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Gender, modernity and the nation in Malaysian literature and film (1980s and 1990s) Khoo, Gaik Cheng 1999

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GENDER,  MODERNITY  LITERATURE  AND  AND  THE  FILM  NATION  IN  MALAYSIAN  (1980s and 1990s)  by GAIK CHENG KHOO  B.A., The University of Texas, 1993 M . A . , The University of British Columbia, 1995  A THESIS SUBMITTED DM PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T OF T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E D E G R E E OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Individual Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THrf UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A July 1999 © Gaik Cheng Khoo, 1999  In  presenting  degree freely  this  thesis  in partial  fulfilment  at the University  of British  Columbia,  available  copying  for reference and study.  of this  department publication  or  thesis by  of this  for scholarly  his  or  thesis  of  I agree  I further  purposes  gain  shall  permission.  Department  of  )nkxdl^C{^^^^  The University of British Vancouver, Canada  Date  DE-6  (2/88)  M&rth  3>7)  Columbia  QjQGQ  ^VcJaQ^.  agree  that that  C  It  is  for an  the Library permission  may be granted  her representatives.  for financial  the requirements  shall  make  it  for extensive  by the head  understood  not be allowed  advanced  that without  of my  copying  or  my written  Abstract  This dissertation examines the impact of modernity, in the form of modernization, rapid industrialization and the introduction of Western ideas about nationalism and female emancipation, on gender and gender relations in contemporary Malaysian film and literature. Drawing upon theories ranging from Lacanian psychoanalysis, feminism, postcolonialism, nationalism, existentialism to theories about fascism, I examine and critique the representations of gender from the predominantly middle-class writers and the works of the new wave Malay filmmakers. I make the case that these films and literary works reflect the outcome of the National Economic Policy (1971-1990) and, in my analyses, show that these modernizing imperatives, though received positively, are sometimes greeted with a cautionary ambivalence, depending on one's class, gender, ethnicity, and political and religious beliefs. Such ambivalence towards feminism, for example, appears in K.S. Maniam's portrayal of independent female characters, whom I call "fascist 'feminists'," or in the representations of hypermasculinity or male violence in current Malay cinema. Films and literature by some Malays reflect a desire to recover Malay custom, adat, while forging a unique, modern, postcolonial identity that distinguishes itself from the West, other former British colonies and other Muslim nations. However, this subversive postcolonial move must be treated with caution to ensure that it does not replicate prevalent negative stereotypes of women as sexualised beings. A key distinction in this dissertation is that the representations of the modern Malay woman vary according to the gender of the cultural producer: male writers and filmmakers portray the negative impact of modernity on women, whereas their female counterparts portray women at ease with modernity.  Ill  Table of Contents Abstract Acknowledgments Introduction 1 Malay Myth and Changing Attitudes Towards Nationalism: the Hang Tuah/Hang Jebat Debate Introduction Nationalism and feudalism The hegemony of Malay cultural identity Followership Islam—Malaysian style Asian values, Asian-style nationalism The Malay psyche Nationalism and homoeroticism: a feminist intervention Conclusion 2 DissemiNation of Malay/sia 3 Malaysian Films: Cinema of Denial Introduction A brief history of Malay cinema National cinema in the Malaysian context Malay or Malaysian Cinema? Censorship Reviving interest in female sexuality Layar Lara Conclusion 4 Shuhaimi Baba. Karim Raslan. Dina Zaman and Shahnon Ahmad: Representations of the Modern 1990s' Malay Woman Introduction Modernity Background of global/local tensions: IslamAVesternization and adat Selubung: resurgent Islam, modernity and the Malay woman Malay sexuality/sensuality in the writings of Karim Raslan, Shahnon Ahmad and Dina Zaman Conclusion 5 Mad Women/"Fascist 'Feminism'": Representations of Independent Female Characters in K.S. Maniam's Short Stories Introduction Defining fascist "feminism" i. Fascist "feminists": Mary Lim, Mary Ling and Yin Fah ii. Female subjectivity and feminist longings: Sammantha de Silva and Jothi Conclusion  ii v 1 28-74 28 38 41 44 48 50 55 57 69 75-97 98-151 98 106 112 121 126 135 141 145 152-196 152 157 167 170 179 190 197-243 197 205 208 220 239  iv  6 What Is It To Be A Man? Violence in the Time of Modernity Introduction to "authentic masculinity" Hard bodies Other masculine types: teen heartthrobs and pop singers Authentic masculinity case study #1: Eman Manan Individual and state hypermasculinity disavowing lack: OPS.Belantara Authentic masculinity gone soft: Lenjan Authentic masculinity case study #2: Nasir Bilal Khan Authentic masculinity versus female libidinal desire: Perempuan, Isteri Dan... Authentic masculinity lashes back: Amok Domesticating the authentic male: Erma Fatima's Ku Kejar Kau Lari Conclusion Epilogue Bibliography Filmography Appendix  244-301 244 250 253 255 258 265 271 272 280 291 294 302-307 308 320 326  Acknowledgments  I would like to thank the following people who have supported me throughout my academic endeavours: my parents for not forcing me into the Sciences when young and for always being there for me in one way or another; my committee members, Sneja Gunew, Margery Fee, Jacqueline Levitin and Tineke Hellwig; Matilda Gabrielpillai for her invaluable friendship and intellectual guidance (Zizek forever!); fellow travellers on the dissertation trail, Marian Gracias, Diane Stiles and Larissa Petrillo for diligently maintaining human contact with me in the past two years; and my sister, Beng. A crucial part of this thesis stems from the research I conducted last summer funded by a Ford grant from the Northwest Regional Consortium for Southeast Asian Studies. M y utmost gratitude goes out to Mr. Poh Gark Kim, Ms. Chew Siew Bee and family for their kind generosity and hospitality during my stay in Petaling Jaya. Lastly, this dissertation would not be complete without the goodwill, friendliness, warmth and support from my fellow Malaysians: academics  at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti  Kebangsaan Malaysia and University of Malaya who generously shared their knowledge and interests with me; Nor Faridah Manaf who took me under her wing; Pak Hamzah at FIN AS for his bountiful experience and enthusiasm about film; K . S . Maniam for being a gracious and patient interviewee; Gordon Gray and Amir Muhamad for stimulating e-mail discussions on Malay cinema, and the Malaysian and ex-Malaysian writers I have had the good fortune of meeting and knowing.  Introduction  This thesis examines the meanings, manifestations and effects of modernity on gender and nationalism in Malaysia during the economic boom time which ran from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. It intersects with Maila Stivens' feminist anthropological work on women and modernity in Malaysia as well as other current research being undertaken on the new Malay middle-class (Kahn and Stivens). However, my thesis diverges from the work of Kahn and Stivens in that my cultural objects of study are film and fictional and non-fictional writings, prompting a different methodology: that of socio-political literary analyses which includes psychoanalytical theory. A critical reading of the films and texts through psychoanalytical structures yields an understanding of the workings of ideology with respect to social desires and fantasies. For example, the current nationalist ideology prescribes a particular ethnicity and class of (be)longing that includes some people while excluding others, and the ideology of accelerated capitalism functions to define new ways of self-identification and culture. What is it about being Malaysian in the 1980s and 1990s that preoccupies writers and filmmakers? What are the issues they choose and what is at stake? How do these writers and filmmakers speak through their works (as agents of discourse) and how do their works speak them as part of a larger epistemological framework? Second, while my analysis of the impact of modernity on gender entails a primary focus on literary and cinematic representations of women, I also include a study of hypermasculinity. After all, gender includes at least two dialectical categories. Finally, most anthropological research on gender and development in Malaysia has focused on Malay women; mine is really no exception, though in the representations of women I discuss, other ethnicities—Chinese, Peranakan, Eurasian, Indian and, very briefly, the Filipina and Indonesian migrant worker—cursorily appear in the fictions of K . S . Maniam, Karim Raslan and Dina Zaman. In representing women of ethnicities other than their own, these writers attempt to portray Malaysia's multiraciality and/or the gradual de-segregation of the  races in the aftermath of the race riots of May 13, 1969 and the National Economic Policy (NEP, launched in 1971). As for my methodology, I have no specific loyalties to any particular theory. Neither do I have qualms about applying any "Western" theory to my subject of Malaysian film/literature especially if I find it to be workable and productive; hence, my rather eclectic use of theories ranging from Lacanian psychoanalysis, feminism, postcolonialism and nationalism, to existentialism and theories about fascism. Only too conscious of the wisdom of employing "universalist" psychoanalytical paradigms, I have discriminately selected parts of Lacanian psychoanalytical theory that are appropriate to the Malaysian context of gender, modernity and the nation: for example, his idea about the mirror stage of subjectivity (in Chapters 2 and 5), and his concept of the traumatic Real that cannot be symbolized (Chapter 3). These Lacanian concepts have been used by feminist and postcolonial critics like Renata Salecl and Homi Bhabha to theorise the unconscious or repressed in society. While Lacan does not suggest that race or class consciousness could be repressed traumatic factors for his subject, I certainly make this hypothesis about Malaysian society in Chapter 3. However, I am not the first. Fanon offers a psychoanalytical study of race that, while overtly centering on the individual native intellectual (of colour), has been taken up by postcolonial theorists and critics like Bhabha to represent the neurotic power dynamics of a more general colonial condition: "These interpositions, indeed collaborations of political and psychic violence within civic virtue, alienation within identity, drive Fanon to describe the splitting of the colonial space of consciousness and society as marked by a 'Manichean delirium'" (Location of Culture 43). And Ann McClintock in Imperial Leather makes the case that class repression figures in Freud's elision of his nurse in his development of the Oedipal theory based on his relation with his parents. In fact, by using Western theory to study Asian culture, my thesis attempts to do what Rey Chow does, which is to combine cultural studies and critical theory, two areas which, according to her, are frequently perceived as exclusive of each  other (Ethics After Idealism xv). Moreover, Malaysians are exposed to Western ideas and have been since contact with the West. Therefore, to maintain some kind of notion of purity and authenticity would be naive and simplistic. Indeed, both Gayatri Spivak (69) and Rey Chow argue that a return to pure "indigenous theory" is not viable because of the history of imperialism. Chow adds that "it should be emphasized that the advocacy for a return to indigenous theory and culture usually masks, with the violence of 'the West', the violence of the cultural politics that is within an indigenous culture" (Ethics 9). It is precisely within this mode of thinking that we should locate the intersecting issues of gender, modernity and nationalism in contemporary Malaysian film and literature. For instance, central to my thesis is the hint of the beginnings of an indigenous response—the recuperation of Malay custom, adat, as a postcolonial or anti-imperialist strategy and as a subversion of the modern Islamic discourse of the state. My main thesis, one that runs through all the chapters in the dissertation except Chapter 5, is that modernity allows the conscious and unconscious recuperation of Malay adat usually in the form of a focus on sexuality or a return to forms of the archaic such as magic or traditional healing, as illustrated in Chapter 6. The first two chapters deal with the very modern discourse of national loyalty and national identity. In doing so, they inevitably touch on Malay classical myth—the story of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat. The recuperation of adat lies not only in the recollecting of the classic story, but also in its many contemporary re-renderings and re-significations. Here, as well as in Chapter 3, the elements of adat that arise are bilaterality in gender relations and an openness about sexuality and sensuality. In Chapter 4, the other forms of adat I refer to include the dichotomy of nafsu (passion) and akal (rationality) and an understanding of power that differs from the Western one. Aspects of Malay adat regarded as traditionally tolerant (though still patriarchal) and more open to sensual or sexual matters than resurgent Islam are, in this way, also aligned with secularism, which is a product of modernization. Moreover, adat, which encourages women's power and autonomy, continues to function in  Malaysia as "a system of 'checks and balances' between incompatible or conflicting ideological systems [resurgent Islam and Westernization] which culturally determine the distribution of power and responsibility between the sexes" (Wazir Jahan Karim 230). Currently, anthropologists are studying state-led Islam and how it serves to further a patriarchal agenda that contravenes the more egalitarian practices and beliefs of adat. But one has to be aware that adat too delineates gendered spaces. What needs to be problematized is the whole notion that adat and modernity are mutually exclusive of each other and representative of opposing spheres or East versus West. While Wazir Jahan Karim may argue that there are differences between adat and Islam, one advocating bilaterality and the other, emphasizing its patriarchal aspects as promulgated by state discourse, my thesis illustrates that in the modern constructions of culture by Malaysian writers and filmmakers, adat is not impermeable to patriarchal interpretations, and that patriarchy responds through various channels: through the secular discourse of nationalism and the nation-state and through the conservative interpretations of Islam promulgated by certain resurgent Islamic groups, P A S , the Islamic opposition party, and perhaps more subtly, through the more moderate, intellectual dakwah [Muslim proselytising] groups populated by Malay professionals like Anwar Ibrahim. Speaking as a Chinese Malaysian and a member of an ethnic minority in Malaysia, I, too, would prefer to subscribe to a more flexible hegemonic approach as offered by adat (problematic as the construction might be) as opposed to the more rigid tenets of a fundamentalist Islam. I state this not merely to position myself within this discourse but to strengthen my case that such an optimistic or positive view of adat is a strategic maneuver and that it is the strategy and rationale behind the recuperation that interests me more than merely the variegated forms and appearances of adat. Simultaneously, one should be cautious of the potentially macho or misogynist slant of an indigenous "theory" like the recuperation of adat and be ready to challenge it with Western feminist theory. After all, there is also the possibility that such recuperating efforts might be in danger of complicity  with (capitalist) forces that only seem progressive because new or modern; for example, the liberal atmosphere that encourages a more open discourse of sexuality (see Chapters 3 and 4). Lastly, I would like to reiterate that in my concept of recuperating adat, I do not regard the adat that is represented as a fixed, unchanging body of customs and beliefs, even though the impetus behind the recuperative efforts itself may be nostalgic. Instead, not unlike what Maila Stivens terms "cultural reconstitution" (Matriliny and Modernity 2) the process of recuperation that I put forward also involves a degree of reconstructing, recreating, reconstituting and recombining. For me, the term "recuperation" allows room for fantasy (the unconscious processes at work) and imagination (the conscious processes at work) in the act of regaining or recovering one's health/strength or, in this case, culture. This process to recovery will inevitably affect the result of the modern representations of adat, just as both "recombined" or "reconstituted" milk (cartons of powdered milk mixed with water more easily available in Malaysian stores than fresh milk) taste differently from the fresh milk that they are made of. To echo Stivens in her work that examines the socalled matrihneal culture of the Minangkabau in Rembau, Malaysia, "This process of reconstitution continues to the present day within the cultural resurgence of 'traditional' Malay cultural forms, presumably produced as much for the new Malay middle classes as for tourists" (Matriliny 18). More importantly, she asserts that "contemporary practices are no mere persistence of 'tradition', nor merely a matter of non-capitalist resistance to the juggernaut of modernity: we have rather a thoroughly modern 'matriliny', formed within modern capitalist society and cultures, the outcome of highly complex, fragmented and uneven processes" (18). Needless to say, parallel perspectives can be drawn between the reconstitution of matriliny (adat perpatih ) in Rembau and the recuperation of adat in the works of Malaysian writers and filmmakers in the 1990s in this thesis. At another level, the mainstream response to feminism should be explained. There is a widespread misconception of what feminism is in Malaysian society. Hamzah Hussin, for instance, regards feminism as a militant movement that threatens to reverse the present  gender power structure to women's advantage. Such a limited notion of feminism can all 1  too easily lead to the backlash against women that appears in K.S.Maniam's portrayal of "fascist 'feminists'" (Chapter 5) and the hypermasculine performativity in Malay films (Chapter 6). Confronted by such challenges, feminists in Malaysia must be ever vigilant in resisting particular kinds of sexualised images of women. I want to focus on modernity instead of postmodernity in Malaysia not because I am averse to postmodernity but because I agree with Jiirgen Habermas's idea that the project of modernity is still incomplete.  2  Malaysian academic Maznah Mohamad engages with  Western poststructuralist theories critically in her essay "Poststructuralism, Power and Third World Feminism." Echoing Habermas, she too asks "whether the modern project has even arrived in some communities, and that in some others, it may even be an incomplete project" (128). Modernity in Malaysia is itself still an unfinished project because of its unfulfilled  emancipatory  potential—for  women  and  other  similarly  oppressed  groups—"especially in advancing social rationality, justice and morality" (Maznah 139). This phrase is important because some Muslim feminists find it more productive and less antagonistic to employ the rational rhetoric of common human rights rather than feminist arguments to discuss the patriarchal oppression of women. Maznah explains: "The postmodern influence on Third World Feminist practice today if assimilated in its extreme (especially its nihilistic and anti-humanist) tendency, will surely nip any self-determination movement in its bud. At this point the political drift is that both women and indigenous peoples, need to partake [of] or 'borrow' the tools of rationalist discourse in order to possess autonomy" (127-128). Muslim feminists are not the only feminists to make this argument; using Lacan's formulas of sexuation, Renata Salecl proves in her chapter "Why is a Woman A Symptom of Rights?" that no one, women or men, minorites, etc., remains without rights (Spoils of Freedom 133). Indeed, while I deal with issues of modernity in Malaysia, I do so armed with the consciousness of postmodern thinking: seeing parallels between Homi Bhabha's psychoanalytical and semiotic sense of the "belatedness" of  modernity, its "time-lag" and disjunctures, and Habermas's idea of the counterdiscourse of modernity. Anthony Giddens' ideas of modernity are explored more thoroughly in Chapter 4 together with Arjun Appadurai's theory of flows, which expands the idea of modernity to recognize and include globalization and neo-imperialism. In this thesis, I use the term modernity to indicate something more than modernization, to suggest the more dynamic and positive aspects of inhabiting the contemporary global world. As such, the definitions of modernity are multiple and varying, ranging from that which is current or new, to an equation with Westernization, reason, industrial development, rapid urbanization, the rise of individualism or individual freedoms, the idea of a civil society, materialism and consumer culture, and the latest manifestation of modernity—the development of information technology  (IT).  