ISSUE Magazine

Pulau Pinang by Lutfi Hakim and Nazir Harith Fadzilah

Notes on the film:

The viewer would notice very early on that this film is heavily composed of extemporaneous close-up shots, something that hints to the extreme familiarity present between the the two people involved in the production of this short, a closeness that at times would imply that one who views this video should knowingly also be in on the joke — a meta-joke if you will.

The project, however, took on an extra dimension when we finally started walking through the streets of Penang. It’s difficult to adequately describe what happened in the two days that we were there, but I think it’s the being there, trudging along the dusty five-foot ways in a city empty save for the migrant community there on one of their few days off, the bright island sun burning your face, away from the air-conditioned comforts of cities and malls, that made the trip really interesting for us.

The foreigners never fail to get a negative mention in the press when they grab the chance to go to town and meet with friends, perhaps send some money home. Locals (Malaysians) don’t seem to be able to get over their master-servant complex however, and suspect the worse when they see on their streets what to their eyes seem like gangs of dark people making a racket, thus giving them, these inferiors, the worst treatment possible.

We weren’t fortunate enough to be spared that treatment, our appearances being what it is, and were similarly treated like chattel by our own country mates. Chased away for laying our dirty fingers on goods that we ought to not stain. Dressed down publicly for our cluelessness. Imagine, having to endure all that just because we were playing tourist!

There is a severe lack of compassion in the acts of Malaysians. For all our supposed sophistication, this is a country that seems to have lost the ability to empathise but can be easily impressed by wealth and status, even when they come false.

Which is a shame. In our national literature, especially in the works written in the turbulent periods leading to and immediately after our independence, pathos was something that wasn’t in short supply. The idea that one could be captain of one’s own nation after all those centuries of colonialism, and create a better society for everyone in it, took a deep hold in the hearts and minds of our authors and poets, and they produced books, plays, and poetry that were filled with fire, hope, and compassion.

Today those works lie in dimly lit shops in tall stacks, mostly forgotten, rendered silent.

So why do we ignore these words of ours? Have we set them aside because they have become artifacts that are no longer relevant in our daily lives? That doesn’t seem very true; what with the amount of rudeness that we hand out to people every day, we certainly need to be reminded that there are softer sides to being human.

Is it because they speak a language we no longer understand? Perhaps that could be true. We are too used to the cheap and graphic to be able to parse through subtlety or tease out meanings from bland pieces of paper that compete with the blinking lights of notifications and updates that pop up around us every second.

Should we, then, just let it be?


Two friends travel to Penang to watch the original Gangnam Style at a Chinese New Year event organised by the government but find themselves caught in a confrontation between the old and the new as they walk through the old roads of Georgetown.

Director: Lutfi Hakim

Duration: 16 minutes

Language: Bahasa Malaysia


Lutfi Hakim and NHF previously worked together on this video. Superstardom continues to elude them.

This entry was written by kirdain and published on 14/03/2013 at 11:30. It’s filed under ISSUE10, Lutfi Hakim, Travel, Video/Film, Visual and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Pulau Pinang by Lutfi Hakim and Nazir Harith Fadzilah

  1. stuju macam ipoh!

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