Archive for category culture

Tahniah Dato’ Seri A. Samad Said, sasterawan rakyat bersenjata pena dan puisi

Saya ingin mengambil kesempatan ini untuk mengucapkan tahniah kepada Sasterawan Negara Dato’ Seri A. Samad Said di atas penganugerahan Darjah Gemilang Pangkuan Negeri oleh TYT Tun Dato’ Seri Utama Dr Haji Abdul Rahman Haji Abbas, Yang di-Pertua Negeri Pulau Pinang.

Penganugerahan ini adalah satu simbol pengiktirafan kepada beliau, atas khidmat bakti yang telah dicurahkan dalam dunia kesusasteraan dan budaya di tanah air, selain untuk sumbangan yang tidak ternilai harganya kepada lapangan aktivisme dan politik negara.

Pak Samad, seperti panggilannya di kalangan kita semua, adalah manifestasi ‘puisi jadi senjata’ di tengah-tengah medan politik Malaysia yang kini sedang berada di perbatasan pilihanraya paling penting dalam sejarah negara. Pak Samad adalah panglima rakyat, dengan bersenjatakan pena dan kata-kata, memujuk hati nurani kita semua agar mengusung perubahan dan mencapai impian kita sebagai rakyat Malaysia yang cintakan negara.

Hasil-hasil karya Pak Samad tidak pernah gagal membawa tema dan suara rakyat marhaen ke khalayak umum. Novel ‘Salina’ contohnya menjadi cerminan kesempitan hidup rakyat pasca perang dunia kedua, dan bagaimana rakyat marhaen ditindas.

Sajak-sajak Pak Samad setelah terjun ke lapangan aktivisme lebih-lebih lagi menggambarkan perasaannya yang menyala-nyala. Sajaknya yang dibaca bersempena Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat, beberapa bulan sebelum pilihanraya umum ke-13 sangat mengesankan. Dan sehingga kini pun masih terus meniup bara semangat kita semua. Read the rest of this entry »

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Conversations and Explorations: Pauline Fan an Exciting Time for Malaysian Literature

By Gareth Richards
Penang Monthly
January 2017

Translation matters. It always has, but perhaps now more than ever. It is a paradox that globalisation offers the technological means of communication and conversation across borders, and yet politics (including the culture wars) seems to be driven by small-mindedness, xenophobia and enmity. It is these “moments in time when the world is changing” that “bring out the best and the worst in people,” as Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng puts it. If literature possesses an emancipatory potential – if it can open up spaces for critical thinking and be a flame in the darkness – then the act of translating fiction and poetry surely lies somewhere near its centre.

The recent edition of the George Town Literary Festival offered a clear focus on the potential of literary translation. In general terms, the thematic core of the festival – captured by the Welsh word hiraeth, the longing for a homeland that is no longer there – necessarily explored the ways in which literatures travel, across time and space. In addition, there were also dedicated panels that discussed the subtle arts of reading, reimagining and translating foreign fiction and poetry across many different languages. One thing was made clear: no one will ever read an author’s work as closely as her translator does.

We caught up with a number of respected literary translators at the festival to reflect on the process, products and prospects for this work in Malaysia and beyond. Here we feature the KL-based poet Pauline Fan, who is also co-editor of NARATIF | Kisah, a bilingual literary journal that features work by both Malaysian and international authors. For her, translation is a “confluence” of literary traditions where important connections are made. And this work is nested within an ongoing moment of “encounter, engagement and critical contemplation”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chinese New Year medley (A Cappella)

Pleasantly surprised to receive a video by very passionate Malaysians and musicians who produced a Chinese New Year: A Cappella Medley, by Kong Xian Ming and Colour of Voices (A Malay cappella group).

What a great and creative way to usher in the celebration of Chinese New Year the Malaysian way.

This is what makes Malaysia different.

We are a nation with a confluence of different races, languages, cultures and religions, where Malaysians celebrate the diverse ethnic and religious festivities not in an exclusive but in an inclusive Malaysian manner.

Just as Chinese in Malaysia celebrate the Chinese New Year together with Malays, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans; Muslims celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri together with non-Muslims; Hindus celebrate Deepavali and Thaipusam with non-Hindus and Christians celebrate Christmas with non-Christians – without fear of losing our respective ethnic or religious identities.

This make Malaysians unique and distinct from other peoples in the world!

Let us continue to celebrate Malaysia’s diversity, an asset which could lead to Malaysia’s greater achievements as a people and a nation.

