Sunday, July 26, 2009



The last time I "spoke" with Yasmin Ahmad was on a Facebook forum. She wanted to know why so many of us were so keen to see an end to BN rule in Malaysia when Pakatan Rakyat leaders had yet to convince her that they could do a better job. I made an attempt to explain why I was putting my hopes on complete regime change, and she remarked that she had seen no evidence that the Opposition was worth betting on.

I understood where she was coming from. She had spent most of her adult life in advertising and had reached the highest altitudes of success within that profession. Not only that, she was the only person I knew in advertising who had then gone on to achieve her personal dream of making memorable feature films with a uniquely Malaysian flavor. Her best work in commercials was for Petronas. Her specialty was producing classy vignettes of Malaysian life with a distinct feel-good factor.

I thought her work as a director was superb - but nonetheless a subtle and therefore dangerous form of spin. Yasmin was rather pissed off with me for saying that. In fact, she was pretty dismissive and arrogant in her response. I wasn't sure if it was funny or sad that Yasmin Ahmad and I could be in such utter disagreement about the political status quo. I told her I didn't think we could ever get along and left it at that.

Afterwards, I felt prompted to add one more comment to the forum, suggesting that since the ice was now effectively broken between us and we each knew where the other stood, maybe we could begin to set aside our public personas and really talk.

But I didn't do that... and now it's too late. She's gone. At only 51.

Yasmin Ahmad, I just want you to know. I really do admire your accomplishments and deeply regret that we never became good friends. I don't dislike you at all. It's just that I detest the advertising world you chose to call your own. Maybe it's just a stale chip on my shoulder, having begun my own uncareer in advertising. I guess I just didn't understand why anyone with your talent and sensitivity to the nuances of the human heart would opt to continue producing commercials that ultimately served only to prop up the status quo by making it look so much better than it actually is.

In any case, I'm glad you did get to make a few feature films for which you will always be remembered with profound affection and gratitude. I sincerely hope that with your newfound freedom from budgetary constraints, you will hover around long enough to help us write a happy ending to the unfolding story of a much more mature Malaysia liberated from gender bias, racial prejudice and religious bigotry.

Fare thee well and infinite blessings upon you, Yasmin Ahmad, storyteller extraordinaire.


smchan said...

i'm actually very surprised to learn that Yasmin is part of the propangandists.

if such a learned person can be brainwashed to that extent, just imagine those who ain't.

still, today malaysia has lost a very talented child. a very sad day.

Starmandala said...

SMChan - Perhaps it's unfair to single out Yasmin for her serving the agenda of the corporate state - and by that I mean the Terrible Twins Business (money) & Politics (power). There are so many who do so - but they aren't necessarily "bad people" - most started out thinking they could redeem the corrupt system from within and make a good living for themselves whilst doing so. I sense that Yasmin was badlly shaken by the news of Teoh Beng Hock's utterly senseless "sudden death." She posted a succinct & poignant response to Teoh's death on her blog.

ekaman said...

Even to her grave, you took the opportunity deliver suble therefore dangerous blows to the person.

Have some respect for the dead la. Even if she saw the truth and not was convinced by the coalition of triads, hindu extremists and religious zealots.

BravoEagleHotel said...

From her simple yet powerful message on TBH , Kak Yasmin must be one great Anak Malaysia.
Perhaps she wanted to reform Malaysia from within , that's her choice or principles.
Her strong messages of UNITY MALAYSIA driven through those Petronas Ads deserved the salutations of ALL MALAYSIANS!
Sadly though the Goverment of the day just failed to drive those through.
Rest in peace Kak and hope we will get the UNITED Malaysia that we all Malaysians crave for for.

Chet said...

Antares - thank you for your alternative view of Yasmin's advertising career.

I don't think she was a propagandist. I think she was an idealist who saw good in everything.

backStreetGluttons said...

remember the big rock bru ?

Anonymous said...

She sees the good part in people . Spot on Chet. There are some people who are just like her. They see the good side in people .
Antares, u shouldnt be so hard on her.

Anonymous said...

Hello Antares.

I've truly lost a mother figure in Kak Yasmin. She was, together with Faridah Merican, one of 2 Malaysians I'd truly call Mother of National Unity.

While I've never had the chance to know her that well, the five times we met were really great and we seemed to share a common wavelength in the issues of the day.

RIP Kak Yasmin.

- Dennis (NST)

Anonymous said...

Both Betelgeuse And Antares - Update
By Karl Schwarz

Hello Jeff,

Under a verbal agreement of confidentiality with the nation that confirmed, we are not disclosing where one of our associates secured the information we were looking for regarding Betelgeuse and Antares.

