Monday, June 12, 2006

T-shirt now on sale

The official T-shirt for Lelaki Komunis Terakhir is now on sale!

You haven't seen the movie, now buy the T-shirt!

It is available in 4 sizes (S, M, L and XL) and on sale from today at:

1. Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) Resource Centre, Sentul Park, Jalan Strachan, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: (03) 4047 9052. Opening times: 12pm-6:30pm (Tues-Sun) (when there is a performance on at one of the halls, this is extended to 8:30pm). Mon closed.

2. Silverfish Books, 67-1 Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: (03) 2284 4837. Opening times: 10am-8pm (Mon-Fri), 10am-7pm (Sat & pub hol). Sun closed.

3. SIRD/Gerakbudaya Enterprise, 11, Lorong 11/4E, Petaling Jaya. Tel: (03) 7957 8342. Opening times: 9am-6pm (Mon-Fri). Sat & Sun closed.

4. Wondermilk/The Click Project, 37 Jalan SS 21/1A Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya. tel: (03) 7725 8930. Opening times: 10-6pm (Mon-Fri). Sat & Sun closed.

It is white with the 'single pomelo' design shown further down this blog.

It can also be ordered online now at Kinibooks.

The price is RM35 and only 500 shirts will be sold. Yes, the move to make back some of the money that the ban has cost me begins here.

I no longer seek to change the way you think; merely the way you dress.

Oh yes, these venues (except for Wondermilk) also sell the DVD for my previous documentary, the Indonesian-set The Year of Living Vicariously, for RM25.


Blogger Jenn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:04 pm  
Blogger Amir said...

Fill version of my NST column today. Guess which article was not printed!

NST. 15 June.


The eminent historian Jonathan Swift, who lived
thousands of moons ago, once wrote of a conflict
between two groups of people: those who believed eggs
should be broken at the broad end, and those who will
strongly felt they should be broken at the narrow end.
He estimated that 11,000 people had been killed for
refusing to be small-end egg-breakers. Even the
century he lived in, the 18th, was referred to as the
Egg of Enlightenment.

In Malaysia, a similar war is on the verge of being
waged. This time the produce isn’t eggs but bananas. A
huge conflict is brewing between those who feel fried
bananas should be called ‘goreng pisang’ and the other
side, who prefer ‘pisang goreng.’

For decades the people of this peninsular have
referred to the yummy things as ‘goreng pisang.’ This
strictly speaking should denote an action rather than
an object, but it somehow stuck. Goreng pisang became
an indispensable part of the social and cultural life,
as seen in weddings and parties.

Then in the last quarter of the last century, the
anti-goreng pisang movement was started by firebrand
elements who had been educated overseas. Filled with
the righteous fervour of youth, they demanded that
this popular snack be referred to only as ‘pisang
goreng’ from now on, and that any other terminology
would be unacceptable. The public would not even be
allowed to choose the term they prefer. “That would
be giving in to the forces of pluralism and
liberalism,” says a bearded spokesman.

“Goreng pisang is a term from The Dark Ages,” he
continues. “Every time someone says it, our dead
ancestors would be insulted. They didn’t know enough
about grammar then, the poor things.”

“This is quite worrying,” says Suspuria Chen of the
human-rights NGO called HAKMU. “For centuries people
have lived in tolerance and mutual respect no matter
how they fried their bananas and named them. Now there
is a growing push to narrow the boundaries of civil

The bearded spokesman dismissed her criticism by
saying, “She should not be commenting. She doesn’t
even eat bananas. This debate is strictly for banana
eaters. Non-banana eaters are cautioned to stay away
from all banana-related discussion as it could lead to

The sellers of fried bananas are the ones most
affected by this potential clash of terminology. “I
live in fear,” says a Kampung Cendana seller who
refused to be named for fear of recrimination. “I put
up a sign advertising ‘goreng pisang’ only to find it
torn down the next day. The ‘pisang goreng’ movement
is very persistent in this area.”

This movement will not just focus on bananas but plans
to branch out. “Our next target is Perdana Menteri,”
he says, causing us to gasp in shock. “Why is it not
Menteri Perdana? Surely that is more correct, since
‘perdana’ is an adjective. ‘Perdana Menteri’ makes no

When asked if this means that the ‘pisang goreng’
movement has political aims, he says, “Bananas and
politics must always go together. The idea of
separating them is a Western one designed to weaken
the foundations of our plantation industry.”

