Monthly Archives: May 2012

An Evening With Najib At Dataran Merdeka

I went down to Dataran Merdeka on the 27th of May 2012 to see our beloved Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, or affectionately known as Ah Jib Kor!

It was the Majlis Ramah Mesra Warga Penjaja & Peniaga Kecil 1Malaysia. In other words, a friendly ceremony of hawkers and small business owners.

This was near the fountain. Small crowd.

Then I headed on the grass and towards the light, where our PM was giving a speech!

What a crowd!

Another view.

And then I got to the front with my Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus on the A900. Not the most pixel-dense sensor these days! (That would be the A77, but I didn’t bring that…)

I have to say that Ah Jib Kor, with his cap to the side, has that hipster vibe going on. He’s so cool he doesn’t button his buttons up!

Najib cut the yearly fees of registering and maintaining a license to RM50 per year, if I remember correctly, and announced insurance for them, to massive cheers. I don’t remember which insurance he meant, but I’ll assume it’s not general insurance, which has a fatwa against it, in Malaysia.

To be honest, I was disappointed that I didn’t see Dato’ Jamal Md. Yunos.

Transformasi Najib! I brought home 2 copies of this. I got it from one guy who had 4 copies!

They then presented him with tokens of appreciation.

I’m not sure what’s going on in this portrait – 111Malaysia?

And then something for his wife, Datin Paduka Seri Dr. Hajah Rosmah Binti Mansor.

And then the ladies went wild for old-school rocker, M. Nasir!

He didn’t bring a band. He sang his hits – Hati Emas, being one of them I remember.

Najib headed to a stall to make Teh Tarik, but I took pictures from behind. On the way, fans swamped him to get their Transformasi Najib book signed!

7 ‘blocks’ of rows.

6 rows per ‘block’. I regret not taking another picture to show this clearly.

Empty spots.

Another empty area.

Click image for larger version.

As you can see, there are about 38 seats in a row, in a tent.

Behind the shaded area, there were 19 more rows behind.

However, some rows were not full from left to right and tapered away.

3 non-VIP tents in total.

17 tables, with 10 seats each, in the VIP tent.

Ah Jib Kor also said that there were around 15,000 to 20,000 people present. So how many seats were there?

Number of seats from left to right = 38 seats/tent * 3 tents = 114 seats
Number of rows from front to back = (6 rows/block * 7 blocks) + 19 rows beyond the tents = 42 rows + 19 rows = 61 rows
Number of seats in the VIP tent area = 17 tables * 10 seats/table = 170 seats
Total number of seats = (114 seats * 61 rows) + 170 seats = 6954 seats + 170 seats = 7124 seats

Sure, there were pockets of empty seats, but there were also people lingering outside at the fountain, so they even out.

I hereby state my estimate as 8000 people.

However, the committee who gave out the shirts and registered people should be able to give a much more solid number.

And then it was time for Ah Jib Kor and Rosmah Mansor to leave.

Seriously, he rocks his cap.

Not sure what these bikers do – I can only assume they are part of his security entourage. Not sure what’s up with the face masks though.

Meanwhile, back at Dataran Merdeka, a cleaner wears a DBKL Unit Flying Squad shirt. I wonder how he got it.

As I walked back, I passed an interesting license plate!


Where: Pusat Rakyat Loyar Burok / 50B / The Mansion
When: 26th May – 3rd June 2012
Who: Malaysian contributors from around the world, curated by a panel organized by Fotoprojek.
How Much: Free, I guess?

I quote from the site:

FOTOPROJEK : BERSIH 3.0 / RETROSPECTIVE is a chronicle of the April 28th event as seen through lenses around the world. This week-long project organized by Fotoprojek, a citizen initiative, aims to introduce a subjective point of view from the front lines of the conflict.

The exhibition will showcase over 250 photos by Malaysian contributors from around the world and curated by a panel organized by Fotoprojek. Submissions were open to professionals and amateurs.

This non-partisan photography project aims at presenting the events of the day without bias with the objective of allowing the public decide for themselves on the contents of the photo.

* This is an independent grassroots photography project and does not claim any association to any organisation.

I also interviewed Vignes Balasingam, who is a curator on the panel:

1) What are your thoughts on exhibitions versus online albums? Would you ride the wave and publish pictures soon after, when people are high on the buzz, or wait?

I think online albums are great for reviewing work, to know what is out there and get a lot of information in a short span of time, all at one place. However a print exhibition is always more exciting to me – for one the prints are much larger and something about a photograph being printed out makes it a lot more “convincing”. A digital image feels too fleeting and flimsy.

Also, I feel that at gallery exhibitions, what is interesting is how the images react to the space. You will see that the images curated for this show have been carefully selected for its photographic value but also arranged in a way that makes sense to the space its hanging in.

