I'm proud of two Eves on this auspicious day.
First is the creative one -- Yasmin Ahmad, whom I first posted a brief on when she won an international award for Sepet.
Second is MP Fong Po Kuan (DAP - Batu Gajah), whom I have heard a lot of, and read she is known as Cili Padi, a nick not to be trifled with (the owner, I mean), which fellow MP (BN - Jerai) Datuk Badruddin Amirldin in the august House found out on Thursday when the fierce one demanded of him an apology for a statement he made on Wednesday (March 30) for allegedly saying: "How long can the Yang Berhomat's husband stand her?"
Rightly, Cili Padi felt affronted, as would be anyone when hit by someone "below the belt".
She said that Badruddin's statement had contravened Standing Order 36(9), which states that no MP should utter any statement with malicious intent towards another MP, the Sun April 1, 2005 reported.)
Badruddin replied that Fong had misunderstood him. "I did not realise my remark would be seen as a malicious intent as it was only posed generally. It was the same when I asked the Arau representative (Datuk Seri Syed Razlan Putra Jamalullail) on how he could stand his wife.
That is what I would call jumping from the frying pan into a fire. People who make mistakes should just apologise, and then shut up instead of "elaborating" because often they compound the problem (like the CEO of Malacca when commenting on being directed to stop immediately the Mat Skodeng squad, but I digress a little ...)
If a fellow male MP did not take exception, it did not mean he did not feel offended as his tolerance level could be higher at a "dig" from another male -- but surely Badruddin didn't expect a female would, or should, go down to the same level as MCPs making her a butt of his joke?
I applaud Fong's fighting spirit. I also urge the Arau MP, out of respect to his own wife, to similarly demand an apology from Badruddin, belated no doubt, for making his wife the butt of a joke, innocent or otherwise, malicious or otherwise.
Empty Vessels Make the Most Noise
Elected members of Parlaiment must realise they are addressed as Yang Berhormat ("The honourable" ...) not for fun. Whatever that is said goes into the Hansard as records for posterity as historical readings, this is no kopitiam banter! In fact, my mates and I exercise a higher standard of decorum at the teh tarik stall when women/ladies are around, what more in direct address...)
Let's say "hear, hear!" to another warrior, Yasmin, so soon after her triumphant win at the International Festival of Women's Films in France. TheSun again on Page 5 as the above reported the director of Sepet as having chided MPs who sat on "high horses" to criticise her work.
Yasmin said MPs should be discussing "serious issues instead of wasting time debating her work".
She advised Datuk Dr Wan Hashim Wan Teh (BN - Gerik) not to see her movie if he feels strongly against it.
Wan Hashim had said the love story between a Chinese boy and a Malay girl was "nothing great" and does not reflect the national identity. He had added that he felt the movie's use of rojak language, a bedroom scene and a scene showing a manwearing underwear are unsuitable.
"Almost everybody who has seen the film agrees Sepet is the first Malaysian film to reflect a Malaysian identity," Yasmin said. "I always make sure my commercials and films do not sound fake."
Last week, one of Yasmin's advertisements also came under fire in Parliament for alleged "racial stereotyping", as it depicted a Malay youth not giving up his seat in an LRT to an old woman, a pregnant lady, and a blind man, an issue which was widely debated in the media too.
To Yasmin, I endorse her observation that "The strange thing is the public is behind me."
Indeed, I sometimes don't get it what some of these supposed leaders of society are crowing about.
Here I recall there was a similar hue-and-cry when the Hollywood movie "Entrapment" starring Sean Connery (of James Bond, special agent 007, fame), and Catherine Zeta-Jones was screened here. The film had featured the Petonas Twin Towers at its climax but there were also scenes of squatters of Kuala Lumpur as backdrop. The detractors cried "Foul" that Hollywood was running down Malaysia's image. Let's not kid ourselves, for indeed there are slums and squatters within a stone's throw from the KLCC and the 5-star hotels along Bukit Bintang.
Malaysia could have benefited immensely if only the tourism officials had cashed in on this blockbuster movie to promote Malayisa, but instead "small minded" officialdom let a golden opportunity slip by!
Have our MPs not heard of the term poetic licence? Maybe Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka should organise some crash courses.
Hey, Sepet and Entrapment are movies, for audience to escape momentarily to fantsay land, on their own free will and time. No enforcement officers force patrons to pay RM8-10 to enjoy a movie outing, be the movie moronic or wise, or otherwise -- escapism maybe, entertainment, no doubt, but we live in a free world, and we still treasure our choices.
So what if Sepet did not "reflect national identity"? This verdict by one MP was baseless assessment by one, or a few of MPs of similar mindset or inclination, and is essentially subjective, and therefore debatable. Movie-goers visit the cinematheque to be entertained, not to evaluate if the subject was "realistic" or not. Hey, real life has enough negativities to bear us down already, don't add on to it!
Creativity Is Not the Politicians' Forte
There are certain provinces of human activities best promoted by the specialists and genuine enthusiasts, and film-making or writing is definitely one of them. Anyway, creativity is not best defined by politicians, some of whom I question if they have sufficient IQ to excel, or even pass, a Form 5 essay test on good citizenship, civil society, corporate and social responsibility, and you know, healthy hobbies and the pursuit of happiness?
Remember there's such a thing as individual rights and freedoms, practised within te confines of the law, and elected representatives must never under-estimate the intelligence of their constituents. God gave us each a unique and thinking mind, remember?
To Yasmin and Cili Padi, my parting words is "Go forth and say your piece with fire and conviction, and do what is right for the country."
I'm also a writer, guess I can say I am from the creative field too, and I don't humbly rank myself as having produced writings of impeccable English. A debate in English with BN members of Parliament, anyone? Like Yasmin, if I feel I am good (nay, excellent, award-winning, remember?) in my particular field, I must believe in it myself, and don't have to be told by nincom....s to emulate others, like in Yasmin's case, to produce movies such as Paloh and Embun, big in budget, but I wonder of what magnitude in the mind and creative departments?