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.