Held recently on the 5th this month at Dewan Lee San Choon (Wisma MCA, Kuala Lumpur), “We ‘R’ Malaysia – There is Hope” The Musical was organised by Persatuan Perintis Bina Negara Melaka (PPBN) as part of their original We R Malaysia campaign. It showcased the great theatrical talents of the cast but the real purpose the story and its invalid points were bound to draw disagreements and arguments. Hence instead of inspiring or educating, the politically-influenced screenplay of the production angered some of audience, like myself. There were even a number of people who called it “an attempted brainwash session”. We should had expected this ’cause afterall, it was held at Wisma MCA.
Huge stage with the traditional red curtain, a lot space for audience, huge screens for visuals and crystal clear sound quality – without question, the place was ideal to have a show like this. There were clips, text and lyrics shown on the screen throughout the musical, which really helped a lot. The environment set-up looked a little too simple with the plain white background but thanks to the props and sound effects, it was sufficient. All the music were live played by a band hidden behind the curtains. The compositions, however, were not all original. Some were just classics replaced with lyrics written for this musical. There were also a Gu Zhang and flute performance during the interval.
Despite only having 2 months to rehearse, almost every cast member portrayed their
roles and sang convincingly. Most of them seemed very experienced and
professional, even the kid (Khang Kok Ming) and the extras/ background characters. Only the singing of some of the actors were poor or unclear. The only obvious hiccup was when the scroll reader/ narrator forgot his lines and stammered without covering up well enough. The make-up and costume-choices may require the most improvement as there was a character (played by Ho Soon Yoon) that lived for decades in the story but never appeared nor sounded older until the end.
So the acting and singing performance were good in overall, everything was going well… until the indirect intention of the musical became obvious – to convince and reassure the audience that the government is competent and that the economy is not so bad. It certainly didn’t feel like it’s to inspire the Malaysian Chinese with hope and as a Malaysian Chinese, I will be fooled by neither this musical nor the government.
The show started out quite well, deeply emphasising a point that all the Chinese in Malaysia are indeed Malaysians. But then it got really lame when the characters began advising one another to not protest, obey the rules and just work hard to “earn meat” (whatever that means). As the story went on, the characters started to encourage Chinese potentials to stay and work within the country instead of complaining about the poor economy. The most ridiculous scene was perhaps the part where a foreign food vendor sang happily about how much better it is to make a living here than in his own land.
According to the dialogues, Malaysians who go overseas have to
work like dogs to earn and make a good living there, as though we don’t have
to work like slaves here as well, and not to mention, for lower wages,
all thanks to the economy that our government fails to improve. They
also left out about how Malays get special privileges and better treatment compared to the rest. I do, however, agree with the musical that we Chinese here are all Malaysians, this is our home, we are the hope
and future of the nation, and we all need the love and support of
The musical was approximately an hour and a half. To read the official synopsis and another review on We ‘R’ Malaysia, please go here.