Friday, September 15, 2006

Coming to London

Lelaki Komunis Terakhir will screen on Oct 22 & 24 at the London Film Festival.

This is the 50th year the festival has been around but the first time it has screened something from Malaysia. Wish I could be there to meet the punters at the ICA and NFT (two places where I used to watch films more than a decade ago). But it's better to celebrate Raya at home, methinks. If you can attend, do let me know how it goes!


Blogger Amir said...

News item on Apa Khabar Orang Kampung (in Chinese):

11:25 am  
Anonymous gothread said...

dear sir.
i must say i am a fan of your articles,however infrequently they appear.though you probably get that a lot.well.

11:38 pm  
Blogger Amir said...

(NOTE: the paper didn't print the 3rd article).

Amir Muhammad.

NST 21 Sep.


A new university being constructed in the verdant Air Bangar valley will be significant for one simple reason: Undergraduates will no longer be subjected to, well, subjects.

Acting CEO Reizal Mat Din said that the novel complex will instead give pride of place to a souvenir shop. “We are so used to hearing about famous universities like Yale and Oxford”, he says. “Well, the only reason these Western universities are famous is that they have very active merchandising departments. These run the gamut from T-shirts and sandals to mugs and fridge magnets.”

He adds that those foreign universities took decades, sometimes centuries, to establish a firm reputation in academia. “This is something that we simply don’t have time for. If we wait a few decades I will be six feet under and will not have the opportunity to be granted a Datukship. This will put my children at a distinct disadvantage.”

The entire campus of Air Bangar University (ABU) is thought to cost RM2 billion with slightly over half of it devoted to the Souvenir Department, Aside from the expected items that can be bought even on foreign campuses, various other collectables will be on sale.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if visitors can take home a robot?” he gushes. “Yes, your very own ABU mechanized creature, with very human features. These are being specially constructed for us in Taiwan, which has many good Electronics graduates.”

“Or how about a genetically engineered plant? It will be created in Singapore, home to many bright Forestry and Bio-Engineering students. You can personalize these plants by making it look as if your face is emerging from the tree trunk. Of course the ABU logo will be prominently displayed as well. This will be a great hit whenever you throw outdoor parties, providing you have a large enough garden.”

Even the name of the university was the result of careful research by marketing people. “We wanted it to be in English so it can sound global,” explains Reizal. “But the acronym ABU is a down-to-earth Malay name, so we manage to combine East and West. Other universities have attempted to do this in their academic curricula, for example by combining Nietzsche with Sun Tzu, but we will get straight to the point by, you know, selling you stuff.”

But will the university still need undergraduates? “Of course!” is the hearty reply. “Who do you think will be selling all these items to tourists? The great thing is that, instead of paying them salaries, we will charge them tuition fees. Thousands of undergrads will work in shifts; they will be dressed in uniforms that combine the colour scheme of McDonalds with the traditional motif of Selangor Pewter staff. Their parents will be so proud of the hands-on education that will prepare these boys and girls for the marketplace.”

Applications will be taken from early next year. Instead of a bothersome exam to determine entry, candidates will be judged solely on how photogenic they are. “After all, those with a pleasing countenance will be more likely to inspire sales.”

A complex of restaurants and cafes will be the other main feature of the campus. “We will be inviting many prestigious multinationals to open up food outlets here. Profits can be improved because the serving staff will actually pay the companies!”

He adds that old-school universities such as Cambridge and Harvard are at a distinct disadvantage. “Why bother with boring books and data when our specially imported cash registers will never be silent? Foreign tourists can also take back these souvenirs to their home country, helping to promote Malaysia as a centre for educational excellence … and imported merchandise.”


In a case that will surely excite the Netizens of Malaysia, a student is being charged for using only one emoticon in all of her blog entries.

Sasparilla Chen, 17, has been keeping a blog for the past year to record thrilling moments in her life such as her exam preparations, her on-off infatuation with a Thai VJ, and surprise birthday parties for her friends. Little did she know that her blog was being monitored by people other than her immediate ‘posse’ – and this is where her troubles started.

Ambi Mohan, head of the popular Malaysian Linguistic Association (MALAS), lodged a police report against Chen for always using only the standard smiley ( ☺ ) emoticon in each of her 28 blog entries.

“I can’t believe she could be so lazy,” says Ambi in his tastefully appointed office in Putrajaya. “Does she not know that keyboards can create many other emoticons such as the wink ( ;-) ) or the frown ( ☹ )?”

“Yes my association is now branching out into the Internet, although we don’t yet have a website, “ he continues. “My interest in the Internet started when my sister Anadil pointed out to me that Googling my name provided 40 hits! So it is now my duty to monitor linguistic usage on the Web.”