Kudos to Xian Ming and Colour of Voices for blazing the way

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Malaysia’s Stunning Street Art: The Coolest Murals and Where to Find Them

Yahoo Travel Explorers
August 10, 2015
By David Hogan/Malaysia Asia

In recent years, street art in Malaysia has picked up quite a bit, and you’ll now find murals and paintings by both local and international artists.

While this form of art has been alive and well in many other areas of the world for decades, the movement in Malaysia really got rolling in 2012, when Ernest Zacharevic created six murals for Penang’s George Town Culture festival. The paintings were so popular that the BBC even called him the Banksy of Malaysia. Today, there are many cities around the country following in Penang’s footsteps, calling on locals of all ages to add new life to their walls. For visitors, that means it’s easy to find these open-air museums; since they are usually located in high tourist areas, you barely have to look around. But you do need to know which towns and cities to start in. Here are some of my favorites:

Penang

Penang artist Ernest Zacharevic has been called the Banksy of Malaysia. (Photo: Ernest Zacharevic)

Read the rest of this entry »

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The True Measure Of A Culture

M. Bakri Musa
(www.bakrimusa.com)

The true measure of a culture is how well it prepares its members to sudden changes and challenges, especially when those are unanticipated or imposed from the outside. That different societies react very differently is obvious.

Consider the March 2011 tsunami that demolished the coastal areas of Northern Japan. Thousands were killed and billions worth of properties damaged, with whole villages and families wiped out. Compare the reactions of the Japanese to that tragedy of August 2005 when Katrina hurricane devastated the southern coast of United States.

The differences in reactions could not be more profound. Today only a few years after the tragedy, Northern Japan is almost fully recovered. In Louisiana they are still entangled in massive lawsuits, and the finger pointing has not yet stopped. Both Japan and America are developed societies, so we cannot account the difference to socioeconomic status, only to culture. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nilai memperkasa mahasiswa Melayu: Apresiasi budaya orang lain

– Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi
The Malaysian Insider
3 June 2014

Dalam keghairahan umat Melayu daripada Perkasa dan umat Islam daripada Isma menghina masyarakat Cina dan Kristian di Malaysia dengan memberi mesej bahawa umat Melayu terbantut perkembangan ekonomi, spiritual dan intelek kerana kehadiran kedua-dua jenis manusia sebegini, saya ingin memberi sedikit refleksi daripada buku yang sedang saya usahakan bertajuk “Memperkasa Mahasiswa Melayu dalam Industri”.

Dalam buku ini saya memperincikan 7 nilai penting yang perlu ada pada mahasiswa Melayu jika mereka ingin diangkat sebagai pemimpin Industri dan masyarakat yang terbaik di antara semua kaum dalam dunia.

Nilai pertama adalah Apresiasi Budaya Orang Lain, kedua adalah Berjuang untuk Semua, ketiga adalah Membina Jaringan Manusia, keempat adalah Membina Minda Kritis, kelima adalah Membangun Diri Sendiri, keenam Menyalahkan Diri Sendiri dan ketujuh, Merebut Inisiatif. Semua nilai ini adalah hasil refleksi pengalaman saya sendiri sebagai seorang ahli akademik dan daripada pembacaan peribadi terhadap buku-buku tulisan pakar motivasi, spiritualis Barat, koleksi hadis daripada 4 kitab utama, buku sufisme dan banyak lagi.

Mesejnya adalah jika kita orang Melayu sanggup melihat ke dalam diri sendiri dan jangan mudah terpedaya dengan dakyah-dakyah parti politik, NGO atau individu yang menghasut serta meracuni fikiran kita, dengan bantuan Alllah Yang Maha Megetahui, kita akan menjadi orang yang berjaya dan dihormati serta disayangi oleh semua golongan manusia yang mempunyai keikhlasan jiwa.

