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Kampung That Malaysian Thing Born in Malaysia
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Wednesday, 26 May 2010 21:21

Here's why he was smiling at the laptop. Haris Ibrahim speaking to the diners in Sydney


For background, read here.


By Q. Khoo

At Abang Sam’s, Sunday, 23rd May 2010

Fifty-seven Malaysians-by-birth made their way to meet, greet and eat as Malaysians at home and abroad do. But this evening, each and every one of them knew it was going to be more than those three primary Malaysian traits.

A group who call themselves MIGSYD (for Malaysian Interest Group, Sydney) had organized a dinner to raise funds and more importantly, consciousness for the Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia Spirit.

While all had been reminded umpteenth times to please be not tardy and appear by 6pm, a narrow margin was allowed for rubber-timers and the oft-berated Malaysian time keepers. The organizers had run through their systems, menu and agenda to clockwork precision in their heads by then and tapping fingers on Abang Sam’s nicely set tables for a good 30 minutes.


Section of the family in Sydney.

True to Malaysian style, the session started a mere half hour later. Kudos for not running the clock by the hour-hand! (In our post mortem, we thought the attendees did well for timing.)

As platters heaped with Malaysian favourites landed on the tables, the first few minutes were directed at recipes and authenticity of sambals and curries. But we could sense that the entire group sitting elbows to elbows almost locking were glancing frequently at the screen and laptop taking centre stage in the restaurant section.

Someone had laced the screen with Malaysian documentaries to set the homeland mood.  Right after the amazing rendang, Haris Ibrahim who had made the trip from Bentong to Kuala Lumpur (lest the skype connection be less than expected) for the occasion, popped on the screen – it was no longer a borrowed tablecloth but the cynosure of all eyes as Harris fielded the multi-range questions with passion and persuasion. He impressed on all Malaysians that there was always something one can do, that there was no such thing as too small an act.

He related to how ordinary folks (volunteers in every instance) in Malaysia are working towards taking back the country from those who have abused and denied their rights that the founding fathers fought so hard to get for the people. Many of the audience were not aware of this spirit and commented favourably of the event. To the detractors, who were skeptical of the growth and spread of this spirit, you should have been there last night. The SABM's spirit has certainly descended on Australia even it is only Sydney so far.

Haris left the group with the feeling everyone was an anak bangsa Malaysia that evening.

With sufficient clues in the comments and through the dinner emails, and a stack of Silent Roar books at the reception, it was no longer a surprise that a familiar face would appear, was no other than RPK himself, flushed from his `coming out party’ in London and his packed-to-the-seams address on ISA in Holborn the day before.



Guess who else came to dinner? Albeit via cyberspace

His half-anticipated appearance was received with a tumultuous reception. Half of the attendees were incredulous that he would really come on – afterall these were ex-Malaysians whose smattering of the current goings-on in the country were at best, news items on the inside pages.

But there he was, large as life and three times as natural, bristling to take on our no-holds-barred barrage.

`What would garner the attention of a disenfranchised youth?’

`Are you now a pariah raja in the eyes of the Malaysian royalty?’

`Do you see similarities between Singapore politics and Malaysia’s?’

`Coward or hero?’


These were some the questions hurled and true to form, RPK returned the volleys with insight, wit and enthusiasm.



They have not forgotten. Nor shall we, on Malaysian shores, forget them

Fifty-seven Malaysians and Malaysian sympathizers (we identified a Singaporean couple who owned up under our stringent interrogation) staggered out, heaving happy tummies, heads filled with history-making information, and hearts singing refrains of their Malaysian birthright. One guest came all the way from Canberra and this evening, all colours representive of Malaysia were there. We were truly One Malaysia this evening. This evening, we were also colour blind and the fellowship flowed with the Malaysian bond linking us would have made our founding fathers proud.

For the three who helped put the evening together, it was well worth the time, effort and yeah, stringing up that tablecloth.

HSE who kickstarted the idea, found the restaurant, checked the menu and terrorized the kitchen staff. John who provided the IT presentation and made all the appointments. Shereen directed operations like the Lady General Hua Mu Lan and would have made Sun Tzu proud. Me who did the least but delegated the most. We have to acknowledge Abang Sam for his delicious menu and generosity of letting us have the event at his restaurant. Please support him as he has supported us.

Well, we all made sure the seats were filled, plates swept clean, attention directed, and that Haris’ and RPK’s different time zone timings wouldn’t be bummed around.

Australia, our adopted country loves us and we love it back. However, to quote SK in her email response to a critic saying that we should be concentrating in helping Australia first, “… & care does not have to be mutually exclusive: we have so much love and care to give, one should never jump to conclusion that doing for one deprives from the other. In fact, we are citizens of the world and the plight of all those who have no voice is our problem. I care very much about an African child who has no food and no healthcare, hence my support of MSF. We come into this world only once, let's all make it a better place for our future generations and NOT just for the one country we live in”.



Grateful tummies: Three cheers to Abang Sam's

The journey continues and the spirit continues to spread. Last night event was living proof that some Malaysians/ex Malaysians who have chosen to live in another country STILL care for the country of their birth.

Love to do it again. Lovely if you who are reading this, will come join us.

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sing |2010-05-27 23:55:50
Very encouraged to know what happened in Sydney. May the same be repeated in many other cities in Ossieland. I was in Sydney University from 81-86, and London Theological Seminary in 89-91.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 May 2010 22:24

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