3  A  modernity aligned with Western liberal notions of gender equality can serve to undermine or erode Islamic patriarchy, specifically when the welfare of female spouses comes under the laws of the secular nation-state, instead of the Islamic syariah court, as with the controversial passing of the Malaysian Domestic Violence Act in 1994. At the same time, as Aihwa Ong has so clearly and consistently demonstrated in her work, late twentieth century modernity in the form of state and transnational capital relies on patriarchal structures already in place in villages in order to recruit young Malay women into the industrial workforce where newer forms of gender hierarchy prevail. A global modernity does not 4  only imply a one-way effect, i.e. neither a benign Westernization nor a more malignant Westoxification. Historically, the Malay Peninsula's geographical location has made it the centre of trade and religious-cultural exchange between eastern and western Asia. Today, one has only to turn on Malaysian cable or local television in order to realise that popular cultural influences on Malaysian audiences come from multiple directions and locations: Taiwan, Hong Kong, the U S A , Canada, Australia, Britain, India, Japan and Egypt, to name only a few. Hence, it would be inaccurate to equate modernity and globalization with a homogeneous type of Westernization. For example, the resurgence of Islamic revivalism  is actually a modern phenomenon that only began to influence Malaysian society in the 1970s, suggesting that Islam participates in modernity as a globalizing force as well (Chapter 4). Suffice it to say, I will lay out the specific meanings of modernity taken up by various groups at various times in each chapter. On the issue of nationalism, which cannot be excluded because the project of modernity is directly related to nation-building and development in Malaysia, I consider theorists such as Benedict Anderson, Partha Chatterjee, and Anthony D. Smith. Smith's view of nationalism differs from Anderson's. While Anderson's imagined community glosses over racial differences, Smith takes into account that the beginnings of nationalism include a necessary cultural (or ethnic) homogeneity. Perhaps my reasons for engaging with the theorists mentioned above are best summed up by Bhabha who talks about race as representing "an archaic ahistorical moment outside the 'modernity' of the imagined community" (Location 248). In the concluding chapter of The Location of Culture. Bhabha suggests that "the modern anomaly of racism" is "obscured by Anderson's espousal of a 'simultaneity across homogeneous empty time' as the modal narrative of the imagined community" (249). Further, he comments, "It is this kind of evasion, I think, that makes Partha Chatterjee, the Indian 'subaltern' scholar, suggest, from a different perspective, that Anderson 'seals up his theme with a sociological determinism . . . without noticing the twists and turns, the suppressed possibilities, the contradictions still unresolved'" (249). These unresolved contradictions show up in the disjunctures between the pedagogical and performative, the motivating idea behind Bhabha's theory of dissemination that I apply to Malay/sian literature in Chapter 2. Bhabha, in focusing on contemporary metropolitan racism in the West, insists that "It is in that 'weld' of the colonial site as, contradictorily, both 'dynastic and national', that the modernity of Western national society is confronted by its colonial double" (249). While the largely white West could, for some time, delay dealing with racial difference, the post-colonial Malaysian nation-state could not. The high influx of immigrants from China and India during the British colonial era meant that 40 per  cent of the post-independence populace were not indigenous Malays. Hence, race is something integral to the construction of the nation, always present in the minds of all Malaysians and therefore, hardly "an archaic ahistorical moment" (248). 5  So far, many if not most of the essays I have read about Malaysia come from anthropology and sociology. Few writers have productively applied literary, critical or sociological theories to the cultural texts of Malaysian fiction and film, something I propose to do here. However, I would like to acknowledge the groundwork laid out by Malaysian area specialists Francis Loh Kok Wah, K . S . Jomo, Shamsul A . B . , Judy Nagata, Clive Kessler, Joel Kahn, and Rohana Ariffin, to mention but a few. The position of women in Malaysian Islam and in particular, how women fit into the national agenda of contemporary modernity, has preoccupied anthropologists Aihwa Ong, Maila Stivens, Wazir Jahan Karim and Norani Othman. Of foremost importance is the collection of essays on Malaysia entitled Fragmented Vision: Culture and Politics in Contemporary Malaysia (eds. Loh and Kahn 1992) whose premise is that Malaysian socio-political and artistic culture is fragmented along ethnic, class and religious lines. The essays in the collection contribute a fragmented diversity of views, though none address gender issues specifically. This is a vacuum my thesis hopes to fill in the larger epistemology of Malaysian Studies. With regard to the study of Malay films, I am not the first to analyze the representations of Malay women. Adeline Kueh's M . A . thesis, "The Filmic Representations of Malayan Women: An Analysis of Malayan Films from the 1950s and 1960s," Murdoch U , 1997, concludes that the representations of women fall into two stereotypes—the transgressive woman and the virtuous woman—concurring with the analysis made by two women academics, Fuziah Kartini and Faridah Ibrahim, at a U K M (the National University of Malaysia) seminar on the position, image and identity of Malay women during the colonial era.  6  These two  academics analyzed more films from the 1950s than Kueh did and concluded that women were represented as either racun, poison, or penawar, the antidote. M y focus may be more contemporary but the representations are no less binarized: Malay films from the 1980s and  1990s still abide by such moralistic good/bad stereotypes of women. Other book sources on Malay cinema have recently been published but they are more historical and descriptive than critical: Hamzah Hussin's memoir From Keris Film to Studio Merdeka (in Malay), and Hatta Azad Khan's doctoral dissertation, which he later withdrew from circulation, Malay Cinema. Film critics such as Amir Muhammad and Hishamuddin Rais, a filmmaker himself, write perceptive articles about the local film industry and on the habits of Malaysian cinema-goers. They provide incisive reviews of locally-made films in Malaysian newspapers and magazines. However, academic analyses of Malay films are generally unavailable. In contrast, more books have been published since the early 1980s on the cinema of neighbouring country, Indonesia. Krishna Sen's Indonesian Cinema: Framing the New Order (1994) deserves a brief mention as it illustrates the intimate connections between Indonesian politics, media ownership, the role of the military, state policies and the kinds of films made and shown in the country from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. While the Indonesian socio-political situation differs from its Malaysian counterpart, Sen's book, particularly her feminist position with regard to the oppositional cinematic representations of women outside of the conventional roles of wife, mother or prostitute, partially provokes my discussion of gender representations in Malaysian cinema. More precisely, her thesis that Indonesian cinema "frames" the New Order government of Suharto parallels my idea of Malaysian films as Cinema of Denial, implying a larger politics of the Symbolic order (the big Other) at work.  7  When it comes to literature, I would like to acknowledge Nor Faridah Manaf s extensively researched dissertation project on Malaysian anglophone women writers from the 1930s to the 1990s. Some parts of our work overlap, others complement each other's incompleteness or inadequacies. Literary academics like Ungku Maimunah Mohd. Tahir, Wong Soak Koon and Zawiah Yahya discuss representations of Malay women by Malay female writers and colonial writers such as Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, and Anthony Burgess. Zawiah's Resisting Colonialist Discourse (1994) is notable for the use  of Western theories and reading practices (Bakhtinian dialogism; Macherey's notion of contradiction being an inherent condition of narrative; Althusserian interpellation) in deconstructing the works of Conrad, Maugham and Burgess set in Malaya. However, there has not been a concerted attempt to combine the anthropological critiques and the literary analyses to form a more interdisciplinary feminist approach. Ungku Maimunah's essays on the "ideal" Malay woman in Malay fiction are largely descriptive and do not demonstrate a critical awareness of the ideological underpinnings of her subject or society. In the following chapters, I will demonstrate the ways some writers have found to subvert the state-constructed ideological positions for women within the nation and for reclaiming agency. The tensions and cracks within the nation (in Islam and within U M N O , the main Malay-dominated political party) which have appeared will, in the end, facilitate these avenues of escaping state ideology and the dominant discourse. One striking particularity about critical essays on Malaysian writings in English is the paucity of feminist critique of the "canonical" Malaysian writers such as K.S. Maniam and Lloyd Fernando who are wellestablished names in Commonwealth literature overseas but who lack recognition from Malaysian readers themselves. Many critical essays and reviews have been written about Maniam's focus on the human condition and the inner self in his novels that revolve around male protagonists. Yet, nothing much has been written about his representation of the female self. I have undertaken the task of analyzing his representation of independent female characters because they bring together the themes of modernity, gender and ethnicity in interesting ways. Empathizing with the lack of recognition talented Malaysian writers in English like Maniam rightly deserve, I do not want unduly to discourage potential readers from picking up their works because of my critique. Instead, perverse as it may seem, I hope that my critique will arouse interest in these writers' books and give them more exposure. The specific starting point of modernity is debatable: does it begin with British colonialism in Malaya? And if so, when? with Francis Light's controversial claim on  Penang for the British crown in 1786? or in 1824 when the British officially took over Malacca from the Dutch? For example, Anthony Milner's focus on the writings of Munsyi Abdullah (1797-1854), a language teacher to Europeans in the Straits Settlements and "one of the earliest liberal Malay critics of the sultanate system," suggests that as early as the opening of the colonial period the wheels of modernity were already turning (10). At that time, "there took place a process of experimentation and debate in which Malay ideologues drew upon Malay, European and Islamic philosophies in order to determine an appropriate political culture for the Malay people" (11). Hence, it would seem that modernity then, as now, also already signalled interaction with "imported" ideas from the West and the Middle East (Chapter 4). Most historians would agree that modernity is concurrent with British imperialism during the industrial era. For example, the construction of the railway along the western coast of Malaya was but a means to facilitate the imperialist capitalist venture—to transport precious raw commodities like rubber and tin from colonial plantations and mines to Port Klang for export back to England. However, for my thesis, I am focusing on modernity in the 1980s and 1990s in post-colonial Malaysia, a period Maila Stivens has redefined as "neo-modern" since the first wave of modernity occurred during British colonialism ("Sex, Gender and the Making of the New Malay Middle Classes" 117). I have selected writings and films from the last two decades because they reflect the tremendous cultural and socio-economic changes Malaysia has undergone within the short span of twenty years under the National Economic Policy (1971-1990). During its implementation, the N E P catapulted the country into full-scale industrialization (for example, by introducing the manufacturing of semi-conductors) and vastly improved the economic status of the Malay or bumiputera (sons of the soil) as compared with that of the Chinese. The term "bumiputera" generally refers to the Malays but it also includes several other indigenous groups as well.  8  Urbanization and  modernization had occurred under British rule during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but the majority of Malays remained peasants and fishermen located in the rural  areas, far from the major towns whose economies were being monopolised by Chinese tradesmen. The NEP sought, once and for all, to throw off the colonial rule of divide and conquer by removing the identification of race with economic function for purposes of classification (i.e. Malay farmer and fisherman, Chinese middleman or tin miner, Indian rubber tapper). Recognizing that Malay socio-economic discontent and Chinese political and economic arrogance had led to the 1969 riots, the NEP aimed to alleviate the plight of the Malays by modernizing them. In the 1970s and 1980s, many rural Malays migrated to the urban areas to seek jobs in the industrial sector. As a result of twenty years of modernization and pro-Malay economic policies under the NEP, a noticeable number of Malays with kampung roots have settled in urban and suburban areas and become part of the new urban Malay middle class. However, the rural/urban dichotomy still exists, as evident in the settings of Malay films and in both English-language and Malay novels and other literary works. The portrayal and invocation of the pastoral, for Malay writers and filmmakers alike, is one way of asserting their non-Western difference, a way of taking pride in their ethnic identity which is tied to the village community, even as they now live in the suburbs, work in the city, participate in everyday urban modernity and even regard themselves as modern Malays. This is not to deny the fact that some non-Malays continue to inhabit rural areas and participate in agricultural production: for example, the majority of rubber estate workers continue to be Tamil Malaysians. More importantly, the urban-rural dichotomy does not necessarily overshadow obvious class differences nor does it fit smoothly into the "urban middle class versus rural poor" binary. For example, Stivens informs us that many of her urban informants had their origins in a rural middle class that included local officials, school-teachers, the police and small entrepreneurs. She further argues that this rural middle class "has had important links to the present generation of new middle-class urban dwellers" ("Sex, Gender and the Making" 98). The race riots of May 13, 1969, like the Malayan Union proposal in 1946 which allocated equal Malayan citizenship to all immigrants, galvanised Malay nationalist  sentiments, so the predominantly Malay government in 1971 created the bumiputera ("bumi" for short) status to reassert Malay dominance and privilege over the Chinese, Indians and other minorities in all arenas. The N E P pushed the economic agenda of the 9  Malay nationalist movement rather than its political agenda, for which there had already been a general consensus among factions within the Malay nationalist movement during the colonial period that the three pillars of "Malayness" would constitute "bahasa, agama dan raja" (language/Malay, religion/Islam, and royalty/sultan-chiefs; Shamsul A . B . , "From Orang Kaya Baru to Melayu Baru" 94). The ethnic chauvinist sentiments behind the N E P again narrowed the criteria for Malaysian nationalism to a specific homogeneous cultural identity: identifiably bumiputera, Muslim, and Malay-speaking. While Shamsul rightfully refers to "loyalty to the sultan" as being one of the traditional three pillars of Malayness enshrined in the Malaysian constitution, I regard it as the least important for the Malays during the economic-driven climate of the 1980s and 1990s when feudal loyalties, while still present, are being challenged by modernity (in the form of economic progress and material desire) and higher education (i.e. university students/ graduates played a major role in street demonstrations protesting against the authoritarian Mahathir government).  10  Generally, although one of the NEP's goals was to wipe out poverty across all races, this did not occur and the Tamils have become the most underprivileged non-Bumi minority today (S. Jayasankaran 26).' In short, my discussion of race or ethnicity will consistently 1  intercut with the issues of gender, modernity and nationalism. As Islam is one of the pillars of Malay identity, it merits a brief exposition. The Malay archipelago was Islamicised largely by Muslim traders from India. In 1414, the founder of Melaka, Parameswara, converted to Islam to become Iskandar Shah, so as to ensure Melaka's viability as a trading centre (Van der Heide 103). However, Van der Heide's main point in discussing Malaysian cinema in general is to trace its genealogy back to the region's pre-Islamic, culturally Hindu past, a culture that derives much from the oral transmission of the Ramayana and Mahabharata and which had also adopted Indian and  Persian theatrical and performative art forms. This history revealed, in Chapters 1, 2 and 4, I discuss the effects of a more contemporary version of Islam on Malaysian writers and filmmakers. This new wave of Islam started out from the Middle East, influencing Malay students sent abroad to study. The dakwah or proselytising movement began roughly from 1969 when, in the aftermath of the race riots, the National Association of Muslim Students set up a youth organization outside the University of Malaya campus, named Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM), headed by a young Anwar Ibrahim. Shamsul A . B . posits four phases in the present history of Islamic resurgence in Malaysia: the reawakening period (1969-74), the forward movement period (1975-79), the mainstreaming period (1979-90) and finally, phase four—dakwah  and industrialised Malaysia from 1991  onwards ("Identity Construction, Nation Formation, and Islamic Revivalism in Malaysia," 207-227). What this means is that some noticeable elements of the new Islam are Arabicinfluenced and fundamentalist compared to the more hybrid indigenous notion of Islam that has co-existed with and co-opted other spiritual practices in Malaysia for centuries. In the post-NEP 1990s (a similar plan known as the National Development Policy or N D P has replaced the NEP in 1991), class and language use have become noticeable identity markers as the Malay literati complain that the Malay middle-class and elites are more at home speaking English than Bahasa Malaysia. A Malaysian academic, Sumit Mandal, writes that, in fact, while state policy advocates and encourages the use of Malay as the official language, political leaders send their children abroad to be educated in English. Mandal claims that the use of English has never really faded out among the political elite who even publish their books in English  12  and that we should not  underestimate the unofficial importance and influence of English in Malaysia. English continues to be important for it performs the role that the state needs it to: it gives the impression that Malaysia is a modern, progressive and liberal nation that is part of the globalized world. This discussion of linguistic competence is to demonstrate, briefly, how  identity and culture in Malaysia is complicated by race as well as class, and that the ideals spawned by the spirit of modernity intensify the mix.  13  One of the main threads of modernity is the formation of the nation. This is often expressed in phrases such as "the modern nation-state" and the general belief that nationalism is a relatively new or modern phenomenon.  In post-colonial Malaysia and  under the leadership of prime minister Dr. Mahathir, the project of modernity is constructed as the way to fulfill certain nationalist ambitions. For example, Mahathir's plan to transform Malaysia into a fully-developed industrial nation by the year 2020 includes making Malaysia the technological "Multimedia Super Corridor" (MSC) of the region: fully-armed with a large skilled labour force and supporting infrastructure, Malaysia hopes to attract foreign capital investment and their computer technology. The M S C is just one of the many symbols of modernity and nationalism in Malaysia today. Others include the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) which boasts that it is the most modern in Asia, and of course, the Petronas or Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers, the world's tallest building. Hosting the Commonwealth Games in September 1998 was another nationbuilding event, ironically coming at a time when confidence in the capability of the government to boost the local economy was much needed.  14  The relationship between modernity and the nation is explored in Malaysian literature and film in several languages, though I will deal predominantly with Englishlanguage writings and Malay-language films  15  while referring to a few written works in  Malay. Writers like Rehman Rashid explore the personal meanings and significance of state policies on individuals, and recent nostalgic or period films like Sayang Salmah. which purportedly focuses on the relationship between two brothers, can be read as an allegory of contemporary Malay politics. Therefore, Frederic Jameson's totalising statement that all Third World literatures are national allegories, in spite of many critiques of this approach, applies to the works I have selected in Malaysian writing and Malay cinema. Moreover, 16  the NEP's move to homogenize and nationalize Malaysian culture meant elevating writings  in Bahasa Malaysia to the level of "national" literature and relegating writings in other languages by Malaysians to, at most, "Malaysian" literatures. The disjuncture here between "national" and "Malaysian" gives the lie to Anderson's notion of nationalism as a binding rationale that transcends race. In addition, even though the motto "Art for Society" has come and gone with the 1950s' Malay literary movement, ASAS 50, the government's wide support for Malay literature keenly demonstrates the linkage between politics and "national" literature. Government support for Malay writings comes in the form of stateand federal-level literary competitions organised by the Language and Literature Board (Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka or DBP), a body activated during the early 1970s as a consequence of the N E P .  