|We're off: The Penang Roadshow|
|Written by straits-mongrel|
|Saturday, 21 November 2009 01:38|
It was humbling that SABM kicked off its very first roadshow at a venue with deep historic roots. The Hu Yew Seah complex on Madras Lane, Penang has a storied record that many Penangites themselves may not be aware of.
Apart from the main clubhouse built in 1914 and 1928, the compound also hosts a primary school and kindergarten complete with a badminton hall. Back in the '60s, when the government launched the national language campaign, this was one of the main centres teaching Bahasa Malaysia to the locals.
But the best-kept secret lies in a small marble plaque mounted on a wall of the hall in the main building.
Yup, the Nobel poet Rabrindranath Tagore officiated the opening of the building. (Of course, 'twas back in the days when people of real calibre were given such honours rather than the token Menteri or Datuk these days.) Now, that got us pretty excited.
KOMAS, a smart partner of SABM, conducted an energetic and educational workshop for about a dozen youths. There were lots of running, scribbling, debate, and a newfound appreciation of the neat diversity of this land.
The afternoon section, the forum proper, wasn't exactly brimming with people - about 70 people registered. But the show kicked off all the same, headed by Fahmi Reza who delved into the history of this country. His documentary, Sepuluh Tahun Sebelum Merdeka, was played as the curtain-raiser to the event. Never fails to bring a lump to the throat.
Al-Mustaqeem of the Middle Eastern Graduates Centre touched on the hotspots of Islamic sensitivities, or rather the enchanting absence of it. By his reading of the Holy Quran, Islam is at peace with all who believe, regardless of denomination. As for ethnic discrimination, class separation, and other twisted oneupmanship, sorry, but there's no place in there for a Muslim.
From another view, but on a similar chord, Goh Keat Peng of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MMCCBCHST) espoused oneness in the basic tenets of all religions.
Law professor Dr Azmi Sharom came down hard on misreadings of the Federal Constitution. Ketuanan Melayu and the claim that Malaysia is an Islamic State are mere myths to be dispelled.
SABM core group member Haris Ibrahim asked: Are we a nation in distress? His answer - after squaring up the many injustices, the divide-and-rule nature which reaches down to the roots of scoiety - is an emphatic yes. And only the Rakyat can help itself.
"We must. We have turned a blind eye for too long."
Stand up, said Jaya. The SABM core member urged the audience to take an active stand to recover lost ground. "It is for our children that we do this," he said. "We probably won't see this in our lifetime, but the seed has to be sown."
These were followed by presentations on No to ISA, Yes to ATA (Robert Foo, SABM) and Voters' Education (Danny Chua, SABM). An engaging question-and-answer took place after the various talks proving that while the audience was small, it was keen on a better Malaysia.
Gadoh, a movie produced by KOMAS, fittingly capped the evening's forum.
Penang's the first; there will be more in the months to come. SABM is already working on its next Roadshow even as this is published. And we'll get better, this much we promise.
Stay tuned because we'll be coming your way.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 November 2009 21:31|