may Mas Selamat’s family say prayers for all of you for presenting how they could be feeling right now.

The line I like the most in the play had to be this. Pak Marzuki, the photographer who was detained under ISA and kept and tortured for years in Changi Prison was lamenting, ‘ First they call us Communist, then they call us Marxist. And now we are called Terrorist’


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