17  This agency also publishes award-winning Malay literature as  well as monthly literary and cultural journals which provide an avenue for creative expression. The closest thing to state support English-language writing receives is the annual short story competition jointly organised by the government-controlled daily newspaper, The New Straits Times, and the Shell Oil Company, begun in 1989. For the most part, English-language writing is supported by the private sector of the publishing industry. For example, Times Books International, based in Singapore, is a major publishing house and has its own bookshops in Singapore and Malaysia. In the early 1990s, Ike Ong, a Malaysian emigrant running a small bookstore and publishing company in London, Skoob Books Publishing Limited, launched a new series called Skoob Pacifica, its claim being, to "contrib[ute] to World Literatures in English, dissemin[ate] regional literatures of the Pacific Rim and promot[e] understanding between continents." Skoob Pacifica began with two anthologies featuring writing from Southeast Asia together with essays and speeches from world-renowned post-colonial Nobel laureates. Skoob Pacifica was overambitious and could not fulfill its publishing target and as far as I know, has yet to publish any new books in this series since 1994. In 1997, another publishing initiative called the Black and White series made its debut. Its aim was to promote fresh creative works from a younger  group of Malaysian writers (the twenty- and thirty-something crowd) and to make these works available to more people by its inexpensive price (RM$7 each) and its pocketbook size, modelling itself on the successful pocket Penguins. Ten books were published in Rhino Press's first round. The editors had hoped to publish a second group of writers in 1998 but have so far encountered difficulties as the economic recession has made financial backers less willing to take a chance on literary publications (as opposed to school textbooks, for example). According to Nor Faridah Manaf, the history of anglophone writing in Malaysia actually dates back to the late 1930s, pioneered by Gregory W. de Silva (1). Local male writers and novelists such as Johnny Ong, Lloyd Fernando, Tan Kok Seng and Lee Kok Liang, and poets Fie Tiang Hong, Wong Phui Nam, Edwin Thumboo were active after World War Two, before Independence. In the 1960s, the writings of Malayan students at the campus of the University of Malaya were anthologised. The writers featured in TwentyTwo Malaysian Stories (ed. Lloyd Fernando, 1968) include Shirley Lim, Lee Kok Liang, Stella Kon, Siew Yue Killingley, and Kassim Ahmad among others. For easier classification, I consider them together with their predecessors as well as those who wrote and were published in the 1970s as the first wave anglophone writers. What I would call second wave, postcolonial writers are those who started getting published and noticed only in the 1980s and 1990s, including young bumigeois (combining Bumiputera and bourgeois to refer to the middle-class Malay) writers like Karim Raslan, Amir Muhammad, and older non-bumi writers like Kee Thuan Chye. The 1990s have also seen a revival of the works by first wave writers such as K.S. Maniam and Shirley Lim who, together with the second wave, are published by Skoob Books, Rhino Press, Times Books International, the now defunct Heinemann Asia Press, and other smaller presses. Moreover, there are those who financed their own publications like Rehman Rashid or those whose family owned a press like Che Husna Azhari. The writers on whose works I focus come from the second wave. While K . S . Maniam has been published since the early eighties, the re-issue of his early  novel, together with his newer works by Skoob and Times, gives Malaysian literature an unmistakable touch of literary legitimacy and quality in the world of Commonwealth or Post-Colonial Literatures. Identity becomes more fluid for Malaysians writing in English: they can choose to identify themselves with others outside the nation who write in English and become 'Commonwealth' or 'Third World' writers, or, within the nation, they can identify with Malaysians of all ethnicities whose daily discourse may be conducted mostly or partly in English. If Bahasa Malaysia (BM) is reduced to being the language of bureaucracy, it is because English has superseded it to become the lingua franca of the Malaysian middle-class and elites. Yet, because the middle-class makes up a minority of the total population, and the state persists in asserting what Bhabha terms "the pedagogical" for purposes of consolidating and gaining power, these writers continue to struggle with their marginalization, engaging directly or Indirectly with the hegemonic, whether it is on issues of national policy, language, culture or religion. Some academics feel that young writers like Amir Muhammad voice ironic opinions that are reflective of their middle-class privileges and their tertiary education abroad, which distinguishes them from other more humble Malays. The same critics feel that Amir's postmodern ironic voice deserves to be heard but that it by no means represents the voices of most modern young Malays today. One of the shortcomings of this thesis is that it is limited for the most part to a discussion of the thoughts, opinions and psyches of the Malaysian middle-class. M y only defence is that this is the class that has the greatest potential to fulfill the Malaysian dream of a real multicultural society by overcoming racial barriers. In fact, Mahathir's Vision 2020 speech aimed for a "bangsa Malaysia" by the year 2020. Because the word bangsa 18  conflates together meanings like "race," "citizen" and "nation," the most optimistic reading of "bangsa Malaysia" suggests a Malaysian race, a nation able to imagine itself as a hybridised whole rather than permeated by ethnic divisions. Indeed, many activists from non-governmental organizations working on issues of human rights, feminism, workers' rights, heritage conservation and the environment are aligned to the middle-class. When the  former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was arrested under the Internal Security Act  19  and beaten while in custody in late 1998, these activist groups and common people  proved their power as a broad-ranging class by gathering in the streets to voice their protest about the injustice towards Anwar. Since then, dissent against Dr. Mahathir's corrupt government has been cross-racial. Those who have taken to peaceful (albeit illegal) street marches and demonstrations are not just Malays, and ethnic and multi-ethnic opposition groups have rallied to Anwar's calls for reformation. In fact, initially, Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, formed a new multiracial political party (Keadilan or the National Justice Party) with herself as president and a Chinese Malaysian, Tian Chua, as vicepresident to run in the April 2000 elections.  20  As for the artistic and discursive ways of  reflecting a multiracial national identity, many would agree with me that there is more hope in English-language writings and the theatre arts than in film.  21  Lastly, it is into this  melange of concerns within Malaysian culture that I introduce a further complication, a gender angle that I hope will sharpen my focus and bring the whole mix to a crisis, as I will explain in my summary of the individual chapters below. My opening chapter focuses on the Hang Tuah/Hang Jebat debate because I would like to situate an understanding of Malay myth at the base of this thesis on Malaysian modernity. Benedict Anderson's and Partha Chatterjee's theories of nationalism, especially the latter's model of anti-colonial nationalism which combines the material and spiritual elements under difference, permit a feudal hero such as Hang Tuah to figure as a national hero in post-colonial Malaysia. At the same time, while examining the changing attitudes towards nationalism or the political leadership, one recognises that the Hang Tuah/Hang Jebat myth has constantly been a discourse for and by men among men: writers, playwrights and journalists like A l i Aziz, Kassim Ahmad, Usman Awang, Hatta, Dinsman, Rehman Rashid, and filmmakers such as Hussein Haniff and P. Ramlee constantly privilege one or the other character as the ideal Malay nationalist hero. However, it is not as though women writers have no opinion on the subject. Fatimah Busu has written a  provocative account in short story form entitled "Al-Isra," though not many critics cite it when discussing the famous myth. I include and discuss Busu's story together with the male versions, hoping to provide the much-missed, much-needed dimension and expression of Malay nationalism through the female voice. Busu brings a philosophical modernist dimension that is tinged with Islamic faith and Camusian existentialism as she combines Camus' essay "The Myth of Sisyphus" with the Malay legend. Moreover, her short story lends itself to a reading of homosocial and homoerotic relations between the king and his subordinates, Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat; the story nudges the critical reader in the direction of Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick's theory of homosocial desire but also problematizes the theory in the Malay context. In examining the many contemporary reinscriptions of the Tuah-Jebat question, the main thesis of this chapter is that modern Malaysian nationalism in its imaginary schema has not changed significantly since feudal times, and the presence of parliamentary elections and a constitutional monarchy have not crushed the feudal notion of "followership." In Chapter 2, I deal with the idea of nationalism in Malaysian writings. Using Bhabha's theory of the performative versus the pedagogical, I demonstrate the complexity, if not the paradox, of talking about "a Malaysian national literature." The works and selfrepresentations of three English-educated bumiputera male writers, Salleh Ben Joned, Rehman Rashid and Karim Raslan, who write in English and who most appropriately fit the oxymoronic term "secular Muslims," defy and challenge the hegemonic pedagogical notions of the nation. However, what needs pointing out is that these writers' brave and frank critiques are anchored in a gendered position of privilege. Social pressure from adat, Islam and patriarchy dictates that female challengers of the hegemonic employ less confrontational modes of discourse, thereby causing them to defend their actions in the rhetoric of postcoloniality as non-Western cultural difference. These very same women would assert that avoidance of conflict and confrontation defines Malay culture, and that therefore, one's directness may be regarded as unrefined or coarse behaviour (see my  analysis of "effective" feminisms in the film Femina in Chapter 5). However, this is not to say that there are no female writers who write as boldly as Salleh ben Joned. Marina Mahathir comes to mind for her strong feminist statements in the newspapers, though being the daughter of the Prime Minister connotes another type of privilege. Chapter 3 lays out the general background of Malaysian cinema, briefly tracing its history from the studio days of the 1940s right through the nationalization of Malay cinema in the 1970s until the 1990s. Malay film history accounts for the present state of its film industry where earnest filmmakers juggle commercial factors with artistic expression. In addition, because all filmscripts have to be approved by a government body, F I N A S , which is under the Ministry of Information, filmmakers are restricted in terms of subjectmatter by various government-decreed "sensitive" issues such as race, the special position of the Malays and religion. Other more arbitrary forms of censorship are carried out by the censorship board which is separate from FINAS. With this in mind, I have entitled this chapter "Malaysian Films: Cinema of Denial." There are precedents for blending the Lacanian psychoanalytical theory of the subject or individual with Althusserian Marxism to chart broader socio-cultural phenomenon: the works of Slavoj Zizek and Renata Salecl come to mind. I find Salecl's reading of the workings of Lacanian psychoanalytical theory of subjectivity on culture and ideology useful for, despite its description of the sociopolitical conditions in Eastern Europe, it seems applicable to a contemporary postcolonial multiracial Malaysia that organizes its desire around the traumatic, unsymbolizable race riots of May 13, 1969.1 will also engage with Malay film critic Hatta Azad Khan's theories about Malaysian cinema as national cinema and whether Malay cinema can be considered Third Cinema. Hatta, like many critics writing about films from the developing world, refers to Teshome Gabriel's theory of Third Cinema which relies on Fanon's three phases in the evolution of national culture. Gabriel's account has been critiqued by filmmaker Jacqueline Levitin for misrepresenting and obfuscating Argentinian film theorists and guerilla filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino's original coinage of the term  "Third Cinema," so I will turn directly to Fanon's three phases instead.  Fanon's  background as a psychiatrist and his analysis of the native intellectual's conflicted psyche are actually more compatible with Salecl's theory. If Salecl is said to apply Lacan's theory of the individual subject to culture at large, Gabriel and I are similarly applying Fanon's psychoanalytical theory of the individual native subject living in a colonial culture to the broader structures of post-independence/national culture or national cinema. Lastly, I also focus on the current popular subjects treated by Malaysian filmmakers today: gender and sexuality, whether as incest, uncontrolled female desire, or homosexuality. The current interest in all things sexual and bawdy can be attributed to the second wave writers and New Wave filmmakers who are, in my opinion, recuperating adat and reclaiming female sexuality as a response to the conservatism of resurgent Islam that has now become the daily habitual experience of most Malays. The general film essay above prepares the way for Chapter 4 which explores secularist visions of the modern Malay woman by filmmaker Shuhaimi Baba, and writers Karim Raslan and Dina Zaman. As a contrast to their secular perspectives, I briefly discuss Malay poet laureate Shahnon Ahmad's works. This chapter broaches the issue of sexuality and adat that crops up throughout the different chapters in my thesis. Theoretically, I begin by referring to existing debates and ideas on women, nationalism and modernity put forward by various feminists and sociologists, and then engage with Maila Stivens' questions about polygamy, resurgent Islam, modernity, postmodernity or neo-modernity with regards to the new Malay middle classes of the 1990s. To provide a more multiracial, though by no means representative perspective on gender and modernity, I analyze a Tamil Malaysian writer's non-Malay female characters in Chapter Five. I examine K.S. Maniam's independent-minded urban female characters in his short stories "In Flight," "Booked for Life," "Faced Out" and "The Aborting." Maniam may not use the word "feminist," but it is clear that his female protagonists who hold men in contempt and at arm's length, who are in turns frigid, irrational, and hysterical, are  meant to represent feminist positions. I call these women "fascist 'feminists'" (throughout the chapter I will either use single or double inverted commas to problematize Maniam's representation of feminism). Their confused mental states and suspicion and hatred of men all seem to point to the author's limited perspective on Western feminism and a deep-rooted anxiety about the changes affecting women in modern Malaysia. While I do not discuss the rest of the stories in the same collection, Haunting the Tiger: Contemporary Stories from Malaysia, they are science fiction pieces which seem also to be allegories about the state of modernity in contemporary Malaysia. In this sense, the combined critique of a highly developed and technologised society in the sci-fi works and the misogynistic portrayal of the 1980s and 1990s Malaysian "feminist" suggest a nexus between modernity and the female self: the problematic female of the present threatens the heterosexual economy and presciently leads the way to an alienated (in)humanity, to societies devoid of human warmth and compassion. Hence, the continuance of humanity itself as we know it seems to be placed on the shoulders of women whose clamour for independence and equality are reduced to pathetic caricatures or dangerous assaults on cultural survival. In putting forth this idea of fascist "feminism," I am indebted to theorists of European fascism such as Klaus Theweleit, Richard Golsan, Melanie Hawthorne, and Barbara Spackman. The complexity of Maniam's characters requires an in-depth analysis of theories of subjectivity, hence, I turn to the Lacanian mirror phase (as I do in Chapter 2) and to Bruce Fink's accessible and succinct explanation of Lacah's theory of subjectivity. As I have earlier defined Malaysian modernity as incorporating modernism (see footnote 3), it comes as no surprise that not only does absurdism influence Malaysian literature (and theatre), as reflected in Fatimah Busu's short story, but references to another modernist literary and philosophical movement, existentialism, or a particular conception of it, appear in K . S . Maniam's work. Here, the effect of existentialism further highlights the "distinctively modern sense of dislocation and ambiguity" that Rita Felski characterises about modernism and the French understanding of modernite (13).  From feminism as fascism, we turn finally to hypermasculinity. Theorists of fascism talk about masculinity, as the title of a book on the subject, Fascist Virilities, clearly illustrates. Here, fascism is considered a conservative masculinist response to what is perceived as the decadence and effeminization of bourgeois culture during the modernist period in Europe. Modernity in Malaysia evokes a corresponding response. In Chapter 6, I take a look at how modernity and its effects redefine constructs of ideal masculinity in Malay films, resulting in hypermasculine (i.e. violent) behaviour. Violence as visual spectacle is becoming very noticeable in Malay cinema as the success of foreign action films featuring Jean Claude van Damme, Jet L i and Jackie Chan has spurred local filmmakers to imitate these models of cinematic masculinity known as the "hard body." I posit four physical types of masculinity, including the "hard body" in contemporary Malay cinema, though I will largely focus on the one I call "authentic masculinity." I argue that male violence or hypermasculinity derives from the discursive authentic male's inability to cope with modern changes to gender roles and relationships. In agreement with Judith Butler's theory of gender performativity which dismantles any essentialist claims concerning gender, I claim that hypermasculinity is the overacting or highly dramatic performance of authentic masculinity in crisis, a disavowal of male inadequacy or lack in the face of male-depicted uncontrolled and uncontrollable feminine desires (e.g. the woman with a gun/weapon and the sexually active woman). For example, filmmaker Adman Salleh's male protagonists in Amok and Bintang Malam [Night Star] respond to the negative aspects of modernity (usually couched as Westernization) through violence, using Malay weapons as a kind of phallic assertion of traditional identity. And in Karim Raslan's short story "Go East!", a closeted gay man lashes out violently at a Filipina sex slave in order to hide his sexual identity from his hypermasculine heterosexual male colleagues. In contrast to the excesses associated with feminine desires, male lack is typically constructed within a gendered framework as "feminine," "effeminate," or even "emasculated," and therefore, has to be compensated via hypermasculine actions. I will also discuss the  representations of uncontrolled and uncontrollable feminine desires since these women pose such a colossal threat to the authentic male stereotype. They are completely opposite to the fascist "feminists" in the sense that these are women with active libidos, yet, they evoke the same kind of fear and ambivalence in male characters and in the collective imagination of male writers and filmmakers. Finally, the epilogue will provide a retrospective account of the lapses and gaps in the thesis and attempt to suggest future avenues of research.  