Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Pictures from WPFD People's Arts Fest

The instant expert goes instantly!

The ComeBack Kings "teaching" the public about press freedom

Exhibition on communication rights

At the poetry reading session...Han, Melissa and Sharon

Zunar and his political cartoons

50 years on...the untold stories of workers

Mei Chern playing at the concert

A real troubadour...off the plan and on to the stage! Azmyl Yunor

Malaysiakini.com: Press freedom or nothing at all

By Bede Hong
7 May 2007
The children were tasked to draw anything they wanted. Freedom of expression. From self portraits to seashells, the results were as varied as the opinions of adults that hovered over them.

As many parts of the world observed World Press Freedom Day last Thursday, it passed without a major blip on Malaysia’s calender.

The few who did pay attention converged at the Central Market over the weekend, where events where held as a reminder of what the country has yet to achieve.

Political cartoonist Zunar, who exhibited his work at the Annex building, said real changes come through a change of government.

Noted for his stinging cartoons, Zunar is an unabashed Opposition man. He is editor-in-chief of Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s newspaper Suara Keadilan.

Blogging, the new force

His cartoons, banned by mainstream media, finds its way to the public through malaysiakini and several other alternative publications.

“The media is one with the government. I don’t think this government is willing to change. Since they don’t want to change, the best way is for a new government to be elected into power,” he said.

“The mainstream needs to do their part. If they don’t the only way to affect them is to ignore them. We don’t want their news,” he said.

In the case of a boycott, Zunar offers bloggers as the alternative “news providers.”

“They are a new force to be reckoned with,” he said.

Blogger Ahirudin Attan or Rocky's Bru while supporting this, said there should be some constraints.

The former executive editor of the Malay Mail, currently facing multi million ringgit suit by News Straits Times Press (NSTP) Holdings, disagreed with a total repeal of all laws concerning the press.

“There is a need for [certain elements] of the laws,” he said, referring to the 30 odd laws that govern the local press, including the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications (PPP) Act.

Free up the press

It was not so for Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) executive director Sonia Randhawa.

“There is no way that press freedom and the PPPA can exist together. You can't have more freedom or less freedom. You either have freedom or you don't,” she said.

She said power comes from defining the limitations on the press. How comments could be determined as an insult by those in power is an example, she said.

“We need to take examples from countries that have a history of peaceful co-existence [among groups]. The only way to achieve this is to free up the press, talk about issues, talk about problems,” she said.

All laws that govern the press must be repealed, she added.

The World Press Freedom Day was organised by CIJ, Traubadours Enterprise and malaysiakini. In addition to the arts workshop for kids, there was poetry reading and screening of several documentaries on discrimination.

A dozen children of Kampung Berembang settlers who were evicted by developers early this year, held a ‘wayang cardboard’ on Saturday night. They played out the eviction.

Also performing at nights were Panda Head Curry, Pak Pandir, Azmyl Yunor, Mei Chern, Modar, Peter Brown, Tan Sei Hon, Kamasutra and local rock band Carburetor Dung.

Watch a 10-minute video clip here.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

In case you missed the flyer...

Drawing in kids to express themselves

By Chai ML

The painting clearly shows a smug, white cat bathed in a background of light and dark brown hues.

The painter Tan See Ling asked me what I thought of it.

A non-connoisseur’s reply?

Simple. The use of soft pastel colours coupled with short, delicate brush strokes which make up the cat, and a pink ribbon wrapped around its neck show a painting lavished in feminine touches.

A contented feline drawn by a female artist, I said, with the same expression donned by the cat.

Tan motioned to me to observe the backdrop of the artwork more closely. I ran my fingers over, and realised how coarse and thick the brown splatter of paint was.

It was done out of sheer force and all spurred by negative feelings, said Tan.

Obviously, the cat couldn’t be that contented.

“Surrounded by the filth of the world, which is represented by the colour brown, the cat closes its eyes and looks away. It remains pure and untainted,” she said.

I couldn’t help but mull over how off on a tangent my answer had been.

Sensing my thought, Tan gave me a reassuring smile.

“It wasn’t wrong. Your opinion was not wrong,” she said.

“But surely it is! You are the painter. No one knows the painting more than you do,” I exclaimed.

“Yes, I’m the painter, but what you see belongs to you. Art embraces freedom. It gives me the freedom to express how I feel, but also accords you the freedom to view it the way you want.

“The artist is obviously conveying something to the viewers through his/her work. Shouldn’t we get the same message when we are viewing the same piece of art?

