Aiseyman! Teater Ekamatra’s Geng Rebut Cabinet is a spot on satirical of our social-politics!
Editor’s Note: This is a review of the play Geng Rebut Cabinet which was written by Alfian Sa’at,
Absolutely nailed on brilliant!
If what Alfian and Fared had in mind was to play on the tacit understanding that the audience, most of whom Malays, i must add, know that this was no subtle dig at the government on their unfair policies on the Malays without once mentioning the words Malays and marginalisation, then they did it with panache.
This was a play that styled itself as a behind the scenes look at how a ruling party gets itself ready for an election battle, with the small nation in which the Malays are the majority tried to get their minority Chinese candidate onside with them. This was no easy task, for the Chinese candidate, Catherine Seah, was very much aware of her community's shortcomings, which the government, represented by the Minister in the GRC, Roslan Jantan, does not fail to harp upon at every given opportunity.
Witness the glee to which the the candidates explain to Catherine the make of the GRC, Chai Chee- Commonwealth, which also includes Balestier, Tanglin and Bendemeer. This gerry-mandering was explained off as the boundaries was made of a straight line in the country map, where Chai Chee to Commonweatlh and their respective boundaries were all linked by one major road. The constituencies were also explained as being representative of the country, having the upper middle class Malays living in Tanglin, to the lower, lower middle class Chinese living in rented houses in Chai Chee. Of course, in this alternate reality, there was no lower class or the upper class. There were only the Upper Middle class, Middle class, lower Middle class and the lower,lower middle class.
Mentions were also made of the Chinese problem of gambling making the news all the time, with Catherine understanding the need for her community to try cleaning up their act, the fact that the Chinese comunity's PSLE scores were always paraded in the national media to show how far behind they were compared to majority, even though they were improving every year, and the fact that there is ever only one fighter pilot in a decade being a Chinese, and he was portrayed as the Chinese community's hero. Cue much laughter, but realisation that this was all about Malays and their drug habits, Malay PSLE scores, and our very own Zaki Hamid. Isn't this happening in the real world?
Casual mentions (is anything ever casual in a play?) were also made of lion dances being not allowed outside of Chinese halls as the music was too loud, and for fear it will distrub the majority residences who are Malays (sarcasm on the azan call perhaps?), Chinese who were not given chance to serve NS, but never given discharge letters, assuring they were given tough calls in the future working lives (sarcasm on the Malays who fell by the wayside because of no NS served, perhaps?) and the high number of male Chinese youths in the Civil Defence and Police and not the Army, for fear of the Army Chinese boys abandoning their country in times of war with China (where have i heard that before?).
The government were not spared the sarcasm either, from Catherine being anointed the Speaker of Parliament to 'shut' her up from debating in Parliamant about minority issues while being given a historic high post in Parliament, to the chairman of the media being a government man, insinuating the media being a government mouthpiece, to ISD having a file on the life story of Catherine, as insurance she is the right person for the party, this was a laugh-a-minute play, rich in satire of the Singapore story. But only if you knew where to find the satire. And only if you are a Malay, mostly.
Kudos, Alfian and gang!!!!
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