1 2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  Personal interview, 8 July 1998. "Modernity—An Unfinished Project" was the title of a speech Habermas gave in September 1980 upon accepting the Adorno Prize. See Jiirgen Habermas, "Modernity versus Postmodernity," New German Critique 22 (1981): 3-14. For the sake of argument, one migh even characterize IT as a mark of postmodernity in the era of late capitalism. Rita Felski, in her discussion on the gender of Western modernity, describes modernity as an epochal term that includes modernization ("the complex constellation of socioeconomic phenomena which originated in the context of Western development but which have since manifested themselves around the globe in various forms"), the artistic movement of modernism which arose in Europe and America about a century ago, and the French term modernite. Like modernism, French modernite, "while also concerned with a distinctively modern sense of dislocation and ambiguity, locates it in the more general experience of the aestheticization of everyday life, as exemplified in the ephemeral and transitory qualities of an urban culture shaped by the imperatives of fashion, consumerism, and constant innovation" (13). I would characterize Malaysian modernity as being quite close to Felski's definitions of Western modernity. As I will take up later in Chapter 4, resurgent Islam becomes one such "imperative" that defines, for example, the fashion and trend of modernity. Spirits of Resistance (1987) is her germinal work on Malay factory women. Subsequent essays continue the discussion. See "Japanese Factories, Malay Workers—Class and Sexual Metaphors in West Malaysia" in Atkinson and Errington's Power and Difference: Gender in Island Southeast Asia, and Ong and Peletz's Bewitching Women. Pious Men. In her written report of my doctoral thesis defence, Maila Stivens makes this observation: "It is notable that large numbers of Malaysian academics speak unselfconsciously of 'race' to refer to the main ethnic groups in Malaysia, a term that has little currency in intellectual circles in the West." My response to this is that Malaysian academics who are fully aware of the construction of race as a colonial category would use the word "ethnicity" to keep up with Western knowledge systems except that the term "race" has become so ubiquitous and entrenched at all levels of Malaysian discourse and interaction that it would seem a purely academic exercise to do so. Seminar "Kedudukan, Citra dan Identiti Wanita Melayu: Zaman Kolonial" held during 14-15 July, 1998. The racun/penawar dichotomy resembles the virgin/whore dichotomy that was a typical distinction made in early Western feminist criticism. The big Other refers to the whole social symbolic network into which we, as subjects, are born. In the contexts above, the social symbolic network would refer to living in Indonesia under Suharto's New Order regime or living in Malaysia under policies put into place since Mahathir came to power. The bumiputera category includes all Malays (e.g. Bajau, Minangkabau) and many Orang Asli (indigenous or aboriginal) groups such as Iban, Dayak, Senoi, Negrito, etc. However, despite the extension of the term bumiputera to encompass some of the Orang Asli, discrimination against them still exists, as East Malaysian indigenous individuals who move to Peninsula Malaysia to work and go to university discover. Roughly, the ethnic percentages of the population of Malaysia today are: Malays (55%), Chinese (30%),  10  11 12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  2 0  21  2 2  Indians (9%), others (6%). An earlier precedent (1800-1850) of the tension between modernity and feudal loy aides is provided by Munshi Abdullah's use of liberal European discourse to critique the Malay rulers. For other references see "Samy Vellu Meets Indian Gangsters" p.6, and "Social Ills" (Nambiar 5-6). Here, Mandal refers to the present Malaysian Prime Minister's controversial book The Malay Dilemma as well as his former Deputy PM, Anwar Ibrahim's book The Asian Renaissance. For a nuanced definition of the Malaysian middle classes, see Stivens ("Sex, Gender and the Making of the New Malay Middle Classes" 94-99). The currency crisis began in mid-1997. By mid-1998, Malaysia had descended into a full economic recession. Prime Minister Mahathir's anti-George Soros rhetoric did little to stabilise the flailing stock market and Malaysians werefraughtwith ambivalence over his nationalist and anti-Western positionality. Moreover, Malaysians worried about whether the service at the newly-opened KLIA was going to be efficient after initial problems with the operating systems, baggage transport, etc. during the first few weeks of its opening in July, 1998. At the time of the Games, too, a political crisis arose within the Malay ruling party, UMNO, after the sacking of Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was leading street marches and speaking out about the corruption of the present government at large illegal rallies. Pro-Anwar street demonstrations led to heavy security measures when Queen Elizabeth attended the Games. There was also some speculation of a slump in the economy immediately after the Commonwealth Games, when the facilities, housing, hotels, etc. built especially for the event would largely be left unoccupied. The national film industry is dominated by Malays and their culture, played by Malay actors and largely caters to a Malay audience. Therefore, the dialogue is in Malay. In Colonialism and Nationalism in Asian Cinema. Wimal Dissanayake expands on Benedict Anderson's idea of reading the nation through novels by applying it to film, suggesting that cinema functions even better as a popular tool for the formation of national identity and the creation of an imagined community (xiv). "The [DBP] was established in 1957 following the recommendation made by the Abdul Razak Committee on Education in the Federation of Malaya, 1956. However, it is only since 1970 that literature in the Malay language (then retitled "Bahasa Malaysia") has been more actively supported by the Malay political elites" (Tham 217-218). For full details about Vision 2020, refer to Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia: The Way Forward (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia : Malaysian Business Council, 1991) 2-4. The Internal Security Act (ISA), a remnant of British colonial administration today, allows for indefinite detention without trial. Keadilan's vice-president position has changed since then. At the time Mahathir called for snap elections in November 1999, Keadilan's vice-president was a former UMNO woman, Marina Yusoff. In my interview with Malay woman filmmaker Shuhaimi Baba, she states that she "would like to be able to see more Malay movies with a Malaysian sentiment," and that representing the racial diversity of Malaysia was "the last barrier, really." For a brief summary of Third Cinema, Third Worldist films, and the critics, filmmakers and theorists involved, see Michael T. Martin, ed. New Latin American Cinema Vol. I: Theory. Practices, and Transcontinental Articulations (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1997) 20-21.  Chapter One  Malay Myth and Changing Attitudes Towards Nationalism: the Hang Tuah/Hang Jebat Debate  [P]erhaps the Malay political consciousness also recognizes something enduringly compelling in the idea of the rebel.... I am not, and never have been, "Malay" enough to fully understand the complexities of Malay heroism. A few years after the episode of which I'm writing now, the director of the Police Special Branch, while interviewing me for possible subversive tendencies, would pose me the conundrum: "Who do you think was right? Hang Tuah or Hang Jebat?" It was a question that seemed to strike to the very heart of matters; the true "Malay Dilemma." (Rehman Rashid, A Malaysian Journey 209)  Introduction The question of who the greater hero is, Hang Tuah or Hang Jebat, is a controversial one in post-colonial Malaysia. These two were warriors and childhood friends who lived during the reign of Sultan Mansur Shah of Melaka in the fifteenth century. Their exploits, specifically Hang Tuah's, have been recorded in the Hikayat Hang Tuah (Epic of Hang Tuah) and Sejarah Melayu (The Malay Annals), two semi-historical classical Malay literary texts of seminal importance in encapsulating Malay identity, written either in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. The central story in the Hikayat Hang Tuah (HHT) goes something like this: the sultan made Hang Tuah his Laksamana (admiral) after he proved his bravery and defeated a man who had run amok in the kingdom. Hang 1  Tuah's four childhood friends also served the king but Hang Tuah was his majesty's favourite. However, due to court jealousy, Hang Tuah was accused of socializing with a palace courtesan, an act of high treason. Without investigating Hang Tuah's "crime," the king hastily ordered his execution but the cautious Prime Minister (Bendahara) hid the admiral in a village instead of carrying out the king's orders. The sultan's unjust ruling invoked the anger and rebellion of his childhood friend, Hang Jebat, who ran amok and took over the palace after receiving Hang Tuah's magic keris (Malay dagger with a ridged serpentine blade)—and symbolically, his position as the king's favourite. Hang Jebat  refused to duel with his three childhood friends whom the king sent to kill him: Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu. Moreover, no one was worthy of defeating him except Hang Tuah, for it had been predicted that Hang Jebat would die at the hands of his best friend. When the king discovered that Hang Tuah was still alive, he ordered him to kill the traitor, Hang Jebat, and Hang Tuah dutifully carried out his master's orders. I will discuss the following ways the Tuah-Jebat conflict has been reinscribed. To many, the Tuah-Jebat debate captures the tension between loyalty to the state as represented by Hang Tuah and loyalty to friendship (setiakawari) as represented by Hang Jebat. However, it has also been read as the feudal versus modern hero, and replicates the Muslim debate over the hadith about blind loyalty (taqlid) and individual judgement (ijtihad).  2  Because Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat signify and reflect Malay concepts of politics and custom (adat) as well as Islamic debates about taqlid and ijtihad, therefore it appears that adat and Islam may not be mutually exclusive nor opposing categories. In fact, there is a significant sense of overlap between the two, and I will also propose later in this chapter that the same goes for adat and modernity. What may seem like "modern" ideas of individualism may already be embedded within adat, in the figure of the Malay rebel, Hang Jebat. Further, I suggest that under the leadership of prime minister Mahathir Mohamad who began the "Look East" policy in the early 1980s, the Tuah-Jebat dichotomy also projects "Asian values" of group rights versus Western individual rights. In addition, if 3  we regard Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat as opposites in the Malay psyche, then the former represents the rational ego—always in control—compared to Hang Jebat's emotional and sensual excesses. The Hang Tuah/Hang Jebat antagonism resurfaces in real Malaysian politics in the late 1990s when the tension between Mahathir and his now former deputy prime minister and heir apparent, Anwar Ibrahim turned into an outright power struggle. Both men differ 4  in personality and political vision: Mahathir, a shrewd, authoritarian leader known for his anti-imperialist rhetoric and ambitious nationalist projects and Anwar, a charismatic student  radical who had been imprisoned in the mid-1970s for his involvement during the farmers' revolt, and also known as the former leader of the Islamic Youth Movement (ABIM) popular in the 1970s and 1980s. As a politician, Mahathir addresses matters much along the lines of what his medical training taught him, using a direct, practical approach to treatment. Anwar, however, has been characterised as an intellectual and idealist, 5  appealing to the principles of social justice within Islam (in concurrence with his image as a staunch Muslim) and to Western liberal values of civil society and democracy as highlighted in his book, The Asian Renaissance. In this sense, Mahathir's Asian dictatorial leadership as well as his adoption  of "Asian values" would define his ideal hero to be  Hang Tuah, whereas Anwar, to me, emerges from the political and media blitz of charges of sexual misconduct and corruption as the wronged modern-day  Jebat. Further,  allegations of his being a national traitor (an agent selling secrets to the U.S.!) would, I believe, support this image of him as the Jebat who commits durhaka (treason).  6  However, to my knowledge there has not been overt connections made between the Hang Tuah/Hang Jebat myth and the Reformasi movement in journalistic and popular commentary on daily politics in particular. In terms of critical responses, Muhammad Haji Salleh charts Malay intellectuals' literary emulation of Hang Tuah and later Hang Jebat in his essays, "Central Values of the Malay Hero: Hang Tuah" and "The Traditional and Contemporary Malay Literary Hero" (1991). His central point is that for many modern Malays, Hang Jebat has become their real protector and defender because he exercised individual discretion and was critical of the corrupt practices in his society. Mhd. Hj. Salleh posits Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat as classical Malay literary heroes who influence "committed young people, the writers and the intellectuals" (165). To carry further the parallel between Anwar and Hang Jebat, the former's sudden arrest under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), his beatings while in prison and the general heavy-handed treatment he has received from his "mentor" Mahathir, have mobilised Malaysians of all ilk around issues of injustice and reform, not  least amongst them being university students, writers and intellectuals. M y angle is to examine such contemporary reinscriptions of the Tuah-Jebat dilemma in texts written and staged between the 1970s and mid-1990s. I am interested not so much in the plays, most of which were performed during the late 1960s into the early 1980s, as I am in the almost casual, brief appearances the Tuah/Jebat argument makes in the discourse of the 1980s and 1990s that show that the dynamics of nationalism and betrayal between men have seeped into the popular unconscious, even though the plays about Tuah and Jebat were being staged less and less frequently. However, to understand the process of how the Tuah/Jebat debate has evolved, a necessary literary, dramatic and cinematic foundation is laid out (see appendix). I will not discuss every work cited in the appendix in my attempt to analyze the literary and popular historical transitions from emulating Hang Tuah as the Malay hero up to the 1950s, to Hang Jebat (popular between the 1960s and the 1980s), and then the swing back to Hang Tuah during the economic boom (1987-1996), and lately, in my opinion, and as the social unrest and sluggish economic conditions reflect—the revival of a Hang Jebat in the form of Anwar Ibrahim. Neither is this list comprehensive as I do not include poems and brief references to Tuah and Jebat found in other cultural productions. Nevertheless, what the chronological details point out is the influences of Western literary, philosophical and artistic forms on Malay drama and literature. Social realism was embraced by the ASAS 50 writers, those involved in the Art for Society movement during the 1950s. This influence is clearly reflected in the films Hang Tuah (P. Ramlee 1956) and Hang Jebat (Hussain Haniff 1961), and the plays by Syed Alwi and A l i Aziz. According to A . R. Napiah whose doctoral dissertation is an intertextual study of Tuah and Jebat in Malay drama, absurdist drama became popular in the 1970s as writers record their reactions to the bloody race riots of May 13, 1969. As a result, Dinsman, Johan Jaaffar and Hatta's plays carried strong messages about Malay poverty and economic and class struggle. Absurdism in Malay theater and literature may, in some ways, have to be understood  differently from its Western origins. A . R. Napiah writes that the term "absurdism" in Malaysia does not mean the isolation from religious issues or the loss of self-confidence and hopes to live, which is, in his view, how absurdism is understood in the West (186).  7  Instead, the Malaysian drama of the absurd reflects the creative style of the anti-narrative, a lack of causation or logic in the plot, and is filled with complicated philosophical elements.  8  This is important as it pertains to Fatimah's handling of Jebat as the Camusian Sisyphus. Because absurdism in the Malaysian context is not about the end of religion, it does not cancel out the Islamic ideals that are proffered in Fatimah's text by her juxtapositioning of existentialist angst with Islamic faith. At the same time, Napiah points out other absurdist and modern characteristics apparent in Johan Jaafar's play My City Oh M y City such as short sentences laced with humour, and the use of colloquial dialogue, irony and allegory (303); or the fact that Johan discards the Aristotelian unities of playwriting and opts instead for an episodic form (236). It is my belief that these writers were more interested in the playful experimental forms of absurdism which they freely adopted than they were in seriously contemplating strict adherence to the philosophical foundations of absurdism per se. As for A . R. Napiah's contribution to the Tuah-Jebat study, he is mainly concerned with analyzing theatrical forms, plot structure, style, and what effects and influences carry over from one Tuah-Jebat play to another. As for my study, I consider the Hang Tuah/Hang Jebat discourse in non-fictional texts that deal with Malaysian culture and politics such as Rehman Rashid's A Malaysian Journey (1993), Karim Raslan's essays in Ceritalah (1996), Salleh Ben Joned's collection of essays As I Please (1994) and Kit Leee's review of Kee Thuan Chye's play, a political satire entitled 1984 Then and Now (1987). In these texts, Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat represent intrinsic values like loyalty and betrayal that are associated with Malay ethnicity and politics, for example, when Rehman Rashid was asked who the greater hero was by a police interrogator after he wrote a New Straits Times editorial criticising the Malaysian government's mass arrests of the opposition in Operation Lallang, 1987; or when Kit Leee  hailed Kee Thuan Chye as a Hang Jebat for criticising self-censorship in Kee's Orwellian play, 1984 and After. As for fiction, two of the various works that feature Hang Jebat as the defender of truth to which I will refer are Usman Awang's 1961 play Death of a Warrior: Jebat and Johan Jaafar's Mv Citv Oh Mv Citv (1975, published in 1981). In addition, I include Karim Raslan's short story "Heroes" (1996) because its Mahathirist ideology (pro-Hang Tuah in its conception of the modern Malay hero) reflects very much the yuppie psyche of the heady economic boom before the currency crisis and the economic downturn in 1997. It demonstrates a psyche that buys into the ideology that the trampling of some democratic rights is acceptable, even justifiable, as long as the national economy is thriving. What is particularly striking in the debate about Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat is that it is predominantly such a masculinist discourse. Its "discursants" are mostly male: Fatimah Busu's version, a short story entitled "Dark Night of the Soul," is the only reconstruction by a woman writer. Without being essentialist, I suggest that Fatimah Busu brings to her 9  retelling her experience as a Malay woman who recognises the limitations placed on women in a patriarchal system. For example, the national Islamic ideology constructs women firstly as wives and mothers, thereby restricting them from fulfilling larger functions in the public political realm. This is not to neglect the presence of a few women politicians but to explain that they are nevertheless appointed to positions considered closer to their traditional gender roles. Indeed, the story of two male warriors battling over the question 10  of personal or national loyalty leaves little room for any female characters with substantial roles. In this regard, Fatimah's story does not diverge from the original. However, she portrays this masculine public/national realm as fraught with internal problems of personal homosocial loyalty and homoerotic desire. The relationships between the king and Hang Tuah, and between His Highness and Hang Jebat, are represented in symbolic ways which raise questions about power and homosocial and national relations. To this end, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's theory of homosocial desire is provocative though not necessarily  wholly applicable due to various cultural differences. Thus, my reading of Fatimah's text provides a strategic feminist intervention not by pointing out the exclusion of the gendered Other (women) but focusing instead on the categories of inclusion that bind the men together in the discourse of the nation. Fatimah's short story also combines Albert Camus' essay, "The Myth of Sisyphus," with Malay myth, positing Hang Jebat as a martyr whose spirit is doomed to wander the land with a perpetually bleeding wound caused by Hang Tuah. Its eclectic weaving of sometimes contradictory philosophies (such as absurdism and Islam) and literary cultures resonates strongly with the complex condition that is Malaysian modernity. This is assuming that by "absurdism" one means an anti-religious philosophy that "conceive[s] the universe as possessing no inherent human truth, value, or meaning, and [that] represents] human life, as it moves from the nothingness whence it came toward the nothingness where it must end, as an existence which is both anguished and absurd" (Abrams 1). My central thesis in examining the many ways the Tuah-Jebat question has been reinscribed in contemporary cultural texts is that modern Malaysian nationalism in its imaginary schema has not changed significantly since feudal times, even though we now have parliamentary elections and a constitutional monarchy. The example of Hang Tuah, or the notion of "followership" or loyalty towards the king, has merely been transferred to the ruling coalition which has been in power since independence in 1957. A long history of 11  feudalism, of loyalty to authority, has a far stronger grip on ideas of cultural identity and unity than the more recent notion of nationalism that came in the wake of anti-colonialism. Hence, the period touting Hang Jebat as the greater hero followed shortly after independence with the publication of Kassim Ahmad's thesis in 1959 (which portrays Hang Jebat as an anti-feudal hero) only to peter out in the economic boom of the post-NEP era. Evidence for Hang Tuah's hegemony as the more enduring hero would take into consideration the results of government policies such as the N E P (i.e. the consequent  burgeoning Malay middle-class or bumigeois) and in particular, the leadership style and vision of P M Mahathir. Partha Chatterjee begins his argument against Benedict Anderson's germinal thesis on nationalism in Imagined Communities by asking: "If nationalisms in the rest of the 12  world have to choose their imagined communities from certain 'modular' forms already made available to them by Europe and the Americas, what do they have left to imagine?" (216). Chatterjee then refines Anderson's theory by positing that anti-colonial nationalism "dividfes] the world of social institutions and practices into two domains—the material and the spiritual" (Chatterjee 217). He formulates this division as a way of accounting for a more nuanced indigenous anti-colonial nationalism, one that would not necessarily end up replicating the history of the modern state in Europe as Chatterjee claims Anderson's "modular" nationalisms imply. It is a way, Chatterjee suggests, for "anti-colonial nationalism [to create] its own domain of sovereignty within colonial society well before it begins its political battle with the imperial power" (217). His material domain is "the domain of the 'outside', of the economy and of statecraft, of science and technology, a domain where the West had proved its superiority and the East had succumbed" (217). But the spiritual, "an 'inner' domain bearing the 'essential' marks of cultural identity" is declared "sovereign territory" that refuses any colonial intervention (217). Chatterjee submits that this sovereign domain acting as cultural resistance to British colonialism in Bengal during the period of social reform was already in place before the apparatus of the material domain, such as actual anti-colonial nationalist politics, emerged. In colonial Malaya, the spiritual domain included Islam and the Malay royalty as symbols of religion and culture, a domain where the British supposedly maintained a hands-off policy. Today, the Malay vision of modernity is fragmented into three particular and exclusive views of distinctiveness in Malay culture, which is reconfigured differently here by Loh and Kahn from the so-called three pillars of Malay identity: Islam as the key to Malay identity; attachment to a leader or patriarch; and/or a tradition of egalitarianism and democracy (5-  6).  