Thursday, June 21, 2007

Come Celebrate Pesta Rakyat Malaysia

Keep this date free - Sunday, 24rd June 2007. If like me, you're tired of the same, old, recycled, cliched, chest-thumping, keris-waving "annual wayang kulit" that occurs around this time and lasts for a month or so, in the guise of "patriotism" and "bulan merdeka", come check out this alternative festival, the Pesta Rakyat Malaysia organised by local NGO's in Penang. Full details here:

For the first time in many years, a coalition of 25 NGOs in Penang has come together to organise a Pesta Rakyat Merdeka to celebrate 50 years of Merdeka and 44 years of Malaysia. Civil society groups are joining hands with their fellow Malaysians who have worked collectively for the socio-economic betterment of the country. These NGOs comprise people who have been actively involved in issues such as public transport, anti-Iraq war, anti-rape, anti-ISA, and anti-PORR.

The event will be held on 24 June 2007 at Dewan Sri Pinang from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm.

The Pesta is aimed at asserting that the 50-44 celebrations should not only be about our political leaders and the government, but more importantly also about the ordinary people’s contribution and struggle for human rights, socio-economic justice, and sustainable development. Equally important, this event will provide democratic and physical space for ordinary citizens and civil society groups to reflect on our accomplishments and shortcomings as a nation over the last five decades.

There will be a forum “Milestones of Penang”, an exhibition, dance and musical performances, independent film screenings, a poem reading and brief soap box presentations by NGO representatives outlining the work they are involved in.

The forum will feature discussions on the early politics and local elections, ethnic relations and politics, industrialisation and workers’ rights, and heritage and environment with a special focus on Penang.

Half a dozen short movies will be screened, including award-winning productions by independent film-makers.

Several groups will be performing musical and cultural performances: these include a dance performance by the Temple of Fine Arts, nasyid and silat presentations arranged by JIM, a joint choir presentation by Persatuan Seni dan Kebudayaan Pulau Pinang and Persatuan Kebudayaan Rakyat Pulau Pinang, songs by the Marshall family band, and a jazz session with Johan, James and Russell.

Admission is free. For more information, please contact 04 658 5251 or visit the Pesta's website. Click here for the Pesta Rakyat Merdeka organising committee on behalf of 25 Penang NGOs