Sinatra_Z - Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu

Penulisan terbaru di Malaysian Insider

Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu

July 14, 2010

JULY 14 — Now here’s the thing: I may be branded a heretic for saying this but I actually dislike Yasmin Ahmad’s movies. You know all those Chinese boy/Malay girl lovey-dovey and “Mukhsin” what-nots?

For one thing I find this scenario repetitive as it keeps appearing in her movies (or ads) but mostly the reason why I find it hard to love her work is because I can’t seem to relate to it.

Now some of you might think that I am a keris-wielding Malay ultra who does not have friends of other races, hence I am unable to relate to Yasmin Ahmad’s movies. I admit that I wielded the keris before and there’s this absence of guilt in me nor do I have the urge to offer an apology about it, but I actually do have a healthy number of non-Malay friends.

Yet I do not have the urge to burn Chinese/Indian schools nor do I have a complex about ridiculing my own race to prove that I am truly Malaysian. Let’s just say I am like any normal Malay kid who went to a sekolah kebangsaan (national school), hung out with a lot of non-Malay friends (to this very day) and I have once in a blue moon fallen for a non-Malay girl (well, okay, maybe more than once). Yet as a person who supposedly went through that Malaysian experience I can’t seem to relate to Yasmin’s movies.

The first thing I learned when I first started hanging out with the Chinese boys in secondary school was how to curse fluently in Cantonese, so that picturesque Petronas ad where Malay, Chinese and Indian kids play and help each other and sing songs or what not, I never experienced that.

To me “Sepet” or “Gubra” is rather artificial; instead of mirroring what multiracial Malaysia is, it is what Malaysia should be in Yasmin’s imagination. There’s nothing wrong with that since that is what movies are all about.

And that goes not just for Yasmin’s movies, but a lot of those Merdeka ads and propaganda flicks featuring Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu. Look, when I was a kid my best friend was an Indian and trust me, we didn’t sing “Ikan di laut, asam di darat” together while fishing or have many romantic gay moments.

In fact, many times we had fist fights because one of us somehow made an over the top remark about the other’s father. We would kiss and make up the very next day just like any other kid and life went on. Of course, we grew up and went our separate ways but whenever I bump into him these days, we don’t serenade each other.

Look, to me Malaysia must not just be about Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu. Two Malay “pakciks” wearing kopiahs walking to the mosque for Maghrib prayers is Malaysia, as well as a bunch of Iban boys playing football, a Sikh man riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, that yuppie who vehemently declares himself Malaysian yet can’t have a decent conversation in Bahasa Malaysia, or the stereotype that Malays smoke Dunhills while Chinese smoke Malboro lights.

The thing I notice is we Malaysians have this mindset and mental picture that Malaysia must be that picturesque scene where Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu do something together underneath a sappy slogan.

Of course the usual rabid fanboys would immediately go on the offensive by saying that it’s the brainwashing of Barisan Nasional albeit Umno, MCA, MIC propaganda — but trust me, if you look at Pakatan Rakyat posters or events you will see the very same thing. A ceramah will have three speakers — a Malay, Chinese and Indian. Political propaganda in Malaysia lacks creativity, I tell you.

I guess what I am trying to say is that perhaps the very reason why we have this problem when it comes to unity amongst Malaysians is that we have this artificial idealistic mental image that we try again and again to enforce on society.

Instead of accepting who we are and cultivating unity in more natural ways, we opt for something that is rather foreign. To make my point clear, unity is not just about Ali and Ah Chong walking together holding hands singing songs. Unity is when Ali and Ah Chong fight not because of race, religion but rather because they both wanted the last cookie in the jar. Unity is when Ali is friends with Ah Chong not because he is Chinese, rather because they both love football. I hope you get my idea.

It’s like that Petronas ad where Tan Hong Ming, who is probably eight or nine years old, has this crush on this Malay girl. Which is fine, but if I remember correctly eight-year-old boys dislike girls, as girls are yucky and annoying. Instead, young boys usually have crushes on their teachers instead. If it were my ad, Tan Hong Ming would have had a crush on his teacher.


Nice story bro, you captured the real Malaysia in just one snapshot.


coincidentally, I like taking pictures as well


your last paragraph is real catchy there, i like your detail perception as the rest of your posting. like others might want to say 'get real already'...cheers!


Salam Tuan,

Yes, what arwah Yasmin tried to potrait on her movies and ads do not depict the actual facts on what is happening in Malaysia today.

But at least somebody tried to promote unity
amomgst us Malaysian. True, it is fictional as you said, but I don't think that was the point in the first place.

Someday, I just hope, I would be able to taunt my Chinese friend "babi kau cina" or to my Indian friends "woi keling" with no fear of being label a racist.




especially the last para about boys having crush on teachers

btw ... girls do too


Man! You are so very true...for the first time I came across a writing which is not pretentious...I never watch any of her film, though every where it all praise about her film. I'm force to watch ads that she produced...but my thinking is that, anyone could produce that those story-line in ads given such a luxury of 120sec. The challenge of any ads is to be below 60sec that can deliver a message. As you rightly said, her ads are so artificial. And it's very very true, I was 7 yrs old I fell in love with my Chinese teacher, Mrs.Yeoh, not with girls in the class...they were yes, yecky. And Mrs Yeoh, if still alive, you would be at least 70 yrs of age now. That's a true Malaysia.

Anak murid Mrs. Yeoh who dislike Yasmin (I know Yasmin when he was a man, Zulkifli)


just read this today and agree with you that being malaysian does not mean we have to always have 1 malay, 1 chinese and 1 indian feller walking hand-in-hand in the sunset la. It could be a group of indians with 2 chinese or maybe 4malays and 4 ibans, heck nowdays you'll get the occasional or 2 or 3 bangladeshi or indonesian in the picture as well !! Sometimes life's not all roses. Thanks for an enlightening read.