13  According to these views, Islam would be at odds with "attachment to a leader" as  represented in the Tuah-Jebat conflict in Fatimah's short story where she illustrates the conflict between loyalty to Allah and loyalty to one's corrupt king. However, it would be too simplistic to assume that Islam and followership come under the spiritual domain and egalitarianism and democracy under the material realm just because "the dominant elements of [the outer domain's] self-definition [are] drawn from the ideology of the modern liberal democratic state" (Chatterjee 221). In fact, the rebellious figure of Hang Jebat in Malay classical literature suggests that egalitarianism and anti-authoritarianism existed in Malay culture, and therefore, Hang Jebat and the seeds of democracy are part of the Malay spiritual domain. For example, if democracy implies the common people constituting political authority, Kassim Ahmad uses Hang Jebat, the figure of feudal rebellion, to symbolize modern-day socialist rebellion. In Kassim Ahmad's poem "dialogue" (1967), Hang Jebat proves to be a "model leader of the peasantry." In this poem, a young farmer vows, "I will go / with a thousand Jebats of the peasantry / so long we have died in loyalty / now we live in rebellion" (Mhd. Hj. Salleh 164). In the last three decades, democracy in Malaysia has also often been defined as the freedom to express oneself, as Hang Jebat does, but without being censored or punished. Certain topics pertaining to race are deemed sensitive and those caught publicly discussing them are subject to imprisonment. As a result, censorship and self-censorship since 1971 are very common. (Anti-democratic) government rhetoric insists that in a multiracial society liable to racial strife, individual liberties must be sacrificed to preserve peace and order. Suffice to say, the spiritual and material domains are inextricably linked. For example, some leaders of the Islamic party, PAS, emphasize that everyone is equal in the eyes of God regardless of his/her race. To garner political support from the Chinese, they claim that the current government's ethnic chauvinism goes against the spirit of Islam (Jomo & Shabery Cheek 98). Forming an Islamic state for them perhaps provides the best chances of preserving what they see as an essential part of their cultural identity and inner  domain, Islam. However, this cultural, political goal can only emerge through their use of the democratic electoral process (the material domain). While Chatterjee begins by proposing two domains to anti-colonial nationalism, he ends up explaining that now "the task is to trace in their mutually conditioned historicities the specific forms that have appeared, on the one hand, in the domain defined by the hegemonic project of nationalist modernity, and on the other, in the numerous fragmented resistances to that normalizing project" (224).  (This is because the domain of subaltern  politics [i.e. the spiritual] has adapted itself to the institutional forms characteristic of the elite domain [i.e. material], thereby blurring the two domains.) The editors of Fragmented Vision: Culture and Politics in Contemporary Malaysia have to a certain extent fulfilled Chatterjee's call to carry out this task. I adopt Chatterjee's construction of this temporary binary and roughly attempt to fit Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat into his theoretical configuration by positing Hang Tuah who represents "attachment to a leader" within the spiritual and inner realm. However, in which category to include Hang Jebat is debatable, and once the mythical figures are replaced by real political figures such as Mahathir and Anwar, the demarcating lines between material and spiritual get even further blurred. For example, Mahathir blends a mixture of secular modernity with feudal authoritarianism in his anti-colonial nationalism whereas Anwar represents an Islamic democratic notion of civil society as his ideal nationalism. In fact, just as a dialectical relationship and function characterises the Hang Tuah/Hang Jebat debate, the same dialectical tension exists between the spiritual and material: "Each domain has not only acted in opposition to and as a limit upon the other but, through this process of struggle, has also shaped the emergent form of the other" (Chatterjee 223-224). Using Chatterjee's theory to frame these two national literary figures is not a futile exercise despite the resulting ambivalences. Rather, as he suggests, it is a move towards theorizing "new forms of the modern community" and "new forms of the modern state" outside the "Western universalism" versus "Oriental exceptionalism" argument (224).  14  Nationalism and Feudalism Critics generally regarded Hang Tuah as the ideal Malay hero from the fifteenth century until 1959 when socialist Kassim Ahmad established Hang Jebat instead as the modern Malay hero rebelling against colonialism and feudalism. Thus, Hang Tuah was relegated to the role of the "traditional" or "feudal hero" in Malay literature (Mhd. H j . Salleh 148). He was at one time also considered the Malay "national" hero (144), as testified by the popularity of P. Ramlee's film Hang Tuah (based on the bangsawan Malay theatre version) during its first big screen appearance in 1956. Later in the 1970s, the film was made accessible to a multiracial television viewership. The bangsawan  or Malay  theatre version which dates back to the turn of the 20th century portrays Hang Tuah as the traditional hero. The film's popularity is divided between its legendary content and its star, P. Ramlee. In a personal communication, Hamzah Hussin, a Malay film critic, informed me that Malay films then were largely attended by a Malay audience and it was only through television re-runs of old Malay movies in the 1970s that P. Ramlee became popular with non-Malay audiences. While the story of Hang Tuah as the ideal hero was popularised on television to a mass national audience, other forms of mustering nationalism via print culture and ideological state apparatuses such as school history textbooks continued. Additionally, Mhd. Hj. Salleh hints at Hang Tuah's status as the traditional hero when he writes: "In Tuah's values and actions we see clear shades of traditional nationalism, which were important then as well as in modern times when Malaysians are trying to redefine themselves, especially in terms of contemporary identity and culture" (italics mine 134). Mhd. Hj. Salleh's comparison between feudal Melaka society then, and the multiracial post-1963 contemporary nation meriting the name Malaysia instead of Malaya, supports my idea that both feudal and modern nationalism demand loyalty to the nation as represented by the king or ruling government. According to Anthony D. Smith's "ethnic" concept of the nation, a nation shares not only historic territory, a common economy and common legal rights and duties for all  members but also "common myths and historical memories, a mass, public culture" (14). Mhd. Hj. Salleh's linkage of traditional and modern nationalism can be further explained by Smith's theory that educator-intellectuals "[are] intent on purifying and mobilizing 'the people' through an appeal to the community's alleged ethnic past" (68). Thus, the story of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat becomes the "cognitive map" that is "drawn from the poetic spaces and golden ages of the communal past" (69). If we believe that nationalism was conceived in Europe only two centuries ago, then Mhd. Hj. Salleh's labelling of feudal Melaka as "traditional nationalism" is the kind of wishful projection that prompts Anderson to ask: "But why do nations celebrate their hoariness, not their astonishing youth?" (qtd. in Bhabha 1994: 293). In other words, for the educator-intellectual, establishing a linkage with its antique past gives the modern nation a sense of historical validity and nationalist, anti-imperialist pride. A current manifestation of this is P M Mahathir's project, Vision 2020 which he has likened to the Golden Age of Melaka. As Smith posits, "In this way, [the educator-intellectuals] hope to transform a backward traditional [feudal] ethnic community into a dynamic, but vernacular, political nation" (69). What makes the idea of a feudal hero as national hero seem odd is because "feudal" implies a relationship/loyalty to hierarchical authority and "national," a relationship/loyalty between equals, as implied by Anderson's conception of nationalism as "a deep, horizontal comradeship" (7). Inherent in this concept of modern nationalism that involves "the people" and embodies revolutionist ideals of fraternity and equality is the unstated idea of democracy, if not socialism. Yet, Anderson also acknowledges that in the case of official nationalisms,  15  it is "leaderships, not people, who inherit old switchboards and palaces"  (161), thereby demonstrating that both forms of loyalty continue to operate in modern nationalism (whether it is within the framework of democracy or socialism). Thus, and even better, Chatterjee's model of anti-colonial nationalism which combines the material and spiritual elements permits a feudal hero such as Hang Tuah to be considered a national hero in post-colonial Malaysia.  Consistent with Mhd. Hj. Salleh's conflation of the feudal hero with the anticolonial nationalist hero, a slippage appears in his quotation of the H H T that belies a tendency to occasionally blur loyalty to authority and loyalty to friendship.  16  The  misquotation of the H H T reads: "Ini Hikayat Hang Tuah yang amat setiakawan pada tuannya dan terlalu berbuat kebaktian kepada tuannya" (Mhd. Hj. Salleh 135, my italics). The slippage occurs when the word setiakawan is substituted for setiawan. Setiakawan literally means "loyalty to friends" but setiawan means "most loyal." Translated, the sentence in the opening of HHT states, "This is the epic of Hang Tuah, who was greatly loyal to his master and has performed numerous great services to this master" (Mhd. H j . Salleh 135). This blurring of horizontal and feudal loyalties perhaps exemplifies the inherent paradox of nationalism and bears closer examination. Firstly, it reinforces Anderson's notion of nationalism as a fraternity that condones killing and dying for one's nation (7). Along similar lines, Anderson notes that "the family has traditionally been conceived as the domain of disinterested [i.e. natural, unchosen] love and solidarity" (144). If I am conflating friend and family, it is because setiakawan seems to imply this melding in Hang Tuah's friendship with his four childhood companions: "Hang Tuah was full of love for his four friends, and all of them for each other. If they went anywhere to play they went together. Even when they ate, they did it together and played together, as though they were inseparable family members" (Mhd. Hj. Salleh 130). Seen in the light of the mixture of friendship and brotherhood between Hang Tuah and his friends, perhaps Hang Tuah's deep loyalty to the king (setiawan) has to be justified in these fraternal terms (setiakawan) especially when his Highness turns out to be vain, weak and rash in his judgments. According to Chatterjee, liberal nationalist ideology distinguished the public from the private domain (221), a notion which would separate loyalty to the state from loyalty to personal friendship. "If the nation is an imagined community and if nations must also take the form of states," he writes, "then our theoretical language must allow us to talk about community and state at the same time" (222). He believes that the present theoretical  language does not allow this to happen but the modern reading of the Tuah-Jebat conflict I suggest, based on the impossiblity of separating the public from the private spheres, would support his idea of a different discourse of nationalism. Judith Nagata, too, alludes to the blurring of one's personal/public ties to the king: "In the 'pre-modern' era the legitimacy of states did not derive from a particular people. Thus ancient empires encompassed multiple 'nations' within their boundaries, in a free-floating pluralism, ultimately held together by the strength of a ruler, based on personal/feudal loyalty, coercive military force or myth of divinity" (86 italics mine). Secondly, implicit in the use of setiakawan to characterise the relationship between the king and his beloved admiral, Hang Tuah, is a strong homoerotic strain that emerges most clearly in Fatimah Busu's short story. But as a feminist gesture to subvert the masculinist discourse of the nation, I will save for last my analysis of her text and its tracing of the intricate relationship between nationalism and homoeroticism.  The hegemony of Malay cultural identity Transforming a feudal ideal into a nationalist one is only problematic outside of the Malay chauvinist psyche. In other words, Malays are bumiputera, literally "sons of the soil," who trace their nationalist roots back to the Melaka empire, the seat of Malay civilization. In retrospect, this Golden Age embodies a modern nationalist fantasy of Malay hegemonic power over a homogeneous population. It is a pre-colonial period sheathed in more myths and legends than factual history recorded in the various literary epics or hikayat and the The Malay Annals. In reality, the population of Melaka in the fifteenth century was probably more heterogenous than some Malay chauvinists would like to think—Melaka being a trading centre where people from India and the Arab countries came to trade with merchants from China. Negotiating his way around this multiracial, cosmopolitan arena, Hang Tuah was well-versed in twelve languages. The narrowly-defined modern nationalist fantasy naturally occluded the later waves of immigrants from India and China who arrived during British colonial rule in the nineteenth century and who are now citizens of the  modern nation-state, Malaysia. This fantasy is important in view of over four hundred years of colonialism and later economic oppression of, and competition from, "the hardy immigrant races, Chinese and Indians" (Mhd. Hj. Salleh 159). Though Mhd. Hj. Salleh does not note it, one can conclude, and rightly too, that the Tuah-Jebat conflict rarely appears in the writings of non-Malay Malaysians who have been marginalized by the quota system and the overall privileging of the bumiputeras since the introduction of the N E P in 1971.  Nevertheless, their silence around Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat is hardly an  indication of their national loyalties. Furthermore, a National Cultural Policy (1971) that defines the regional culture as the official one and calls for cultural assimilation and adaptation of the immigrant races to the region's culture, guarantees the preservation and hegemony of the Malay language, the Malay religion, Islam, and the monarchy as head of adat (custom) in modern-day Malaysia. The hegemony of Malay cultural identity therefore enables Mhd. Hj. Salleh to make the easy slippage, when discussing Hang Tuah's values and actions, from Melaka's feudal order into Malaysia's pluralist democracy in which "Malaysians are trying to redefine themselves, especially in terms of contemporary identity and culture" (135). One might venture to ask whether "Malaysians" above include nonbumis as well. In the past, Malay feudal cultural identity called for absolute loyalty to the sultan because he was said to have descended from the heavens (Mhd. Hj. Salleh 135-136). He was the representative of God—"the shadow of Allah on earth" who was "believed to exude daulat, a supernatural or mystical power to punish those who dared to act contrary to the customs and beliefs traditionally associated with Malay life and institutions" (Tham 254). This accounts for Hang Tuah's loyalty to the king for "defying the daulat is called durhaka (treason), a word with connotations as cripplingly powerful as daulat" (Salleh Ben Joned 128). Further, Kessler makes a speculative etymological comparison between two Malay cognates,  menderhaka (to  commit treason)  and merdeka or merdaheka  (independence) to demonstrate the strong connection between ruler and subject: for to seek one's independence was to commit treason (148). Today, urbanization, Western education and globalization have gradually worn away belief in divine kingship. More importantly, the institution of a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary rule after independence meant that political power resided with the ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional, headed by U M N O (the United Malays National Organization). While during the Melaka empire the subjects derived their social, cultural and religious identity from the king, in the post-colonial nation-state, it is to U M N O that the people look for political guidance and protection of their socio-economic and cultural rights in the post-colonial present. The monarchy retains its ceremonial position as the head of adat and Islam, becoming more important thus as a symbol of tradition than as a powerwielding institution. In 1983, P M Mahathir attempted to curb the powers of the monarchy, precipitating a constitutional crisis (Rehman Rashid 189). The fact that the sultanate "provided the Malays a fount of their identity and a focus for their loyalty" meant that the Malays were kept "in thrall to a hereditary sovereignty, and this flew in the face of everything a democracy was supposed to achieve" (191). P M Mahathir wanted to prevent the king from the one key power he had over parliament, for without the king's seal, no legislation could be enacted into law (190). As a result of the constitutional crisis, a bill to which the Agung fails to give assent would nevertheless automatically become law after a delay of thirty days. A decade later, in 1993, the power of the monarchy was further reduced in another constitutional crisis which limited the legal immunity of the nine hereditary Malay rulers. U M N O originated from the unexpected Malay grass-roots resistance to the formation of the Malayan Union proposed by the British in 1946 which would have accorded the non-Malays equal rights to citizenship and taken away the Malays' special privileges. More significantly, the Malayan Union proposal was clearly seen as a colonial violation of Malay sovereignty  and British intervention in the Malay spiritual domain.  Since then, the nation has seen the introduction of the N E P and bumiputraism under the Barisan leadership. The strong reliance and dependence on the U M N O leadership has inspired Kit Leee to coin the term "Umnoputraism." Umnoputraism, according to Leee, claims that "the bumis do not form the inner party at all, having been supplanted by the Party's Deep Throaters or the UMNOputra, i.e. the oligarchs" (in Kee xxi). The transfer of loyalties from a feudal leadership to a national political party is facilitated by the notion of what Chandra Muzaffar and Shaharuddin Maaruf call "followership" (Kessler 147).  Followership Kessler defines the problem between Malay political leaders and their followers as lying with the followers rather than the leadership: "All the conventional concern (in Malay literary, cultural, and sociological studies) with leaders, protectors, and heroes in this view may well be a displaced or disguised recognition of what is uneasily central to Malay politics and culture: not leadership, which is not conceptually or socially problematic, but followership, which is" (147). Furthermore, "Akin to rebellion, independence or the refusal of followership is, somewhere in Malay popular consciousness, impermissible. Fully to be a Malay, this understanding again emphasizes [that] one must have a ruler [and] be ruled as a follower" (Kessler 149). Presumably, because followership defines Malay identity in such a crucial way, it is Hang Tuah who is "the champion of his country and his race" (Mhd. Hj. Salleh 116). The idea of followership is evident in Johan Jaafar's play, M y City Oh M y City (first Malay version in 1981). His Jebat claims to be "the new Jebat. Jebat the Realist! Jebat the agitator! Jebat of the 20th Century!" as he announces upon his stage entry to the subalterns—the Night Soil Collector, Sweeper and Prostitute (90). He is the organic intellectual signified by his carrying a book in one hand (89), who defends the weak and champions their cause. He reads the subalterns their rights from the constitution (the book he carries) and provokes them to go on strike when the government threatens to destroy  their village slum in order to build something luxurious for the rich. However, their strike leads to his death and they are quick to blame themselves, unable to see the larger framework in which ideology functions: Sweeper: (Begins to cry). I'm a murderer! A l l the rubbish has polluted the air! And Jebat is dead from breathing in that air! Night Soil Collector: (He cries too). I too am a murderer! Excrement is full of germs. The germs have gone into Jebat's body. And Jebat is now dead! Prostitute: (Burst out crying too). I too am a murderer! People's Leader needs me to sooth and calm him. But I'm on strike! And People's Leader lost his senses. And he imprisoned Jebat! Jebat suffered! And died! (123-124)  They then decide to end the strike and happily begin cleaning up the city. The Night Soil Collector's resigned statement "I too want to work again" (124) echoes strangely the placard "Shut Up And Work" that Rehman Rashid talks about in his novel A Malaysian Journey, the attitude being that focusing on work would keep the masses so busy that they would not have time to think about the violation of their basic individual rights (Rehman 267). Critic A . R. Napiah attributes Jebat's death to air pollution caused by the striking garbage workers and road sweepers but I disagree. More plausible is the idea that Jebat died from being tortured while in prison. Focusing on the formal aspects of play writing, Napiah repeatedly stresses that while Johan Jaafar's play is absurdist, unlike most absurdist theatre, the language and message of the play are not abstract. In terms of the play's contextual concepts, Napiah has little to say. He does not critique Johan's rather narrow and simplistic outlook of what or who causes the most environmental pollution, i.e. factories and land developers instead of striking garbage workers. He fails to point out that the play ultimately blames the victims or sulbalterns for their own oppression. Despite Johan Jaafar's attempt to demonstrate the poverty and despair of the squatters through Hang Jebat, the play's conservatism prevails: Johan's glib portrayal of what a strike is all about illustrates the futility of rebelling. More than that, the subalterns as much as the doctor, city planner and office-boy who kowtow to the People's Leader, reflect the notion  of followership. During the strike, instead of negotiating for their rights, all they do is chant "Serve you right! Right! Right!"