Past Festivals

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The delicacy of dangerous ideas

By ARNOLD LOH A panel discussion at last month’s George Town Literary Festival explored the little known field of “the history of ideas” – a historical perspective on how ideas develop – and sparked interesting ideas about the state of national discourse today. Featuring writers and historians Khoo Salma, Anthony Milner, Khairudin Aljunied, and Ooi Kee […]

By George, what a festival!

I just came back from the 5th George Town Literary Festival held in the historic city of Penang in Malaysia, and my mind is still reeling from the images. The opening ceremonies saw the Malaysian Chinese leaders of Penang arrayed on the front seat, like in a national political convention. Lim Guan Eng, the Chief […]

Culture gives us a break

DRIVING along in the middle of George Town last weekend, I spied a Malay couple in full wedding finery taking photographs in front of one of the restored old buildings. I couldn’t stop to take photos of them but I was intrigued because you rarely see this in Kuala Lumpur. According to my friends in […]

Laugh on, Zunar tells the people

Well-known but controversial cartoonist Zunar today encouraged the people to continue laughing at the powers that be. Facing multiple charges for drawing cartoons that criticised and made fun of the government, particularly the prime minister and his wife, he said laughter was also another form of protest. “I want people to cry and laugh at […]

Fixing definition of ‘Malaysian’ can lead to discrimination, says Marina

Fixing a definition of what is and who is a Malaysian can lead to marginalisation and discrimination, says social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir. She said the definition of national character should remain an evolving process. “The problem is once a person starts nailing a definition of what is a Malaysian, by default they will […]

Thank you!

Dear writers, poets, moderators, performers and supporters of the fifth edition of the George Town Literary Festival! It has been a week since the festival kicked-off – with a roar! Three days of conversation, discourse, readings, book launches, music and performances have made it one of the most memorable festivals for George Town and we thank […]

Wielding the pen as a torch for freedom

Malaysia’s slow descent towards destabilising political fragmentation barely gets noticed. Set against the momentous democratic transition in Myanmar and the stark military power grab in neighbouring Thailand, Malaysia’s political troubles easily fade into the background. Yet for a growing number of Malaysians, the signs are alarming. Revelations of greed and corruption in high places have […]

You can’t cry Islamophobia if you’re also anti-gay rights, says TV host

There must be consistency in the pursuit of freedoms, including the rights of all marginalised groups, American television host Wajahat Ali said at the George Town Literary Festival yesterday. The co-host of Al Jazeera America’s social media-driven talk show “The Stream” said it was hypocritical if an American Muslim were to cry about Islamophobia while denying […]

Sedition Act a schizophrenic law, says professor

Law professor Dr Azmi Sharom has described the Sedition Act, widely criticised as outdated and repressive, as a “schizophrenic law”. He said such thinking could be seen among the defenders of the act, who often argue that without it, the “Malays are doomed”. “This is the big argument that they like. Without the Sedition Act, […]

The ringgit and sen of festivals

Festivals are always a draw, attracting people looking for fun and inspiration. But fun costs money, and balancing the bottom line well is what turns them into events that can run year after year. Malaysia enjoys a plethora of annual religious and ethnic festivities, thanks to its multicultural population. From Hari Raya Aidilfitri to Chinese […]