Mahasiswa Melayu perlu mempunyai nilai apresiasi budaya lain jika mereka hendak menjadi seorang pemimpin cemerlang dalam masyarakat dan industri. Sesebuah syarikat akan pasti mengambil individu yang yakin dapat bekerja dengan budaya lain dengan mudah supaya syarikat tersebut dapat melantik mahasiswa itu menjadi pengurus cawangan di mana-mana tempat dalam dunia atau menghantar mahasiswa tersebut untuk bertemu klien-klien besar kerana mahasiswa ini berupaya mengendalikan mesyuarat untuk mendapat projek atau menjelaskan perjalanan projek sedia ada. Read the rest of this entry »

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HERITAGE: Poetry in motion

By Pauline Fan
New Straits Times
02 February 2014

Pauline Fan delves into the significance of the horse in human civilisation, imagination, ritual and material culture the world over

Lean in build, like the point of a lance;
Two ears sharp as bamboo spikes;
Four hooves light as though born of the wind.
Heading away across the endless spaces,
Truly, you may entrust him with your life — Du Fu (8th Century Chinese poet)

THE great Tang Dynasty poet, Du Fu, composed these lines about the horse of an imperial officer named Fang. Du Fu was captivated by the supple grace and swiftness of Fang’s stallion, a magnificent breed of Central Asian origin known as the Ferghana. These Ferghana horses were so revered in China that a legend arose that they were spawned from celestial steeds.

Believed by some historians to be descendants of Alexander the Great’s mighty black stallion, Bucephalus, these horses were first introduced to China in the 2nd Century BC, during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Western Han Dynasty. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wanted in Malaysia: Empathy

by The Malaysian Insider
July 24, 2013

How did Malaysia come to this point? Where billions have been spent on national unity programmes, Bangsa Malaysia initiatives and grandiose 1Malaysia schemes and yet EMPATHY for each other is so glaringly missing from daily life.

The Oxford Dictionary defines empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Some may see it as “standing in someone else’s shoes” or “seeing through someone else’s eyes”.

Whatever the definition, implicit in it is a feeling of compassion for another.

If the feeling of empathy courses through the veins of Malaysians, we would be very slow to ridicule the religious practices of another or even place each other in racial pigeonholes. Very slow. Because we would feel the hurt that a wayward word or action could cause another group of Malaysians.

In addition, we would be quick to condemn or disapprove of behaviour not in keeping with our national psyche. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reform TITAS to ensure fair and balanced teaching of civilisation studies

— Lim Teck Ghee and Din Merican
The Malay Mail Online
JULY 23, 2013

JULY 23 — We owe a debt of gratitude to Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli and other supporters of the proposed Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies (TITAS) course for opening the Pandora’s box on the educational value and desirability of this officially decreed course previously imposed on public universities and now planned to be extended to private universities.

For now, there has been nothing offered by way of justification or in defence of the course design by the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his subordinate, Higher Education Department director-general Morshidi Sirat, to allay the concern that the introduction of the course is politically motivated to serve the ruling government’s agenda, and not the interest of our young.

We should have no illusions that even with the spotlight of public criticism strongly on it, the authorities will not continue with the planned enforcement of the course. The political stakes are too high for the minister of education, soon contesting the Umno elections, to do an about-turn.

Recognising that it is well-nigh impossible to expect the authorities to withdraw its proposal, we urge Rafizi and others in favour of the course to support the following measures to ensure that TITAS does not become another platform to load our young with politically, racially or religiously skewed knowledge. A narrowly conceived, ethnocentric and politically biased TITAS is counter-productive in a world characterised by diversity and pluralism and in our homeland which is one of the major cultural and civilisation crossroads of Asia.

If indeed the intention is noble and aimed at instilling cross cultural learning and appreciation of the major civilisations of the region among all students, Malays and non-Malays, surely no one in their right mind will object to the safeguards below to ensure that this intention is achieved and not subverted. Read the rest of this entry »

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TITAS is about cross learning in a multicultural society

— Rafizi Ramli
The Malay Mail Online
July 22, 2013

JULY 22 — I must begin by conveying my gratitude to Dr Lim Teck Ghee and S. Thayaparan for their views on the position I took with regards to the implementation of TITAS at private tertiary institutions (IPTS).

While the ensuing exchange of views on the matter had earned me many labels from some of the readers of Malaysiakini (including lumping me as another Umno prototype), I look at it positively. If Malaysia were to progress, we must be able to debate openly and accept criticisms both ways.

I will explain the basis for the position I had taken before I respond to some of the issues brought by both of them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Alvivi – a dignified response

by Sheela R.

As a young girl, growing up in multi-cultural Malaysia, I have had my fair share of challenges. Raised as a vegetarian long before it was recognised and accepted as a healthy lifestyle, I have had to constantly explain my dietary habits to people who are unaquainted with vegetarianism.

As a student at the primary and secondary levels, I had to frequently put up with comments such as,

“Oh! You don’t know what you are missing!”

