Malaysiakini : “And what sort of lives do these people, who pose as
being moral, lead themselves? My dear fellow, you forget that we are in
the native land of the hypocrite.” - Oscar Wilde, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’
| The cancellation of Fa Abdul’s play 'Sex in Georgetown City' (later
renamed 'Love in Georgetown City'), is the kind of fascist tactic that
most Malaysians should be horrified with, but which goes unnoticed
because people do not understand how religious extremists count on small
wins to achieve a big victory.
I read Pravindharan Balakrishnan’s letter to Malaysiakini about
the cancellation of the play and marvelled at how Pravindharan talked
about “functionalism,” our education system and conflicting normative
values, which made it sound like we were at a tea party instead of a
knife fight in an alley, which is exactly what the fight against
religious extremism is in this country.
It is ridiculous talking
about our screwed-up education system when the reality is that in
Penang, for instance, the state government, which likes to claim it
believes in secular values, has made it a point to out-spend
the previous state government when it comes to Islamic funding. Just
last year when Lim Guan Eng was still chief minister, he crowed that
RM4.11 million to Islamic affairs showed that the state government did
not neglect the welfare of Malays and Islam in the state.
made this point numerous times. When you fund organisations that promote
a specific kind of Islamic narrative, what you get are religious bigots
and extremists, probably enjoying gorging on state coffers, spouting
religious propaganda to clamp down on our public space and define public
So when the Penang mufti. objecting to a play he did not
see because of its original title, says this - “Art and entertainment
activities that are left uncontrolled will only lead to the destruction
of humankind” – what we are left with is not a religious operative
attempting to crack down on our public space, but rather
state-sponsored, state-funded and state-sanctioned religious thuggery,
that is attempting to define art and what is acceptable discourse in our
Forget functionalism, this is about fascism. This
is also about lies and hypocrisy. Both of which are the currency
extremists trade in. Penang PAS Youth information chief Ahmad Shafian
Ujar claimed that this play will lead to ‘free sex, baby dumping, drugs and other social issues.”
community is he representing? I did not see Christian, Hindu or
Buddhist religious operatives protesting this play. So he’s there not
for the non-Malays, but for the Malay community, the Islamic community.
does this say about these social issues? It tells us that these "social
problems" are more prevalent in areas where religious dogma is public
policy This is a fact. Now, those places, I am sure, are not staging
English-language productions with titles such as 'Sex in Kota Bharu.'
when this religious operative blames the DAP state government for not
cracking down on plays like this, I blame the Penang state government
for continuing to outspend BN in furthering the agenda of religious
intolerance and for failing to redefine the Malay/Muslim agenda in
That RM4.11 million could have been spent on bolstering
educational initiatives for young Malays and after-school secular
activities for Malay students, instead of funnelling money to the
Islamic affairs bureaucracy which, let me guess, has no state oversight.
This is what people mean when they say that Pakatan Harapan is not
changing the narrative.
Drenched with sex
is the hypocrisy. These religious types always like to make it seem as
if non-Malays are obsessed with sex. Even though this particular play
was written and produced by a Muslim, the implication is that these
so-called liberal values are always attached to “sex”. The reality is
that the Malay/Muslim media is drenched with sex. The Malay press
reports endlessly on the sex lives of celebrities. They report endlessly
on the sexual activities of the average Malay rakyat.
readership laps up these stories. For all this talk about banning plays
and works of literature by these religious hoodlums, what is in the
Malay media is the constant exploration, or should that be exploitation,
One of the protesters of Fa Abdul’s play was worried that the LGBTQ agenda would be propagated by her play. How about this? A couple of months ago, Malay-language daily Kosmo! ran a cover story title – ‘Terseksa jadi hamba seks teman serumah’ (Coerced into becoming sex-slave of housemate). For the record, I am not an avid Kosmo!
reader. I have many young Malay friends who pass me this kind of news
stories because to them it demonstrates the hypocrisy in their
This particular story is about how a young Malay male
named Zach, in a loving heterosexual relationship with Shira, is
blackmailed into committing homosexual sex acts with his housemate,
Fariz, after the latter lends him money which he cannot pay back.
I have not seen Fa Abdul’s play, but this rencana utama
(lead story) seems to me something our moral guardians would latch
onto. I am curious though: if someone is blackmailed into committing
homosexual sex acts, is it still a religious crime? After all, Zach thought this was a test from god - Dia juga mengakui lebih positif dan menganggap perkenalannya dengan Fariz adalah ujian daripada Tuhan.
How does someone get coerced into committing homosexual acts?
Apparently, he could not repay his loan, so he had sex in lieu of
repayment. Then the guy records their sex acts and blackmails him for
And Zach eventually reconciled his relationship with Fariz as a test from god - Dia juga mengakui lebih positif dan menganggap perkenalannya dengan Fariz adalah ujian daripada Tuhan.
Why isn't there a clamour to shut down Kosmo!?
Because our moral guardians are more interested in clamping down the
public space in urban areas than in the Malay/Muslim public space?
Or maybe they just understand that life is stranger than fiction.