—even when the rich urban dwellers are pleading for mercy. Their lack of initiative, the failure of the strike because it never occured to the subalterns to use this as a leverage to improve their lives, and their immediate recanting after Jebat's death belittle Jebat's efforts. He does not even die a martyr, for the class struggle dies with him. Instead, he is portrayed as an instigator and troublemaker who succeeds merely in temporarily stalling the city's daily activities. Kessler views followership not necessarily as a culture of absolutism or domination but a culture of deference. Like the saying "Tak Melayu Hilang Di Dunia" (commonly translated as "The Malays Shall Not Perish From The World"), in order to survive, one must at times be dissimulatingly deferential (Kessler 148). Extending Kessler's theory about Malay political culture to Malay mythological and literary characters, I think that Hang Tuah embodies this role of follower, the "total servant, completely subjected to the desires of his king, his moods, gifts and honours" (Mhd. Hj. Salleh 160). His diplomacy and meticulous decorum require "usually burying his real intentions and thoughts under pretty words" (161). And for his loyal service and deference, he was paid handsomely by the king in the form of "fine clothes, tributaries and the like" (143). This form of political patronage or cronyism continues to dog Malaysian politics today (Khoo K . J. 57) as politicians compete over whose cronies or close business associates will receive the most lucrative privatization opportunities awarded by the government to the corporate sector. Thus, in addition to Kessler's belief that followership is based on hormat (respect or honour) or the deference owed to a social position that defines the Malay identity of its followers, I would argue that followership is also motivated by gains made through political patronage and cronyism. This can be seen in the events following U M N O ' s internal division in April 1987. While the supporters had to choose sides, the ones who chose the losing side, Semangat '46, eventually returned to the U M N O fold when faced with economic exclusion (Khoo K . J. 73). Their actions reinforce the links I am making  between followership and political patronage or more precisely, Umnoputraism. Compared to bumiputraism which privileges all bumiputras, not only the Malays, Umnoputraism benefits only those who are U M N O party members. I would thus argue that the followers do not merely "attain a fully Malay identity by acknowledging [the ruler]" (Kessler 148) but also attain financial benefits by prudently acknowledging the leader best able to serve them. Such a perspective admits that followers do possess agency. After all, just as it is believed that "Malays do not and shall not rebel against their rulers," another often forgotten but equally entrenched statement in Malay oral literature is that "Malays shall remain loyal to their rulers so long as their rulers rule over them with justice" (Kessler 147, italics mine). Ultimately, the followers with their electoral votes wield some power over the politicians who, in turn, are obligated to serve them through the allocation of privileges.  17  In the case of the 1994 tension between Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin over whose close business associates were getting the contract for the Bakun Dam project, this 'justice' can be narrowly interpreted as the ability to provide one's followers with financial deals (Gomez, "The Bakun Business" 6). Of course, the logical conclusion from this is that followership adversely fosters political patronage, cronyism, nepotism and corruption.  18  However, agency for change exists not only for followers but also for those who believe in democracy in post-colonial Malaysia. For example, the voters who vote for the opposition, PAS, despite threats of economic exclusion and lack of federal assistance in developing their state, are exercising their democratic rights. More likely, PAS voters' 19  non-conformity shows their contempt for the notion that UMNO's kind of followership, one that promises corrupt patronage, is central to UMNO's ethnic agenda. For PAS supporters, Islam plays the more definitive role in the ethnic make-up (Jomo and Shabery Cheek, 101-102). The most contemporary political show of contempt for followership is reflected in Anwar's callsfor a more genuine democracy and the end to corruption, which is the extreme result of followership. Under the urgent cry of reformasi, Anwar calls for a  broad reformation of the structures of the present corrupt government, and for Mahathir himself to step down. As if to reaffirm his image as a model of religious faith, his supporters constantly chanted Allahu Akhbar! (God Is Great) outside the court where he was being tried. For once, former U M N O members (Anwar supporters)  and PAS party  members agree on the Islamic ideals of social justice and equality to counter corruption, cronyism and nepotism. The fact that Anwar was completely ousted from UMNO—sacked from his positions as Finance Minister and Deputy P M , and forced to step down as leader of U M N O during the General Assembly of U M N O members—and his supporters purged from U M N O ranks, demonstrates the lasting dominance of Umnoputraism under Mahathir's leadership. As the symbol of fraternal loyalty and independent thinking, Hang Jebat poses a challenge to a corrupt feudal system: "I was defending truth, justice and the fundamental human freedoms God gives us at the time of our birth" (Fatimah 273). To support the idea of Hang Jebat as hero, we may then read his mass murder during his amok as a retaliation against everyone who directly or indirectly collaborated with the system: the cowardly villagers who want to dip their daggers in his blood when he is down (Fatimah 269), the soldiers who carried out the king's orders and all who are unaware that in his rebellion lay the seeds of democracy. Indeed, Hatta Azad Khan's 1984 play portrays Hang Jebat as a modern-day Robin Hood who evicts the king from the palace and turns it over to the masses. More importantly, this Hang Jebat "exposes the malpractices of those in power" (Solehah Ishak's intro to Usman Awang 54), just as Anwar exposes the malpractices of the Finance Minister who replaced him, Daim Zainuddin, in his epistle from prison ("From the Halls of Power").  Islam—Malaysian style The Tuah-Jebat conflict highlights the incompatibility of the hybrid elements of pre-Muslim Malay animism and Hinduism in Malaysian Islam. The Malay Muslim is an  orthodox Sunni of the school of Shafi'e but there were Shi'ite elements in the Islam the Malays adopted from Indian Muslims such as "a crude pantheism, a Gnostic concern with mystic names and formulae and the worship of innumerable saints" (Winstedt 37). The coexistence between Hinduism and Islam is evident in The Malay Annals which records a social covenant between the Hindu representative of the people, Demang Lebar Daun, and the representative of the divine king, Sri Tri Buana, in which the former must accord total loyalty to their king. However, Demang Lebar Daun acceded only if the king's descendants kept to the terms of the pact (Mhd. Hj. Salleh 137). The two representatives discuss the contract in terms of Muslim law. For example, the people's representative states that if the subjects' offence is grave, "let them be put to death, if that is in accordance with the Muhammadan law" (136-137). Fatimah Busu's Hang Jebat tries to separate out the Hindu elements that existed in Islam during the Melaka Islamic empire: "In [Melaka] we bow down before the king as though he were a stone idol, and treat his ministers like wooden images!" (258). By suggesting that divine kingship and idol worship are part of feudal loyalty and incongruous with (the true) Islam, Hang Jebat becomes the voice of a more genuine, democratic Islam, one that stipulates that everyone is equal in the eyes of God. In response to Hang Lekir who reminds him of the seriousness of disobeying the sultan, he says: "God made man to live on this earth for a short while. No man deserves our worship, only God" (Fatimah 257). Hang Lekir's words reinforce Tham's point that "obeisance and homage were the essential signs of submission and inferiority that subjects displayed before their rulers" (254). Alternatively, Fatimah's Hang Jebat, if only for one significant moment, poses the idea of a horizontal comradeship under the nationalist flag of Islam instead. The Islamic rhetoric this Hang Jebat employs is reflective of resurgent Islamic forces in Malaysia in the 1970s and 1980s. And "resurgent Islam" does not necessarily always refer to the negative notion of fundamentalist Islam. Hence, resurgent Islam in this instance becomes the impetus for democratic change.  Fatimah's Hang Jebat irreverently targets Hang Tuah's blind loyalty to the king before he and Hang Tuah begin duelling: " It is time you learned that your loyalty to the sultan is about as important as a frog's concern for a piece of cat-shit" (266). And she is not alone in her reading of Hang Jebat. Mhd. Hj. Salleh describes him as "very much more independent both in action and thought" than Hang Tuah (160). A n analogy of the different views of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat can be summed up in the borrowed Islamic language of jurisprudence: taqlid versus ijtihad. Salleh Ben Joned explains that taqlid, translated as imitation or blind acceptance of authority, has "immobilised the minds of Malaysian Muslims for far too long" presumably because followership is entrenched in Malay culture (32). Ijtihad, on the other hand, means individual judgement. The right to ijtihad is a right rooted in the Quran to use one's God-given mind, conceived here by Salleh as "the right for every Muslim in possession of a sound mind and a sound education" (32). The important point here is that by enshrining both taqlid and ijtihad, Islam can be read as allowing room for individualism, the latter being too often perceived as a Western construct by Westerners and non-Westerners alike who are keen to use the perception that individualism is Western for their own ends.  Asian values. Asian-style nationalism The dichotomy of blind loyalty versus individual judgement overlaps with the opposition of Asian values versus Western values. Summing up the shift from social group values to individual rights in Malaysia, Mhd. Hj. Salleh evidently subscribes to this overlap: "Over the centuries, the individual and his rights have slowly taken centre stage. The Western education system which lays a great value on the person has given him a new confidence and a sense of himself, [. . .] In the meantime, social values have changed. Even in the close-knit Malay society that puts the interest of the community over that of the individual, the latter has been slowly recognized and applauded in his success. Literature plays a big role in foregrounding the new individual. He may appear as a leader of his  people, a nationalist, a fighter against the colonialist, but also a rebel in the tradition of Hang Jebat" (162). According to this perception, Hang Jebat epitomises the modern, Westernised Malay hero. Similarly, P M Mahathir Mohamad, regarded  as  "quite  untraditional and even anti-traditionalistic" (Kessler 149) took on what I consider a pseudoJebat role in 1983 when he challenged the powers of the sultans (Rehman Rashid 189191). On the other hand, his leadership is more often than not criticised as authoritarian (see essays by Crouch and Mauzy). In  1987,  Mahathir's  government  cracked  down  on  "social  activists,  environmentalists, Chinese educationists, Opposition politicians and sundry radicals"—115 people altogether—and banned three newspapers (Rehman 229). Journalist Rehman Rashid made a stand for democracy in his editorial comment in the New Straits Times but was called in for questioning by the Special Branch, a police arm vested with the powers of the Internal Security Act (ISA). During the interrogation, the ISA director said, "What are a hundred people compared with 16.4 million? Nothing. A sacrifice" (237). Clearly, this statement made under Mahathir's leadership shows how little the latter thought of individual rights in the formation of an economically strong nation. Moreover, according to Rehman, the director posed a problematic question to him, "Who was the greater hero? Hang Tuah or Hang Jebat?" Unable to give an honest answer without expecting punishment, the latter replied, "I don't know" (237). Implicitly, the correct answer would, of course, be Hang Tuah, who, in the words of the director, "was very faithful to the sultan" and "carried out the order [to kill the rebel Jebat] even though Hang Jebat was his closest friend" (237). This episode, taken together with Mahathir's Vision 2020 which invokes Melaka's golden age by promising a "second golden age" (Van der Heide 109) points to one thing: that the era of Hang Jebat as the modern Malay hero came and went (1959-1980s) and that under the present authoritarian government, and especially during the economic boom (1987-1996), the feudal hero Hang Tuah reigned supreme once  more.  Mahathir's admission in his 1971 book The Malay Dilemma that "feudalism can be  beneficial if it facilitates changes" serves to substantiate this idea (173). A similarly conservative view emerges even from Western-educated Malay writer, Karim Raslan. Writing about the ability of the South African party, the A N C , to impose their Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), he says, "[The ANC] lacks the iron hand, authority and commitment to development of Malaysia's ruling party, U M N O . As a result, it's hard to see the RDP being put into effect by dangerous populists such as Winnie Mandela" (Ceritalah 95, italics mine). Karim strives to redefine democracy, to tailor it for Malaysia: What we have to do . . . is start to see the whole process—and not just the elections—outside the prism of what a Western liberal democracy would call a democracy. Our elections are our own. This may sound nonsensical. Surely all elections are sui generis—true to themselves, the people, their culture and their community. We in Malaysia are creating a different political language, and a whole new set of political reference points. We are inventing the wheel in terms of race relations and religious integration, as well as the democratic structure that holds the whole apparatus together. I might sound like a Government apologist but there's no doubt in my mind that the harsh realities of race, religion and culture require equally harsh politics. (Ceritalah 166)  No matter what he says, Karim is a government apologist, an ambassador of the N E P in South Africa in fact. He abides by the old Testament notion that man is inherently evil, and that the race riots of May 13, 1969 have proven this; therefore, man needs to be controlled via the iron will of the state (Heroes 33 and Ceritalah 164). His justification for accepting the feel-good ideology advanced by the government contrasts with Rehman's nuanced, more cautious and ironic outlook regarding Mahathirism. Writing before the recession in 1992, Rehman states, "And so the years passed, and Malaysia moved buoyantly onward and upward, and there was less and less ambiguity over the true nature and seat of authority in the nation. The Malaysian model of nationhood was seen to be using all the many tools at its disposal. If and when necessary, even the blunt instruments. No one really relished the thought of using them, but they were there, and Malaysia had shown  how they, too, could be useful in nation-building. It all hinged, as always, on the sort of nation being built" (263). Karim Raslan's views of Asian-style modernity are echoed in C.J.W.-L. Wee's questions: "What is the feasibility of modernity in the context of the post-colonial world?" and "is the issue that of an Asianized or an Asian modernity?" (220). Wee is distinguishing between a modernity that originates from the West but which has been transformed by its new setting ("Asianized modernity") and an alternative modernity found in Asia today ("Asian modernity"). As a firm believer in equal rights, I am suspicious of the resurgence of anti-colonialism dressed up in the rhetoric of Asian modernity and cultural difference, for oftentimes its emphasis on "communitarian values" is an excuse for the oligarchy to trample on individual rights. Chatterjee talks about an anti-colonial nationalism keen to distinguish itself from the European and American models by its differences: "The greater one's success in imitating Western skills in the material domain, therefore, the greater the need to preserve the distinctness of one's spiritual culture" (217). But this argument can be problematic. For example, when delegates of a peaceful closed door conference held in Kuala Lumpur (the 2nd Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor) were detained after a violent government-linked mob disrupted the conference, the detainees were not allowed to inform their families about their whereabouts. An anonymous "victim" of the detention writes, "The right to a lawyer and a phonecall belongs only in Hollywood movies, we were told" (Aliran Monthly 16:9, 14). In this climate, those who speak up against selfcensorship, institutionalised racism, and the violation of human rights under the Internal Security Act in Malaysia are considered bold like Hang Jebat. Kit Leee's rave review of Kee Thuan Chye's play goes: "Am I suggesting then, that Kee Thuan Chye's name be submitted to the Committee that hands out the annual award for bravery (what is it called, the Pingat Hang Jebatl)" (qtd. in Kee 118). The dedication of Karim's collection of short stories Heroes and Other Stories is telling: "For 'Tuah'." Does Karim believe that Hang Tuah is the greater hero, and is the  book dedicated to the ideals Tuah embodied? This is assuming that Karim is referring to the legendary figure from the Hikayat Hang Tuah. On the other hand, tuah also means "luck" though this is less likely what the author intended by spelling it with a capital 'T'. In the story "Heroes" the protagonist uses Tuah's blind loyalty to cover up his personal cowardice. When violence erupts and his deputy, Nazrin, is being attacked by a group of Chinese villagers, the protagonist, fearful for his own life, leaves without helping Nazrin: "I stopped for no man. I had to press on. Hang Tuah would have approved of me. I never questioned. I acted on instructions whatever the consequence" (34). The male protagonist is a government civil servant who had an important mission in the aftermath of the race riots in May 1969: "'69 might have been a terrible year for some, a scar on the nation and all that but for me it was a high point of sorts, a moment of rare harmony, a time when I was vigorous, capable, important and, if only to my daughter, even heroic" (24). By the end of the narrative, he is no longer a hero to his daughter or to us. Making his situation analogous to Hang Tuah's disguises his lack of personal integrity for he had considered working with Nazrin, "rather like having an intelligent, charming son on hand" (39). "Heroes" implies that followership stems from a lack of personal integrity: the protagonist is no Hang Jebat who was loyal to his "brothers" but he is no Hang Tuah either because of his cowardice. Examining the dedication together with the painting on the book cover by Wong Hoy Cheong entitled "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" yields a possible explanation, though it does not make Karim's perspective on Tuah less naive or simplistic. The stories are indeed, as the book jacket describes, "morality tales" which highlight the spiritual hollowness and materialism of the bumigeois. As in Luis Bunuel's film of the same name, the characters are selfish, morally deficient and shallow. Collectively, the stories sum up the nostalgic desire in the jaded 1990s for an ideal, traditional hero as embodied by Hang Tuah. Hence, Karim's dedication can be read as a plea for the real Hang Tuah to stand up. If his dedication is not ironic or subversive, his invocation of Hang Tuah and not Hang Jebat, whose loyalty to friendship and kinship we want to see in the  protagonist's own relationship with his daughter and Nazrin, says something about the deep-rooted quasi-feudal values that prevail even with the modern, urban Malay middleclass.  21  These values remain "deep-rooted" because they help preserve the interests and  privileges of the bumigeois.  The Malay psyche Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat symbolize opposite modes of Malay male behaviour: merendah diri and amok, (the female "equivalent" being latah).  