Friday, May 11, 2007

Even Malay Songs Cannot Escape Clutch Of Self-Appointed Moralists

Pity the Malay in the entertainment business. He can't direct films which displease moralists, nationalists, historians, religious leaders, politicians, soldiers etc etc. The comedian is castigated for 'insulting' air stewards. The singer cannot sport long hair or dress 'inappropriately'. The actor/actress cannot play morally 'unacceptable' roles or speak in less than 'perfect' Bahasa Malaysia while 'unnecessary' and 'excessive' use of English is frowned upon. As if that is not bad enough, now a Malay band has been condemned for its song "Papa Jahat" which has riled a few relics in parliament who termed it 'unsuitable', might cause children to disrespect their parents and threaten Islamic and family values! And the non-Malays think that only THEY are discriminated! The full report from the International Herald Tribune follows.

A Malaysian band behind the country's biggest new hip-hop hit — whose chorus features a woman warbling about a "bad papa" — is facing criticism by lawmakers that the song threatens Islamic and family values. The Fabulous Cats, a four-member group that released its debut album Thursday, has scaled radio charts and become a favorite cell phone ring tone in recent weeks with its Malay-language first single, "Papa Jahat," or "Bad Papa."

The upbeat song has become so inescapable that it sparked debate in Parliament, where senators who were debating entertainment industry issues on Monday warned the lyrics of "Papa Jahat" might cause children to disrespect their parents.

"Encouraging people to sing a song that criticizes a father completely contradicts Islam," Senator Jins Shamsudin said, adding parents have contacted him to voice their concerns. The song's meaning is vague, but it includes lines in colloquial Malay that can be roughly translated as "Papa, don't be a bad papa; Don't be too naughty, papa," and "Previously papa was full of deception, papa promised that papa wouldn't do it."

The band's manager, Anne Mukhtar, said Thursday lawmakers have misinterpreted the song, stressing it was intended to "remind all of us about family issues, especially since the divorce rate in Malaysia is believed to be increasing. It is not to encourage people to be rude or to harm others," she told The Associated Press.

The band's leader, Farish Ramli, who wrote the song, has parents who divorced, she added. Farish did not immediately answer calls on his cell phone.

Legislators did not call for "Papa Jahat" to be formally banned, though Jins and another senator said it was "unsuitable" for radio airwaves in Malaysia, which advocates moderate Islam. Nearly 60 percent of the country's 26 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims.

Malaysian laws forbid the broadcast of songs with offensive or sexually explicit lyrics. Government-run stations have refused in past years to play hits such as Madonna's "Erotica" and Hong Kong pop diva Faye Wong's "In The Name Of Love."
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Blogger walski69 said...

It's a long-standing problem, contradicting messaging from the entertainment "Establishment" (by which I mean those politicians, over-the-hill artist cum politicians wannabes, etc. who have a hand in the business) - that our artistic community needs to be more creative, and at the same time circumventing and censuring their work, on grounds of morality, religion, etc.

Mind you, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if our fave punching bag, Zainuddin "Just call me Joe" Maidin follows up in typical knee-jerk fashion to call for a formal ban on the song.

While I generally don't like Malay songs (because they tend to focus on non-substantial subject matter, and are pretty sappy overall), there are a few that deserve merit. Papa Jahat is one of them, because of its social relevance.

Too bad the buffoons in power tend to see things from a very narrow, and literal perspective. And when it comes to the arts and creativity, looking at things from a narrowly literal, and literally narrow, perspective will generally result in such slanted myopified casternation.

As the Walski-fied adage sez: "those who can't do teach, and those who can't teach become politicians".

p.s. - sorry for not being more active in the comments of late. I have, however, been visiting. Albeit discretely ;-)

2:02 PM GMT+8  
Blogger The Malaysian. said...

Well said Walski. As for the 'furtive' visits and paucity of comments, mea culpa too.

2:15 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only restrictions, banning and holier-than-thou directives in songs, we have also been fed with distorted accounts of history. See: Malaysiakini latest posting on Dr Kua Kia Soong's latest publication. The true version of May 13 incident. We should also escape the distorted official version of history. Deliberately distorted to serve some people's agenda. Sources of the publication from London Archives (declassified documents).

2:25 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous moo_t said...

Yet another news bring to us from the biggest animal show in the country

2:26 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe they should censor the word CINTA, KASIH, SAYANG, RINDU and best of all ASMARA.

10:47 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many commentators did'nt realise that the term "papa jahat" has been used freely in very day conversations refering to anything cheeky.
This term is adopted from a homemade video clip that has been circulating for some times. It recorded a man and his wife making love and at the climax, the wife shouted papa jahat several times. That's why they seek to ban the song.

10:32 AM GMT+8  

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