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Namewee – viral hit artiste worldwide, controversial at home

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It is a sad but true that many talented Malaysians like Namewee are not recognised in our country, Loyal Malaysian writes.

I have just watched a Facebook video of Namewee defending his use of the controversial poster that promotes his film Babi.

Let me state from the outset I do not know Wee Meng Chee, better known as Namewee, other than what I have read about him.

Namewee is no stranger to controversy. Does it matter that the film Babi will not be shown to audiences in Malaysia – so whether that poster promoting his film is obnoxious is a moot point?

As Namewee said, the aim of the protesters is political. They appear to be hoping to gain some publicity – similar to Umno’s Jamal Yunos’ bathrobe protest? Without their police reports and protest, the film would have been a non-event for most Malaysians. Many of us would not even have been aware of its existence.

Namewee has not applied for permission to screen the film to a Malaysian audience. So, the question of the film being banned in Malaysia does not arise at all. 

I can understand Namewee’s decision not to apply, and I do not think it is defeatist. Why? If you think the panel evaluating your film will not be assessing it on its merits, why bother to submit an application?

I am not a film critic but the fact that Babi received nominations at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, the Toronto Open World Film Festival, the Thailand International Film Festival and the Berlin Around the World Film Festival shows the film is of an acceptable quality.

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According to Namewee, his composition “Ali, Ah Kao dan Muthu” is a patriotic song sung in some schools on National Day. I did not know this. But I do not think it will be sung anymore next year, now that Namewee has gone public with this. I hope to be proven wrong, but looking at the narrow-mindedness of our top leaders, I think it will come to pass.

More than 130 of Namewee’s tracks have received over one million views. Many may not be aware that his ‘Japanglish’ music video, Tokyo Bon 2020, which captures the Tokyo Olympics spirit, has gone viral worldwide with over 92 million views.

This has turned Namewee into a cultural ambassador of sorts for Japan. Is this not international acknowledgement of his talent?

Namewee lamented he has not been able to launch an album in Malaysia for the last 10 years because the powers that be deem him too controversial.

It is sad but true that many talented Malaysians like Namewee are not recognised in our country.

Some have furthered their studies overseas, not out of choice but because their area of study is closed to them at home due to the quota system. Many have found their calling in their adopted countries.

Others are able to use their creativity freely while abroad, like Namewee in Taiwan – without the hindrance of a police report against him every month or so.

Loyal Malaysian is the pseudonym of a regular follower of Aliran

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