22  Hang Tuah has been  described as someone who is self-effacing, merendah diri, a trait traditionally regarded as positive but which Mahathir suggests contributed to the "Malay dilemma" (economic lagging behind the Chinese). In his controversial book The Malay Dilemma, he theorizes that running amok is a symptom of Malay repression: "Amok represents the external physical expression of the conflict within the Malay which his perpetual observance of the rules and regulations of his life causes in him. It is a spilling over, an overflowing of his inner bitterness. It is a rupture of the bonds which bind him , . . . a final and complete escape from reason and training. The strain and the restraint on him is lifted.... His timid, self-effacing self is displaced. He is now a Mr. Hyde—cruel, callous and bent on destruction" (118). Mahathir's rather essentialist reasoning about Malay behaviour deduces that Hang Jebat is to Hang Tuah what Mr. Hyde is to Dr. Jekyll: both represent opposite extremes of the same Malay psyche. What this means is that in a society that emphasizes group loyalty, strong individual or personal loyalties will either have to be repressed or, alternatively, sacrificed. This was the major conflict facing Malay subjects during the Melaka Sultanate (1400-1511), listeners and readers of the Hikayat Hang Tuah in the following centuries, and as I argue above, it remains the same in 1990s' Malaysia. Hang Tuah's rationality, his great exercise of self-control, patience (kesabaran), and general caution (he would investigate/pen'fcja before acting) contrast strongly with Hang Jebat's emotional sensual excess and lawlessness—or what Salleh ben Joned  considers Hang Jebat's hedonism and anarchism. For example, when Tun Teja, the Pahang princess meant for the sultan, fell in love with Hang Tuah, "there was not even a flicker of doubt, of desire, or a moment of weakness that crossed his mind or person. She was meant for his master and he treated her as his future queen, whatever her feelings were towards him at the moment" (Mhd. Hj. Salleh 124-5). Hang Tuah's deeds and virtues make him "superhuman" (125) and we know nothing about his private life and emotions (124). On the contrary, Hang Jebat embodies extreme sensualism. Usman Awang's play focuses on his tender relationship with Dang Wangi, the sultan's favourite concubine (Salleh Ben Joned 128). He equates her singing voice to the melodious lovelorn bamboo or buluh perindu before asking her to dance as if they shall never die (Usman Awang 67). And Fatimah Busu alludes to an intimate gesture of Hang Jebat with two maidens where "he shared the same quids of betel-nut with Dang New and Dang Flower" (260). Salleh ben Joned also discovers that Hang Jebat's name has to do with smell—jebat  is the strong  musky perfume of civet, and Salleh invests musk with the universal association of passion and sexuality "because of its reputed power as an aphrodisiac" (127). He points to the scene that precedes Jebat's famous amok where the latter is reading a romance to the sultan, surrounded by the court damsels and concubines who are attracted by his seductive voice: "Jebat's reading is followed by singing, his voice becoming more enchanting, so enchanting that the sultan actually lays his head in the warrior's lap and falls to sensuous sleep. In the light of the blood bath to come, there is an undercurrent of the sinister in the uncanny sensuality of this scene. Sensuality and violent death—the juxtaposition is suggestive" (153-54). Hang Jebat's zest for life runs counter to Hang Tuah's cautiousness: "Always looking before you leap can be dangerous for the spirit. Jebat knew that" (Salleh 160). More pertinently, Salleh believes that Hang Jebat's amok is a result of his sakit hati; literally "sickness of the liver," the organ that is the seat of all passion: "Never listening to  your hati when it's sakit (sick), always ignoring the complaints of the liver, can be fatal for the liver. Jebat knew that too. Sakit hati is always associated with the amok and the lover blighted in love" (160). Salleh also speculates that hedonism might be part of the essential nature of the Malays, a repressed id "lurking in the subconscious" (161) which surfaces in Hang Jebat's "highly individual gesture of friendship"—his amok (127). Salleh's project of recovering the passion and hedonism supposedly inherent in Malayness as opposed to Islam (especially with the islamicization which began twenty years ago) is in line with his 23  own maverick identity, evident in his earthy and sensuous poetry and non-conformist attitude. One might aver that he is a Hang Jebat in his own right. Salleh's interpretation of Jebat supports my theory that neither Tuah nor Jebat make unflawed heroes, lending the Hikayat Hang Tuah the qualities of a Greek tragedy whose complexity may account for the legend's sustaining power down through history. If Hang Jebat represents the uncontrollable id, it requires the rational ego and symbol of social and moral order, Hang Tuah, to curb his moral and social excesses and to rein in his anarchy. At the same time, perhaps Hang Jebat's excesses can be read as the much needed human folly, the supplement if you like, to the "perfect" Hang Tuah whom Mhd. Hj. Salleh also describes as "a superman of sorts" (149). Similarly, to say that Hang Jebat provides a supplementarity to Hang Tuah is to add setiakawan or fraternal loyalty to authority, to keep alive the democratic element in a post-colonial nation with strong feudal roots.  Nationalism and homoeroticism: a feminist intervention Fatimah Busu's short story "Dark Night of the Soul" begins with the spirit of Hang Jebat in a kind of limbo. He has a perpetually bleeding wound which will only heal if Hang Tuah apologises to him. Hang Jebat's past unfolds and Fatimah portrays the scenes of his rebellion until his death at Hang Tuah's hands. Then she attempts to link Hang Jebat's story with that of Sisyphus. Hang Jebat witnesses  several masochistic scenes  representative of hell. Every time he asks the perpetrator why he continues hurting himself,  he is told "ask Sisyphus." Finally, when he meets Sisyphus and asks him to account for his futile act, Sisyphus replies, "Ask God." Hang Jebat does not receive an answer but continues to be stranded in limbo in the company of a chorus of sympathetic skulls. I would like to start with a discussion of homoeroticism and nationalism framed by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's theory before broaching the subject of Hang Jebat's hedonism as well as his resemblance to Sisyphus in their functions in the text. George Mosse, in discussing middle-class morality and sexual norms under modern European nationalism states: "Male friendship faced that homo-eroticism [was] always close to the surface of nationalism. [... ] Eroticism was difficult to banish from the ideal of friendship" (Nationalism and Sexuality 67). This applies to the relationship between the king and his two hamba rather than that between Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat. (Hamba literally means "slave" but is used as a first person pronoun in formal conversation, i.e. when talking to royalty. It also carries the connotation of Malay deference to authority and Malay politeness. For conciseness in the rest of the chapter, I prefer the Malay word hamba rather than its English translation, slave/subject.) The king's homoeroticism functions most obviously as a sign of feudal decadence and consummate power.  24  M y colleague Matilda Gabrielpillai pointed out that leadership seems to be  eroticized in the king's relationship with Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat. I think it is not so much leadership but power which is eroticized and consummate power which is portrayed as potentially corruptible. For example, Hang Jebat's sexual attractiveness is highlighted at the height of his megalomania. By "homoeroticism" I mean a homosocial relationship (male bonding) infused with melodramatic sentiment, and a physical though not sexual intimacy that may or may not contain sublimated sexual desires—all mostly on the part of the king. Hang Tuah is the passive recipient of the king's show of affection which stops short of homosexuality. Eroticising the king's relationship with his warriors to the point of categorizing it as homosexual instead of metaphorically homosocial or homoerotic, would be purely  speculative and imaginative conjecture on my part, for even though the Hikayat Hang Tuah contains highly suggestive imagery, one should remember that its language and rhetoric, courtly Malay, is filled with polite expressions and hierarchical forms of address that should not be read literally. For example, J.W.Wright, Jr. talks about how Abbasid poets "create satire and parody in which faithful submission [to Islam] means pursuing illicit homoerotic activities" (10). In other words, the homoerotic content is less a reflection of the social reality of the times than it was a tool or method to subvert and parody religion. In addition, Wright notes that "it is not unusual for homoerotic allusions that create political and social satire to be mistaken as evidence of 'sexual culture of the Muslim societies' or as 'dimensions of gay religious history'" (2). Moreover, in eroticising the relationship and using Sedgwick, I run the risk of being accused of looking at Malay traditional literature through the lenses of a twentieth century American queer theorist. On the other hand, if Sedgwick's theory applies to patriarchal societies in general rather than strictly to Western societies, it might still be validly applied to this context, bearing in mind that within patriarchy itself, there are variances such as gender complementarity that make some patriarchies less gender-hierarchical than others. In Southeast Asian societies, where complementarity has long existed, anthropologist Michael Peletz notes that people are traditionally more tolerant of deviance than Westerners and that homosexuals are treated with kindness and an amused tolerance (123). This may be due to the fact that the local basic social hierarchy is structured in terms of descent, age, birth order, and, in recent times, social class rather than gender, or, I would hazard, sexual orientation (130). If I have characterised the king's relationship with Hang Tuah as one that "stops short" of homosexuality, it is not out of homophobia but out of an understanding of Muslim culture that does not immediately associate physical intimacy between men with homosexuality. For example, the frequency of physical intimacy among Muslim men is a cultural difference duly noted by Denny in his chapter "Patterns of Islamic Personal and Communal Life": "[In Cairo] I soon learned that friends like to be physically close to each  other, that it is a sign of trust and mutual regard,..." (330). Nevertheless, official Islamic rhetoric does regard homosexuality as illegal, and to think of the king, the representative of God on earth who embodies daulat (power), as homosexual would be quite blasphemous. It is this complex juxtapositioning of adat, official Islamic rhetoric (i.e. Bhabha's "pedagogical"), and Muslim daily social practices (Bhabha's "performative"), that makes an attempt to link up with Sedgwick's theory of homosocial desire, quite slippery. Can we thus state without ambivalence that the king's and Hang Tuah's relationship differs from what Sedgwick terms "homosocial desire" which hypothesizes "the potential unbrokenness of a continuum between homosocial and homosexual?" (1). Perhaps it is more productive and easier to analyze the continuum between homosocial and homosexual as "a strategy for making generalizations about, and marking historical differences in, the structure of men's relations with other men" (2). Therefore, in this particular instance, I take from Sedgwick not so much her theory of a male to male relationship triangulated and displaced onto by two men's pursuit of the same woman, in other words, homosexual desire displaced or subverted by heterosexual desire due to strong homophobia, nor her idea that such a homosocial relationship is characterized by male paranoia (though this may be said to emerge in the king's dream) but rather, her suggestion about analyzing the power structure of the male relationships. As I have attempted to explain, homophobia stemming from Islamic doctrine probably exists in the Malay psyche insofar as the identity of the ethnic Malay is heavily intertwined with his identity of being Muslim. (For instance, it is such official homophobia that outlaws homosexuality and sodomy in Malaysia. As for the accusations of homosexuality levelled at Anwar Ibrahim by the Mahathir government, it is notable that the issue of homosexuality between Anwar and his friends is strategically used to complicate or mask the tense homosocial relations of power between the prime minister and his deputy.) Remnants of a pre-Islamic tolerance of sexual and gender deviance continue to exist in Southeast Asia, and hence, in applying Sedgwick's theory to Fatimah's text, I emphasize the relativity or  strength of the homophobia that underlies homosociality and theorise it as being weaker in the Malay context. In the king's and Hang Tuah's relationship, the power imbalance is of foremost importance: the former is raja or king to Hang Tuah, his hamba or slave. Because the king's position is unquestionable, the hamba has little choice but to offer his fullest loyalty to his feudal lord. In this way, Hang Tuah's passivity resembles that of the young boy in the relationship with his older lover and mentor in ancient Greece (see Plato's Symposium'). Just as the Athenian boy finds it befitting "to perform any service for one who improves him in mind and character [i.e. his mentor]," the hamba of the Melaka king finds it equally suitable in his culture to perform any service for his king as a test of his loyalty (Plato 18). Moreover, there are material and political benefits to being the king's favourite, though there are no guarantees of any stability in this subordinate position. Fatimah mentions twice that the king called Tuah his "beloved" (257, 263). The monarch confesses his homosocial desire when moaning despairingly, "My beloved admiral . . . Oh Laksamana, [...] Oh Laksamana . . . I do love you . . ." (263). His relationship here differs from homoeroticism in the Western sense as it is not conceived as a danger and a challenge to social norms by the queen nor the prime minister who "were aware of the sultan's love-song" (263). Indeed, the queen had nothing to worry about because "the relationship between hamba [slave] and raja [king] is acceptable and rational [as in feudal society], emotions may be confused with the show of loyalty" (Noriah Taslim). A specialist in Malay classical literature, Taslim feels that the king's professed 25  love for his admiral was selfish: "[Hang Tuah] was useful to the king," an ever-faithful reminder that the power balance favours the ruler, never the subject (N. Taslim, e-mail correspondence). Unlike the homosocial desire Sedgwick discusses, the sultan's feelings for Hang Tuah are not in conflict with his feelings for the queen. Another example of the clear expression of loyalty on Hang Tuah's part for his king and the centrality of the male to male relationship appears in the Hikayat Hang Tuah when  Hang Tuah tries to regain the sultan's trust by abducting Princess Tun Teja for him (she had rejected the king once before). Even though she falls in love with Hang Tuah instead, he steadfastly rejects her, his main concern being to return to the king's good graces. To this end, I would agree with Gayle Rubin's theory which Sedgwick summarizes in stating that "patriarchal heterosexuality can best be discussed in terms of one or another form of the traffic in women: it is the use of women as exchangeable, perhaps symbolic, property for the primary purpose of cementing the bonds of men with men" (25-26). Moreover, within this patriarchal system, a man's prestige is enhanced by his sexual prowess (the more women he has, the more powerful he is thought to be). For example, the polygamous sultan has sole access to the palace maidens. And it is the rumour that Hang Tuah was consorting with one of his favourite concubines that led to his order for Tuah's execution in the first place; indeed, it is the king's loss of face due to sexual betrayal that triggers the series of events affecting the whole state and leading to Jebat's tragic death. When Hang Jebat takes over the palace, and the maidens, deeply attracted to 26  him, refuse to leave with the sultan's entourage, His Highness' male ego suffers another blow. In short, Fatimah highlights aspects in the H H T where personal sexual rivalry among the male ruling class blurs the arenas of public and personal in the nation. The exclusion of women and their relegated status to sexual, commodified objects emerge strongly from the dynamics of homoerotic, male friendship that define the national ideology. Fatimah's short story highlights and expands on the potentially homoerotic elements evident in the Hikayat Hang Tuah to which Salleh Ben Joned has alluded. By making the king dream of cannibalizing Hang Tuah, Fatimah seems to want to explore Sedgwick's potential continuum between homosocial and homosexual. She plays with the value of setiakawan, that Hang Tuah "would even die at a royal feast to amuse the king should that be his majesty's will" (257). In the dream, with his two hands tied behind his back, "firmly displaying his eternal and unyielding loyalty, even to the point of death, to a  sultan who regarded him as nothing more than a snack to be consumed with a simple fernbud sauce," Hang Tuah lay "gracefully on his back and stretched out beside the golden tray and bowl of sauce" whereupon the king ate him (262). The fact that the maid who served the king was  a naked "beautiful concubine with long ornamented curling hair reaching  down to her waist," suggests sexual tension, though not of a heterosexual kind as the king ignores her and concentrates on eating Hang Tuah instead (262). This scenario goes against Sedgwick's argument which would have the king subvert his desire for Hang Tuah by displacing it with his desire for the maid. The trope of eating symbolizes incorporation 27  and appropriation of power.  28  While the sultan due to his birthright and his being the  consumer exercises power over Hang Tuah, he lacks the many virtues associated with his admiral, something that might have worried his unconscious. In fact, Mhd. Hj. Salleh claims that it is Hang Tuah's diplomacy, wisdom, courage and fame that made Melaka a great empire and that "the fate of Melaka was intertwined with Hang Tuah's personal fate" (138-39). Hang Tuah's passivity and extreme sacrifice in the king's dream reflects the idea that male friendship is somehow deeper and more meaningful than any relationship with a woman. The sacrifice men are willing to make for other men is larger compared to the sacrifice found within heterosexual relationships, a notion that prevails in an unrelated modern cultural text like the 1996 film Jimi Asmara (set in the 1950s and 60s).  29  The film  concludes that purity of love can only exist between men. Unfortunately, the friendship between Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat is not strong enough to overcome loyalty to authority, sometimes disguised in more appealing forms such as friendship and kinship, demanded of Hang Tuah by the king. Thus, followership outweighs fraternal bonds in importance. As for what I perceive to be the king's homoerotic relations with Hang Jebat, there is a scene in the Hikayat Hang Tuah (also represented in Fatimah's updated version) where he rests his head on Jebat's.lap while the latter sings lullabies to him. Taslim reads this episode as demonstrating the king's trust in Hang Jebat—it not being uncommon for the sultan to be lying on the lap of his concubines—and Hang Jebat's violation of that trust  when later he takes over the palace and runs amok: "The author [of the HHT] wants to juxtapose Jebat's character to that of Hang Tuah who given such privileges will never react in the way Jebat does. It then qualifies him as penderhaka [traitor] and thus justifies all subsequent actions, including his execution in Tuah's hands."  30  Both Fatimah Busu and Salleh ben Joned view Hang Jebat as a hedonistic creature—pleasure-seeking in all his senses. Indeed, Fatimah's story is infused with a sense of jouissance: the sensual (visual, olfactory, auditory) and erotic aspects of the story function to highlight Hang Jebat's powers of attraction. When the sultan and his entourage leave the palace, the environment comes alive with sensual imagery: the flowers in the royal garden bloomed and "gave off a lovely fragrance," the clouds "looked like shining pieces of kapok" or "dazzling pieces of silver" and are further personified into "passionate yet 31  shy nymphs leaving Jannatul-Naim heaven dressed in blouses of sea-green silk" (Fatimah 260) . Moreover, the smell from the flowers causes Hang Jebat and "those serving maidens loyal to him [to become] even more intoxicated in their games of love" (260). When he takes over the palace, it is described as shining "radiantly": "every pillar seemed to have been bathed in resin. Candles gleamed on silver and brass trays sending their beams through the palace windows as far out into the black night as their rays could reach" (260261) . B y daybreak, the people of Melaka can hear "the sweet and sometimes plaintive sound of the serving maids still reciting pantun verses to each other and chatting happily, to a background of Arabian flutes and Persian flutes" (261). The reason for this display of sensuality is to show that Hang Jebat, as the protagonist and hero of her story, is a tremendously virile and sensual character, gifted with an expressive singing voice able to attract women as well as charm the king. In relation to Hang Jebat, every object is genderised, i.e. the clouds are eroticised as shy nymphs. The palace "which [is] now the palace of Immortal Jebat" becomes a metonym of his sexual power. The objects in the palace singled out for reference are phallic: pillars, candles, beams, rays, black and light stripes, flutes.  