“Of course not. An artwork, no matter how directly presented, is open to interpretations. A painter knows that his/her work invokes in different people various sort of feelings and thoughts. That’s the beauty of art, and many artists use this ambiguity to hint on what they feel without being too direct, with hopes that the audience would be able to ‘read between the lines’. Doesn’t this strike a chord in you how similar art is to the printed word?

“Yes, both are a form of expressions.

“Correct. And why use the short term measure of shooting down an opposing idea directly when you can create an avenue for the public to think and judge for themselves on issues surrounding their life by using subtlety?”

For art teacher Tan See Ling, art is everything freedom – the freedom to express, to convey a message, to hold differing opinions, and to believe in what one truly feels.

No one has the right to dictate how you should feel or think about an art piece, much the same as issues like democracy and freedom of expression, she said.

The art instructor in the Turkish International School imparts this in her classes and also during lessons in her Thumb Art Studio in Taman Segar Perdana by allowing her students, ranging from toddlers to adults, ample space to string their thoughts together, find their own voice and convey them in their own way.

And what best way to encourage individuals to embrace freedom and acknowledge their rights other than starting them young?

Note: Tan See Ling will be holding art activities for children on Saturday and Sunday, 5 and 6 May at 11am in CM.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Talk on critical cartoons by Zunar

Political cartoonist Zunar will be having a special discussion on critical cartoons on Sunday 6 May from 5pm - 7pm at the Annexe@Central Market.

Zunar has published his collection titled "Cartoons on Tun...and others"

Followers of Zunar from his early days in Gila-Gila, Berita Harian and now Malaysiakini will be able to chat with him on the use of critical cartoons as part of their freedom of expression.

Speaking at the launch of his book "Cartoons on Tun...and others", Zunar said he does not draw merely for laughs.

“I don’t draw just for laughs. I draw so that people would laugh and think. I’d like to think of myself as a drop of water in the ocean but at least I am able to create a ripple or even a wave,” he added. (Excerpt from malaysiakini report)

Zunar's exhibits of some of his works will be up at the Annexe workshop area the whole of Sunday. He will meet his fans and have his discussions at 5pm.

Activism your own way

D.I.Y Aktivisma!

What in the world is an activist? Do you need a collective? Must you join an NGO? Is it necessary to have lots of button badges, chant slogans and hang out at demos?

Uhm… we don't really know. But we reckon activism is whatever happens when someone does, says or thinks of something that doesn't just involve the individual, but the larger context that we exist in. Something about relationship between the self and other people, public institutions like the media, school or government, animals small and big, air, water, sky or trees.

But hey, what do we know. Come hang out with us during the World Press Freedom Day Art Fest at Central Market, and set us straight :)

In the meantime, we'll also be sharing skills like silk-screen, stenciling, playing with masks, illustrations and more! Oh, and a session on what to do when the police tries to arrest you (of course)

DoItYourself Aktivisma is happening at:

When? Saturday, 5 May 2007
Time? 4pm
Where? Central Market, between the main building at the Annex
Who the heck are we? katagender.blogspot.com
More info? kata.gender@gmail.com


D.I.Y. Aktivisma!

Apa benda tu aktivis? Perlu ada kolektif? Mesti join NGO? Kena pakai berpuluh-puluh button badge, sahut slogan-slogan semua dan lepak kat demo?

Uhm… kami pun tak tahu sebenarnya. Tapi, kami rasa, aktivisma berlaku apabila sesiapa melakukan, berkata atau memikirkan tentang apa-apa benda yang melibatkan bukan saja seseorang individu, tapi konteks yang lebih besar. Tentang perhubungan di antara diri-sendiri dengan orang lain, insitusi awam spt sekolah, media atau kerajaan, binatang2 yang comel dan juga hodoh, air, udara ataupun pokok.

Tapi bukannya kami tahu apa-apa. Datang pada Pesta Seni Hari Kebebasan Akhbar Sedunia dan ajarler kami apatu sebenarnya aktivisma :)

Pada masa yg sama, kita akan berkongsi pengetahuan tentang silk-screen, stensil, main2 dgn topeng, ilustrasi dsbgnya. Oh, dan juga (semestinya) sesi tentang hak2 asas bila ditahan polis.

DoItYourself Aktivisma akan berlaku pada:

Bila? Sabtu, 5 May 2007
Masa? 4pm – 6pm
Dimana? Pasar Seni, di antara Annex & bangunan utama
Kami ni siapa? katagender.blogspot.com
Nak tahu lagi? kata.gender@gmail.com