Just for fun, this worthy organ asked the bearded
spokesman to weigh in on the small-end versus
large-end controversy about eggs that existed
centuries ago. “All egg eaters are damned no matter
what they do,” he says cheerfully.


Life should be all hunky dory for plantation executive
Reezal Mat Top and his family. After all, they are the
proud new owners of a spacious bungalow in the verdant
hills near Air Bangar. But a series of events over the
past month has left them rattled.

It all started when the bungalow’s former owner,
venture capitalist Lateef Mahmoody, dropped in for a
visit. Reezal had bought the house from him at the end
of last year.

“He started making comments on the way we had shifted
the aquarium from one corner of the room to another,”
recalls Reezal’s wife Kalimah Mat Don. “He said that
the poor fish now had a much less interesting view.
Actually all the fish in there were already dead but
he didn’t notice.”

That visit certainly wasn’t the last. “He has a lot of
time on his hands now,” says Reezal.

“His visits have become more frequent too. And he
always has criticism of some aspect of our décor. He
said that the sofa fabric was too rough and wondered
if that was to make him visit less often. He
complained about the fact that we gave away a
rocket-shaped swing that was in the garden. The truth
was, the swing was kind of useless and on the verge of
collapse anyway. Then he shouted at the top of his
lungs that the new curtains were just too loud.”

“The most frightening moment was two nights ago,” says
Kalimah. “I got down in the middle of the night to get
a glass of water. He suddenly popped up from outside
the window and said my nightgown was frumpy. So it
isn’t just décor. It’s now clothing, too.”

“I didn’t know he would have such strong views on
aesthetics,” her husband adds. “We constructed a new
security gate to keep him out. But he just came by and
complained to the contractor that the grill was
shoddy. The contractor got intimidated and left. I
don’t know what to do now.”


A motion-triggered camera yesterday captured the image
of a Very Important Person paying his traffic fines.
This is believed to be the first time that such a rare
sight has been captured on film.

The VIP spent less than 20 minutes in the office and
three distinct photographs of him were captured by the
high-tech camera, which is designed to go off only
when it detects the sound of expensive shoes. In two
of those shots, the VIP’s face and name-tag were
clearly visible.

The incident occurred at 9:15 am the Jalan Dugong Road
Transport office. “Even the location is perfect,” says
media commentator G Pundeet. “A VIP who actually pays
his fines is rarer than a dugong.”

“But the fact that this needs to be commented on,”
continues the seasoned commentator over a naan meal,
“is itself problematic. We obviously now expect all
our VIPs to dodge fines. Why have we become so

Not everyone is so analytical. “We are just
thrilled,” says the spokesman for a conservation body.
“For years, international commentators have thought
that this species was extinct in Malaysia. But we have
proven that at least one survives. Maybe more can be
coaxed to come out of the concrete jungle.”

The body will lobby for a postage stamp to be printed
with the image of this endangered species: “After all,
children have never seen one before and we don’t know
how many are still alive.”


10:23 am  
Blogger Amir said...

Erm, that should of course be "full version" rather than "fill version."

10:24 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read both on

2:16 pm  
Blogger Amir said...

You read two. I wrote three mah.

4:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neophobia at the dawn of minds

By Zedeck Siew

The Sun. 15 Jun.

Two films from current Malaysian celluloid: the sequel to 2004's Sepet, Yasmin Ahmad's issue-heavy love story Gubra; road film and musical, Amir Muhammad's Lelaki Komunis Terakhir, (The Last Communist) which traces the towns visited by Chin Peng from his birth to independence.

Three reactions: public intellectual Faisal Tehrani's review of Gubra, Gubra Yang Sesat Lagi Menyesatkan (, April 24); the banning of Lelaki Komunis Terakhir by the Home Ministry after it passed uncut through the Film Censorship Board; and the Mufti Johor, Datuk Noh Gadut, calling the house-chore-helping husband an instance of "fenomena songsang" worthy of fatwa. (Utusan Malaysia, May 13)

"Before this, men doing housework wasn't an issue," says Toni Kasim, an activist who runs workshops on gender and sexuality issues and frequently works with the Muslim NGO Sisters in Islam (SIS). "Why is it an issue now?"