On his specific beef against Chen, he says: “Using only one emoticon shows that she lacks an imaginative palette. It’s like a painter who only uses one colour. Surely such a painter will be rejected by the art world. but as blogs are not regulated, by the Government such abuses are permitted to occur. Like her entry on a celebrity’s wedding, which simply says “She married a rich Datuk” and is followed by the smiley emoticon. Any fool can tell you that the proper emoticon should be a sad one ( :-< ) because any 17-year old girl would surely be unhappy that yet another rich Datuk has been taken off the market!”

Chen could not be reached for comment. It is understood that she has been so traumatized by the accusations against her that she has temporarily taken down her blog.


The proposal to broadcast live the proceedings of the august House has hit another snag after a rival TV station claims unfair competition.

It is understood that preparations were already underway for House debates to be shown on state TV. But a private station that screens matches of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) at the same time has stated that too many viewers will be drawn away from its matches in favour of the wilder goings-on in the House.

“This is not cricket at all,” says the manager of the private station. “The Spandex-wearing pro wrestlers on our show only resort to methods such as the head-butt, the flat-back bump or more esoteric practices such as ‘skinning the cat.’ But they still abide by the rules to provide enough blood and bruising to qualify as wholesome family entertainment. We are not equipped to go against those that make up the rules as they go along.”

A spokesman for the House simply invited anyone who is disgruntled about its style of debate to “shut up and get in the ring, mofo.”


9:49 am  
Blogger cactusjump said...

hi amir!
i was part of talent campus, delhi this year and really enjoyed your film and talkm (especially the one-liners!). glad to see it's doing so well, looking forward to the sequel.

8:17 pm  
Blogger Amir said...

Wah! I loved Delhi and hope to visit again next year.

10:41 pm  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

It's coming to London! Awesome!

I'm canvassing for viewers. Have already e-mailed the LSE Malaysia-Singapore Society (amazing that such a thing doesn't cause the apocalypse, since it has to contradict several fundamental laws of physics, right?). Anyway, hope they decide to make an outing out of it, because if there's anything we know we love, it's something banned.

8:29 am  
Blogger Idlan said...

Me and a couple of mates are trying to fit the movie around the raya festivities. You know, the typical raya KL style in London: pagi pergi masjid, makan, and then tengok wayang. Karaoke afterwards optional.

2:47 am  
Anonymous oj said...

Got tickets, yaay, am really looking forward to it!

9:13 pm  
Anonymous David Houliston said...

I have just seen the film at the ICA. It was of special interest to me as I attended a missionary boarding school in the Cameron Highlands from 1958 - 1964.

Sitting next to me in the cinema was an old man who seemed to know about these events and made the odd comment such as "that's disputed". Perhaps he was a member of the British Army at that time. At other times he appeared to be very moved.

11:54 pm  
Blogger Andrew said...

I saw the film today too in London, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. That's a shame you could come and introduce it.

I thought you might like to know that there were some moments when the audience applauded. First time was after the charcoal factory owner's monologue about his work, and the second time was after the song about the tin and tyre exports! I think there was one other, but I don't remember exactly when.

4:53 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went to see it at the ICA today. I thought it was well made - honest, funny and very human. Shame that Malaysia is 'not yet ready' for this tale of its recent past. Thanks Amir, and keep it up. We need more film-makers like you.

All the best,
Farez (Malaysian resident in London)

6:08 am  
Blogger Wern-Kidd said...

Well done Amir, thoroughly enjoyed the very entertaining and well made movie. I do agree with Andrew that it's a shame that you could not come to London to introduce the movie.

Can't wait for the sequel. Hopefully will be able to catch it again in London in the future.

Malaysia Boleh?

6:17 am  
Blogger canarywaltz said...

Hi Amir

I remember reading your column as a teenager growing up in Malaysia on the NST.

Went to see your film yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. Brought my housemate and some friends

8:12 pm  
Blogger canarywaltz said...

Yes its me again. Got too enthuastic with the publish button so didn't manage to finish what I wanted to say.

Your film was very enjoyable because it was educational (didn't know the IC was introduced by the Brits as a counter communism measure), funny, told the tale of the working classes that we rarely hear about in Malaysia in their own language and poked fun at commonly held views.

Can't really understand why the film is banned in Malaysia. I would hardly view it as being sympathetic to the Malayan communist cause. I have watched "proper" communist films in China and believe me, this doesn't fit the bill.It simply presents another point of history when I never read about in my Sejarah textbooks.

What struck me most were the song clips RTM style, with costumes from different races. The IC song with the schoolgirl on the bicycle was quite funny.

Malaysians have become so accepting of the IC (its small, convenient) that they are completely unaware of the potential it can have on infringing our civil liberties-this is a contentious issue here in the UK as ID cards are being introduced.

Keep up the good work Amir and look forward to viewing your next film.

8:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

another review from the London screening can be read here.

9:14 am  
Blogger Amir said...

Thanks to everyone for your reports. Made me wish even more that I could've been there. Oh well, if the sequel makes it to London somehow...

The list of online reviews has been duly updated here. It pretty much runs the gamut.

1:33 pm  

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