In this way the image takes on a new life and meaning when in a gallery space by virtue of how it is displayed there. And as curators that is what comes to mind much of the time – about the room and what it feels like, the light quality in the spaces and the mood it conveys, the sizes of the images, how much or little to put into a room, the subject matter, etc.

Therefore, it’s my feeling that while it’s great that photos are up on the Internet the instance something happens, its entirely something else to look at work that has been carefully curated for a hanging exhibition. The element of retrospect and hindsight also plays a greater part in making these exhibitions a more worthwhile thing to visit.

2) Does the ease of sharing pictures that are already online, override the curated exhibition in terms of getting the message across?

As I mentioned above, the hanging exhibition to me is a very unique experience to see the work in its physical form and in a very special context. I also think that the other charm of the gallery exhibition is that its a fleeting “performance”. Its there for a week or two, and then its gone – never to be seen in that context again. So in this way gallery exhibits are really a unique experience.

Online galleries are great as they have the potential to reach a larger audience and have a much longer presence in the social sphere as they dont come down after two weeks. Plus the ability for folks to repost links, etc make it available to a wider audience.

However its message is often fleeting and very rushed. How often we jump from one browser window to another in just seconds. The ability to hold the viewers attention and promote critical thinking in online albums is very weak compared to a hanging exhibition.

3) Knowing that some authorities do not understand the role of media in conflict, would you photograph conflict defensively, or get in on the action no matter what?

I dont think that the incidences between the authorities and media stems from a lack of understanding or misunderstanding. The media has been functioning in Malaysia for a very long time and have had a pretty cordial existence with the authorities. However what happened on that day between the media and authorities was an extraordinary case.

In photographing in areas where there is a hostile reaction to the presence of photographers, it’s a tricky balance because you cant hold back too much or you wouldn’t be as effective as you’d like to be, and on the other hand, if you take too many risks and get caught, you may lose all your work. So its a fine line. I think experience, forward planning and knowing your exit routes make a lot of sense.

4) How does one curate an event where each photographer gets very different pictures and a very different story and experience?

Good question. Contrary to your question, I think most of the images we’ve seen tend to have very similar themes, shots and choices of telling a story. So for us as curators, the challenge was really finding the unique stories from the submissions and curated them in a way that would be fair to what happened on the ground.

You see, this exhibition isnt about putting forward any agenda, neither is it a rebuttal to anything. Its plainly a re-look at the events of the day through the eyes of different photographers and trying to give a larger view of what happened.

The uniqueness of this exhibition really lies in how the photographs are put together. The prime idea we wanted to achieve as curators is to show the work in a new way – otherwise there wouldn’t be any point in looking at it because you can see it all online, right? So the photographs almost are a poetic walk through the experiences once again. The whole idea of this exhibition is to encourage people to abandon the ideas put forth by politics and the media and come to their own conclusions, by themselves, for themselves.

The beauty about photography is in its subjectivity and ambiguity. Through the curating process we hope to make the audience unlearn and rediscover what happened on their own.

I would like to extend a very very special thanks to the dedicated photographers around the world who contributed to this amazing exhibition. Without their dedication in documenting the event and wanting to be part of this by sending in and editing their work, this exhibition would have never been possible. On behalf of the curating team, I’d like to express what an honour it’s been for us to work with you and your exceptional images. You guys and girls rule!

(End interview.)

I’ll be dropping by on another day, probably Sunday the 27th of May 2012.

Also, check out:
My pictures from BERSIH 3.0

Prema Yin, Back

Sometime back on the 2nd of November 2011 I headed down to good ol’ Sri Hartamas (not Desa Sri Hartamas) for the neighborhood pub/gritty rock venue, The Backyard Pub.

Who was on the bill? The electro-jazz-cat Darren Ashley. He cranked up his Kaoss pad for his electro funk dance rock goodness! He did, in a less common moment, veer a bit into his guitar-wielding history and did a cover of Raul Midon – State Of Mind.

However, he was just the opener, for Prema Yin! This funk/soul/rock-and-roll lass has stage presence, having been around the scene for ages (earliest I’d seen her was Aseana Percussion Unit and International Groove Collective!) This would be her farewell gig before she would embark on a tour of the United States.

Of course, in my true fashion, this blog entry is so backdated that Prema Yin had already returned from her tour and is back in Malaysia.

Moe Joe!

Random sexy back. No this is not Prema’s sexy back – which apparently was too sexy for some Malaysians, in her ‘Marilah’ video.

Broken guitar string downtime.

Here with her band, also known as Mordo Blasters in their free time, and also part of the Darren Ashley band.

The night ended with an awesome jam session, with Collin and Alda Tan (of Car Crash Hearts), Ryan and Prema (of the Prema Yin band) and Darren Ashley all on stage. At the very end of the jam, the power went out! I dub it the Backyard Blackout Jam.