However, the danger in Hang Jebat's form of jouissance and hedonism is that it is limitless, out of control, and affects his social and physical environment adversely. Fatimah's metaphors for such chaos and violence derive from natural disasters that are beyond human control: the people's curses of Jebat spread "angrily like lava from a burning volcano," the fields dry up, a thick cloud of dust "spread[s] like a a fearsome plague," the sky turns into "a dark red glow," and the birds and animals flee into the forest (254). Unlike other writers' representations of the myth, Fatimah makes little reference to the Jebat's killing of the palace maids except once, and even then, in an almost incidental fashion as the narrative focuses on the sorrow of the nymphs for him: "Some of their tears landed on the naked bodies of the serving maidens, stretched out with wounds on their breasts, bellies and thighs, anywhere Taming Sari [Hang Tuah's special keris] had been able to touch before Hang Tuah entered the audience hall" (267). Instead, the violence in the palace is portrayed in metaphorical terms: "The royal residential palace was coloured a thick dark red. The floors of the audience chamber were a damp dark red and were steadily becoming blacker. The walls, the pillars, [...] everything, was covered by a vivid red skin which dripped from the ceiling, the crossbars, the trellises, slowly stretching out like the glowing red legs of a cockroach, slowly, silently blazing" (255). Obviously the colour red symbolizes Jebat's violence motivated by his passionate anger and sakit hati against the king for unjustly ordering his best friend Hang Tuah's execution. The excess of sensuality in the palace after Hang Jebat moves in affects the king, and is described in hyperbolic prose:  "The sultan's tears fell on his pillow in the royal  chambers. The sultan's tears fell on his rice in the royal dining quarters. The sultan's tears fell into his drinking mug. The sultan's tears fell into the royal bathing tank. Eventually everything connected with the royal personage was wet, thoroughly dampened by the sultan's own endless weeping" (261). In a later scene, "his tears were like a sad gentle rain, or the earth moaning because of all the human suffering it bore" (264). The mythic proportions and heavy sentimentalism are Fatimah's attempts to recapture an archaic style  of storytelling akin to the tall tales in the Hikayat Hang Tuah. Simultaneously, this sentimentality reveals the king's utter helplessness without Hang Tuah, his weak leadership, provoking the reader once more to question his ability to rule. His emotional vulnerability or weakness is feminized using a metaphor of maternity, when Fatimah Busu compares His Highness to a "mother cat" or "mother tiger kissing her long-lost cub"—the Prime Minister (265). In this scene, the latter has just confessed that he had disobeyed the king's orders to have Hang Tuah executed and that Tuah is still alive. While the king does cry in despair in the HHT, he is not compared to "a mother cat" nor is he maternalised, as he is here by Fatimah. The kitten or long-lost cub outwardly refers to the Prime Minister (Bendahara), but the king's excessive love indirectly reflects his feelings for Hang Tuah, whom he thought he had lost: "The sultan's ardent embrace sent the Bendahara's turban and keris flying across the floor, so eager was his longing for the face of Laksamana Hang Tuah" (Fatimah 265, italics mine). The king-asmother thus signifies the trope of "the family-as-articulated-power-structure," the family as nation (Anderson 143). But while the nation is a masculine construct and "manliness symbolize[s] the nation's spiritual and material vitality" (Mosse 23), it is the maternal instead of paternal that marks the sultan's relationship and reign over his subjects. I posit a few reasons for this: that it reveals the repressed matriarchal base underlying the patriarchy of that time, a patriarchal Islamic system which was grafted onto a combination of local matrifocal, animist and Hindu roots (Windstedt 63). This maternal symbol may also be a form of dressing up patriarchal feudalism or traditional nationalism as more benign (in a gender-stereotypical fashion) than modern nationalism. Another perspective could be that 32  it symbolizes the intimacy of the primary mother-child relationship that cannot be replicated in the secondary identification the child has with his/her father. Thus, in the discourse of Malay traditional nationalism, the-king-as-mother becomes a deft and concise method of ensuring loyalties from its subjects by invoking the primary relationship. The feudal king, like the All-Powerful Mother who can either reject or love the helpless child, has the power  to care for his passive hamba or to abuse them. On the other hand, one could still read this trope of family-as-nation as a sublimation of homoerotic desires which Fatimah's passage ("the sultan's ardent embrace....so eager was his longing ") and my italics suggest. What makes Fatimah's representation of Hang Jebat unique is that it is open to many readings. Jebat the sensualist is but one perspective suggested in the text. In this sense, it is akin to the project of recuperating adat that other Malay writers such as Salleh ben Joned are engaged in. However, there is a danger of sliding into another kind of misogyny or patriarchy in trying to avoid or resist a prescribed Muslim patriarchy in this recuperation of Malay custom, as suggested by the resexualizing of the Malay woman, evident in my analysis of the works of male writers and filmmakers in Chapters 3, 4 and 6. Nevertheless, female writers like Fatimah and filmmakers like Shuhaimi Baba focus on other aspects of adat, including male sensuality or passion, that would continue to subvert patriarchy or male reason. For instance, in the process of recovering a sensualist Jebat as the fighter for "truth, human dignity and justice" (265), Fatimah has abandoned the megalomaniac Hang Jebat of the H H T , one who kills for the sake of being famous, "supaya namaku masyhur pada segala negeri" ["so my name will be known throughout the state"] (A.Bakar Hamid 110). But Fatimah's Hang Jebat is not let off scot-free from his crimes. Perhaps the term "hedonist" suits him best as it implicates his irresponsible sensuality and passion as someone governed by emotions rather than reason. Despite being the champion of truth, his hands are also stained with the blood of the innocent. Towards the end of the story, he explains to his audience of skulls that he belongs to a mixture of two groups of people who keep their physical bodies but live in the world of the dead: the group that is cursed and the group that is honoured (Fatimah 274). The fact that he exists at this in-between stage or limbo (simultaneously cursed and honoured), rather than being an immaterial soul in heaven (merely honoured) points to the general ambivalence his actions and misdeameanors provoke in us.  Lastly, I would like to turn to the aspect of Jebat as the martyred voice of truth. Harry Aveling who translated Fatimah's story into English has retitled her "Al-Isra" as "Dark Night of the Soul." According to Frederick Denny, al-Isra refers to the prophet Mohammad's night journey to Jerusalem. As for "dark night of the soul," it describes the period when the contacts with Mohammad's divine source did not occur (i.e. a whole different situation from al-Isra). Consequently, he felt abandoned and depressed. This, explains Denny, is the common experience of other visionaries and mystics who have been plunged into grave doubt and distress after having reached an exalted state of spiritual awareness (70). Though I cannot account for Aveling's (mis)translation of Fatimah's title, the English title does in some way clarify the absurdist framework of Fatimah's reconstruction of the Tuah/Jebat conflict. Hang Jebat is portrayed allegorically as a visionary. His inability to physically disintegrate is symbolic of his own crucial status as a rebellious, contestatory voice in Malaysian politics and culture today, a voice most vociferously projected by Anwar Ibrahim and his supporters. Indeed, the Anwar and reformasi rhetoric is aligned with that espoused by Fatimah's Hang Jebat: a defence of truth, justice and the fundamental human freedoms God gives us at the time of our birth (Fatimah 273). At the same time, Jebat's perpetual vigil for Hang Tuah to come and apologise for killing him reflects the condition best exemplified by Sisyphus' helpless futile action of repetitively pushing a boulder up the hill only to let it roll down again.  33  In an  absurdist world, Sisyphus can offer no explanation when Hang Jebat asked when he would stop, except to refer it to God: "I can't give you an answer to that question ... Go and ask God!" (281). The reason for claiming that Fatimah's Sisyphus derives from Camus' essay "The Myth of Sisyphus" is because of the absurdist traits in the short story. Moreover, Fatimah specifically notes, in the vein of Camus' Sisyphus, that the man is contented to carry out his job into perpetuity: "Sisyphus contentedly allowed the boulder to roll back down the hill again, ... Then [he] ran down the hill to his beloved boulder and once again started pushing it to the top of the mountain" (281, italics mine). The derivation  of contentment from the purposelessness of his job seems to be Camus' main point: that within the framework of that endless task, we can at least exert control over that one certainty. The muscular Sisyphus in Fatimah's story is a "champion sportsman" (280) who treats his endless task as a method of exerting control over his physical environment. Moreover, there is a sense of pleasure to be gained in pain as the condemned victims tell Hang Jebat: "Painful? In our world pain is the greatest form of pleasure imaginable!" (277). Likewise, Hang Jebat's perpetually endless vigil in limbo, his absurdist condition wherein he is dead but continues to have a body, is emblematic of the human persistence and exercise of will over the forces of physical decay and corruption (not to mention corruption of a moral kind).  Conclusion Hang Jebat's classic Malay literary roots as a rebel place him as a crucial contestory foil and challenge to the powers that preserve the existing social system; for in any society or nation desirous of order, his amok and killing of innocent people is unacceptable, not even if the blood he spills during his mad rampage to purge the populace of feudal corruption and blind loyalty is considered "sacrificial blood" (Salleh 128). Hang Tuah tells Hang Jebat in the course of their duel that anything else is pardonable except the latter's amok which took the lives of innocent people (A. Bakar Hamid 116). Nevertheless, Hang Jebat is more popularly remembered as a defender of the oppressed. Usman Awang and Kassim Ahmad's Hang Jebat reigned as Malay hero during a period of anti-neocolonialism, after independence when Malay rural poverty was at its height (leading up to the farmers' revolts in 1974). The NEP, the rise of Umnoputraism and top-level bureaucratic corruption provide the impetus behind plays which deploy Hang Jebat as a champion of the underprivileged and the voice of truth in the 1970s and 1980s. Resurgent Islam, too, plays a role in judging Malaysian political leadership; hence, Fatimah's story uses Hang Jebat as the voice of Islam to critique the moral corruption of the feudal leadership, though, in turn,  Hang Jebat's sins place him in limbo. Nevertheless, the overriding powers of the state that thrive on feudal values of followership would suggest that Hang Tuah is the true national Malay hero to idealise, as evident in Karim Raslan's short story, the newest literary reinscription of the Tuah/Jebat dilemma. That some Malay critics and government officials from the Dewan Bahasa Dan Sastera (Language and Literature Department) such as Mhd. Hj. Salleh continue to laud Hang Jebat as the modern Malay ideal hero does not contradict the hegemony of Hang Tuah. Hang Jebat supporters, by their advocacy of freedom of expression and thought, actually give the impression that true liberal democracy exists in Malaysia, an illusion that the conservative government was keen to project both nationally and internationally during the economic boom years. During the period of economic success (1987-1996), in part fostered by an authoritarian state of politics which discouraged trade union activism and individual freedom, Malaysians had to be diligent in preserving their democratic rights 34  from both transnational corporations and from the government who, in the interest of industrial progress and "national development," demanded the sacrifice of such freedoms. Today, after the currency crisis turned into a full-blown economic recession in Southeast Asia, that illusion of democratic well-being is being questioned by Anwar, the reformasi movement, and various other organisations formed around social and civil liberty issues such as dismantling the Internal Security Act, and demanding more accountability to the people. No matter how nominal his role is in the eyes of the ruling hegemony, when it comes to political power, the figure of Hang Jebat is therefore still quite crucial: he symbolizes the protest vote, the voice of dissent, non-conformity, truth and justice, the moral and religious opposition, and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which act as watchdog when it comes to abuses in the ruling government. In this sense, he belongs in the material domain, "act[ing] in opposition to and as limit upon the other but, through this process of struggle, [shaping] the emergent form of the other" (Chatterjee 224). At the same time, his role as perpetual rebel during feudal times as well as in the modern post-  colonial nation means that he embodies the maverick spirit of Malayness which would place him also within the spiritual domain of nationalism. In electoral politics, where gender is concerned, it remains to be seen whether Wan Azizah is able to lead her husband's followers in the new party, Keadilan, and whether she will prove a capable leader in her own right, instead of merely being a loyal follower and supportive spouse. This question has been raised because of her projected public image as a "pious Muslim wife" and suffering mother of six children. In the 1999 snap elections, 35  she managed to keep Anwar's seat in his Permatang Pauh constituency, but her party did not manage to defeat Mahathir's at the federal level. Her victory paralleled that of other opposition leaders' spouses (the wife of Lim Guan Eng, for example) who took over their absent or imprisoned husbands' electoral campaigns and who maintained the M P seats in their respective constituencies. Still, it is difficult to assess whether Wan Azizah succeeded on her own merits as opposed to Anwar's (due to the media image she projected). The extent to which she symbolically problematizes the predominantly masculine discourse of nationalism as well as provides an alternative vision of Islam in Malaysia, one that allows women to play a visible and major role in the public and political realm, is still unknown. Perhaps what is particularly interesting about her is her ethnic/religious affiliation as an ethnic Chinese who was raised Muslim by a Malay family and who is fluent in Malay, Cantonese and English. During the elections, her opponents used her ethnicity as a reason to call into question her loyalty to the Malays. The fact that she figuratively and literally embodies a hybrid mixture of three of the most politically salient features of "the nation" in Malaysia: language, "race," and Islam as her religion, I think, makes her a potentially powerful force in the opposition. 1  2  3  Amok comes from the Malay word amok. It describes a murderous uncontrollable frenzy that occurs chiefly in Malays and is supposedly unique to Indonesia and Malaysia. The hadith is a report or narrative about the prophet Muhammad's words and acts. Hadiths confirm, extend, elaborate, explain and complement the revelations in the Quran (Denny 175). In Malaysia, there were debates over the reliance on the hadith instead of the Quran spurred by Kassim Ahmad's book The Hadith: A Re-Evaluation (1986). See Salleh Ben Joned (30-36). The "Look East" policy was spurred by Mahathir's admiration of the economic miracles of Japan and South Korea. The underlying elements of these economic miracles were, he believed, "their moral and  cultural pillars: a strong work ethic, worthy Eastern values, a capacity for learning, courage to compete, self-reliance, and national pride" (Khoo Boo Teik 68). For an in-depth analysis of the fundamental differences in the two men's leadership styles and on what issues they had conflicting opinions, see Anwar's letter from prison "From the Halls of Power to the Labyrinths of Incarceration." For a more neutral academic account, see Khoo Boo Teik's Paradoxes of Mahathirism. In addition, K.S. Jomo's article "Malaysia Props Up Crony Capitalism" in the Asian Wall Street Journal. 21 Dec. 1998, makes the same criticism of Mahathir's government as Anwar. Khoo Boo Teik, Paradoxes of Mahathirism (294-303). Such an allegation together with allegations of his sexual misconduct appeared in the slanderous book 50 Dalil Mengapa Anwar Tidak Boleh Meniadi PM 150 Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Be PM1. Anwar believes that his political enemies were responsible for this book. Based on these allegations, an investigation was launched to determine the 'truth'. The charges that were brought against Anwar stem from the book. As reference to this summary of what absurdism is in the West, he mentions Martin Esslin's book The Theatre of the Absurd (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1971) 3-5. "Sebaliknya drama 'absurd' di Malaysia memperlihatkan corak karya yang anti-cerita, tiada urutan sebabmusabab, penuh dengan unsur falsafah dan bersifat komplikated" (A.R.Napiah 186). The short story appears in Fatimah's collection of short stories in Malay Al-Isra. (Kuala Lumpur: Teks Publishing, 1985). Later, it was translated by Harry Aveling into English in a collection of Malay short stories by various authors, Fables of Eve (Kuala Lumpur: DBP, 1991). It is difficult to describe Fatimah's readership or compare her work to that of the other play versions of the Hang Tuah/Hang Jebat myth as too many factors are involved. As hers is a short story rather than a staged play, she would have a different kind of "audience", mainly readers.. As a woman writer, she would appeal to a predominantly female readership, and as someone who is published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, (which publishes literary textbooks), her books would be made available to students. However, I should add that because DBP also publishes plays that have been staged, those plays would also be made available to readers, not only to playgoers. I believe that if her version of the Tuah/Jebat debate has been excluded before by scholars such as Abdul Rahman Napiah, it is only because its Arabic title, "Al-Isra," does not refer to Tuah or Jebat but instead, points to Prophet Mohammad's night journey to Jerusalem. Another possible reason could be that these critics are only interested in analyzing plays andfilmsrather than short stories that feature Hang Tuah or Hang Jebat.  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Rafidah Aziz, the female present Minister of International Trade, would never hold a powerful position such as the Minister of Finance, or Education, positions held by previous PMs and Deputy PMs. Moreover, the Ministry of Social Welfare, now re-named the Ministry of Social Development and National Unity, is, unsurprisingly, headed by another woman. Notwithstanding Kessler's assertion that political culture is "notfixedbut malleable, contestable, and divergently interpretable" (147) he specifically links contemporary political leadership under Dr. Mahathir to the historical model during the Melaka sultanate as documented in classical Malay literature, and reformulates the analysis of political leadership as followership. If he does not explain whether the notions of followership are uniform or whether they change with time, it is because he is interested in the fact that Malaysian political discourse of the modern 1990s draws precisely from the model of Malaccan rule. As my thesis does not focus on an analysis of followership in various localised Malay kingdoms since the 1400s, I can only speculate that some ideas around followership will change depending on the specific temporal and spatial context. One of the most powerful arguments Anderson makes is that rather than being a determinate product of given sociological conditions such as language or race or religion, the nation is imagined into existence and this is done with the help of print-capitalism, e.g. novels, national newspapers and the like. "Bahasa, agama dan raja" or language/Malay, religion/Islam and royalty/sultan-chiefs constitute the three pillars of Malay identity (Shamsul A.B., 1999, 94). Western universalism in this case presupposes that forms of nationalism in developing or former colonised countries will be no differentfromthe forms of nationalism which began in the West. Oriental exceptionalism would therefore be the unique, anti-colonial nationalism emerging from the East that would challenge the hegemonic notion of Western universalism. Official nationalism is "a conscious, self-protective policy, intimately linked to the preservation of imperial-dynastic interests." It emanates from the state, and serves the interests of the state first and foremost (Anderson 159). As examples, Anderson discusses the People's Republic of China, Socialist Vietnam, Democratic Kampuchea and Thailand.  16 17  18  19  2 0  21  22 23  2 4  25 26  27  28  2 9  3 0 31 3 2  33  It is unclear whether the misquotation is the fault of the publisher or the writer. "With political power in UMNO's hands, government licences, contracts, finances, and other concessions could easily be awarded in the party's interest or to individuals aligned to it" (Gomez, "Politics in Business" vii-viii). See "Corruption: one person's bribe, another's commission" in Aliran 15.7 (1995):"23 for the PM's response to Fortune Magazine's listing Malaysia as among the six most corrupt countries in Asia. One of the major opposition parties is PAS (the Islamic Party) which controls the state of Kelantan. See Rehman Rashid's analysis (258). For an insider perspective, see Che Husna Azhari's Melor In Perspective: "Another important factor that has contributed to Kelantan's isolation is its strong political will; its isolation has been self-imposed. Time and time again, Kelantan proved to be troublesome to the central government when it chose to elect the Opposition, the post-Independence state elections of 1959 being a milestone. [...] economic hardship, poverty, high infant mortality rates, and indifferent public services did not break the collective will of this stubborn people. It was as if they all endured the hardship together as a necessary penance for being of a different race, but perhaps more importantly, of having a different ideology and ethos towards life" (3-4). Che Husna writes as a Kelantanese herself. One can also make the argument that for every Hang Tuah there must be a Hang Jebat if one supports the idea of the dialectical Malay psyche. This would then facilitate the presence of resistance and rebellion in the face of authoritarianism. Karim illustrates the tension in the new Malay who is still "expected to conform to certain set norms—many of which were quasi-feudal in their emphasis on loyalty, obedience and blind devotion to authority" (Ceritalah 15). See Robert Winzeler on latah in my bibliography. For the history and background of resurgent Islamic movements in Malaysia since the late 1960s, see essays by Jomo & Shabery Cheek, Judith Nagata and Shamsul A.B. Lee Edelman, discussing the surveillance of homosexual activity in "Tearooms and Sympathy, or, The Epistemology of the Water Closet" mentions the more pejorative associations of the Roman bathroom with "weakness, luxury, and aesthetic indulgence of the perverse" (270). There is a symbolic connection, I think, between the sultan's decadence (the dictionary yields synonyms such as "period of decline," "putrification," "deterioration" and "self-indulgence") and the moral judgment imposed on what people perceive as perverse in social relationships: in Edelman's essay, homosexuality. E-mail communication with Noriah Taslim, 28th May, 1997. By sexual betrayal, I do not mean that the sultan felt betrayed by his concubine—he cannot because women are objects, not subjects. Rather, he felt betrayed by another member of this homosocial society, Hang Tuah, whom he believed had encroached on his sexual ownership of the woman slave/concubine. One might argue that Sedgwick's theory that a deep homophobia underlies the theory of homosocial relations is relevant because the king, as if out of homophobic panic, vomits after eating Hang Tuah (262-263). But I doubt this is the ideal reading position that the author herself would offer. His Highness' vomitting more likely indicates his greed, decadence and guilt towards betraying and oppressing his loyal hamba. Sedgwick suggests that Lacan's elaborate meditation on introjection and incorporation forms the link between desire and identification (24). The film revolves around a singer and band leader whose failing career is saved by a woman's love (and her money) but whose life is preserved ultimately by his most loyal male friend and band member who jumps between him and a fatal bullet. Moreover, throughout the film,