“If you eat only vegetables you are going to grow up looking green!”

“If you don’t eat meat you won’t be strong!”

“Ikan tak boleh, ayam tak boleh, semua tak boleh, kesian!”

“A vegetarian? What’s that? Are you some sort of vegetable?”

Naturally, such comments riled me, but over the years, I grew to understand that they stemmed from silliness or ignorance rather than wilful malice. I learned not to react to such distasteful comments but to respond with dignity. I eventually found ways to explain to others, the socio-cultural reasons for my diet. Invariably, once they understood my reasons for abstaining from meat, they became highly respectful and sensitive towards my dietary requirements. Read the rest of this entry »

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KLPAC insists Singapore ballet application was rejected

By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 05, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — The KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) maintained today it had submitted a permit application for the Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) to federal authorities a month ago, refuting a federal minister’s claim that it had not done so.

KLPAC executive producer and co-founder Datuk Faridah Merican explained in a statement here that the application was “personally” submitted to Puspal, or the Central Agency for the Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artists, on March 7 by KLPAC production manager Freddy Tan.

Tan, she said, was subsequently “advised” by a Puspal officer last Wednesday that the application had been rejected for two reasons – costuming and foreign performers.

“This was most unusual because we had applied for performances by the Singapore Dance Theatre on two previous occasions and both were approved,” Faridah said.

“In fact, we have always found Puspal to be most helpful and understanding.”

It is believed that the two reasons given by Puspal were not communicated in great detail to Tan.

Faridah said that following the permit rejection, an appeal was submitted on the same day.

But despite this, she confirmed that the ballet performance, titled “Ballet Illuminations”, originally scheduled for April 6 and 7 at KLPAC, had to be cancelled. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why the rift?

By Nitya Kamalanathan
June 16, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider

JUNE 16 — I am currently a PhD student in the United Kingdom, my first time in England. When people ask me about Malaysia, I beam, telling them how wonderful our country is and our food!

Oh that is my favourite topic of discussion. We come from a country bursting with flavour, warmth, culture and diversity all of which have been the building blocks of the country.

The three representing races of Malaysia each have rich traditions and cultures, which have blended together to produce a Malaysian culture of which I am proud to say I am part. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why are dinosaurs championing the arts?

By Erna Mahyuni
Jun 15, 2011

JUNE 15 — As anyone in the arts will tell you, the government has consistently failed both the arts and its practitioners.

Take the recent debacle involving Artistes Day 2011, where Bernama reported Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim bemoaning the lacklustre response of arts practitioners.

Bernama had initially reported the celebration cost RM100 million, when in actual fact it had only cost RM97,800. DAP was only too happy to use the issue for political traction when, frankly, the party couldn’t give a toss about the arts either. Posturing on both sides and who benefits? It definitely isn’t the arts.

Now, some of you would probably start the usual hue-and-cry about where the money could have been better spent on non-arts related expenditure. Schools, roads, healthcare and the like. I respectfully disagree. Read the rest of this entry »

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Artiste Day: ‘Rais blew half year’s budget in 1 day’

Malaysiakini
Jun 12, 11

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has slammed minister Rais Yatim for splurging RM100 million, or half the annual budget for creative projects, on a poorly attended one-day arts event that local artists reportedly dubbed an “instant noodle project”.

Lim said a fraction of that amount, or RM2 million, would have gone a long way in funding the internationally-rated month-long George Town Heritage Festival in Penang.

“Information, Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim must explain the rationale of wasting RM100 million for the 2011 Artistes Day on May 29 that received a lukewarm response from art activists. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

The Wall Street Journal
The Saturday Essay
JANUARY 8, 2011

Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids? And what happens when they fight back?

By AMY CHUA

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

• attend a sleepover
• have a playdate
• be in a school play
• complain about not being in a school play
• watch TV or play computer games
• choose their own extracurricular activities
• get any grade less than an A
• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
• play any instrument other than the piano or violin
• not play the piano or violin.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Hero worship

By FRED LIM

An arts space with a reputation for championing freedom of expression honours five people who have gone above and beyond in the pursuit of free speech this year.

FOR the past year or so, arts hub The Annexe Gallery at Central Market in Kuala Lumpur has been busy with an art bazaar called Art For Grabs during which independent vendors gather to sell all manner of arts and crafts, from homemade jewellery to framed amateur photos.

The bazaar started on quite an ad-hoc basis, according to the gallery’s programme director Pang Khee Teik. “It has been quite successful and we plan to have them at least three times a year in future,” he enthuses.

