17 February 2009
This morning I was asked if I was a "political" person. I took it to mean if it meant that current political affairs concern me. My answer was both yes and no.

No, because politics is really boring to me. Not to mention depressing. Because if you take a step back and really look at Malaysian politics, it's really nothing but an elaborate power game played between neofeudalists. And I think that's just fucking boring. But still... what these overgrown boys get up to affects all of us.

The government issues our ICs and passports and licenses. They can put anyone of us under ISA for who knows what. The (blatantly racist) New Economic Policy determines which one of us gets a bigger piece of the pie (and let me remind you that it's not ideal). All things considered, how can anyone not be "political"?

So. Therefore. Yes, I am "political" person.

Being a "political" person, however, is not such a rare thing. Most of us are political without really knowing when or how or if we're involved in a political action. Being political need not necessarily mean attending marches or rallies or getting a elbow (or bladder) cramps from marathon letter-writing campaigns. It's about taking a stand. For something that you believe is right.

Of course, it doesn't mean one should be physically standing there in front of the enemy, waiting for someone to cast the first stone... please lah. That's just Hollywood bravado.

While sometimes taking it to the streets is the most dramatic way of bringing attention to an issue, I prefer political actions that are more creative in nature. That not only highlight the issue but connect it to something more or less fantastic. The Emergency Festival organised by Five Arts Centre last year was definitely a political action that was creative. I saw it as a big "fuck you" to the state sanctioned version of history, in particular the Malayan Emergency, which painted the Malaysian Communist Party and their guerilla struggle as terrorists and terrorism. But that was not the whole story. It was armed and it was violent, on both sides. And both sides had political agendas with consequences that affect us until today.

Marjane Satrapi's graphic novels and animated film "Persepolis" are not only touching works of autobiography but also reveal themselves to be a strong indictment against the government of Iran which has killed not only innocent people, but also more importantly, dreams, and replacing them with fear and suspicion.

Other examples abound.

Putting out zines, documentaries, films, books, paintings, letters to editors, making flags, coming up with new recipes, writing songs about it, etc -- these are all creative ways of stating one's political position. And the best thing about such strategies is that not only are they enjoyable to do, they present us as not merely pawns in someone else's political chessgame. We are all citizens with equal rights. Our level of education and stations in life should not hamper our access to those rights. Doing things that draw not only from our political stand but also from our creative ingenuity reinforces the reasons why these rights are vital in the first place: because we are humans. Our lives, no matter how inconsequential they may seem along the vast continuum of this planet's history, matter to us all. The fight against cynicism is vital. We are not machines along an assemblyline the state can turn on and off as it wishes.

And the way to make people stand up and notice when we stand up for ourselves and the people whom we care about is to do it creatively. With crayons and helmets and fairy dust!


Anyway, this long and aimless and somewhat naive rant is really to say this: please RPK don't kill yourself because of "that man". It's not worth it. The country needs you to stay alive! it's the only way we'll understand that heroes don't have to be martyrs to win the battle.

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