When stars start showing spectral signs of the isotopes Nickel-56 and Cobalt-56 it is a sure sign that the acceleration to Supernova has begun. Those two isotopes have a very short half-life. Nickel-56 has a half-life of about 6 days and converts into Cobalt-56. The Cobalt-56 isotope has a half-life of 77 days. That is then decayed into Fe-56 or the Iron Core of the super massive star. When that reaches the critical point, supernova occurs.

Antares is showing a higher Ni56 and Co56 conversion rate but that information is dated by 600 years due to the distance in light years. That may explain why it was larger than Betelgeuse and is now contracted to a size smaller than. That is a clear indication that it is headed to Supernova, too.

So, both Betelgeuse and Antares are confirmed to be on the path to Supernova. Betelgeuse is about 400 light years away so that information is dated by that amount of time. Antares is about 600 light years away and also dated by that amount of time.

Chances are one or both of them may have already reached the threshold and went to Supernova, we just do not see the news yet.

With Antares being about 15 solar masses it could wind up either a black hole or a super-dense neutron star, maybe a pulsar. With Betelgeuse being at 20 solar masses its most probable end result would be a black hole. Might fool everyone but stars of that mass normally turn into a black hole when the event happens.

Either one or both could deliver bad results for Earth.

I guess one could say we live in interesting times.

moses said...

For a wider dissemination of the news on Miss Jane Burgermeister who was dismissed from her job as a journalist of an Austrian newspaper after she had file a bioterrorism charges against the people of the US and th rest of the world in the US court

Report about the worldwide Bio-Terror Assault on the Population

Anonymous said...

there were many, many facets to yasmin.

this is a lovely way of remembering the brilliant diamond that was yasmin ... and it may just cause a rethink of the propogandist label, antares.

Anonymous said...

SHOCKING from chinapress : 'she' was a 'he' b4 !?????????

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (27/7/09 12:09AM): SHOCKING from chinapress....

So what. Yasmin's work speaks for themselves. Can you say you were not touched by her Petronas Raya/CNY/Deepavali commercials nor had Sepet made you shed a tear or two?

Who cares. At the end of the day, Yasmin will be remembered as our generation's P.Ramlee

elviza said...


I love this tribute. Just love it.

lanaibeach said...

Life is a roulette
It turns and spins
Who will be this time?
To meet The Lord
As the angels wait
By the doors?

We always think
Good people die early
Bad people too
Horrible deaths
By bullets locked up prisons

These people only take
Giving nothing in return
So we don't remember
They too tested our faith
Of human values and its drawbacks

Sure we must wish
Loved ones friends and colleagues
Even the unknown persons
Once a while we encounter them
“Good day and a pleasant journey”

Life is full of surprises
Even in death there is a reason
For God grace move mysteriously
Telling us we are just leasehold
On this Earth to learn

BrightEyes said...

Antares, you're being too hard on her for choosing a different road to reach a better Malaysia. I do however, understand your criticism that her work promotes a feel good factor to Malaysia.

But it doesn't deny or cover-up the existence of inequality and racism. What it does, is to project an ideal that we should work to. Viewers who watch her films on understanding (not tolerance), love overcoming hate, and interracial relationships... will contrast these with the bullshit being spewed out by politicians, religious demagogues, and mainstream media.

Rather than portraying how Malaysia is, movies like Sepet, Gubra, etc portray how Malaysia should.

She has left behind a really big pair of boots... er... heels for us to fill in. I don't think we'll find her replacement so soon...

Gadfly said...

Antares, you have brought out a theme that is of critical importance to our life: Should we earn our living through the work or business that contradicts our values?

Due to one reason or another, no opportunity or inertia or whatever, many a people rationalise their way of living. Some call it as trade-offs.There is no absolute right or wrong. It all depends how strongly we feel about the values. The stronger we feel about certain things, the more we are going to reject certain lifestyles.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think she was a propagandist. I think she was an idealist who saw good in everything."

yeah, but at the same time she denies the naked brutal truth out there; living in denial.

Pat said...

Dear Antares,

I loved this heart-felt tribute to a great artiste. There is nothing anywhere that says we should wear blinkers just because someone has died.

Despite the hype about her Petronas commercials, I for one, never really felt comfortable with them. For me, they simply depicted what used to be, or what could be, rather than what was.

I preferred her movies. They better reflected what was out there. But even here, sometimes, with rose-tinted lenses.

But she was an artiste with a brilliant talent. And nothing can take away from that.

I simply loved your honest tribute to her.