Saturday, May 05, 2007

Words for Freedom

Missed the grand opening for the World Press Freedom Day at Central Market yesterday but was happy to meet a couple of important advocates for freedom of expression for the first time.

One was controversial blogger Jeff Ooi, pictured here with Animah Kosai and Sarah; the other director for Centre for Independent Journalism, Sonia Randhawa. I also met up again with Rocky.

I was very happy to pick up a couple of CIJ's publications for free: Instant expert: The Malaysian Media and Freedom of Expression and the Media.

Animah and I had agreed to do readings. (Or rather, I got roped in, so I roped Animah in!) My friend Diana Cooper also turned up to support. (Many thanks!)

The event was an hour later in starting (apparently because some folks wanted to go and have lunch). We got tired and hungry and hot waiting around and went to have some lunch ourselves. A good discovery was that the Indian restaurant in the annexe has some of the best tandoori chicken and naan I've tasted.

When the event finally got going, the appalling sound system meant that the readers couldn't be heard clearly. Tshiung Han See read something that turned out to be a war poem by Robert Bly. (He gave me his copy afterwards.)

A couple of young guys got up and read pieces in Tamil. (It would have been really nice if they could at least have said what they were reading.) A girl strummed a guitar and sang Bird on the Wire.

I read the piece by Asli Erdogan in my best schoolteacherly manner, trying to be as loud as possible to compensate for the distorting microphone. Animah read a verse from the Quran (remind me which one again, Animah!) which fitted the theme very well and then a very effective extract from Brecht's Gallileo.

We snuck out early, unable to bear the poor sound quality and the heat any longer.

There are some nice pictures of the opening on Jeff's blog.


SecretHistory said...

My, aren't you a little celebrity in the making, making rounds around the Malaysian readings circuit. Hope to catch you reading next time with a better sound system. Maybe I'll get you to autograph my first edition of "Time for a Tiger" when I buy it from ebay.....

lil ms d said...

sharon! sorry, had borders reading!

you free for lunch this week?

bibliobibuli said...

i'm too big to be a little anything, secret history!

i don't want fame neither. i do things because i'm asked or because they are things as worth doing and no-one else is doing them yet.

i will be so jealous if you buy "time for a tiger" on e-bay!!!!!

dina - i feel sad i missed you at borders yesterday. yes, am lunchable any day just send me an sms. very free until end of month and then will be back into teacher-training

animah said...

Surah 96 (Al-Alaq meaning the Cell, or blood clot), verses 1 to 5. These are said to be the first 5 lines of the Quran revealed to Mohammad) through the angel Gabriel:
Read in the name of thy Sustainer who created -
Created man out of a germ cell
Read for thy Sustainer is the most Bountiful One
Who has taught [man] the use of the pen
Taught man what he did not know
(translation Mohammad Asad)

That's a lovely picture. It was good seeing Jeff again after so many years, before he became infamous.

Perhaps if we had not crept out, the organisers might have thought of saying thank you and giving us a token gift, like a glass of water.

I hope they do a better job in fighting for press freedom.

Chet said...

What time was the opening? Dina's reading was at 3:00 p.m. Perhaps you could've attended it after all?

bibliobibuli said...

as animah says maybe we could have made it if the reading had started and finished on time. it was supposed to start at 1p.m.

Han said...

Also, it's Tshiung Han See.

Han said...

Forgive me, blogger ate the comment that was meant to precede the latter comment. Or it could have been human error.

Thank you again for reading, Sharon. Sorry you and Animah had a wretched time. Hope you enjoy the poem, I think I'll give it another shot this Sunday.

I think CIJ delayed the reading so that more people would show up; not an excuse, I know.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is in support of press freedom as long as they get good sound quality, air-conditioning and a good meal out of it.

bibliobibuli said...

sorry for getting your name wrong han, will correct immediately! ... well i got some very good things out of the day inc. the robert bly poem which i like very much

Han said...

Thanks Sharon.