On April 23, film producer Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman appeared on TV1's art forum programme Fenomena Seni (that, in a following episode, had panellists justifying vicious gossip as a way of chastening the behaviour of entertainment personalities), accusing Gubra of defiling Malay-Muslim culture - partly because a bilal was shown frying keropok in the kitchen. Her rationale: "A pious wife would not allow her husband to cook." (theSun, April 26).

The feud between Raja Azmi and Yasmin Ahmad is a matter of public opinion. More worrying, Toni contends, is the fact that people like Raja Azmi and entertainment editor Akmal Abdullah (who was also on the programme) now appear to have power to trump due process and sway official reactions, under the umbrella reason that these films attack Malay-Muslim values.

"Lelaki Komunis Terakhir is passed uncut by the Censorship Board," Toni says, "It is shown at a private screening for police officers who also had no problems with it, then all of a sudden Berita Harian publishes articles berating the film, asking people loaded questions like: 'How do you feel about a movie that glorifies communism?', and Amir receives a letter from the Home Ministry saying that he can't screen the film here."

The film neither glorifies the communist struggle nor justifies Chin Peng's actions; it attempts to explore the Malaysia as the future-communist leader might have seen it, by speaking to people from the towns he lived in and satirising propaganda images of the era - Toni was part of the film's chorus, and performed, among other things, a song about how much she loved her identity card.

"If I was a filmmaker I would be so discouraged," Toni says. "Because you never know when the stupidest of reasons, put forth by people who haven't even seen the film, might cause the powers that be to ban your film."

Lelaki Komunis Terakhir has since traversed more surreal territory: after the ban, a screening was organised for Members of Parliament and media on May 21 (a gonzo documentary of which now exists on YouTube in four parts, for the curious) after which Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Rais Yatim said the movie was "Not important enough to be controversial," - on May 24 he then gives an interview, saying that Lelaki Komunis Terakhir "glorified Chin Peng, and we shouldn't glorify him".

A screening of the film was then organised for senators; this was subsequently cancelled, implying that proper channels are being violated at all levels of the issue. "So MPs can see it but senators can't," Toni says, "What does this say about Parliament?" A salient point, considering that the Dewan Negara functions as a balance to the Dewan Rakyat, essential to democratic governance.

Censorship without the inclusion of brains is bad enough. More insidious is, perhaps, the fact that criticisms, allegedly made in the defence of Malay-Muslim mores, carry more weight for the same reason - godless communism is the traditional enemy of Islam; the bilal cooking keropok will bring about a collapse of the family values - what next? Working wives, house-husbands, Akhirat?

Or so it seems. "If husbands doing chores is considered haram, what do we do about the fact that the Prophet himself was under his wife's employ?" Toni says. "Some will argue that the Prophet only helped her and wasn't a full-on house-husband as such - but the fact remains that Khadijah was a businesswoman - in fact, the equivalent to one of today's millionaires. The notion that men are the sole bread-winners of a household may very well be 'un-Islamic'."

Gubra's bilal-chef is only a threat to Islamic family law as it is practised in Malaysia, and the related crusade to make secular legislation defer to Syariah law; this is what Toni and her colleagues are trying to fight.

The opposition is formidable. It is also deaf. Toni talks of how she was heckled over the phone a day ago, because of SIS's involvement in the Article 11 issue.

Ad hominem arguments and name-calling are common in national discourse, especially on issues like religion. Such things are easy to counter. More difficult are the arguments such as is emblemised by young and formerly-liberal thinker Faisal Tehrani, whose review of Gubra quotes a selection of hadiths, employs myriad Arabicisms, and concludes: 'Kalau tak reti agama jangan syarahkan agama dalam filem. Jangan rosakkan orang.'

This piece of criticism, when it surfaced, shocked artistic and intellectual circles, not the least for fact that until a few years ago Faisal was frequently seen in the same circles as other such Malay intellectuals such as Farish Noor and Amir Muhammad, well-known for discourse that challenges or subverts mainstream socio-political norms. Jerome Kugan, who wrote the lyrics for Lelaki Komunis Terakhir, wrote in a comment following Toni's review of Gubra: ' Damn, that was scary for me to read as a non-Malay Faisal's comments (and the comments on his comments) - along with those imbecilic interjections on the TV1 show - reveal something I think is really ugly about what the NEP and Mahathir era have managed to produce: the dream of a far right homogenous Malay-Islam nation.'

The "comments on his comments" referred to on Faisal's site generally had the tone of: "Wow, Faisal, you have articulated my gut feelings in an intellectually rigorous way. Thanks!"

