The dog gone politics of Namewee - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Setiap pemberontak, terutama pemberontak dalam pemikiran dan moral untuk menemukan nilai-nilai kemanusiaan dan kebenaran, adalah pemberontak perseorangan, yang berani menantang apa yang sudah ada dan yang jadi ketentuan satu kebenaran usang!” - Nasjah Djamin, Indonesian author
COMMENT | A right-wing Malay member from an NGO, which is really just a cut-out for the establishment - what can I say, you have to listen to everyone because reality, not truth, is somewhere in between - posed a banal question when he heard I was supportive of rapper provocateur, Namewee. He asked how I would feel if Namewee had a performance in front of temple which hurt the sensitivities of Indians in Malaysia.
I told him, I would feel insulted only because it was not an Indian rapper provocateur behind the performance. However, I am the wrong person to ask this question. While many Indians claim that I have written too many articles critical of the Indian community - I assumed I was engaging in some sort of communal introspection - many Malays claim that I am anti-Malay/Muslim. While some Chinese claim that I write anti-Chinese articles because - wait for it - I am critical of the DAP. Go figure.
So yeah, I do not fall into the category of Malaysians whose sensitivities are bruised whenever someone says something bad about my tribe. Heck, I think tribal politics is what makes cultural unity in diverse cultures a Sisyphean endeavour. There are better mechanisms to ensure solidarity amongst diverse polities instead of retreating to cultural tropes.
What I like about Namewee is not that he sometimes offends the establishment, but rather he does not conform to some sort of politically-correct narrative of what it means to be “Malaysian”.
He is a constant reminder to the establishment that there is a certain section of the Malaysian society who are pissed off with the antics of the government of the day and they express themselves without resorting to the conventional platitudes that oppositional types confine themselves to.
He is also a constant reminder to the oppositional forces in this country that some people do not subscribe to the politically-correct narratives of what it means to be “Malaysian”. All of this goes back to the reality of young people who feel that they are estranged from the political process. This may have nothing to do with this rapper but is indicative of how young people are detached from the political process altogether.
I would just like to remind the state security apparatus and the various NGOs advocating on behalf of “Malaysians” whose sensitivities were bruised, that they have grossly misunderstood Namewee, yet again. Do not take my word for it, take (now Minister of Culture and Tourism, then Minister in the Prime Minister's Department) Mohamed Nazri Aziz said about the rapper when he ran afoul of the establishment and their proxies for his obscenity-laden diatribe against the racists remarks of a headmistress back in 2010.
According to Nazri, controversial rapper Namewee is not a racist but a young man who has been “grossly misunderstood” and misrepresented by the media. “He has done nothing wrong which may be considered an offence under any laws in this country,” Nazri said.
In the same article, Namewee clarified that he was supportive of the 1Malaysia concept and decried that the media only wanted to highlight his controversial videos and not the ones who showed his love for his country. Some would argue that his offensive videos demonstrate his love for his country more effectively than the other videos he makes but since I am no expert on his oeuvre, I will just leave it at that.
All of this, of course, makes for a wonderful mess because Namewee still does not slip into any convenient categories. He is supportive of the 1Malaysia concept but the reality is that the 1Malaysia concept that the Najib regime envisions is not the same as Namewee envisions.
The proof of this is the videos he makes and the films he has made.
As an “artist”, at least he is doing something. Now people may argue that he only reacts when it comes to issues facing the Chinese community but here the deal, the Chinese community is the Malaysian community, just like any other community "is" (not part of) the Malaysian community.
That is what the establishment hates the most - the constant reminder that either the enforced homogeneity of the Malay community or the enforced subservience of the non-Malay communities through the so-called social contract is challenged whenever artists like Namewee make their controversial videos clips.
Moreover, let’s be honest.
Staging a performance with participants in canine drag in front of Putrajaya buildings (and allegedly a mosque) is hardly controversial or thought-provoking. The establishment for some silly reason got their knickers in a twist because this was the Year of the Dog and someone made fun of them.
Also, with all the “good” work the MACC has been doing, we know that the system is riddled with corruption, hence alluding to that in dog barks was appropriate.
So just so everyone understands, the state sends out a political and religious message by dissociating itself from the celebrations of a Malaysian community by rejecting the images and symbols of the dog.
The state is also mired in corruption scandals and has claimed that such “news” is fake. This rapper, intentionally or not, reacts to both and this is deemed to have hurt the sensitivities of Malaysians.
I sincerely hope that Namewee continues making these provocative videos. I sincerely hope that in the future, we will see Namewees from the Malay and Indian communities. The establishment cannot carry on bullying people this way.
And if you are a politician who actually believes that the sensitivities of certain communities trump freedom of expression, then you are a clown who deserves all the mocking you get.