Monday, September 08, 2008

A Malaysian at heart

Thanks to my loyal blog reader for this article.
It is quoted from The Star -


Despite the infamy surrounding his Negarakuku video, a young graduate decides to come home.

BEING part of the production team of the Taiwanese's television programme One Million Star is a great learning experience for Malaysian student Wee Meng Chee. Securing a job at the prestigious production house behind the show and others like Guess Guess Guess and Here Comes Kang Xi is a golden opportunity that every mass communication student in Taiwan craves.

"It is a difficult job which sometimes requires you to work 24 hours a day," says Wee, the first and only foreigner hired by Gin Star Entertainment Co. Ltd. He got the job while studying at Ming Chuan University.

Last year, Wee became an instant online celebrity last year when his video, Negarakuku, which raps about racial discrimination against Chinese, corrupt cops and indolent civil servants, was posted on YouTube.

In a phone interview from Taiwan, the 25-year-old mass communication graduate constantly paused to search for words that best described his feelings.
Wee (left) and Yap getting a Malaysian living in Laos to pen a congratulatory message for the country, on its turning 51.

He'd written the song as a gift to the country in conjunction with its 50th birthday celebrations, he says. But some people felt he was mocking the national anthem. At the height of the controversy, he bowed to mounting pressure and made a public apology.

"Song-writing is my way of keeping a diary of my feelings about things happening around me. I compose new songs when there are special occasions such as birthdays and weddings, or when I broke off with my girlfriend.

"When I wrote Negarakuku and Muar Chinese, songs about my country and hometown, I just wanted to reflect life's realities. I don't think I can change the world by highlighting issues that concern the public, but I do hope that Malaysia will become a better place one day."

Muar Chinese, a satirical music video, takes digs at people who are ashamed of speaking their own dialects.

At it turned out, the hoo-ha surrounding his compositions got the attention of Wee's boss at Gin Star, who was impressed with his creativity and ability to compose songs and shoot his own music videos.

"He liked my work and even suggested that I work on another programme on which guests get to impersonate Taiwanese politicians," he says.

However, after completing his tertiary education, Wee did not hesitate to quit his job because he wanted to return home.

"When I tendered my resignation, my boss asked me to stay until the end of the season of One Million Star, in August. He even told me that I have the potential to be a producer one day.

"But I had made up my mind to return to Malaysia because it is my home. I reckon it's time for me to pay back to the country, with the skills I've learnt from another country."

Many people urged him not to come back, quoting reasons like political instability, a bad economy and the lack of job opportunities here. But Wee was undaunted.

"People think Taiwan is a better place to stay in, but they do not know that the Taiwanese, too, are unhappy with their own country. Many of them are planning to migrate to other countries like the United States, Singapore or even Malaysia."

Wee feels that while others view working overseas as an opportunity to earn big money, his focus is different.

"Every country has its shortcomings but if you only look at the problems and want to leave, who is going to stay in Malaysia?

"Just like your own mother; no matter how badly she treats you, you're still her child and have the responsibility of taking care of her.

"Everyone wants something better in life, but the best thing is in your heart. For me, Malaysia is my country and my home and it will forever be that."

Patriotism aside, what bothers him is that no employer might want to hire an "infamous" person. This concern prompted Wee to kick off a documentary project entitled I Want to Go Home, with three friends, Yap Chin Chern, Hew Teck Choy and Chia Wei Gang .

On July 31, they started their month-long overland journey home from Hong Kong, stopping along the way to film Malaysians living there, as well as in Macau, China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

The team compiled congratulatory messages from those they met, to be featured in the documentary.

Through the film, Wee aims to show potential employers that he is not a troublemaker, but "a rebel with a cause".

"The main purpose of filming the documentary is to convey the thoughts of those who could not make it home for the country's 51st independence celebrations," he explains.

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