Gubra and Lelaki Komunis Terakhir have been attacked for different reasons: the former for containing a plural interpretation of Islam; the latter for a (merely!) perceived love of 'anti-religious' communism - itself an erroneous point; the Peace Village in South Thailand, current resting place of Parti Komunis Malaya, is divided into Malay and non-Malay communities, with religious sensitivities in mind.

Both these offensives have a root: ethnic politics as it is played out in this country, and its adherent's struggle to defend the hegemony. This struggle is powerful, trumping state-sanctioned procedure, like the 'Pope and Tsar' of Marx's Europe; it is deaf, it is uncomprehending. Our misunderstood spectre is multiculturalism, and it haunts us still.


4:32 pm  
Anonymous Bugger said...

All about Toni? i hope she's already a blogger.

6:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't ever give up, Amir. You're (almost) our last hope that Malaysia can ever ammount to anything. Crooked politicians, crooked cops, bigots, extremists... is this all Malaysia aspires to be?

10:12 am  
Anonymous Lara Amir said...

'former house owner continues to be a pest'!

why am i not surprised :D

what, no prize?

4:12 pm  
Anonymous siew eng said...

na-lah. i think it's "rare sight captured on film".

but why blame him? isn't his driver responsible (or irresponsible)?

he's still my favourite pm. i wish ppl wud give him a-tenth of the chance that they were arm-twisted, brow-beaten and isa-ed-silenced into 'giving' dr m. for every question dr m has of the present administration, there are 10 more for his own governance. yet he gets off looking like a hero now.

9:24 pm  
Anonymous fathi aris omar said...

Dear readers/friends, sorry for my interruption.

I would like to spread the news about the 18 banned books. Hope you may help spread the list too...

Here is the list:

1. The Bargaining for Israel: In the Shadow of Armageddon (Mona Johnian)
2. Islam (Mathew S Gordon)
3. Lifting the Veil: A handbook for building bridges across the cultural chasm (Trudie Crawford)
4. A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and the Emergence of Islamism (Bobby S Sayyid)
5. Islam Revealed: A Christian Arab's view of Islam (Anis A Shorrosh)
6. What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam (John L Esposito)
7. Mini Skirts, Mothers & Muslims (Christine Mallouhi)
8. The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Karen Armstrong)
9. Kundalini For Beginners (Ravindra Kumar)
10. Sacred Books of the East (Epiphanius Wilson)
11. Sharing Your Faith with a Muslim (Abdiyah Akbar Abdul-Haqq)
12. Cults, World Religions and the Occult (Kenneth Boa)
13. Petua dan Doa: Pendinding, penawar, penyembuh penyakit (Awang Mohd Yahaya)
14. Hakikat & Hikmah 7 Hari Dalam Seminggu (Abu Nashr Al-Hamdaniy)
15. Pemuda Bani Tamim Perintis Jalan Imam Mahdi (Abu Muhammad Atta)
16. Kontroversi Hukum Hudud (Kassim Ahmad)
17. Risalah No. 2 Dilema Umat Islam - Antara Hadis dan Quran (Kassim Ahmad)
18. Siri 7 Amalan-amalan Bid'ah Pada Bulan Syaban (Rasul Dahri)

For details, go to or my blog (Bernama June 15, 2006)

Terima kasih :)

8:57 pm  
Blogger Amir said...

I am currently attending the Robert Flaherty Seminar in upstate New York. ( ) This is an unusual event. now in its 52nd year, that has been likened to a cult. Flaherty was of course the pioneer documentary director who made 'Nanook of the North and this non-academic seminar and screening sessions were started by his widow after his death.

Both The Big Durian and The Last Communist are screening here. The program (hah! American spelling!) is very intensive and I've seen some pretty good work. The reception to The Big Durian was partly hostile (by some white Americans who were put off by how 'foreign' it was) so of course I am greatly looking forward to The Last Communist.

9:50 am  
Blogger Amir said...

O ya, I don't have time to write the NST column this Thursday. I get only 5 hours of sleep here. So I haven't been censored or anything.

9:52 am  
Anonymous singlish said...

Check out -

3:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i want to get the t-shirt but i live in uk ...

how looorrr?

2:20 am  
Blogger Amir said...

Can buy online from mah!

6:36 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


-fellow msmkl 91-92

3:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:27 pm  

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