Niki Cheong is blogging

Shelah: National Treat

Shelah made me sad, and hopeful

I have five blog posts in drafts waiting to be completed – but I woke up today feeling a little melancholy about an experience I had a couple of nights ago. Then my friend Ida posted a picture and update on Facebook about the same experience which sparked a conversation that got me thinking.

The experience I am referring to is the performance Shelah: National Treat which was showing at KLpac from Friday till Sunday. Shelah, or Edwin, performs a solo show once a year (I think) and it’s become almost an annual ritual for me to get a ticket to catch the show – not just because she’s my friend but because I know it will be a good night of fun, laughter and music.

On Friday, however, sitting there listening to the things Shelah said about the country – there was a lot to laugh about, but I felt waves and waves of sadness. I’m not one for negativity on social media (okay, occasionally I have my rants) but heck, there is a lot to be sad about with regards to the state of the country. The politics sucks (the Government can do so much better, and the opposition increasingly disappointing), the vitriol becoming more and more, well, vitriolic, the lack of respect we have for differing views (sedition act et al), how some people are just becoming more jaded and leaving the country and so much more. That people have to Shelah that she’s a controversial character. It’s becoming increasingly frustrating.

I’ve spent a good part of the last 18 months playing a small part, doing what I can to drown out all the negativity with positive events and stories. I’m lucky to have so many friends who support the work I do and who share the same belief.

But Shelah’s show also told me something else – that yes, there are a lot of things that suck but the good thing is that there are also many people who are sticking it out doing the good work to counter it. And that the silver lining from all this suckiness is that we are also increasingly seeing more people talking about it and engaging about the issue.

I don’t recall Shelah’s show ever taking this tone. Amid all the sadness, Shelah also had so much hope and she was literally throwing it in our faces (like glitter!). And then I feel sparkly and smiley again because Shelah has reminded me that Malaysia is a wonderful country and it is worth “fighting” for.

Ida described the show as “patriotic”. I don’t think there is a more apt word than that. And when I think about it as a whole, I’m slightly less sad.

11.47am Malaysian time (+8 GMT)

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