Seizing the opportunity to reach a captive audience lured by retail therapy, Pang put together a variety of educational outreach events spanning art house film screenings and public lectures and forums to edgy, alternative exhibitions that run concurrently with the bazaars.

These outreach programmes had socio-political themes and featured heavyweight intellectuals – such as history scholar Farish Noor, indie filmmaker Amir Muhammad, and playwright Jit Murad, to name a few – who chaired forums on a wide array of themes, from debating local films to alternative sexualities.

“It’s a good way of bringing people together to hear about political issues because we do attract many who come to browse at the stalls at Art For Grabs. We want to offer them more than just shopping,” says Pang.

The fourth instalment of Art For Grabs at The Annexe Gallery that took place last Sunday also had a socio-political agenda. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ketuanan Melayu – concept used by UMNO leaders to enslave all Malaysians

The 2009 Budget debate on the Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage last night opened up with the most unprecedented and ferocious attack by the UMNO MP for Sri Gading Datuk Mohamad Aziz on the MCA for being “biadap” and “kurang ajar”, telling PPP to “get out” of Barisan Nasional and even proposing a political alliance of the Malay leaders in Umno, Pas and Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

When I spoke (see video), there was a deliberate attempt by former Cabinet Minister and UMNO MP for Rompin, Dr. Jamaludin Jarjis and Mohamad Aziz to sabotage my speech when I touched on the “ketuanan Melayu” controversy, demanding that I withdraw my non-ex isting statement that Malays are “tuan” and the Chinese are the “hamba” – with the matter left to be verified with Hansard (verbatim parliamentary report) the next morning, which proved that Jamaludin had mischievously misled the House with the false allegation.

My question why 51 years after Merdeka, the Umno leaders are not prepared to accept the concept of “ketuanan rakyat Malaysia” was evaded completely.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Culture reinvestigated — or must we preserve age-old traditions?

by Azly Rahman

The festive season brings me to this argument I am having silently with myself: Must core values of a society be preserved, through the rites and rituals and pomp and pageantry of that elusive concept called ‘culture’? Race theorists would call for a debate between the ‘Essentialist’ and the ‘Progressive’ schools of thought on culture.

In looking at the question of Cultural Essentialism, the arguments for and against it, on whether adherence to this concept divides or unites, and lastly to offer my own view on this important concept, I begin with the general statement that “Cultural Essentialism” is the belief that in every civilised society or a cultural group, exists a core culture which governs the ‘life sustaining’ forces of that particular culture.

From the core, moral or religious doctrines are derived, cosmological views or metaphysical conceptions are drawn, knowledge bases are founded, principles and ethos are constructed, and socialising agents as cultural values transmitters are established. So that the core culture can continue to be passed down from one generation to the next in order for society to be maintained of its order and harmony although technological, political, economic, and ideological winds of change may be sweeping seasonally into the core culture’s residence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta, Chow Yun-Fat, Ang Lee and Aaron Kwok also to be honoured for filming in Malaysia?

A reporter just phoned up, asking for my comments on popular Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan as one of the 77 new Malacca Datuks on the occasion of the 70th birthday of the Malacca Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob.

I was astounded and I said so. Are there no Malaysian film stars, artists or sports-people who have greater title to be honoured and encouraged as compared to Shahrukh?

I don’t think the reason that has been given for making Shahrukh Khan a Malacca Datuk would impress or convince many – that the Bollywood actor-dancer had “contributed to our tourism industry when he acted in a movie filmed in Malaysia”.

On this basis, shouldn’t Hollywood stars Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones be honoured for their 1999 film “Entrapment” which first promoted the Twin Towers to the world shortly after they were completed when the Twin Towers was used as the film location – although the film was subsequently accused of “distortion” when images of Malacca slums were spliced with shots of the 1,482ft-high skyscrapers.

Or the 2000 Academy Award-nominee film “Anna and the King” (a remake of “The King and I”) starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat (and our Patrick Teoh) which was mostly shot in Ipoh?

Or are Taiwan Gold Horse Award 2005/6 Best Leading Actor Aaron Kwok to be similarly awarded for his 2006 film “After This Our Exile” and world-famous director Ang Lee for his 2007 film “Lust, Caution”. starring Tony Leung & Tang Wei, as both promoted Malaysia as having been filmed or used footages from Perak?

What about other foreign stars in films which had used Malaysia for their location?

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