Artists Respond: Malaysia’s Political Situation

Over the weekend, Malaysia was plunged into political uncertainty as politicians and parties tried to manoeuvre and out-manoeuvre one another. Mahathir Mohamad has resigned as prime minister—although he’s still serving as the interim prime minister at the moment—and plenty of horse-trading is going on as Malaysians wait to find out who will emerge victorious. (For a recap, check out our explainer.)

But the turmoil of the past weekend isn’t just about party statements and parliamentary seats; it also has an impact on the Malaysian people and the hopes that many had for a “new Malaysia”. New Naratif asked five artists to help make sense of the situation.

Gajah sama gajah berjuang... (When elephants fight with each other) by Charis Loke

Gajah sama gajah berjuang… (When elephants fight with each other) by Charis Loke

“I keep thinking of the thousands of people serving in civil society and the government, whose work building bridges and futures is now at risk. How many policies and programmes—the decriminalisation of suicide, the abolishment of the mandatory death penalty, anti-stalking and anti-sexual harassment legislation, the economic stimulus package—are stalled or in danger of being abandoned, all because of political posturing? When politicians tussle, the people suffer.”


Kerajaan Pintu Belakang Dilarang Masuk / No Entry To Backdoor Government by Fahmi Reza

Kerajaan Pintu Belakang Dilarang Masuk No Entry To Backdoor Government by Fahmi Reza

“Dalam sebuah demokrasi rakyat adalah raja. Kita yang tentukan parti mana yang akan diberi kuasa untuk memerintah. Kalau mana-mana parti mahu ambil-alih Putrajaya, mereka perlu dapatkan mandat daripada rakyat, bukan masuk ikut pintu belakang.”

“In a democracy, the people are king. We decide who should be given the right to rule. Parties that want to take over Putrajaya should seek the people’s mandate, not enter through the back door.”


Generation Y: Will We Really Be Represented? by Kedung Ballang Kapong

Generation Y: Will We Really Be Represented? by Kedung Ballang Kapong

“Malaysian Millennials or Generation Y were born in the golden years of Malaysian Development (1982–2004). One key event from that era was the initiation of Wawasan (Vision) 2020, which was considered a failure despite years of planning. As Gen Ys, we grew up seeing the same people that have governed us for years. Most of us by now are already in our 20s and 30s but yet the same people from our childhood are still holding on to power to this day. All we have done is follow; but when will we really be given a chance to lead?”


Berkat Rapuh / Fragile Blessings by Max Loh

Berkat Rapuh / Fragile Blessings by Max Loh

“Adakala kita mudah lupa bahawa berkat-berkat kecil yang kita nikmati sekarang adalah hasil daripada titik peluh usaha perjuangan kita bersama. Apabila kita terpaksa untuk berjuang lagi untuk apa yang betul, kita perlu ingat kepada pengalaman dan pencapaian kita sejauh ini, untuk memperkuatan hati dan minda untuk teruskan perjuangan.”

“Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the little blessings we currently enjoy were hard-won. When we’re forced to struggle again for what’s right, it’s important to remember to draw upon our experiences that have gotten us thus far, to bolster ourselves for the journey ahead.”


Rakyat Harapan Rakyat (The People are the Hope of the People) by Sonia Luhung Wan

Rakyat Harapan Rakyat (The People are the Hope of the People) by Sonia Luhong Wan

We are Harapan. We are Hope. Not any party, not any brand, not any VIP at the distant top; at the end of the day, we, the people, are the only ones who have kept, and can keep Hope alive—again and again, in spite of it all.”

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